• Warpaint at Union Pool, Brooklyn, January 17, 2014 / Photo by Chad Kamenshine

    Warpaint Walk the Fine Line Between 'Hypnotic' and 'Snoozy' on Album No. 2

    The first and last time I saw Spiritualized — seated in the balcony of Hollywood's Palace Theatre on November 12, 1997, during the Ladies & Gentleman We Are Floating in Space tour — I fell asleep. My friends razzed me accordingly, and with good reason: This was freakin' Spiritualized in 1997, arguably at the height of their powers. How could anyone nod off in the presence of such next-level exploratory ambient shoegaze post-punk radicalness? All these years later, Warpaint's lovely and harrowing sophomore album suggests an answer: There is a fine line between sleep and hypnosis, between faded and fading, and if as a band you choose to exist on that line, you risk leaving your listeners dozing instead of dazed.Now, Warpaint, though a bit noodly and navel-gazing, are nonetheless well-respected. Formed in 2004, they gigged around L.A.

  • beats

    Is Beats Music All It's Cracked Up to Be?

    Imagine your favorite song; now ask yourself why it's your favorite. Some reasons are quantifiable — the musical key, the genre, the tempo, the release date, the instrumentation, and anything else you can train a computer to measure — and others aren't, such as what you were doing the first (or last) time you heard it. You also "discovered" that song, somehow — via the radio, via a blog, via friends and loved ones — and shared that discovery with friends and loved ones in turn. Let's call this whole shebang your experience of music, the process responsible for the emotional connection to this thing you love and cherish.Now guess what? That emotional connection — it's missing! You've lost it!

  • Chvrches at Fox Theater, Oakland, California, November 17, 2013 / Photo by Wilson Lee

    Preaching to the Converted: Chvrches Kick Off Tour in Oakland

  • Cut Copy / Photo by Michael Muller

    Cut Copy Indulge the Banal, Vapid Side of '90s House on the Constricting 'Free Your Mind'

    It's not a good sign when a band's new record reminds you of a band you used to really like, and it's the same band. It's been about two years since Cut Copy hit us with their third album, Zonoscope, a 2011 year-end favorite and rightly so: The thing was voracious and gleefully vertiginous, as likely to wink in the direction of Men at Work as at a peak-hour 21st-century dance floor. Moreover, it cemented this Australian outfit's rep as a synth-pop band par excellence, one that might eventually deserve a spot on the genre's Mount Rushmore alongside Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, and, I dunno, Erasure.But man, two years feels like a long time ago.Kinda sorta about cults or something, Free Your Mind takes nine jams and five tracks of trippy dialogue snippets to accomplish in 50 minutes what the Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds" did in eight, in 1990.

  • Cults perform at Capitol Hill Block Party 2013

    Cults' 'Static' Is a Forward-Thinking Breakup Record That Actually Respects Itself, and You

    It's hard to move forward if you can't make sense of the past, whatever set of events led you from love to loss: his night moves, her suspicious mind, someone's annoying back tattoo. Thus do NYC duo Cults find themselves stuck in the middle with us on their sophomore album, a dissolving-romance chronicle that refuses to let go: "I wind up all the old clocks / So I can say we never missed a beat."Get me out of here, take me back: That's breaking up in a nutshell, and Cults till this soil multiple ways. Take the sonics of Static. In the rearview mirror, there's the Wall of Sound familiar to fans of Cults' self-titled 2011 debut: reverberated, adenoidal vocals; twinkling bells and chimes; resplendent guitars; tremulous organs that evoke the Beach Boys; playful rhythms that evoke the beach.

  • King Krule / Photo by Cory Schwartz

    King Krule's '6 Feet Beneath the Moon' Is the Best 'Steely Dan Gone Dubstep' Album of 2013

    Dubstep has become a word, like "codependent" or "post-modern," that is not especially well understood to begin with, and at this point is so widely misused as to signify very little. So let's shave some barnacles off the term and zero in on a definition for the purposes of the foregoing: Let "dubstep" here equal "creepily nuanced production, canted song structures, and amorphous dub — yes, dub — textures." See also: Burial, James Blake. Do not see: Skrillex.As for this summer, see also two albums from acts who at first glance seem neither similar to one another nor to their dubstep forebears, until you look a little closer: Daughn Gibson's July ambient-trucker freakout Me Moan and, this week, King Krule's sprawling jazz-punk oddity 6 Feet Beneath the Moon.

  • Pretty Lights, 'A Color Map' (Pretty Lights Music)

    Pretty Lights, 'A Color Map' (Pretty Lights Music)

    If EDM is the biggest thing to happen to popular music since hip-hop, then perhaps the gentleman otherwise known as Pretty Lights is the genre's Will Smith.

  • The Lonely Island / Joe Scarnici/Wire Image

    The Lonely Island, 'The Wack Album' (Republic)

    Just how funny is whiteness? How hilarious is it to experience awkward white dudes grappling with such challenges as fitting in at the club, singing R&B hooks, impressing the opposite sex, rapping, raging on Spring Break, trying to look cool in sunglasses, and just generally attempting to get through life while not knowing how to dance? Weird Al seemingly answered this question with "White and Nerdy" — it's funny for about five minutes — but that hasn't stopped the Lonely Island from building an entire career off the subject.And so, how many licks does it take to get to the center of this particular joke?

  • Daft Punk, 'Random Access Memories' (Columbia)

    Daft Punk, 'Random Access Memories' (Columbia)

    So the album opens like an overture to a Siegfried & Roy revue: smoke machines and lasers, spandex and glitter, roller-skaters and fire-breathers, blown-back hair, gold lamé, rhinestones, dancers, a bear — the whole nine — as meanwhile our hosts, digital magicians Thomas and Guy-Manuel, are lowered down on a sequin-clad, feather-trussed platform, smiles plastered across their cyborg visages, arms gesturing as if to say, in the gayest voice ever run through a vocoder, Boy have we got a show for you!Costumes and crescendos, set pieces and guest stars, a loose concept, big budgets, and one helluva of a marketing campaign: If Daft Punk's Random Access Memories sounds like a new Broadway musical, that's because it might as well be.Starlight Express, Jesus Christ Superstar, the lovechild of Bob Fosse and George Lucas: These are good touch points.

  • Have another beer with FIDLAR / Photo by David Black

    FIDLAR, 'FIDLAR' (Mom + Pop)

    Anyone been to L.A. lately? Oh man, that place is a shithole — someone went and cleaned it all up! Downtown is now "Downtown!"; Jimmy Kimmel is the biggest freak on Hollywood Boulevard; and you can't even score under the Santa Monica Pier anymore. It's like someone went and made Lauren Conrad mayor.

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