Five Hot Albums For A Cold Day

Little People — “Mickey Mouse Operation”

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Little People — “Mickey Mouse Operation”

By NATE OBBARD

With the little bit of extra time this J-Term can provide, it is as good a time as any to discover new music. Here are a couple albums that could have slipped your radar in your lifetime, spanning from the early 2000s to now. If finding new music proves difficult or daunting, these fantastic works may be the place to find your next beloved artist.

Grandaddy — “Sumday” — While Grandaddy is a group with their roots in punk culture (their founder was a professional skateboarder), they were quick to find their own sound, supplanting the harsh punk power chords with synth and overproduced guitar to create a dreamier sound that isn’t quite folk, pop, or rock, but is remarkably cohesive in a way most of these conglomerative styles aren’t. “Sumday” is their artistic peak, and manages to be one of their most calming albums while teeming with intricate production and catchy riffs. An unheralded masterpiece, it deserves a listen from anyone looking for something to relax to.

Little People — “Mickey Mouse Operation” — This is one of the most impressive and consistent (mostly) instrumental /sample-heavy albums I’ve ever listened to. Half the tracks sound like they could be the instrumentals to some 90s rapper you’ve never heard of, but the beats stand out on their own as rhythmic and entrancing. A mix of piano, strings, percussion (I believe most of it is sampled, but impressive nonetheless) and electronic sounds make for a listening experience that stays remarkably true to itself while remaining packed with variety and avoiding the repetition that plagues so many instrumental works.

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz — “Tyranny” — This side project by The Strokes’ lead vocalist isn’t what fans of the band will expect, but it might be the best thing he’s been involved with since “Room on Fire.” The experimental LP takes its sound from industrial, punk, and simple innovation, with unique beats, unintelligible vocals, and swarming production that makes it impossible to digest in a single listen. It’s a controversial experiment, having received a 4.9 from Pitchfork,, for what little that’s worth, but the album is filled with ridiculous highs and tragic lows.The distortion hides the sometimes on-the-nose, sometimes meaningless lyrics behind an aesthetic, inimitable listening experience.

EDEN — “End Credits” — The newest discovery from me on this list, EDEN is quickly becoming one of my favorite pop-electronica artists. Irish musician Jonathan Ng got his start as an EDM artist with The Eden Project, but has slowly transitioned toward blending The Eden Project’s dance roots with poppier vocals and instrumentation. “End Credits” is his first project under his rebranded name EDEN, and it’s a hell of an EP. The devotion to electronica is still obvious while also pockmarked with slower ballads and wonderful vocals. All his work is wonderful (check out his cover of “Billie Jean”), but this one’s devotion to his electronic roots, less obvious in his newer EP, “i think you think too much of me,” means “End Credits” encapsulates all of EDEN’s artistic talents in just seven tracks.

Archive — “You All Look The Same To Me” — Archive is hard to pin down, but this album is one of the best things to come out of the early 2000s. It’s very clearly a product of its time, especially in the vocals and giveaways like the repetitive piano ballads, but there’s nothing else quite like it. It might be one of the greatest ‘downer’ albums of the century. If seasonal depression has you down, it’s the perfect listen. The opening, 16-minute ‘Again,’ is flush with sounds of loneliness, regret, and bitterness, all of which is channeled wonderfully through the production, which somehow wears its era on its sleeve while also seeming timeless.Its innovative tricks make the instrumentation alone worth the listen. I’ve never met anyone who listens to Archive, and that’s a shame, because this album is an absolute masterpiece.

Happy J-Term, everybody!

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Five Hot Albums For A Cold Day