Greetings party people. I seem to be in a funk and not the awesome kind that you hear George Clinton or Da Brat raving about. Appropriately, much of today’s new music includes dark overtones but it’s interesting to hear how each artist has approached their sound from a different angle. When we’re all done here, let’s group hug it out. Oh, and in case you’re looking for some on-demand(ish) music recommendations for your mood, remember to tweet to @AfterEllen with the hash tag #MyGayDJ. It’s the closest I’ll ever be to being a legit pocket-gay.
Grimes — Visions (4AD Ltd.)
The universe has basically been telling me to send Claire Boucher, the 23-year-old electronic DJ/Producer known as Grimes, a late Valentine’s present. In my mind, it would need to be a homemade meatloaf baked in the shape of a heart — or the same type of meal made with textured vegetable protein depending on her dietary needs. I feel like she’d enjoy a good sexy food fight with that meal, too. And, yes, if you’re wondering, slow motion footage of said sexy food fight would be perfect visuals (in my bizarre mind) for her music videos.
Her sound as an electronic musician is really unique; it’s like the young girl with the cute schoolgirl look and the soft-spoken voice who you have no other choice but to be totally creeped out by and also want to follow everywhere. I am not joking when I say my Twitter feed, including one of you sweet readers, mentioned her “cute lisp” about five times in 10 minutes. I’ll be seeing her live show in a couple of weeks so if you’re at the Chicago show, come and say hi! Listen and love it over here.
Sleigh Bells — Reign of Terror (Mom + Pop)
Sleigh Bells is one of those bands that I feel like I should like a lot more than I actually do. I just don’t really get it. Many of my friends are avid listeners who made sure to set their DVRs this past Saturday to catch them on Saturday Night Live and I know Pitchfork. is all up in their Kool-Aid. Me? I feel like I’m just not cool enough to appreciate the electro-metal they put out and whatever they’re doing with the drum machine in every song makes me feel like I’m about to have a panic attack. So you can see how it might be hard for me to stick around to listen to an entire album.
So this is me saying, it’s not you, Sleigh Bells; it’s me.
Tying Tiffany — Dark Days, White Nights (self-released)
The Italian beauty’s latest album was actually released a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately was not on my radar. Since I already corrected that mistake for myself, I wanted to make sure you reaped the benefits as well.
Tying Tiffany is a very different dark electronic act than Grimes. There is an urgency in her voice and the beats behind her words propel the music forward as though they were a part of a dramatic movie chase that you might see in The Matrix or a similar sci-fi thriller. I’d be willing to bet that fans of the Industrial scene will love this.
Sinead O’Connor — How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? (Dreamac Ltd)
Sinead O’Connor has had a really difficult past decade and, in my opinion, her public antics took away a lot of interest in her music career. It’s like, even at her best, she reminds you of the smart, socially awkward kid in class who is much less fun to have around than a character from The Big Bang Theory.
The past couple of years though, there have been signs of a change. A positive force in O’Connor’s world seems to have brought a sensitivity and optimism into her demeanor that was seldom seen publicly. Her latest release paints the picture of someone who has found love and is trying to let themselves be more open and vulnerable than they have been in a long time. The album isn’t all beer and skittles, there are darker parts reminiscent of some of her older work, in particular, “Take Off Your Shoes,” which explores her previous problems with the Catholic church and her now becoming a born-again Christian.
I’ve found that I’m a bit torn with this album. The more literal songs are kind of annoying but the ones that leave room for bringing yourself into the songs are really great, such as “Back Where You Belong.” One thing is for sure, though: I think I’m finally at a point in life where I don’t dismiss her music immediately. Stream the entire album at NPR.
Hanne Hukkelberg — Featherbrain (Propeller Recordings)
I’ll start out by saying that this album won’t be for everyone but for anyone who has an unconditional love for PJ Harvey, this will be quite a treat. In many ways this album is an experimental dark opera and yet it still clings on to a bit of indie-pop. The Oslo native includes many instruments you rarely hear on albums and while I wouldn’t quite compare her to Matmos, I can appreciate her use of a teakettle as a part of a song arrangement.
Honorable Mentions: Avan Lava, Battles, Bonnie “Prince Billy”, Bright Moments, Cursive, Ducky, Jonquil, Perfume Genius, Tindersticks, My Best Fiend, Zola Jesus (EP), Princeton, The Sidekicks, Tyga and Galactic.
That’s all for this week but please join me on the #MyGayDJ tweet tag so we can all help each other discover new (and old) music. Feel free say “Waddup” to me on Twitter, “Like” everything my mom posts on my Facebook wall or name your pet hamster after me. I’ll be back again next week with more new tunes.