Over the last three decades, RHCP have overcome just about every rock n roll crisis under the sun (drug addiction, line-up changes, Woodstock 99′, etc). It shouldn’t be surprising then that they’ve managed to return after the departure of irreplaceable guitar god John Frusciante (for the second time). And now with Keidis, Flea, and Smith all approaching 50, and five years having passed since their bloated double album Stadium Arcadium won five Grammys, the Cali-obsessed crew once again face change, and they do it this time by: not really changing. LP 10, I’m With You, stays in the familiar funk ballad comfort zone, but goes lean on outright singles, making for a more focused, but at times bland, hour.
One of the clearest signs of innovation is when other artists all seem to ‘ooo’ and ‘ahh’ at the same time over a sound — us bloggers do this more often, but when it comes from musical peers, it tends to be more meaningful. Last time shockwaves in the bedroom electronic world were felt in this kind of way was probably the response to Panda Bear‘s influential landmark, Person Pitch (same can be said for James Blake, though not as direct a comparison). Last week, a smaller-scale, but similar collective sensation took place over all networks as pre-release buzz built around Wander / Wonder, the debut LP from Alec Koone, a 20-year-old Ithaca college student. Like Pitch, this album works in a very unique, almost revelatory atmosphere—his made up of sloshing textures, lost orchestras, and manipulated vocals. While last year’s EP See Birds might have placed Balam Acab in the dark confines of witch house conversations, Wander / Wonder is an entirely separate statement, washing away any sense of doom to reveal a deep, isolated beauty.
Fresh off last month’s Sorry For The Wait mixtape, and just hours after a bizarre show-closing performance at the VMA’s, Lil Wayne dropped the much anticipated Tha Carter IV at midnight yesterday. This all follows a few misguided ventures into guitar and auto-tune, not to mention a nine month stint in jail, and it appears to be a legitimate campaign for the top of the hip-hop game (or higher, see “John” line: “If I die today, remember me like John Lennon”), complete with a heap of A-list guests (Andre 3000, Drake, Busta Rhymes, John Legend, etc), and a jab pointed in Jay-Z’s direction. Seems a bit ambitious given the fact that Hova has clearly claimed The Throne, and that community consensus thus far on IV is “a mixed bag”—not quite the universal praise III saw.
Infectious, endearingly a little lost in translation, the 2006 dance anthem “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex” made Brazilian synth-popsters Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) international ‘new rave’ superstars, and it sold a ton of iPods. 2008’s follow-up, Donkey, attempted to throw a glossier party, but forgot the jams. On their third outing, CSS have recharged and landed somewhere in between. It recaptures the playful spirit of their debut, but not all of the hooks—still, singer Lovefoxxx has her fun, throwing nonsense sex punk lines everywhere, going breezy on standout “Hits Me Like a Rock” and brash on closer “F— Everything.”
Noisy ‘math rock’ doesn’t quite do the science behind this volatile crossing justice. The immensely technical, ferociously chaotic reaction that only Zach Hill and Spencer Seim can spark as Hella, has always been something to marvel at, like a fireworks finale (on top of a mountain, during the apocalypse). The Sacramento force last took to the sky in 2007 on There’s No 666 in Outer Space, which saw them expand to a 5-piece. Since then, Hill, perhaps this generation’s most fabled drummer, has stayed active on his own, with Marnie Stern, and most recently, as part of Death Grips. He and Seim are back to basics on Tripper, somehow achieving comparable size to that previous effort, able to hide pop melodies beneath clouds of debris, and remain the furthest thing from safe.