When stars collide.
LITTLE JOY – “How to Hang a Warhol” – as described by julia espero
Los Hermanos’ Rodrigo Amarante + the Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti + Binki Shapiro = Little Joy. Listen to the full album during any afternoon that makes you feel like pretending.
BROKEN BELLS – “The Ghost Inside” – as described by teddy morris-knower
In 2007 I had an hour and half argument with my friend over whether Gnarls Barkley (the group formed by CeeLo Green and Danger Mouse) was one person or two. Through this absolutely idiotic debate that would’ve been solved with a 12 second google search, I stumbled upon the incredible history of who Danger Mouse was (now updated to include most recent work):
1) Created the Grey Album (a mash up Jay-Z’s Whe Black Album and the Beatles’ Whe White Album)
2) Produced for CeeLo Green in Gnarls Barkley
3) Produced MF DOOM in Danger Doom
4) Produced Demon Days for the Gorillaz
5) Produced Beck’s Modern Guilt
6) Produced (3) albums for the Black Keys
7) Produced and co-wrote for The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ The Gateway
8) Produced and co-wrote for Norah Jones’ Little Broken Hearts
9) Produced and co-wrote for Electric Guests’ Mondo
10) Produced and co-wrote for Portugal. The Man’s Evil Friends
11) Produced and co-wrote for Adele’s 25
12) Produced and co-wrote for ASAP Rocky’s At.Long.Last.ASAP
Holy fucking shit. Who is this dude? What can he not do? Just the sheer magnitude and range of his work is staggering. I feel like I’m looking at Leonardo DaVinci if DaVinci but if DaVinci could make fat beats for ASAP Rocky. Anyway, he also teamed up the The Shin’s James Mercer for one of those sounds that you only get when you combine one of the most versatile producers in the 2000s with the lead singer of a grammy nominated indie rock band. Gorgeous.
DIVINE FITS – “Would That Not Be Nice” – as described by alex “alex alex just jumped over jumpman” cheng
Britt Daniel is underrated cool at its most reasonably underrated. As in, he is cool, and his cool is underrated, but when you think about how underrated his cool is, it’s hard to get angry about it, and also, like, he’s Britt Daniel, and he probably doesn’t care about it that much, so why should you? Basically, Britt Daniel is the kind of underrated cool where he can wear a black leather jacket and look cool and relaxed and really good, and that’s pretty crazy – like how many people can actually pull off a black leather jacket like that? – but it’s also not that big of a deal either way. Between Spoon albums, Divine Fits was an excuse for diehard Spoon fans to get an extra helping of Daniel’s intoxicatingly soulful rasp of a voice, of his crunchy guitar, of an approximation of Jim Eno’s endless in-the-pocket groove. You had to sit through a few predictably yelp-y songs by one of those Wolf Parade dudes, but, hey, that’s okay – diehard Spoon fans aren’t the type to complain about much.
(Disclaimer: Alex Cheng is from Minnesota, and the best concert he’s ever attended was a Spoon concert he went to with his sister at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the lyrics of the song “Would That Not Be Nice” mention the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He apologizes to readers for making them read that last self-indulgent sentence.)
MADVILLAIN – “All Caps” – as described by emily zhang
“THE BEAT IS SO BUTTER / PEEP THE SLOW CUTTER.” I love how unexpected this album is. Do you hear the FLUTES? Another song of theirs, Meat Grinder, has a Youtube comment that asks if they sampled Spongebob. I think about that comment so much.
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE & VASHTI BUNYAN – “It’s You” – as described by ena alvarado
The release of Prospect Hummer brought to an end Vashti Bunyan’s over thirty-year musical hiatus. The spellbinding EP is merely fifteen minutes long, and it served as an accompaniment to Animal Collective’s 2005 Sung Tongs. Later that year, Bunyan wrote and recorded her second solo album, Lookaftering—a magical work of art in its own right. “It’s You” is hypnotic. It gives listeners a taste of Bunyan’s brilliant comeback, as well as Animal Collective’s endless creative power. These are both extremely idiosyncratic and talented artists, and nothing short of exceptional music came from their collaborating efforts.
DIDDY – DIRTY MONEY – “Ass On The Floor” – as described by ned hardy
“Ass On The Floor” is the epitome of enthusiastic, unbridled pop — exactly what you’d expect from a song in which Swizz Beatz yells, “Them haters can’t tell you nothing!” multiple times in the first 30 seconds. I’ve never heard this record in a club, but I dream about it all the time. Over-caffeinated snare drums give way to glowing synths that expand and contract as Dawn Richards and Kalenna Harper harmonize with each other about being drunk and heartbroken.
Eventually, the smoke clears and Diddy glides in on a brand-new synth line, only to bless us with brilliant shit like: “That girl’s gon’ get you, muthafucka! Smoke weed, listening to Sade! I left my pain in Paris!” He pronounces Paris like, “Par-eeh.” It’s perfect. No one ever gives Sean Combs the respect that he deserves, and the fact that we still aren’t talking about Last Train to Paris — nearly seven years after its release — is proof of this, but when he’s in the right frame of mind, his genius shows. “When you’re in the club, get your ass on the floor.” Pop really can be that simple.
KANYE WEST feat. BON IVER – “Lost In The World” – as described by mika limcaoco
Not quite a completely new group, but still one of the greatest collaborations in recent memory. Bon Iver’s soft, honeyed vocals tenderly ease you into this underrated hit. The autotune keeps things interesting enough for you to stay alert and not go into that Bon Iver trance we all know too well (cue “it might be over SooOoOOoOOn”). The transition to Kanye is excitingly quick — a heavy conga-like beat kicks in, and Kanye’s deep, rhythmic voice creates a kind of contrast you can only get when two almost opposite artists collaborate. This marriage of a folk singer autotuned with one of the world’s most prolific rappers accompanied by heavy drums creates a sense of dizziness, uncertainty and excitement. Perhaps it is only too apropos that it’s title is “Lost in the World”.
NxWORRIES – “What More Can I Say”– as described by tess michaelson
Anderson .Paak and Knxledge duo NxWorries got this little song that sails into open-window-rooms like the Sunday smell of pancake batter. It definitely has a daytime feel to it, spring-time and blooming in its easy, lazy flow. It’s a quiet song too. Not something that you need to turn up very loud, not something that demands to be heard; its corners do not cut. A trumpet adorned melody rides on the song’s underbelly, while Anderson’s char grilled, yet somehow sweetly smooth, voice raps on about a capital T kind of trouble, the rambunctious and charming gripes of recess boys.
AUDIOSLAVE – “Be Yourself” – as described by helen thomaides
When the going [midterm season] gets tough, Audioslave [(Rage Against the Machine – Zack de la Rocha) + Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell] just wants you to be yourself. Sometimes it’s all that you can do.
SISYPHUS (SUFJAN STEVENS + SON LUX + SERENGETI) – “Rhythm of Devotion” – as described by eric wang
Consider for a moment what this song actually is. Sufjan is a sadsilly indie-folkster who has a voice like the wind between the trees and who wears fake wings at his concerts. Son Lux is an electronic composer who breathes dark, raspy life into towers of choppy metal and glass. Serengeti is a Chicago-area rapper I don’t know well enough to beat into an amusing caricature. It’s hard to see what any two of these could make together, let alone all three.
But one must imagine Sisyphus. And whether or not it works, it’s glorious.
PETE YORN & SCARLETT JOHANSSON – “Relator” – as described by elisabeth dee
Famous actress ScarJo and singer-songwriter Pete Yorn teamed up to release an album in 2009. Random? Yes. Lovely? Also yes. This is my favorite song from that collaboration.
CAROLE KING AND JAMES TAYLOR – “You’ve Got A Friend” – as described by nikki tran
The only other person who loves this song as much as me is my best friend’s mother. I’ve been thinking about romantic and platonic relationships, and the way we expect romance to require work–bumps in the road, long conversations to talk things out–but not the same care is given to friendships. Friends are great until they’re not, and we let unspoken frustrations drift us apart until we lose touch. Have a good life, see you never. In this song, King’s and Taylor ‘s aged voices unite (for just one night and one long awaited collab album!) and make me hopeful that maybe this isn’t the case, that friends can be here for the long-haul, ’till death do us part.
KANYE WEST and JAY-Z feat. BEYONCÉ – “Lift Off” – as described by anthony milki
An incredible track shared by the three biggest names in music somehow slipped through the cracks, and Beyoncé’s hook sounds like her life depends on it.
YONI AND GETI – “Allegheny” – as described by katie nesser
Anticon artists Serengeti and Yoni Wolf (of WHY? among other projects) teamed up this year under the shockingly original moniker Yoni and Geti, but what they lacked in naming ability, they made up for with a harmonious album that combined the best tendencies of the two, who often linger in the grey area between hip hop and whatever “indie rock” is today. Over their album Testarossa, they tell the story of a man named Davy who ghosts on his wife and kids in the pursuit of his career. Serengeti’s narrative rapping and Wolf’s more contemplative singing blend to create a compelling story, both heartbreaking and comedic.
Image from here.