Karen O

August was filled with strange and exciting album release announcements. From Aphex Twin’s weird blimp over London to Taylor Swift’s Yahoo live stream atop the Empire State Building, several artists have given music lovers something to look forward for the rest of the year. The Daily Texan made a list of some highly anticipated, end-of-the-year releases from around the musical spectrum. 

Karen O, Crush Songs 

After appearing on her own and receiving an Oscar nomination for her work on Spike Jonze’s “Her” soundtrack, the boisterous lead singer from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is releasing her first solo album. Aside from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O also composed the soundtrack to “Where The Wild Things Are,” although the album is credited to Karen O And The Kids. A note about the album on the singer’s website says she crushed a lot when she was 27, and the tracks on Crush Songs are “the soundtrack to what was an ever continuing love crusade.” 

Sept. 9, Cult Records

Alt-J, This Is All Yours 

The three-piece alternative band from the UK achieved critical acclaim right away after winning the prestigious Mercury Music Prize for their debut album, An Awesome Wave. Mixing elements from folk and electronic music, alt-J makes music essentially perfect for trying to find your new identity after moving away to college. The first two singles released from This Is All Yours are “Every Other Freckle” and “Hunger Of The Pine,” which features a sample from Miley Cyrus’ 2013 song, “4x4.” 

Sept. 22, Infectious Music

Aphex Twin, Syro

On Aug. 16, a strange green blimp with Aphex Twin’s logo and “2014” written on the side was flying over the Oval Space in London. The logo also started appearing in New York City around the same time. A few days later, the British electronic musician announced a new album via Tor, a deep-web browser. Syro is the first release since 2001’s Drukqs. The track list for the album is mostly weird computer gibberish, and — in true Aphex Twin fashion — the cover artwork is kind of terrifying.

Sept. 23, Warp Records

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz, Tyranny 

The nasally lead singer from The Strokes releases the debut album from his newest side project, Julian Casablancas + The Voidz. Material from the new album appears in a promotional video on YouTube and in a weird video interview that looks like it was filmed on an old VHS camcorder. The band started touring together earlier in August and will play a show at Emo’s on Oct. 30. Tyranny is available for pre-order on the Cult Records website
for $3.87.

Sept. 23, Cult Records

Perfume Genius, Too Bright 

Put Your Back N 2 It, the 2012 release from Perfume Genius, is a smart, reflective look at the treatment of homosexuals, but it’s also so sad and fragile sounding that it’s hard to listen for too long. Mike Hadreas is back with a third album that already feels less wounded and more like a strong, aggressive declarative statement. The first single, “Queen,” is the loudest Hadreas has been yet and it comes with an incredible, chaotic music video.

Sept. 23, Matador Records

Taylor Swift, 1989 

In a fashion almost as cool as Beyonce’s surprise album drop last December, Taylor Swift debuted a new single and music video — and announced a release date for her newest album — on a Yahoo live stream earlier this month from the top of the Empire State Building. Already lauded as the perfect pop song by music critics, “Shake It Off” comes with a music video of Swift mostly looking crazy in front of professional dancers. Swift considers 1989 to be her official departure from the country genre into the pop genre. 

Oct. 27, Big
Machine Records

Photo Credit: Jessica Lynn Duong | Daily Texan Staff

On the album cover for Santigold’s long-awaited return, Master of My Make-Believe, the artist acts as many things. A Mafia boss, a 18th century officer and a bludgeon-wielding bodyguard — artist Santi White is truly the maker, master and creator of her own reality. Santigold’s rise has not resulted in inauthenticity. She’s still a perfectionist, preferring genre-blending ear-pleasers over generic top radio hits.

Master of My Make-Believe begins with the vibrant and upbeat “Go!” It’s not a surprise that Santigold has been opening most of her 2012 shows with “Go!” It’s her comeback anthem — ”All the way to Paris/Run my reputation,” sings Santigold in her half-sung, half-chant vocal delivery. Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O makes a guest appearance, the musical tag team creating their own thrones of bad girl swagger in Paris.

A trademark of Santigold’s music is her voice and how it often acts as another instrument to the backing music. Like TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Santigold’s voice fluctuates between unsung commands and melodic hooks. Sometimes she’ll swarm you with fist-pumping “Hey’s (“Go!”), and others, she’ll just gently croon.

For example, in “God From The Machine” Santigold’s voice ascends when necessary, but remains calm throughout, the lyrics reminding listeners that success is often a lonely, but rewarding journey.

If “God From The Machine” is the journey, “Fame” and “Look at These Hoes” are the aftermath. “We don’t want no fame,” shouts Santigold. Her ambivalence isn’t contrived; her fame has yet to take control of Santigold’s creative fervor, giving listeners a pure and untainted Santi White. In re-establishing herself as one of music’s most refreshing artists, Santigold proves that she has the talent to differentiate herself from her pop radio counterparts. But the artist does not stray too far away from her roots, which is why the songs work.

Standby collaborators Diplo and Switch have been working with Santigold since her inception, and therefore can create something that is still Santigold while simultaneously pushing her to keep up. And she does just that; her trademark delivery is as exhilarating as it was four years ago, packed with undeniable vigor.

Take “Look at These Hoes” for example. It’s easy to call the song the hipster equivalent to Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe,” but it’s so much more than that. First off, lyrics dripping with braggadocio simply sound better when Diplo is behind them. Ringing cash registers, booty-bouncing bass and body-slicing laser synths — Diplo is fully prepared. And nothing emphasizes Santigold’s disinterest in her contemporaries like the voice-distorted “I’m so damn cold” towards the end of the song, a freezing slap to the face of Santigold knockoffs and wannabes.

Master of My Make-Believe is an impressive sophomore release that shows Santigold balancing her roots with experimentation. With longtime partners Diplo and Switch, Santigold confidently shines over new sounds and arrangements, faithful that the boys will take care of her as she takes her next step to music acclaim.

Printed on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as: Fame hasn't hindered Santigold's genius, album shows off trademark talent, roots