Drops 2016: April Mix

Graham LeBron
04 30, 2016

Hi folks. This has been a hectic month for me. I've spread myself too thin. Then my grandma died. She was a wonderful lady who raised a great big family of folks out there doing good in the world. So please excuse the brevity of this post. 

In happier news, all the writing I've been doing about Eric D. Johnson and Fruit Bats as we've become better friends has led to an unexpected result. Eric asked me to join the band, singing harmonies and playing keys. I'll be touring with him for the next several months. I couldn't be more excited, this is quite an opportunity for me, and probably just what I need. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about it here. Tour dates are available on the Fruit Bats site. For now, check out the video for "Humbug Mountain Song," the new single from "Absolute Loser," out May 13th on EasySound RecordingsThis sweet video was directed by Erez Horovitz (who also directed Sam Cohen's latest amazing video) and stars Eric and an elaborate bear costume.

Luke Sweeney released an epic new tune this month called "Red Hot Demands." I love the feel of this one, bombastic and aching, like an upset Marc Bolan. So, of course, I had to know more.  Here's what I found out.

G: So how did this one come about?

L: I first put a rough vignette of the song on 4-track years ago, and actually finished writing it on a couch in Brooklyn because I had a lot on my mind and plenty of guitars lying around that place. The verses came together all of a sudden, and then soon after returning to SF I got the band involved. I suppose it's about the physical and emotional demands that we put on ourselves, and on each other, with the romantic idea that you can write them off anytime to free yourself.

G: The limited edition 45 comes with a zine-style novella, written by you and others. Was that something you'd been wanting to try?

L: Around the time we officially tracked it live, the band members and I started a group writing exercise that resulted in some of the crop in the novella. That whole process was inspired by Jerome Steegmans who was playing bass with us at the time (and plays bass on the recording), and he put the 17-page novella together using these writings.

G: I love it. I always enjoy seeing something different, especially for a limited edition like this. The 45 is actually etched on plexiglass rather than pressed on vinyl. How does it sound?

L: The plexiglass record sounds pretty much like a vinyl record! The fidelity is not as high, but coming from someone who has a lot of dollar-bin records and records that have been played many times, it sounds every bit as good as that. Also, for me there's some poetic justice to the sight of a clear, square piece of plexiglass spinning around & blasting a working class hero tune.

G: Thanks Luke!

If you follow Drops of Gold, you know by now that I am a fan of Vetiver and Daniel T. Their latest albums were on my best of 2015 list. So when Andy Cabic told me that Daniel was doing a remix of one of my favorite tunes, Stranger Still, I got pretty excited. It turns out it is exactly what I was hoping for. Retaining the subdued groove of the original with the signature synth bounce that makes Daniel T's work so appealing to me, this is an instant summer classic. Those rolling ultra melodic arpeggios get me every time. I can't wait for the 12" to be released in June.

Sonny & The Sunsets are back with another brilliant head scratcher of a song. This time produced by Merrill Garbus of tUnE-YArDs. Let's go Bay Area! Check the video for "Well But Strangely Hung Man." Moods Baby Moods is out in May.

Steady Holiday is the project of Dre Babinski of Los Angeles, who played in a number of bands before deciding to go it alone, to great effect, it turns out. She was on last month's mix and I first wrote about her back in January. I've been digging every track she releases, so I was very pleased when she offered up her debut album, Under The Influence, for pre-order recently. I'm also happy she is getting some much deserved attention after being picked to play at Coachella this year. I expect big things. The video for Open Water is pretty great.

Yumi Zouma will release their debut album on Cascine in May. It's called Yoncalla. This New Zealand group has been around for a few years now, releasing a series of limited edition vinyl EPs. If you like the sophisticated, organic electronic pop I write about here, this is right up your alley.

I also want to mention a bit of surprise from Cerrone, an Italo-French drummer/producer/composer known mostly for his disco work in the 70s like the monster hit "Love in C Minor." He returned this year with a 10" that features a rework of Manu Dibango's classic "Soul Makossa" called "Funk Makossa." You may recall the original song inspired Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'. Even better, there is a sweet collaboration with Afrobeat legend Tony Allen as well. Dude was the drummer for Fela Kuti.

As always, there's a bunch more new songs in the vein I've been mining for a while now. New stuff from M83, Nite Jewel, Boulevards, Frankie Cosmos, Shura, Mt. Si and more. 

I'm out. See you out on the road I hope!

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