Xiu Xiu – Always (Album Review)

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Xiu Xiu’s got guts. Jamie Stewart’s experimental group takes the self-pity of Morrissey, amplifies it by ten-fold, and then proceeds to admit that there are thousands of people in Haiti suffering ten times more. Xiu Xiu’s dark picture of the world has simultaneously made the group’s music notoriously inaccessible to most and entirely refreshing to a few.

Always is probably the group’s most accessible album yet. Don’t worry. The album still tackles some depressing stuff ranging from abortion to selfish suicide attempts to the murder of civilian children by U.S. troops. But it’s the utterly catchy pop sensibility of Always that makes this album memorable. It’s almost disturbing how catchy a song about “feeling impossibly imperiled by the fragility and cruelty of Earth” (Stewart’s words) can be.

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BEBETUNE$ – inhale C-4 $$$$$

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With his new mixtape, artist James Ferraro explores self-destruction in the digital age. This theme can be taken literally from his YouTube page, which includes a music video for a track entitled “GTA SUICIDE.” The video delivers on promises, featuring player avatars throwing themselves off virtual skyscrapers in Grand Theft Auto 4. But this theme of virtual suicide comes across more subtly in the satire of the tracks on inhale C-4 $$$$$. Classifying Ferraro’s music in standard genres is near impossible outside of the general umbrella of electronic music, but his beats, prominent use of auto-tune and repetition of a clip that announces “BEBETUNES” throughout the mixtape is an obvious rip on contemporary rap and hip-hop. Most tracks are experimental, and when Ferraro finds a solid, organized beat it’s not long before it dissolves into indecipherable auto-tune, cell phone ringtones, or garbled sampling from iPhone’s Siri. Throughout inhale, Ferraro aims to disorient, and it’s a unique experience to get lost in this collage of digital chimes, ringtones, sirens, cultural references, hollow brand names (who even knows what Pepsi really means??), video game avatars, and virtual currency.

inhale C-4 $$$$$ has been made available for free on Mediafire.

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Listen: Gang Gang Dance – Glass Jar

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It’s been a while since we’ve heard from NYC-based experimental/psychedelic rockers Gang Gang Dance. They’ve been touring sporadically for the past couple years since their last album, 2008’s Saint Dymphna. I got to hear them test drive their new material last year at the Rock ‘n Roll hotel, and one song in particular really stood out to me. As it turns out, this song has ended up being the first song on their upcoming LP Eye Contact, out in the US on May 10 via 4AD. You can hear the 11-minute “Glass Jar” in all its progressive, glowing glory over at Pitchfork.

You can also check out this live version back from 2008 in NYC, when the track was still called “Crystals.”

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