I first downloaded the Animoog app several years ago, and I’ve since derived hours of enjoyment and annoying my wife by playing with this tiny approximation of a Moog synthesizer on my phone. More recently, I’ve discovered that it also works excellently as a way of keeping my kids occupied, while also putting them in the service of entertaining me. My twin daughters both emerged from the womb a little over a year ago reaching for my iPhone, and while I usually just hide it in the couch, thus fostering a mistrust that will linger for the rest of their lives, sometimes I’ll pop open this app, enlarge the keyboard, and let them go all Rick Wakeman with their tiny, grabby fingers. The various presets are all set up in complementary chord progressions, so everything they mash sounds downright virtuosic; I’d challenge you to differentiate between some of my baby girls’ compositions and early Tangerine Dream. Anyway, if you also have tiny kids who are always trying to take your phone or iPad, I highly recommend giving this a whirl. Or just giving up and giving them your phone entirely, because you don’t need a phone—you’re never going to read anything or talk to anyone ever again. [Sean O’Neal]
In April of this year, Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards announced an ongoing project that I am absolutely giddy about: Collaborative Legions Of Artful Womxn, or C.L.A.W. Born out of a frustration with the scarcity of female-identifying MCs in hip-hop and producers industry-wide, C.L.A.W. is a monthly radio show whose purpose is to shine a light on the work of producers, instrumentalists, and vocalists who might typically be left out of the larger conversation. (The “x” there is intended to keep the doors open for non-binary and transgender artists.) Fans of Tune-Yards’ own adventurous music will enjoy the playlists, which fall primarily in the realms of hip-hop, electronic, and synth pop—almost all with an experimental bent—and which are clearly curated with a deep enthusiasm. When work from pioneers like Pauline Oliveros and legends like MC Lyte are considered alongside that of contemporary artists like Micachu or up-and-comers like Latasha Alcindor, everyone’s work takes on a greater meaning. To hear the breadth of talent on display track after track, month after month, is to be humbled and invigorated by the history and ongoing work of these legions of womxn. Each episode also debuts one new collaboration between two artists, further emphasizing that these are symbiotic legions, growing by the day thanks to efforts like Garbus’. Mark your calendars for August 18 to hear the next episode. [Kelsey J. Waite]
The full-length debut from this British poppy punk band is maddeningly catchy and incisively written, perfectly balancing hooks with having something to say. The simply titled “Respect” wraps withering criticism of online harassment in one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard in some time, while album opener “Learn In School” takes aim at the fallibility of historical narratives kids are told growing up. That sounds off-puttingly highfalutin, but From Caplan To Belsize is immediately ingratiating, warranting the type of compulsive listening that probably guarantees it a spot near the top of my 2016 best-of list. [Kyle Ryan]
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