Latest Entries »

Middle Class Rut

Holy crap it’s been a while since I’ve posted something. Go away for SFU’s first ever Reading Week (a full week!!!), and I come back to have school waiting to put me in a chokehold for schoolwork. Stuff like my current job, applications for future jobs, and school politics (read: election time) don’t exactly help the case either.

In any case, today’s post is about a (relatively) new band on the scene. It’s times like these that I wish that I listened to the radio more often (which if you care to look back is perhaps hypocritical to say on my part, given my views on radio today), as I only came across their first single in February. Their first album, No Name No Colour, dropped in early October of 2010, with the single (presumably) going mainstream not too long after, perhaps adding a bit more time for it to make its way across the border.

The band is a duo, consisting of vocalist/guitarist Zack Lopez and vocalist/drummer Sean Stockham. They’ve had a huge presence in Sacramento, having first being picked up by a local alternative rock radio station, KWOD 106.5, back in 2007. A music director for KWOD received a single of theirs, “New Low,” and had it played by another DJ later that day. The response was huge. It would later go on to become the stations #1 track for the year of 2008 (as decided by an online poll). Independent of all this, the BBC’s Zane Low picked up and played “Busy Bein’ Born” in 2008 as his Single of the Week. In 2009 he debuted another song of theirs, “I Guess You Could Say,” once again to much acclaim.

Their sound reminds me strongly of the alt rock scene in the 90’s, and has me draw the largest comparison to Jane’s Addiction, albeit a more down-tempo one. I gather that mostly from the sort of echo effect applied to most of the vocals throughout the album. Same goes for the chorus harmonies, something for which I am a big sucker for. Better still, both guys share the vocals somewhat equally when soloing, which is always a nice change from just a lead singer. I think you get a better sounding vocal harmony from two different voices as well, rather than from what you get by overlaying several tracks from one singer to get the same effect (here’s looking at you, Freddie Mercury).

The other comparison comes from the guitars, and has me drawing some to Filter and Rage Against the Machine. While the guitar isn’t quite as technical as Tom Morello’s playing, some of the songs carry that Rage-esque feel to it, that sort of heavy chord strumming like from “Bulls on Parade.” It just makes you want to jump all over the place. This comes most prevalently from an album track, “Thought I Was”, but also pops up on tracks like “Busy Bein’ Born” and the bluesy-feeling “I Guess You Could Say.” Could be why they’re so popular.

Of course, I can’t forget the first track that hooked me, “Brand New Low.” Simple, yet so insanely good. And catchy. One of those tunes where it just clicks, and all you can say is “Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” The whole album is good though, worthwhile to buy for sure. But first, take a listen for yourself. And for what I don’t post, browse around on youtube for the rest. Chances are if you like any of the songs below, you’ll love the album in its entirety.

Brand New Low (Official Video). Quite well done if you ask me.

Thought I Was

I Guess You Could Say

Advertisements

Jaga Jazzist

I swear, sometimes I wished I lived in the UK. Or anywhere in Europe for that matter, because it seems that best music (at least in my opinion, so as to avoid stepping on people’s shoes anywhere) is coming out of that continent. Don’t get me wrong, Canada and the US certainly CAN produce good artists from time to time, but that music seems to be consistently coming out from across the pond.

Take Jaga Jazzist for instance, a ten piece experimental jazz group coming out of Norway. But they aren’t just your run-of-the-mill big band group, no; instead they take a rather different approach to jazz, and, I’m just going to come out and say it, music in general. The cake is the musical talent in instruments (trumpets, trombone, electric guitar, bass, tuba, bass clarinets, Fender Rhodes [!!!], vibraphones, and a whole rack of electronics) and song writing (kick ass melodies and rhythms…!!!). The icing is that uber distinguishing sound. And how.

What makes them most unique in my mind is the fact that they’re instrumental. I’m not sure what the deal is, but instrumental groups outside of traditional jazz and electronic music (read: club music?) are hard to come by in the grand scheme of things. My guess would be that when people listen to something, they want to be able to sing along to it? I mean, think about it, when was the last time you heard an instrumental track on the radio? If you listen to the radio anymore that is. Nevertheless, the answer is, “I sure the fuck can’t remember.” You’d think that maybe there could be some representation out there, but no. Russian Circles, Holy Fuck, among other bands…will they ever have their day in the spotlight? Not sure. Good to know that at least Jaga Jazzist is getting recognition over in Europe. Good show.

Citing the influences of Coltrane, Aphex Twin, and Squarepusher, to name a few, they have 5 LP’s to their name (with the same number of EP’s), with their first being released in 1996, Jaevla Jazzist Grete Stitz. Cue a 5 year break, and they followed up with A Livingroom Hush in 2001. In 2002, the BBC proclaimed the album to be “the best jazz album of 2002,” a claim which would give way to their rise to fame. 2003 results in The Stix, which is also the first album I had listened to by them. Now, up until this point, Jaga had been producing music with a bit of a drum and base / electronic feel to it (think Squarepusher). This would prove to be no more with their 2005 release of What We Must, which was a noted change in direction for the band. They dropped the electronic influence and went with more of a post rock/nu-jazz sound, although the lack of electronics certainly made them sound more traditional in nature. This would be their last album for 5 years, as part of the group took on a side project (well, for part of that time presumable, comparing release dates and whatnot. Obviously they took breaks, holidays, etc. as well), working with others bands and singer-songwriter Thomas Dybdahl, to release an album under the name of The National Bank. I checked out some of their stuff on Youtube, it’s like…Jaga Jazzist with lyrics. Pretty cool if you ask me. Anyways, cue another 5 year break from the band producing music under the Jaga name, and you’re in 2010, with their latest release, One-Armed Bandit. This album took yet another different direction, but I guess that’s what happens when you take a break for 5 years, going with more of a progressive rock influence.

Anyways, it’s all good stuff to check out. I’m hoping that I get to see them do a live set sometime, because how can seeing a ten piece band doing a gig NOT be epic in nature. Epic songs below.

Random aside: I recently learned that The Mars Volta cites Jaga Jazzist as one of their favourite bands. No surprise there if you’ve listened to some of the stuff they’ve put together. Considering my love for The Mars Volta, I cannot say that I’m surprised that I love Jaga as much as I do.

Animal Chin – A Livingroom Hush.

I mentioned their Squarepusher or, in general, their DnB influence. A great example of said influence. I’m also hella confused by the music video, but in a good way.

Day & Another Day (Live) – Originally from The Stix

Holy crap do I want to see them play live. Maybe you will too once you watch/listen to this. Also that tuba player is a beast.

Oslo Skyline (Live) – Originally from What We Must

Another live performance, pretty sure from the same gig as the previous one. And that tuba player is still a beast.

A Touch of Evil – One-Armed Bandit

Wasn’t really sure how to end the stream of vids, so here’s my favourite song off of their latest album. Enjoy.

Squarepusher

At first glance I thought he was really sweaty in this picture.  Had to look a bit closer to realize that it was just shadows.  Shame though, could have made a comment on how hard he works at making his music.

Today’s world of electronic music is largely dominated by the epic genres that are house, dubstep, and (to a lesser extent) drum and base. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it is always nice to go out and explore the other reaches of electronic music. Yes you can throw Amon Tobin and Bonobo into that mix, but they float closer (more consistently anyways) to more chill electro than anything else. Squarepusher fits into none of the above. Well, OK, technically his specialization is drum and base and a subgenre of house music (acid house) but it sounds quite unique thanks to his influences of jazz and music concrète (think electroacoustic).

While he uses the moniker Squarepusher, the man (yes it’s just one…in the studio anyways) behind the music is known as Thomas Jenkinson. Born 1975, he’s been making music since 1994. While he doesn’t carry as much variety in instrumental talent as Bonobo’s Simon Green, there is one instrument he is wickedly superior with: the bass. While I’ve yet to see any of his live performances, his talent on bass is just phenomenal. From what I understand (although don’t quote me on this), what you hear in a track on bass (in terms of rhythm, that is. Of course you have to run the bass through many a machine to generate the sounds you hear) is, for the majority, at speed. While you might not currently be impressed, just listen to a few tracks, and you can be relatively safe to say that he played that riff at tempo. Although the skill doesn’t come from nowhere, he is a trained musician (could you guess at what instrument?). Anyways, see for yourself some of his live bass playing. From what I can tell he’s playing some form of custom built bass (because it seriously looks like it’s carrying 6 strings. Also don’t judge me for not guessing a name, I don’t know guitars very well at all hehe.) here. Sick shit though. Makes you wonder how the bass doesn’t just spontaneously burst into flames.

But yes, the guy has some serious skill. It’s not something you can dance to, but if you’re in the mood for some electro which is “off the beaten track,” then he’s the man for the job. Anyways, some studio tracks for you.

Come On My Selector

His single off of his “Big Loada” album. Apparently, this was what became the start of the “long” music video trend (at 7:22, while the song itself is only 3:27). It’s also a good example of his music concrète-inspired drum and bass.

Squarepusher Theme

The Slew

The Slew – 100%.  A percentage also known to represent the amount your face will be rocked when you finish listening to the album.

I’m back. Hopefully you all enjoyed the holiday break from whatever it is you’re doing. It’s 2011 now, and with a new year comes new music.

And today, I start the year off with The Slew. With regards to this group, all I can say is, “Holy shit!” I was introduced to these guys through a friend, who had a whole DVD (that’s right, not a CD, but 4.5 GB of 256+ music [looking at file size I’m inclined to say it’s all 320], of which I’m still sorting through). The name is probably warranted, because the sound they’ve generated is a total curveball from things I’ve heard out of the rock-hop genre, which is different from electro-rock. Well ok I can only actually recall one other example of rock-hop, and I’m not entirely convinced that it is a good example to begin with. But safe to say that it is more than likely different from anything you’ve ever heard. But yes, rock-hop. As the name suggests, it is a blend of both rock (in its purest form? None of this pop-rock or dance-rock crap) and hip-hop, but beat oriented hip-hop like from the 90’s, not…rap as it is today. It makes for a really cool sound, one I wouldn’t have figured would really work well together. Shows how much I know though, as The Slew really know how to make it work. I suppose, on a few tracks, I draw a comparison to DJ Shadow, but for the others, I’m at a loss for words to describe them.

A bass player in front of a mixing board?  Yeah, that’s rock-hop for you.  Also pretty damn sweet if I may say so myself.

The band itself comprises of a few different members of a few different backgrounds, both musically and internationally. In a nutshell cracked wide open, its Canadian DJ Kid Koala, American DJ Dynamite D, and Australia’s Chris Ross and Myles Heskett, of Wolfmother fame (the original Wolfmother, not of today’s incarnation). Anyways, I could make multiple attempts at failing to explain what these guys sound like, so I’ll just show you. But before that, a few more things. You can find a much better written article here in Wired (http://www.wired.com/underwire/2009/09/slew-turns-turntablism-to-11/). As well, you can download their entire album for free from Kid Koala’s website (http://kidkoala.com/ice-cream-news/theslew/). But if you’re down for a preview before downloading, here are a few tracks off their album, 100%.

Wrong Side of the Tracks

Robbin’ Banks

Battle of Heaven and Hell

The Christmas Post

Well, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s Christmas time (surprise!). Hopefully you’ve got all your Christmas shopping done; if not, well, you’ve still got a few hours left to get stuff. I finished exams late this year (the 17th to be precise, although I know of people who had some later that that…not cool university, not cool) and as such had a week to get things done. Somehow, I got everything done in a day, although it was a rather full day of shopping to say the least. At least everyone was rather well behaved, unlike a few people down in Texas. Maybe you heard about the people who got maced at an early mall opening for being too rowdy. They were there for the limited release of a new kind of Air Jordans. PEOPLE GOT MACED FOR BEING TOO UNRULY OVER A PAIR OF SHOES. I mean, seriously people. Anyways, you can read the rest of the article http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/shoppers-maced-at-chaotic-dallas-air-jordan-sneaker-sale/story-e6frf7jx-1225975730453 here if you like.

This is a music blog, however, so onto the music. No doubt you’ve been listening to all sorts of Christmas music for the past little while, some of you earlier than others (read: some a few days ago, others starting in the middle of November). If you’re like me, you may have possibly grown a little tired of all the original classics. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, I do appreciate them. However, diversity is the spice of life, no? Ok so barring that terrible cliché, it’s always nice to have some new Christmas music to listen to. I’ve got two alternative (well, at least it’s true with the latter) tracks for ya.

Tom Petty – It’s Christmas All Over Again

This song is possibly as old as I am, but unlike the original Christmas classics, I’ve yet to actually grow tired of it. Besides, Tom Petty + Christmas = Awesome times. Awesome times indeed.

Muse – Starlight (Christmas Remix)

Another Muse track? Me? Go figure. As far as remixes go it’s fairly simple; it’s Starlight with a Christmas touch, where the piano has been replaced with orchestral bells, sleigh bells play in the background, and even (what I’m pretty sure to be) a glockenspiel. Simple, but oh so effective. It’s the right song to do it for as well imo. It could totally be a Christmas song, right? Enjoy.

So, for whichever holiday you celebrate around this time of year, be it Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, The Solstice, or perhaps even Festivus (hope you brought your wrestling gear if you do), have a good one this holiday season.

Soooooo I’m pretty dead from a paper that was due today, which coincided with a third midterm for another, insane course (and the final is in a mere six days…woot?). Also had another midterm on the Wednesday…so yeah, this week’s been pretty crazy for work, didn’t have time to make a real post. Hadn’t anticipated making a post today either, but I go on Hype Machine for the first time this week and have this as the first thing I see? Straight up: HOLY SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT

Redonkulous dubstep is redonkulous.

That is all.

Ski (and Board) Music

WOOOOOOOOOO SKIING. AND BOARDING FOR YOU WHO BOARD. WOOOOOOOO SNOW SPORTS IN GENERAL.

 

So apparently I like to shoot myself in the foot and procrastinate the hell out of things. Supposed to be writing a paper, and yet here I am making a post. Well I mean, it’s been a little while since I have, so I thought, “Why the hell not?” Not like I’ve anything important to do. This is really bad, since I killed my usually work filled Thursday for the sake of playing in the massive dump of snow SFU got. Went skiing in the nearby city park, even hit a kicker (don’t be impressed, I’m not good at all in anything park related. Like actually). I think I totally screwed up the base on my skis, but definitely, definitely worth it.

Anyways, no actual artist-centric post today. This one regards a site. Now I’ve made the odd mention to The Hype Machine on here before (check it out if you haven’t…amazing site), but there is another epic site I stumbled across rather recently. Perhaps you are a fan of skiing? And maybe you also happen to like watching ski movies? And let’s say you saw a ski movie once, and loved a song, but missed what it was called in the closing credits? And let’s say you don’t own said movie. Hell, if you’re thinking “this sounds like me” chances are you don’t own the movie in question. Or maybe you’re me and want to make a music playlist that is solely related to skiing.

If you’re still reading this, and you think any of the above relates to you, then you’re in luck. There is a website that catalogues all songs used in pretty much every ski movie out there. Dates back to a while as well. But yeah, if you’re looking for said tunes at all, you’re in luck. The site is called, perhaps unsurprisingly, Ski Movie Music (www.skimoviemusic.com). Check it out for all of your, well, ski movie music needs. And for all of you boarders, don’t think I left you out of the picture as well. The same site exists for you as well, and it goes by the name of Rider Tunes (www.ridertunes.com). Check it ouuuuuuut.

Sleigh Bells

So, perhaps there are a few of you out there who are jonesing for a new fix from The Kills. Well if you aren’t already aware (I’m pretty sure it should be common knowledge by now…right?), they won’t be getting back together any time soon. Not since the departure of lead singer/front-woman of the band, Allison Mossheart, to perform lead vocals for the Nashville based supergroup The Dead Weather. Fortunately, the sacrifice of one group for the sake of another was worthwhile. However, her departure (and thus dismantling of the group) has left a niche which has yet to be occupied…until now. Well, they released their first album Treats a year ago but it isn’t really until now that they’re receiving a lot of attention, first on the site RCRD LBL and then a little while later on Hype Machine.

Enter Sleigh Bells. Based out of Brooklyn, the duo is composed of the members Derek E. Miller and Alexis Krauss. Miller is the lead guitarist, songwriter, and producer; Krauss does lyrics. As a slight aside, I find the fact that these two are working together a little interesting considering their backgrounds; Miller was the former guitarist for the hardcore bands Poison the Well and Give up the Ghost, while Krauss was a member of Rubyblue, a teen pop group (to be honest I had never heard of the group until I read about it elsewhere). Random fact: after Miller left Poison the Well, the remaining members left to form the group otherwise known as Surfer Blood. Perhaps you’ve heard of them?

To describe their (as in Sleigh Bells…just to clarify) sound, I personally think they bear some resemblance to The Kills (as you might have guessed from the opening paragraph), but to be honest, their sound is a little harder than that. If you listen to Infinity Guitars, for example, your first thought might be that it is a frugal low quality recording, or even a demo. But no, it appears that’s the sound they’re going for; so much treble and hiss that you fear for the life of your speakers. Not to say that it’s a bad thing; a Low-Fi sound can be good if done right, and especially if it’s not heroin driven like John Frusciante’s solo attempt between RHCP’s albums Blood Sugar Sex Magic and Californication (some might say it was good, but it was during this time that the guy lost all his teeth and now has to sport dentures…I’m just glad he didn’t lose his guitar playing ability.)

Want to feel like a badass wherever you go? Just crank the tunes below. But before listening, you may want to turn the sound down low and work your way up…because according to one comment I read you actually can blow out your speakers listening to them haha.

Infinity Guitars has been getting good play on Hype Machine recently. Pretty bad ass music video…to go with a pretty bad ass track.  *Edit* So apparently the first video won’t play thanks to copyright issues with playback on other sites.  I would update the vid with just a song but the music video is definitely worthwhile to watch, so I would definitely watch it on youtube if I were you.

I wasn’t really sure where else to go with other videos, so here’s their highest played track on Youtube, Crown on the Ground.

And to round it off, here’s another track I like: Treats

Alex Metric

OK, I’m going to keep today’s post short because, well, this guy is fairly new and there isn’t a whole lot to be said. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to such a consistently good remix artist before. I’m not kidding, the quality of remixes the British DJ turns out is just too excellent. Also he may or may not have been voted “Best Remixer of the Year” by Clash Music magazine. Considering that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s a resident DJ on the BBC Radio 1 show, “In New DJ’s We Trust.” He handles remixes like a veteran of the trade, and he’s improving as time moves forward still. He doesn’t just stop at the remix though; he does produce his own material. While it is only 4 EP’s worth over the course of 2 years, they have all been very solid releases. The handful of other singles out there that aren’t tied to an EP are even better. And when he remixes his own work, such as with the track “Deadly on a Mission,” well, I have but one word: fan-fucking-tastic.

If you look closely at 33 seconds, you’ll catch a glimpse of Stephen Colbert.

I’ve heard a number of Lisztomania remixes but this is still by far my favourite.

This is one of his later remixes. He’s gonna go places, that’s for sure.

Last one. This is what I was talking about, when he remixes his own work. A personal favourite, but hopefully you see it that was as well.

Considering the rate at which music is turned out these days, what you’re listening to today can differ greatly from last week, let alone from the previous month.  As such, old favourites can get lost amongst the swath of the new coming in.  So what I will do from time to time is take my entire library and put it on shuffle and listen to whatever it throws at me.  Today was one such day where it happens.

It’s such a cool feeling you get when you rediscover old favourites.  It gets cooler still when you learn that a song is tied to some totally awesome memory.  The song in question is At The End Of The Day by Amon Tobin.  This was one of the songs that came up, and I realized that I had definitely heard this song somewhere before.  Last month, because I was going through some serious skiing withdrawal, I decided to watch a few ski movies.  One of those was Tanner Hall’s ‘Believe.’  As it turned out (but which I failed to realize at the time), At The End Of The Day was one of the songs in the movie.  It’s a sweet song, much like anything by Tobin.  Chill and yet exciting to hear at the same time; perfect for a ski movie.  There’s also the fact that I’m reminded of skiing from listening to it…which if anyone else has seen the film likely feels the same way. Woooooooooooo skiing!!!  Or boarding.  I’m not being discriminatory here.

So like most awesome songs like this I definitely listened to it another 20 times or so after making the connection.  Anyways, here’s the song below.    If you want to watch it in context of the ski movie, jump ahead to 6:43 until the end of the song in the first video.  If you’d rather just listen to the song while watching a trippy shot of a flower, then the second video is for you.

Whistler opens in 32 days.  And with La Nina set for this year, the season is looking to be totally sick this year.  Fuck school, I want to go skiing.