Songs of the Week: Titus Andronicus Go Full Shakespeare, One Direction Take a Dip
Titus Andronicus, “In a Big City”
Sean Fennessey: By the standards of 2010’s The Monitor, the breakthrough album from New Jersey’s gallant punks Titus Andronicus, “In a Big City” is a modest yelp. Which is to say, it’s not seven minutes long and it’s not a parable about how the Civil War is like beating the malaise of living in your parent’s basement. Then again, this is a three-and-half-minute song that quotes Hamlet (“Who would fardels bear to grunt and sweat”) before closing things out with “I’m a dirty bum, but I wipe my own ass.” That’s Titus front man Patrick Stickles’s move, though: high-low; treasure-trash; champion-loser. The band’s new album, Local Business is out October 22. Expect genius slop.
DJ Quik and Kurupt, “The Demon’s Carol”
Chris Ryan: I’ve gotten used to traffic, the unforgiving sunshine, the lack of sarcasm, and the old ladies correcting me on line at intersections when eavesdropping on my basketball conversations (“He actually goes by ‘Metta World Peace’ now.”) (I know that.) But I haven’t gotten used to the rap music. This really isn’t very surprising if you know that few people outside of Mobb Deep and the Death Row Records camp took the East Coast–West Coast rap wars as seriously as I did. Even if Prodigy and Havoc got over it, I never did. Sometime after Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, West Coast rap just sounded too stoned and too sedated.
It figures that, outside of the odd Kendrick Lamar and Nipsey Hussle cut, this is the West Coast, specifically L.A., track that’s connected with me. It sounds like what I would imagine was going through Linda Blair’s 360-degree turning head in The Exorcist if she were wearing Dre Beats headphones.
It also figures that I would love a track by one of my favorite producers, regardless of coast (and regardless of my silly coastal bias), a rapper who reps the West but is actually from Philly, and the creators of this recent classic material, and can best be summed up, lyrically, as Beavis and Butt-Head rapping Nas’s “Ether.”
Tubetops, “Silent Eyes” featuring Kyiki
Rembert Browne: Vice magazine music channel Noisey called Brooklyn band Tubetops’ sound “sexwave.” That’s something I’m into, especially on this, the last day of summer. Without knowing what “sexwave” is, I feel as if it’s probably the perfect way to cure your denial that comes with tomorrow being autumn, which means almost winter, which means #Mayans, which means buh-bye.
Sorry, that was depressing. What’s not, however, is this song, which is the perfect outdoor Friday jam, especially if you’re like me and have put yourself on a 24-hour non–2 Chainz hip-hop cleanse.
Death Grips, “@DEATHGRIPZ”
Emily Yoshida: Thank you, Rem, for alerting me to the fact that summer is now over and the world is now a colder, darker, more besleeved place. Ugh. Well, that’s OK, that makes this outtake from Death Grips’ 2012 debut, The Money Store, even more appropriate: It’s got that last-wind, 3 a.m., “FUCK SLEEP! LET’S DANCE!” relentlessness that just as easily translates into fall denial; but lower temps = no A/C = rolling down the windows and blasting hyper-aggressive jams like this with abandon. The ‘Grips have a new album coming out in October (yes, The Money Store just came out in April; no, NO LOVE DEEP WEB is not coming a minute too soon) but it doesn’t look like “@DEATHGRIPZ” will be on it, so go ahead, annoy your neighbors and download away.
Tegan and Sara, “Closer”
Andy Greenwald: Like all good “indie” artists — not to mention all respectable Canadians — it took Tegan and Sara some time to get comfortable with getting down. But recent years have seen the identical twins doubling down on the dance floor, from their own “Alligator” to champagne parties in Ibiza with Tiësto and David Guetta. On “Closer,” the first single from a currently untitled 2013 album, the duo’s early barefoot folkie days are forgotten in a patchouli-scented puff of smoke. This is high-test, high-sheen dance-floor pop burnished with big-time sensuality (Tegan: “All I dream of lately / is how to get you underneath me”). Still, there’s just enough of the twins’ minor-chord, maple-leaf melancholy lurking around the edges to keep their crunchiest fans from rioting like the Canucks just lost the Stanley Cup. It’s Canadian club music, on the rocks.
Bat for Lashes, “All Your Gold”
Mark Lisanti: Bat for Lashes has a new album arriving in about a month. (October 15, to be exact.) If you’re all Cat Powered out at the moment, it’s a really nice listen.
Lotus Plaza, “Black Buzz”
Tess Lynch: I think Lotus Plaza’s “Black Buzz” is probably one of those songs that’s great to do drugs to, even though, you know, “your blood is burning you inside.” Maybe heroin. Or a lot of TheraFlu. I love the needle-casualty boyfriend on the sofa, too, I think that’s cute. I’m curious about Cat Marnell’s fix for video girl’s eyeliner too — if she’d sold that TV on Craigslist she could have sprung for something a little more overdose-proof. I hear you can swim through seaweed in Prestige and hit Le Bain right after looking great. Actually, this would be a great song to listen to while you apply makeup, in the same league as Explosions in Your Eye and The Avalashes. Putting on your face while you listen to the wrong music can end really tragically.
ZZ Top, “Big Shiny Nine”
Alex Pappademas: Ever read a sentence and wish somebody would make a movie out of it? Felt that way a few weeks ago when the New York Times‘s Ben Ratliff, explaining how ZZ Top ended up recording a woodgrain-grippin’-in-the-Eliminator cover of DJ DMD, Lil Keke, and Fat Pat’s Houston rap anthem “25 Lighters,” wrote: “In the late ’90s Mr. Gibbons spent time around the hip-hop producer DJ Screw, famous for his slowed-down remixes, and the rappers of Screwed Up Click, because they shared the same engineer, G.L. Moon.” Subtext: The late DJ Screw might have poured that purple drank with Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, holy shit dude. I would watch an 11-hour documentary about this acquaintanceship. They should just replace the Texas flag with a picture of these guys hanging out together. Anyway: Here’s another song from the Top’s new album, La Futura, “Big Shiny Nine,” which (title aside) is slightly less trill, but only slightly, because it’s still a big sweaty slab of blues-hammered Beefheart built around a metaphorical boast about the heat Billy’s packing. Texas forever!
One Direction, “Live While We’re Young”
Juliet Litman: I had originally intended to choose a song that would make me seem cool again after a few too many public references to One Direction. But then their new song “Live While We’re Young” leaked yesterday, and the record company responded by releasing the accompanying video. Someone’s gotta talk about this, right?
In case you are not a parent, a tween, or a twentysomething deeply invested in tween culture, One Direction is a boy band formed on The X Factor (UK) about two years ago, and now they have conquered the world on the strength of an extremely avid Tumblr fan base and the single “What Makes You Beautiful.” But after hearing “Live While We’re Young,” I am fairly certain that the first song will be their “Tearin’ Up My Heart” and this new one will be “Bye Bye Bye.” “Live While We’re Young” takes everything we already knew about the band — the one with the hair won’t leave the house without a shrunken blazer, the blond Irishman claims to play guitar — and takes it to the next level. While they were previously just splashing around in the ocean, fully clothed, now they rush to the nearest above-ground pool to dive in, clad in flannel. When you sell 13 million albums worldwide before you turn 21, you don’t need to worry about keeping your clothes dry. Hunter green hoodies and tweed abound.