Governors Ball 2014 Artist Playlist

governors-ball-festival-2 Governors Ball 2014 officially kicks off today and thousands of the most dedicated fans come out each year to indulge in this 3 day mega music festival in New York City. I have prepared a list of artists performing this year who are expected to rock out live on Randall’s Island. Check it out you may just discover your new favorite artist.

Sun Kil Moon – Benji

justin perich benjiBenjiI’m calling it right now: Sun Kil Moon’s sixth album is the most unsettlingly, brutally honest record you’ll hear for a long, long time. From family tragedy to mass murder to fear of sex and aging to motherly and fatherly love to the Led Zepellin film The Song Remains the Same, songwriter Mark Kozelek muses honestly and openly on topics of varying sorrow, embarrassment, and joy in what sounds like free association, like a drunk man with a guitar at 4am, not bothering to censor himself and just singing what he feels, exactly as he feels it. The approach isn’t always aesthetically pleasing, or even enjoyable–without any metaphors or subtext to hide behind, you feel somewhat ashamed to be overhearing these lonely tunes crooned right into your ear in Kozelek’s signature marble-mouth whine. At some point, however, you realize that this is what every songwriter tries to do with music, or at least the best songwriters, and the only difference is no one else has ever taken it to such extremes. It’s a brave, generous compilation that comes closer than perhaps anything before to bring you into the melancholy mind of a prolific musician, and immortalizing the souls of those that have touched his and are now gone. Highlight tracks: “Carissa,” “Dogs,” “Pray For Newtown,” “I Watched The Film The Song Remains The Same,” “Ben’s My Friend.” 5/5 stars.

Warpaint – Warpaint

justin perich warpaintWarpaint (2014) – With their second and self-titled LP, Warpaint ups the ante on their hazy yet haunting brand of shoegazing groove. Yes the guitars still shimmer hypnotically and yes the lyrics still manage to be vulnerable while somehow remaining impenetrable, but it’s the momentum brought by new drummer Stella Mozgawa that really drives the record to new heights. Also added to the equation are producer Mark Ellis (AKA Flood, who has worked with the likes of Foal, U2, and Nick Cave) and mixer/Radiohead sidekick Nigel Godrich, whose contributions enrichen the vibe with beautiful sparse electronic embellishment. In particular, Godrich’s presence on “Love Is To Die” and “Feeling Alright” gives structure and discipline to an album that is otherwise beautifully formless and shapeless.  On the whole, this is music tailor made for late night summer strolls and train rides. At its best moments, it’s positively transportive. At it’s worst moments, hey, it’s still pretty cool. Favorite track: “Hi.” Most surprising: “Disco/very.”  Most affecting: “Son.” 4/5 stars.

Beyonce – Beyonce

justin perich beyonceBeyonce – The first of many things to compliment Beyonce Knowles’ latest record on was the genius and classiness of its release: fourteen tracks and seventeen fully-produced music videos secretly placed on iTunes without any warning or fanfare, quickly becoming the fast-selling album the music platform has ever seen. It’s true that only a mega-superstar like Bey who has spent years in the publicity machine could pull off these numbers, but the move is incredibly impressive in two ways. Firstly it show’s the amount of control the Queen exerts on her people that there would be no leaks, and secondly it shows that she is, as she’s always been, completely in step with the way the world works now. We crave the immediacy of the viral internet experience, the world changing in the blink of an eye, giving everyone something to talk about. And boy is there a lot to talk about here. From the first track, an epic groove about brains and beauty (“Pretty Hurts”) to the last, a beautiful ballad about motherhood (“Blue (feat Blue Ivy)”, the entire album keeps Beyonce’s mythic status alive while giving us personal, humanizing glances at the woman behind the mask. With a variety of high caliber featured artists like Justin Timberlake, Jay Z, Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, and Ryan Tedder, the collection manages to meander while always feeling cohesive. Favorite tracks include the Michael Jacksonian funk groove “Blow,” the filthily explicit but impeccably rhymed “Partition,” and the soaring “XO.” There’s no doubt about it: Beyonce crowns its creator as the undisputed Queen of R&B. 5/5 stars.

Arcade Fire’s Reflektor

justin perich reflektorReflektor – A decade after achieving worldwide success, Arcade Fire is back with a two-disk album just as urgent and inventive as anything they’ve ever made. “If this is heaven / I need something more,”  Win Butler and Régine Chassagne whisper on the opening titular track, and it’s true–here they’ve eschewed the bright folksy sounds of their previous effort, The Suburbs, in favor of a sonic palette that is decidedly much darker, much denser, and much, much dancier. While the record never quite reaches the dizzying emotional heights of Funeral‘s “Wake Up” or Suburbs‘ “We Used To Wait,” every single tune packs a wallop of Arcade’s signature combination of catchy beats and biting social commentary. Standout tracks include “Here Comes The Night Time”–part Haitian drum circle, part Talking Heads groove–as well as “Normal Person”–a straight rock rage against authority tailor made for jumping up and down–and “Supersymmetry,” the album’s soft ballad closer that proves the band is perfectly capable of placing you in a hypnotic trance when they’re not busy blowing your hair back. 4/5 stars.

Mutual Benefit – Love’s Crushing Diamond

Justin Perich Mutual BenefitLove’s Crushing Diamond – Mutual Benefit’s debut LP is a small but gorgeous collection of seven baroque-folk songs full of love, warmth, and hope. Reminiscent of Animal Collective, Polyphonic Spree, and Sufjan Stevens, the tracks make their way breezily from noise into pleasant melodies and back again, feeling like a group of friends making beautiful music on a lazy Sunday. Of particular note are “Advanced Falconry,” an inspired rendering of new love laced with banjo, and “Let’s Play/Statue of a Man,” a softly driven road song about what lasts and what is fleeting. There’s a moment at the end of the latter song where the music fades away and we hear two voices laughing with glee for some unknown reason. Not only does this moment feel genuine, but it perfectly encapsulates everything that works about this record. Mutual Benefit has something, even if we can’t exactly put our finger on what it is, that is in short supply these days, something worth shouting about, and I for one am I excited to hear what they’ll put out next. 4/5 stars.

Volcano Choir’s Repave

Justin PerichRepave – The latest from Volcano Choir, a team effort between Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and the members of Collections of Colonies of Bees, is even more layered and more rewarding than their first record, Unmap. Beginning with the hauntingly beautiful Holocene-ish fingerpicking of “Tiderays,” the album certainly channels previous efforts of those involved–the poetic lyrics, the heartbreaking falsetto, pounding bass, blaring guitars–but it really carves out its own place in post-rock history somewhere near the climax of “Byegone” and doesn’t relinquish it until the final triumphant moments of “Almanac.” 5/5 stars.