Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

What are you listening to this week?

No Mountains In Manhattan album art

Felt, “Fortune”

Felt was always one of those bands I wanted to like more than I did. It falls squarely within that early-’80s, British post-punk/dream-pop/4AD sound I love—though the band actually recorded for Cherry Red—and lead singer-songwriter Lawrence (just Lawrence) rightly worshipped Television and The Velvet Underground. That said, I only truly got into one Felt song: “Primitive Painters,” from 1985’s Ignite The Seven Cannons, an album and single that arguably belongs just as much to the Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and his production—an imprint that included bringing in the Cocteaus’ Liz Fraser to do backing vocals on “Primitive Painters.” But Cherry Red’s recent reissues of Felt’s discographies has me doing some reevaluating. Granted, I picked up Ignite first (and as a side note, it sounds fantastic, with Lawrence’s voice no longer buried under Guthrie’s somewhat oppressive swirls). But I also checked out Felt’s 1982 debut, Crumbling The Antiseptic Beauty, and I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s a more stripped-down and somber version of Felt’s usual pastoral jangle, with hypnotic Moe Tucker-esque drums thumping behind Maurice Deebank’s baroque guitar lines and Lawrence’s reverb-haunted vocals. Honestly, it’s not as immediately grabby as “Primitive Painters,” but it’s made me a much bigger fan of Felt than I used to think possible. [Sean O’Neal]


Alexandre Desplat, “The Heroic Weather-Conditions Of The Universe, Part 7: After The Storm”

I recently re-watched Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and have been listening to its soundtrack ever since. It’s an excellent mix of Alexandre Desplat originals, Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra, Hank Williams songs, Françoise Hardy’s “Le Temps De L’Amour,” and extracts from Saint Saens’ Carnaval Des Animaux and Franz Schubert’s An Die Musik. In other words, it’s a lush blend of influences that give Anderson’s coming-of-age story a texture of fantasy and a ’60s-era hue, and I’ve been enjoying listening to the playlist on Spotify on my morning commute into work. My pop culture resolution for the year was to just sit and listen to music more, as opposed to, for example, mindlessly scrolling through Twitter and not taking in the songs piping through my headphones. Moonrise Kingdom’s soundtrack is surprisingly well-suited to accompany the views through the bus window as it takes me down Chicago Avenue every morning, despite how incongruous my city panorama is to the film’s fictional New Penzance island. Desplat’s “The Heroic Weather-Conditions Of The Universe,” which provides the musical through-line of the film, is propulsive and energetic, an ideal vehicle to take me through the picturesque west side of Chicago. Morning light illuminates some of the more Andersonian views, like the Ida Crown Natatorium, an inexplicably huge country Western outlet, and the occasional postcard skyline views that make up my commute. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

Wiki, “Ballin On The Low”


Wiki’s solo debut, No Mountains In Manhattan, was one of my favorite albums of last year, in large part because it meant more Wiki, one of the most likable rappers going. (He fronted the great and combustible group Ratking for a few years, and has popped up on albums by Earl Sweatshirt and King Krule.) He spits at a grimy, bleary-eyed timbre that’d fit in well with generations of New York documentarians past, but instead wraps his flow around all sorts of gliding, brassy beats, talking wonderful shit (“YOU! was the worst rapper / I! was the best rapper”) and etching hooks out of starlight (“Leave the spot bathed and kissed / By angels we made for this”). A couple weeks back he released a pair of tracks cut from the record, and lo and behold, they’re good as hell, too. “Ballin On The Low” in particular feels like a hit, at least in my apartment, with a sun-kissed synthesizer line that Wiki laces alongside the booming Californian rapper Antwon. Wiki spends a lot of time singing on the track, absolutely elated each time the hi-hats come tap-dancing back in, which is something he should do more of. He should do more of everything, actually. Wiki’s the best. [Clayton Purdom]

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