Jams of the Week: Frank Ocean, Toro y Moi, M. Ward and more
R&B auteur Frank Ocean was my favorite breakout artist of 2011, so I am all too eager to gobble up the snippet of new music he posted on his Tumblr last week. It's only 90 seconds, but 90 of Frank Ocean is a lot better than 0 seconds of Frank Ocean. This is so solid that I don't even mind him singing a clunker like "He's got the whole wide world in his pants."
Toro Y Moi - "Dead Pontoon"
"Dead Pontoon" is new in that it's just now getting released to a wide audience, but old in that Chaz Bundick recorded it in 2009, before "Blessa" made him a blog star and "New Beat" flipped the script on some newfangled disco tip. This song operates in yet another lane, successfully cribbing from Ariel Pink's skewed lo-fi pop. It will cost you your email address, but it's worth it. Toro's 7-inch vinyl box set "June 2009" is coming April 24 on Carpark.
M. Ward - "The First Time I Ran Away"
Is it just me, or is M. Ward's solo work way better than anything he makes with his famous friends? This latest grownup folk lullaby is the first offering from "A Wasteland Companion," his forthcoming album for Merge.
Future feat. T.I. - "Magic"
People who think about rapping in strict technical terms probably hate Future like Steve Vai fans hate The Velvet Underground. And while the Atlanta MC does sometimes sound like he belongs in an MRDD classroom, particularly on the chorus of his breakout hit "Tony Montana," he rides a Lex Luger-style thug track more artfully than almost anyone. This one? "Voila, magic." Not a bad showing from T.I. either.
R. Kelly - "Share My Love"
Kells is in full-on disco mode in this one. Not sure how I feel about it, but experience tells me this track will eventually have its way with me, much like Kells in the bedroom, the kitchen, the club, outer space and the hotel lobby.
The Flaming Lips featuring Erykah Badu, Siri and Biz Markie - "Now I Understand"
Lots of bands would be willing to try something like this; only the Lips would think it up. Wayne Coyne and his fellow madmen enlisted the services of Erykah Badu, Biz Markie (supposedly; can't hear him in there) and Siri, the automated voice from the iPhone 4S. Not sure I grasp the philosophical underpinnings of this song, but it makes me so happy. Listen all the way to the feel-good finish.
Chairlift - "I Belong In Your Arms"
80s-inspired synth combo Chairlft always seemed like Brooklyn B-list to me, a band better known for being friends with great musicians than being great musicians themselves. But they've finally kicked out another song on the level of the iPod-shilling "Bruises." (Unless you count their awesome contribution to Das Racist's "Sit Down, Man" mixtape, in which case they were already off the hook.)
Wild Nothing featuring Andrea Estella of Twin Sister - "Nowhere"
Jack Tatum's first new release since "Gemini" finds the Virginia anglophile in a studio for the first time, teaming with Twin Sister singer Andrea Estella for another glorious return to 80s indie pop from across the pond. A new album is expected later this year.
Cursive - "Wowowow"
Tim Kasher and company will be back a new album, "I Am Gemini," February 21 on Saddle Creek. This latest teaser single, which will also cost you an email address to download, is practically math rock. That doesn't mean Kasher kept his heart off his sleeve this time, though. Seriously intriguing evolution for this late in Cursive's career, and definitely worth following to the finish.
Still Flyin' - "Cleat Talking"
If you can stomach cutesy twee affectation, have I got a catchy single for you! We end with lyrics even worse than the ones we started with: "I ain't no Stephen Hawking/ My cleats do all the talking."