Coursing throughout the classic rock canon is a preoccupation with being “back”.  Whether in black or saddle, town or U.S.S.R, the genre, and its long-locked constituents, have, decade after skin-leathering decade, whittled and rewhittled themes of redemption and rejuvenation into convenient, microwaveable fun-pack odes to electoral representation, Coors, and breasts. It is in this very leather-panted, karate kicking spirit that I, today, return from thesis maternity leave with a chip on my shoulder, a spring in my step, and my brain in a sling. I’ll admit that the past two weeks may have firebombed my psychological and physio-emotional capacities—so much so that a McCartney-helmed Nirvana and steamy rumors of yet another BK-on-Canada office romance registered with the approximate actuality of a pneumonic fever dream—but the fact is I’m back. So, as they will one day say, let’s Trend (™ pending), baby.

Of course no comeback comes without its challenges, set backs, and re-pulls of that ol’ hammy, and this particular roadblock-to-recovery comes in the form of the dreaded, reissue-heavy, holiday record-release dust bowl. Borrowing a tactic regularly used to combat my aimless iPod wanderlust, we begin today by looking toward Beck for salvation. Welcome to the first installment of “Song Reader Watch 2012”.

As surely you’ve heard (well, not literally because that’s actually kind of the point) Beck recently released his new album, Song Reader, via the super accessible, listener-friendly medium of sheet music. Designed to inspire your own creations and, more importantly, the creations of those better equipped to create, the collection of quintessentially Beck strum-a-longs has officially seen its first notable surrogate in the Magnetic Fields’ Stephen Merritt. Check out his morose, subtlety seasonal take on “Old Shanghai”, Amy Regan’s full Song Reader recital at CSC tonight, and future Trending installments future for any additional imaginings.

With my Beck-fections thus de-robed, I suppose it can’t hurt to also admit that I’m a total doe-eyed, rosy-cheeked sucker for the mixed-media buffet that has come to typify music videos in the Age of the Terabyte. This weakness, which tends to manifest as both a low-level tremor in the knees and a total abandonment of journalistic inhibitions, becomes increasingly pronounced when Jack White is involved, as he in this Portlandia-sponsored audiophilia awareness campaign. Check it out while I take a cold shower. And if that doesn’t satisfy the cross-platform appetite, then give Mogwai’s (yep, I bumped into Gremlins on TV this weekend too) score for the Francophone Walking Dead approximation, Les Revenants, a try. The four-song EP is available in digital copy today while the full track list and a sample of the show can be found here.

Though perhaps more likely to become the butt of Armisen-armed cultural parody and/or consumed in the flesh eating tumult of NYC’s electro-pop feeding frenzy than to collaborate with either, Wild International have their genre-bullet dodging Lake Tones EP streaming in its dense, double-knotted entirety. With the shadow of Animal Collective/Yeasayer enormity still blotting out a lot of open-minded sun, one would be excused for dismissing the local trio as just another couple of Korg synth stockholders hoping to keep their share values blasting through the proverbial fiscal roof (we all thought that…right, guys?). But with visceral noise punk explosions peppering tracks like “Emos Teg” and prog-rock cascades, such as those on “Young Wayfarer”, giving way to folky, screen-door-slam codas, these guys definitely demand both a joint and a listen.

And as long as you’re a little, you know, we might as well turn our now limited to attentions to Chief Keef and the rest of the hip hop universe, which just so happens to be bustling on what is, for most other music neighborhoods, a rather subdued Tuesday morning. The aforementioned new kid dropped his major label debut, Finally Rich, today, while T.I., at a totally different point in his playing career, unveiled Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head, which is being heralded by some as an almost-return to Paper Trails-form. Check out an in-studio performance of Keef’s “No Tomorrow” if your curious about what Final Cut looks like in the hands of an intoxicated kaleidoscope and T.I’s Kendrick Lamar/B.O.B-boasting “Memories Back Then” if your curious about what hip hop sounds like in the hands of an actual ex-con (sorry Teflon Don). Speaking of Lamar (whose above verse—and 2012 in general—are obvious standouts), the Compton-MC-turned-hip-hop-second-coming also appears on post-dubsteptress Dido’s nervy new single “Let Us Move On”. If you are looking for a beta test of the Trending Express Pass, this is the one to check out.

Wrapping this thing up (seriously, just toss it in the fridge for later), Danny Brown announced his new album, Old, which should be an awesomely eccentric follow-up to 2011’s paradigm-nudging XXX. Slightly easier on the Parental Advisory powers-that-be, east coast’s Best Coast, Widowspeak, also have a new album, Almanac, on the way. Make sure check out rollicking first single “The Dark Age” over at The Fork.

Finally—because we could all use a reminder that humanity is still capable of inspiring/being inspired, especially because of  our ability to persevere in the wake of those who haven’t—Baroness have a video of their first performance since a mortality-brushing bus crash this summer that everyone, regardless of musical taste, should spend two minutes with.

Thanks for listening.

  • Benjamin Key

    You’re dreamy.