Archive for December, 2010

Star of Love
December 20, 2010

Crystal Fighters

Star of Love

Zirkulo

Zirkulo records’ (the French fashion and music label that brought us favorite electro-indie giants including Boys Noize, Bloc Party, the Whitest Boy Alive and Hot Chip) newest family edition, Crystal Fighters, is an instant classic (though not to be confused with electro-indie, punk-inspired act Crystal Castles).  With a sound that’s refreshingly new, bold, upbeat and fun; there really is something special about this Spanish quintet.  From the first track, “Solar System” (one of their heavier dance ballads), Crystal Fighter’s debut release Star of Love hits the ground running.  Their unique implementation of classic Basque instrumentation over synthesizers with some of the cleverest use of harmony (don’t miss their playful “Plage” for that) in dance music makes for a new genre of electro-folk you can’t help but move to.  And while the lyrics may at times be hard to follow (they like to switch between Spanish and English at a whim, often mid-song) there is an irresistible nature to their vocals and the choruses are each instantly brilliant and chant-worthy (if you’re not singing along you’re moving).  Oh and did I mention Crystal Fighters received their recognition for their live shows?  With such a clever and accessible first release I can only imagine what their explosive, experimental, euphoric show might be like.  Oh, and did I mention how each of their live events host a decent amount of new, unique material for that show?  If you know better you’ll pick up Star of Love and keep your eyes open for a California show.

 

Released:  9/13/2010

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Sit Down, Man
December 20, 2010

Das Racist

Sit Down, Man

Unsigned

What started as a joke rap with the YouTube favorite “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” Brooklyn’s Das Racist has quickly grown from novelty to a new, uniquely refreshing voice in hip-hop.  Das Racist’s has a wry humor that’s more than a few layers deep.  Those layers are easily picked through and beneath it there is some real, subversive social commentary that’s both culturally literate and relevant.  Sit Down, Man is Das Racist’s second mix tape (and it’s available as a free download on their website) and marks new territory different from this years earlier release Shut Up, Dude.  Here they have collaborated with a whole slew of musical giants on both production and vocal credits on almost every track; including, Jay-Z, Quincy Jones, Despot, Diplo and many more.  I want to make sure to state Das Racist is not for everyone; their minimalistic lyrically-emphasized style does not cater to those who aren’t diehard fans of the genre.  Still, check it out.  It’s free.

 

Released:  9/14/2010

All Day
December 20, 2010

Girl Talk

All Day

Illegal Art

Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk has well earned his title as the God of Mash-ups.  His last release Feed the Animals was nothing short of perfect, employing all of our favorite moments from the last twenty years of popular music into one beautiful, condensed hour-long exploration.  All Day does everything to live up to Gillis’ spectacular library while doing more than succeeding.  As per usual for Gillis he has made the release available for free on his website with choice of an optional donation, so there is really no reason you should skip this.  The record explores moments all up and down our lives’ soundtrack in a refreshing new danceable format; I dare you not to move.  I implore you to visit Girl Talk’s homepage the first free moment you have and get this quality mash-up collection in your hands.

 

Released:  11/15/2010

A World With No Skies
December 20, 2010

Slaine

A World With No Skies

Suburban Noize

Best known for his work with hip-hop icons Edo G (as Special Teamz), Everlast and DJ Lethal (as La Coka Nostra) Boston based MC Slaine has only just began to make his mark as a solo act.  Released by Suburban Noize (home of Kottenmouth Kings, Everlast, Unwritten+, and Big B), A World Without Skies will mark Slaine’s first real full-length release and he certainly holds promise.  With a style that’s reminiscent of early Eminem, complete with that Marshel Mathers jerky flow and uncompromising lyrical material; Slaine’s verse hit a whole collection of shocking topics, including cops in trunks, holding heads underwater and Jesus throwing grenades.  While there may not be much to Slaine’s sound we haven’t heard before, it’s an unrelenting refreshing release in an increasingly stale genre.  Be sure not to miss “99 Bottles,” “When I Shoot You” and “Till The Day That We Die.”

 

Released:  Early 2011

Advent Christmas EP Volume 2
December 9, 2010

Future of Forestry

Advent Christmas EP Volume 2

Credential Recordings

What originally started as a side project for Future of Forestry, their Advent Christmas series has quickly grown beyond the band’s borders.  Traditionally a Christian alternative rock band, Future of Forestry’s music has always appealed to a small but dedicated audience.  After the first volume, it was obvious there was more to these guys than cheesy Christian rock, that there was real musical talent present throughout that release.  And a year later, Future of Forestry has released Advent Christmas EP Volume 2, acting as a perfect complement to their first release.  Designed as a companion to last year’s epic volume, not only does it complete what was started but goes even further than expected.  And while it may be short with only five songs there is musical quality and depth not present in many Christmas albums these days.  Their rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” is especially mesmerizing, breaking into new territory through implementing these incredibly talented drum solos to accompany frontman Eric Owyoung haunting take on the Christmas classic.  And while I must confess I have a certain soft-spot for holiday music (something about the way I was raised), I guarantee Future of Forestry’s Advent Christmas Volume 2 is everything you’re looking for on a cold December eve.

 

Released:  11/2/2010

The Road of 6
December 8, 2010

Kat Maslich-Bode

The Road of 6

Mishara Music

There seems to be no shortage of singer-songwriters these days.  Every time one moves off the radar, two more emerge.  Former frontwoman and songwriter for indie act eastmountainsouth, Kat Maslich-Bode has the credentials to be heard amid the crowded genre.  This release marks Kat’s debut, and it’s been a journey for her.  The album is aptly named The Road of 6 for the six years it took her to complete it.  It’s deceivingly simple, employing soft acoustics to compliment Kat’s gorgeously minimalistic harmonies and guest vocalists Mary Chapin Carpenters melodic accompaniments.  Despite the seemingly simplistic acoustic stylings Kat’s lyrical content achieves depth and layer that’s too uncommon today, even in such an introspective genre.  Despite the six years of creative limbo The Road of 6 resided in, it is unwelcomingly short.  Clocking out with just six songs at only 25 minutes, her first release will remain short but sweet.  Fingers crossed for a future with something big.

 

Released:  1/18/2010

Mind Police
December 8, 2010

Dave Dub and the Sutter Cain Gang

Mind Police

M9 Entertainment

Hip-hop and punk have always had a unique relationship.  Despite their obvious and numerous differences, there is something the two genres share that brings them together so often.  Maybe it’s the similar fringe attitude they share.  Or maybe it’s the disdain for authority.  Whatever it is, Dave Dub and the Sutter Cain Gang have clearly latched themselves to the fusing genres.  But how they go about it, it’s all wrong.  The best punk/hip-hop compliments both genres equally, while Mind Police does its job with those inane power chords and unintelligible rhyming.  Maybe it’s just Dave Dub, cause MC and friend of the act JtheSarge’s verses are clear and strong, as it should be.  It all just sounds like a group of guys trying way too hard to emulate acts like Rage Against the Machine or Street Sweeper Social Club.  Skip it.

 

Released:  10/31/2010 (do you really care?)

Am I Real
December 3, 2010

Nite Jewel

Am I Real

Independent

In recent years there seems to be no shortage of psychedelic dance-pop; it seems every basement dweller with a drum machine has nothing to do but string together these pieces.  And while Nite Jewel is certainly a step above those basement dwellers, there is also not enough here to set her apart from her more established counterparts.  It’s one part Deerhunter, one part Massive Attack and one part Debbie Deb, but no part it’s own.  Am I Real will be California native Ramona Gonzales’ second release, presenting itself as a collaborative work with Cole M. Greif-Neill of Haunted Graffiti fame.  And the worst part of it all is how strong the release starts.  The first track “Another Horizon” is by far the standout of the album, and it show’s that Nite Jewel’s may in fact have potential.  It contrasts from the last tracks of the album, being refreshingly original through properly employing Gonzales’ ethereal voice to compliment the catchy, pop-sensible and appealingly simple synthesized riffs.  The second track “We Want Our Things” isn’t all bad either, and I found myself drawn in by the space age arpeggios and highly synthesized melody.  Though from there to the finale the album only progressively moves from bland to blander, sounding more and more like everything else out there.  Pick it up if you really love your electro-pop, but for the rest of you I promise that it is far from special.

 

Release Date:  8/16/2010

December Songs
December 1, 2010

Sonos

December Songs

Big Helium

Well it’s that time of year again.  I’m sure you’ve noticed the Christmas and holiday cheer songs that have begun to invade the airways and stores.  It’s nice at first, but after you’ve been told a dozen times that “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” it all starts to get a little tiresome.  So if you’re like me and don’t have time, energy or interest to shuffle through the ocean of holiday music you might be grateful for a suggestion or two to point you in the right direction.  Well one album I’d recommend is Sonos’ December Songs.  Sonos, a Los Angeles based a capella vocal collective’s newest release covers a breadth of holiday music with gorgeous unassisted harmony and melody that’s sure to be both nostalgic and new.  Turn on the Christmas lights, start the fire and play December Songs.

 

Release Date:  11/9/2010

Page One
December 1, 2010

Steven Page

Page One

Anthem Entertainment

Barenaked Ladies have been a staple of modern alternative music for several decades.  The Canadian act’s quirky, catchy and fun stylings have propelled their singles into mainstream culture, even winning the band several prestigious awards.  Steven Page started his career as one of the founding members and lead singer of Barenaked Ladies, having recently left the band to pursue a solo career.  Page One is the first product of that solo career and it certainly sounds promising.  It’s full of the exciting pop sensibility Steven Page and the Barenaked Ladies are known for, flawlessly transitioning from sing-along anthems to slow, contemplative tracks where Page shows depth and shades unexpected.  Steven Page’s career won’t end with the Barenaked Ladies.

 

Release Date:  10/19/2010