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.
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.
Check out the great new EP from The Beekeepers. I met Elena Rossman when she was living in New York and was taken by the raw authenticity of her solo work. This is her Santa Cruz, CA based project with long time friend Olivia Radovich.
They’re already establishing a trademark of languid harmonies that flow like honey over super catchy alt-country melodies. “High and Low” and “Stoned” are standouts to me. This is a pair that will be fun to follow in the future. You can stream the whole album here for a limited time before it is officially released.
Guilty Pleasure Alert
I love One Republic. There. I said it.
It’s my birthday today though so I get as many guilty pleasure free passes as I want.
Just be glad I didn’t post will.i.am and Britney’s new single that is equal parts painfully idiotic and so incredibly catchy I can’t stop listening to it.
This, my friends, is called self restraint.
Dana and I went to college together and though we ran in similar groups of friends I never really got to know her well. Still, I always admired her from afar. She’s got a soft spoken kindness to her and I think her music really reflects that. I’d heard her play around campus a couple times and was really taken by her voice. However, I was really blown away when I went to see her final jazz performance of our senior year. You can hear her jazz training and tone in this track and considering she writes all her own music I think we can expect a versatile career from her.
Ahh yes, the first real rain of the hot season. Its been hitting 100 degrees every day for the past few weeks in Phnom Penh and today we finally had a real downpour. Even though I know tomorrow will likely be hot and muggy because of the extra moisture, I’m enjoying sitting on my balcony breathing in the fresh rain air and listening to this song.
Austin based quintet Tiger Waves produces infectiously fun Beach Boys-esque tracks with an Americana post-rock twist. They’ve got one EP out and a slew of singles, so fingers crossed they’ll release a full length soon.
I was admittedly pretty late to the Grimes train having just started listening to her a few months ago (give me a break, I live in Cambodia for christ sake). I want soooo badly to dislike her. You know, it’s the super repetitive synth hooks and squeaky anime vocals. But I just can’t. Almost every single song on Visions is just so catchy. I’m not sure if it really lives up to its hype, but I sure do enjoy it. This, however, is off of an earlier EP she did with d’Eon. I like how this video was filmed and I also like how it shows just how much she does live (not very common with the “just press play” electronica generation). I’ve added the original for comparison as well.
I’ve loved Canadian rapper k-os (pronounced “cha-os”) for ages now. “Love Song” is simply a solid jam. It epitomizes 21st century independent “hip-pop” that combines more melodic beats and hooks with thoughtful lyrics in order to reach a much broader audience. Think Blue Scholars, Sweatshop Union, Macklemore, Ayentee, Brother Ali and Common Market. Although “Love Song” more than 4 years old now, I just came across this Unplugged recording of this song and really think that it shows k-os at his best: stripped down and authentic.
I love Matt & Kim. I really do. On the one hand, they represent everything about Brooklyn that makes me gag… but then their music is just so damn fun. This track came out last summer and was definitely sort of my anthem for being back in the States visiting my family. It’s one of those rare songs that genuinely puts you in a better mood.
So cheers to that.
Thought I’d bring this segment up a few decades and add a more contemporary jazz track. Jamie Cullum is a well known British jazz-pop artist whose music often blends a variety of genres and modern influences. Because of this, he’s often credited as bringing jazz to the mainstream consciousness of a whole new generation. This track is a perfect example. Obviously, covering one of Rihanna’s biggest hits automatically sets you up for significant attention. But this cover is on a whole other level. I personally am a huge fan of covers that construct completely new arrangements, to the point that the new track stands on its own separate from the original. Cullum took a quintessentially millenial era techno pop song and laced it with sophisticated jazz syncopations and raspy rock vocals. It’s undoubtedly recognizable and results in the same sort of dramatic crescendo that Rihanna is known for. But in 20 or 30 years I have no doubt that people will be arguing over which one came first.