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October 26 2012

5 discs to dance to in the rain

David Blot

Rock or RnB, the 5 essential albums for Fall.

TAME IMPALA “Lonerism”

It would be easy to get annoyed by the tidal wave – call it hype, if you will – being caused by this band, similar to that experienced by Metronomy last year. Simply put: Tame Impala and their psychedelic rock from Australia is THE band to listen to in 2012 – and we are only at the beginning of the wave. But it would be a shame (to get annoyed). Because the group is good, with a very good second album. Yes the references abound – Lennon under feedback effects – and the result is one of brilliant melodic maturity. And given their youth, they are, what, 24 years old on average between them, there will be plenty of time to criticize them when they reform for their 50th anniversary.

ARIEL PINK “Mature Themes”

Ariel Pink, whose real name is Ariel Marcus Rosenberg has waited far too long to find success. A key figure in the underground Angelino scene supported at the time by other luminaries, the Animal Collective, Ariel Pink has long enjoyed releasing readily obscure and innovative records. For two albums now (the effect of passing 30, maybe) the gentleman, multi-instrumentalist and passionate songwriter has decided to format his music a little more in order to finally reach a wider audience. On this disc “Mature Themes”, you can feel him having fun with forms and sounds, playing with pop as he played with underground before. Ariel Pink is finally humming – to our great delight.

JEREMIH “Late Nights With…”

Let us look at the phenomenon of mix tapes for a second. Historically this implied a K7 (‘tape’) done by DJs (‘mix’) and sold under the table in order to become known. The advantage over a mix being sold in the more traditional sense being that the DJ was not obliged to declare usage of the tracks and pay a fee. So he could put everything he wanted on his mix tape and demonstrate his skills as a mixer. Following a phenomenon that the author of these words cannot yet explain, the mix tape in the age of the Internet has lost its cassette format in order to be bought online. They have also lost their price tags to become totally free virtual objects, without which Madame HADOPI (French Creation and Internet Law) would get bored eventually. And they are no longer reserved for DJs only but are now done by anyone, usually in the hip hop industry, who wants to become known or offer a gift to their fans. In fact they are everywhere – almost every day a different mix tape surfaces on the net, sometimes from the big names on the circuit (in September alone, Rick Ross, Drake and Talib Kweli have all released one). Often a mixed bag, sometimes a bit long, some are nonetheless essential. Such is the case of this great mixtape by RnB singer Jeremih with silky production and perfect vocal. And when it goes on sale, we’ll buy it with our eyes closed.

FRANK OCEAN “Channel Orange”

In truth this disc was released in the summer. But nevertheless we will listen to it with pleasure until Christmas. Between “Thinking About You”, the superb opening love ballad, and “Pyramids”, the more than 9 minute long, Prince-style culmination of the album, Frank Ocean, the prodigy child from the band of Los Angeles rappers Odd Future, has come on very strong with his first real album (he also released an essential mix tape last year, and also completely free like Jeremih’s) by bowing to the feet of funk, soul, hip hop, electro and pop enthusiasts. With a little bit of everything… does this make him Master of the Universe? Hopefully, this doesn’t give him a big head.


A simple Ep to finish, with 5 tracks, not really an album, but a preview of a disc to come. Zodiac (Jeremy Rose in civilian life) was the co producer of the work of the Canadian, The Weeknd, one of the most popular names last year (3 mix tapes of just him in 2011, and a first real announced for the end of this year). But since there has been a falling out between the Canadians, Jeremy Rose is rolling solo under the name Zodiac. Whether it’s him, The Weeknd, How To Dress Well or XXYYXX, these are the custodians of what should be called “Intelligent RnB” – or neo ambient experiments à la Aphex Twin mixed with impeccable Soul vocals. Or how to smoke a joint and have sex at the same time. Vive Zodiac!

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