Category: New Audio

 

Since appearing on DJ Shadow‘s 2006 album The Outsider, the critically applauded, mostly instrumental London, UK-based act The Heliocentrics, comprised of Malcolm Catto (drums, production), Jake Ferguson (bass), Adrian Owusu (guitar) and multi-instrumentalist Jack Yglesias, have cemented a reputation for a compositional approach based on the band’s four musicians’  live improvisation in the studio as a way to avoid typical songwriting and compositional processes and generic song structures, and for a boldly genre-defying aesthetic as their sound possesses elements of jazz, hip-hop, trip-hop, psych rock, acid jazz, krautrock and musique concrete. Unsurprisingly, as a result of being uncompromisingly difficult to pigeonhole, the members of The Heliocenters have collaborated with an impressive array of artists including Muluta Astake, The Gaslamp Killer, Lloyd Miller, Orlando Julius, the legendary and iconoclastic Melvin Van Peebles and others.

Spending well over a decade together, the members of the band refer to their songwriting and recording process as “almost a form of telepathy” with “musical changes that otherwise would be near impossible to write .. . ” Interestingly, the band’s fourth full-length effort, A World of Masks, which is slated for a June 9, 2017 release through  will further cement their reputation for being difficult to pigeonhole; but it also marks several new directions for a band that constantly pushes themselves in new directions sonically and thematically. First, the London-based band’s fourth album is the first official release through their new label home Soundway Records after several years on Los Angeles-based Now Again Records — and secondly, the album finds the band collaborating with Barbora Patkova, a young Slovakian vocalist, who the members of the band discovered through a mutual friend. According to the band, Patkova’s sound and vocal stylings “instantly worked with us,” and they quickly discovered an artist, who like them was intimately familiar with an improvisational approach and had lyrics at the ready to sing, frequently in her native Slovakian over any music thrown at her.  Lastly, A World of Masks is the first release of rather prolific year or so period for the band: they recently wrote the score to the critically acclaimed documentary about LCD, The Sunshine Makers and have plans to collaborate with the legendary Marshall Allen and the Sun Ra Arekstra, and to continue their collaboration with Gaslamp Killer with a new album as well, ensuring that The Heliocentrics will be a go-to band to collaborate with on genre-stretching and genre-defying works.

The London-based act’s latest single “Oh Brother” is the second official single off A World of Masks and the single is an awe-inspiring, heady and cinematic mix of psych rock, acid jazz, jazz fusion, 60s blue eyed soul and a subtle hint of psychedelic Bollywood in a song that possesses an explosive and feral immediacy paired with Patkova’s sultry and soulful Nancy Sinatra-like vocals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comprised of Arthur Onion, Fredrik Differ, Oliver Boson, and Alex Ceci, the up-and-coming, Stockholm, Sweden-based indie rock quartet Mankind have developed a local and national profile for crafting anthemic and bluesy, garage rock reminiscent of The Black Keys, Winstons, and others; however, they set themselves apart from their cohorts with material that not only thematically focuses on heavy and dark subjects — namely nihilism, mourning the lost of loved ones, the contemplation of the passing of time and getting older, love, death and extinction while making references to the work of What Whitman, French graphic novels, Tin Pan Alley classics, the Biblical story of Lazarus, and several different religious scriptures on death without being pretentious or purposely difficult; in fact, “Ghost” off the Swedish indie rock quartet’s recently released Death EP focuses on something that will feel and sound familiar — the lingering ghosts of a relationship that have haunted and taunted the song’s narrator, and it evokes someone who has been torturing himself with the “what if’s” and the “if i had known then what i know nows” and so on while desperately trying to accept the fact that it’s over and it’s a part of his past. And in some way, the song’s narrator has to accept the death of a relationship as an actual death.

 

Brooklyn-based indie rock act LCD Soundsystem was founded by frontman, multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ and DFA Records co-founder James Murphy in 2002, and along with acts like The Rapture, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bloc Party, Radio 4, Liars, and lengthy list of others are considered pioneers of a dance punk act renaissance that saw its height at the early part of this century. Interestingly enough, LCD Soundsystem may arguably be one of most critically and commercially successful acts of their era — 2005’s eponymous full-length debut, which featured their most successful single “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” was nominated by a Grammy for Best Dance Recording with the album also being nominated for Best Electronic/Best Dance Album.  With a growing national and international profile, Nike commissioned the band to write and record a workout-inspired album — 45:33 — as part of Nike+ Original Run series and they followed that up with their 2007 critically acclaimed sophomore album Sound of Silver, which was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album. 2010’s This Is Happening was the band’s most commercially successful, as it was also their first Top 10 album in the States; however, by the next year, the band announced that it would be breaking up and celebrating with a series of farewell shows at Madison Square Garden and Terminal 5 — with the events of the final show chronicled in the documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits and was released as a live album, 2014’s The Long Goodbye.

After LCD Soundsystem broke up, Murphy and the members of the band went on to pursue a number of creative and business pursuits — with Murphy being the among the busiest in the band. Over the years Murphy has continued his production and sound engineering work, working with Arcade Fire during the Reflektor sessions, created a special set of remixes from the 2014 US Open, based on the actual sounds and events of matches and remixed David Bowie‘s “Love Is Lost,” for an expanded edition of the legendary artist’s The Next Day. He also occasionally DJ’d, including an incredible set to close out DFA Records’ 12th Anniversary Party at Grand Prospect Hall.  As far as other pursuits, Murphy participated in Canon’s Project Imaginat10n, which invited 5 different celebrities and personalities to direct short films based on pictures uploaded by photographers and other creatives around the world to their website — and the result was his first directorial effort, “Little Duck,” set in Japan. And interestingly enough, with the assistance of Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman, Murphy released his own blend of espresso and a few years later, Murphy opened a critically applauded restaurant in Williamsburg. Though Murphy publicly stated that LCD Soundsystem’s breakup allowed him the time and ability to pursue a wild array of projects in a way he had never before, he also missed being in a band. Interestingly, towards the end of 2015 there were rumblings that the members of LCD Soundsystem were considering a series of reunion shows for the major festival circuit — and those rumors went wild when the members of the band released “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” ironically enough on Christmas, the first single they released in over 5 years.

After the release of “Christmas Will Break Your Heart,” Murphy and his bandmates confirmed a reunion tour, with appearances at several major music festivals, and a new album, which is slated for release sometime this year. Now, if you’ve been following the blogosphere, you know that Murphy and company had a series of hometown shows to open The Bowery Presents‘ newest venue, Brooklyn Steel and those live shows included two new singles, which will make appearances on the band’s new album — the atmospheric, Berlin Trilogy-era Bowie meets Roxy Music “Call The Police,” which features Murphy’s archly ironic and cynical lyrics and nods a bit at This Is Happening and their incredible cover of Harry Nilsson‘s “Jump Into The Fire” and “American Dream,” a slow-burning track featuring shimmering synths but subtly nods at “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” thanks in part to Murphy’s dramatic crooning, Certainly for fans, who have been waiting for new material for the past 18 months, it’ll give them a good hint of what they might expect from the new album, while also suggesting that the band has continued forward as though they never broke up.

 

 

 

David Nord is a jazz-trained composer and guitarist, who’s passion and interest in hip-hop and electronic music brought about a major evolution of his work, leading him to mesh the two styles in a way that allowed him to explore the possibilities of an alternate musical vocabulary and a new creative outlet, his solo recording project spoony bard, a project that derives it’s name from the final bit of dialogue in Final Fantasy IV — and it’s beloved by gamers because it’s both a goofy and terrible translation. In any case, as Nord explains in press notes, “Just playing jazz wasn’t cutting it anymore. I started hearing the L.A. beat scene stuff that was coming out and got inspired to really dive deeper into synthesizers, sampling, music software, etc., while also continuing to hone the harmonic and melodic approach that I had developed as a jazz musician. And as you’ll hear on the swaggering “vibe/void” off his spoony bard debut, Dweeb, Nord’s sound clearly draws from Flying Lotus, Dalek, DJ Premier, Aphex Twin, Head Hunters-era Herbie Hancock, old school drum ‘n’ bass electronica, and others, thanks to layers of glitchy synths squiggling and undulating electronics, sinuous bass and tweeter and woofer rocking 808 beats — all diced and chopped up, but paired with self-deprecating yet deeply introspective and honest lyrics delivered in a flow reminiscent of Atmosphere’s Slug. Interestingly, with “vibe/void,” the song’s narrator talks about a familiar experience to most creative types, who are forced to work a day job to survive — the feeling as though they’re leaving their creativity and individuality behind forever, for a pay check and a humdrum, office drone life. And throughout the song, the song’s narrator is desperate to escape, to get his life together and do everything within his power to live the life he’s long dreamed of. Shit, maybe some of us should take his advice, huh?

 

Since their formation in early 2014, the Leeds, UK-based indie rock/psych rock trio The Boxing, comprised of Harrison Warke (vocals, guitar), Henry Chatham (bass) and Charlie Webb (drums), have quickly asserted themselves as part of their hometown’s burgeoning, contemporary indie rock and psych rock scenes, and they’ve already drawn some comparisons to the likes of W.H. Lung, Eagulls and JOVM mainstays The Vryll Society.

The Leeds-based psych rock trio’s latest single “One by One” is a brooding track featuring swirling and shimmering guitar chords, a propulsive motorik groove, led by a sinuous bass line and steady drumming paired with a soaring hook and a whispered croon reminiscent of The Horrors‘ Faris Badwan — and while possessing a modern production sheen, the song as the band’s Harrison Warke explains is an elaboration of their first couple of singles, as it’s the first single that they’ve recorded in a proper studio. Naturally, the studio recording process  gave the members of the band the freedom and ability to experiment and flesh out the overall arrangement in a way that they were unable to do before. And interestingly enough, while the song possesses a contemporary studio sheen, it manages to also nod at the sound of classic shoegaze and 4AD Records‘ early days — while thematically speaking, focusing on “depression and the culture of silence around it,” as Warke explained in press notes; in fact, the song manages to accurately capture the song’s narrator’s free-fall into a deeply overwhelming and crippling depression.

 

Born in Zambia, raised in Botswana and currently based in Sydney, Australia, the 23 year old poet, visual artist, emcee, singer/songwriter and pop artist Sampa the Great, who publicly has cited Mos Def, Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, Nneka, and others, as influences. And since the release of The Great Mixtape and collaborations with fellow Australians, pop artist Wallace on the skittering and jazzy single “Beauty” and internationally acclaimed Australian emcee Remi on the neo-soul and conscious hip-hop influenced “For Good,” the Sydney, Australia-based artist has quickly built up a growing internationally recognized profile as she’s opened for the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote, Ibeyi, Little Simz and Fat Freddy’s Drop, as well as played sets at Golden Plains, Sugar Mountain, Laneway, WOMAD and Vivid LIVE. However, 2017 may arguably be the Sampa the Great’s breakout year as her Rakhi-produced HERoes Act 2 was released yesterday through Red Bull Sound Select, and features the Sydney, Australia-based artist collaborating with Estelle. And while further cementing her reputation for a ridiculously dexterous flow that draws from spoken word performances, old school, hip-hop lyricism, with complex inner rhyme and multisyllabic rhyme schemes, old school soul and the blues and jazz, her latest single “The Plug” features Estelle and Sampa doing their thing with a swaggering, self-assuredness over a Timbaland-like production featuring futuristic bleeps and bloops, industrial clang and clatter, glitchy and shuffling beats and swirling electronics.

HERoes Act 2 is the second part of a two part narrative series of songs and genre-defying collaborative projects with Act being a spoken-world video, 2 track exploration into self-discovery and inner strength within a world that’s gone mad with uncertainty, racism and fear. “The Plug,” like the two other songs on the EP continue in a similar vein while continuing her reputation for crafting material based around her own personal experiences as an outsider, her desire and need to create, and the recognition that as individuals and as a society, that we need to value the strength and abilities of the individual; but in terms of this particular song, the song leans towards recognizing and championing the god-given talents of the individual, while brushing away haters and nay-sayers, with your desire to make a name for yourself at what you can do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DGTL CTL is a mysterious electro pop production and artist duo, whose production and songs draw from several different and very diverse styles, while possessing a flair for the avant-garde to craft an imitable sound that interestingly enough also manages to be incredibly radio friendly. The duo’s debut EP is now slated for  release sometime this summer. Now, you may recall that I earlier this year, I wrote about the EP’s first single “Elephant,” a track that that simultaneously nodded at slow-burning Quiet Storm-era R&B, a chilly but efficient minimalism paired with breezy atmospherics and a stark industrial electronica as it featured a production consisting of distorted and shuffling beats, gently swirling and undulating synths and achingly tender vocals with an infectious hook. Lyrically, the song’s narrator talked abotu falling for someone so deeply that they can’t quite figure out a way to actually express themselves. Every time, he thinks about trying to put HIS thoughts and feelings down on paper, it just doesn’t ever add up to the what he feels and thinks in his head. And worse yet, whenever he’s in the presence of his object of desire, they ‘re forced to acknowledge the proverbial elephant in the room — their unexpressed longing and desire for that person — and yet so many things are hopelessly left unsaid. By far, it was arguably one of the most sensual yet desperate songs I’ve heard this year.

The duo’s latest single “3 Strikes” continues on somewhat similar vein as its predecessor —  in the sense that the song manages to draw from Quiet Storm R&B; however, it also nods at the indie dance pop of Cut Copy and Midnight Juggernauts as brief blasts of electric guitar are paired with stomping, boom-bap beats, wobbling yet propulsive synths paired with achingly tender falsetto vocals detailing a relationship that consists of a dysfunctional push and pull between both parties, in which they both use and abuse each other, fight and fuss, and endlessly repeat. And as a result, the song bristles with a barely contained bitterness over a confusing situation that they can’t quite get out of and can’t seem to comprehend; after all, in terms of most human relationships, we’re drawn to people and situations that we can’t quite understand or recognize — and in this song, the song reflects that with an uncanny psychological accuracy while also continuing to be radio friendly.

Formed in 1964 by five American GIs station in Gelnhausen, Germany — Gary Burger, Larry Clark, Eddie Shaw, Dave Day and Roger Johnston — as The Torquays, before a name change to The Monks, the garage rock/avant garde rock quintet had quickly become bored of the already cemented, traditional rock format, and as a result, they were inspired to create what was considered a highly experimental sound and aesthetic comprised of hypnotic and driving rhythms, which minimalized the role of melody, innovative sound manipulation, copious feedback, shrill vocals and guitarist David Day’s frequent use of the six string banjo. They were also well known for their shocking appearance as they would frequently dress up like Catholic monks, complete with black habits, cinctures tied around their waists and their hair worn in partial tonsures.  And although they horrified and baffled audiences of their day, in the 50 years since their last known release, the members of the American-born, German-based quintet are now largely considered pioneers both of the avant garde movement and of punk rock, as their socially charged material — material, which had the band voicing objections to the Vietnam War and criticizing what they viewed as the increasing dehumanization of modern society and modern life.

As The Monks, the American-born, German-based quintet released a handful of singles during 1966-1967 — most notably “Complication,” which coincided with the release of their only full-length album Black Monk Time. Though the material released during that period achieved limited commercial success or attention, over the past few years, the band has become a cult-favorite act, thanks to a newfound interest in Black Monk Time by collectors and music obsessives looking for art rock and psych rock of the 60s and 70s, and appearances on several compilation albums, including Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 — and along with that bands like The Dead Kennedys and The Beastie Boys have publicly cited The Monks as an influence on them.

With the release of 1999’s Five Upstarts Americans, a collection of rarities, B-sides and demo’d tracks from the Black Monk Time sessions, the members of the band reunited for a reunion show and a series of sporadic tours throughout the 2000s. For the better part of five decades, it was assumed that The Monks quietly split up after a handful of releases; however in a strange bit of a serendipity, the folks at Third Man Records were sent a treasure trove of unreleased and barely released, original photos of the band, newspaper clippings, business cards, letterhead, contracts, postcards and analog tapes, which contained unreleased material recorded sometime in early 1967, sometime around the time of the recording sessions of their final single “Love Can Tame the Wild”/”He Went Down to the Sea,” and after hours in the Top Ten Club, just before the band’s breakup.

From what the folks at Third Man Records could determine, the Hamburg Recordings 1967 EP, the EP’s first single “I’m Watching You” would have most likely been recorded on February 28, 1967 during the same sessions in which they recorded their final single — and while sounding completely of it era, nodding at the blue-eyed soul of The Righteous Brothers, the mod rock of The Who and The Kinks, as well as The Beach Boys and The Doors, the song possesses a swooning urgency that feels wild and unhinged, evoking the thoughts of someone who’s madly, desperate in love; but just under the surface, there’s an obsessive menace, as though the narrator may stalking his object of affection.

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past four years or so, you’ve come across a number of posts featuring the Seattle, WA-based JOVM mainstays Shabazz Palaces. Comprised of Digable Planets‘ Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire, the son of Dumisani Maraire, the project continues Butler’s long-held reputation for being uncompromisingly different and for crafting material with pro-Black messages.

Butler and Maraire quietly released two albums in 2009 — their self-titled debut and Of Light, which caught the attention of renowned indie label Sub Pop Records, who signed the band and released 2011’s Black Up, an effort released to critically applause across the blogosphere and major media outlets for its kaleidoscopic sound paired with Butler’s witty and incredibly dexterous flow. While continuing to cement Butler’s and Mariare’s reputation for crafting incredibly weird, psychedelic-tinged hip hop paired with Butler’s ridiculously dexterous flow,  2014’s Lese Majesty was a decided change in sonic direction with much of the material possessing an eerie cosmic glow with even heavier low end — intergalactic trap, perhaps? Along with the decided change of direction, was a bold challenge to contemporary hip-hop artists. As Butler told the folks at NPR during an interview about Lese Majesty, “This endeavor that I pursue, that we all pursue in Shabazz Palaces, make no mistake, this is an attack. We’re trying to show off and really stunt on all other rappers and let them know that this is our style, this is what we do and we’re ready to put it up against anybody else’s stuff.”

Up until recently, some time had passed since I had written about Shabazz Palaces. After all both Maraire and Butler had been busy with separate creative pursuits — in 2015, Maraire had written and released material with his side project, Chimurenga Renaissance and Butler spent last year on a reunion tour with the members of Digable Planets, a tour that has continued with some dates this year — including later this month at Brooklyn’s House of Vans. But interestingly enough, the duo of Butler and Maraire had also managed to be wildly prolific during that period writing and recording material for two albums  — Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star and Quarzarz vs. The Jealous Machines, which will see a simultaneous release on July 14, 2017 through Sub Pop Records. Now, as you may recall I wrote about “Shine A Light,” the first single off Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star, and while continuing the duo’s long-running collaboration with soul outfit Thadillac, who contribute a lush, dusty, old-school soul-leaning arrangement featuring shimmering strings, a strutting bass line, warm psychedelic guitar blasts, shuffling drum beats, and a retro-futuristic-like hook consisting of distorted, vocoder-filtered vocals, the single thematically is part of a surreal yet politically-charged concept album that introduces the listener to and then tells the tale of Quazarz, a sentient being from far away, who’s sent to be an observer and musical emissary with a mission to explore and chronicle the things he sees and experiences,subtly echoing the  cult-classic film The Brother From Another Planet and Alexis De Tocqueville‘s Democracy in America; however, what our otherworldly emissary finds is a bizarre, cutthroat landscape of brutality, conformity, alternative facts, hypocrisy, greed, suffering, selfishness and death masquerading as patriotism and connectivity. And as result, Quazarz finds himself feeling increasingly horrified and out of place and within a world that is unfathomably hellish and unfair.

Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines is for all intents and purposes, a spiritual and thematic twin of sorts. Produced by Butler and Sunny Levine and recorded at Seattle’s Protect and Exalt Labs: A Black Space and Dror Lord Studios in Marina Del Rey, CA and featuring guest spots from Chimuregna Renaissance’s Fly Guy Dai, Amir Yaghamai, John Carroll Kirby, Thaddillac, Morgan Henderson, The Shogun Shot, Laz, and Purple Tape Nate, the album continues with the tell of our otherworldly musical emissary Quarzarz and in his further explorations of modern life, he discovers a world in which humankind’s relationship with technology has become both co-dependent and strangely sensual, as it seduces people to be sedentary, thoughtless, uninspired to do anything to change their individual plight, let alone change the world, and having their creativity and life stolen from them. Along with a bunch of misfit cohorts, the protagonist lead a rising collective “hell no,” to the device and the guilds that proliferate them. The album’s first single “30 Clip Extension” is arguably the strangest song that Butler and Maraire have released as the song features a minimalist production featuring wobbling and tumbling low end, stuttering drum programming, enormous beats and shimmering synths paired with Butler flow alternating between surrealistic poetry and rhyming, describing an arrogant, vain, ostentatious, highly bored, drug-addled rapper, who’s controlled by an unseen conspiracy of exterior and interior forces — and while viciously poking fun at a contemporary hip-hop movement, the duo also manages to poke fun at our own greed and foolishness, reminding the listener that there are people actually fucking suffering, and that it’s time to put the devices down.

 

 

 

Comprised of Upstate New York-born, Los Angeles, CA-based Marissa Longstreet and Los Angeles-born and-based Matthew Lieberman, the Los Angeles-based indie pop duo Rival Cavves can trace their origins to a chance encounter back in 2012. At the time, Lieberman’s new band Magic Bronson was looking for rehearsal/studio space and stumbled upon a warehouse in the San Fernando Valley that seemed to fit what they wanted and needed. Upon their arrival, Lieberman met the warehouse owner’s sister, Marissa Longstreet, who had recently relocated from Upstate New York to the Los Angeles area and was just getting her feet wet in the area’s music scene, fronting an indie dance act.  Over the next three years, Lieberman and Longstreet found themselves playing a number of shows together with their respective bands.

As the story goes, in 2005 Lieberman moved into the same North Hollywood neighborhood as Longstreet. The duo began to hang out more frequently and spent a lot of late nights listening to Lieberman’s record collection and introducing each other to new bands. Feeling inspired by these hang out sessions, Lieberman armed with a vintage Roland June-106 synthesizer began making beats and started sending them to Longstreet, who would upload his beats into Garage Band and track vocals over them. Within a few weeks, the duo had a handful of songs and they officially started their latest project Rival Caaves.

The duo’s latest single “Creep” reveals that the duo’s sound is largely inspired by 80s New Wave, synth pop, hip hop and house music, as well as contemporary synth pop as Longstreet’s sultry vocals are paired with slick yet retro-futuristic leaning production featuring Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, a sinuous bass line, thick shimmering cascades of arpeggio synths and boom bap-like beats. And while clearly nodding at Blondie, Tom Tom Club and Las Kellies, the song possesses a subtly paranoid cynicism rooted in the fear of being hurt and fucked over by someone who may be pretty obvious about how fucked up they are themselves; in fact, as Longstreet says in press notes “People aren’t always aware of how transparent they are online until someone else is seeing through them and then you’re the creep for looking,”