Ryan’s Music Picks: 24 October 2016

Halloween’s approaching. I think I’m working on a mix. In fact, don’t be surprised if a lot of stuff you’ve heard here pops into that mix, if I’m able to pull it together in time. Other than that, I’m reveling in the earlier sunsets and the little bits of rain we’re having in So Cal.

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Moon Cities – Golden Ghost Forest (stream/download or subscribe on iTunes)
(Moon Cities is me.) This is a mix I made about 3 years ago for fall-oween times. I think it gets closer to my feelings about the autumn season better than any words can.

John Carpenter – Big Trouble in Little China OST (BandcampApple MusicSpotify)
I’m putting this here mostly just because I want to talk about this movie. I first watched it a couple of years ago for my podcast and I was blown away by just how excellent and totally weird it was. I was kinda put off by it at first, but with each subsequent viewing of the movie, I fall more and more in love. It’s got a perfect synths-n-guitars 80s soundtrack, something John Carpenter (who also directed the movie) excels at. Also the theme (aka Pork Chop Express) is just perfect.

Infinity Shred – Long Distance (BandcampApple MusicSpotify)
Speaking of synths-n-guitars, Infinity Shred take that classic formula and tweak it a bit by adding a Commodore 64 and focusing heavily on the atmospheric post-rock (think Explosions in the Sky, but on a space station). They’re also bros with Anamanaguchi, which explains how bits of pure/glitch pop find their way into these devastating, spacey epics. (It looks like this is pay-what-you-want on bandcamp right now! I don’t know how long that will last!)

NxWorries – Yes Lawd! (BandcampApple MusicSpotify)
Leave it to two very right now music makers (singer Anderson .Paak and beatmaker/rapper Knxwledge) to put together an album that follows up the perfect glitchy improvised R&B of Jamie Lidell’s first album better than he or anyone else has ever been able to. The beats here hit hard but migrate and stutter just enough to feel alive and a little unpredictable, and each track contain more vocal hooks and innovation than 5 or 6 Drake tracks. This is totally not appropriate for kids, and that bums me out because these grooves are unstoppable otherwise.

The Growlers – City Club (BandcampApple MusicSpotify)
They call their genre “beach goth” and, sure. I mean, that works, I guess. It’s buzzy and jangly and kinda hubby rock and roll that’s catchy as all hell. It’s dark but not, like, menacing. It’s kinda gothy, I guess, but in a laid back, ‘we made tiki drinks with black rum’ kind of way. This is basically the musical equivalent of Gravity Falls.

Equip – I Dreamed of a Palace in the Sky (BandcampApple MusicSpotify)
It’s weird how there’s an entire genre of music in 2016 that can be described as “soundtrack to imaginary JRPG that sounds like you downloaded over Limewire”. Maybe the weird part is that I have an entire collection of albums that hit that sweet spot but each of them do it differently and all of them are perfect. Anyway you could get lost in this album and end up on some kind of airship with a mage and a paladin or something, so be careful.

Earthly – Days (BandcampApple MusicSpotify)
Speaking (as I was) about albums that are spiritual sequels of other, completely unrelated albums (see the NxWorries album above), plunderphonics albums like this one didn’t exist before The Avalanches showed up in 2001 with Since I Left You. This one really takes things a step beyond The Avalanches or even Animal Collective have done with its sampledelica: the songs are constructed using the in between sounds of samples. Like, we’re not hearing the actual samples, but the bits you trim off each side of the sample to tighten it up. Earthly have taken audio trimmings, the chaff of samples, and constructed incredible tunes out of it. I’m mesmerized.

The Radio Dept. – Running Out of Love (BandcampApple MusicSpotify)
These guys have been making perfectly constructed political synth pop for ages. It’s upbeat but mostly very seriously built, with just the right tones and pads and beats. It’s got precisely what each song needs, like The Radio Dept. have songwriting down to a beautiful science.

Julia Kent – Asperities (BandcampApple MusicSpotify)
Speaking of beautiful science, composer and cellist Julia Kent’s music is a perfect mixture of looped cello, and other both organic and electronic sounds, combined to be gorgeous and affecting and a little bit dangerous. If you think modern classical music is either all weird noises or movie soundtracks, you owe it to your finer sensibilities to check this out.

The Pipettes – We Are The Pipettes (BandcampApple MusicSpotify)
How on earth is this album 10 years old?! I felt old as hell when I realized that. The Pipettes were an only-kind-of-ironic revival of classic 50s close-harmony girl group pop with some real earworm songs that even now, ten years later, I can’t get them out of my head. This might make you break out in song or dance, or both. Be careful.

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TINY EP CORNER
Tiny EPs are little three to six song albums that don’t usually last more than 10-20 minutes but are just so immaculate that I can’t stop listening to them. I’ve written about some before (Leno Lovecraft, Qrion) but now I’m giving them their own corner.

In Love With A Ghost – Let’s Go (BandcampApple MusicSpotify)
Four songs that combine beats and piano with vocal sounds and ASMR sounds like rain and pages turning. It’s just so cozy and pretty–this is literally perfect headphone music. (pay-what-you-want on bandcamp!)

Vapor Lanes – Hieratic Teen (Bandcamp only)
Sweeping noise that lives and burrows deep inside you. But it’s not menacing as it takes over your body, the noise just knows that your heart is its only true home. Once inside, you feel it slowly replacing your neurons but you can’t fight it. The noise is part of you now, and you corrupt it just as it purifies you, never equalling out but finding a weird type of balance, leading to a whole new type of being.

Moon Racer – Moon Racer (Bandcamp only)
One way to hear this is as some direct-to-tape keyboard demos, but please please don’t listen to it that way. This is the heart of a child, fed through the noise-being who lives in your heart, dreaming of rainbows and glitter and Aladdin and Gremlins on VHS.

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PS: I should hopefully be giving you another of these Sunday night (30 October), chock full of Halloween music and maybe even with a new mixtape from yours truly.