Courtesy of the artists
Clockwise from upper left: Run The Jewels, Brian Eno, Taylor Kirk of Timber Timbre, The Lowland Hum
Courtesy of the artists
We've officially closed the books on 2016 (finally), and we're ready to fall in love with some new music, from the big and hopeful to the crushingly sad.
We begin with the beautiful, brilliantly meditative ambient album Reflection by Brian Eno. It's a song that Bob notes a lot of people could use right about now, and one you can listen to as long as you'd like with Eno's "generative" app of the same name. The smartphone app uses complex, artfully designed algorithms to form, morph and endlessly stream variations of the album, never repeating the same lines or patterns twice.
Bob also has some more down-to-earth tunes from the husband-wife folk duo Lowland Hum and the sometimes psychedelic Brooklyn rock group Landlady.
Run The Jewels was just at NPR for what may be my all-time favorite Tiny Desk concert (we'll be posting that Feb. 6), so with my brain still humming from all the good feels, I play "Down," the opening cut to the duo's latest album, RTJ3. I've also got the brooding, sometimes disquieting music of Timber Timbre. That band is back with Sincerely, Future Pollution, a new album heavily shaped by the political upheaval of the past year. And finally, I take us out with "CLC," a powerful, uplifting song about soul-searching from Tall Tall Trees, a project led by banjo player Mike Savino.
All that, plus an animated GIF for an album cover and the story of how and why Bob decided to lacquer a very special banana.
-- Robin Hilton
By Brian Eno
Composer, producer and musical mind Brian Eno begins the new year with a single-track ambient record, Reflection. The album arrives with an eponymous "generative" music app that allows listeners with a smartphone to hear an "endless" version. With "Reflection," our rule-based rule-breaker unleashes soothing, algorithmic gold, providing a serene backdrop to these uncertain times.
"Down (feat. Joi Gilliam)"
From 'Run The Jewels 3'
By Run The Jewels
We bring you "Down," the opening cut from Run The Jewels' third self-titled album, which the duo gave away for free late last month. According RTJ3's final track, Killer Mike and El-P "didn't have no plans, didn't see no arc," but three records deep, they persist with an inextinguishable fire.
From 'The World Is A Loud Place'
"Electric Abdomen," the opener of Landlady's third LP, describes the feeling when music compels you to move your hips and shake your body, even when your best judgment dictates otherwise. Here, frontman Adam Schatz delivers Beatles-tinged "glo-fi" of pure heart, soul and pelvis...with animated album art to boot.
From 'Sincerely, Future Pollution'
By Timber Timbre
For the newest single by our neighbors from Canada, the spirit within the typically apolitical Timber Timbre compelled these singer-songwriters to produce a dusky and dystopic ode to the current climate. The track serves as one of many possible answers to the essential question: How will the musical community respond to today's great political upheaval?
By Lowland Hum
Vulnerability in song can be refreshing, especially when it reflects the questions we ask ourselves. On "Palm Lines," folk duo Lowland Hum exposes its insecurity in full, pondering the path ahead. Doubt may be their inspiration, but the message is one of persistence, as Daniel and Lauren Goans trudge into the future, one foot in front of the other.
By Tall Tall Trees
With "CLC," songwriter and Kishi Bashi-collaborator Mike Savino uses his banjo in delightful and paradoxical ways, stretching tight Appalachian tones across tales of isolation on the New York subway. Written partly from within the forest, the hauntingly beautiful tune cycles through moods and colors. Savino pines for a simpler life, alternating gentle, precision plucking with washes of dissonant, twisted-up realities.