Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Daze

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It goes without saying that any double album, takes some sort of commitment to lay back and immerse into. But then again, any artist who has the nerve to release such work, deserves a heap of respect for their mutual commitment and balls for going against the grain of the old three minute roundabout.

Kurt Vile's Wakin on a Pretty Daze, is a monumental record that proves that rigorous attempts to develop the KV cred are always worthwhile. The seventy minute, eleven track wonder from Philadelphia’s finest is something that I had been waiting for with anticipation. 2010’s Smoke Ring For My Halo was a magical, awe-inspiring, album that, stopped everyone in their tracks, had they heard it. Vile instantly created himself an identity and following of musicians and dreamers alike who were left wanting more.

Wakin On A Pretty Daze presents a totally new language. The sense of absence from Smoke Ring is now a sense of maturity, and the hard work that Vile commits himself to. He has risen the standards for what rock music strives to be and should be; transcendent and unnerving.

Get the album now via Matador, then watch Vile introduce you “Never Run Away” and finally download the track for free here.

Devendra Banhart - Mala

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There are many many reasons for why I am currently obsessed with Devendra Banhart, but that’s more of a personal issue than one which permits me to rant about the greatness of his new album, Mala. However, I am going to do so anyway. According to my listening history, this week I have played Mala thirteen times. Its medicinal qualities are quite something.

Since 2009’s What Will We Be, Banhart has fallen in love with, proposed to, and moved in with the cool-as-hell Ana Kraš. The joining of these two artistic forces has inevitably had a magical effect on his being, and his musical intentions. With regard to pop music and love, Mala takes us on a journey of nostalgia and retrospection. The ups and downs, the ambiguities, and pretty, little, worlds that Banhart is evolving in Mala, form a much-needed disclosure that he will always be there to take care. Kraš is one lucky chica.

Mala is available since last week via Nonesuch. You can listen to “Fur Hildegard Von Bingen,” “Never Seen Such Good Things” and “Mi Negrita” below, and then head to NPR Music to stream to the rest of the album.

STRFKR - Miracle Mile

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I was the last person to even consider myself a fan of STRFKR (pronounced Starfucker). They bordered a little on too bland, too recycled, too wannabe pop.  And it doesn’t really add points in the band’s favour if one of its most popular songs is a cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” but hey, I’m apparently in the minority here. Then STRFKR gave us Miracle Mile, released via Polyvinyl, and all was forgiven.

I’ll give you a lowdown with a run-through, shall I? Miracle Mile opens with “While I’m Alive”: a catchy intro to STRFKR’s take on lo-fi vocals thrown on electronic chill pop. Take a minute to suck up that juicy bass line on “Malmo.” “Beach Monster” smoothly slurs psych pop synth and lyrics into each other, mmm yes. “Kahlil Gibbon” has that one sound like the strumming strings of a grand piano, and yes that was worth commenting on. “Say to You” is potential-opener-to-TV-series material (think Portlandia theme song).

Once you hit “Atlantis,” the album descends into chillest of chill tunes, with beats great for long drives or slow nights, if you know what I mean (spot check on “I Don’t Want to See”  and a cacophonous finish in “Nite Right”).

All in all, STRFKR has definitely upgraded with a more cohesive and compelling sound, worth looking into, and maybe, just maybe, becoming a fan of. You can stream half of the tracks from the album below and make sure you watch the video for “Atlantis,” directed by Vice Cooler, afterwards.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II

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If you happen to find yourself in need of some sort of transcending, soul digging, rhythm and blues delight then Unknown Mortal Orchestra are here for you.

This is a story of the wonderful Ruban Nielsen, going down to his basement, getting his tapes out and allowing the night to take the lead. However, this is not any old experimental stream of consciousness. There is a sincerity inherent throughout II that is putting it on a psychedelic par with Grizzly Bear. The Kiwis’ night time dive time has been the perfect antidote this year’s January blues and I am certain its multitude of dispositions and blissful melodies will be sticking with us throughout the year.

Check out the video for “So Good At Being in Trouble,” directed by Danny Perez, below and be sure to catch them at Il Motore in Montréal on the 3rd of March when they’ll be playing with Foxygen and Wampire.

Vinyl Williams - Lemniscate

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BE WARNED: THIS IS AN UNBIASED REVIEW

lem·nis·cate  noun [Analytic Geometry] 

a plane curve generated by the locus of the point at which a variable tangent to a rectangular hyperbola intersects a perpendicular from the center to the tangent. Equation: r 2  = 2 a 2 cosθ.

Ever felt like you’ve taken the wrong turn and fallen into a black hole full of wonder and intrigue and the unknown? Let’s say whilst hearing an awe-inspiring film theme tune, for instance? Think Star Wars, ET, Jaws… Ok, so stop with the swings and roundabouts. Lionel “Vinyl” Williams (born 1990) is the grandson of John Towner Williams (born 1932), the legendary composer, conductor and pianist, responsible for some of the best-known film scores, like, ever. He’s like Spielberg’s bro. Crazy, right?

Anyway, I digress. Digression seems to be the common theme within Lemniscate. The album is a total mind-warper that should only be listened to on special occasions. Less Bah mitzvah, more “it’s 4 am and I’m beyond wired.” With lo-fi acts like Williams, you tend to expect a bit of tinkering here and there, where a common thread of whatever it is that floats their boat is inherent throughout. However, this is a harder one to diagnose, for lack of a better word. Sure, Lemniscate is audacious and compelling; especially for a guy who’s only 3 years older than myself. He’s obviously working along the lines of Flying Lotus, The Flaming Lips… Grandpa John (see above). There are a few intricacies and references to other genres that nicely build up the layers sewn into this album. I like the track “Grassy”… it’s slightly euphoric. Other than that, the song titles are sort of lame and putting it all into context Lemniscate is over ambitious, and rather pretentious… a bit slow on the uptake… but give it a listen because there’s always a need for background music.

Vinyl Williams’ Lemniscate is now available via Salonislam/No Pain in Pop. Stream the album in its entirety below.

This review was written by collaborator Olivia Foster, a nocturnal 19 year old art student kicking around South East London.

Funeral Suits - Lily of the Valley

Irish band Funeral Suits—as their name might suggest—verge on the deep and dark with some heavy lyrics in their otherwise summery sounding indie pop/rock debut album Lily of the Valley via Model Citizen Records. (Until you hit “We Only Attack Ourselves”… the guitar distortion gets more noticeably melancholic from then on.)  Support them as they set out on their Ireland/France tour in the next month (or this coming SXSW, fellow Austinites).

Check out their lately released (and mildly disturbing) music vid for “Hands Down,” directed by Kevin Minogue:

Or my fave, their more whimsical (though still kinda creepy) vid for “All Those Friendly People,” directed by Shaun Ryan:

Finally, you can stream the whole album from their bandcamp below.

This review was written by collaborator Victoria Montalvo, an undergraduate studying film at the University of Texas at Austin and currently studying abroad in Hong Kong.

Sleep Party People - We Were Drifting On A Sad Song

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Remember the first time you ate cotton candy? How you were expecting a sweet bite of soft downy cottony goodness? And all you got was a mouthful of grainy sugar… that was… still… good? and BAM! there goes the rest of that deceiving ball of pink fluff.

Traumatizing childhood experiences aside, those are kind of my feelings about Sleep Party People, the disconcerting but oddly appealing dream pop band hailing from Denmark. Their music lures you into the dark recesses between dreams and nightmares, echoing with lead Brian Batz’s haunting falsetto, and fluctuating from lulling music box melodies to agressive symphonic tracks. 

And after seeing SPP in concert this past Thursday night in Hong Kong’s Hidden Agenda, the whole playfully-creepy vibe only gets more obvious. Donning skull-like bunny masks and black hoodies, the four band members jam out on their instruments draped over with white sheets. And by “jam,” I mean ferociously attack and/or seemingly fall into a daze. Weird, but good. Like cotton candy.

Check out their video for “Gazing at the Moon” from their latest album We Were Drifting On A Sad Song via Speed of Sound/Blood and Biscuits, directed by Jonny Sanders.

This review was written by collaborator Victoria Montalvo, an undergraduate studying film at the University of Texas at Austin and currently studying abroad in Hong Kong.

Mesita - The Coyote

You’d think that only an alternate universe could produce Bon Iver's rebel music child, until you hear the sounds of Mesita aka James Cooley. 

Self-taught and self-released (someone please call dibs), this Colorado kid rocks smooth vocals over tight genre-fluid compositions. The Coyote, his fourth release, gathers thick orchestral harmonies, sparse folk, and electronic bit samples into a just-crazy-enough-to-work, mind-blowing trip (or mind-soothing, depending on the track). The variety within the songs is so intense, it leaves you half-dazed wondering whether you’re still listening to the same artist, let alone the same song. 

And did I mention that Cooley’s dream was to make music for video games? Yep, Mesita wins in my book. 

Stream the whole album below (or skip to my faves, listen back to back “The Coyotes” and “Everything is Burning” for different tastes).

Download a free sampler of his stuff here or from his Bandcamp page. Stay tuned for his new single coming out on November 1st.

This review was written by collaborator Victoria Montalvo, an undergraduate studying film at the University of Texas at Austin and currently studying abroad in Hong Kong.

Ty Segall - Twins

At last, I’ve got my cyber-mitts on more Ty and boy is it a trip. Anyone looking for a chilled out soirée, should back away now. However, if you do want to join me spinning around, head down, arms out, accelerating… falling, then you’re in for a treat.

Now, I could go on about Segall’s craftsmanship or whatever but let’s face it, whaddya care!? So, what I’m gonna do, is ask that you find your inner hardcore albeit hormonal 13 year old self, and unwind because all you really want is something rad, and off-kilter that makes you feel like Kurt Cobain. 

I mean, you don’t even have to listen to Twins (available now through Drag City); reading the song titles like “Love Fuzz,” “Handglams,” “Gold on the Shore,” is a neat act in itself.

This review is probably the most enthused yet disconnected piece of writing to ever come up on Hot Shit, but honestly, I’m just buzzin’ man!

This review was written by collaborator Olivia Foster, a nocturnal 19 year old art student kicking around South East London.

Lucy Rose - Like I Used To

Lucy Rose does heartfelt like nobody’s business. Her gentle, organic vocals seep through sleepy melodies, coloring her deeply personal lyrics with meaningful crescendos or soothing lullaby-like softness. Fancying a nap already? Then grab your fine self a mug of hot honey tea, half a dozen pillows, and Lucy Rose’s charming debut album, Like I Used To, fresh from Columbia Records

Catch that pretty pixie face, and gusts of full on rural nostalgia, in the music video below of my favorite song, “Lines,” directed by Orestes Mitas - or on her European tour this fall - 

This review was written by collaborator Victoria Montalvo, an undergraduate studying film at the University of Texas at Austin and currently studying abroad in Hong Kong.