I am completely obsessed with Aussie Betty Who’s independently released debut EP. It’s sublimely catchy with flawlessly structured hooks, drawing on nuwave and 80’s sythpop ala Whitney Houston, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. Born Jessica Anne Newman and raised in Sydney, she came to the US in her teens to study music at Interlochan Center for the Arts, one of the country’s most prestigious arts academies located in Michigan. She later went on to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston where she met her producer Peter Thomas, a fellow student.
She released her first single “Somebody Loves You” on youtube last fall with a Flashdance inspired video and has progressively accumulated buzz in the blogosphere ever since. I stumbled upon “High Society” a few weeks ago and have been addicted ever since. Moreover, just today I came across this awesome remix by Seattle based production duo The Soundmen, whose heavy basslines and hip hop beats perfectly complement the original. Although she and Thomas have been approached by major labels, they’ve decided to try and stay unsigned as long as possible to allow them more creative freedom. Needless to say, whatever they do in the future will continue to rock, with or without a label, though I have a feeling she is bound to be an epic success eventually.
Her EP The Movement is currently available here for free download.
I recently came across this cover of Bob Dylan’s classic “Lay Lady Lay” and it inspired me to go back to the original. I’ve had a hard time with Dylan since I saw him play about 8 years ago and was incredibly disappointed. He was clearly drunk or high on something, performed terribly (was barely audible) and didn’t even get through half a set. That said, he was undeniably an extraordinary talent and one of the most influential artists ever of his generation and genre. This cover by Magnet (the pseudanym of Norwegian Even Johansen) in collaboration with Gemma Hayes of Ireland really highlights the commutability of Dylan’s work.
Yep, I’m jumping on the Great Gatsby hype like everyone else. I haven’t seen the movie yet (who the hell knows when it will make it out to Cambodia), but considering its the product of Baz Luhrmann’s trademark technicolor surrealism, I have a feeling it will either be brilliant or a catastrophic shit show. This hilarious hypothetical book report by a teenager who only saw the movie may ironically prove to be quite realistic.
“The main thing you need to understand about life in the “roaring 1920s” is that it mainly consisted of a bunch of people standing in a fountain while a drunk guy played the pipe organ and servants dumped garbage all over the place and everyone is just screaming and screaming. The 1920s people loved it.”
On the other hand, I’ve already gotten my hands on the soundtrack, produced by Jay-Z… and frankly, I think its fantastic. He managed to put together an eclectic mix of artists and the full album is simultaneously very contemporary, yet manages to weave in a perfect balace of flapper era big band and jazz in every track. This cover of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”, by British ingenue Emeli Sande, is a perfect example.
I’m back!!! Of course this blog will likely grow and evolve over time, I’ve got some new plans and a slightly new direction I want to take life : sanguine. These tracks may not be every single day now, but I still plan to feature music heavily on here, including 8track and itunes playlists, so stay tuned. Onward and upward!
It may come as a surprise, but this was seriously my jam in high school. Not that I was in high school back in ’93, not even close. But I was/am really into classic, old skool (yes, I just spelled that with a ‘k’… don’t even front) hip hop and this has to be one of my favorite tracks of all time. The rhymes are just so damn smooth and the beat is practically hypnotic. It reminds me of driving out to the [Teton] Village for a day of skiing; summer camping parties and getting stoned in my “boyfriend”‘s minivan. Life was good for a high schooler in J-Hole.
Souls of Mischief, of Oakland’s infamous Hieroglyphics Crew, first came together in 1991 with ’93 to Infinity being their first collaborative product. This is obviously the tittle track of this debut album which remains their most successful to date. Although each member pursued other group and solo projects, they still came together periodically throughout the 90’s to produce albums. After a 9 year hiatus, they came back in 2009 with Montezuma’s Revenge which was equal parts contemporary underground hip hop and an ode to their old school West coast hip hop heritage. Plus, they will forever be endeared to my heart after namedropping my hometown in their last single, “Tour Stories”. See if you can catch it below!
Prolific indie dream pop group Beach House has made its mark like a storm slowly rolling to shore. The duo from Baltimore have been putting forth their hallmark lethargically epic soundscapes since 2004 but only in the past few years have gained notoriety. It could have something to do with their shift to Seattle’s Sub Pop Records for their last two albums. This is off of their most recent collection Bloom which was incidentally released a year ago today.
Since posting Dark Time Sunshine’s “All Aboard” last week, I’ve been listening to a lot of Reva DeVito (who was featured on the track). She’s got a smoky, soulful voice that transcends genres, seamlessly combining R&B, hip hop, classic soul, jazz and even indie pop, recalling the likes of Erykah Badu. There’s not a lot of information out there on her, but she’s from Portland, OR and recently moved to L.A. for more opportunities for career growth. Her eclectic EP Cloudshine was released in 2012 and the tracks available on her myspace place her solidly in contemporary nu-soul.
Have a great Friday!
Ahmed Abdullah is a NYC trumpeter who gained prominence while playing with prolific experimental jazz composer Sun Ra. The experimental, avant garde influence of Sun Ra is undoubtedly clear in this track of of his album Dedication. Abdullah is now on the faculty of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan, one of the preeminent jazz programs in the US.
Love me some Charles Bradley.
Bradley grew up in Brooklyn, NY in the 1960’s and was first introduced to soul music as a child when he saw James Brown play at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theatre. After years of enduring grinding poverty, homelessness and far more life trials than anyone deserves, he was finally discovered by Daptone Records while singing with a James Brown tribute band. His first album No Time for Dreaming fit in perfectly with the current NYC soul revival being spearheaded by Daptone. As of late he’s been labeled “The Screaming Eagle of Soul” and having seen him play a few years ago at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, I can testify to the accuracy of this nickname. His evocative delivery seems to explode with pent up sorrow and emotion. Although I love dancing to soul music almost more than anything, at his show I found my feet glued to the floor… I was just too captivated to peel my eyes away from him. Backed up by the Menahan Street Band and this man is truly a force to be reckoned with.
Towards the end of March he released his sophomore album, Victim of Love. Like his prior work, it is intimately raw and rocks you to your core. This track embodies his sound and revivalist style.
I’ve been meaning to work in more hip hop into this list and this seems like an appropriate track to do so with. Seattle based Dark Time Sunshine, consisting of producer Zavala and rapper Onry Ozzborn, have been quietly building a loyal following for about 5 years now. This is off of their 2010 LP Vessel which made serious underground waves. In a lot of respects it is a quintessential Pacific Northwest hip hop album, with congenial beats meshed with contemplative lyrics. Yet, this album stood out on multiple levels. First off, Zavala brought with him from Chicago a more avant garde sensibility and his approach to production is significantly more experimental than the radio friendly projects of Seattle counterparts such as Sabzi of Blue Scholars and Ryan Lewis of Macklemore. Most of the tracks on Vessel are complex and multifaceted, with multiple layers of synth rhythms woven into a nexus with ever-changing warped beats. Their latest album ANX is equally left-field, with progressive (somewhat dreamy) soundscapes and provocative lyrics.
This track, however is one of their more accessible products. The soulful croon of Portland’s Reva Devito softens its impact and ergo highlight’s Onry Ozzborns deeply personal and introspective lyrics. Pacific Northwest hip hop has been thrust into the mainstream recently due to the explosive success of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” (it’s even taken off in Cambodia, I kid you not), and it’s inevitable that other Seattle mainstays will likely garner more attention. We’ll see if Dark Time Sunshine picks up any of this byproduct. Something tells me though that they’re perfectly happy occupying their avant gard niche the hip hop underground.