St. Vincent DeJamz: 4-7-14

1. “Passing Out Pieces” – Mac DeMarco – A personal favorite from last year’s Pitchfork, Mac DeMarco has come quite a way since I first started seeing his name pop up on Pitchfork’s front page. The popular music blog has been pushing him like crazy since then, and with his latest release “Salad Days,” he’s finally making good on the notoriety. Not to say any of his earlier material was lacking, but it was certainly lacking a little something. On “Salad Days,” and especially on this track, the record’s first single, Mac and Co. find their focus. “Passing Out Pieces” is a remarkable, groovy romp, filled out with bouncy, almost cartoonish synths and a funky two-step beat. Check out this album, less than a week old now, for the latest in semiobscure music to impress your friends with.

2. “Love Heads” – Lone – This week brought welcome news that British IDM whiz Lone would be returning with a new album in the near future. For those who are unfamiliar, his 2009 release “Ecstasy and Friends” should be required listening. There are a number of standout tracks on the album, but this one in particular is a slow burn of a garage headnodder that bursts into something seriously awesome around the three minute mark. He seamlessly melds the exotic, experimental tendencies of, say, Boards of Canada, with the natural woozy feeling of a J Dilla joint. I can’t recommend him highly enough.

3. “Pete’s Jazz” – Pete Rock – Can you tell I like instrumentals? They’re great for getting homework done or pretending to rap along with. This one comes direct of one of the legends of hiphop’s golden age, who produced some of the most iconic tracks for Biggie Smalls, Nas, Jeru the Damaja and more. I just came upon this album recently and was immediately impressed, being the ’90s East Coast hip-hop dork that I am. This song pairs Gary Burton sample with a breakbeat containing some serious knock.

4. “We Made It” – Jay Electronica feat. Jay Z – The formerly hyphenated artist known as Jay Z made an appearance on labelmate Jay Electronica’s new single. It’s pretty hot, not just because of some good old firespitting by both MCs, but also because of a deft little Drake diss slipped in by Hov. “Sorry Miss Drizzy for all the shop talk,” he raps, “Silly me rappin’ bout all the s— that I really bought.” It’s a little awkwardly worded, but it was enough to get the rap blogs abuzz for at least a couple days. Us rap nerds are always on the prowl for a new feud, but I’m uncertain that Jay Z should even waste his time with Drake. The two are on completely different levels, professionally and artistically. Still, all of this detracts from Jay Electronica, who is trying so very hard to make people care about him. You’ll get there someday, Jay.

5. “You” – Gold Panda – I’m a really big fan of songs that feature extraneous noises. No, really. The sharp plasticky sounds at the start of ‘You” are, I imagine, Gold Panda himself loading a cassette into the tape deck, about to blow you away from some cool mix he just whipped up on his day off. Mr. Panda has made a name for himself creating mystical headbangers out of an esoteric smorgasbord of samples.

6. “Eat That Question” – Frank Zappa feat. George Duke – Ever wondered what a Wurlitzer organ dubbed over a Fender Rhodes keyboard sounds like? Evidently, George Duke did, and decided to make it a reality on this track with the legendary Frank Zappa. This was towards the beginning of Zappa’s infatuation with jazz fusion, which increased as he got older and began experimenting with new musical influences. I would also recommend “Shut Up and Play Your Guitar” as another great example of Zappa’s incredible artistic breadth.