Pod Picks for Sept. 5, 2013

September 4, 2013 

This week we recommend a grab-bag of fresh sounds which you can download (legally, of course) or stream to your personal media device.

“Q.U.E.E.N.” by Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu

Monae has been part of some big collaborations in the past, most notably with Outkast and on Fun’s Grammy nominated “We are Young.” But now it’s Monae’s turn for people to be featured on her songs, and her upcoming album “The Electric Lady” has some big name guest stars – Prince, Esperanza Spalding and this single with Badu. A big funk and soul song with plenty of space to get playful, Badu’s small contribution to the song fits right in as Monae makes bold statements and roams around the groove like she was born in it. She’s an artist who can plug retro sounds into a new energy source and make the whole thing bristle with excitement.

“Bagboy” by The Pixies

The impact of the Pixies is undeniable. Anyone who’s heard the Pixies will tell you that the band’s two late ’80s albums, “Surfer Rosa” and “Doolittle,” helped steer the direction of music through grunge and the punk-pop movement that would follow. Led by guitarist/vocalist Black Francis (aka Frank Black), the band has broken up and reunited and now it seems bassist/vocalist/co-founder Kim Deal has quit the band once again. But the Pixies are still fluttering about, replacing Deal with various players and releasing this song as a free download on its Web site. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the band – Francis yelling out verses over a squalling, distorted guitar and a repeated chant. Eventually, it comes together in a crunchy, almost funky bridge with the band mimicking Deal’s vocals. Deal or no Deal, it feels authentic.

“Sun Medallion” by King Tuff

This guy is one of those weird phenomena where his small conglomerate of faithful fans get a win/win. Win No. 1, he recently was signed to Sub Pop Records and released his second album where he added layers to his lo-fi Dylanesque sound. Win No. 2, his old label, Burger Records, is rereleasing his debut album, “Was Dead.” So those faithful fans could stop tossing hundreds of dollars at eBay to get it on vinyl. This song is one of those re-released tracks. It stutters and stops and starts again before getting into a tale of making it on the streets and finding a style in the grunge and grit of just getting by.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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