although no one would have had the foresight to anticipate this, a music video centered around a revival of “pee-wee’s playhouse” makes complete sense for tune-yards.  nikki nack is an album title with playful connotations and “water fountain” is a lead single with a completely exuberant vibe, so the blissful and euphoric scenes in its accompanying music video feel nothing but natural.  check it out below and watch for nikki nack, due out may 6th via 4ad.

jamie xxjamie xx has a new double a-side, “girl”/”sleep sound,” due out may 5th via young turks, and the latter of the two cuts has been floating around the internet for a couple of weeks.  “girl,” however, appeared to remain elusive, but it turns out that james blake inconspicuously premiered the track on his bbc radio show back in march under the phony guise of simon tallywhacker.  now jamie xx has properly shared the track himself, and it proves to be a perfect complement to the rather nocturnal “sleep sound.”  take a listen below.


at the ripe young age of twenty, los angeles rapper vince staples has already made quite a name for himself.  he’s been a long-time affiliate of odd future – although he’s not an official member – and his guest verses on both earl sweatshirt full-lengths highlight his signature, nasally delivery.  adept as a wordsmith and an advocate of leaning heavily on the back of a beat, staples finally came into his own with shyne coldchain vol. 2, his latest mixtape that dropped in march.  the ten tracks are brief, but there’s still a lot to unpack.  the centerpiece of the mixtape is “nate”; staples chose it as his lead single, and it’s based around a lazy, horn-heavy beat that feels a bit nostalgic.  the feel of yesteryear seems appropriate, as staples reminisces about idolizing his drug-dealing father throughout his childhood.  “nate” comes with a music video, a wordless endeavor of a young kid unfazed by the domestic violence that surrounds his daily life.  it’s an important track with an important visual counterpart, and we’ve snoozed on it for a bit too long here at dimestore saints.  check it out below.

wye oak made drastic changes for their fourth album, shriek.  the baltimore duo swapped out folk tinges that frequented 2011′s civilian in favor of a strictly electronic palate; it’s a bold move that largely pays off.  jenn wasner’s alto register is still capable of haunting listeners, and its quality is only enhanced by the lurking, ominous synthesizers that pervade many of the songs.  the new album is out on merge records april 29th, but you can stream it in its entirety here, courtesy of npr.


in part to highlight the arrival of hudson street boutique, this installment of the lazy sunday mixtape series is solely dedicated to a sampling of artists who have contributed to the vibrant eau claire music scene in one way or another.  leaning heavily on the region’s association with indie and folk, you’ll find offerings from adelyn rose, the daredevil christopher wright, and kalispell.  a brief homage is also made to electronic artists, with a cut from mainstay sloslylove as well as one from the up-and-coming north house.  in all honesty, there could very well be a direct sequel to this mixtape soon.  for now, click the play button above and enjoy.

the mid-1990s certainly could be described as a tumultuous time in the field of music, but i was too busy reading dr. seuss and playing with legos to really notice.  my parents raised me on a pretty steady diet of stan getz, dexter gordon, and classical music on npr; aside from the soundtrack to the commitments and a cranberries album, there wasn’t much in the way of current pop music in the house.  there definitely wasn’t even a whiff of rage against the machine to be found anywhere; even though they’re fairly liberal, brash politically-charged music didn’t exactly behoove two newly-minted academics working at a state university.  that’s understandable.

i don’t recall the precise circumstances that led me to rage against the machine, but i know it was sometime during my junior high years.  probably someone older than me was really into radical political ideology and i heard about them through the grapevine, but i can’t be sure.  anyways, i never saw my interest in the band as being grounded in politics.  at this point in my life i was predominantly listening to linkin park and snippets of commercial radio, but my thirteen year-old self was already growing tired of this mindless repetition.  i must have been tempted by the promise that rage against the machine was equal parts rap and metal, two genres i considered myself to be equally familiar with.

i worked mostly backwards through the band’s catalogue because my local best buy was rather poorly stocked, at least in my opinion.  i specify with “mostly” because even though a backtracking would indicate that i digested evil empire before their 1992 self-titled debut, that wasn’t the case.  my long-standing infatuation with live at the grand olympic auditorium and the songs the band included in their (at the time) final two set lists led me to believe that the bulk of their worthwhile music was contained within the battle of los angeles and that their nostalgic anthems were littered across rage against the machine.  by the time i did get around to evil empire, the songs fell flat for the most part and didn’t match up to what my expectations of rage against the machine had become.

as time passed and my musical horizons broadened, i largely left rage against the machine stored away in the fonder sections of my memory.  this was the band whose guitarist had primarily inspired me to start learning the instrument and whose frontman had exposed me to a dynamic stage persona as well as the importance of smart lyrics, but other artists were starting to fuel my artistic development in a more direct way and my overall palate was becoming less aggressive.  every once in awhile i would revisit the band for one reason or another, but the nostalgic trips never quite measured up to the original experience.

an unforeseen consequence of these forays was an increased immersion in and appreciation of evil empire as a part of rage against the machine’s discography.  a hesitancy to accept the album due to its comparative lack of familiarity turned into an understanding of its role in shaping the band’s musical trajectory.  while their self-titled debut certainly conformed to the basic definition of rap-metal, rage against the machine took a sharp left turn with evil empire.  elements of rap and elements of metal are undoubtedly present throughout the album, but they don’t always work in tandem; rather, evil empire feels more like a hip-hop album with heavy guitar riffs that occasionally crop up.

morello’s guitar playing had to change to fit this mold, and he executed the task by beginning to create the eclectic sound now so commonly associated with him.  he forgoes playing a single note on guitar in “people of the sun,” instead choosing to rub an allen wrench across the strings to create a unique timbral effect.  even when he does play riffs (which are found nearly everywhere else on the album), they often tend to be narrow and repetitive, essentially creating a live rendition of a sample for de la rocha to rap over.  equally important to the sound of evil empire is the prominent role of tim commerford’s bass lines.  the clean tone is swapped out in favor of increased amounts of distortion, fattening the overall tone of the band.  his opening line in “tire me” absolutely snarls and never loses momentum, while his role in “without a face” helps make the song one of rage’s funkiest.

the lyrics on evil empire can’t go unaddressed, either.  while rage against the machine was defined by angst, aggression, and de la rocha’s burgeoning talent as an emcee, its successor reads with a bit more finesse and use of metaphor, and even hints of the pensive reflection and anguish that would later be fully developed on the battle of los angeles’ “born of a broken man” and “maria.”  de la rocha voices his support for the zapatista movement, his disdain for cops, and the perils of right-wing radio all within the first ten minutes of the album, but the most powerful aspect of the album is the triptych of songs beginning with “tire me.”  easily the most musically diverse sequence throughout evil empire, de la rocha seethes commentary about 1970s foreign policy, gets downright militant about economic disparity, and supplies a first-person account of race relations in the united states.  other musicians may be defined by their political and social activism, but few can manage the variety of topics so thoroughly and effectively explored by rage against the machine.  largely devoid of profanity and slightly more subdued, evil empire conveyed this ideology in just as convincing of a manner while employing a heightened sense of musical intrigue.  that’s why, even eight years later, the once black sheep of the band’s discography is now my first stop whenever i feel the need for a nostalgic fix.

unless you live under a rock, you’re probably aware that today is record store day.  although the celebration has become increasingly marred by major-label reissues of immense quantities of albums, there are still some instances of new music being released.  one such example is mazzy star’s “i’m less here,” a live staple for years that is now getting pressed to vinyl.  to celebrate, the duo have concurrently released a music video for the song that perfectly underscores their entire ethos.  check it out below.


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