Culture (and TV)
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Entropy Negative

"Slipknot are no longer in step with the times either, but here they are selling six figures anyway hawking the same downtuned riffs and frustrated aggression as ever. At the peak of the band’s popularity, with the likes of Spears and Eminem routinely moving a million copies in a week, 132,000 in sales wouldn’t have come close to topping the chart. But on the flattened playing field that is 2014, it all but guarantees a #1 debut. At a time when many legacy acts can barely muster 50,000 on their first week, Slipknot’s numbers are undoubtedly impressive. Still, The Gray Chapter’s strong showing doesn’t herald a big comeback for nu-metal [...]

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E.R., "Feluha"

Endeguena Mulu, aka E.R., is one of a handful of musicians who make up the Ethiopiyawi Electronic movement, which lives mostly on a circuit between Addis Ababa and Washington DC. The song is a surreal and dizzying genre mash, with scurrying masenqo strings sliding under rich electronica shot through with cane flutes. (See previously: Mikael Seifu.)

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Bing & Ruth, "The Towns We Love Is Our Town"

As everything becomes progressively more terrible and the pace of the progression accelerates at a clip that, each time I notice it, seems even more aggressive and unlikely when compared with the speed at which the previous increase in awfulness occurred, it seems that the few new things in which I find comfort are those which reduce or eschew altogether the use of words. Words are terrible. Our only hope is in everyone shutting up. The future is wordless sound. Listen to this. [Via]

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Shabazz Palaces, "Motion Sickness"

A narrative video for one of the more accessible tracks on the excellent Lese Majesty, which I've been coming back to again and again over the last couple months (see previously: #CAKE).

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Erykah Badu, "Street Hustle Experiment"

"I just, kind of always wanted to see what it would be like to, you know, sing for money on the streets. So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to find a good place." Erykah Badu busks in Times Square.

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Yumi Zouma, "Alena"

Here is New Zealand's Yumi Zouma with a genuinely relaxing track. It's a build-and-release song structure, except muted: It doesn't work you up—it gets your attention and then calms you down.

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Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar, "Never Catch Me"

An unexpectedly devastating video for the producer's first collaboration with Kendrick Lamar. Up and away. (See also.)

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MikeWiLLMakonnen, "Wishin You Well"

Here is a perfect beat from Mike WiLL Made It laid over with an EXTREMELY DIVISIVE vocal track from iLoveMakonnen. (Among the more generous Soundcloud comments: "This isn't 'good', but I don't hate it at all…") Makonnen's "Tuesday" caught a lot of people off-guard, too, but then Drake showed up and sort of brute-forced the matter before anyone had time to figure out if they really enjoyed Makonnen's strange, almost over-familiar style. Give this one two or three chances, anyway, it grew on me.

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Mister Lies, "High (ft. Harrison Lipton)"

Does this sound a little bit like Massive Attack? It would be well within the regulations of tribute and nostalgia: "Teardrop" came out in 1998. The rest of the album, which is slow and lush and worth a listen, brings to mind The Notwist's Neon Golden, which came out just four years later. Music, the loop, is now barely ten years in circumference.

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Dutch Uncles, “In N Out”

2014 has been, for a broad swath of music, the year of the obligatory synth: Countless artists, new and old, have converged on the same neon moan, if only for a few bars on a few tracks. It makes it a little harder to tell when artists really mean it—to know which ones are just having a little fun with the past and which ones are wholly dedicated to performing it. Dutch Uncles? I don't know. But the song works!

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Sounds Enumerated

In 2014, not a single artist’s album has gone platinum. Not one has managed to cross that million sales mark.

One album has managed to sell over a million copies so far this year, but it’s a soundtrack. The ever-popular Frozen soundtrack may slowly be working its way down the charts, but it is by far the best selling collection this year. Though it doesn’t have any marquee names on it—those that are usually expected to sell the best—the soundtrack has managed to move 3.2 million copies so far, and with winter coming, that number is sure to rise.

The most popular album of 2014 that was actually released [...]

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Ex Hex, "Waterfall"

Most of the songs on Ex Hex's Rips aren't quite as short as "Waterfall"—the twelve tracks on the album, which has appeared on most of the streaming sites by now, clock at thirty-five minutes. But it's a certainly a concise album, and in the best way: quick, full, never dense or rushed. It's an album you can play a few times in a row before noticing that you've started over.

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Sylas, "Shore"

A relaxing synth bath from London duo (and Brian Eno collaborators) Sylas with a sound that unfolds, with a little volume, into something lush and expansive. Try "Hollow," too.

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Cloud Nothings, "Now Hear In"

From Here And Nowhere Else, which came out in April, a video for the album's most energetic track—one of the few that might have fit in on the very fun and very catchy self-titled album, from 2011, which has apparently been reassessed as the product of an "introductory phase" that should now be "eradicated." RUDE.

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Atelje, "Transition"

A gentle instrumental opening theme for your morning; a six-minute postponement before whatever is going to happen today just loses its patience and happens already. Also worth a listen: "Ode to Studio." (Studio was Dan Lissvik's previous project.)

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Screaming Females, "Wishing Well"

A walk-around-with-headphones track that rummages through a drawer of twenty-year-old chord progressions and flourishes and somehow comes up with exactly what it needs.

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Todd Terje, "Delorean Dynamite (for sale)"

A song that you can enjoy aesthetically or for its cheery thesis: That music is a subset of advertising.

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Leon Bridges, "Coming Home"

Via GvB, a supremely satisfying soul pop throwback to ~60 years ago which, obviously, you can read all about on the artist's Tumblr.

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Jessie Ware, "12"

Jessie Ware has a new album out today. This track, with Robin Hannibal or Rhye, is, for some reason, not on it.

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Elle Varner, "Fuck It All"

Via The Fader, a song for slumping in your office seat or belting in your car. (See previously: "Refill.")