Monthly Archives: July 2011
Up from the 36 Chambers…. This mashup album combines the music of the post-hardcore band, Fugazi, with the stylings of the infamous Wu-Tang Clan, to form the name, Wugazi. Unfamiliar with Fugazi’s music, I found this album to have some pretty well done and interesting mashups. The creators, Cecil Otter, an emcee and founding member of the rap group, Doomtree, & Swiss Andy, a musician and producer, fit these two very distinct groups together to make a very polished piece of work and threw it up on the internet to download for free. Take a Listen Below. – D. Gold
Along with M. Kauf, I had the fortunate opportunity this weekend to see Joseph Arthur at the XPoNential Festival, held by local Philadelphia radio station 88.5 XPN. I saw several great performances at the festival this weekend, but Joseph Arthur’s had me completely floored. M. Kauf had hyped up his show for me a lot, and I also had heard a few songs from his 2011 release The Graduation Ceremony on the radio. Seeing him live was amazing though. I’ve seen a lot of artists craftily employ loop pedals in their performances, but Joseph Arthur could be the best I’ve seen at it. On stage, he would tap out percussion beats to create rhythym track loops while his guitar riffs echoed in the music. With his voice and the harmonizing effects he used, it sounded exactly like I was not seeing a single artist, but rather a whole band. If you ever have the chance to see him live, I definitely recommend it. Since the show, I’ve been listening to The Graduation Ceremony. I really like the album too, which is a relief, because to me one of the greatest disappointments is when a live musician’s recorded material are not quite level with his live performances by leaps and bounds.
-Jon The Wolf
I was in the car the other day listening to the radio when, all of a sudden, this weird electronic music comes on called “Birkwin Jersey.” I spent today scouring internet for any information I could find other than what I heard on NPR. Finally (with a little help from D. Gold) I found the group on Hype Machine and eventually Birkwin Jersey’s soundcloud which has some amazing free songs. And after all that searching, all I learned was that the band is made up of one guy named Graeme Coop from Brighton, England and he is one hell of a musician. The best way I can describe his music is a mellow/folky version of Gold Panda but to understand what that means, you really have to listen to his album Time Doesn’t Exist, Clocks Do. It creates an amazing and innovative blend of folk and electronic music that is refreshing and familiar all at once. I plan on listening to him throughout the day and if you do the same, I promise that you won’t be disappointed. I couldn’t even decide which songs to post I like them all so much. Here’s two beauties from his soundcloud and be sure to download his album on bandcamp for free via the Absent Fever label.
Sixes & Nines:
A Knife to a Gun Fight:
Annie Clark, under the name St. Vincent, currently has me mesmerized with an early release off her yet to be released album No Mercy (Sept. 13th), Surgeon. Starting off with droning synths, Clark sets the stage for an electro-pop adventure, hooking you immediately with the drop of slow and steady beat and smoothly sung lyrics. After each plea, ‘best find a surgeon, come cut me open,’ the song descends a little deeper down the rabbit hole. It ultimately descends into a chaotic climax of electronic and sampled elements that I can’t get enough of. Check out the song on the video or her website posted below. -M.Hoff
Now, if you talking bout it, it’s a show
But if you move about it, then it’s a flow
Shabazz Palaces is one of the strangest rap groups I have heard. This strangeness does not come from their lyrics or personas (see: OFWGKTA, Lil’ B), but from their musical composition and rapping styles. With hints of old Outkast, minimalist electronica and glitch-hop, Shabazz Palaces beats are bassy and abstract, which makes for an interesting flow for raps and induces the Hova headnod. The group recently released a new album called Black Up to very high reviews: an 87 on Metacritic and #4 on their Best Music of 2011 So Far list. While I don’t truly vibe with some of the songs on the album (like An echo from the hosts that profess infinitum), other songs just go (like Swerve… & Youlogy). With such high reviews, I recommend you to check out the album and see what you think. – D. Gold
Shabazz Palaces — Swerve… The Reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)
Owing to my semi-secret fondness for pop music, I have a special place in my heart for M83. M83 was formed in 2001 and was originally composed of the French producer/vocalists Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau. After their second album was released, Fromageau left the band in 2004. Gonzalez has since gone for a generally more electro-pop sound, departing from their edgy electronic, ambient techno beginnings. I personally love both incarnations of the band, and Gonzalez still manages to be able to balance both elements I believe. Their 2007 release of mostly instrumental, ambient based longer-tracks Digital Shades Vol. 1, and was followed in 2008 with a poppier release Saturdays = Youth. I enjoyed listening to both albums although they sound, in my mind, completely different. I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to see Gonzalez live and his performance was completely breathtaking. Gonzalez has announced a forthcoming release on October 18th, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Just recently, he put out a new song entitled Midnight City supposedly from the new release. Check it out below, along with a teaser song from the album as well.
-Jon The Wolf
Every once in a while Every few hours I go on reddit to kill some time looking at funny pictures, reading articles and occasionally finding some amazing music. Last night while browsing /r/wearethemusicmakers, I stumbled onto a trippy electronic band named Chalkboards. This boyfriend/girlfriend band of Anna Crain and Jacob Weiss create an impressive array of sound considering that they mostly use modified gameboys, drum kits and samples. ”good luck” is a great exampleflowing seamlessly from sound to sound on a psychedelic journey with a video to match. Soak in the aural pleasure and the amazing imagery (I recommend headphones) and be sure to check out their EP isn’t it wonderal that we are together again? for free on BandCamp.
I recently met Arcturus, the Boy Tune Wonder in Berkeley. Arcturus — Donald Hanson, is a “San Francisco Artist, electronic musician, … graphic designer, ” and remarkably creative tinkerer who creates dynamic electronic instrumentals on hand-crafted electronics . His 2011 release, Quest for the Perfect Pattern, is a self-proclaimed “instrumental journey through an electronic world” that was inspirited by “countless hours playing Super Nintendo, listening to The Chemical Brothers and Aphex Twin.” The “journey” Hanson refers to is just that — a one-man exploration into the deep space of electronic music. It constantly delivers fresh, upbeat and distinct beats that can’t help but leave you grooving. Some notable tracks are “Rhythm Road Decoder,” “Definition of a Journey pt. 3″ and “Slow Ride to Thumpy Town.”
It amazed me when I realized that I haven’t posted about The Tallest Man on Earth before. The Tallest Man On Earth is the moniker of Kristian Mattson, a Swedish songwriter, who is not actually that tall(If I recall correctly, he is actually on the smaller side). When most people hear Mattson’s music for the first time, Bob Dylan’s similar wailing vocals come to mind. I’m not necessarily sure if that comparison does The Tallest Man on Earth justice, but a comparison to Dylan, in my mind at least, is not a bad thing. Mattson’s songwriting is definitely on par with Dylan’s. The Tallest Man on Earth’s lyrics are simply amazing. Here’s the opening verse from the song, “Troubles Will Be Gone” off his 2010 album The Wild Hunt, an amazing album.
Oh, when it’s god I see in headlights kneeling down on frozen highways
And salvation in white knuckles on a wheel
And the deer is in the audience by the border of the darkness
where forgiveness grows and slowly winds away
The imagery that he conjures is what does it for me. I know some people who can’t tolerate his falsettos and psuedo-whining vocal style, but I think it’s something which definitely takes some time to grow on you. Mattson accompanies his vocals on the acoustic guitar mainly, but banjo and piano are also featured on some of his albums. His folk strumming and style on the guitar is a perfect match for his singing. When using the Dylan comparison I mentioned above to introduce friends to his music, I like to say that although Dylan may edge out The Tallest Man on Earth with regards to lyrics (both write amazing music though), Mattson’s instrumentation outshines most of Dylan’s playing.
The Tallest Man on Earth has released two studio albums so far entitled Shallow Grave (2008) and The Wild Hunt (2010). I love both albums personally and think they are both amazing releases. I’ve not yet listened to his self-titled 2006 EP, but his 2010 EP Sometimes the Blues is Just A Passing Bird. Adult Swim actually just released a new song of his entitled “Weather of A Killing Kind” as part of their Adult Swim Singles Program. I’ve posted it below as well as one of my favorite Tallest Man on Earth videos. If you like what you hear/see below, check out his music online (he has a bunch of concerts and recordings on youtube and NPR’s site).
-Jon The Wolf
I first started listening to chillwave in the fall of 2010. A genre filled with droning synths, melancholy vocals and all around chilled out music. With the discovery of this new genre came one of my favorite songs of 2010, “New Theory” by Washed Out. This song immediately hooked me with its wave of echoey keyboards and its catchy chorus. It was soon after this that I bought Washed Out’s EP Life of Leisure. I played this six-song EP on repeat for many weeks without getting bored and it still remains one of my favorite EPs.
Now Earnest Greene, the Georgian man behind Washed Out has released his first full length album Within and Without. This album stays true to Greene’s danceable synth style that made his EPs so great and adds a few twists here and there as well.
The album opens with the slow moving “Eyes Be Closed,” an ’80s flashback completed with a Phil Colin’s drum break before the chorus. Greene’s vocals blend well with his synths on this track, working almost like another instrument adding layers to a beautiful melody. Another favorite of mine is the third song “Amor Fati.” Like “Eyes Be Closed,” it’s another new-wave flashback but this time with a much more upbeat sound complete with handclaps and an uplifting chorus.
The album continues without much change until “Before.” “Before” opens with an almost regal horn-like synthesizer before it throws you into the rhythm of the sickest beat on the album and the first prominent vocal sampling I’ve heard on a Washed Out song. This song is one of my favorites on the album because it shows that Greene can diversify. Instead of staying with his usual ’80s synth sound, he switches it up to create a ’90s electronic sound, while still remaining true to his own style. Save this one for late night car rides. Trust me. But, in my opinion, “A Dedication” is where Greene truly shines. For the last song on the album, he strips away his usual synthesizers for an “acoustic” song. Made up of mostly a Piano and Greene’s voice, this song reminds the listener that Greene can not only sing, but he can craft a gorgeous melody without the use of heavy electronics.
Overall, this album is a solid debut effort. The album retains the signature sound of Washed Out’s earlier material while experimenting with new sounds and instruments like strings, horns and bells. The album can get a little boring at times as some of the songs are so similarly drenched in synths and 80s drumpads that they become one big drone. However, as a whole, this album shows that Washed Out has grown as a band, adding layers of news sound and perfecting that chillwave vibe that Washed Out seems to ooze. Perfect for dancing away summer nights or driving down a highway at sunset. Out on Sup-pop records today. (the whole album is currently streaming on NPR for free )
– M. Kauf
Washed Out – Eyes Be Closed
Washed Out – A Dedication