Some voices just can't hide. Daniel Rossen, a cardinal member of Grizzly Bear, as well as the figure-head of Department of Eagles, isn't able to keep his muse quiet for too long. That's why, despite the fact that GB is presently amid studio sessions for a follow-up to 2009's Veckatimest, Rossen still found time to release this little 5-track wonder. Recording under his very own name for the first time, Rossen's signature slippery vocals, and expansive song structures are intact. The EP could almost slip seamlessly into the catalogue of either of Rossen's bands, but its minimalist production sets it apart. Grizzly would have undoubtably dressed spooky Saint Nothing in extra effects, and Department might have tacked on more sonic shifts to the sure-footed Up On High. This is a lovely collection that shows a very familiar song-writer trying out a few tricks, reminding us of just how irreplaceable he is.
Open Up Your Heart---The Men
I'll just come out with it: I'm a pretty big softy as far as music is concerned. Gone are the days of my life when louder bands were simply better bands, causing genres like Noise Rock, Metal, and Punk to appear largely untouchable to me. 2012 seems focused on making me eat my words, Cloud Nothings having already released a Punk album that hit me just right, and here come The Men, winning another one for the genre. Last year's LP, Leave Home, left me a bit cold, but Open Up Your Heart is too red-hot to ever do such a thing. It positively rips into its opener, Turn it Around, and almost doesn't let up from then out. And this isn't all just heavy-hitting, mind you: Oscillation sounds like the sunny side of heyday New Order, while Candy is a country-tinged take on the Rolling Stones' mellow swagger. This is rock in a way that we hardly ever see it anymore; Gritty, affectionate, varied, freed from the reigns of obsessive studio adjustments, and all kinds of great.
So, how does this sound to you: A 41-track (?!?) Hip-Hop album, all beats by Portishead alums Geoff Barrow and Stuart Matthews, almost each and every tune featuring a different, undiscovered MC. I know, right? My jaw just about dropped off of my face when I found this the other day, and the contents did not disappoint. Over a party-ready span of an Hour and ten minutes, Quakers shoots you all over the map of modern Hip-Hop, flipping madly from bouncy, funky fun (Smoke feat. Jonwayne), to stomping, militant marches (War Drums Ft. Phat Kat & Guilty Simpson). My favorite thus far is Fitta Happier Ft. Guilty Simpson & MED, a tune that features a positively monstrous sample of Radiohead's The National Anthem, possibly the best rap sample of the band that I've ever heard (which, surprisingly, is kind of saying something). If you really love Hip-Hop, you should have this one on your computer by the end of the day. Clock's a-tickin'!