Russ Marshalek

Features

The 10 Best Dark and Weird Electronic Albums of 2012

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We’re not ones for preemptively compiling “best of the year” lists, particularly in music. There’s always one or two records or, as is coming increasingly more common, a small flurry of mixtapes that drop at the tail end of December that cause us obsessive, neurotic critics to compulsively rearrange our lists (see: last year, and The Weeknd’s Echoes of Silence, his surprisingly perfect ending to a trilogy that most thought lagged a bit in the center). That said, we’re ready to put a lock down on 2012 as it relates to the year’s releases in the brilliantly flourishing “weird” dark electronic scene. We’re living in a post-witch house landscape now, where the pop music landscape is slurring and blurring into a weird, dark hybrid of what we used to know… and that’s an awesome thing. It allows for the likes of Charli XCX’s Super Ultra tape to rub against the epic void of releases from Blackest Ever Black. So, in this festive time of year, let’s get dark.
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Flavorwire’s 2012 Halloween Mixtape

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Face it: music for your Halloween party can be tough. It’s really cheap and easy to go, say, strictly ’80s, or strictly metal, or strictly horror film soundtracks, but that’s not how we do things around here. As such, your author has created a Halloween party mix of some dark, moody and thematically appropriate new tunes for your Samhain enjoyment, because, really, how many times can you listen to “The Monster Mash”? Feel free to use this as a soundtrack to your Halloween seance/rave/get-together, or just to creep out the neighbors.
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10 Terrifying New Reads for Halloween 2012

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If you’re like us, one of the great treasures of the Halloween season is the excuse to curl up with a big, terrifying tome of a novel and not be stared at on the subway like a freak of nature. We have a special place in our hearts for the classics — Frankenstein, of course, and The Turn of the Screw, and on certain dark nights even Wuthering Heights can send a chill that keeps us awake until morning. That said, how many times are we expected to read The Lottery? Sometimes you just want new frights, and that’s totally reasonable. As such, here: scare yourself silly (but hopefully not to death) with this bodyful…erm, bountiful crop of new, scary books.
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Tori Amos Live at (le) Poisson Rouge: 20 Years of ‘Little Earthquakes’

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In 1992, singer/songwriter/pianist/force-of-nature Tori Amos released her debut album, Little Earthquakes, and began a slow subversion of music and mind. I’ll take a second and note that, yes, I’m aware this wasn’t her actual debut record, but if we get into discussing Y Kant Tori Read I’m quite certain the bounce rate on this post will skyrocket.

At the time, it felt like a moment. In retrospect, it feels like a movement. To paraphrase David Byrne’s awkward-as-hell introduction of Amos on the ill-fated live music television show Sessions at West 54th, while her contemporaries were strapping on the loudest guitars, she hauled out a giant piano. It’s easy, in today’s musical landscape, to miss exactly how revolutionary this is. Certainly Amos wasn’t the first woman to ever sit at a piano, sing, and have that song played on the radio. At the time Little Earthquakes was released into the world, the radio was filled to the brim with angry-at-best, disaffected-at-worst flannel-clad shaggy dudes. This isn’t to say there weren’t women making noise, but to be taken seriously as “important” you needed to be a Bratmobile or a Bikini Kill, with an outspoken political agenda as loud as your guitar (or, yes, yes, Kate Bush. I see you there, anonymous commenter).
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10 Deliciously Quirky Cookbooks

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It seems pretty straightforward, in essence: a cookbook’s purpose is to provide recipes and instructions on how to properly prepare various dishes. That’s why we were giddy when it was announced, seemingly years ago, that one of our favorite New York restaurants, the vegetable-focused Dirt Candy, would be releasing its first cookbook in the form of a graphic novel. Now that it’s finally out, the book has proven itself to be worth the wait: this may be the first and only cookbook to elicit the amount of joy and tears usually reserved for a compelling piece of literary fiction. To celebrate this truly unique work, we rounded up some of our other favorite quirky spins on the “cookbook” concept. Spoiler alert: you’re gonna get a lot of Harold McGee. Ever used any of these? Did we miss your favorite cookbook oddity/treasure? Let us know in the comments.
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Introducing Lunch Break: Flavorpill’s New Lunchtime Dance Party

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There have been many attempts over the years to dress up the common lunchtime staple of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But as far as we’re concerned, it goes best with hundreds of our best friends and a rockin’ afternoon dance party. That’s what we at Flavorpill set out to create with Lunch Break, our newly-launched series of Summer Friday afternoon dance affairs. Inspired by great daytime parties like MoMA PS1’s Warm Up, and the slowly-spreading international afternoon dance party trend, we decided to chase off the Friday workday doldrums with some great music, cold drinks, and, of course, brown-bagged PB&Js. We brought in the DJs of Mister Saturday Night, who are known for throwing epic parties, we got the sandwiches ready, and we waited to see what happened.
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11 Thrilling Books For People Who Don’t Read Thrillers

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Though as readers we try our best to keep an open mind, we have a confession. We admit it, it’s a dirty word to us: genre fiction. That said, when we were breathlessly devouring Tana French’s newly-released Broken Harbor, we were struck by something: the power of a well-written, perfectly plotted, tightly-wound literary thriller. While the “t” word might throw off some high-minded snobs (admittedly, us), there’s absolutely nothing wrong in delighting in a great book that is, well, thrilling. As an entry point, we’ve gathered some of our favorite recent literary thrillers here, for your perusal. Note that we set the guideline of “recent” (so, please, no “where’s Agatha Christie?”), we chose not to focus on true crime (though we did have to make one exception), and that we highly recommend all of these. Also note that we don’t recommend starting any of them before bedtime.
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10 Dark, Weird Candidates for “Song of the Summer”

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We’ll admit that this year, we’re just a little overly-invested in the battle for “song of the summer.” It’s partially because we hate how damn catchy Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” one major contender for the #1 spot, is, partially because the song it’s going toe-to-toe with, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” is legitimately amazing, and partially because we’re unable to get the incredibleness of jj’s new High Summer EP out of our heads. Now, we know what you’re thinking: there’s no way the dreamy electronic pop of Swedish duo jj’s going to end up in a knock-out fight for the top Billboard spot, but it should. In fact, this summer there’s a plethora of tunes that are just begging to come blasting out of every boombox in the park on sweltering Saturday afternoon, but for whatever reason — too dark, too weird, too obscure, etc — it’s just not going to happen. So here, then, are our candidates for alternate “song of the summer.” And tell us, please, in the comments, what songs are in the heaviest rotation on your iPod this season.
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10 Musical Couples We Wish Would Reunite

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Music is a passionate occupation to pursue, and it makes sense that some of our favorite musicians have, well, hooked up with some of our other favorite musicians in fiery ways throughout the years. This is something we’ve been chewing on ever since we first got former Fleetwood Mac co-figurehead Lindsey Buckingham’s last solo record,… Read More

10 New Dark Electronic Albums You Need to Hear

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This month sees the release of the self-titled debut album from Light Asylum, a New York-based synth duo fronted by the fiery, intense Shannon Funchess. One of the best and darkest albums to come out yet this year, it’s put us in a dour mood right in time for summer, and we rather like it that way. As such, we’re using the release of Light Asylum as inspiration to round up the greatest moody, atmospheric electronic music we’ve heard this year — so close the blinds and turn these records up.
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