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Back in January, we talked about Brooklyn psych-rock group Bear In Heaven‘s new album I Love You, It’s Cool, due out April 3rd via Hometapes; we also brought you a stream of the album’s second track, “The Reflection Of You.” The album has been streaming on the band’s website since December 2011, but at a tiny fraction of their normal speed; when we reported in January, the stream had reached the album’s third song, and it is now playing the ninth and penultimate track, presumably intending to wrap up the stream by the April 3rd release date. Unfortunately, it still sounds like ambient buzzing on the website, and if you’d like to try it out at full speed, you can head over to NPR, where you can listen to the entire album without any gimmicks. Most of it is decidedly catchy, feel-good, synth-backed with mellow vocals, not unlike the band’s earlier releases. Click here to listen to the album via NPR.

Here’s the music video for “The Reflection Of You”:

Bear In Heaven have planned an extensive US and UK tour for this spring; find the upcoming dates and locations after the jump.

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In the two years since the first Odd Future Tape volume was released, a lot has changed for the members of OFWGKTA. They have gone from being almost completely unknown to possessing a veritable cult following. They have received a spectrum of across-the-board reactions from fans and cynics, some eager to sing their praises and some wishing their antics could be put to a stop. Love them or hate them, I’m not going to attempt to convert you or convince you to jump on the Odd Future bandwagon, because if you haven’t caught the bug by now, chances are you never will. For those who care to read on, however, it should be noted that VMA’s and Pitchfork front-page news can only go so far toward changing the identity of a group of people, especially one as undeniably unique as that of Odd Future. Though the material put out but the collective over the past two years or so has certainly varied in quality and style, Odd Future itself is still the same. Odd Future Tape Vol. 2 is a reminder of that fact, and a testament to the endurance of the principles around which Odd Future began.

That being said, OF Tape Vol. 2 is different. You don’t hear it right away, because the lo-fi, noisy recording quality and the largely simple, repetitive beats are not much different from anything we’ve heard before. For all we know, this album could have been recorded in Syd’s bedroom studio like so much of their previous material. But although “maturity” is a term I hope never to have to use to describe Odd Future, there’s a sense within this album that at least a few members of the collective have a seasoned quality about them now, something that was simply absent in previous releases. For example, though Tyler has certainly carried the group on previous recordings, his presence on this tape is not overwhelming, and surprisingly, it does not detract from the quality of the album. The verses he does contribute are quite laudable, such as his appearance on “Analog 2, ” where he proves that he’s more adaptable than he’s seemed before; the seamless interchange between Tyler, Frank Ocean and Syd on this track is (bordering on) quite sophisticated. Tyler’s appearances on “P” and “NY (Ned Flander)” include some of the jarring internal dialogue and creepy morbidity from previous albums, but generally, his contributions are listenable rather than uncomfortable, which is certainly a departure from his previous work.

However, Tyler does not appear on every song. It’s almost as if he has chosen to give some of the younger or lesser-experienced members of the collective a chance to hone their skills and try out the spotlight. That, at first listen, is what makes this album different from previous Odd Future material. No one member appears more than a few times, and although this makes the album less cohesive, cohesion was never something Odd Future really seemed to aim for. Instead, they aim for loosely controlled chaos, and this album delivers on that front. It ends up being the variety within this album that carries it through from beginning to end. Some tracks, such as MellowHype’s “50,” are abrasive, but they are balanced out by tracks like Frank Ocean’s chilling “White” and The Internet’s smooth, soulful “Ya Know.” Domo Genesis appears on several songs, and his contributions are no longer uncomfortably half-assed. Hodgy, too, seems to have stepped up his game, or perhaps it is just the skill that comes with experience, because his verses on “Rella” and “Lean” prove that he has developed his tone over the past few years, moving from a nondescript, occasionally awkward ramble to a style that is all his own. Even Mike G’s “Forest Green” actually has the potential to get stuck in your head, a quality generally not associated with Odd Future. Even the less strong (and occasionally downright awful) appearances from members such as Taco and Jasper do not necessarily detract from the quality of the album; instead, they again demonstrate how the collective feels they have nothing to prove.

Though Odd Future has been through ups and downs over the past two years, and has made some questionable stylistic choices with regard to music videos and public appearances, one particular track on this album will reassure anyone who thinks OFWGKTA forgot who they were. The album’s closing song, “Oldie,” is a 10-minute dedication to everything that has gone into the collective’s work over the past two years. Nine rappers make appearances on the track, giving it the feeling of a true collaboration between most of the members of Odd Future, and even the elusive Earl Sweatshirt comes back in full force for a satisfying, high-quality verse, as if to remind us he’s still one of the more talented rappers in the collective. Tyler’s last appearance on “Oldie” is perhaps the most memorable verse on the album, and seems to sum up the feeling behind most of the material emerging from the collective over the past few years: “But they’ll never change ’em, never understand ’em, radical’s my anthem, turn my fucking amps up, so instead of critiquing and bitchin’, bein’ mad as fuck, just admit, not only are we talented, we’re rad as fuck, bitches.” The music video for “Oldie,” too, is a step back from the ridiculous, somewhat entertaining but often obnoxious videos that we have come to expect from the crew lately. It depicts the kind of joviality and togetherness reminiscent of older Odd Future material, reminding us that at their core, OFWGKTA is a bunch of kids with a lot of potential who make music together.

It all comes down to the fact that the collective is still able to create. This melting pot of maddeningly rebellious talent has not crafted something different, but they didn’t need to; instead, they have put together a collection of (debatably) carefully selected tracks that prove to their ever-widening audience that they are still kids, and they still do not give a flying fuck about anything besides doing what makes them happy. OF Tape Vol. 2 is not a departure, it is a reassurance of insanity, of misogyny, of camaraderie and youth, and although it may not bring these kids to the “next level,” that was not their intent. This album brings OFWGKTA full circle, amassing the experience the collective has garnered over the past two years to both good and bad effect, but ultimately it ends up back at its origin, restating that familiar-yet-unspoken Odd Future tagline yet again: Never take anything too seriously, including this album.

Icelandic-ambient-indie-falsetto lovers take note: Sigur Rós will be returning this spring with a new album, due out May 29th in the US via EMI/XL. This 8-track LP will be the band’s sixth studio album, and it will be titled Valtari. The band’s frontman Jónsi continues to contribute his angelic (though generally unintelligible, due to the fact that he tends to sing in Icelandic) vocals, and several sources have reported that this album will include more electronic elements than previous releases, though it seems the rest of the band’s instrumental contributors are still on board. None of the lyrics will be in English. Today you can listen to the second song off the album, “Ekki Múkk”, and this track certainly will not disappoint any Sigur Rós fans. Stream it right here, and watch the somewhat perplexing video above.

 

The album’s track list is as follows:

1- Êg Anda
2- Ekki Múkk
3- Varúð
4- Rembihnûtur
5- Dauðalogn
6- Varðeldur
7- Valtari
8- Fjögur Píanó

Here’s your goosebump-inducing track of the day. Producer mastermind Clams Casino has taken Florence + The Machine‘s “Never Let Me Go,” which was already a huge, heart-wrenching track, and combined it with his signature noisy, reverb-heavy, somber-yet-insanely-listenable style, and the result is fantastic. This track is a welcome departure from Clams’ usual distinctively mellow feel, because Florence’s vocals provide such an epic, emotional pedestal for the echo-y drums and muddy, multi-layered instrumentals. This remix will be featured on the b-side of Florence’s limited-edition Never Let Me Go 12″ single, which will be released on April 9th.

Listen to it here (and then listen to it again):

(Via Gorilla vs. Bear)

When it comes to artist collaborations, some pairings seem more predictable than others; however, it is unlikely than anyone could have anticipated the collaboration between indie stalwart Sufjan Stevens, Chicago rapper Serengeti, and New York composer Son Lux. Nonetheless, the trio has just released a collaborative project, under the moniker s / s / s. The 4-track EP is called Beak & Claw, and it involves calm, trance-like (and sometimes autotuned) vocals by Sufjan, intermixed with intelligent verses from Serengeti, over complex and intriguing instrumentals by Son Lux. The EP was released today via Anticon, but you can stream the entire thing at VPRO.

For the past few months, we’ve been pretty excited about the release of the new album from Seattle avant-soul lady-duo THEESatisfaction. You already heard “QueenS” and “Enchantruss,” which were impressive on their own, but the entire album is very strong and never boring. The album, titled “awE naturalE,” was entirely produced by the ladies themselves, Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White, better known as Stas and Cat. Shabazz Palaces are also featured on two tracks, which makes for an unbeatable combination of groove and flow utterly unique to the two groups. One thing is for sure, THEESatisfaction are unlike anything you’ve heard before, and that plays undeniably to their advantage as they attempt to distance themselves from today’s well-known hip-hop artists. Additionally, it should be noted that Stas and Cat put on a fantastic live show, and we can’t wait to see what they have for us at Sasquatch this year. Stream the album right here via NPR.

OF Tapes Vol. 2 isn’t set to be released until Tuesday, but this morning we bring you two cuts off the album. One is a track by Frank Ocean, who features on several other songs on the album, but limits his solo presence to this song. The track (called “White“) is extremely minimal and rather brief, but Ocean’s crooning carries it through enjoyably. Listen over at Prefix.

The second leaked track, on the other hand, is over ten minutes long, so brevity is not an issue. It is notably less official, as well, having been pulled from unknown Tumblr blogs around the web. But this song, “Oldie,”  features an excellent appearance from recently-returned Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt, whose lengthy verse is certainly a welcome addition to the track. Stream the track (via one of the aforementioned random Tumblrs) right here. 

Back in February, we expressed our anticipation for Geoff Barrow‘s upcoming hip-hop album (in collaboration with over 35 other artists), under the moniker Quakers, which is due out on Stones Throw on March 27th. Today, you can listen to a new track off the album; this one is called “Smoke,” and it features one of our favorites here at the Astral Plane, none other than Jonwayne himself. Stream “Smoke” right here:

 

And here’s “Fitta Happier,”featuring Guilty Simpson and M.E.D., another single off the album, which was released last month:

Things have been a little quiet this week, because it seems everyone who has ever made or listened to music in their life is down at SXSW in Austin, but there’s still some good stuff making its way to our ears. For example, One Little Plane, also known as folky singer-songwriter Kathryn Bint from Chicago, has released a new single called She Was Out In The Water, produced by none other than Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet. The light, dreamy single is just a taste of what we can expect from One Little Plane’s upcoming full-length, Into The Trees, which will be released on Four Tet’s Text Records in May of this year. Also noteworthy: Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood plays bass on this track. 

Stream the single right here:

If you’re having trouble waiting until March 20th to hear The Shins‘ new album, Point of Morrow, I have good news. Starting today, you can stream the album in its entirety via iTunes. Thus far in listening to the album, it seems that the new release is just enough of a departure from the band’s previous work to make it accessible to a wider audience, while still staying true to The Shins’ original style and James Mercer’s unmistakable voice. Search “Point of Morrow” in the iTunes store, or head to the band’s website for a link, to stream the album now.