July 2015: Pitchfork and more

Beach House - Sparks - New single from the forthcoming album. Great dreamy stuff. I can't hear Beach House without being transported back to their set at Pitchfork in 2012. Pure professionalism, romance, magic. Great stuff. Some friends and I were talking about the band recently, and agreed that although they don't seem likely to do anything startlingly new any time soon, that's ok. 

N.E.R.D. - Lapdance - Just a great sound for that mood when you want something to slap you across your calves.

Bola De Nieve - Drume Negrita  The lady and I took a road trip for July 4th up to northern Michigan for some camping and fishing. On the way back I was playing Ry Cooder's collaboration with Manuel Galbán, Mambo SinuendoShe recognized their version of "Drume Negrita" as a classic from Cuban singer Bola De Nieve, who was new to me. Great soul, both rough and gentle at the same time. 

Nuru Kane - Bambala - Great track from this globe-trotting disc.

Cate Le Bon - Greta - This month just got a hankering for some Le Bon. A freaky freak-out from my favorite of hers. 

Quelle Chris - We Want It Alive - Can't quite remember now how I ended up listening to this Detroit rapper, but I love the crispness of this track. I feel like Detroit is secretly killing it all over the place. 

The Wood Brothers - Neon Tombstone - Again, not sure how I ended up on Wood Brothers. Someone turned me on to this group featuring Chris Wood (Medeski, Martin, and Wood) and his brother Oliver. Love the loose harmonies. 

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Harold's - Freddie Gibbs was my biggest revelation at Pitchfork this year. In a crowd of rappers leaning heavily on their crew of 6 extraneous dudes with mics to bring heft to their performance (and generally render their vocals unintelligible in the process), Gibbs commanded the stage with nothing but his drunk jackhammer of a voice. Sometimes literally, as collaborator Madlib regularly dropped out altogether, leaving nothing but Gibss to move the crowd. Finally, Freddie Gibbs won me over by acknowledging the dissonance of black rappers performing for the overwhelmingly white (and hipster) P-fork crowd. The previous day, I experienced serious queasiness and cultural disorientation when ASAP Ferg exhorted the crowd to "put their guns in the air." What does it mean for a crowd of privileged people to do that in the same city where this "shooting tracker" shows 29 shootings that weekend, including a 12 year old boy riding a scooter? It's gross. On the other hand, Freddie Gibbs deftly turned that dissonance into honesty and humor, stopping the music at the beginning of one crowd-participation exhortation to say, "White people! It's okay, you can sing 'Ride for my nigga'!" Just having a performer acknowledge that weirdness felt like a breath of fresh air. 

Jimmy Whispers - I Get Lost In You In the Summertime - Jimmy Whispers had the suspect privilege of kicking of Pitchfork's Saturday at 1pm. Hot and sweaty, he turned the afternoon into his own Lynchian funhouse, complete with full band (that looked like high schoolers), American flags, crowd-surfing, and alter-alter-ego Kimmy Whiskers. Weird, fun, and a great way to start the day.

The Julie Ruin - Oh Come On - Making up for their cancelled performance from 2014, Kathleen Hannah and crew brought the kind of bare-faced good humor you would expect. It's kind of hard not to feel like Hannah could be your high-strung friend. 

Mdou Moctar - Tahoultine - Moctar's crazy Saharan remake of Purple Rain (movie and album!) are not available on Spotify, but this gives some flavor of the cultural and chronological mishmash he's after.