Algiers

This group could stay underground for only so long.

Back in early 2012, we stumbled upon a mysterious collective known as “Algiers”, a band whose name conjures bloody images of political defiance, independence and a nation’s struggle with a brutal imperialist history. They teased us with a ridiculously addictive single called “Black Eunuch” (now wiped clean from the internet, somehow), then appeared to have gone off the digital map.

While they seemed to have ceased activity, a subscription to their Facebook & Tumblr pages revealed a group committed to shedding light on impactful cultural moments of artistic protest and enlightenment, ranging from recordings of James Baldwin and Michel Foucault interviews, to Sun Ra and Suicide performances. After hearing more of the band’s material, it’s clear that elements of each of these carefully chosen influences inform the band’s sound and ethos.

At this point, we know Algiers have been brewing an album’s worth of killer material set to release sometime “soon.”  Singles from the record are beginning to slowly penetrate the digital space, so we’ll share two with you with much excitement.  While it defies characterization, the band’s sound melds fragments of folk, gospel, post-punk, psychedelia and electronic with Southern Gothic reverberations.

First, the “love-at-first-listen” single “Blood

Second, the Afrika Bambaataa sampling “Irony. Utility. Pretext.”

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Music to sing-a-long to…

There are some really great cover songs…and some really bad ones too. Right now let’s focus on the good ones, some that might even be better than the originals. And hey! It’s probably a lot of songs that you’ve heard before, just in a whole new light.

1) To start us off, here is my absolute favorite cover of all time. We downloaded this song illegally years and years ago, back when that was legal. A really creative cover of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin & Juice by The Gourds.” -caitiebee

2) James McNew, the bassist of Yo La Tengo, has a side project called “Dump.” In 1991, Dump released an album polluted with lo-fi, grungy Prince covers called “That Skinny Motherfucker With The High Voice.”  Here’s “When You Were Mine” –rye

3) I was always indifferent towards John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” until I heard Donny Hathaway take it to new heights on his “Live” record performance.—rye

4) “Toxic” by Britney Spears is a brilliant pop song. It’s that one Britney song that people don’t mind admitting they love. I also enjoy this Mark Ronson version. -caitiebee

5) Always good at turning anything just creepy enough, Cocrosie did a great job making my feel weird lisening to the Beach Boys’ “Surfer Girl“. -caitiebee

6)  Just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day, Irish singer songwriter Sinead O’Connor announced this week that she’ll no longer perform one of my favorite songs, “Nothing Compares 2 U” live.  So who will carry the torch? Capital Cities, perhaps? —rye

7) Growing up I loved all of those “punk gone pop” albums, you know when some up and coming hard rockers would cover Backstreet Boys. Here’s some of today’s punks going pop, on a song that became famous as a cover to begin with, Joyce Manor’s “Video Killed the Radio Star.” -caitiebee

8) Another one of my favorite songs turned totally creepy, SQURL featuring Madeline Follin covering Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love.” -caitiebee

9) Of the many versions of Kraftwerk’s “The Model”, former Residents member Snakefinger’s version comes out on top, with Big Black taking a very close 2nd. —rye

10)  Ryan Adams re-imagined  Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years“, really capturing the wistfulness of the song’s lyrics. To me, this is what covers are all about –rye

11) Here is a song that, I must admit…when it came out…I didn’t even know was a cover. But it is! A cover of a Kate Bush song! Here is “Hounds of Love” by The Futureheads. -caitiebee

12) Never thought David Bowie’s “Ashes To Ashes” needed a cover until I heard Warpaint take a crack at it —rye

13)  “Age Of Consent” – One of my favorite songs ever receiving a tender Geographer treatment –rye

14) This one blows me away, Nina Simone’s version of “The House of the Rising Sun.” -caitiebee


Budding

We met a kid outside of Ralphs selling chocolate bars the other week. Figuring he was doing a school fundraiser, I asked, “What are you selling these for?” He responded, “Oh, well, as a part-time job, you know, to stay out of trouble…” he smiled with a grin full of metal braces, “I also want to make enough to rent some time in a recording studio.” I asked what kind of music he did, he replied that he rapped. I asked if he would rap for us, he said, “Sure, it’s gonna be explicit though…” Needless to say, we almost bought the whole damn chocolate box.

One day, I’ll stumble upon the music he’ll record. But for now, I like this other 17-year-old rapper named Yo$hwa. Some might know that I have an affinity towards musicians with dollar signs in their name, but there’s a lot more to this boy than just the $$$. Check out “Homeward” off his mixtape Sweet Solar System.