EarCandy #1: Chromeo & Janelle Monae

Music making me happy these days:

{CHROMEO}

Thanks to Mike over at PopBlerd for re-introducing me to Chromeo, via this crazy-good new track “Don’t Turn the Lights On,” from their upcoming album Business Casual. Part of me is sorta stuck in 1980s pop/r&b–they do say you’re always connected to the music of your youth–but I love when a band or artist can take that studio-slick 80s aesthetic and make it a modern moment like this.

{JANELLE MONAE}

First confession: I was first interested in the Janelle Monae album ArchAndroid because of my own intellectual (and academic) interest in the whole “black body as monster/alien/other” idea. Then I listened to it, and the music blew me away. It’s an eclectic mix, blending funk riffs, hiphop beats, smooth soul, folk pop, psychadelic sounds: it’s really like nothing you heard of late, and smartly rendered, with style and the kind on individualistic bravado that so many artists talk about but rarely put forth. This is one of those new artist albums where you can clearly hear the influences, but you don’t feel like the artist is burdened by them or so beholden to them that she gets lost in the sauce. No, Janelle Monae mixes up her influences–Stevie? Nona Hendryx? Arthur Lee? OutKast? Prince? Stevie Nicks?–and creates an enticing and endlessly listenable stew of her own. I can’t say I’ve followed closely the quasi-mythology of the album’s storyline, part of a larger project Monae began on her first EP, but the music still astonishes, and until I understand the “story” better, I can still say that so far, it’s my favorite new album this year…Two of my fave tracks are here:

“Say You’ll Go”

“Neon Valley Street”

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