Song of the Day

Song of the Day: Lita-Ruta (Shugo Tokumaru)

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Shugo Tokumaru has done it again. While he is certainly no novice at mixing and cutting unrelated pieces of sound into a cohesive whole, this one takes the cake up to Everest. Each second that you waste on predicting its direction is one second less spent appreciating its wonderful, irregular tempo and tonality. Multiple streams of variations staggers amongst unexpected accompaniment and support vocal. For all his whimsy, Tokumaru has always managed to sound triumphal. Here, the main vocal is suitably joyous but there’s just a hint of insouciance. Yes, he probably doesn’t give a damn whether we understand his vision of the musical cubist equivalent. It might as well have been in Japanese – it wouldn’t dampen the spirits anyways.

Song of the Day: Future Islands – Ran

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The chest-thumping throwback that is Future Islands wowed me with Seasons 3 years ago. 15 seconds into this new single, the underlying structure that is undeniably their signature all but teleports itself into your eardrums instantaneously, with no hint of the trite “creative new direction” that so many acts attempt and fail miserably at in a follow up effort. Don’t fix what ain’t broken, and given their past success, more of a good thing cannot go wrong.

Although Sam Herring’s vocal style here has veered toward a more colour-distorted expressionist (almost a tar-tinged throat) feeling, “Ran” still harbours the same longingly joyous ambience that made them so enjoyable. It is also still comparatively short at around 3:30 in length – which is quickly chipping away the rewind button lifespan on my headphones. Their next full length, The Far Field, will be out in April.

Song of the Day: Evening Prayer (Jens Lekman)

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I had often entertained the idea of the aftermath when the libretto of the Requiem is set to the jibing synthesizer opera of the 80s from the likes of Vangelis. It isn’t THAT the melodies would conflict with the ultimate goal of the text. The sheer imagery of a titanic clash between two quintessential ideas of their times would give you hibbie-jibbies that resonates across 300 years. When I heard Jens Lekman’s Evening Prayer, it brought that same sense of delight – some one had finally put 1.50814 and 8.49186 together! “So that’s what it would feel like if I listened to someone’s battle against a tumor as the back-up singers belted highlights more fitting to open a 90s sitcom”. It is just interesting and even refreshing. Like having Confucius reciting the Analects in the rhythm of Gangnam Style. Yes, I felt no immediate sense of guilt, taking pleasure in a song about suffering. In fact, the lyrics were set from a time when the tumor had been removed and made material by the plastic grace of a 3D printer. “It looks lunar”, Lekman writes. Perhaps. Or perhaps it was just the lyrics reflecting on how awkward, uncomfortable, and foreign the whole situation was.

SXSW Song Of The Day: St. Tropez – Democracy

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Photo credit: Sanja Marušic

“Democracy,” the lead single off of Dutch garage rockers St. Tropez‘s upcoming EP Debate, is an in-your-face, short and sweet slice of political rock and roll, offering up “the band’s vision on fear, populism, debate, naivety, nationalism, hope, politics, immigration and democracy” all in less than two minutes.

The accompanying video features a masked, enigmatic figure wandering through deserts and empty highways, but where is he headed and what does he want? Is he searching for democracy? Is he perhaps a personification of democracy itself? Is he maybe just some dude in a shiny suit and a cowboy hat who’s looking to buy some ice cream or something? All good questions …

Debate is out February 23 and the band will be playing shows through February and March to promote it, including a few appearances in Austin for SXSW.

23 Feb – Oedipus, Amsterdam
25 Feb – 8 MM, Berlin
27 Feb – Shacklewell Arms, London (EP release show)
08 Mar – Good Room, New York City
10 Mar – Piano’s, New York City
16 Mar – Dutch House, SXSW
18 Mar – Sidewinder, SXSW
22 Mar – Silverlake Lounge, Los Angeles