Comebacks and covers galore this week. Fall’s biggest releases get previewed. Let’s dig in.
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz — “Human Sadness”
At first glance, Julian Casablancas’ new 11-minute song is positively masturbatory. After listening to it a few times on loop, I can’t decide if it’s total shit or genius. It’s certainly different from what he’s known for: it’s neither tight nor swaggering. Instead of confidently walk-of-shaming down the Bowery, Casablancas and his backing band are aimlessly wandering. Tortured and incoherent ramblings that show his vocal range, prog-feedback guitar solos, video-game synths, space-rock interludes — basically, Julian Casablancas has realized he’s no longer “cool,” and his sound shows it. I like it more than his aging schtick, though. His first album with The Voidz, Tyranny, is out September 23.
Flying Lotus — “Never Catch Me” feat. Kendrick Lamar
I’m confident Steven Ellison’s fifth Flying Lotus album, You’re Dead! (out October 7), will introduce jazz to young hip-hop and electronic music fans, as well as elevate his own status. Kendrick Lamar’s involvement is one reason why, but make no mistake, this pairing isn’t about star power. Kendrick is one of the few rappers whose natural rhythm feels smooth and speedy enough to serve as the vocal on Ellison’s futuristic vision of jazz.
Aphex Twin — “minipops 67 [120.2]
There’s a certain amount of build-up that plays into an influential artist’s first new work in more than a decade. It’s been 13 years since Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin, put out a new song, so I suppose what I’m most impressed by here is that he hasn’t missed a beat. The first song we’ve heard off his forthcoming Syro (out September 23) sounds signature yet incredibly current, like he’s been keeping tabs on what the IDM community has been doing since he holed up in his house. Lithe and fucking weird is a tough combo to pull off. James makes it look like child’s play.
Robyn — “Too Late (Today)” (Arthur Russell cover)
Robyn contributed to the forthcoming Arthur Russell tribute album from Red Hot, the organization that “fights AIDS through pop culture” with “Tell You (Today),” a deep cut from Russell’s disco band Loose Joints in 1983. In the process, our favorite Swedish pop delight made me retroactively sad that she wasn’t working during the glory days of Studio 54. I would pay good money for Robyn x Giorgio Moroder.
Steve Gunn — “Way Out Weather”
Beck’s latest album, Morning Phase, was pegged as a return to the style of Sea Change, his 2002 sad-bastard masterpiece. I find this new Steve Gunn to live up to those promises a little more than Beck’s new one, actually. The former guitarist in Kurt Vile’s Violaters backing band, Gunn favors the sleepily scenic route when it comes to country-tinged acoustic rock. His latest, Way Out Weather, is out October 7.
Bonus thing: Willow Smith covering King Krule’s “Easy Easy”
Nary a hair-whipping in sight, Will and Jada’s controversial youngest has finally discovered cool music and done it her way. I’ll admit it: I’m ready for the Willow Smith revolution, take two.