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Essential tracks: Music to memorize before Coachella 2013

April 05, 2013|By Randall Roberts | Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
  • San Francisco band Thee Oh Sees perform at Coachella on April 14, 2013.
San Francisco band Thee Oh Sees perform at Coachella on April 14, 2013. (Kristin Klien )

This edition of Essential Tracks gathers new music by lesser-known artists gigging next weekend's Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio -- as well as one epic reissue by a recently reunited group. If you haven’t the desire, money or constitution to spend three days surrounded by so many humans under the desert sun, you can find comfort in the tracks (and watch the whole event live online). Those gearing up for the two-weekend festival have seven days to memorize these tracks.

Kurt Vile, “Wakin on a Pretty Daze” (Matador). The Philadelphia singer and guitarist’s new record is a guitar rock gem of the classic variety. Within its grooves is a languid but powerful tone that suggests artists including the Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Mott the Hoople. But Vile’s voice and tone are all his own, and he’s got an allure that makes nine-minute opuses, such as the title track, compelling for the duration. Those starved for a new rock album to fall in love with might consider the aptly titled “Pretty Daze.”


TIMELINE: Coachella and Stagecoach

Thee Oh Sees, “Floating Coffin” (Castle Face). Relentless, powerful, tight: This San Francisco psychedelic guitar band showcases its wild, spastic rock on “Floating Coffin,” its seventh record. Like last year’s excellent “Putrifiers II,” on the new one the sharp players, centered on founder-guitarist John Dwyer, make four-minute garage punk sound positively epic. Surprises abound; no song travels where a dumber band would take it. “Maze Fancier” sounds like a crazy Fugazi song on speed. “Minotaur” pokes along drunkenly and features one of the best guitar lines you’ll hear all year.

Postal Service, “Give Up” 10th Anniversary Reissue. (Sub Pop). A decade after it was originally issued, the electronic pop duo’s only album, “Give Up,” continues to resonate, soundtracking commercials that drive download sales, scoring films that prompt more sales and licensing opportunities, at each point spreading to fresh ears. This double-disc reissue features so many introspective toe-tappers, the kind with glistening melodies created by producer/Dntel mastermind Jimmy Tamborello and Death Cab for Cutie singer Ben Gibbard, that it feels like a greatest hits.

Disc one features the full album — the lyrics of which a whole generation of synth-pop heads can recite from memory. The second CD, called “Everything Else,” is just that: two previously unreleased tracks, collected B-sides, extant soundtrack recordings (including a cover of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds”) and remixes.


FULL COVERAGE: Coachella 2013

Maya Jane Coles, “Easier to Hide” EP (I Am Me). This British house producer makes syrupy, heavy dance music with a steady stomp, the kind created not only to move bodies but the internal organs within them, built to be part of the interlocking puzzle-pieces of an all-night house set. Her excellent, if lyrically unsophisticated, single “Easier to Hide” is a banger in the truest sense of the word: gloriously repetitive with a persistent hammer that makes each movement feel huge and groovy.

Birdy Nam Nam, “Defiant Order EP” (OWSLA). The squirrelly, synthetic, robotic and funky, French production crew Birdy Nam Nam has been crafting Jetsons-worthy computer jams for the past half-decade. Best known for its “Goin’ In,” which so floored dubstep superstar Skrillex that he rereleased it Stateside along with his own spazzy remix, the group’s new EP comprises their new single “Defiant Order” and four remixes. Each is a different kind of freaky and will no doubt feel extra large on Coachella’s sound system.


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Coachella, Indio reach long-term agreement, plan to expand festival offerings

Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

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