Almonds & Elephants - Almonds & Elephants
A little band from New York, Almonds & Elephants was a bit of a surprise find for me. The opening track reminded me of what a buddy/buddy TV show from the late 70s/early 80s would sound like. The album in a whole is pretty decent. My only drawback is a couple of tunes they take on a little bit of a jam-band sound. I think if they would have stuck to the first sound, then the album would be more complete. All in all, if there is a little more continuity in their sound and what they want the music to sound like, then they will be a band to watch for in the future. If they want to be the Phish-esque sounding band that they also portray, then they can find success, but there is more work to be done. I could find no link through soundcloud and the only videos from YouTube are old ones from college house parties. The link for Bandcamp, here, provides a sound that is more grown-up and mature. This album shows that they put the work needed into the sound they want, but hopefully we'll get some more direction on the next one. My favorite track is the first one.
Ammanuel Christmas - Lo, How a Rose
- I'm not one for overly religious songs. Nor am I overly excited about Christmas songs. Only a few get my jollys all jolly. This album is three songs long, well mainly two since the first is more of an intro. I'm not sure if either of the tracks are hymnals or original songs, but they are beautifully sung. If you are living in a place of white blanketed snow and waiting for your loved ones to arrive or enjoying a cup of cider/coffee on an early holiday morning, then these songs are a good way to start. With a beautiful voice that seems to whisper more than belt, I found myself enjoying them. Plus the background instruments are exactly that, in the background but subtle and timed right with the vocals. If you need a song to listen to to get you through winter without feeling overly holidayish, then I would go for this album. The link for Bandcamp is provided here.
Andrew Lawrence-King - Harp Music of the Italian Renaissance
What you are reading is not a misprint. Yes, I picked up an album of harp music from the Italian Renaissance while I was at the library. The library is more than just a place to pick up your weekly books and bum scented furniture, it is a great place for world music and soundtracks. If you ever wanted to know what your house would sound like if the Renaissance Faire was at your house all day long, this album is a good venture into it. I read a lot of history books, so I find this music to be more mood fitting and time/era perfect. Plus, you can recite Romeo & Juliet anytime out of your window into the streets below with this playing and no one will think thee a fool. Andrew Lawrence-King is flawless in his performances and I thoroughly enjoy listening to it. Chamber music? More like chambers of my heart music.
Bim Bam Productions - Open Mic - Le Train En Route
Years ago, Guru from GangStar put out an album title "Jazzmatazz." It was an amazing arrangement of jazz and hip-hop and I was introduced to something completely amazing, French hip-hop. While digging through Bandcamp, I came across this album. The cover is what drew me in initally and have been enjoying it since. Preformed entirely in French, I have no freakin' clue as to what is being said. What I do know is that the beat production is fluid, the flow flawless to my ears and the rhythm fitting for an 80s head. This is more of the hip-hop that makes your head bob and your shoulders to slightly sway. My favorite track is the third one "LES PLUS JEUNES DES MC'S OLD SCHOOL." I will continue to look for more work from these kids and enjoy it the way that only a music lover can, without translation but with total understanding of what is spoken. Here's a little treat via Soundcloud. A Bandcamp treasure hunting gem.
Topsider - Topsider x Danny Brown - Ep
A Chicago based DJ and Producer, Topsider has been doing some interesting work of late with mashups. For this EP, he decided to mix the always dangerous Danny Brown with a variety of background tracks. The first is mashed over some Simian Mobile Disco. It gives you a feel of what hip-hop will sound like when rappers and hipsters team up together. The second track provides us with another "TNGHT" track. The same one that the guys over at Hood Internet used for their "N's in Paris" mashup. I don't think this one has the same buildup that the other one has. Not to say that lyrically Danny Brown is a slouch, because he isn't. He just ain't your brother's rapper. He's your skateboarding cousin's rapper. The final track uses Radiohea's "Paranoid Android" while rapping about dead rockstars/movie stars who died from drug overdosing. It is a good mash-up album that also shows some djing skills too. I hope for more variety and continued quality work.
Dollar Brand - Anthems for the New Nations
I came across this gem of piano jazz while at the library Friday. I love any jazz where the piano is the focus. If there were something to go back in time and retry, it would be to put more effort and thought into the piano lessons I had to take as a kid. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy them, I just had no reference for how awesome the piano could be. This album is not your typical up-tempo, overly melodic, doped up bebop of the jazz world. There is a slow rhythm of a growing sound. If the title is to suggest what it says, then the music is portraying the growth of the new nations slow and deliberately. The tracks get soft and soothing and then a little more joyous and uplifting. The only thing you hear on this album though is the piano. It is a beautiful piece of random jazz that you can only find in a library. If you enjoy the piano, jazz, or just something that you only will hear on NPR, then I suggest you find this album. I could not find any tracks that do justice for the sounds on the cd, so I do apologize.
EarlyBirds - Not Quite There..
While I slightly agree with the title of the album, I do feel that Earlybirds is actually closer than he realizes. Coming out of St. Paul, MN, EarlyBirds is formed in the similar form as my favorite crew of all time, People Under The Stairs. With a wonderful flow from the emcee, Earlybird, and production from Jaron McDaniel, these two are doing a good thing. This album has all the feel of an underground debut, but with a little bit of the fine tuning of a true studio release. From the sampling of Jefferson Starship on "White Rabbits & Bullet Wounds," to what I feel is a O.V. Wright sample on "Piano in the Darkness." That track I can't stop listening to. The story of an old piano player with a fluid beat that makes you feel that the old man is actually playing the piano on the track, it is beautiful. "Piano" is probably the best produced track they did from all stand points. It is mature and thought out, while the majority of the cd plays like a college stoner kids party mix tape at times. Not to say that other major cats haven't made the same songs. Plus, you throw in the song titled "Alec Baldwin," reminds you of the days in your youth when you would sit on the couch just sitting there and watching some TV. I like EBs flow, even though at times he has a slight B-Real from Cypress Hill sound. I look forward to more, especially considering the next little piece I will write. Go to Bandcamp and have some fun, if you love underground hip-hop.
Earlybirds - Where We Left Off
Released as a one track single "Swing (feat Big Jess)" is a wonderful track that gets you ready for spring. It's about the early day's sunshine and getting into the swing of things. I love the 70s Jackson 5 vibe in the opening. The lyrics provided by Big Jess provide a nice balance compared to EBs vocal styling. You gotta get, yep yep you gotta. Get into the swing of things. If this is the first track, then hopefully we will see EB get into the swing of things with his progression as a professional and I can't wait to get into the swing of things too. Go here to get into the swing of things.
For today, will we put our adventure in the land of music on pause. Next up another 12 albums to introduce us into the new year. Hope you all have a safe NYE and I look forward to continued treasure hunting.