Monday, August 27, 2012

Dubelius - Stapstick Shitstorm

I don't get into Dubstep too much anymore because after a while it all sounded exceptionally repetitive and boring.  This however is something kind of new and a bit unexpected.  The 8-bit aspect of the track gives it this nostalgic out of place feel but the glitch and the wub make it a bit dangerous and sinister.  There is something not quite right about this track and it makes it a bit crazy (in the best possible way).  Dubelius is a 17 year old producer in the United Arab Emirates.  I love the internet for creating a global music community. Even if you aren't a super huge fan of dubstep, give his music a chance because I think it's different enough to stand out against the increasingly large group of artists in a genre that is almost overpopulated as is.

City Rain - Montage EP

I've actually been sitting at my monitor trying to decide how to properly talk about this album, this band and what they've created in this new EP.  I have started over and over because I really couldn't decide the best manner in which to proceed.  So I just stopped trying to write and listened to the album again.  It wasn't a moment of clarity or an epiphany or a bolt of lightning but as I was listening to "Big Boys Do Cry", it made me think of this a parable I've read about "The Small Stuff". It goes something like filling vase with rocks and then with sand and the sand filling all the cracks around the rocks. I think that's what City Rain is. Not small stuff but the sand. They fill all the cracks and fill out all the emptiness. The music just expands and takes up all the space.

You can classify the music any way you want, you can label it as synth pop or indie electronic; all I know is that when I listen to any of their tracks, I am immediately taken away from all the crap that I'm dealing with. There is something otherworldly and ethereal about the over all sound and vibe behind what they do. It's got a mercurial quality to it, you can hold it in your hand for a second but it will get away from you before you know what's happened.

Montage is their newest EP and the7 track album is probably the best 30 minutes I have spent every time I listen to it.  It's an easy album to sink into because there isn't any pretentiousness or overworked musical cliches.  Each time I've listened to it, and there have been many, I find something new to appreciate.  A new beat or riff or even a loop that takes me by surprise.  I've said it before that Ben's voice is incredible and has so much character and distinction to it that it makes the album flow.  He never seems out of place and he always has exactly what the track needs at that moment in time.

I would like to sit down and say this or that is my favorite track off the EP but each one has an organic nature to it and depending on the moment I am experiencing the music in, my tastes change.  Even the two orchestral tracks have a place.  One thing that I have tried not to do with this album is over analyze it.  I know that all the tracks have meaning and are grounded in substance,  I have read other reviews but I didn't want to assume I knew any more than I did with the tracks.

City Rain has quickly become one of my favorite groups and I am proud to call myself a fan.  I want to see them do amazing things because I think they deserve all the respect and accolades they can get.  Go to bandcamp and buy the EP.  Name your price because that's what all the cool kids are doing.  Trust me. you are going to listen to this album tremendously.

City Rain on the Web
Twitter: @cityraintunes 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Stormby (feat. Roz) - In Dreams

I was totally asleep when this dropped.  Stormby just has this ability to take anything he touches and turns it into something amazing.  This song sounds great small and I am betting it sounds amazing being pumped through a huge system.  Roz's voice is amazing and the production is brilliant.  It never feels heavy or over worked.  It is just light and bobs along while keeping you totally interested.  That's one of my biggest issues with a lot of dance music, it is so repetitive that I just lose focus and don't care.  Stormy has yet to lose me yet.  He is working non-stop right now creating new music every day and I can't wait until we get to hear what comes next from him.

City Rain - Hearts on Fire

Ben's voice is so direct and forceful in this track.  I love it.  There is a decisive direction that he lays out from the very beginning of this track and if you aren't on board almost immediately, you are going to get left behind.  And that's pretty much the attitude of the song.  This is me, this is who I am, get with the program or get out the way.  No regrets. No remorse.  I dig how Ben's vocals are not only used in the manner a singer naturally would but they also work as an instrument in the production as well.  That's something I am getting used to hearing and I love how it is just meshed in with the whole track.  There are other artists that do something similar to the same effect, Grimes and Twitch the Ripper come to mind.  All these groups are synth heavy but there is a level of organic matter that pulls them up above simply being another synth artist in the vast multitude of artists.  Because of this separation, I believe they have more endurance overall and will last much longer than other groups.

Son of a Kid - Solow

I talk about Son of a Kid so much because they deserve all the praise in the world.  I've talked about how amazing it is they create music on their own and publish it online without the help of a record agency and how they continue to create music because it appear simply because they can.  On top of creating music, they are not afraid of creating videos as well.  Their latest video is for the track, "Solow".  This video proves that there doesn't have to be some gigantic budget or some all encompassing story behind an artistic treatment.  After hearing this song and watching the video, I think that Alx did exactly what was called for in this video.  It's lo-fi and kind of grungy, like the way you would be feeling if you had your heart stomped on and had been made to feel low.  This video is another shining example of what people can do if they are passionate about their art.  Sometimes, you just have to keep it simple.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Alphabeat - Love Sea

Alphabeat is hands down one of the most infectious bands ever.  Each song they release is just an exhibit in pure joy.  I don't think they would ever know how to release a sad song but if they did, it would end up having a happy ending.  "Love Sea" is the second single off their upcoming release and it is an incredibly happy song, it's just more methodical than some of their other tracks.  Nick at #1 Hits nailed it on the head when he said parts of the song are siblings to "Baba O'Reily" by The Who and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston.  I don't know if the song was influenced by those other songs but it all works amazingly well together.  This track just makes me want to own their album even more.

Son Of A Kid - A Boundless Flood

I don't think there's been a track released by Son of a Kid that I haven't liked. I think that Alx is a brilliant vocalist and he knows exactly what needs to be done to properly accentuate his voice. This track is no different. Even though it has a bit of melancholy strung through it, there is still something hopeful about it.  It's a song that reminds you that sometimes it takes a clean sweep before you realize what you need.  I like that it's a bit stripped down and not as baudy as some of the other SoaK tracks.  It's slow and melodic but still has that Europop/synth vibe that I really dig.  I can't wait to see what his record label does for him and I am dying to give him money. Keep up the amazing work and you will always have a fan in me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Damn Cool Ex - Intensify

It really takes a lot for a club type song to make me take notice.  I think the vocals on this track make it stand apart from other similar tracks.  Bettina Hammarsten's voice is powerful enough that the track doesn't overpower her and she has the ability to run all over it and take command of the track.  Damn Cool Ex, formerly DCX, is actually one of Finland's most popular dance groups with a long history dating back to 1997.  They have participated in the Eurovision Song Contest placing 5th out of all the entries from Finland.  Bettina has participated in Finland Idol as well as The Voice.  Behind the scenes paving the way for Bettina to her thing is producer extraordinaire, Joel Kalsi and Olli Lintuniemi.

"Intensify" is their new single showcasing their more club feel.  I like it and I think that with the right publicity and marketing, it could be a big single.  I would like to hear it in a club rather than from my computer speakers, so if there's a DJ near that wants to spin this for me... please let me know and I will come dance my ass off to it.  Take a listen and see if you agree that Damn Cool Ex is Finland's best kept secret.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

the excuses - Ifya got audio

In the early 90s there was no shortage of guitar-laden alternative rock.  Any guy could pick up an instrument and attempt to get famous, but then again that's just how the industry was. Because of this, there were artists that were over looked and not given the opportunity they deserved.  One such band was Nashville based trio, the excuses.  They were set up to do big things.  They had signed a record contract, were promised a concert tour opening for The Cranberries and were going to do it all until shoddy management derailed their fledgling efforts.  It didn't stop them from recording their 13 track debut album in 1994, Messin With My Good Life.  

So what happens when life does what it does and three friends that had a tremendous amount of promise come back almost 20 years later to record a followup?  The answer is, Ifya got audio, a super cool album that channels The Replacements, a little Social Distortion and even the Gin Blossoms.  Jeff Skorik has such a cool voice that has this gravel-ly edge to it that sounds like it's been crafted by Marlboros and cheap whiskey.  Bass player Pat Meusel does an incredible job with back up vocals and laying a beat down that gives the tracks such a huge sound but the band isn't complete without Chris Minnis on drums paving the way with his blistering percussion.  If they were to tour today, I would want to see them with The Gaslight Anthem because I think their honest brand of rock and roll is what today's music industry is missing.

This album was a labor of love for the guys because they aren't doing it to be famous anymore.  They are doing it because they can.  I think that's probably one of the most amazing reasons to create art.  You have the ability and you have the want.  So many groups are doing it for the wrong reasons and because of that we end up with so many cookie cut artists that you can't tell apart.   If you listen to this album and compare it to their first release, you can hear how life has changed the guys. Their experiences, their successes and failures have shaped them into the men/musicians they are today and without that time, this album wouldn't be what it is.  The maturity in their writing and their musicality is prevalent throughout the album and that gives it a "weathered" feeling like when bronze begins to patina.  It only makes it more unique and individual with time and I think that's what has happened to the excuses.

So how is the album you ask.  It's great.  I've actually had it in rotation with my other stuff lately.  Everyone knows that Pop music is my bread and butter but when you take this style of down-to-earth alternative music that is reminiscent of some of my most favorite groups of all time, there is no way that I am not just going to be all about it.  I picked, "in a letter" to be the show piece of this album because I think that its a really cool song where all three guys come together well.  A lot of albums have highs and lows but I really don't think there are too many (if any at all) on this album.  Each song takes you to a different place and I think that is a hallmark of a fantastic album.  I will say that my absolute favorite tracks are "in a letter", "had enough", "oh girl", and "freak".  But as I said, there aren't any bad tracks.

It's $10 on bandcamp and remember all the money they make from selling the album goes directly to the artists.  So give them your money.  Buy both albums, buy their t-shirts because they are totally deserving of your support.  Have I steered you wrong in the least at this point in time?

Track Listing

1. in a letter
2. has anybody ever loved you like this?
3. ashley changed her name to brooklyn
4. take it all
5. had enough
6. so far
7. oh girl
8. not that brave
9. freak!

the excuses on the Web

Mash Ups by Captain Obvious

I think it takes a particular talent to do mash ups well.  Yeah, anyone with software can take two or more songs and smoosh them together but when you do it right, you create a whole new vehicle for the previous releases.  Captain Obvious is a product of a London based, DJ/Podcaster/Remixer/a little bit of everything else also known as mutantpop or the guy behind the Radio Clash blog. He received a tremendous amount of internet love when the Scissor Sisters retweeted his mashup, "Madonna Has A Kiki" so he uploaded his stuff to SoundCloud and now has the ability to attract a whole new fan base.  I think they are all great and I particularly like "Right Gaga" because it's done well.  That is my biggest need, it has to be done well and he did a bang up job of it.

Captain Obvious on the Web

Delta Rae - Morning Comes

I'd like to say this video is about persevering through anything that life throws at you and I really think that is the crux of it but more than that, this video is just fun (and messy). It premiered yesterday morning on VH1's Morning Buzz and it has been quickly making it's way around the internet.  Eric starts out in a clean suit but by the end he is covered in all manner of stuff and he just keeps singing and keeps marching on. They look like they are having the time of their lives filming this (all in one take, mind you) and you can totally see how they just have a great time. Awesome video for an awesome song.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gotye - Save Me

He is far more than "Someone That I Used To Know", Wally De Backer is one of the most creative storytellers in the music industry today.  I am so glad there is a video for this song because it's amazing.  It's one of the best tracks off the album and this video is a perfect compliment to it.  It reminds me of the video for "Eyes Wide Open" almost as if it could be a sister piece to it.  Again, I am not going to talk much about the video, I will let it do it itself.  If you haven't bought, Making Mirrors you are missing out on an incredible album.

Two Door Cinema Club - Sleep Alone

What's the coolest video for a song that you haven't seen yet?  It's this one. "Sleep Alone" by Two Door Cinema Club.  They are probably one of the coolest bands you aren't listening to as well.  Don't want to take too much away from the video.  This is off their second album, Beacon, and it's pretty rad.  I definitely suggest you check out the video and the band.

Delta Rae - Fire (Live at Troubadour 06.19.2012)

I have much love and respect for this band because they have the ability to not only speak for me but for anyone that listens to their music. This is one of my most favorite tracks off the album because of how powerful Britney is on it. Her voice is a force to be reckoned with and when you pair it with the beautiful harmonies Ian, Eric and Elizabeth create, there is nothing greater. I think what I like the most about this video is how the camera lingers on each of the four singers throughout the chorus because I never really realized how integral they are each piece. When they are chanting, "Fire", I didn't know they split off into pairs Britney and Ian and Eric and Elizabeth but their alternating vocals add so much depth to the song. When Britney comes back after the silence is one of the best parts on any song ever. I am super excited that I am going to see them in concert in October in Nashville. It's going to be an amazing show and I can't wait.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Twin Shadows - Five Seconds

Wow, I was totally asleep on the release of this video. Datarock, a Norwegian synth pop band posted a link to this video on their Facebook and I clicked it. I can tell you I am damn glad I did. This is the type of storytelling that I live for in a video. It brings so much more to the table than a live performance shot or an avant garde treatment. I watched it with so much anticipation because I needed to see what happened next. So much so that I got so wrapped up in the video I had to go back and watch it a few more times in order to properly listen to the track.

This is the first single off the second album, Confess by Twin Shadow.  And it is a solid enough lead off that caused me to put my money where my mouth is and I bought the album.  Twin Shadow is George Lewis Jr of Brooklyn by way of Boston and the Dominican Republic.  He is been making his way around the festival circuit promoting his brand of infectious, B-Movie Pop and support artists like Florence and the Machine and Grizzly Bear.  Not only is his ability to craft an amazing song better than most, his knack for poetic lyrics and thoughtful stories are feats of legend.  This is when music is elevated to something bigger than itself.

Watch the video for "Five Seconds" then watch the follow up for "Patient".  Buy his album and support him.

Twin Shadow on the Web
Twitter: @thetwinshadow