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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

What are you listening to this week?

Photos: Facebook.com/inglewoodSiR
Photos: Facebook.com/inglewoodSiR

Sir, “Something Foreign”

Sir is a pain in the ass to Google, but his pedigree makes it worth it: He’s the newest signee to Top Dawg Entertainment, the label behind a slate of recent masterpieces by SZA, Isaiah Rashad, Schoolboy Q, and a man you have perhaps heard of named Kendrick Lamar. If you’re a fan of those artists, you’ve heard Sir’s thin, spectral voice floating around in the mix a few times already, but on the new November he steps out with an album as diffuse, challenging, and infinitely listenable as the TDE brand demands. It’s a short, mutating song cycle, and so every song stands out from its context, but start with “Something Foreign,” which lays twinkling midnight jazz and a typically mellifluous Sir performance alongside some circa-2003 Four Tet drums and a lightning Schoolboy Q verse. It’s under three minutes and also fits a great hook in there, too. The record’s nowhere near as seismic as SZA’s Ctrl, but feels like its weird cousin, charting a brainy, astral course through the same sonic territory. [Clayton Purdom]

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Steve Roach, “Towards The Dream”

I’m ashamed to admit I’d never even heard of Steve Roach until Projekt Records recently announced a 30th-anniversary vinyl reissue of 1988’s Dreamtime Return, an album that’s been called Roach’s “masterpiece.” I’m pretty sure I know why I’ve overlooked it: Roach’s work exists on the cusp of ambient electronic music and out-and-out New Age, and the album cover—an inspirational-poster-ready shot of a guy in indigenous outback attire, peering out of a canyon—suggests it hews more toward the aural wallpaper sounds of yoga studios. There’s definitely a little bit of that (Roach does love his didgeridoos), but it’s also darker and far more complex than this suggests, a fusion of deeply pulsating, proto-dub techno rhythms, some watery field sounds, and slowly shifting synthesizer tones that should appeal to anyone who likes Brian Eno’s more world music-inspired ambient works or the sort of Blade Runner-esque, pan-Asian soundscapes conjured by the artists on Dream Catalogue. I’ve been listening to it—all two hours of it—during every single workday. Give it a try. [Sean O’Neal]

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Cuco, “Lo Que Siento”

Dream-pop artist Cuco (real name Omar Banos) mixes fuzzy, beach-friendly tracks with earnest romanticism that feels especially appropriate this time of year. His plaintive lyrics and mellow strumming make the Chicano rapper-singer sound like the second coming of Ritchie Valens, but his oeuvre is much more psychedelic than golden oldies. The 19-year-old scuffs up the production, layering his own background vocals for a trippy effect that doubles down on all the wooing. Still, Cuco’s bilingual raps and laid-back crooning, especially on “Lo Que Siento,” take me back to the days of dedicating songs over the radio. [Danette Chavez]

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