The Trial and Error Collective collaborated on a post to discuss our favorite releases from this summer. Our variety in music tastes led us to geek out about singles, EPs, and albums from bands of all genres. Summer may be ending, but these songs will be reminding us of sunnier days for the rest of the year.
Artist: Cosmo Sheldrake
Album: Pelicans We
Favorite Song: "The Fly"
This 4-track EP from English multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer, Cosmo Sheldrake, is not only my favorite summer release but perhaps my favorite album of the year thus far. This album carries an eclectic folkiness similar to Man Man, but is driven with these stellar electronica stylings reminiscent of The Gorillaz. He samples everything from the sounds of meat slabs being hit with a hammer to the jingling of a cat’s collar, plays everything from the banjo to the penny whistle, and writes incredibly poetic lyrics (“The Fly” is actually from a poem by 17th century poet William Blake). I’d recommend checking out his music videos where he can be seen playing live at pigs stys and bath houses.
Artist: Bomba Estereo
Favorite Song: "Fiesta"
Although this album didn’t display a lot of the cumbia roots and traditional folk qualities that Bomba Estereo is known for, they still created an electro-tropical album that was an ultimate summer jam. I was lucky enough to see them during SXSW and it was one of those shows where you’re dancing so hard that you end up just flailing your limbs like a maniac. Also, PLUG you can read an interview I did with the band about the album here.
Artist: Kurt Vile
Album: b’lieve i’m goin down
Favorite Song: "Pretty Pimpin,'"
The first single for Kurt Vile’s new album (coming out September 25 from Matador), "Pretty Pimpin", captures Appalachian folk, country steel, and desert twang and pushes it through a 5-minute spiral of airy existential desolation. I can’t stop spinning this track. The acoustic guitar’s cyclical fingerpicking mirrors the torture trap of his quotidian existence (“it was a Monday, no a Tuesday, no Wednesday…”) and the electric guitar’s cheeky bends chop up the sweeping breezy slides, much like his attitude: in one sense, he’s detached enough to call him self a stupid clown, but all the same, he thinks he looks pretty pimpin’. The genius of Kurt Vile lies in his sincerity—the balance of lyrics and instruments are so intimate that you can envision him playing it to you while slouched in a ratty armchair, and when you snap out of the daze, you find that his story has stuck.
Album: Ygg huur
Favorite Song: "Engram"
The New York metal wizards return nearly three years after Years Past Matter with Ygg huur. Always with a constant drive to refine, Krallice’s new record is tight, tense, and brooding black metal the likes of which you’ve never heard before. Being a massive fan of Years Past Matter, I was eager for this new album, which had been teased the whole spring and summer. Needless to say, I couldn’t be happier. To compare sounds, Years Past Matter sounded like a stark expulsion of grief, a pale bleak landscape broken up only by colorful blots of mourning -- Ygg huur is the calculated madness that follows loss; a cold, dark blemish that defies reason and yet carries a sense of antiquated grandeur, a weird-patterned complexity in the midst of its instinct-driven simplicity. With their signature dissonance and rhythm, Ygg huur is exactly what you’d expect: an exercise in excellence, technicality, and metal most frigid. Fans will find it impossible not to love Krallice’s new-found tightness of form and ever-present power, and the hitherto-unenlightened will find themselves moved deeply by a superb record. This is no throwaway album, no listen-and-forget corpsepainted disc; this is music of the highest form that demands your attention, and will not relent. Resistance is futile.
Favorite Single: "Bitch Better Have My Money"
To be honest, this summer I didn’t listen to anything that no one else has heard. I listened to Top 40 and throwbacks like Amerie’s 1 Thing or Kanye’s Late Registration (nothing’s going to top that anyway). I think after so much DIY indie/punk/whatever, you need a moment to revel in big budget production glory. This seven minute short film has everything I want: my #1 bad gal, a boat, blood, designer clothes, henchwomen that aren’t cookie cutter (ahem, Taylor Swift’s "Bad Blood" girls), and a giant Louis Vuitton trunk. Let me break it off into three points. First off, one of the songwriters credited is a 20 year old girl. Second, Rihanna directed this herself. We all know Rihanna’s a visionary, but this proves it. Yes, of course a kidnapping-western storyline has been done before, but not with the aesthetic Rihanna’s brought us. It’s all in the details. Third, her two henchmen were handpicked by @badgalriri herself on Instagram. Meet @sitaabellan, a Spanish model, and @trustmedaddy, an Indian-American instaqueen with the best captions. Both are incredibly gorgeous and obviously have their own unique styles, constantly showcased on the gram and featured in this music video. For me, this video is the visual reclaiming of the word “bitch”; basically some strong women with fierce style that aren’t taking shit. They’re not playing nice and they’re not letting anyone get between them and their business. Hell yeah.
Artist: Peaches feat. Kim Gordon
Favorite Song: "Close Up"
There’s nothing like a Peaches video. This one’s a mix of Mexican wrestling, Toddlers in Tiaras, shit, lactation, and Kim Gordon. The song consists of monotone vocals and a minimalistic beat. Kim Gordon and Peaches are a perfect match -- the former’s signature breathy singing voice as the chorus and the latter’s low-pitched rapping just give off this vibe of not giving a fuck, and I love it. It’s not forceful and in-your-face, it’s more understated, like these women have something up their sleeve, and that’s what gives it the power. The chorus demands the audience to “let [her] get a close up”. It’s almost invasive, telling you how to position yourself, coaxing you to “get on your knees”, to let the speaker (Kim) get all up into your personal space. It verges on creepy. I wonder if this is how models feel in front of Terry Richardson. Peaches’ lyrics make you take a double take, wondering what you just heard (as usual). The video’s definitely worth a watch, as Kim is looking super badass in some furry coats and dark sunglasses, though I do question the vape pen. The wrestling outfits are also pretty great. Aesthetics aside, the song is really the most capturing part.
Artist: The Orielles
Favorite Single: "Joey Says We Got It"
To me, this is a classic summer jam: it’s cutesy, easy to listen to, airy vocals, salt water soaked reverb. This lil’ release just made it in the summer cut and comes to us not from California, but the shores of ENGLAND! The Orielles are young and talented, and the typically overdone sounds of “surf garage rock” come off as authentic and refreshing in the hands of this young group. I would’ve listened to this on the train to the Rockaways had it come out sooner, before summer Fridays at the office were ruthlessly taken away and I had to slave over endless press releases for less enjoyable bands til seven o’clock.
Favorite Single: "Hotline Bling"
Summer means a hiatus for most of our favorite TV shows. Luckily, America got its drama fix from the boi this summer. If you weren’t aware of the spat between Drake and Meek Mill, you definitely knew something was up from the tone of Drake's other summer single. And now this Serena Williams business? It was obvious something was up anyway -- he’s paid her a low key complement in the past (see "Worst Behavior"). Although there’s always an abundance of Drake to listen to, between the features on other artist’s tracks and his own catalog, "Hotline Bling" stood out this season. It’s a little return to the good ol’ boy, the one who’s missing a lady who has started a new life “wearing less and going out more”, waiting patiently for her call that will never come because she’s too busy having a really good time at the club with some other party dudes. The beat uses a sample from Timmy Thomas’ 1972 hit “Why Can’t We Live Together”; listen to the first minute of the original and it sounds like some perfect on-hold music. I hope Drake never stops missing this girl, and I also hope she never calls him back.
Artist: The Weeknd
Album: Beauty Behind the Madness
Favorite Song: "Dark Times feat. Ed Sheeran"
Beauty Behind the Madness is everything I love about the Weeknd from start to finish. It captures splendor and sadness, luxury and loneliness, as well as ecstasy and empathy. The album has the perfect balance of upbeat MJ-inspired dance tracks and brooding slow songs with incredible harmonies. It also has an unexpected feature by Ed Sheeran (“Dark Times” in the link above), and another incredible feature by Lana Del Rey who is arguably the female version of The Weeknd. Beauty Behind the Madness is a body of work that should be listened to from beginning to end without skipping tracks. Take my word for it - this album evokes feelings you probably didn’t even know you were capable of having.
Artist: Heathered Pearls
Album: Body Complex
Favorite Song: "Interior Architecture Software"
Body Complex, the sophomore release of Brooklyn-based Heathered Pearls is a shimmering chunk of ambient, minimal dance music. As shown by his first album, Loyal, Heathered Pearls has a great ear for texture and ambient composition, and this second album steps it up with the introduction of restrained drum tracks throughout the record. The drums provide a coat rack to hook your attention on while the synths and sounds wash over you. If you had the right attitude you could even move your arms a bit and find yourself dancing to ambient music, which is something to be cherished. My personal favorite tracks are "Personal Kiosk" and "Interior Architecture Software", but the textures across the album as a whole warrant a listen, and a good close one at that.
Artist: Negative Scanner
Album: Negative Scanner
Favorite Song: "Pity"
This is Negative Scanner’s debut full-length LP, and it came out of nowhere to become one of my favorite releases of both the summer and the year. Taking obvious influence from Jello Biafra in her warbling, vibrato-esque vocal delivery, Rebecca Valeriano-Flores rips through the 11 tracks on this album in a tad under 30 minutes, but it’s so good that it’ll have you listening over and over again. This album is fast and loud, but not in a way that sounds messy, instead Negative Scanner exist in a controlled chaos, culminating on “Pity” which serves as the sinister, yet beautiful closing track to the record. Negative Scanner gives a nod to their punk forefathers, while setting themselves apart with a dark, gritty tone
Artist: Four Tet
Favorite Song: "Morning Side"
This little diddy was released by Four Tet earlier this summer, and I cannot help but be swept away within the first 2 minutes. Morning side is hauntingly beautiful, hypnotic with a voice just cradles you while that textured, minimal beat keeps you moving and feeling into the special space that Four Tet has masterfully crafted. I feel so lucky to have physically experienced Four Tet breaking into this at daybreak at Symbiosis Gathering this summer. Such a way to greet the day! I’ve continuously played this since I first heard it, and will continue; 20 minutes is debatably not long enough. Good thing there is also "Evening Side", which is gentle, melodic, just as brilliant. The two sides together generate an uplifting and positive listening experience that, for me at least, is realigning and so incredibly blissful. Thanks Kieran ;)
Culture & Random Beat