Wednesday, March 31, 2010
In case you missed it, the new video from MGMT (called Flash Delirium) is already streaming at the band's official website. It comes out of the mind of Swedish director Andreas Nilsson and it's so out of reality that it actually works! The song itself is a mix-mash of different musical ideas, ambitious in its construction but, in the end, quite rare and interesting (loving the californian surf vibe in the sound). And now, the new video brings up the strangeness of the track into a whole new level! I could try to interpret a meaning behind it but, really, why should I? Enjoy here.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
A virtual band with an appetite for all things futuristic and apocalyptic... how 21st century is that? Seriously now, for me the whole Gorillaz concept is pure genius, an ambitious project that redefined the way we can look at pop stars and everything around them - for a start, this is a band of fictional musicians that don't really exist. And then it helps that pretty much everything bearing their name has been ridiculously good, from the cartoon visuals designed by Jason Hewlett to the books, videos, dvd's, games, websites... and yes, the main reason for their existence, also the music.
With only three original albums under their belt, slowly they have been building a journey that can be described as follows: debut album Gorillaz was the soundtrack of a decadent society getting closer to its final days; Demon Days was the apocalypse itself; and now we have Plastic Beach, which in a nutshell can be described as what follows the day after.
So, the end of the world has happened, but it seems that life still goes on, although not quite the same way as before. Literally, in this album we are sitting on the remainings of our society, because Plastic Beach is basically "a floating island deep in the South Pacific, made up of the detritus, debris and washed up remnants of humanity", and we are invited to come in a journey into this equally fantastical and disquieting place.
What a concept, eh? Of course that all this would be irrelevant if the music didn't live up to the theory behind it, but fear not, because that's really not the case in here, as this collection of 16 songs is truly amazing on its own. Starting as a narcotic take into a post-hip-hop branch with an unique sound, soon Plastic Beach grows into an experimental and eclectic narrative where we encounter many different and fascinating characters that live inside its frontiers. And this is actually where the long list of guests comes in, each one playing a different character. Take a deep breath: there's Snoop Dogg, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Kano, Bashy, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, Gruff Rhys, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Mark E. Smith, Lou Reed, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, sinfonia ViVA and The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music.
Above all this myriad of appearances, we have of course Gorillaz themselves, but this time 2D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs seem less like (virtual-) band members and more like omnipresent characters, supervising everything and joining the dots that guide us around a territory never before explored. And with that, they seem to evolve into a larger-than-life status, a whole new level that suits them perfectly. So Damon Albarn is indeed a master in his own right. (8,5/10)
Gorillaz - Stylo (official video feat. Bruce Willis)
Gorillaz - Empire Ants (feat. Little Dragon) (mp3 via The Music Ninja)
Friday, March 26, 2010
No, this is still not a new Jens Lekman song - even with that strangely similar voice - , but don't get sad, because it's just as good. Kisses are a duo from L.A. consisting of Jesse Kivel and Zinzi Edmundson, and with just one track, they have already conquered me. A bedroom-disco-pop little jam, with a sweet vintage melody over sun-tinged synths and beats, Bermuda officially announces the arrival of springtime. Their first full-length will be called The Heart Of The Nighlife and is scheduled to be released soon and, basically, I WANT IT NOW.
Kisses - Bermuda (mp3 via Discodust)
Here's the third single from Kid Cudi's debut studio album Man On The Moon: The End of Day. The song is called Pursuit of Happiness and not only features backing vocals from MGMT (wow!), it is also produced by Ratatat (double wow!). I really like the dreamy vibe of the song with all the synth work and the touch of neo-psychedelic that MGMT bring to the chorus beautiful lyrics:
I’m On The Pursuit Of Happiness And I Know /
Everything That Shines Ain’t Always Gonna Be Gold /
I’ll Be Fine Once I Get It; I’ll Be Good
Thursday, March 25, 2010
With a first proper single and also debut album on the horizon, New York native Samuel is about to get BIG. But while that doesn't come, there's still enough to entertain us in the meantime. In this track, for example, Samuel is lending new vocals to a remix of the Temper Trap's Fader song. Now, I say remix, but I could also call it completely new work, because what The Knocks do in here is basically grabbing the original, smash it into pieces, and then take it to a whole new level, with Samuel's stellar performance flying around a load of quite amazing spacial synths that seem locked in a perpetual cosmic groove. Talk about reaching for the stars.
The Temper Trap - Fader (The Knocks Remix ft. Samuel) (mp3 via Neon Gold)
Monday, March 22, 2010
Having reached public consciousness as a hip-hop producer/remixer with the seminal The Grey Album in 2004, Danger Mouse has been turning his head into more traditional musical genres as of lately, a move that had its first steps in his collaboration with Beck two years ago, for the Modern Guilt album.
Broken Bells is his latest project, in a partnership with The Shins singer/songwriter James Mercer, and it actually keeps this trend, if not taking it even further. But where Modern Guilt was a work informed by a tight sense of ceremony that took away a bit of its life and stopped the songs from going sky-high when they should, this doesn't happen with Broken Bells. The approach in here is much lighter and relaxed and you sense that these two guys were actually intending to have fun when they decided to work together.
As a consequence, the chemistry between them is fully palpable, and you get a perfect fusion of two usually separated worlds, the traditional indie-pop sensibilities of The Shins and the more forward-thinking digital approach of Danger Mouse. This creates an overwhelming world that is completely new and far from the sum of its parts, with enough place to incorporate influences from at least the last five decades in music, while carrying so many different elements as psychedelic sounds, vocal harmonies not far from the Beatles, sing-a-long chants, synthetic beats, new wave guitars, or catchy pop tunes loaded with complex arrangements and the occasional digital appointment.
Considering that they do all this while maintaining a low-profile approach and that, without screaming for it, these songs do reach the stars and far beyond, here's to hoping that we'll have much more from where this album came from. (7,5/10)
Broken Bells - The High Road (video)
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Joining Egyptian Hip-Hop in the basket of young musicians set to turn the indie scene upside-down in the near future, Brad Oberhofer is a 19-year-old that started as an intern at Matador records, apparently only to have his demos fall into grace among his bosses. Judging from the brilliant wonders of lo-fi gem Away Frm U - and the rest included in his handmade 7-track EP o0Oo0Oo - , it's easy to understand why: a killer tune with a lush pop melody and a load of amazing hooks, infectiously performed with the palpable excitement and exuberance of someone about to have the time of his life. And if the already-known tracks serve as any indication of his talents, it's not hard to believe that big things will indeed happen to him.
Oberhofer - Away Frm U (mp3 via Abeano Music)
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I know that this is already a few months old, but that's just the way East of Eden is: a quiet grower that slowly infiltrates its subtle charms on us, until we finally realize how much we've been liking it without even noticing.
Not that it was meant to be that way. After all, there's some big names involved in here: this is the second album by the solo project of Victoria Bergman (yes, the Concretes singer and also the female voice behind one certain ubiquitous universal indie hit called Young Folks), with production by Dan Lissvik of the wonderful Studio, guest appearances by Panda Bear and including a cover of another recent universal indie hit (My Girls by Animal Collective, here transvested as My Boys). But the result is actually much more an understatement than the sum of its parts would lead us to believe.
Starting as a trip to Pakistan, this project ends up fusing two worlds, but never let's the concept of exotic get in the way, with the eastern elements perfectly finding its place and integrating themselves among the more folkish instruments, balearic percussion and the overall relaxed atmosphere of the project.
With so many influences in a sound that could be described as minimal, the risk could be of overlapping things, but there's only one misstep in here, a redundant track consisting of a field recording fronted by a qawwali singer that sounds like an unnecessary statement. The rest is a collection of mostly acoustic mantras, stripped to the bone, using only the absolutely necessary to slowly involve us in its beauty. And in its simplicity, the result is truly effective: that beauty is indeed breathtaking. (7/10)
Taken By Trees - My Boys (video)
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Considering their usual nerdy-guys image, this is quite an hysterical change. Hot Chip turn into a sexy boys band, doing highly-choreographed dance movements, in this hilarious video for one of the most WTF moments - and arguably also one of the best songs - included in One Life Stand. But if you think the look change is bizarre-enough by itself, you should see what follows next...
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Here is the new Lady Gaga video, featuring Beyoncé. Telephone serves as a continuation to her Paparazzi video, starting from where that one ended. It is directed by the ever so wonderful Jonas Åkerlund (Madonna's long-time partner in crime) and it was already famous before it premiered. There has been a lot of expectation regarding this video, mostly due to a clever online marketing campaign that teased fans with the most exuberant images from the recording. I think it's wonderful, it's crazy-good and even superior to the Bad Romance one. Her acting scenes are stiff, not even Madonna-stiff but STIFF, but thankfully Beyoncé is there to raise up the acting level. I do regret the TONS of product placements she is putting on here, I mean, sandwich bread??? While Gaga looks like herself (loving the telephone head piece), I have to say Beyoncé looks amazing, very sexy and stylish. The video is funny and silly, like Kill Bill and Thelma & Louise mashed-up together with Madonna's Who's That Girl film (that no one would have guessed could become a reference to anything). And it works. I particularly like the scene where she gets out of jail and does a little step dance and a scream. Reminds me of Michael Jackson. She is heading towards that direction indeed, becoming more and more a larger-than-life singer that exhales performance-art and yet no one really knows much about who she is in private. She is bringing excitement back into the pop world, and the massive response to the premiere of this video is only proof that people missed that excitement.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Want to know why Ellie Goulding says that Erik Hassle has the voice of an angel? Then you just have to hear his heartbreaking rendition of Sam Cooke's classic Nothing Can Change This Love, have all your senses literally melt and then agree with the voice of reason.
Erik Hassle - Nothing Can Change This Love (mp3 via Neon Gold)
And while we're at it, here's both Erik and Ellie together, in a cute cover of Robyn's Be Mine:
Erik Hassle & Ellie Goulding - Be Mine (mp3 via Arjanwrites)
Thursday, March 11, 2010
...and much more in this NSFW but quite tender video for a song included in his latest album Heartland. Consisting of homemade and very personal images that pretty much expose all of his privacy, this clip only confirms my theory that he's been giving all of himself - and much more - as of lately. Considering that I'll be seeing him live tonight (can't.fucking.wait), I'm expecting nothing less than a night of epic proportions!
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
After countless mixtapes and other endless appearances as guest rapper, Gucci Mane's first studio album for a major is a very schizophrenic affair but it also largely succeeds in presenting him as one of the most interesting rap artists currently around. Based on an idea of conflict which is expressed on its title, actually those conflicts don't happen solely on a "me vs. them" level: there's also an internal war going on in here, which takes place between the many sides of Gucci (real name - you guessed it - Radric Davis) and which is intriguing to say the least.
Basically, the first third of this record is the dirtier one, where everything is reduced to its bare essence to maximize its impact: the beats are raw and minimal, the hooks are basic and effective, the songs are tense and direct, and the results pretty awesome. The second part is a softer side of him (major label pressure? or his own need to express all sides of his creativity?), beginning with an amazing duet with Usher produced by Pollow da Don and ending after a session of irregular mid-tempo jams. The third part is the attempt to bring it all together, with the raw beats coming in again, but this time using a more diversified and lighter myriad of sounds. Your favourite side will probably depend on subjective things like personal preferences or even your momentary state of mind - though I'm tempted to say that I much prefer the dirtier first one, simply because it sounds more unique and far from an idea of conventional Top 40 r&b.
Let's see where he goes from here - as you see, the paths suggested by The State vs. Radric Davis are immense and pretty diverse. But as for now, we already have a major attribute, in his too-cool-for-its-own-good flow, with an unique way to drag the words and spit them from one hook to another, like if he was the owner of his own time. And judging from this debut-of-sorts (not counting the independent release Back to the Trap House in here, nor the many mixtapes), it's pretty convincing that yes, he is. (8/10)
Gucci Mane - Bingo (Feat. Soulja Boy & Waka Flocka Flame) (video)
Monday, March 08, 2010
... here's another amazing video from Kasper Bjørke, this time for Efficient Machine, another track from his latest album Standing On Top Of Utopia. The vocals to this tune come from Tomas Höffding from Who Made Who. Enjoy the video below:
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Kasper Bjørke comes from the danish electronic scene and has already established himself both as a dj/remixer, as well as a solo act. I would like to direct your attention to the song Never Young Again, the lead single from his second album (called Standing On Top Of Utopia). The vocals here come from danish indie singer Jacob Bellens and the song sounds simply great. Perfect tune for a relaxing sunday night. Oh, and what a beautiful video this is!
Friday, March 05, 2010
"She will swallow, not your dick, but you brains"
And why not start your weekend with a brand new Frankmusik track? Losing Streak, a collaboration with Computer Club, is the first appetizer from his sessions for the second album (in the works and rumoured to be called, as for now, Follow The Leader). I'm really liking this new direction, it's always refreshing to hear some good ol' dirty electronica! While we wait for more information on this new project, start your weekend with a bang and enjoy the new tune below!
Frankmusik vs. Computer Club - Losing Streak (mp3 via The Culture Of Me)
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Keeping a trend with the previous post, here's another catchy synth-pop track with more than a few dark-urban tones. This one has a sharper rock edge and comes complete with a homo-erotic video that suits the mood of the song perfectly, with its enigmatic and almost completely-black shots. Dangerous Muse have been the subject of an intense hype for the last 2 years but they never quite exploded, and I'd say that was in part due to the lack of a big breakthrough song that could match all the talk. But that was until now, because for me that song has finally arrived - and you can partially blame producers Bloodshy & Avant for that, they really do an amazing job adding all those minimal electro beats and wounded haunted synths to the mix.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Feel like being overwhelmed by an overdose of clever typography and other graphic wonders, with a great song to match? Then the video below might very well do the trick for you. Japayork is a 22-year-old musician and graphic designer, meaning he's not only the man behind all those catchy synth-pop hooks, but he's also responsible for the visuals that you can see in the clip. Loving all those dark tones!
Monday, March 01, 2010
Ellie Goulding has just released her long-awaited debut album, called Lights. After being hyped to death as the next best thing in pop, even receiving a critics choice award at the Brits this year (oh the pressure!), music lovers have been questioning if she can really deliver a solid record after all. After listening to the album my answer is: yes, she can. Lights is an amazing collection of songs, co-produced with partner in crime Finlay Dow-Smith (aka Starsmith) that seem to accentuate the dreamy electronica that we had a glimpse of on singles such as Starry Eyed and Under The Sheets. I loved all his clever twists and skips in the production here (intertwined with a folk flavor), creating the perfect scenario for Ellie Goulding's unique (and precious) voice. And I really mean this, she has a very rich and unique vocal sound. It reminds me a bit of early Björk (the coy, shy way of bursting the bittersweet lyrics, a mannerism that you can either love or hate). As for the album, I do miss a few acoustic numbers thrown in, she sounds beautiful in a more intimate musical set (video below) and you are left feeling that she should have recorded more in that direction as well. In that sense, I can also establish a parallel between Lights and Björk's Debut album: both records seem to focus more on dance-pop songs, while you clearly are left feeling that the artists have their heads set on other musical adventures. If Björk has found her true musical self on her third album, chances are Ellie might do the same on future recordings. Because what lacks on Lights is intimacy, something we know she can transmit brilliantly (check out her Bon Iver cover of Wolves and you'll never be the same again). That's the only thing I missed when listening to this (still impressive) collection of songs. Lights is the kind of album that is sure to put Ellie Goulding on the pop stratosphere without showcasing everything she has to offer. As for this writer, I can honestly say I'm in love. There's a bright future ahead of her and we are truly fortunate to have such an unique singer with us. Welcome, Ellie! (8/10)