Monday, December 31, 2012

New Music!!!

Since last week was Christmas and tomorrow is New Years, I didn't get a chance to do my normal routine for finding new music, but I did get a lot this week.  I made a wonderful trip to the local library and downloaded a couple of albums - some jazz, some classical, a soundtrack or two.  Then on Saturday night after work before heading out into the land of misfit toys, I hit up BandCamp for my weekly fix of all things random.  You find trash and treasure, but you can't know what's what until you dig for one and find the other.  So I hope you are ready for a long, long, long, list.

Almonds & Elephants - Almonds & Elephants

Almonds & Elephants cover artA 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

Lo, How A Rose cover art- 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

Harp Music of Italian RenaissanceWhat 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
OPEN MIC - LE TRAIN EN ROUTE cover artYears 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

Topsider  x  Danny Brown - EP cover artA 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..
not quite there... cover artWhile 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
where we left off cover artReleased 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.

Friday, December 21, 2012

New Music!!

As we head into death by calender dates, I guess you should have new music to help you through this tough time.  Plus, with Christmas next week, maybe something new is needed.  Wednesday found me raking up 20 plus bags of leaves from my yard.  While doing this, I was able to listen to a lot of music before my i-pod lost battery power.  Thursday, I went and saw the Hobbit and upon returning home, returned to a regular scheduled program of going to Bandcamp.  Here is what I found.

The Henderson's - Indian Summer

Indian Summer cover art
Formed out of Fort Worth, Texas, The Henderson's provided me with a wonderful throw back feel.  Mostly to the days of Pet Sounds, by the Beach Boys.  While entirely not like them, I found myself fantasizing about a life in a different time.  These cats are very melodic and the rhythm of it all is right on time.  There are many people who can't get the mix of everything they are trying to do to fit perfectly.  The Henderson's do.  I felt like I was listening to the soundtrack to The Big Chill.  It makes you want to be in October again at the lake house with your closest friends and being reminded of why you are friends.  Reminded of why life has led you to the place you are currently in.  Everyone deserves to be 35 and have an Indian Summer and thankfully The Henderson's help us to get there.  If you look them up on BandCamp, you can actually download the album free.  All they ask for is your ear, your heart, and your time.  I could not find a song link from the album on soundcloud or youtube but if you go here for musical peace, you will find all that you need from this band.

Daniel and the Lion - Pretty Young Thing Cover (P.Y.T.C)

P.Y.T.C. (Pretty Young Thing Cover) cover artVery rarely do I find myself liking covers of songs.  Sometimes I enjoy a remix or a mash up, but covers are hard for me to enjoy.  When I do like it, I like it because the artist has found a way to make it their own.  Sometimes I am pulled to music by the artist name, a video, or even by the artwork.  This cover made me laugh enough that I had to give it a hear.  What I heard was something I wasn't expecting.  First, the piano struck me with the sound of an old black and white film's musical score.  Secondly, the vocals sounded more of the Usher variety.  Slow, smooth, deliberate.  Each syllable delivered with emotion.  No rush, no hurry.  While not overly awed with the electronic addition, I guess the artist felt that it had to be added.  If he could redo it, then I think it would be best if it was omitted.  Throw in the slowdown with the Kenny G sax element and wow, what a cover.  Once again, no location outside of BandCamp for the music, so enjoy it here.  Plus, another bonus - free download.

Portage and Main

Next up are two tracks from a group from Vancouver, BC.  The first track is called "Wake Up."  The track is smooth and flowing of what you want to hear when winter is starting to finish.  The band is partnered with "The Harpoonist and The Axe Murder."  Not too sure who is more of the influence on this track, but they all pull it off greatly.  Kind of like a little Allman Brothers, if they were modern.  That is a wonderful compliment in my book.

The next track is another single titled, "Never Had The Time."  It is decent in my view.  I've been listening to a lot of folk and chill music lately.  This track is good, but it's just missing something for me.  I've never been a big fan of country music and maybe that is what I find in this song that softly pushes me away.  You can check it out  here on their BandCamp page.

Ricky Eat Acid - You Get Sick, You Regret Things

You get sick; you regret things (remastered) cover artI've been on a slight ambient music kick lately.  I think that with the weather here finally turning to winter, it makes you sit inside and want to ponder things.  You want to sit by the fire with a good book.  You want to sit at your desk with a cup of hot cocoa and write something to someone somewhere.  You think of the end of the year and the seasons and just think about nothing and everything at the same time.  Ricky Eat Acid (great band name) is the music that plays softly in the background when I do this.  The album is smooth.  It is soft.  There is sense of effortless trying in it.  Everything picked for where and when it needs to be played correctly.  The music makes you ponder the end of things and your regrets a little bit.  For me, it helps provide just a bit of peace before I make the decisions that are going to change a lot of my life here soon.  Ambient music might not be your thing.  You might think of meditation and yoga and the such as "whatever," but I find that it is necessary to be calmed at certain times.  Once again, no true link for a single track but you can check it out on BandCamp here.
The Hood Internet - "Goooo In Paris (Jay-Z & Kanye West X TNGHT)

All I can say is these boys be crazy.  Straight cray.  Once again the guys over at The Hood Internet have found a way to take two tracks and make them into one completely new one.  I enjoy a lot of their mash-up work.  Sometimes it doesn't come out right to me, but then they hit one right on the head, dead center.  You find traces of the original, but then it disappears just like your sanity as soon as you get into.  The best part of The Hood Internet is that they take something you know and add it with something you've never ever thought to be introduced to. Then you start asking yourself, "Who is that other band and what does their stuff sound like?"  I don't know much about TNGHT, but I'm willing to go into the rabbit hole and come out of the other side.  Ball so hard.

Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man

Bat for Lashes’s avatarLastly is the newest contribution from Bat for Lashes.  This album actually came out a couple months ago and I finally was able to get a hand on it.  I love this band.  Natasha Khan, aka Bat For Lashes, has a truly beautiful voice.  The band has done great work improving and fine tuning since their previous release (Two Suns).  In a country putting out amazing bands, it is nice to see a British group trying to continue to do what they do best.  To not compete with The XX, but to compliment them by being true and wonderful only improves the music scene not water it down.  The highlight of the album is "Laura."  Just like "Daniel" from Two Suns was the highlight, so to is this track.  It is a fall/winter track.  It is heart pulling and felt.  It is a song for being the last one to the train tracks as the last train pulls away.  It is the moment when the boat pulls away and you never got to tell the person aboard what you felt.  It tells you that everything will be okay.  "You are the train that crashed my heart/You the glitter in the dark/Oh Laura/You are more than a superstar."  Yes BTF, you are more than a superstar.  You are a quieter, gentler Tori Amos.  You are a melodic change to a world of noise and chaos.

Hope the holidays find you well and warm.  Until next week.  Happy treasure hunting.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Music!!!

It's been awhile since I've posted some music on here for you to escape into.  While many different websites are putting out their end of year lists, I find it is time that I provide you with some music that is just hitting the streets.  Some of what's included is also a bit old, but I find it to be completely amazing and happy to have stumbled upon it.  I am also going to include what will soon become a regular feature called "Bandcamp Thursday."  Bandcamp is an amazing website in which artist can put their music out and tell you how much they want to charge for it.  Sometimes they just say download it and enjoy.  Free of charge.  Who can't want that during the holidays?  I know I enjoy it.  So here we go.

Today I downloaded two albums off of Bandcamp from a kid from the UK.

Jae Genius - Sundance

- Jae Genius describes his music on Bandcamp as funk, but I find it to be something totally different.  Not to say that it isn't funk, but I have a different idea of what I think of funk to be.  What I love about this album is that it has traits of funk with electronica interwoven into it.  It makes you want to move, but at a smoother rhythm of most bad electronic music.  It isn't bass heavy nor is it too wah-wah.  There are essences of a little disco-house that I remember listening to back in the day.  It is more of a chill-funk, disco-house mix.  If you are into a change of tempo, then this is going to get you going.  The opening track is also the title track.  "Sundance" sets the tempo greatly.  With a smooth syncopated rhythm, you start to feel your shoulders start to move.  Once that happens, you know the rest of you is going to follow.  The second track "Faster," starts out a little opposite the title name.  While, I find the track to be good, I do wish that it was a little faster. "SheetMusic%(WheretheSheetsRemix)" is the third track and you get the feeling that you are being set up for something that should take you somewhere else.  With the hook, I feel that I was hearing a missing lyric from an old 80s London dub song.  The song is a wonderful remix, but I find that there was a chance to make it something a little more.  Track four, "Everyday Miracle" is more to the idea of what I thought the whole album should be like.  With a smooth build, an identity to English roots in music, I find it to be a nice track.  Smooth and flowing, there is little escape from what the start and finish sound like.  The final track, "Relax," is exactly that, relaxing.  You start the day with a sundance, but you need to finish with some relaxation.  That is precisely what the final track does.  You feel some of your day wash off of you and your troubles just lift up and sail away for a bit.

Jae Genius -  FunkHaze

- Jae Genius's other offering on BC is an album titled "FunkHaze."  It starts off just the way I think it should.  While still not what I would call "funk," I get the feel of a more electro centered album.  The opening track gets your head nodding at the drum beats while finding a relaxing rhythm in the remaining elements.  This album I find is more laid back than Sundance.  There is no hurry-up, nor is there anything over powering.  It is smooth like funk can be.  It is rhythmic like house music can be.  It is as if there is a haze being put over you and I like the way it makes me feel.

Also on BC, I came across this crazy house track from Greece.  I don't know if the DJ who produced it is from Greece or if the owners of the production company are.  His name is Afefe Iku.  The name of the track is called "Mirror Dance." The remix, which is also provided, has a great spoken word poetry segment in it.  These tracks will get you moving.  There is an over abundance of repetitiveness in the track, but that is understandable in house music.  You get a great flow from the track to your body and a little bit of some moombahtan vibe as well.  The tracks are 8 and 10 minutes long respectively, so proceed with the desire to move and have it play in the background.  And for you djs out there, this might be a little treat for you in any future mixes you are trying.

<------  Here is the original.
  <------  Here is the remix
Next up is another little steal from BandCamp.  The name of the artist is Port St. Willow.  These cats are completely amazing.  They placed their album under the genre of "ambient."  To me, ambient means that there is no real vocals and that it is nothing but random sounds made from whatever the hell there is to use.  These cats do something different.  In all honesty, it reminds me very much of what The Antlers are doing these days.  The album may not truly be a concept album, but I feel very much like a journey and story are being told over the course of the tracks.  There is a compete mellowness to this album that anyone who finds themselves in a stressful day should listen to at the end of the day.
The following track is from the song "Amawalk."  While there are plenty more tracks I could give you, this one to me seems to find the right mood and rhythm for these moments in my life.  The weather is grey because it's winter.  The house is cold because it's winter.  Life just needs to have that moment to just be finished with this year and this song to me hits in the right places.  I suggest getting this album if you like to read and playing it in the background.  Not overly vocal nor too sleepy, it is the perfect fireplace reading music.
Next off of Bandcamp, comes a little duo from Chicago.  I don't know how I stumbled across this little treasure, but if you like Metric, Yeah Yeah Yeah, or anything somewhat similar, then you will love My Gold Mask.  The are an unbelievable duo in which the lead singer plays the drums and sings and the other guy provides backup vocals and plays the guitar.  While not some overly heavy drum and guitar driven band like the White Stripes, these kids get it right.  They have a new album coming out in February and I will get it when it appears.  The first track released is called "Further It Gets" and is provided below.  The song I picked up is called "Violet Eyes."  I find that it drives very similar to some of the things Metric has done, but there is a difference in the rhythm. 
Next up is a little crew from Portland, OR called StarFucker.  Yes, that is their title and what else would you expect from the hipster capital of the world?  Their album "Reptilians" came out a couple of years ago, but I was happy to find its way into my collection.  The album very much reminds me of a band trying to find a sound, but not too shy about where they show their influences.  There is a bit of Passion Pit and MGMT in them, but I love some of the things they are doing that help make them who they are.  It starts out the way I think a movie about summer camp would start out.  Then they move into the rock stars they should and one day might be.  What I love in the tracks are the little surprises to be found.  When they use the laid over vocals from movie clips to make a side track seem out of place yet the uniting factor of the album.  I love the use of the Alan Watts speeches in two of the tracks.  There is nothing more to add to the track "Hungary Ghost" that Mr. Watts says himself.  I was a little worried at first when I heard it, but have been very happy with the resulting album and I enjoy the wait for more.
"Hungary Ghost"
- "Bury Us Alive"
Finally, we get to the coup of the year.  There is a cat named Captain Murphy.  He has a concept album called "Duality."  He is a hiphop phenom in my book.  I liken him to the first time I heard Del the Funky Homosapian and Wu-Tang Clan.  Mostly because both those cats came out of way, way left field with their resulting products.  Wu-Tang, I don't have to explain to many of you, but Del was the first real skateboard kids, extra piercings, tats galore rap star.  He has always been that little bit extra hit of acid musician, but just in the hiphop world.  That is how I think of Captain Murphy.  He release a video that you just have to watch a little bit of it to believe it's awesome artistic appeal.  Some people say, "That's not art" because they don't understand it.  Well, I can tell you 100% that I believe something to be art that I know many people won't get.  Lyrically, there is nothing super genius in his words.  There is some hilarity to the word play, but if you never played Street Fighter, you won't get it.  Plus, you can download both the regular and instrumental versions free off his website.  The following video is 30 minutes long.  If you are somewhat intrigued by the sounds you hear, then please venture forward and join me on the other side.  You can retrieve the download from the wonderful folks over at GorillavsBear, right here
Until next time kids.  Enjoy the tunes and see you next week.  Or maybe before.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

P's for Posers

While digging for more music, I ran across this little bit of wonder and joy.  Hope you love it as much as I did.