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Yeasayer: “Ambling Alp“
With its mystical lyrics and psychedelic flourishes, Yeasayer’s debut record, All Hour Cymbals, was the feel-good indie rock record of ’07. However, “Ambling Alp,” the first track from the group’s sophomore record to see the light of day, finds the Brooklyn band getting more direct with its positive vibes. Chris Keating drops more motivational couplets here than a Deepak Chopra press release. “The world can be an unfair place at times/But your lows will have a compliment of highs,” he sings. The song bears a marked resemblance to Rusted Root, but that’s a good thing. No, really. “Ambling Alp” suggests that Yeasayer’s next record is going to single-handedly revive the djembe economy in 2010.
Four Tet: “Love Cry“
Rhythm has always been integral to the schtick of Four Tet (AKA electronic musician Kieran Hebden), but “Love Cry,” from a new limited edition 12″ is the best he’s ever done at making straight-up dance music. On last year’s Ringer EP, Hebden shed his busy post-rock roots with four stripped-down and hypnotic tracks that borrowed equally from Villalobos-style minimal techno and afrobeat. “Love Cry” goes even further, ditching chords, melodies, and dramatic gestures for a killer pulse and a single note bass line.
Javelin may have a few rough edges—hiss-heavy production and high-frequency synth squeals—but the Brooklyn duo’s music is mostly just smooth sailing. Listening to “Twyce,” from Javelin’s debut Thrill Jockey 12″, is sort of like stepping through a Sandals advertisement and onto an actual Caribbean beach. Mostly because there’s a ton of cowbell. The funky vintage keyboard parts, which suggest a sizable amount of time spent listening to Wally Badarou’s Kraftwerk-in-the-Bahamas-album Echoes, doesn’t hurt either.
Woodsman: “Dikembe Mutombo“
The American West is a fertile habitat for head-music. For instance, LaMonte Young, the Grandmaster Flash of heavy drone, found his original inspiration in the incessant winds of his native Idaho. But most people out there just seem content to tool around on a mandolin. What a drag. Denver Colorado’s Woodsman, at least, are making good on all of that wide open space. “Dikembe Mutombo,” has is thoroughly stocked with rippling guitar figures and post-Hawkwind trance rhythms.