In this edition: A review of SBTRKT, meet ME & LP, our weekly considerations, and videos!
Around the middle of last month, I returned from being abroad in the South Pacific for a month. It’s as though I was on Gilligan’s Island for 10 years. At least that’s how I felt when I heard SBTRKT for the first time the other night. For those of you still reading this portion of the column, the self-titled LP debut from SBTRKT (you can say Subtract) is big on the WOW factor.
In his debut, SBTRKT enlists several vocalists to croon over his mix of beats and grooves. The first release, Wildfire, is an absolute smash featuring the vocals of Yuki Nagano from Little Dragon. It’s a slow burning, sexual thumper that’s sure to be testing the bass on several car audio systems this summer. Wildfire alone is reason enough to become interested in the artist, but the entire LP is full of surprises.
The sometimes muted, but soulful vocals of Sampha are featured on many of the tracks. Sampha is the heart in SBTRKT’s impressive machine, as he brings an emotional presence that is authentically evocative.
While the album is often down-tempo, SBTRKT’s instincts as a DJ work well in sequencing the entire 40 minutes of the album. Instead of fading through the last third of the album, SBTRKT offers Pharaohs, which features the sensual vocals of Roses Gabor. It is a funky, euro-trip step number followed by the playful, Ready Set Loop. Earlier in the album, Sanctuary provides the same lift as it sits between the sultry Wildfire and the pleaful, Trials of the Past.
More than anything, SBTRKT is a crossover album that’s sure to attract those who’ve found dub-step to be a bit too sterile or unconventional for their taste. Amazon currently has the digital album for $5.99, which is an absolute steal. Pick it up!
Rating: 90/100 (A must buy for 2011)
Listen to: Wildfire
Listen to: Pharaohs
Pick Up On: ME & LP
Earlier this week Matthew Embree and Lisa Papineau released the Chez Raymond EP (Sargent House) as ME & LP. Individually, the pair have floated around the indie stratosphere in different collaborative efforts and bands before performing together at a charity event last year. That performance led to the current effort, which demonstrates remarkable chemistry.
The duo work best when singing in harmony, as heard on the tracks Quatro and Truth Be Told. However, Papineau shines as the lead on La Belle Tocade, which opens eerily and evolves beautifully as it becomes increasingly complex in arrangement. Everybody Got Somewhere is the highlight of the EP, as the two harmonize over an array of disparate sounds that can only be described as controlled cacophony. (Bonnie Says) No Shitty Ride is reminiscent of Jon Butler or Rusted Root. It is a distinct departure from the rest of the EP, and the only tune where Embree takes the lead. While enjoyable, No Shitty Ride breaks the mood of the record, but suggests that a LP might be in ME & LP’s future.
Check out: La Belle Tocade [mp3]
Purchase/Stream: Chez Raymond EP [Bandcamp]
—The Root Blog has an excellent Townes Van Zandt show from 1973 at the University of Minnesota. It’s an FM recording from the Whole Coffeehouse.
Videos, videos, videos…
Benjamin Francis Leftwich –Atlas Hands
Girls – Vomit
Guadalupe Plata – Pollo Podrio
Howling Bells – Into the Sky
ME & LP – La Belle Tocade
There was some debate whether to put up this next video, but after reading John McLure’s (Reverend and the Makers) comments, we felt he provided adequate explanation about the intention of this track and video. What happened in London this week was surreal, and I fear that more is to come. The world economic crisis seems to have precipitated events all over the world. It’s hard to make sense of it all.
Here’s what John McClure had to say:
“I watched the events unfolding on the news the other night same as everyone else and was gutted to see the buildings on fire and people losing their businesses. the same way many of us have seen this coming for some time.
Watching the news put me in mind of an old unfinished track that we had worked on. This is that track. Its free, it’s not a money thing in any way but i feel it my job as an artist to talk about and react to what’s happening in my own way. this isn’t part of any forthcoming reverend album, its not gonna be a political record in the slightest but to keep schtum when there’s rioting in the streets just ain’t me. hope you enjoy”
Reverend and the Makers – RIOT