On Cloud Nothings’ much-heralded Attack on Memory, Dylan Baldi started facing the reality of post-adolescence in the face and he decided to fight them tooth and nail. Now, after taking a year off (presumably to stay useless), he’s back with a new album and trying to move his life forward. The first song released from the album, “I’m Not a Part of Me” is Baldi’s argument with himself. Trying to resolve his old slacker self with his newfound sense of resolve, he spends half the song declaring to his old self, “I’m not you”, to which he responds “you’re a part of me.” Although it’s clear that his desire to start taking life seriously is winning out, it’s a clearly a bitter struggle.
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Desire Lines didn’t have the staying power of Camera Obscura‘s previous albums because of the lack of a clear-cut single (“Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken”, “French Navy”, “Sweetest Thing”). But that didn’t mean it was bad. Camera Obscura have made a video for “Troublemaker,” one of the better songs off the parent LP, beginning with a dreariness typical of 4AD stuff that immediately gives way to Tracyanne Campbell’s sweetness (lines like “We turn the TV off / It’s old, makes the sound of a saltshaker” and her mission statement, “I’m a troublemaker,” rings more like she wants to be one, rather than she actually is). On the video, Gavin Dunbar notes, “‘Troublemaker’ is a tribute to the British sci-fi of yesteryear, low budget and futuristic in an ‘80s way. It’s also a postcard from Glasgow.” On the latter, a cameo from Stuart Murdoch (of Belle and Sebastian fame) couldn’t hurt.
A New York Times review of Chinese writer Can Xue’s work asserted that reading the author’s fiction is like “running downhill in the dark; you’ve got momentum, but you don’t know where you’re headed.” Such a sentiment could be said of Vanessa Daou’s newest work; much of her recent explorations with club culture incite the chancy, dangerous thrill of experiment. Daou has already made a name for herself with her astonishing mix of spoken word and electronic beats on her six previous albums. Her voice, an eerie, peculiar sigh which brings a yielding and sensual warmth to her sultry grooves, is equally noted for its unbridled femininity.
Ominous military snares sound a call to arms in which Italian rapper Luche takes position front and centre on “Chi Non Dimentica”, a track from his debut album L1. Barely containing the sense of panic and urgency that grows slowly over the course of the track, the minimalist beats march relentlessly forward as the rhymes find a spine-chilling calm in the hurricane’s eye of the song. Featuring rapper Franco Ricciardi, “Chi Non Dimentica”, seems to be a strange and disturbing rumination of religiosity and death, further expanding upon the inherent sense of dread in the song. Luche’s pained vocals resound like a distress call from the expanse of a vast ocean on the chorus and nearly get lost in the eerie, ethereal grind of the descending piano scales.
Persian rapper Erfan has built a career on controversy. Having explored topics deemed taboo in his native Iran (where his music is illegal), he has often run into trouble for his outspoken views and his music has been tied up in political red tape. Outside of Iran, Erfan has lived much of his life in the US, continuing to write and make music, despite the fact that most of his fanbase resides in his home country. Inspired by a mix of world politics, Sufi poetry and hip-hop acts like Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube and Wu-Tang Clan, Erfan set out to become one of Iran’s first proper MCs, pulling from as many disparate musical influences from either side of the globe.