March 25, 2008
Hey all just to give sight to the sound, I wanted to post this video for Joy Denalane’s hot new single with the Wu-Tang’s Raekwon. For many listeners, the music we play is from artists that may be otherwise obscure. And while it’s cool to hear, it’s also nice to see… so I’m posting this video from the German-born (half-black South African) singer who manages to sing a half dozen styles without sounding bad at all. Good in fact, quite good. Chances are if you’re reading this you’ll agree, either way the video below will help you see…enjoy…
March 20, 2008
Been caught in the buzz out of Brooklyn’s MGMT (ie. management) and their excellent new album Oracular Spectacular. For those that don’t know, MGMT is: Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, two psychic pilgrims whose paths first intersected in the green pastures of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, circa 2002.
“We weren’t trying to start a band,” Ben remembers. “We were just hanging out, showing each other music that we liked.” Andrew and Ben realized that — despite their opposing views on methodology (one is spontaneously practical, the other is practically spontaneous) — they shared a common love of mystic paganism (ironic indeed on a campus named for the founder of Methodism), psychotropic sounds, and the belief that a joke (or a joke song) could be sad, profound, and funny at the same time. The pair was drawn to the music of other duos and found themselves incorporating the implications of the hallucinatory power-twee of the Incredible String Band, the roaring subway minimalist electronica of Suicide, the silky pop-soul of Hall & Oates, the pulsing narcotic trance of Spacemen 3, the avant-garde industrial romanticism of Royal Trux and much more into the constantly evolving sounds of MGMT.
As on-campus performance art provocateurs, Andrew and Ben began staging a series of “these obnoxious, noisy live electronic shows — we never planned on having it be a recorded project — where we would write these weird techno loops and arrangements that we could play with live. Most of it was running live off the computer and we had a turntable plugged into some guitar pedals, a radio, and a tape player. It was all electronically generated at that point. We would write a new song for each show and our shows would be 15 minutes long.”
The One Song/One Show ethos is manifest in the tracks of Oracular Spectacular, each song on the album shimmers with its own diamond-hard compression of elements interconnecting within MGMT’s “unusual or unconventional pop structures.” Continually inverting expectations, the music of MGMT owes as much to chaos theory as it does to fractal geometry. In contrast to the group’s early live shows, which were mainly electronically generated, Oracular Spectacular is filled with “more traditional rock instruments: electric guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, synthesizers all played live.” Restlessly experimental and consumed with divine discontent, the members of MGMT embarked on a series of temporary guises.
“We went on a tour with a drummer once,” Andrew confesses, “after we’d written these weird California Creedence Clearwater-style songs in two weeks. We went out, played them, and never did the songs again. A lot of people hated it. That used to be the goal of our shows. We were still trying to be obnoxious and somehow people got into it. Some songs we wrote just because we wanted to learn how to be really bad within a certain genre and then people started liking the song because they liked the genre. It was an accident that people started liking us.”
Some of those first fans included a group of NYU students who formed an indie label, Cantora Records, in order to issue the very first MGMT commercial release, Time To Pretend (a 6-song EP, currently available on iTunes). Two of the songs from that EP — “Time To Pretend” (the MGMT “mission statement”) and “Kids” (“filled with all those college feelings: naivety, idealism, nostalgia, happiness, sadness”) — have made it on to Oracular Spectacular. Following the release of the EP and a couple of one-month long tours, MGMT took six months off, with Andrew moving to Brooklyn for a post-college “existential crisis” and Ben hanging out in Connecticut before heading to upstate New York to work woodland construction. Following their hiatus from MGMT, Ben and Andrew reconnoitered in Brooklyn and began recording new songs for the sheer fun of it on an “Mbox computer set-up.”
Those humble home sessions — at once Apollonian and Dionysian — lay the groundwork for what would become Oracular Spectacular. Oracular Spectacular opens with “Time To Pretend” (“fanciful but with an undercurrent of impending doom”) and closes with “Future Reflections” (“premonitions of a post-apocalyptic future where colonies of young people live on the beach and lead savage yet refined primitive lifestyles and go surfing”). In between lie the refractions of the “current chaotic vibrations of the world” on a album which distills the essence of the past, promises and portends the future, and offers an absorbing transformative experience between the molecules in the pulsations of the present. Not to mention an authentic “4th Dimensional Transition.” “Kids are going to be inheriting their parents MP3 collections,” Ben predicts. “And, in that aesthetic, corrupted MP3 files will be like the way people glorify scratched-up records now. In 20 years, people will listen to these 30th generation MP3s and say, ‘I love that sound!’” MGMT invites you to open your mind to the multi-dimensional vibrating Technicolor. -from their web site
March 11, 2008
Time for another video update on the new music we have going on at the station. This time I want to introduce you all to Jose James. An excellent musician, he is as much Jazz as he is hip hop, making his sound sort of on the level with acid jazz and he has been compared to legends from that genre like Leon Thomas or even Roy Ayers. Bottom line for me is that he makes songs that are deep and heady, and wears well over repeat listening. The new album is a bit buzzworthy, it’s called The Dreamer and features James running the gamut from jazz classics to re-rubs on some more contemporary (hip hop) sounds. Good stuff, that is the work of a solid year of self promotion in Europe ultimately attracting the attention of radio giant Gilles Peterson of the BBC’s Radio One, who signed him to his excellent label, Brownswood Records. Here is a video featuring James live…feels good this music…enjoy.
March 6, 2008
A while back I posted a blog about Dgenerate Nation and noted at the time, that everybody loves a good skateboard jam. There already are many rock songs that immortalize the activity which would make sense as I think that many people would associate skateboarding with grungy white kids in suburban parking lots. In a growing trend however, more hip hop seems to be popping up with a similar appreciation for kickflips and ollies and with it a term to describe MC’s that skate and the music that they make– ‘Skurban.’
As unaware as I was just months ago when I caught the video from a North Carolina crew called Dgenerate Nation, I am on it now as more and more I find music to represent what is no mere phenomenon (or maybe it’s all phenomenal), but what has happened. It’s small stretch from the outskirts of suburbia to the hood and the baggy-assed style and slacker degree are a visible testimony to the fact that things are ofter more similar than they would at first seem.
I digress, but my point is coming; last year, I caught a group called The Pack, with their silly, and infectiously fun single “Vans,” an ode to the old-school skaters’ choicest canvas kicks. Although I liked the song a bunch, it took awhile for me to actually listen to the album, 2007′s Based Boys, and hear what they were coming from. And it’s apparent, their love of good times and skating is enduring. From Berkeley, California, the group consists of Damonte “Uno” Johnson, Brandon “Lil B ” McCartney, Lloyd “Young L” Omadhebo and Keith “Stunnaman ” Jenkins. The Pack was discovered by the veteran rapper Too $hort in 2005. $hort then signed them to his record label, Up All Nite Records. Since then they have released two albums, the most recent the aforementioned Based Boys but they’re first was 2006′s Skateboards 2 Scrapers. If you’ve never heard them, hear you can…enjoy…
February 29, 2008
Just want to share some music here from an album that has become my favorite release in any genre for the year. Young as that year is, I have found myself playing this awesome (and yet understated) album from an artist named Pinch called Underwater Dancehall(Tectonic). A seamless and sublime mix of music showcasing the growth of dubstep as a genre, as we find Pinch crafting music that find the future within the Now– he has that elusive “It”-ness and all on his first album.
Underwater Dancehall features a number of singers and MC’s from Juakali‘s raw dancehall cries, to the smooth-tempo R&B laced cuts featuring the honey-soul vocals of Yolanda, Pinch has crafted an album that is worth the money. Despite the price, he even cuts a spiritual and otherworldly dub with Sikhi singer Indi Kaur. This album is haunting and yet unpretentious enough for you to find you love it on many levels, almost inspiring poetry or rhyme within your mind, and is an easy repeater. Here is the video for “Brighter Day” featuring Juakali on the mic…enjoy.