2013 music recommendations

Recommendations for February 1, 2013

Tomorrow we learn whether we will endure six more weeks of winter or not (I will guess that the answer, for Chicago as least, will be yes), but today you should live in the moment and look at this stuff. Almost all stuff to listen to and stuff to watch this time around.

Song: “And” by Dauwd
This track starts off like it’s going to be a Burial copycat, and frankly if he did it well I wouldn’t object to that too strongly. But Dauwd does his own thing with the same rolling garage-like beats. There’s a bit of Four Tet influence here as well, though it strikes me as a little more club-ready than either of those, really. This track will be on a EP due out March 12, in the UK anyway, on Ghostly International. 
Song: “Cirrus” by Bonobo
Another nice electronic track, again a bit more dance-oriented than I usually go for. Also, again, some similarity with Four Tet— as well as the new Pantha Du Prince record, which I have mentioned here a couple of times before— in the use of bells, xylophones, and similar. You can obviously stream the track right here, but you can also download it for free (in exchange for your email address) from Bonobo’s website. The album it will appear on, The North Borders, is out on April 2.
Song: “Hey Now” by London Grammar
This song is not really new— it came out n December— but I only recently stumbled across it, and it’s really good. Another band I don’t know much about: they are a trio, they are (as you might expect) from London, they have a notably uncommunicative website. But yeah, really good, quiet but with a steadily building intensity.
Song: “Climax” by Dirty Projectors (Usher cover)
This should not be any good at all, but…it’s kind of great. It’s better when Amber Cooper is singing, but Dave Longstreth does a pretty respectable Usher falsetto. I also now really want the Teenage Engineering OP1 Portable Synthesizer they are using in this video, so if anybody has $850 (!!) lying around, there’s a good suggestion.
Article: “How to Save a Dying Language” by Ariel Sabar
Sabar describes efforts by linguists to “save” the Aramaic language— “save” in the sense of getting a good written record of it in its various dialects, as opposed to maintaining it as a spoken language, which ship seems, sadly, to have sailed. Interestingly, one of the main locations for this research is the northern suburbs of Chicago, where there are many older Assyrian immigrants who never really learned English very well. It’s kind of a sad story, in many ways, since of course this knowledge will, in one important sense, disappear, and the language will be preserved in amber, like Latin, no longer changing and developing as languages are supposed to do.
Pictures: Architectural Skylines from Recycled Wood by James McNabb
Fantastic (in the literal sense) urban skylines carved from reclaimed wood. If that doesn’t sound like anything special, go look at the pictures. 
Video: “H∆SHTAG$ – Don’t Call It #AltRnB – Episode 1” 
You may be thinking about how many annoying things there are in the title of this video alone… but ignore that. This is the first in what will apparently be a series of mini-documentaries produced by Red Bull (ignore that too…) about the various music genres emerging entirely on the internet. This one is about “Indy R&B” or “Alt R&B.” I predict the series will feature lots of complaints about how terrible all labels are, and how speaking in terms of genre pigeonholes artists in ways that are at best confusing— you get some of that already in this first episode. But it’s still an interesting look at some of the people who are making music which does have certain things in common, and which does live almost entirely online. If you are interested in this stuff, you should definitely check out Indie R&B, the proprietor of which is featured in the video; you might also read this piece from SPIN about the trend and its critics, as well as take a look at their list of artists to watch this year.
Video: “Paperman” by Disney
If you have not seen this yet, you really should. It played in the theaters along with Wreck it Ralph. It uses a new piece of software, created for the purpose, that makes possible a new way of combining hand-drawn animation with CGI. I think that many people now have a tendency to think of Disney as this corporate behemoth that makes its money by bludgeoning us to death with cute, but this film is an example of the fact that Disney got to where they are today in part through real innovation. Snow White, their first animated feature, used new techniques and purpose-built equipment to look the way it did. They are also successful because they (usually) pay attention to story (and when they fail, it is usually because they forget that part), and the story here is simple but charming. 

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