Caribou's new album is titled Our Love, and its percussive flourishes remind me of something by Señor Coconut with electronics à la Daft Punk or Kraftwerk and vox by Echo & the Bunnymen. Those aren’t necessarily bad things, but they’re highly derivative. Tracks like “Can’t Do Without You” may possess their own quirky brand of inertia, but all the conceits are previously established, right down to the 8-bit video game-soundtrack embellishment; and bearded hipster gamers wait in line (on the internet) for this not-so-heavy shit to drop. Caribou controller Dan Snaith is inventive throughout this recording and subtle in acquisition and display of influence, yet it all resolves into something vaguely familiar, something we’ve heard before. I swear I heard the title track on BBC One back in 1994.
Ellison aka Flying Lotus’ new album is titled You’re Dead! Like many left-field magicians working overtime in the City of Angels, Flying Lotus’ multi-genre, maximalist approach to hip-hop wasn’t designed to convey the urban experience of displacement or despair so much as its transcendence. “Never Catch Me” opens with an informed piano riff leading into a complex discourse by the rhythm section, segueing seamlessly into flow; “I can see the darkness in me” is an admonition to embrace critical self-exploration and deconstruction. Blunt observations erupt amid choral affect, flanged-out guitar solos, chunky keys and heavy reference to bebop. Twenty tracks range from meta-referential “Obligatory Cadence” to epic “Coronus, the Terminator.” You’re Dead! is worthy of a Sunday morning double feature with Space is the Place or Trout Mask Replica.
If you wanna know what Radiohead sounds like without all the bristles, nostalgic noise and blaring terror of the future, check out the B-side of their debut LP Pablo Honey, their EP Itch or pass some time with Radiohead drummer Philip Selway’s second solo outing Weatherhouse. Whenever Ringo or Nick Mason (... Fictitious Sports, anyone?) released a sans-famous ensemble thingy, no one ever really gave a damn. That result ain’t likely with Weatherhouse, a work as confident in its melodic, narrative focus as its Brit-prog inclinations and lineage. Distinctively Radiohead-flavored at times, especially in its lush instrumentation, Weatherhouse diverges from the aforementioned band’s aesthetic totally, tonally on “Miles Away” and in an embrace of laconic melody on “It Will End in Tears.” The recording itself is evocative and a welcome contrast to Thom Yorke’s spartan sensibilities.