The upside of long holiday weekends is obviously not having to go to work. The downside is how quickly boredom hits. Thank god for this marathon of The Walking Dead. Getting reacquainted with the first two seasons only justifies my hatred for Andrea as well as the bad-assery of Daryl.
But the real upside to long weekends is that it gives me a chance to come back here after a couple of months of neglect and catching up in our Monthly Backtracks Mixtapes. Our third mixtape in three days gets us back on track as we finally revisit last month with June 2013 Backtracks.
June 2013 Backtracks
1. Jagwar Ma, “The Throw”: The best part of being friends with fellow DJs is that we tend to check out each other’s music recommendations based solely on said DJ’s music tastes. That’s what led me to this Australian act, Jagwar Ma. It was DJ Michael V. (follow him on Twitter - https://twitter.com/vMichaelv) who had posted a 9-minute remix of Jagwar Ma’s “Man I Need” – a swirling psychedelic opus that owes heavily to the Madchester scene. The rest of their debut album, Howlin’, brings Britpop and dance music together so seamlessly that it’s easy to forget what year it is. “The Throw” falls squarely on the dance music end of the spectrum with a hypnotic groove that recalls a decade gone by without sounding like a complete throwback.
2. Empire Of The Sun, “Alive”: Another act hailing from Australia, Empire Of The Sun aims as big as their extravagant stage-show with their second album, Ice On The Dune. The record’s first single, “Alive,” has a stadium-sized chorus that calls for instant sing-alongs.
3.Future Bible Heroes, “Let’s Go To Sleep (And Never Come Back)”: I have to admit that when I started doing college radio, I fell for Future Bible Heroes before ever hearing The Magnetic Fields. That might explain why I’ve always gravitated to FBH’s clever, straightforward electro-pop. Their brand new album, Partygoing is the exact album I’ve been waiting to hear from this band. Knowing Chris Ewen (full disclosure, he and I are friends and have DJ’ed together on multiple occasions) it’s clear to see his fingerprints on each song as his synths flicker and flutter leaving enough room for the vocals of both Stephin Merritt and Claudia Gonson. It’s the latter’s airy coos that make “Let’s Go To Sleep (And Never Come Back)” sound like a soothing lullaby.
4. Austra, “Painful Like”: Canada’s Austra relies heavily on the operatic vocals of Katie Stelmanis. It’s what carried much of their 2011 album, Feel It Break. And while their sophomore effort, Olympia may not stray too far from that same course, the electronics are allowed to paint a bigger picture with subtle touches of techno-pop and house music seeping in. “Painful Like” is one of Olympia’s highlights with its percolating beats and simmering synths giving the song a slightly fractured R&B aura.
5. Nine Inch Nails, “Came Back Haunted”: “I’ve been less than honest about what I’ve really been up to lately. For the last year I’ve been secretly working non-stop with Atticus Ross and Alan Moulder on a new, full-length Nine Inch Nails record, which I am happy to say is finished and frankly fucking great.” That quote was how Trent Reznor announced that new NIN material was forthcoming. It was one of the best things I’d ever read because no one expected it. A new album in September (Hesitation Marks due out on 9/3) and a full-on arena tour in the fall all preceded by “Came Back Haunted,” the first new Nine Inch Nails song to emerge since 2008’s The Slip. It reminds me of “The Hand That Feeds” but with less guitar sort of tying NIN’s distant past with the more recent past like Pretty Hate Machine-meets-With Teeth. Also, it’s definitely no coincidence that “Came Back Haunted” was released on June 6th, otherwise known as my birthday.
6. Ell V Gore, “Her Vicious”: Ell V Gore is a Canadian artist I know very little about. But with a name like that, it’s no big shocker that his music would have hints of goth, death-rock, and No Wave. His first EP, Static Sex is a guttural blast of unhinged goth-punk. The clanging “Her Vicious” sounds like it’s drenched in sex and depravity most likely having never seen the daylight.
7. Big Deal, “Dream Machine”: UK duo, Big Deal have already done a bit of evolving since their first album, Lights Out. Back then, they were stripped down to just two guitars and bare emotions for all to see. On their latest, June Gloom, they add drums into the mix transforming songs from heart-wrenching to gut-punching. It’s a change that works well for them as heard on the cascading chorus of “Dream Machine.”
8. Franz Ferdinand, “Right Action”: It’s been a while since we last heard from suave Scottish post-punks, Franz Ferdinand. August will see the release of Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, the band’s follow-up to 2009’s Tonight. That album was preceded by two singles. “Right Action” finds Franz Ferdinand striking a familiar pose armed with angular guitars and Alex Kapranos’ seductive croon. And right now, the world can use a little bit more Franz Ferdinand.
9. Splashh, “Headspins”: Young UK upstarts, Splashh take their cues from the ghost of indie rock’s past. Their debut album, Comfort, has plenty of 90’s tricks to it, but with “Headspins” they’re borrowing some Pixies-dust and adding some fuzz to make it their own.
* Not included on the Spotify playlist *
10. Pixies, “Bagboy”: Speaking of surprise comebacks, the Pixies returned with their first new song since 2004’s “Bam Thwok.” On “Bagboy” they may be without Kim Deal, but that’s the song’s only drawback as it sounds just as one would think the Pixies should sound in 2013.
And there you go, finally caught up with out Monthly Backtracks Mixtapes. Tomorrow we've got one more mixtape just for the hell of it since it is a long weekend and all. As always, listen loud and become immersed.