Atoms for Peace, AMOK (XL)
Do you remember how refreshing Thom Yorke’s record The Eraser sounded back in 2006? Radiohead’s formula was already redundant, even before In Rainbows and King of Limbs, which caught the band coasting, perhaps even treading water per chance to drown.
When Yorke toured the record in 2009, he assembled a supergroup of sorts, featuring producer Nigel Godrich, Flea and Joey Waronker. They were called Atoms for Peace, named after one of Yorke’s songs. Now they’re a bona fide band, with a debut record that may be impossible for Radiohead to top.
Like The Eraser, AMOK bears distinct traces of Radiohead, even apart from the inimitable vocals (yes, Muse dude, inimitable). He’s the phantom of the afterhours as drums and programming skitter, scatter, hasten and halt, from jittery Afrobeat to bedroom electro grooves to dark dancefloor shakers.
Album opener “Before Your Very Eyes” and “Unless” are each fitted with tightly packed percussion and programming, deployed like perfectly controlled machine gun fire. The arrangements are stark, and all the more effective for it — layers of vocals complemented by counter-melodies wheezing in and out of synths and skipping up and down guitar frets.
Like most of my favourite sounds, this record fuses sinister undercurrents with beautiful melodic strokes and a vibrant pulse, and in the hands of these seasoned pros (whose creative partnership is relatively fresh), it’s at once cold and complex, exciting and alive.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Sacrilege”
Karen O & co. are back with a track from their forthcoming album Mosquito, one that starts lean and even a little mean, and climaxes with a mess of choral gymnastics. “Tender”? No, more “Like a Prayer.”
Sean Price feat. Pharoahe Monch, “BBQ Sauce”
Directed by Todd Angkasuwan, it’s the latest set of visuals from Sean Price‘s record Mic Tyson. Turn this up real loud, at work.