April, you cruel temptress. In last month’s digest, I complained about March’s unseasonably cool weather, but looked forward to the bright future that April promised, only to be crushed once again with temperatures reaching freezing, and actual snow flakes falling from the sky on the luckiest 13th day of April, following a week of nonstop rain, wind, clouds and complete and other gray, followed by more actual snowflakes on April 20 and 24. [Update: Its now May 2 and it's been glorious for a week.] For a winter that also started unseasonably early this year, it’s safe to say that most of the Midwest is on the precipice of losing its collective mind. The people at Coachella complaining that it’s too hot aren’t really helping matters either.
A few things can help cure those mid April winter blues, if you are unfortunate enough to be experiencing them like myself. One of those things is getting to see Disclosure in your very own city. Besides them playing a bunch of new songs from their upcoming album, they talked a bit about how excited they were to be in a city that inspired them so much, and you could tell they meant it. We danced our heads off and all was good.
Another thing that can help is when you’re at home on a Saturday night on a day when you’ve taking 3 multi-hundred question practice exams for a weird certification that you aren’t quite sure why you’re getting, and you find out that Jai Paul has randomly posted a stream of his debut album on his Bandcamp page. I’d heard this was a possibility a while back nothing since, so figured it was just a weird rumor. But then that turned out to be stolen and not really real, even though it was definitely Jai Paul. Just not his actual debut album, which may or may not be an actual thing that exists. In an effort to drown our collective sorrows, it’s important that we set a few minutes aside to listen to “Jasmine” and imagine the day when a real life Jai Paul album might become more than a lucid dream. I think it’s what the world needs right now. You should also go here to listen to the non-embeddable “BTSTU” if you need more convincing.
And since this post has featured young British lads exclusively thus far, let’s keep it going so I can talk about my current obsession with James Blake’s Overgrown. It started with me listening to “Retrograde”, a song I praised in February and forgot about until last week, on repeat for approximately 5 days, finally segueing into the entire album on repeat. It feels like the perfect marriage of his pre-album EPs and the singer songwriter minimal vibe of his first album, and it all works together so naturally. Album opener “Overgrown” is a great example of this. But dang, there are some really fantastic songs on this album. And he’s got quite the soulful voice that makes you feel feelings. And RZA is even on this album and it feels natural and perfect. And the silver lining of my recently cancelled trip to San Francisco is that I will now be in town for what I have to imagine is Mr. Blake’s first appearance in Detroit. It’s a rare and beautiful thing when an artist plays in your town at the very height of your obsession with that artist.
Here’s that RZA collab.
Before we step just outside of the UK, let’s just acknowledge the wonderful fact that Gold Panda is releasing a new album, and then let’s listen to our first taste of the album in “Brazil”. Mad love for the sounds Golda Panda makes.
Let’s move one nation to the west and talk some more about our Irish friends Solar Bears who’ve recently put out their latest album Supermigration. It’s brimming with sounds from times gone by, though they feel quite refreshing in this context, and that’s what these guys do so very well. I’ve been having a tough time trying to describe the wonderful sounds that make up the album, except to note that they are certainly otherworldy and not like much else you’ve heard as of late. Check out the album below, and throw these guys some of your hard earned cash because they certainly deserve it. And if you want to catch them live in action, check out their wonderful Boiler Room set from a while back.
So far, it’s clear that the greater UK area (hope the Irish don’t hate me for that one) are winning music right now. But we can still move outside of that geographical zone, if it pleases the court, and move towards some New England/Chilean vibes via this Nicolas Jaar remix of Grizzly Bear bb’s “Sleeping Ute”. It’s super abstract and minimal for legit 3 minutes, and then this song becomes more Nico Jaar than you thought was possible based on the original. And that’s what makes a remix so special. Something you know and love totally re-imagined as something completely its own. I’ll be seeing both of these acts for the first (proper) time this summer, with Jaar playing the main stage at Movement this year, and Grizzly Bear bbs playing shows in Detroit and a late summer Friday Grand Rapids gig that I just might try to hit up, too. Enjoy the next 7+ minutes of eerie beats.
It’s now the month of May, and besides DEMF (er, Movement Electronic Music Festival) right here in Detroit which officially kicks off summer, there is another certain May tradition that just might make another appearance this year….