Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Dark Necessities”

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Everything is happening this week. It’s been five long years, but both Radiohead and now the Red Hot Chili Peppers have returned with brand new songs. “Dark Necessities,” unlike Radiohead’s virtual disappearance before the release of “Burn the Witch,” comes with little fanfare. The album will be available on iTunes and has a full tracklist and album art (above). Die-hard Chili Peppers fans: keep in mind, this is only the first single. “Dark Necessities” is the second song on The Getaway, and is a radio-friendly, instantly-catchy Chili Peppers hit, akin to “Dani California,” or “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” off their last album, 2011’s I’m With You.

The track begins with a very modern sound, an indie-rock build of sorts (Danger Mouse is the album’s producer). But it quickly breaks down into a classic Chili Peppers funk line with the help of Flea’s one-of-a-kind bass-slapping style. The big, bright hand claps add a mod-80s feel, but Anthony Kiedis’ voice remains a defining feature of the anthemic stadium-rock the Chili’s have been crafting since their early days as a 90s funk-punk band. “Dark Necessities” uses piano effectively to create a more expansive sound that Kiedis and co were beginning to move towards on I’m With You, and Josh Klinghoffer’s guitar work here is exceptional, proving that he can not only fill Frusciante’s shoes but take his signature guitar tone to new places. If “Dark Necessities” is any indication, there’s lots to expect from the Red Hot Chili Peppers first album in five years, out June 17.

The Getaway tracklist:

1. The Getaway
2. Dark Necessities
3. We Turn Red
4. The Longest Wave
5. Goodbye Angels
6. Sick Love
7. Go Robot
8. Feasting on the Flowers
9. Detroit
10. This Ticonderoga
11. Encore
12. The Hunter
13. Dreams of a Samurai

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Radiohead: “Burn the Witch”

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After a lot of waiting, Radiohead have finally released new music. “Burn the Witch” is the first single from their upcoming album (which has been rumoured to be coming in June). The track has been teased by the band for more than a decade. Last week, fans in the UK received mysterious leaflets in the mail that said “Sing the song of sixpence that goes / Burn the witch / We know where you live,” the final lines from the song. Over the weekend, Radiohead’s Facebook and Twitter accounts began to disappear, profile pictures and cover photos being replaced by blank images. Their website slowly faded until it too was completely blank. Last night, a teaser appeared on their Instagram of a claymation bird, and then this morning we got a full video to accompany the release of the song.

“Burn the Witch” is a churning, building, absolutely massive Radiohead song. Backed by an orchestral string arrangement, the heavy bass line when it comes in allows Thom Yorke’s voice to take flight. “This is a low-flying panic attack,” he sings before the song’s ominous chorus: “Burn the witch / Burn the witch / We know where you live.” The song’s political undertones are evident in lines such as “Do not react / Shoot the messengers,” and interestingly, the ‘witch’ burned in the video is a man with a notebook who has come to inspect the claymation town. Johnny Greenwood’s impressive arrangement (he’s been performing with symphony orchestras for the last few years) alongside Yorke’s impeccable songwriting reaches its startling conclusion as the song escalates into noise—something Radiohead have always been good at—as the ‘witch’ in the video is set ablaze.

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James Blake: “Timeless”

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James Blake “Timeless” begins with a slow build that is as soulful as it is smooth. Over it, Blake croons “I can’t be selfless / I’m acting my age,” the most concrete lyrics he gives us in the 4:00 long track, which premiered on his BBC Radio 1 residency. Blake is preparing to release a new album, and “Timeless” gives fans a lot to look forward to. The blend of styles Blake creates here is phenomenal, as the track builds from minimalist electronic production to a hard synth-line that mirrors trap and current hip-hop sounds, all while weaving in textures and lines that conjure everything from modern soul to Middle Eastern guitar music. But when the alarm sounds midway through the track it ironically makes “Timeless” sound not so timeless at all – it’s the moment of the drop, an extremely current and in many ways dying trend in music. “Timeless,” then, comes as a subtle comment on the current state of electronic music from one of it’s best and, arguably, one of its most likely candidates to stand the test of time.

Kaytranada: “Glowed Up” (feat. Anderson .Paak)

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Kaytranada’s “Glowed Up” begins with a spacey, alien-sounding intro before the beat comes in behind Anderson .Paak’s smooth, rambunctious flow. “I’m glowed up” he repeats through much of the song, perhaps referencing his recent string of guest appearances following his major-label debut Malibu. “Lately I’ve been glowed up… Feeling like the only one out here / Even if I slowed up / Got enough purp to last the whole damn night here” he sings over the track’s prominent big synth line, giving it an anthemic chorus. But then the track takes off in a new direction, and the bassy, jazzy, Flying Lotus-esque bridge/outro gives .Paak a chance to reflect on his fame and success. “Not just another name / Not just some wannabe,” he sings, and you have to agree that Anderson .Paak is pretty well here to stay – Malibu is still the best album of the year so far. But teaming up with Kaytranada here takes his talents to another level, backed by slick production and one of the most interesting beats of the year, recalling the production on Outkast’s ATLiens and updating it to rival that of Drake’s most recent work.

Kendrick Lamar: “untitled 03” | 05.28.2013.

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Kendrick Lamar first performed an untitled track on “The Colbert Report” back in 2014, before To Pimp A Butterfly was even released. The track was only a raw, unfinished segment, but many like myself were drawn in by the political energy of its lyrics, and were disappointed when it didn’t make an appearance on TPAB, especially because it had all the elements of some of the album’s best transitional tracks, and was backed by no less than Thundercat, Bilal, Terrace Martin, and Anna Wise. Now, we finally have a recorded version,  and although it doesn’t match the energy of the performance, its lyrics are sharp and well-conceived, and the accompanying rhythm is funky and fresh. Lamar sings about his rise to fame (and economic success) in relation to ethnically different views of success, racialized through “the black man,” “the asian,” “the indian,” and “the white man.” But his treatment is both philosophical and poetic, tender and raw. A highlight from the TPAB demos, this is the one that should have made the album.

FKA twigs: “Good to Love”

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On “Good to Love,” FKA twigs strips back the production elements of last year’s M3LL155X EP, and ends up sounding a lot more classic. She reminds us that she’s a phenomenal singer, as well as a performer and producer, and writes a love song. “Good to Love” is soft and sultry, capturing the very best of twigs’ talent, a beautiful ballad and instant modern R&B classic.