December Audio Review: Blood Orange | Eminem | Somadrone + More

Posted December 5, 2013 in Music Reviews

Blood Orange

Cupid Deluxe [Domino]

Dev Hynes’ career trajectory has been particularly peculiar. It’s taken in adulation from both NME and Pitchfork but one senses that until Sky Ferreira’s Everything Is Embarrassing, he lacked a key identifiable work from his time in Test Icicles, as Lightspeed Champion and even under the guise of Blood Orange. And with Cupid Deluxe Hynes has found a method of producing a record that is mutually satisfying to both himself and the audience in an album format.

Cupid Deluxe is littered throughout with guest appearances from Brooklyn’s finest: Caroline Polachek of Chairlift drapes a silk scarf around Hynes’ lead on Chamakay, while No Right Thing sees the vocals of the ever-arch Dave Longstreth of Dirty Projectors smoothed into something truly wonderful, over slap-bass-tinted funk episodes. Elsewhere, he is accompanied by his girlfriend Samantha Urbani of Friends to play the role of muse and her voice, while somewhat feeble, is attuned perfectly to the situation and feel of the record.

Hynes crops up playing most instruments on the record at some stage a la Stevie Wonder or Prince, part joyous polymath, part control freak. While previously his reputation has been continually burnished by his own contributions to other peoples records, Cupid Deluxe becomes a venue to focus his hyperactivity into a work fitting to his talent, where his elegant appropriation of 1980s funk tropes and ability to synergise with so many other talents are given free reign. It’s particularly fitting that the year in which perpetual sideman Nile Rodgers finally became as ubiquitous as the music he helped create, Hynes gets to take his biggest bow, given the marked similarities in both their careers and their musics. – Ian Lamont




Marshall Mathers LP 2 [Aftermath]

With an emerging artist it might be disappointing to hear a talented rapper sell themselves short, but with Eminem, it’s de rigueur. All that’s left to do now, as for the last decade and a half, is to enjoy it when he hits the sweet spot between bowdlerised emotion and brute technicality. On Rap God, he’s dizzying; the rest of the time, he’s brilliant but a little out of his time – cool no doubt, but still a dad. – Karl McDonald

Action Bronson & Party Supplies

Blue Chips 2 [mixtape]

Sometimes the term ‘mixtape’ covers a collection of cast-offs; other times, there might be label issues. In this case, though, it’s closer to its original meaning: Action Bronson raps like Action Bronson over an eclectic selection of records from Party Supplies’ collection, apparently chosen because they don’t sound like rap beats. It’s fun, but it’s very obviously the grinning, slower cousin to the Harry Fraud mixtape earlier this year. – Karl McDonald



The Melvins

Tres Cabrones [Ipecac]

The new Melvins record sees a departure from their current lineup, with Dale Crover moving from drums to bass, and original drummer Mike Dillard stepping back behind the kit. It’s not an entirely successful venture, sadly. The menacing, downtuned sludge that characterises their best records is present in spots, but it’s hard to recommend an album that devotes a quarter of its tracklist to painfully unfunny takes on traditional ditties such as Tie My Pecker to a Tree. – Ivan Deasy



Wooden Shjips

Back to Land [Thrill Jockey]

Not particularly spaced-out and far from rocking, the new Wooden Shjips LP falls somewhere between, passing by in 40 minutes of gentle West Coast psych that ultimately fails to excite. The closing track Everybody Knows is the standout, perhaps because it has more than two chords in it, and evokes imagery of something other than plaid shirts, spliffs and middle-aged men with beards. – Ivan Deasy




First Wave [Bodytonic Music]

Neil O’Connor’s Somadrone is a self-consciously hidebound project, though not one rooted in nostalgia. While analogue synth trends at the moment tend towards a postulated past (to psychedelic effect), Somadrone pushes his gear to non-referential fields which can sometime want for style and character even if their earnestness cannot be denied. Stultified and unvaried, neither sparse enough nor rich enough to really entrance, *First Wave* sadly ends up self-exiled in an ambient Siberia. – Daniel Gray



Teengirl Fantasy

Nun [This Is Music]

The influence of early dubstep, heyday grime and late-era Actress on Teengirl’s newest energizes a sound that could find itself k-hole zombiewalking around the more tranquilized borders of chill-out on previous releases. Nun sticks to the EP form, a move that better suits a band with a tendency to maraud, and like the best of Hype Williams benefits from short-dose, high-focus collage that vomits its ideas all over the canvas. – Daniel Gray



Physical Therapy

Non-Drowsy [Allergy Season]

In art, music and art-music ironic appropriation of past sounds/images is considered as having a denigrating or distancing effect on the sample material – however, sometimes a close embrace with gamminess serves to amplify the original aesthetic intentions of the source. Kierkegaard called it the Third Remove. Physical Therapy calls it dancing around a field with a camcorder, dressed in cowboy whites and blaring out the sickest rave this side of 1991 R&S releases. It takes some taste to pull off being this tasteless. – Daniel Gray



The Beatles

On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2 [Apple]

Being as devout a Beatles fanatic as one is likely to find, I’m constantly sniffing through their over-examined career for new treasures. A second collection of the Fabs’ live-sets from their early days at BBC Radio studios is interspersed with chat, dedications and other irrelevances that other commentators have tried to appoint as significant: they’re not. By far the most interesting thing here is the way the plummy voiced host pronounces Ringo like it’s written (with one G), rather than so it rhymes with “bingo.” Fascinating stuff. – Ian Lamont



Grizzly Bears

B-Sides [Warp]

That the Grizzers can find the time to throw away some of the cuts on their new collection B-Sides is testament to the quality of work which makes the cut. In this case, we find moments from the first, aborted gestation of Shields in Marfa, Texas. Here the spellbinding Will Calls flexes its muscles from a whisper to a roar with the precision that few bands catch match, let alone throw away. Elsewhere Nico Jaar and Lindstrom add remixes that add little without being particularly offensive. – Ian Lamont



James Ferraro

NYC, Hell 3.00AM

Whereas Oneohtrix’s recent R Plus Seven took the Ferraro-ian obsession with DVD menu music and created a work of real power and beauty, Ferraro has slanted himself even more obliquely to the audience, now only vaguely refracting slices of music at all in amongst the Fitter, Happier style interjections. NYC, Hell 3.00AM feels like a studious array of arch jokes and tests on the nature of listening, rather than a provision for listening itself. I think I just don’t get it. – Ian Lamont


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