BlackBook Tracks #25: It’s Technically Not Even Winter Yet

This week, I am saving all of us the embarrassment of what could have been a list of “Eight Hottest Hanukkah Songs By Jewish Musicians.”

Concrete Knives – “Wallpaper”

Go on, get carried away by the sweet melodies of Concrete Knives. “Wallpaper” is the first single from the French band’s forthcoming album Be Your Own King.

Ra Ra Riot – “When I Dream”

Ra Ra Riot are preparing for the release of third album Beta Love, and “When I Dream” is the second track we’ve heard from it so far. Frontman Wes Miles’ voice sounds more heartbreaking than ever, fragile in all the right ways.

Heems x Sufjan Stevens – “The Child With the Star On His Head”

In addition to having recorded a Christmas EP for every state of the union (or something like that), Sufjan Stevens has continued to prove himself as the most festive person in America by releasing a hip-hop mixtape entitled Chopped & Scrooged. “The Child With the Star On His Head” was produced by John Dieterich of Deerhoof and features the vocal talents of Heems (ex-Das Racist).

Darwin Deez – “Free (The Editorial Me)”

Lovable weirdo Darwin Deez is back with his blend of jangly guitars and programmed beats. “Free (The Editorial Me)” provides a first glimpse at his forthcoming album Songs For Imaginative People.

Parks – “Sweater Weather”

It’s past actual sweater weather, definitely so if you’re in Boston, the city that newcomers Parks call home. Look back on faintly warmer days with some charming indie pop.

Avan Lava – “Tear It Down”

A little disco bombast never hurt anyone, and Avan Lava’s infectious energy can’t be beat. Remember, you deserve to have a good time.

Sky Ferreira – “Everything Is Embarrassing” (Unknown Mortal Orchestra remix)

If you can’t get enough of Sky Ferreira’s Blood Orange-produced track “Everything Is Embarrassing,” Unknown Mortal Orchestra made a version that is nearly seven minutes long. That’s quite a bit of extra time to think about how the song’s title may or may not be your 2012 life motto.

FaltyDL ft. Ed MacFarlane – “She Sleeps”

Get your Friendly Fires fix as Ed MacFarlane lends muted vocals to producer FaltyDL’s insistent track “She Sleeps.”
 

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Sufjan Stevens Completes Your Seasonal Music Collection With Rap Mixtape

Holiday rap music is a frequently recorded but highly underappreciated genre. Surely, most connoisseurs of both hip-hop and Christmas tunes know the most tried-and-true standards—Run-D.M.C.’s “Christmas In Hollis,” Kurtis Blow’s “Christmas Rappin’”—and those who maybe don’t exhibit the same appreciation for the genre still looked up that video of DMX singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” But the genre still has just so much potential, so many tracks left unnoticed and so many holiday raps to even attempt, and who better than to bring seasonal rap to the Twitterin’, content-farmin’ masses than the ultimate Christmas music overachiever himself… Sufjan Stevens?

Of course Sufjan Stevens made a free Christmas rap mixtape, on top of Silver & Gold, the five-album new holiday set released last month. Of course he did. And of course it’s called Chopped and Scrooged, which, if you’re going to make a Christmas rap mixtape with a punny name addressing both of these qualities, you might as well make it something as great as that.

You’re probably reading this and not even batting an eye. And the roster of artists he compiled is as varied as his own cross-genre festive material. Heems (formerly of Das Racist) opens the mixtape with the commanding “The Boy With A Star on His Head,” a decidedly less jovial holiday rap than, say, “Christmas In Hollis,” but still effective, especially with the weird, atmospheric middle section from Stevens. Elsewhere, bounce master Nicky Da B invites Santa Claus over for an NSFW rendezvous on the scandalous and very fun “Christmas in the Room” and Kitty Pryde (who previously tweeted about the album) addresses Kris Kringle in a different manner, asking for gifts in the form of “Implants and Yankee Candles.” You can download the mixtape here or stream it via AsthmaticKitty’s SoundCloud below.

BlackBook Tracks #21: Bringing In The Funk

Hey, how’s your week been? Good? Well, it’s about to get better. Drink some craft beer and listen to these songs. Things are about to get funky.

Jamie Lidell – “What A Shame”

Jamie Lidell moved to Nashville last year to record his forthcoming self-titled album, and “What A Shame” is the first hint at what he’s been up to. It’s a blistering cut from the British-born electro-soul artist, heating things up even more since 2010’s Compass.

School of Seven Bells – “Secret Days”

School of Seven Bells just put out the Put Your Sad Down EP, helmed by a sprawling, majestic title track that clocks in at nearly 13 minutes. For something a little less intimidating, check out another track from the release, “Secret Days,” still a strong listen from the Brooklyn psych-pop duo.

inc. – “5 days”

So, how about that indie R&B scene? L.A. duo inc. are the latest to arrive, and they have a vision that’s dreamy, hazy, and altogether intimate.

Alt-J (feat. Mountain Man) – “Buffalo”

There’s a real cinematic quality to Alt-J’s music, and it’ll be put on full display when this previously unreleased track appears in the upcoming Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper film Silver Linings Playbook. It starts off more airy than what we’re used to hearing from the British art-rockers, but still hints at their characteristic driving low end.

El Perro Del Mar – “Home Is To Feel Like That”

Swedish singer-songwriter El Perro Del Mar’s fifth album, Pale Fire, came out this week. It’s a quiet stunner, and “Home Is To Feel Like That” sees her flirting with electronic glances.

Midnight Magic – “Walking The Midnight Streets”

You need more disco-funk in your life. Here’s the title track from Midnight Magic’s just-released debut LP. It’s a dancefloor-ready good time from a band featuring various DFA alums.

The 1969 Club – “Go Right Ahead”
French garage rock? It’s more likely than you think–or than I thought, anyways. “Go Right Ahead” rips hard, all churning guitars and catchy chorus.

 

Heems – “Third Thing”

 

It feels like more rappers have released mixtapes this week than usual? One of them is Heems of Das Racist, who just dropped Wild Water Kingdom. “Third Thing” sees him teaming up with esteemed Italian dance producers Crookers.

Fine Peduncle – “Hymniptera”

Let’s get weird with some sexy, sinister electro-pop. Looping vocals, choppy synths, and pulsing bass form a mysterious world.

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Das Racist’s Heems Releases ‘Nehru Jackets’ Mixtape

Das Racist rapper Heems is well established as a goofy dude, but his newest project is wholeheartedly on the level: he’s released a free mixtape entitled Nehru Jackets in alliance with SEVA NY, an organization looking to raise awareness about political redistricting in Queens. Speaking to the New York Observer earlier this month, he said, “This is a record where, doing it myself and not in Das Racist, I talk more about myself and my experiences being an Indian kid from Queens, and even before I met SEVA that’s in large part what the record was about." You can download the mixtape for free, but Heems encourages you to make a donation.

There’s appearances from Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, and Das Racist partner Kool A.D., among others. ”Listen to "Womyn 2," featuring Childish Gambino, below. Quoth Gambino, "Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em / It seems like we like them, we always rap about them." Hard to argue with that.