Tag: EP Review

Comprised of the Ann Arbor, MI-born, Los Angeles, CA-based soul singer/songwriter Mayer Hawthorne, arguably one of the most unheralded vocalists and singer/songwriters of the past decade; and Jake One, a Seattle, WA-born and based, Grammy nominated producer and artist, who was best known as part of the G-Unit, production team The Money Management Group, for collaborating with Brother Ali, Young Buck, De La Soul, M.O.P., Freeway, M.F. Doom, Atmosphere‘s Slug, Keak da Sneak and others, and for contributing tracks to the soundtracks of major motion pictures such as Get Rich or Die Tryin,’ The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Gone Baby Gone, the electro funk act Tuxedo can trace its origins to around 2006 when Hawthorne and Jake One began exchanging mixtapes, which revealed that they had a mutual appreciation and love of classic funk and soul.  The duo quickly worked on and released three singles while both were working on separate solo projects — and those singles wound up on the duo’s 2015 self-titled debut, an effort, which I think was one of that year’s best party records.

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve last written about them — and that shouldn’t be surprising, as Hawthrone released his fourth, full-length effort Man About Town last year and opened for Hall and Oates during the duo’s U.S. tour and Jake One released the #prayerhandsemoji mixtape; but speaking for myself, I’m always in the need of some funk in my life and thankfully, the duo have returned with a three song EP, titled Fux with the Tux.. “Fux with the Tux,” the EP’s title track and opening track pairs Hawthrone’s vocals with a late 70s and early 80s synth funk production featuring squiggly arpeggio synth blasts, propulsive drum programming, a wobbling and tumbling low bass line, a chant-worthy and anthemic hook and a brief braggadocio-filled guest spot from Snoop Dogg. And while sounding as though it drew a some influence from Heatwave‘s “The Groove Line” – 12″ Disco Version,  Cherelle‘s “Saturday Love” feat. Alexander O’Neal and others. “Special” clearly continues on a similar vein as it’s incredibly dance floor friendly, while being a sultry come on. It’s the sort of song you’d want to play while dancing with that pretty young thing, you’ve wanted to get with for an entire summer or however long it’s been for you. Completing the three song set, “July” is a slow-burning and silky smooth, Quiet Storm-like track about unexpectedly, stupidly and desperately in love and that love changing the narrator’s life for the better — and of course, its underpinned by Hawthorne expressing a vulnerable, urgent and plaintive need that gives the song an irresistible sensuality.

 

 

If there’s one thing that listeners will instantly gleam from this new EP is that Hawthorne and Jake One have further cemented their reputation for crafting dance floor friendly, two-step, 80s-inspired synth funk and sexy, slow-burning ballads with a subtly modern take.

 

 

 

 

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Formed in 2014 and inspired by Romance music, CAN and the films of Stanley Kubrick, VTCN Radio is a mysterious Parisian artist and production duo that pairs analog synthesizers with field recordings to create an eerily atmospheric sound as you’ll hear on thee “Late Night Shuttle”/”Venus Flytrap” EP.

“Late Night Shuttle” consists of a twinkling and cascading keyboard-based melody, a sultry but chopped up vocal samples and propulsive boom bap beats to craft a song that sounds like an eerie, Portishead and Sneaker Pimps-inspired lullaby, complete with a subtle bit of dread and unease. “Venus Flytrap” begins with an equally slow-burning track that has the duo pairing stuttering drum programming with electronic bleeps and bloops before turning into drum ‘n’ bass track with a subtle cosmic sheen for the song’s second half. And while clearly specializing in an atmospheric and ambient production, the duo subtly nods at drum ‘n’ bass and house with a moodily sleek and seductive, cinematic fashion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the release of their first three albums in five years –2011’s Shoot! , 2013’s All Of Them Witches and 2014’s Enfant Terrible — The Hedvig Mollestad Trio have managed to receive praise and attention internationally from both jazz and rock critics across the blogosphere and major media outlets, including Rolling Stone‘s senior editor David Fricke and veteran writer Richard Williams among others for a sound that meshes elements acid jazz, free jazz, jazz fusion, but heavy metal, psych rock, stoner rock and prog rock in a way that to my ears reminds me quite a bit of Ecstatic Vision, Hawkwind, Rush, and others. And as a result, the band has placed themselves on a growing list of Norwegian avant jazz ‘n’ rock/free metal/free jazz acts that have received attention across their homeland, Scandinavia and elsewhere that includes Elephant9, Grand General, Bushman’s Revenge, Krokofant and Scorch, the renowned act led by Finnish guitarist Raoul Björkenheim, who have been long considered as the forefront of the movement.

The trio comprised of Hedvig Mollestad (guitar), Ellen Brekken (bass) and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad (drums) just released their latest effort Black Stabat Mater yesterday and reportedly, the material on the album is heavily indebted to the newfound confidence and self-assuredness the members of the band found during an intense touring schedule; but also revealing a band that has expanded upon the sound that initially won them international attention. In fact, Black Stabat Mater‘s four compositions still manage to possess the improvised feel of jazz fusion and free jazz but while arguably being the most prog rock/stoner rock/heavy metal leaning material they’ve released to date, essentially crafting an album that effortlessly blurs the lines of jazz, metal, stoner rock and prog rock — and in a way that nods to the jazz fusion experiments of the 70s while being remarkably contemporary.

Considered the effort’s first two tracks “Approaching: On Arrival” is an expansive, twisting and turning composition that begins with Bjørnstad’s jazz-like syncopation, Brekken’s sinuous yet propulsive bass lines and Mollestad’s bluesy guitar chords during the composition’s lengthy introduction before quickly morphing into a stoner rock and prog rock stomp, complete with some serious guitar pyrotechnics. At the 7:15 mark the composition becomes a wildly free-flowing and kaleidoscopic array of feedback, thundering drumming, blistering guitar playing reminiscent of John Coltrane‘s late, experimental work — and in a similar fashion, the composition possesses a mind and conscious-altering quality. “In The Court Of The Trolls” is composition comprised of alternating sludgy, prog rock/stoner rock and trippy psychedelic, acid jazz sections and while much like the preceding track feels completely loose and improvised, also reveals a band that’s incredibly tight; in fact, there’s the sense that one musician puts an idea down and the rest will follow, knowing exactly where and when to take it. Track 4 “-40 is a gorgeous and contemplative composition featuring gently swirling and undulating feedback with a gorgeous guitar solo while album closing track “Somebody Else Should Be On That Bus” begins with a heavy, Charles Mingus-styled bass introduction before turning into a sludgy, power chord-heavy composition that sounds as though it were inspired by Queens of the Stone Age and others.

So far, 2016 has bee a mixed year for me as far as album-length releases but I may have stumbled across one of my favorite releases this year, as the Norwegian trio specialize in an uncompromising and exciting genre meshing and genre defying sound. But I think that the album should also reveal that Hedvig Mollestad is arguably one of the best guitarists that everyone should know right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigerian-born, Montreal-based producer Teck-Zilla emerged as an up-and-coming producer with the release of Son of Sade: An Ode, an 18 minute instrumental mixtape that was intended as a tribute to both the renowned British-Nigerian vocalist Sade and the producer’s mother, who coincidentally is also named Sade. Now, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past two years or so, you might remember that I wrote about the Nigerian-Canadian producer’s Afro Bootleg EP, an EP that had the producer revisiting his birthplace, as he remixed some of Nigeria’s biggest hits with a populist, globe-spanning, crowd-rocking sound that would get asses moving in clubs across New York, Montreal, LagosLondonIbiza an others.

Although it’s been a little while since we’ve heard from Teck-Zilla, the Nigerian-born and Montreal, QC-based producer has been prolific, as he’s released a number of mixtapes, including the aforementioned Son of Sade and Afro Bootleg EP, as well as Souled Off: A Dedication to Molly Molls. His third and latest instrumental mixtape Joe Jackson Kids has the producer paying homage to Michael Jackson — mostly Jackson 5-era Michael Jackson as the mixtape features snippets of interviews with Michael Jackson and his family, as he was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and uncertain about his fame, and a variety of chopped up samples of Jackson 5 songs and Michael’s solo work. While reminding the listener that Michael Jackson’s ghost looms large in contemporary pop — hell, contemporary music in general — the mixtape also manages to create nuanced and empathetic portrait and interpretation of the young Michael Jackson. But ironically, the EP’s title comes from a playful, inside joke that the Nigerian-born, Montreal-based producer had with his brother. As Teck-Zilla explains in press notes “I got the title from one of my favourite Jeru the Damaja records, ‘Whatever,’ off his Wrath of the Math LP. That line always cracked me and my brother up every time, so it was kinda like an inside joke for both of us. Just remember to say ‘check it out’ after the title.”

Probably the biggest highlight on the mixtape is “Human Nature (Jackson Jones Flip)” which not only turns the original song on its head, but also reminds the listener of how influential the song has been to hip-hop and to R&B as Teck-Zilla weaves bits of Nas‘ classic Illmatic including “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” “The World Is Yours” and others songs while subtly nodding at Off the Wall.  “Letter to Michael” is a headbanging take on Michael’s work that sounds as though it were indebted to J. Dilla while “Goodbye (Last Call)” is a sensual closer that features twinkling percussion, handclaps and chopped up bits of Michael singing in a way that creates an entirely different song. “JJ Kids” features the sample that inspired the title before quickly turning into the warm, twinkling soul instrumental that’s nods to J. Dilla and Pete Rock. But perhaps most important, the entire mixtape reveals Teck-Zilla to be a remarkably playful yet thoughtful producer, whose sound has become increasingly warm and soulful.

 

 

 

EP Stream: Edu Imbernon and DROOG’s Forward-Thinking Yet Accessible Spectral

Edu Imbernon is a Valencia, Spain-based songwriter, producer, remixer, DJ and head of renowned indie electronica label Eklektisch Records. Imbernon has received international attention for a sound that possesses of electronica, house music, and pop — […]