Week in Pop: Expensive Looks, Neal Morgan, Textbeak

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As we count our blessings in the post-Thanksgiving reflection of gratefulness, we must also recognize how these trying times have affected everyone including our favorite musicians. Many of today's artists have ran toward the safety of childhood-Songs of Innocence by depicting youth in revolt through videos from Headless Horseman's “Wavlgnth,” IS TROPICAL's “The GreeksM83 with “Midnight City,” Fucked Up's “Queen of Hearts,” Modeselektor feat. Thom Yorke with “Shipwreck” and Keep Shelly in Athens' “California Birds.” As our resident occupiers fight against the collective machines that continue to destroy our sustainable futures, no wonder so many warm themselves in the Instagram reconstitution of memories and revolution obsessed revisionism. With our heads held high, let us recount the artists of the week that made our turkey season more than palatable in no particular order.

Neal Morgan released the track “Father's Day” this week that presents the power of voice and percussion in a new form. As a drummer for Bill Callahan, Joanna Newsom and a solo artist in his own right; Neal has been hard at work on a follow up to his 2009 solo debut To the Breathing World with an ethic that concerns itself with strictly the use of drums and singings, with a soft spot for the painter Philip Guston. Give “Father's Day” a listen and you will be absorbed in a Sunday morning type of feeling populated by unusual choruses of song and a drum-lover's cornucopia of delights. Morgan drops In the Yard January 24 on Drag City.

After showing up late to the party we caught the latest offering from upstart of promise, Azealia Banks with the head twisting “212 ft. Lazy Jay.” The definite 2012 artist to watch, we hear that Azealia is heading off to the UK with big time producer Paul Epworth (of Adele, Florence and the Machine fame) to record her debut LP. Also check out her cover and improvement of Interpol's “Slow Hands” and listen to the essential “212” now.

Evan Voytas gave us a listen to “Can't Let Anybody Know Who You Are” earlier this week that displays the sound of hip LA that leaves you cool, mellow and asking for seconds. While not being content with playing as a backing musician for artists like Blu, Flying Lotus, and Gonjasufi alone; Voytas has been utilizing his talents on the vocals and slick keys to create the kind of personal and reflective music that makes each listen feel like you have just woken up from a long sleep. His album Feel Me is coming our way January 24 on the always amazing Dovecote Records.

In the excitement generated from the re-release of Factory Records dance rarities via the excellent Strut Release, FAC. Dance; an obscure video for A Certain Ratio's “Back to the Start” from back in the day resurfaced. At first you will think that you are looking at an assemblage of Tumblr animated GIF montages, but further inspection will see these Manchester blokes making a warehouse-dance-racket that was always 30 years ahead of their time.

Stepkids premiered their video for “Suburban Dream” that will provide comfort for anyone stuck in the 'burbs and dreaming of the big city or maybe even visa versa. Taken from their self-titled debut on Stones Throw, the video features a mixture of sketched animation with CGI to illustrate sentiments of alienation with 3D illuminations of a metropolis full of cigar chomping L-train commuters.

We have been on the Houston hasHBrown train lately here in anticipation of his upcoming November 30 album Break Something and this week we were given H's single “This is It (featuring Dannie Walker).” H gave us the lowdown on his nightlife approach and inspiration. “The main inspiration was going out on the town and knowing that at this 'one spot' you were going to hear good music, no matter what, some venues and events are known for their nightlife party atmosphere but what draws me in to going out to a bar or lounge is if I know that I'm going to hear dope music while I party.”

Fol Chen gave us the track “So Good” that comes as a collaboration with a Monome and The Machine Project in the creation of a tetrahedron audio manipulation device. You can experience the track's up beat and uptown lyrical woes like, “baby you're boring with me with your slow kiss” through a machine that the Monome people describe like this:

“A hand-held tangible electronic sound toy. Circuits enclosed by a wooden tetrahedron detect orientation and motion-gestures to modify the playback of a collection of Fol Chen's micro-compositions, allowing the user to explore sound through physical manipulation. The battery-powered device has its own internal speaker but can additionally be hooked up to a headphone or amplifier. The circuit and firmware are based on open-source hardware and is itself published as open-source, allowing anyone interested to learn about its deepest inner-workings.”

Find out more about this invention here and listen below:

Zakee dished out this super slick video for “Glory” shot on location in gorgeous Rio de Janeiro. Directed by Fernando Reginato, he depicts the beauty of the natural surroundings and city scenes to Zakee's West African style production heard on his recent Assimilation out now on Green Owl/Warner Brothers.

Neverever dropped “Weddding Day” this week with a slightly more updated attitude and style. They have taken their '50s obsessions and channeled them through a loud Albert Hammond Jr. guitar amp that would sound well situated on a shared bill with Screaming Females. Their EP Shake-a-Baby comes out January 17 on Slumberland.

Expensive Looks is the alter ego of NYC producer Alec Feld who has been receiving popularity for the track and video of “Nothing More.” Beyond the buzz, here is Alec's reflection on the process of the both the track and debut album: “I became sick and tired of the notion that there are right and wrong ways to create and be creative. Dark Matters comes into play as confusion and constant bipolar shifts all for the pursuit of happiness, I kill for euphoria and use it as a venue to get that polar-shifting depressive state across. This isn’t about me not being happy, it’s more about my frustration with the pursuit of happiness. I’m also kind of a space nut. There is little logic behind what ‘dark matter’ is and how it works…Smashing keys turned into sequencing and sampling, I have no creative process. I don’t write songs and I don’t know what I want. I’ve narrowed down what Expensive Looks represents, taught myself a skill set previously non-existent in my mind and engaged myself in something that was once a fantasy.” EL's album Dark Matters can be yours January 17 of next year on Group Tightener.

Doomtree released their album No Kings this week along with the video for “Bolt Cutter.” The crew asserts their no authority rules style with their leadership by way of the collective approach as rhyme spitters without borders who refuse to be fenced in by the iron bolts of the establishment.

Witch house radio host Mike Textbeak has made his first official release on the Bay Area's Tundra Dubs. Brace yourself for a four track-grindhouse of dragged and drugged beat-slogged burners. “FRVKTVRE” gave our holiday week some brooding buzz to slow step to as the tryptophan slowly kicks in while we watched the 49ers blow it in their match up against the Ravens. The Indiglo EP is available now in a limited batch of 30 CDRs with art work by Slow Head.

Seapony released their “Sailing” 7″ on Hardly Art this week while we got down to the “Hardly Art vs. 2011” 25-track mixtape. Here you will find a smattering of singles offerings from the Beets, Gold Leaves, Hunx and His Punx, Jacuzzi Boys, Sandwitches and everything else that made the year listenable and worthwhile.

With shopping frenzies are under way, what better way to celebrate the seasons than with the re-release of Ol' Dirty Bastard's Return to the 36 Chambers:The Dirty Versions via Get On Down Records. Re-experience the iconic debut from the late, great Wu-Tang master with remixes, a cappella versions, instrumentals, among other rarities and treats. But of course there is more, value-added extras for the die hard fans, a reprinted vintage “On Tour” poster, extended artwork, promotional sticker, mad-detailed liner notes, a pimp billfold wallet to place the ubiquitous (and in this case complimentary) ODB food stamp card from way back before the EBT system. Perfect for that family member who really does not want the excessive Beach Boys' SMiLE 5 disc rehash set.

Porcelain Raft debuted the video for “Put Me to Sleep,” directed by frontman Mauro Remiddi's lactose laden vision. Featuring Remiddi baptizing himself in a buttermilk bath amid tracer colored light impositions abound while early '90s songs about sleep come to mind. The album Strange Weekend drops January 24 on Secretly Canadian.

Gucci Mane had himself a busy holiday week. First off was a collaboration with Mike WiLL and Yung Joey with “European Shit.” Mike spoke on behalf of the 1017 Brick Squad crew on the new celebratory cut with; “We were in the studio; Gucci shoes, Louie shoes, Joey's BMW keys were laying on the desk – he looked around and instantly came up with the concept. I've been rocking with Yung Joey since I met him back in 2007 and that allowed me to give Joey something different, a unique sound that's just now kicking off a whole new wave.” Look for his mixtape Est. in 1989 before the year's end.

Then from left field was word from Warner Bros that Gucci has teamed with the foul mouthed White Girl Mob offender V-Nasty for a mixtape titled BAYTL coming at you December 13. To kick things off controversial wise, here is Gucci, Ms. Nasty and Slim Dunkin with “F**k You” to get you riled up on your holiday weekend.

And finally we leave you with Tensnake's “Needyourlovin (Tiger & Woods remix),” that dices the original up into dance floor solid brass. Look for it December 9 on Permanent Vacation.