April 23, 2013

Spinning Singles

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Daft Punk, “Get Lucky”

With all of Daft Punk’s futurism — their mindful manipulation of machine music and their metallic identities — it’s somewhat surprising to find that they are “ambivalent” about their place as the godfathers of the modern EDM movement. One look at Skrillex’s impressive stage-show, replete with giant cyborgs, seizure-inducing lights and the sounds of vomiting Super Nintendos, surely indicates that the future the robotic duo foretold is finally here, right?

Maybe we read Daft Punk all wrong. They aren’t some sort of Philip K. Dick novel, predicting the end of music as we know it. “We’ve come too far to ignore who we are,” Pharrell sings on “Get Lucky,” the first single from Daft Punk’s upcoming Random Access Memories. And what Daft Punk is is this: lithe grooves, choice collaborations (both Pharrell and dance-funk guitar legend Niles Rodgers kill it here) and paeans to long nights out in pursuit of drinks and fornication. The ’70s disco vibe of “Get Lucky” is timeless; until the signature vocoder breakdown, one might mistake it for a subdued Earth, Wind and Fire track. Perhaps Daft Punk aren’t futurists as much as they are retro-futurists, but that really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we’ve been given a dance track sure to be the soundtrack of the summer, and we better be damn sure we use it (ir-)responsibly. — James Rainis ’14

James Blake, “Overgrown”

Starting with a few calm strikes of a piano and a tender moan, James Blake sets the scene for a living, breathing, evolving track with “Overgrown.” The title track of his latest LP is classic Blake. “Overgrown’s” only constant is a drum beat in standard time, while shimmering piano and full bass fall on the rhythm in a calculatedly sporadic mix. The eclectic sounds ebb and flow over time, eventually building to a head of gloriously fuzzy noise at the end, as the piano finally overtakes the percussion. As Blake’s signature mix of R&B and trip hop tends to do, the song continuously twists, contorts and unravels itself as it transfers energy from emotion to emotion.

Blake’s characteristically warm, passionate voice is as present as ever on “Overgrown.” Never wavering in volume, the heady vocals in the beginning get looped as the track reaches its chaotic finish, and by then they have artfully blended into the mélange of sounds and rhythms. Although Blake solemnly informs us that “time passes in the constant state,” at the outset of the track, he clearly tries to disprove that claim through the metamorphosis in “Overgrown.” — Michael Sosnick ’16

MGMT, “Alien Days”

It’s hard to believe that MGMT hasn’t put out new material in over three years — not since its sophomore LP back in 2010. But our favorite Wesleyan grads have quietly crept back onto our radars with the release of “Alien Days,” an unsurprisingly bizarre, trippy sci-fi odyssey, appropriately released on a certain holiday (April 20th’s Record Store Day, of course). The track appears on the band’s upcoming self-titled third record, and if “Alien Days” can tell us anything about what’s to come, it’s that MGMT won’t sound all that different than the polarizing Congratulations. “Alien Days” is neither catchy nor upbeat. It’s long, heavy on acoustic guitar and synth arrangements and is essentially the opposite of the stuff on Oracular Spectacular that catapulted the band into popularity. And, yeah, it’s pretty weird — it opens with VanWyngarden’s vocals which have been sped up so much he sounds like a little kid. During a synth solo over fuzz bass VanWyngarden’s voice is sometimes unrecognizable as he turns in his signature falsetto for a deeper register. The track is further proof that after abandoning the college-party-friendly sound of Oracular Spectacular, MGMT continues to come into its own as a couple of skilled composers who just want to nerd out and make kooky psychedelic rock. When MGMT comes out later this year, we will definitely be in for a treat. — Sydney Ramsden ’14

Original Author: Sun Staff