Category: New Audio

Born Patrick Baril, Statik Selektah is a Boston, MA-born, New York-based DJ, producer, radio producer and founder of Showoff Records, as well as one-half of hip-hop duo 1982 with frequent collaborator Termanology. Much like anyone who’s involved in music in some way or another, Baril was introduced to music at a very young age, and he can trace the origins of his own career to when he began experimenting with his parents’ eight-track tape deck, cassette recorders and turntables. Unsurprisingly, Baril began DJ’ing school functions as a middle schooler; but as the story goes, a young Baril was truly inspired to be a producer and turntabilist after hearing the likes of DJ Premier and Funkmaster Flex on Hot 97.

As a high schooler, Baril, named himself DJ Statik — the Selektah came much later, after he had heard a local reggae artist say it — and began doing radio at Phillips Exeter Academy‘s radio station, WPEA, and where he also occasionally DJ’ed some of the Afro-Latino Society Parties. He began to DJ clubs and private clubs throughout New England; however, by 2000, Baril had returned to Boston, where he pursued an audio production degree at the New England Institute of Art. Around that time, Baril began releasing a mixtape series titled “Spell My Name Right,” which he then followed several years later by creating ShowOff Marketing, which eventually had ReebokG-Unit RecordsVirgin RecordsCapitol Records and Puff Daddy‘s Vote or Die Campaign as clients, before spinning into a label, which released Termanology’s Out the Gate and his 2007 debut Spell My Name Right.

Since the release of his 2007 debut, Statik Selektah has released 6 more albums including his 2010 breakthrough 100 Proof: The Hangover, an effort that eventually reached #37 on Billboard‘s Heatseekers Chart, and has produced and collaborated with an incredibly diverse list of artists including FreewayStrong Arm Steady and others.

Statik Selektah’s eighth full-length album, aptly titled is slated for an auspicious December 8, 2017 release through his own ShowOff Records, and the album finds the renowned producer collaborating with a who’s who’s list of contemporary hip-hop including 2 ChainzWiz KhalifaAction BronsonWale, G. Eazy  Joey Bada$$PnB Rock, the late Sean Price and others. Now, as you may recall, the album’s title track “No. 8” found the renowned producer pairing his golden era hip-hop inspired production featuring enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking 808s and a jazzy sample reminiscent of Pete Rock with ConwayWestside Gunn and frequent collaborator, the aformentioned Termanology contributing some fiery and swaggering bars.

“Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed”  8‘s latest single is a warm and neo-soul leaning production featuring a backing band consisting of Brady Watt (bass), a member of The Lesson and DJ Premier’s backing band, contributing a sinuous and strutting bass line, Cas Weinbren (keys) contributing twinkling, arpeggiated keys, Utril Rhaburn (horns), contributing some mournful horns fed through gentle washes of reverb, enormous, twitter and woofer rocking 808s and some incredible scratching from Statik Selektah and a soulfully sung hook from Enisa. And the production is roomy enough for G. Eazy and Joey Bada$$ to trade bars about achieving  success beyond their wildest dreams and yet finding that many aspects of their lives have ironically remained the same; they may have a multi-million dollar home but find themselves struggling to pay for it, they’re still scheming for the next opportunity — and while we may still admire them and their incredible talents, what both emcees suggest is that if you didn’t know who they were, they lead fairly average albeit very odd lives. While further cementing Baril as one of contemporary hip-hop’s best producers, 8‘s latest single may arguably be one of his most straightforwardly soulful and contemplative tracks he’s ever released.

 

Comprised of childhood friends Ben Grant and Paul Dutton, the up-and-coming, Seattle, WA-based duo Ravennas have been playing music since grade school — from drum lessons to junior high jazz band to their own creative pursuits in which Dutton contributes his expertise in music theory and instrumental mastery with Grant’s guttural artistic instinct. And with their DoM-produced debut single “Meet In A Garden,” the duo’s sound manages to be an effortless blend of psych pop, electro pop and indie rock that’s reminiscent of Amoral-era ViolensIn Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and Forever and Horizon-era Painted Palms as the song is propelled by jangling guitar chords, an angular bass line and soaring hooks. But what makes the song remarkable to me is that the Seattle-based duo manage to balance a deliberate attention to craft with an earnestness of feeling and purpose.

 

Comprised of Xanthous Papanikolaou (vocals, guitar), Bill Tzelepis (guitar), John Vulgaris (drums), Panos Papanikolaou (keys) and Aris Rammos (bass), the Athens, Greece-based garage rock/psych rock act Bazooka initially formed in Volos, Greece back in 2008. As the story goes, within their first year together, they relocated to Athens to pick up live gigs, and while the country and its capital city were in the midst of one of the most severe economic downturns in recent memory, the members of Bazooka, along with acts like Acid Baby Jesus, Gay Anniversary and A Victim of Society became pioneers of a burgeoning, attention grabbing DIY scene that played in squats across the city. But interestingly enough, Bazooka had set themselves apart for being one of the more primal and savage of the entire Athens scene.

Their 2013 full-length debut was released through Slovenly Records, and the Greek garage psych rockers followed that up with two 7 inch EPs — Shame my Brain and I Want To Fuck All The Girls In My School, and their 2016 sophomore, full-length effort Useless Generation. And adding to a growing international profile, the band has toured throughout the European Union and the US.

Their latest effort, the 12 inch EP Zougla (Jungle) was recently released through Inner Ear Records, and the effort finds the band expanding upon their sound while retaining the power and impetuosity of their sound — and emphasizing Greek verse. The EP’s first single and title track features blistering guitar, propulsive polyrhythm, complete with congas and cowbell, wild animal noises and howled vocals to create a primal and furious song that nods at Thee Oh Sees, Fela Kuti and Here Lies Man, complete with a driving and forceful groove; but they manage to pair that with a fuzzy, lysergic vibe that makes their sound and approach incredibly nuanced and wildly anachronistic as though it could have been released in 1963 or — well, last week.

2017 has been a breakthrough year for the up-and-coming, electro rock/electro pop duo Foreign Air — their latest EP For The Light, which was released earlier this year, received over 15 million Spotify streams, they had material included in a Nike ad campaign, and building upon a growing profile, the duo opened for the likes of Phantogram, Aurora, BØRNS, X Ambassadors, Kevin Garrett and Lewis Del Mar, before heading to Seattle to record their forthcoming, Phil Ek-produced full-length debut, slated for release in 2018.

Their latest single “Chakra Daemon” will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for material inspired by heady subject matters — for this particular song, evolution, biomechanics and the ubiquitous email bounce back bot Mailer Daemon, as a comment on how much of one’s daily routine is heaped in negative, harmful and repetitive energy.  Sonically, the song follows along a similar vein as its predecessors — a murky and menacing production featuring layers of arpeggiated and pulsating synths, four-on-the-floor drum programming, bursts of buzzing guitar and an anthemic yet somewhat post-apocalyptic hook paired with Jesse Classen’s crooned vocals. Interestingly enough, this single finds the duo’s sound nodding at classic 80s synth pop like Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode and others, as well as contemporary synth pop acts like Painted Palms.

As the duo’s Classen explains “We as humans are constantly looking for a connection. However, more often than not we fail to find that connection leaving one to feel lonely or even invisible at time. As humans slowly begin self evolving by integrating bio-technology, I imagine one day there will be a Chakra Daemon. This will be like an artificial subconscious. An enhanced intuition. Beyond the obvious implication of keeping us out of danger, I think it will also play a role in navigating us through relationships both platonic and romantic.”

The duo, who also just wrapped a short stint supporting Bishop Briggs, will begin a co-headlining run w/ D.C. electro-pop act SHAED on Nov. 30 in Chicago and it’ll include a December 5, 2017 stop at Public Arts. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates:
*Co-headlining dates w/ SHAED​​​​​​​
11/30: Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen*
12/2: Toronto, ON @ Drake*
12/4: Boston, MA @ Great Scott*
12/5: New York, NY @ Public Arts*
12/7: Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s*
12/8: Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel*

 

 

 

 

Tour Dates:
*Co-headlining dates w/ SHAED​​​​​​​
11/30: Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen*
12/2: Toronto, ON @ Drake*
12/4: Boston, MA @ Great Scott*
12/5: New York, NY @ Public Arts*
12/7: Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s*
12/8: Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel*

Last month, I wrote about the up-and-coming Tel Aviv, Israel-based indie rock quartet Document, and as you may recall, the band, which is comprised of Nir Ben Jacob (vocals, guitar), Yanniv Brenner (Guitar), Amit David (Bass) and Amir Reich (Drums) can trace their origins to 2008. Once Jacob and finished college, he moved back to Tel Aviv and began hanging out with his cousin and a couple of his friends. And as bored 20-somethings, who were the only ones among their peers listening to Wire, The Fall, Fugazi, Dinosaur, Jr. and others, they decided to start a band and to write and play music together. In their native Israel, the indie rock quartet have developed a reputation for writing material that focuses on our obsessions with technology and our increasing disconnection with others, dealing with soulless bureaucracy and corruption, the seemingly endless banality of modern life, and the constant oscillating anxiety, outrage, hope and joy that many of us feel on a regular basis.

Hustle” off the band’s soon-to-be released album The Void Repeats focuses on the sort of digital addiction that removes you from connecting with others or from being in that particular moment; where a screen is an extension of one’s self and one’s life. Some time ago, I was sitting in a Center City, Philadelphia bar, chatting with a couple of very lovely locals but at some point the conversation stopped as they began to focus on Snapchatting into the internet void. As the band’s Nir Ben Jacob said of the song at the time, “Phones are the roots that allow us to be connected to everything else. We‘ve rooted ourselves in our modernity. Our identities can change online. We project what we want others to see. The screen has become a mirror. The phone takes away the ability to be intimate, and you are left alone with a distortion of reality. There’s the addiction of immediate gratification, the online approvals are ‘pseudo-pleasure’. This has all led to pointless compulsive behavior.”  Sonically speaking, the song is a scuzzy and angular post-punk single that’s clearly influenced by the likes of Wire and Gang of Four but it bristles with an ironic and incredibly post modern awareness while possessing incredibly tight, infectious hooks and a cool, self-assuredness beyond their relative youth.
The up-and-coming Israeli band’s latest and last single “Red Tape” as the band’s Jacob explains “refers to dealing with bureaucracy — specifically government agencies that are meant to serve the people, when in fact, they have made things so extremely complicated that you are lost and get screwed over if you’re not careful.” Sonically, while the song finds the band drawing from the hook-laden anthemic, garage rock and guitar rock of Pavement and others; but underneath the surface the song bristles with the bitter frustration of recognizing that you’re getting fucked over, and that no one who’s supposed to help you will help.

 

Adrian Underhill is a Vancouver, British Columbia-born, Toronto, Ontario-based singer/songwriter, who has a number of stints in indie rock bands in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, before the low-key release of his solo debut EP in 2012; however, sometime after that, Underhill completely revamped his songwriting process, employing keyboards, synths and drum machines, which found him gravitating towards a slinky R&B-inspired pop sound but paired with a simple and very direct, earnest lyricism.

Describing the writing process for forthcoming album, CU Again, Underhill says “I sat with a keyboard and one drum machine and tried not play much with production ideas. The tunes have a classic, 70s songwriter vibe, even though we ultimately pushed the production into a very different realm. This simple, direct way of songwriting is me at my best.”

The recording sessions for CU Again found the up-and-coming Canadian singer/songwriter collaborating with British electronic production Kindness (also known as Adam Bainbridge), best known for his work with Robyn, Solange and Blood Orange with the renowned producer and Underhill working on electronic elements in Montreal before they went to Los Angeles for at three-day session with a live, funk supergroup that included JOVM mainstay Dam-Funk (drums) Keith Eaddy (bass) and Brandon Coleman (keys). And the end result finds the material being a seamless blend of Kindness’ electronic production with warm, organic instrumentation as you’ll hear on CU Again‘s swooning “Weather,” which pairs a looped and chopped keyboard sample with stuttering and skittering drum programming, arpeggiated synths and Underhill’s plaintive vocals singing lyrics on how time changes people and their moods, like the weather.  What makes the song interesting to me is that it walks a careful tightrope between sincerity and playfulness, familiarity and complete strangeness.
As Underhill adds, “On ‘Weather’, I love how the production came out. Adam (Bainbridge) took my original demo and just kinda warped it and morphed it, almost like a remix, adding new drums and changing the keyboard sounds I had played. Then we added the live piano and synth bass from Brandon Coleman (Kamasi Washington) and Keith Eaddy (DāM-FunK). In the end it’s quite playful and strange – it’s a great combination of sounds.”

Born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell, the up-and-coming, 15 year-old, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and pop artist Billie Eilish can trace the origins of her musical career to when the homeschooled O’Connell joined the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus when she was 8, where she perfected and honed her vocal abilities, and then when she was 11, she began writing and singing her own songs, much like her brother Finneas, who had been writing and performing his own original songs with his band. Interestingly, by 2015, the siblings had written and released two songs together on SoundCloud — “sHE’s brOKen,” and “Fingers Crossed,’ which were released for fun and to have their friends listen to.

As the story goes, in late 2015, Finneas O’Connell tells his sister of a song he had been playing with his band, “Ocean Eyes.” Billie recorded the song and sent it to her dance teacher, who hoped to choreograph a dance to it. Released on SoundCloud the following year, under the name Billie Eilish, “Ocean Eyes” quickly became a viral hit, and along with follow-up single “Six Feet Under,” the young, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist developed a growing fanbase. With an official release, through Darkroom and Interscope Records in late 2016 to critical applause from the likes of Stereogum and others, Eilish was sensation — an building upon a growing profile, she released an EP featuring four remixes of “Ocean Eyes.”

This year has proven to be an even bigger year than last, as she released her highly-anticipated and critically applauded debut EP, dont smile at me, which has received attention both nationally and internationally, thanks to sold out, headlining tours across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, a number of national daytime and late night television appearances here in the States, as well as being named VEVO dscvr Artist To Watch 2018, longlisted for BBC’s Sound of 2018 and a spot in Apple’s Up Next Artist campaign.

Just on the heels of an announcement of a lengthy 2018 world tour, which includes a March 23, 2018 set at The Mercury Lounge, Eilish released her latest single “bitches broken hearts,” a soulful and incredibly self-assured yet swooning track that features Eilish’s sultry cooing over a contemporary production featuring arpeggiated synths, stuttering drum programming and percussion — and while sonically, the song nods at both 90s neo soul and contemporary electro pop, the song is actually an ode to the bitterness of lost love and the excitement of fresh starts, even if its dysfunctional and fucked up.

Check out tour dates below.

EUROPEAN TOUR DATES
02/14 – Heaven – London, UK – SOLD OUT
02/16 – Petit Bain – Paris, France
02/18 – Dude Club – Milan, Italy
02/19 – Debaser Strand – Stockholm, Sweden
02/20 – Melkweg Oude Zaal – Amsterdam, Netherlands
02/23 – Botanique / Rotonde – Brussels, Belgium
02/26 – Lido – Berlin, Germany
02/27 – Jungle Club – Cologne, Germany
03/01 – By:Larm Festival – Oslo, Norway

NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES
03/07 – El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
03/08 – Great American Music Hall – San Francisco,  CA
03/10 – Music Box – San Diego, CA
03/11 – The Observatory, CA
03/17 – Terminal West – Atlanta, GA
03/20 – Black Cat – Washington, DC
03/21 – Coda – Philadelphia, PA
03/23 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
03/24 – Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA
03/27 – Theatre Fairmount – Montreal
03/28 – The Mod Club – Toronto
03/30 – El Club – Detroit, MI
03/31 – Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL
04/03 – 7th Street Entry – Minneapolis, MN
04/04 – The Record Bar – Kansas City, Missouri, MO
04/06 – Bluebird Theater – Denver, CO
04/07 – Grand at the Complex – Salt Lake City, UT

With the release of EP Two, which was released earlier this year, the London-basd electronic soul songwriting and production act Two Another, comprised of Angus and Eliot, along with trumpet and additional production from frequent collaborator Nico Segal received attention for a sound that effortlessly messed classic, Motown-like soul with 90s R&B with slick, contemporary electronic production. As a result of the growing buzz surrounding the British electro soul act, they’ve opened for the likes of Daniel Caesar and SG Lewis.

Building upon their growing profile, the act recently released their latest single, the silky and soulful “Hoping You Changed,” which features a sinuous production that owes a debt to 90s R&B and neo soul,  complete with a funky and insistent bass line, fluttering electronics, and razor sharp hooks paired with soulful vocals and a slick, hyper modern production sheen. And while being remarkably radio friendly, the song reveals a careful yet self-assured attention to craft.

 

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With the release of their debut EP in 2013, Dream Lake, the Stockholm, Sweden-based dream pop duo comprised of Isabella Svärdstam (vocals) and multi-instrumentalist Niklas Willar Lidholm (production and instrumentation) received attention for crafting ethereal and incredibly catchy pop songs, and for being among a small group of internationally recognized Swedish electro pop/dream pop acts. Since then, the duo have released a number of singles, including critically applauded singles “Let Us Stay In The Light” and “World Of Dreams,” as well as their highly-anticipated full-length debut Lux, which was released earlier this year. And from the album’s latest single “Crystals,” the single — and in turn, the album — further cement the duo’s reputation of nostalgic and  cinematic pop with soaring hooks paired with shimmering and arpeggiated synths, and Svärdstam’s achingly tender and ethereal vocals; but interestingly enough, the song possesses an underlying intimacy as it focuses on a romantic couple, who may be either space travelers who have landed on a strange, new planet of a glorious, and blissfully endless summer of raining crystals — or a Dadaesque dreamscape. No matter, it’s a song to get lost in and contemplate one’s existence and being in love in an enormous universe.

 

As the duo’s Niklas Willar Lidholm explains in press notes “‘Crystals’ is about looking into another person’s universe –letting your emotion speak and becoming one with the moment. We should live and love today because tomorrow, it could all be gone.”

 

 

 

 

 

Esther Artois and Fatou Jans, are an up-and-coming Leuven, Belgium folk/dream pop duo   known as Esther & Fatou, and their incredibly self-assured debut single “At Night” features the duo’s beguiling harmonizing paired with sparse yet dramatic instrumentation that includes soaring woodwinds, tribal-like drumming, strummed acoustic guitar, twinkling percussion and subtly swirling electronics meant to evoke (in my mind, at least) wandering around a particularly European city during a winter night, with deep and lingering existential thoughts. As the duo explain in press notes” It’s a song about the way everything is seen in a different light at night. The track was inspired by a nighttime walk through the city, when we began to wonder about ourselves and other people. In a very organized society in which everyone is expected to make a distinct contribution, there comes the night: full of chaos, everyone is left with their thoughts, insecurities and secrets. The nighttime raises more questions about existence and faith. By morning, they all seem to disappear.”