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House Playlist Jónsi, Blackout Beach, & Radiohead

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House Playlist: Jónsi, Blackout Beach, & Radiohead

Jónsi, “Gathering Stories.” It seems strangely appropriate that Cameron Crowe’s upcoming We Bought a Zoo is scored by Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi: Since he launched his solo career in 2010, the mercurial singer-songwriter has been subtly celebrating all things zoological, both musically (see Go’s “Animal Arithmetic,” in particular) and visually. On “Gathering Stories,” typical Jónsi staples like high-pitched vocal choruses and wispy, reverse tape melodies are met with the kind of instrumentation choices and rhythmic flow one would associate with traditional film orchestration. This is, essentially, trailer music as imagined by a post-rocker: Brass and string sections open the track in alternating sweeps, timpani crescendos signal the dramatic parts, and everything resolves quickly enough for the titles to fade in over a plucky xylophone. The festive and celebratory “Gathering Stories” even brandishes enough marketable holiday flair to befit the film’s December 23rd release date, proving that perhaps Jónsi isn’t as aloof a dreamer as he’s cracked up to be. Kevin Liedel

Blackout Beach, “Hornet’s Fury into the Bandit’s Mouth.” Carey Mercer has always frightened me in the best possible way. His work in Frog Eyes and Swan Lake is downright eerie, often abrasive. “Hornet’s Fury into the Bandit’s Mouth,” a track from Fuck Death, the new album from another one of Mercer’s side projects, Blackout Beach, opens with Mercer declaring, “You should be ashamed, philistine,” numerous times over a lumbering, dripping-with-sludge guitar hook before expanding his statement with “Doing what you will, doing what you want” as the ominous background noises incrementally intensify around his shaky, dooming vocals. It’s not all that clear who Mercer is addressing, but, given the album’s title, he could be speaking directly to the Grim Reaper. Mercer’s knack for sly scurrility, however, leads me to believe he’s talking to whoever is paying close enough attention. Mike LeChevallier


Radiohead, “Bloom (Jamie xx Rework Part 3).” It seems nothing can stop Jamie xx’s swift ascendancy as indie music’s premier remixer, particularly when it comes to putting his magical touch on the work of his fellow Brits. Case in point: his third reworking of Radiohead’s “Bloom,” one of the best cuts from The King of Limbs and a track that Jamie already handled brilliantly on TKOL RMX 1234567. “Part 3” relegates the jarring, bell-like tones of the previous remix to the background and, as listeners have come to expect from the xx beat specialist, a no-nonsense, minimalist percussion emerges in their place. “Bloom” sounds almost unrecognizable here, replacing the original’s stuttering piano with dreamlike synth pulsations and the glitchy throb of a gothic choir. KL