By DYLAN BROWN
Yet while the influences of yesteryear are apparent in the works of today’s artists, some modern groups are able to not only pay homage, but refine. Broken Bells’ stark new disco apocalypse, Arcade Fire’s steel drum mythologizing, Darkside’s mix of devil-from-the-bayou blues and electronica and Cut Copy’s 1980s synthesizers, are some examples. Plus Vusi Mahlasela continues his reign as “the Voice” of a nation.
To hear the following playlist visit: http://bit.ly/17T7XhM
“Holding On For Life”
From “After The Disco,” Jan. 14, 2014, Columbia
“After the Disco” is the title of the second collaboration between Grammy-dominating producer Danger Mouse and the Shins lead singer James Mercer due out in January. On this sneak peak, Mercer’s voice is the ghostly echo of the Bee Gees, haunting an abandoned discotheque. No one is left staying alive as undoubtedly Danger Mouse electronica doesn’t resurrect disco, just dances around in the wasteland.
From “Psychic,” Oct. 8, 2013, Matador
Smoke billows out from the lips and guitar strings of Dave Harrington, one half of the eletronic duo, only to be washed clean by the subtle and perfectly orchestrated synth of the other half of Darkside, Nicolas Jaar. Most of “Psychic” is dedicated to Jaar’s spacey symphonics, but on this gem they just gently cleanse a guitar man who sold his soul to the devil with Harrington’s minimal blues akin to
Eric Clapton’s recent work.
“Free Your Mind”
From “Free Your Mind,” Nov. 5, 2013, Modular
While another marketing gimmick, the story of the title track of the Australian group’s new album is particularly strange. In September, dedicated fans made pilgrimages to billboards from Chile to Australia to Detroit to Blaneau Gwent in South Wales just to download the title track for a new album. They got a sneak peek at another solid example of Cut Copy’s standard mix of house beats and 1980s revivalist electro-pop.
From “Reflektor,” Oct. 28, 2013, Merge
Arcade Fire didn’t sit on its 2011 Album of the Year Grammy win. Instead, like the Clash, Rolling Stones and others before them, the Montreal rockers hit the Caribbean. Influenced by multifaceted band member Régine Chassagne’s roots in Haiti, Arcade Fire falls on the back-beat and ping of the steel drum, especially on “Flashbulb Eyes,” all while retaining their literary-reference chops — much of the album is a reference to Orpheus and Eurydice from Greek mythology.
“The Voice,” as Mahlasela is known in his native South Africa, has performed at the World Cup, Nelson Mandela’s presidential inauguration and even Bonaroo. His straightforward African folk transports the listener back to a happy childhood morning, but still possesses the healing power it did in 1994 to help a nation shredded by Apartheid. Remember the joy that radiated off Ladysmith Black Mambazo? Same thing here on the first track of a joyous 20th anniversary tribute to Mahlasela’s first album.
Brown may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2278. Follow him on Twitter @DylanBrown26.