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Creator and Artist Stories

Music Tuesday: Battles, Vetiver and the power of CANADA

By Sarah Bardeen

Music Community Manager

This week, Coldplay returns with a brand new song, Duncan Sheik covers ‘80s classics, Youssou N’Dour celebrates reggae, Branford Marsalis keeps jazz vital and country star Randy Travis celebrates 25 years in music. But we first turn our attention to a math-rock supergroup some had written off after they lost their lead singer -- until their new album landed on critics’ laps, four years after their lauded debut.

Battles curate the YouTube homepage
Battles’ 2007 debut Mirrored still amazes with its precise shards of sound and wholly formed aesthetic. It integrated electronics and rock instrumentation into such a seamless whole that some hailed the band as the future of rock — and avant-garde vocalist Tyondai Braxton as its voice-manipulating headman. Braxton’s departure from the band left doubt about their future, but four years after their lauded debut, they’re back: sans Braxton, but full of sonic innovation and a bevy of guest vocalists. Gloss Drop is an engrossing listen, and it gains in texture with contributions from Gary Numan (yes, the man behind the ‘80s classic “Cars”), Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead, Chilean producer and vocalist Matias Aguayo and Yamantaka Eye of Japanese rockers the Boredoms. Battles bring their heady, wonky, original aesthetic to the homepage today, choosing their favorite videos and debuting a new version of their video for “Ice Cream.”

The Power of CANADA
Battles are likely to gain fans on the strength of their new video, and they have the amusingly-named Spanish video director collective CANADA to thank for that. The team features three directors: Luis Cervero, Nicolas Mendez and Lope Serrrano. After spending years as the go-to videographers for Spain’s indie rock artists, CANADA gained a massive following from their provocative video for El Guincho’s “Bombay.” El Guincho has a growing U.S. fan-base, and his global ghetto pop/electronic sound mashed perfectly with the directors’ aesthetic: bawdy (which has earned their videos more than a few age restrictions), comic and flooded with images that often find their power in rapid-fire juxtaposition. Their videos poke fun but also celebrate everything from bad ‘70s flicks and European art films to Carl Sagan. They seem to have an endless storehouse of images at their fingertips, and their editing borders on revelatory. We share some of their best work today on

Vetiver “Wonder Why?”
They’re transplanted San Franciscans (native to North Carolina), friends of freak folk luminaries Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, and willing slaves to harmony and twang. Vetiver make the kind of urban roots music that feeds people looking for organic, unprocessed music in our highly digitized age. Check out the brand-new video from their upcoming album, premiered on today. It takes a city’s inanimate landscape and brings it to life; watch as sandwich carts mouth the words to the song and buildings blink their windows in time.