Five Pitchfork Festival Bands You Should Be Listening To Right Now
Pitchfork’s editor-in-chief recommends bands from this year’s festival.
Every two weeks, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: Mark Richardson, the editor-in-chief of Pitchfork.com and author of the book Zaireeka. This Friday, The Pitchfork Music Festival 2011 kicks off in Chicago.
EMA, Past Life Martyred Saints
EMA is Erika M. Anderson, from Oakland via South Dakota, and she makes bleak, multi-layered drone rock that is shot through with a few rays of hope. Her voice sometimes recalls Liz Phair, her songwriting could be compared to Live Through This-era Hole, and her approach to sound sometimes brings to mind Sonic Youth. But Past Life Martyred Saints somehow combines all of these influences into something that feels distinct, intimate, and personal.
James Blake, James Blake
We first heard of this U.K. producer in the context of experimentally minded 12" singles that could be loosely classified as post-dubstep. His tracks were alternately dense and spacious with a keen ear for sound design and a lot of love for cavernous bass, but nothing about them said "pop music." His self-titled debut album changed that, however, with vocal-led tracks that mixed his virtuosic production with song and melody.
Destroyer main-man Dan Bejar has rocked out, dabbled in lo-fi, touched on new wave, and grabbed his acoustic and gone folksy, but he's never sounded quite like this. Drawing inspiration from Roxy Music and other icons of early-80s new-romantic pop, Bejar wrapped his songs in a pillowy-soft gauze and added trilling saxophones. But his songwriting is as sharp as ever, resulting what is arguably his career-best record, and certainly the easiest entry point into his catalog.
Shabazz Palaces, Black Up
This album is from a project led Ishmael Butler, formerly of '90s downtempo rap collective Digable Planets, and it sounds like nothing else you'll hear this year. Bass-heavy, disorienting, fragmented, but ultimately still coherent, Black Up is avant-garde hip-hop laced with relatable human concerns.
Listen: "Swerve… The Reeping of All That Is Worthwhile (Noir Not Withstanding)"
Gang Gang Dance, Eye Contact
For years, New York's Gang Gang Dance have been making weird pop that incorporates spiky noise, hip-hop beats, and textures from around the globe. But it wasn't until Eye Contact that they brought all of their influences together into something that could be approached without any knowledge of what the band is about. No less adventurous but considerably more accessible, Eye Contact is the fullest realization yet of Gang Gang Dance's bent aesthetic.