Last time we heard from Candy Claws, 2010’s Hidden Lands, the band showcased a soft, dreamy, layered style that was easy (and often quite pleasant) to just get lost in, letting it carry you off to its titular lands. Their newest song, “Transitional Bird (Clever Girl)”, from Ceres & Calypso in the Deep Time, due out June 25th, retains the same layers and a measure of the dreaminess of Hidden Lands, while sounding a good deal more propulsive and energetic. Instrumental and vocal hooks are also much more clearly audible, and the bite of shoegaze guitars buzzes through the candy-colored haze.
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Don’t let anyone steer you wrong. Despite the fact that it’s an excellent album, Kendrick Lamar’s breakout LP good kid, m.A.A.d city was not the best rap record released last year. That distinction goes to the unexpected and sublime team-up between Dungeon Family-associated rapper Killer Mike and rapper/producer/former Def Jux label head El-P, the El-P produced Killer Mike album R.A.P. Music. Though they only rapped on one track together on that record, the project was a standout chiefly for their remarkable (and somewhat unlikely) chemistry. For that reason, it’s impossible to not be excited about their newest collaboration, a duo called Run the Jewels that features the two sharing rapping duties (and El-P wielding some typically monster production, naturally). First full song leak from the album “Get It” (a snippet of a song called “Banana Clipper was released a few weeks previous) shows the two in vicious quotable mode (El: “My name is Jaime Meline / I’m not chasing the green, I’m taking it”, Mike: “Mike’ll fuck a rapper’s life up like Monique did to Precious”) and they relentlessly try to one-up one another while sounding like two friends genuinely happy to be working together. They trade bars in classic style, and it’s rare to hear two modern rappers work so well together—so much the better, then, that Fool’s Gold will be releasing the group’s full-length LP for free this summer.
It seems like Polish grindcore lifers Suffering Mind are releasing something as often as other bands practice, whether it be a split, EP, or the occasional LP (the band love odd formats, as they have currently released a record in every size from two to eight inches). What makes this acceptable is that virtually everything they release is of such a high quality that the chance to get new Suffering Mind is tough to pass up. Their sound incorporates bits of grindcore, crust punk and death metal and influences from Assück, Discordance Axis, Phobia as well as a host of others. It also includes a liberal dash of mid-paced death-doom that features prominently here, spiking the blasting passages with a heavy, Repulsion-gone-doom reek before returning to the track’s frantic pace, complete with vocalist Radek’s blistered-throat high screams. This forthcoming split 7” with Canadian mincecore heroes Archagathus is an excellent place to pick up in the swift stream of Suffering Mind releases.
Brandon Biondo has been making superb new wave and art pop-indebted indie rock for years with Coolrunnings to little fanfare, but his newest band, Shy Boys (with co-vocalist and bassist Nicole McMinn) might be enough to break him out to a larger audience. The latest original to be leaked from the project, “Something” is a pristine slow-burner that follows the formula of much of Coolrunnings’ mid-paced material. What sets it apart, however, is McMinn and Biondo’s sad, longing dual vocal interplay and the big, crisp (though still suitably underground-sounding) instrumentation. There’s such feeling to the track that its repetition of “This is love / This is not love” sounds like the duo is wrestling with those sentiments as they’re singing them. Shy people everywhere (boys, girls or otherwise) should pay close attention to this one.
A graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, New York-based Romain Collin has had the great fortune of working with the likes of jazz legends Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. While Shorter and Hancock are some of the giants of fusion and crossover jazz, Collin opts for a much more distilled purity in his work and his dexterity with the piano showcases an erudite skill matched only by the discerning emotions that forge the bulk of his songwriting. Collin’s sophomore release, The Calling, is an album of warm crystalline beauty and the musician’s playing traverses a delicate line between a lush sea-bath swirl of scales and spiked, meditative crescendo highs. You can hear all of that in this clip, featuring a rendition of two of the numbers from the album, “Storm” and the title-track, performed live at Rockwood in New York. The short burst of “Storm” introduces the band before segueing into the next number (the album’s title-track) where Collin works an elegantly serpentine melody, circling around the nuanced underpinnings of Luques Curtis’ double bass and the crisp drumming of Kendrick Scott, executed with economy and restraint. The scales explore a haunted, intuitive search and the resonance and tension of the piece expands more and more as the number slowly builds toward the nine-minute mark. In no way is this pop music, but Collin has found a way to make his brand of jazz just as immediate – and instantly gratifying.