A friend, knowing my affinity for old school soul and R&B, sent me this new Durand Jones tune from his forthcoming self-titled LP with his band the Indications. It’ll only take a few seconds for you to realize the pipes on Jones mean business; think Leon Bridges but with more range. But, while the voice is a powerful instrument, the musicianship has to be present in order to really knock it out of the park; you won’t need to look much further than the first few minutes to see how solid the rhythm section is with these guys. Durand Jones & the Indications will be released by Dead Oceans/Colemine Records on March 16th, with pre-orders offering up a bonus 7″.
Sometimes when you maintain a music blog for years, you get a little inundated with the same old genres and musical styles in the indie scene today. I’m even guilty of often going along with it and pigeonholing myself into specific genres that I like while flat out ignoring the sounds I usually don’t find interesting. It’s not what we are supposed to do as music journalists right? Today I broke my trend, giving this song called “Death Magic” a chance, and I’m really glad that I did. Coming to us from Asheville, NC based pop hit makers RBTS WIN, one can find a lot to like in the simplicity of what’s going on here. What starts as a synth laden pop number with head nodding beats, evolves into this creative R&B tune sure to be worthy of repeat listens. Something about this song is really doing it for me today.
Pick up new album, Palm Sunday, from these guys on May 20th.
It seems like in this day and age, making an album once every year is no big deal for an artist to do, so it’s no surprise that this 2012 buzz band is back for round two so soon. Lead by front woman, Channy Leaneagh, Poliça first made waves in the indie world with their synth based take on R&B. With the rise of synth pop and triphop groups with female, hyper-feminine vocalists, a-la Grimes and Purity Ring, it only seems natural that Poliça is making their rise quickly; the atmosphere is right for this group and Shulamith offers a grouping of songs that utilize the tools already in place from Give You The Ghost.
“Chain My Name,” kicks the album off with fast paced, body roll-inducing beats and Leaneagh’s auto-tuned vocals spouting off lyrics quickly, trying to keep up with the music. A funky bass line compliments the tinkering upper levels of synthesizer sound, and the percussion constantly pattering beneath it all. What is interesting about Poliça and a little different from other than the other groups that I mentioned previously is that the lead vocals aren’t exceptionally strong in their nature—Leaneagh’s altered vocals almost blend in with the other electronic elements; an extra layer of synth to add to the mix. It’s a fun number that should have you dancing around whatever space you find yourself listening in.
Next up on the highlight reel of this record is “Vegas,” which plays into the R&B vibe that this band has played into. Slower and more seductive, but never sleazy as the title would suggest, this track is purely enticing to listen to. Leaneagh’s voice takes on some power in this track, though still not overt in its nature. Later on, Justin Vernon joins the group to add some much needed variety half way through the album. Such song, “Tiff” is a another slower number, but Vernon’s higher pitched backing vocals give a twist on the song that sets it apart from the other numbers; the element that seems to be lacking from some other tunes.
Despite its redundancy in sound to their debut album, and to itself in places, Shulamith is an album that offers a nice change up in your listening catalogue. Perhaps a bit too long—on a song to song basis as well as the whole album—there is definitely room for improvement. Obviously some tracks have gleaned my attention more than others, but if you’re looking for some new jams to groove out to, check it out.
Blending electronica with R&B sounds is definitely a popular route to make waves in the music world nowadays, but it’s not like Vondelpark haven’t been going at it for several years. That being said, their new effort, Seabed, manages to create an LP of songs that drift slowly into your subconscious without ever boring you.
Seabed opens with one of the album’s shorter tracks, “Quest,” and immediately the table is set for the rest of the record. Singer Lewis Rainsbury floats atop the opening lines, just before a shimmering guitar line smoothly moves in and out of the track. If you listen carefully, you can hear faint references to the IDM genre…it’s perhaps the band’s secret weapon. Those distant IDM/trip-hop touches allow the group to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, even though the emphasis revolves around the soothing vocal appeal. You can really hear this on the opening moments of “Dracula,” which eventually unfolds into a foray of experimental electronic bliss. This is easy listening for people with good tastes.
One of my favorite Vondelpark tracks on this effort has to be “Always Forever.” It begins as much of the songs due, inching its way towards perfection. Yet, just after the 30 second mark the song sees a bit of classical guitar sampling and an increased pace. The vocal performance is perhaps the best, and the most emphatic, especially when the vocal is looped just behind the main vocal. It’s dreamy, still, yet oddly energetic, considering the style of music the band composes. It’s placement in the middle of Seabed also makes way for a nice little digression in “California Analog Dream.” Guitar work takes a more prominent role here, as do the drums. For my ears, it’s the most sonically experimental track, melding all the various components present into one unique blend that moves beyond mere bedroom R&B. Together, these two tracks have been played the most through my dozen or so listens.
But, the group doesn’t just rely upon Rainsbury’s singing to leave their listeners in awe; just check out “Bananas (On My Biceps)” and its use of a vocal sample. At first, I struggled to find the merit of this track; it deals with lots of empty space in varying parts. However, the more time I spend with this record, the more that I’ve grown to appreciate the tune. There’s warm washes of atmospheric electronics, and the aforementioned vocal sample seems perfectly placed. Like much of the LP, mysteries unfold within and continue to impress your ears.
For me, Vondelpark seems perfectly fit to take the lead role in the emergence of this genre. Their sampling and IDM work are an homage to a purer time of trip-hop, while every vocal seems perfectly timed and tuned to fit the song. Seabed might not be your everyday listen, as it definitely sets its own mood, but it will reveal itself to be a stunning listen if you allow it some the appropriate time.