In what seems to be a trend at Pitchfork Music Festival, Sunday at Chicago’s Union Park will be a rap and DJ-heavy day, full of well-established artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Grimes. That’s not to say that there won’t be new things to hear, so it may pan out that some acts can display their newer work against what we’ve been hearing on the radio for years. A few artists in particular have new releases that will certainly give the likes of Kendrick a run for their money on the closing day of Pitchfork.
Isaiah Rashad – “Cilvia Demo” – 2:50 p.m. on the Blue Stage
Twenty-three-year-old, Chattanooga, Tennessee-born Isaiah Rashad McClain lists OutKast, Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg as some of his greatest musical influences. That does not imply, however, that he has necessarily taken after any of them. “Cilvia Demo,” released January 28, hints strongly towards West Coast influences — specifically, his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q (both of whom will also be performing on Sunday at Pitchfork). “Cilvia,” Rashad’s debut album, has earned him critical acclaim and even a spot on XXL’s “freshman class,” which compiles the top new rappers of the year. As a whole, “Cilvia” is a pleasant, laid-back album with deliberate instrumentals that feel almost ‘90s R&B-inspired. Rashad’s lyrics are often personal, yet vague, and his delivery is smooth, which fits comfortably with his bass-heavy backing. It may not be a home run, but Isaiah Rashad has impressed in his debut — “Cilvia Demo” gives us a lot to look forward to.
Similar to: Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, OutKast Must-listen track: “Cilvia Demo” Upcoming local shows: none
Dum Dum Girls – “Too True” – 3:45 p.m. on the Blue Stage
Staying true to “indie garage rock” style, Dum Dum Girls’ January 28 release “Too True” bombards listeners with punchy drumming and perfectly simple chord progressions. The New York-based band, formed and headed by Kristin Welchez (stage name: Dee Dee Penny) has maintained its black leather and red lipstick sound, but reached wholeheartedly into the realm of shoegaze — leading to an interesting mesh of powerful, punk-like rhythms and cavernous guitar licks that echo into nothingness. Dum Dum Girls’ third full-length release is masterful in the sense that no component gets lost in any song — each instrument, every verse and every sound seems purposeful and tasteful. “Too True” is riddled with potential hits that could arguably fit into any alternative radio station lineup. With its catchy, aggressive rock undertones and dream-pop highlights, it is a universally appealing 30-minute jam worth the ear of all listeners.
Similar to: The Go-Go’s, Cults, Frankie Rose Must-listen track: “Rimbaud Eyes” Upcoming local shows: none
Real Estate — “Atlas” — 5:15 p.m. on the Red Stage
“Atlas,” Real Estate’s March 4 release, is an excellent audio representation of the unwarranted sadness one feels when even a perfect suburban life grows boring. With bright, glassy guitar melodies to guide him along, lead singer Martin Courtney apathetically (but pleasantly) sings of the mental struggles we all face from time to time — anxiety, failure to communicate, loneliness, etc. The tone of “Atlas” is retrospective and noticeably worn-down from what seems to be a lifetime of mild heartbreaks and disappointments. At points in the album, it may seem that Real Estate has fallen into a rut, never straying from the same basic guitar tone, cymbal-laden beats and head-bobbing tempo, but as a whole, these elements enforce the desensitized vibe of “Atlas.” As an avid fan of all music, it has been a long time since I have listened to an album that so appropriately and accurately portrays such a specific mental state. However crestfallen and dispirited it may seem, Real Estate has done something truly special in “Atlas.”
Similar to: Mac DeMarco, Grizzly Bear, Atlas Sound Must-listen track: “Talking Backwards” Upcoming local shows: none