“i” — Kendrick Lamar
The letter “i” does double duty on Kendrick Lamar’s latest single, serving not only as the track’s title but also paying tribute to the Isley Brothers. The West Coast rapper brilliantly samples the guitar solo from “That Lady,” crafting a sunny hook to accompany the sublime lyrical verses he spits. “I love myself,” sings Lamar in his song of the same title, and “i” is just another reason for us to too.
“minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]” — Aphex Twin
It has been 13 years since Richard D. James has released music under his genre-defining pseudonym Aphex Twin, and electronic music has changed irrevocably in his absence. Splitting into endless branches and subcategories, the electronica we’re used to is distorted, catchy and simplistic; in short, everything Aphex Twin’s music is not. “minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]” is a delicately detailed and ever-changing mixture of sounds and grooves with more nuances than the careful listener will be able to grasp upon first listen. The complexity of this track does not make it inaccessible, however. It only makes it more enchanting.
“Nintendo Blood” — Julian Casablancas + the Voidz
Julian Casablancas is back on the music scene with the help of the Voidz, a project that finds the Strokes frontman further exploring last year’s electronic sounds of The Strokes’ “Comedown Machine.” Fusing a driving bassline with a symphony of keyboards, “Nintendo Blood” sounds something like an indie rock version of the Super Metroid theme. “Tyranny” is Julian Casablancas’ first album with the Voidz, released this week on Cult Records.
“Prince Johnny” — St. Vincent
Indie pop’s queen of art rock, jazz and electronica, St. Vincent’s reign is evident on the regal “Prince Johnny,” a spelling-binding ballad that boasts one of the year’s catchiest melodies. After several scheduling conflicts, St. Vincent will finally be performing at Cleveland’s House of Blues on September 30 in promotion of her latest, self-titled release. Doors open at 7 p.m.; tickets are $32.
“Everyone’s On Tour” — Nada Surf
“Everyone’s On Tour” is one of the many rare recordings released by alt-rock veterans Nada Surf on their new collection, “B-Sides,” out Sept. 23 on Barsuk Records. Of all the songs on this album, the grit of this track’s thundering guitar riff make “Everyone’s On Tour” a stand out piece of power pop.
Retro Pick of the Week:
The combination of acoustic guitar and strings that open “Daysleeper” are a sunrise captured in music: bright, crisp, warm and ready to dispel darkness. R.E.M. vocalist Michael Stipe’s soaring vocals only add to the image, carrying this song’s majestic melody while daring you to hum along. Even though this song isn’t likely to be one of the most well known on a best-of compilation, it is still essential listening from the rich catalog of alternative rock’s most important band.
Teddy Eisenberg is a third year programmer at WRUW-FM 91.1 Cleveland. He hosts The ’59 Sound, an exploration of rock music, every Thursday morning from 8-10 a.m. and co-hosts the variety talk show Max and Teddy in the Morning at Night (Sometimes) on Mondays from 5-6 p.m. The crackle of vinyl warms him on cold Cleveland nights.