The start of August brings a large number of singles, but a great lack of new albums. Still, a week filled with new material from legends and staples can never disappoint. This week, Bob Dylan, Robin Thicke, Grizzly Bear, Los Desaparecidos, and Animal Collective offer inspiring, meaningful, and purely chaotic music to the mix. To help you sort through the sound and break down the best lines, particularly in the Animal Collective release, Stereo IQ has your back.
5. "Yet Again"
"Too soon, everyone just step away / I'm sure this isn't the last play" -- Grizzly Bear
"Yet Again" is a confused, yet perfect representation of a relationship that is off and on, constantly close and distant. The singer is lost in his emotions, desiring to "yet again" embrace his love, but well aware of the pending annihilation of their time together. Warning both those close by and his own mind, he demands space to think. Yet, even the singer knows that despite his efforts, he will collide with his love time and time again, each "play" as toxic as the last.
4. Another Life
"I know they say good things come to those who wait/ But another minute of this, I can't take"
-- Robin Thicke
Sometimes the world needs an infectious, intensely positive love song. Crooner Robin Thicke is the doctor, always ready to heal music with his signature voice and mastery of simple, direct singing. Backed by the synth-pop expertise of The Neptunes, "Another Life" is a joyride through a relationship ready to blossom, sitting on the edge of the next big thing. While the old adage holds that waiting is the best way to find happiness, Thicke disagrees. To capture his love fully, he plans to act, letting not even a minute pass without his feelings voiced.
3. Today's Supernatural
"But this exploding your brain/It's gonna blow me out me out again/And now I don't feel the same" -- Animal Collective
Animal Collective is a difficult band to pin to one genre, either through deliberate genre-bending or the frequent use of grimacing dissonance. "Today's Supernatural" is a cacophony, a dark combination of party drugs, deep bass, electronic depth and a relationship lost on the dance floor. Simultaneously speaking on the melting effects of ecstasy and the confusion a look into a chaotic mind, Collective captures the essence of a manic-depressive meltdown, a biting happiness injecting intense sorrow without warning. Here, the singer realizes that the vibrant, drug-fueled brain of his passionate love is captured in a loop of intense happiness and lost; while he looks on, she dives into the music and high, losing sense of self and threatening to demolish the love that the singer once felt. Call it a hipster opus or electronic drivel, but "Today's Supernatural" scripts a very real sadness, capped with someone tragically realizing that he no longer "[feels] the same."
2. Early Roman Kings
"Like the early Roman kings/They're peddlers and they're meddlers/They buy and they sell/They destroyed your city" -- Bob Dylan
To hear new Bob Dylan music is always a treat, but "Early Roman Kings" is a special reminder of the lyrical craftwork of his creative genius. Focused on the New York gang of the same name, the song heralds triple meanings, weaving modern, historical, and ancient events into a subtle, but eye-opening tapestry of reality. The literal Roman kings, here citing the myth of Nero, set a theme of greed, peddling, and theft. The gang, the more recent historical facet, continued this tradition from the bottom by terrorizing New York streets. Yet, ever connected to the issues of the time, Dylan ties the entire piece together in a powerful assault on the forces controlling the economy, joining the voices of Occupy. Every era has its thieves, those in charge who are "meddlers," but connecting three remote instances so perfectly is a task for one of the continual voices of reason, Bob Dylan.
"We got to round 'em up, door to door tonight we're ready/Knock knock knock, drag them from their beds/They got some nerve to say they were here first"-- Los Desaparecidos
Despite a ten-year hiatus, Los Desaparecidos, fronted by Bright Eyes legend Conor Oberst, return to music in a fury. "MariKKKopa" is a rampage, a vicious attack on a modern crisis through a historical lens. Maricopa Country, the home of the now-infamous Arizona illegal immigrant search laws, is spared no mercy by the band, who targets the implied and already noted racism within the new legal structure. Rather than focus on the burden placed on Mexican-American families, Oberst looks back (and even toward the present) at the violent raids, murders, and kidnappings of the KKK. Brilliantly, the song reveals nothing about the comparison until the title, style, and outro sink in; by the time that you agree with the hatred of the KKK, you already find yourself agreeing with the obvious comparison. The repetition of "K" sounds drives home the point -- even in legal form, the situation in Arizona has no business in a supposedly fair and equal land.