STREAM: St. Vincent’s Complete Live Set at Pitchfork Music Festival

St. Vincent’s self-titled fourth record is without a doubt in my top ten for the year. Her music is an idiosyncratic mix of post-Bowie stylized weirdness, syncopated, dance-able rhythms, and off-kilter guitar bravado. There is no one in her league. Her lyrics are intellectual and articulate with the requisite amount of oddness to match the music’s strict left-of-center bent. She’s clearly come into her own musically with this record, and her live show brings a theatrical element that elevates her bizarre stories and dystopian commentary. If watching her perform doesn’t make you want to buy her records, I can’t help you.

STREAM: Chromatics “White Light”

Johnny Jewel has been unearthing a slew of Chromatics jams lately on his SoundCloud page. Not sure to what end but since it’s been a minute since the last Chromatics full length, these scraps are making up for lost time. “White Light” is brocade of wispy synths, over-reverbed guitar, and the requisite ethereal vocals.

Always Pay Your Sound Guy: Courtney Love Edition

Unless you have God-given perfect pitch, singing live is no easy feat. So many variables with which to contend. If you can’t hear yourself, you’re totally effed. So, I feel slightly bad about posting this, but at the same time I love these isolated tracks when they show up on YouTube because, you know, trainwrecks and all that … can’t avert your eyes or ears in this case. Speaking of train wrecks, it’s Courtney Love. And, man, there’s not enough pitch shifting software in the world to fix this catastrophe. And then there’s the isolated guitar playing. Good God. This was posted out of spite by a sound man who was commissioned to record this particular show, but no one wanted to pay the invoice. So, he shared his recording. [via Buddyhead]

STREAM: Broncho “It’s On”

It’s amazing what the exposure from being featured on the closing credits of an episode of Girls can do for you. It’s not that Broncho’s (soft “ch”) blend of garage punk with obvious pop hooks wouldn’t stand up on its own, but being christened with Lena Dunham’s seal of approval is an automatic 7″ seller. It also helps that the song is an instant earworm for anyone with a penchant for unpretentious old school DIY punk. I love the simplicity of this song. And the swagger. It rocks.

Drew Harkins’ Top Albums of 2013 (better late than never edition)

You think you’ve got game, and then you meet Drew Harkins and you throw the game away because you just can’t win.

Deerhunter, Monomania (4AD)

Pick your favorite review of this album:

a.) Monomania is a willfully inscrutable/abstruse nocturnal garage pastiche of shopworn indie standards, pieced together meticulously from a post-nothing fakebook, delivered with mesmerizing panache and terrorizing aplomb.

b.) Deerhunter’s Monomania re-imagined as a Phish setlist, the way that guy from Dirty Projectors did Black Flag:

Anti-Scale Mode -> Puke Racket, Pot Arpeggioz, Schlock & Choogle II, Churn/Thrust N’ Fey, Jam Progression -> Lawnmower Ratchet -> Omega Point, Denouement, Coy Spoon Acoustic Reprise

c.) When you get a tattoo on your shin, the majority of the work takes place on the fleshy haft of your lower leg. It’s mostly easy dermis for canvas, all smooth and humming along with the perfect amount of pinch, subtly reminding that you’re permanently defacing your skin.

The only actual pain comes when the needle bears down on the distal ends. A pitted feeling sucks your gut but passes quickly. Those couple moments when the point clicks over that little groove in the ridgeline is the real treat, because it’s just enough to make your privates tingle.

d.) The Black Lips dudes dubbed Monomania “transcend-fi” and I see no reason to reinvent the wheel.

e.) Yes, Bradford. It was great. And it was punk.

Queens of the Stone Age, …Like Clockwork (Matador)

“Some men are so macho they’ll get you pregnant just to kill a rabbit.” – Maureen Murphy

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Phife Writes “#dearDILLA” Letter

February would have been a big month for James Dewitt Yancey, better known as die uberproducer J Dilla, this year, were he alive.

February marks both Dilla’s birthday — he’d have been 40 on Feb. 7 — and  release date of his magnum opus Donuts, released shortly after his untimely death in 2006. Since 2007, hip-hop heads have marked Dilla’s memory with loving tributes held for worldwide. (The Charleston-based Dillamental live instrumental tribute, hosts shows in Charleston and Raleigh in early February.) And emcees have continued to uses Dilla’s beats and evoke his name, furthering his already significant legacy.

One of the best tributes this year, though, comes from one of Dilla’s former collaborators: Rapper Phife Dawg, erstwhile of A Tribe Called Quest. “#dearDILLA” is both touching — it opens with a soliloquy from Phife about a dream he had about sharing a hospital room with Dilla (Phife has well documented health struggles himself) — and head-nodding, Phife spitting over a jazzier rendition of Dilla’s “Hold Tight” beat from Slum Village‘s Fantastic, Vol. 2.

“Jay Dee, flip another beat for me,” Phife chants, almost like a mantra, in the chorus. Would that he could.