Monthly Archives: June 2011
If you haven’t heard already, Lil B, the infamously controversial rapper outta Berkley, California, released his new (even more controversially named) album, I’m Gay (I’m Happy), today on iTunes. After allegedly receiving death treats after announcing the name of the album a few months ago at his Coachella performance, the album has been released, with the newly amended addition “(I’m Happy)”, to please the haters and to clarify his message. After listening to most of it, I’m pleased to what I’ve heard so far. Brandon has definitely hooked himself up with some professional producers and definitely focused on his words and his delivery this time around. I recommend you check out the album. Just take a listen to this new song “I Hate Myself”, sampling the Goo Goo Dolls’ ‘Iris’. Thanks BasedGod. – D. Gold
A few days back I finally read M. Kauf’s post on Bon Iver’s new album Bon Iver. I had heard him touting the awesomeness of the album for awhile and I finally took the plunge after being especially intrigued by hearing Calgary played on a local radio station. That song blew me away, and I’ve been listening to the album ever since. I’ve probably heard it four or five times through in the past week and love it. Some songs definitely wowed me more than others, but even the ones which I didn’t like initially have grown on me considerably. Michicant is definitely one of my favorites. Give it a listen!
-Jon the Wolf
I recently heard UNKLE’s 1998 album Psyence Fiction for the first time a few days ago and since that first listen it has quickly become one of the best albums I’ve heard this summer. This trip-hop/electronic album created by DJ James Lavelle along with guest ranging from DJ Shadow to Thom Yorke is full of dark atmosphere and sick beats. The entire album sounds as if it was meant to be listened to by a lonely astronaut in space (listen to the album and that phrase will make sense). From the pumped up “Guns Blazing” to the acoustic “Chaos” this album is non-stop aural pleasure. To give you a little taste, here’s “Bloodstain,” one of the darker songs on the album. If you like it, I highly recommend picking up the entire album, it’s an electronic journey like no other.
Pomplamoose, a music duo characterized by their streaming video (although they eventually released some albums) distribution model, releases a new “VideoSong” every few weeks. These youtube videos are dominated by two rules,
“1. What you see is what you hear (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice).
2. If you hear it, at some point you see it (no hidden sounds).”
Jack Conte’s incredible energy combines with Nataly Dawn’s angelic harmonies to make every song and cover they do irresistibly attractive and incredibly entertaining. Their unique art medium adds a new dimension to the traditional music video by giving the viewers an entertaining display of how the music was actually recorded. Check out an original and a cover below.
La Vie en Rose-
One of my favorite artists Gold Panda, who I wrote about before, just dropped a new track on the 22nd. According to the man himself, this isn’t from a forthcoming album or EP, but just an independent song for our listening pleasure, available for free from his website. It sounds like more of his style in Quitters’ Raga, than his album Lucky Shiner. When it starts, the looping xylophone sounds like the start of a danceable electronic track, but in classic Gold Panda fashion, it soon descends into very strange effects of distortion, reverb, and glitch. LISTEN.
-Jon The Wolf
There aren’t too many albums that I can listen to on repeat and be emotionally enthralled, let alone interested. For Emma Forever Ago was one of those exceptional albums. With it’s chilling melodies and that signature falsetto that I’ve come to know as Justin Vernon of Bon Iver this album easily makes it into my top ten albums of all time, if not my favorite.
But with that love came a fear. I knew that musicians rarely stop with one album and with such a unique one under his belt, how was Vernon ever going to top For Emma? In my mind, he couldn’t, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Vernon knew it too. There would never be a repeat of For Emma Forever Ago. That album remains in it’s own category of awesomeness that cannot be touched.
So where does that leave Bon Iver and Justin Vernon? Well, in the years since his 2008 release, Justin Vernon kept himself very busy with solo projects, rap collaborations and a few other bands. And, through the years and these various projects his sound evolved, becoming something new but still familiar and accessible to fan’s of Bon Iver.
With the new self-titled album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver has managed to create another masterpiece that retains that same falsetto, cryptic lyrics and wintery melody but with more color, more instruments, more life. It’s as if the quiet pain of For Emma has thawed and the tales of Justin Vernon’s life and travels can be told in full force. This album features horns, smooth saxophones, keyboards and a plethora of other instruments that scarcely, if ever, appeared on the previous album but sound loud and true on this.
The album opens with “Perth” a song that could have made it’s way onto the first album as one of it’s louder tracks with a cutting snare drum and addictive guitar riff that seems to meld perfectly to the inflection of Vernon’s lyrics. Next, the album transitions smoothly into “Minnesota, WI” (every song on the album is a place) and then onto “Holocene” which contains my favorite lyrics on the album (“At once I knew, I was not magnificent”). The album culminates around the epic “Calgary” which pulls all the stops and serves to summarize the album, as far as one song can do such a thing. With influences ranging from country (“Towers”) to 80s adult rock (“Beth/Rest”) the album keeps the listener intrigued from beginning to end.
This album is not For Emma Forever Ago, and anyone expecting such will be sorely disappointed. But different is in no way bad. Vernon knew exactly what he was doing when he made this album. He couldn’t live in that cabin forever and now he’s not only out but running. While it may take a while for listeners of early Bon Iver to make their way into this album, they will be as pleased if not more so than they were with the first album. Bon Iver has made another masterpiece. Maybe there’s room at the top for two albums. – M. Kauf
“This extraordinary time in history
with consciousness’ exploding and developing
take the room you need to rotate and love”
I recently discovered The Book’s 2010 album “The Way Out” (thanks to J.Brookes) and knew I had to share it with you all… but I wasn’t quite sure what to say. All you need to know is the experimental band formed in 1999 creates a sound collage through instrumentals and sampled vocal tracks, which are often self-help or inspirational. Instead of trying to make sense of it … I think I would rather you just listen to it uninhibited with some headphones and your mind-altering substance of choice. Below is one of my favorites, Chain of Missing Links.
Starting in September 2008, a rapper named Shaun Boothe started his 12 part Unauthorized Biography series, where he hoped to rap the life stories of 12 cultural icons and release a new song each month. Now in June 2011, Boothe has finally released his 7th installment with the empowering story of Oprah Winfrey, after a year of silence. I’m not that bitter about the slow process of this series, I just really enjoy them. Ranging from icons such as Muhammad Ali, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley to MLK and P Diddy, Boothe skillfully raps their full Wikipedia pages in an interesting and educational way. I highly recommend watching some of his Unauthorized Biography videos (here) and appreciating Boothe’s talent, as well as the inspirational lives of these cultural icons. Who said rap can’t be educational? – D. Gold
Just yesterday I returned from Bonnaroo. Although I imagine most readers are familiar with it, if you’re not, Bonnaroo is an annual Tennessee music festival, the largest in America, held from June 9h-12th. This was my second time attending and I left with the general impression that something about this year quite couldn’t match last year. Despite my criticisms, I definitely had the opportunity to see a bunch of great bands this year. Some bands which I was especially excited to see put on disappointing performances (Iron & Wine and Mumford & Sons), but some concerts (Explosions in the Sky, Arcade Fire, Widespread Panic, Matt & Kim) were amazing. But the show which defined my ‘Roo experience this year had to be Pretty Lights. Pretty Lights is an electronic producer/DJ who has an especially unique sound: imagine classic R&B and gospel samples mixed with trip-hop stylings and dubstep-inspired whomps. All his music is free online, so if you’re at all interested in it, definitely check it out.
Before the show Saturday morning (it started at 2:40 in the morning and ended once the sun rose round 5:00!), I was pretty familiar with his music. I had listened to a few of his albums several times, and my friends and I loved to blast his music, especially while intoxicated. I was pretty excited for his show, but was apprehensive: other friends who had seen him live reported that he was a mediocre performer and the crowds were horrible.
Fortunately, it wasn’t. I consider his concert definitely among one of the best I’ve ever seen. Sure, his music may get a little repetitive and formulaic, but he definitely can make a crowd move. Dancing and moving to his music, and seeing practically everyone around me doing the same, was like a religious experience coupled with his amazing light show. He played a lot of familiar classics, interesting remixes, and also some new material. His lights, which are his namesake, were amazing, but I was unfortunately a little too short to see over the crowd to see his full set-up in action. From what I could see though, towers and boxes and towers of light. If you have the opportunity to see him live, I recommend you definitely see him. – J. Lubes
The music video for the single “Calgary” off of the upcoming album Bon Iver was released today. Watch and wait as patiently as you can for June 21st.