Friday, February 25, 2011

Bitch, I Feel Good - Birthday Blog

On this relatively gloomy February 25th, as I find myself growing yet another year older (and wiser), I'd like to share my feelings with you via Gold Panda's remix of Chip Tha Ripper.

Normally I'd dissect this song and remark on those fantastically effected steel drums, Chip's perfectly saucy lyrics and delivery, Gold Panda's surprising yet fruitful remix selection, and the fact that when I listen to this song and close my eyes, the rain falling down on the roof actually feels like it's coming from a tropical rain forest where I am sitting wrapped in palm leaves eating a banana with a gold tooth and a gangsta lean.

But today, I'm feeling lazy.  It's my birthday and I'm going to Umami Burger.

Bitch, I Feel Good.

As a birthday gift to you all, please download for yourself, put on some shades, grab your nether regions, and rock out.

"Feelgood (Hancock Mix)" - Chip Tha Ripper (Gold Panda Remix)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dirty Projectors Meets Animal Collective = Braids

Lush.  Dreamy.  Evocative.  Check out "Lemonade" by Braids.

Hailing from Montreal, Canada, home to buzz artists like Arcade Fire, Chromeo, and Patrick Watson, these art rockers are taking note from their predecessors by creating music that is both intelligent and accessible.  While their sound isn't necessarily cutting edge, they certainly execute it with impeccable sophistication.  Anchoring lush spacey layers with concrete vocal melodies to create serene and breathtaking arrangements.

Loops, delays and reverb give way to this wonderland of sound.  While you're busy being absorbed into the folds, you might also notice the lyrics are actually quite provocative:

Now what do you say to a man who's got no taste,
who's really got no potential
except to procreate so inessential.

If you're out in Lost Angeles you may want to hit up their show, March 5th at the Troubadour with equally amazing electrophiles Baths and Star Slinger.  I've heard their live show has brought people to tears.  I'll be there with a box of tissues.  Feel free to say hello.

Listen for yourself to the apparent culprit of the waterworks, title song "Native Speaker."

If you can't make the show, I suggest you get yourself a copy of their debut full length Native Speaker (out now on Kanine Records), hop in your car, roll down the windows, and drive off into the sunset with no particular destination.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Only Time I Miss You Is Every Single Day

So says Jessica Lea Mayfield in that perfectly nonchalant drawl.  Have a listen.

On the heels of her recent tours with The Black Keys, Band of Horses, Avett Brothers and Ray LaMontagne, Mayfield buckled down with the Keys' Dan Auerbach to create Tell Me.  There's a lot of buzz around this new album, which came out just last week on Nonesuch.  She's stepped out of her usual minimalistic singer-songwriter sound to create something more playful and cutting-edge.  The production on Tell Me is precise; rootsy, dark and daring.  With Auerbach on board as producer, engineer, guitarist and back-up vocalist, there's an undeniable chemistry born out of their partnership.  He is clearly smitten with Mayfield's honest and gracefully dark songwriting, carefully enhancing the mood of each song with the most alluring sonic terrain.  You can especially hear his influence in that signature "Black Keys-esque" guitar that tastefully infuses the songs with an added charm.

What strikes me most about this album is her vocals.  They ring through so clean that we are privy to even the slightest shake.  There is a vulnerability in her voice that is often lost in typical pop production.  And that effortless drawl entices us to listen to the lyrics, which are so personal, at times it feels like we are reading from her diary.

Check out the title track for a pleasant use of xylophone and woodblock.

"Tell Me"

Tell Me provides the perfect soundtrack for this gloomy Fall day, though I'm sure it will be on replay for a long time to come.

Be sure to stop by her website for a free download of the single:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ode to Vintage Valentines - JD McPherson

Whether you're happily hooked or singing the lonely V-Day blues, JD McPherson has exactly the groove you need.  Check out the single, "North Side Gal."

Pure rock & roll at its finest.

With help from Jimmy Sutton (Producer), Alex Hall (Engineer), and Butch Wax on that perfectly coifed head of hair, JD McPherson pours his classic songwriting into a crisp 12 song debut, Signs & Signifiers.  For all you techy-files, you'll appreciate the vintage production on this work.  Recorded mainly live and straight to an old 1960's Berlant 1/4 inch tape machine, the sound is warm and unadulterated, allowing McPherson's gritty intuitive performance to shine through.  The album was released last October thanks to Sutton's own Hi-Style Records.  It's part jump-blues, part soul, and filled with jukebox worthy jams.

For fans of James Brown, Chuck Berry, Raphael Saadiq and...good music!  Check out another standout track on the album, "Wolf Teeth."

Just ordered my limited 7-inch import.  Can't wait to slip on the old knee socks and take it for a spin...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

James Blake Creates A New Genre

Take a minute. Put on your headphones. Take a few deep breaths.

Okay, you're ready to take in the soundscape that is James Blake's new single, "Wilhelm Scream."

Blake's self-titled new album is raw and simple, clean and precise, soulful, dreamy and dramatic.  He takes the characteristic wobble bass and syncopated rhythms of dubstep, adds soulful free flowing and meditative vocals, slows it all down and turns it on it's heels to create a new forefront in electronic music: "post-dubstep." His music is tender and sincere, sometimes a little jarring in all of it's quietness. His lyrics are sparse and unforgiving.  It isn't often we hear music that feels completely new, but Blake has managed to do this, seemingly by finding his own unique voice and not being afraid to sing out.

This haunting album is best heard with eyes closed and mind open.   Blake's music begs the listener to pay full attention, something we rarely do in a society that has grown too comfortable with immediate gratification.

With all the patience required to listen to his music, I'm pleasantly surprised that his much-awaited full length has landed on the charts.  Universal Republic, home to breakthrough crossover UK artists Amy Winehouse and Florence & the Machine, took a chance on Blake's left of center music; and so far it's paying off.  True, this Londoner has been turning a lot of heads, landing a spot on Pitchfork's top 50 album's of 2010, and being awarded runner-up in BBC's renowned Sound of 2011 poll.

Blake's career is only just beginning, and I can't begin to imagine what comes next.  Crossing my fingers for some sort of ingenious collaboration.  You know, Adele doesn't live so far away...

Check out "Unluck" below to hear a most rare & moving use of AutoTune.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

If Elliot Smith was a girl...

He'd probably sound like this:

"Oh Blah Wee" by Via Audio

Via Audio's 2010 album Animalore somehow seemed to get swept under the rug, but I've been jamming to it for months now. Produced by Jim Eno of Spoon, it's filled with tongue-in-cheek indie pop gems.

The album is half emo folk rock (a la "Oh Blah Wee" above), and half electro pop (see "Babies" below). I couldn't find a good video for "Babies," but I did find this bizarre video for their 2007 single "Presents." Gotta love low budget creativity...

"Babies" by Via Audio

If you've been digging this, be sure to check out the rest of their album. "Wanted" is another favorite. Something very Eisley about this song. What ever happened to that band?

Friday, February 4, 2011

DUST OFF THE VINYL: Just Like A Ship Without A Sail

Pastor T.L. Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir.  "Like A Ship" is just in the inspiration I need to get through this last push of the week. 

I only just discovered this 1971 self-released album as it was reissued this past July via Light In The Attic Records.  Pastor Barrett is known as a contentious figure.  He became a leading pastor and social activist in Chicago's South Side during the 70's.  While he lead the fight for socioeconomic equality, he's also the man who cooked up a $3 million pyramid scheme, allegedly to help the needy (and help himself to the good life). 

While Pastor Barrett remains a controversial figure, his contribution to music cannot be denied.  It's not hard to hear that characteristic magnetism that drew in so many devout followers (including Donny Hathaway and Earth Wind and Fire).  He pours that charisma into this soulful and uplifiting piece.  I won't even deny it;  I'd buy whatever he's selling.

Someone needs to do us all a favor and sample this...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rafter Tells It Like It Is

Oh Raftsies.  I'm calling you that as I feel we are on a nickname basis after watching your cheeky video for "No Fucking Around." 

That might be the most bad ass street gang in town.  Delightfully ample cherubs dressed in stylish business attire wielding chains and fly dance moves.  I want one.

Rafter sounds like the lovechild of Freelance Whales and Of Montreal.   Nerdy hipster electropop with a dash of post-punk attitude.  His music is uncompromising and oh so now.  And while sometimes frenzied with unorthodox bangs and bellows, it never lacks for enthusiasm.  Rafter Roberts describes himself better than I ever could: "i am red hair, restless mind, total non goth, sweaty rocker and obsessive compulsive.  i am dedicated."  Anyone who can pull off vocoder is tops in my book.

"Salt" - Rafter

Check out more Rafter, and score some free downloads at his RCRD LBL page.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Young Man - Home Recordings vs. Live Performance

I had a mini love affair with Young Man aka Colin Caulfield's home recordings when I first heard them last Fall.  Take a listen to "Hands," one of my favorites.

They are delicate layered metaphor-driven odes to love, loss, and this thing we call life.  I think I fell for these recordings because they are so DIY you almost feel like you're in that room with him.  These are lay-in-your-bed-and-watch-the-dust-twirl-through-beams-of-afternoon-light type musings. Download here and try for yourself.

Today, on a whim, I googled "Hands" and found this live version.

Just when you think it can't get better...  What a remarkable performance.  It's pure perfection.  Honest, soulful, & unpretentious.  This live take reveals that underneath the veil of spacey reverb and foggy layers this is a concrete, well-written song.  I'm always in awe of young musicians who seem to have such wisdom in their work.

Really hope they make their way over to L.A.  I wouldn't miss that show...