If you’ve managed to read this site regularly over the years and avoid our unfailing praise of Brooklyn’s Night Manager, then you deserve some sort of prize for obliviousness. Last summer, when we weren’t doing much writing, Night Manager tossed out a 7 track eponymous release that we never got around to mentioning. It’s more than likely had we been writing regularly at the time I’d have caught wind of the release, but I unfortunately did not until today, whereupon I promptly snapped it up for a fin. While we were still futzing around enjoying time away from the site, sadly it seems, shortly after that release the band went mostly belly up. Without knowing the intimate details, one might assume this is due to guitarist Ezana Edwards moving back home to San Francisco.
About a month and a half ago, the Night Manager social media pages brought news regarding a new demo, alluding to a collaboration with a known band. True to those words comes new project Blood Sister, which finds Edwards working alongside Ryan Grubbs and Kyle Hoover of Ganglians. Upon the first guitar notes it’s quite obvious it’s Edwards who’s the driving force here, as the ramshackle, distortion-heavy lo-fi goodness that the band employs is instantly familiar. The lyrics remain damn near unintelligible too, much like with the band I most closely associate Night Manager with: Gauntlet Hair. The new-band smell has hardly had time to dissipate even the most minuscule amount, so latch on early to what will hopefully be a continuously fruitful venture in the long term.
You’ve heard Night Beds’ “Ramona” before, on Whiskeytown’s Pneumonia. Not literally, in case you were going to check the tracklisting, but in essence; it’s “Under Your Breath” mixed up with “Jacksonville Skyline”, isn’t it? And aren’t we all, to be honest, a little tired of the soul-laid-bare lead singer? It’s understood, at this point, that the pointed ache he’s feeling is the product of life itself, of living it, and being able to share it with an individual other than himself. It’s not peculiarly tragic or particularly special.
And yet, you haven’t heard Night Beds’ “Ramona.” There’s a specific scuff to Winston Yellen’s vocals, a singular mourn to it that can’t have its lineage traced to anyone else we’ve heard before. When he runs his voice roughshod over “come on, Ramona” it’s a plea unlike anything else in the expansive alt-country/Americana canon. It’s an entreaty unique to this moment, and one that’s more welcome in our libraries than we’d initially like to let on.
Then you look at your play counts, and realize it’s been repeated thirtysomething times in the past week, and any reservations about having heard it all before are fallen by the wayside. And then you order the goddamn album on vinyl, because – sure as shit – the rest of it is as good as this is.
Music’s heavier hitters have been releasing news about their upcoming projects of late; Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience will be out in March, Phoenix’s new effort, Bankrupt! will be released at the end of April, and James Blake is set for another go-round of his generally accessible dubstep, after releasing the first track “Retrograde” last week.
The premiere of the track on Zane Lowe’s show led to radio rips being posted any and everywhere, most of which have been subsequently removed. But Blake followed the premiere up with the video for the song as well, and after listening to it quite a few times, it’s probably time to talk about it here.
Blake is adept at his mournful, mid-tempo brand of dubstep, and “Retrograde” doesn’t do anything to knock him off of that particular pedestal. In fact, it only advances his cause; this is easily the best song I’ve heard out of him, which bodes well if he wants to be considered anything more substantial than his breakout 2011.
As for the video itself, it doesn’t do anything particularly profound, and, if I’m honest, I didn’t use it as anything other than a vehicle for the song itself. I’ll leave the critique of it to other willing parties.
The album this track is from is called Overgrown, and it will be out at the beginning of April. No word on pre-order, but the single is available for download right this second at the normal digital retailers.
Directed by Sam Pilling, who also directed the videos for Usher’s “Climax” and WU LYF’s “We Bros,” is back with direction on SBTRKT’s video for “Hold On,” the second track from his excellent 2011 self-titled album. I’ll let the video speak for itself.
I was supposed to write a review of Frankie Rose’s Interstellar, but clearly I never did. Every time I attempt a review I’ve assigned myself, I always suffer a lack of things to say. The only reviews I truly feel compelled to write are those I form strong opinions about in complex ways. Interstellar is a pretty good record, it’s just not one I had a lot to say about. Here is the video for “Night Swim,” a typically good song from the release.