Posts tagged ‘MP3’
A CLOSER LOOK AT SARAH JAFFE: Sarah Jaffe’s first record was a six-song masterpiece, titled “Even Born Again”. In 2008, I was so compelled by the quality of her work that I named it “my favorite diamond” and the year’s best album, despite being an EP. Yeah, it is that good. Jaffe mixes the best of many worlds. She writes beautiful Appalachia melodies with country storytelling sensibilities and a true singer-songwriter’s gift for creating new ways of expression. Jaffe’s lyrical world is a place where skies “are watercolor thin”, mirrors “gawk” and her kisses are “wicked”.
The songs on “Even Born Again” are devastating, compact, piercing, minimal, dark and stunningly accomplished for someone just beginning a career. “Black Hoax Lie” rises with tinkling guitar and lush strings timed to trail behind Jaffe’s voice. “Under” thunders like a Led Zeppelin song, with grizzled cello, like a soundtrack to some movie about a protagonist trying to outrun the devil. “Two Intangibles Can’t Be Had” curves its way around with ooohs and melodica/blow organ. The intense title track “Even Born Again” (right click, open file in new tab to hear song) memorably rushes forward on the back of a rough, slicing cello and Dylanesque, religiously-tinged lyrics about a martyr-love:
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LIQUID LUST: “Double Trouble Do Do Bubble” is a groove-saturated, electronica and R&B-influenced spell of fuzzed-out aquatic love. Coyote Clean Up released its massive 23-song gem online for free. This album is for lovers of chill house-styled trip-outs, with echoed vocals that make you want to get stomach-to-stomach on the dance floor. We’re not talking mindless techno thumping, but smooth and soothing tempos with just enough bass to get everybody thinking about who they’re going home with at closing time. “Double Trouble” overflows with lusty liquid grooves that light up the libido. The song names are an odd mishmash of humor and straight up nonsense like, “toes 2 the nose”, “howevertrasssh”, “dxxth dxb”, “somucheyeseyeseyes” or that track featured below, “lackadaisical luv xxx f-u”. The music incorporates drum loops, guitar, heavy synths, arcade sounds, white noise, and even muffled effects — like Bjork did in “There’s More to Life Than This” on the album “Debut”. The most impressive thing about “Double Trouble” is this Motor City band seems to be able to enchant in 23 very different, sophisticated, but lo-fi ways. It’s all about the angles. Sometimes they come at you like Cornelius. Other times it feels like a beat you could easily freestyle over. But then tracks like “pushing marshmallow PM” or “hammering time” get into that sexy Esthero “Superheroes” mode. Or a song like “dumber by the day” turns out a groove more akin to the wicked feel of My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult. That track is hot as hell, building on the repeated phrase, “Everyone is going insane”. This band is, well, trip-xxx nsty dope — if you know what I mean. Get the full album right here. – Words by David D. Robbins Jr.
MELODY MAKER: Why stop the one-man band vibe now, eh? Mesita is the project of a 21-year-old guy named James (a self-described paranoid about throwing his full name out there in digital-land), who records music in his Littleton, Colo. basement. He uses a laptop hooked up to what he calls a “slightly broken” Roland digital studio. He’s got a few mics, a Creative soundcard — and that’s about it. But what he creates in this workstation (apparently pieced together with duct tape) is an airy, warm sound with his catchy melodies and pretty high-falsetto vocals.
He’s still young, so a handful of his songs may have some unpolished elements, with the occasional irreverent lyric like, “As a kid, my only friends were stuffed animals” from the track “Missing Out”. But it’s also this musical naivete and sense of youthful exuberance that fuels Mesita’s slicker experimentation — like the sonic blowout on the latter half of “Hidden Motivations” or the runaway beauty, “Cinnamon Candies” — a track that may remind some of old Mountain Goats albums. There are hints of Beck’s playfulness in the song “New Euphoria” — as Mesita toys with tempo and sythn notes that sound like a harpsichord.
“Cherry Blossoms” is always interesting. It’s what music should be: The creation of new sounds, the unpredictable journeying that leads to unique and odd combinations in a song like “The Sleepless” or the Jordaan Mason & the Horse Museum-esque “Crestone Funeral March”. “The Sleepless” is a gorgeous bit of electronica, mixed with sweet harmonies and a looped beatbox intro. “Crestone” soars with synth, clanking noises, dishes crashing, buzzing horns, that build into a steadily increasing gait, before falling away into a misty light, sullen piano. Truly brilliant. Tracks like “Driving Home” are clearly influenced by Sam Prekop’s Sea & the Cake.
Over a short span of releases, Mesita’s newest song “Living/Breathing” shows you just how much talent the guy has. The song’s melodies feel rich, glowing and optimistic. There’s an old-world quality to it. It’s pretty without being syrupy. Mesita stretches his falsetto upward and with confidence. Look for more good things to come.
IT’S BROOKLYN, BABY: There are a number of trends going on here. First, the Brooklyn music bonanza is in full effect. (Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Yeasayer, Battles, School of Seven Bells, Dead Leaf Echo, TV on the Radio, Glass Ghost, The Antlers and now Twin Shadow). Second, the moniker is officially back. Third, a number of one-man bands are making waves.
Twin Shadow is yet another good reason to love this trend of apartment-dwelling melody makers. It seems like anybody with a mic, and a recorder or Fruity Loops and a computer can now home-cook a lo-fi stew. No need for accompaniment. No need for advertising. Just light the match and watch the music of these bedroom bards spread like wildfire across the digital landscape. Singers like Cody ChesnuTT made it happen — recording slick soulful tracks like “Serve This Royalty” at his home on a four-track tape recorder for the gorgeous self-released “The Headphone Masterpiece”. Then there are the one-man bands like Washed Out or Toro y Moi — winning over fans with their own brand of chill grooves and pop-based electronica — mostly hyped by music bloggers and well-timed single leaks.
If you like shoe-gazey soft melodies, oft-whispered or high falsetto vocals, then Twin Shadow (aka George Lewis Jr.) is for you. Or if you like The Postal Service or Letting Up Despite Great Faults, then keep Lewis on your radar. There’s also something very TV on the Radio about Twin Shadow. Hints of David Bowie. Maybe it’s the doubled-up harmonic vocal tracks. Or maybe it’s the strange lyrical sense of a phrase like, “Follow the boy with the yellow balloon” in the song “Yellow Balloon” (right click, open link in new tab).
“Castles in the Snow” is awash in nostalgia — with high falsetto vocals, a bouncy guitar riff, synth, hand claps and drum loop. Lewis uses basic building blocks to great effect. Twin Shadow will be coming out with a LP soon via Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor’s Terrible Records. Until then, listen to the track below or go to Lewis’ MySpace Page to hear his demos “Forget” and “When We’re Dancing”.
Here are some of the lyrics from “Castles in the Snow”: “Here’s all I know, / Your checkered room and your velvet bow. / Your Elvis song in my ears. / That moonlit voice that I hear … / You’re my favorite daydream. / I’m your famous nightmare. / Everything I see looks like gold. / Everything I touch goes cold. / Castles in the snow.” – Words by David D. Robbins Jr.
WELCOME TO HELIGOLAND: Trip-hop’s biggest studs, Massive Attack, are back with their first LP in seven years, “Heligoland” — named for an island situated in the North Sea. The island is known for being a bomb-testing ground for the British Royal Navy after World War II.
“Heligoland” (release date Feb. 9, 2010) feels like the masters of gloomy chords and hellish bass grooves have returned to what made them the musical standard. It’s not that the album sounds like any of its predecessors. It doesn’t sound like “Mezzanine” or “Protection”. But it’s the moodiness and experimentation that is quintessential Massive Attack. It’s the moving away from the cinematic sounds of 2003′s “100th Window” and back to a gutter-soaked worldliness. A real-world grit smeared across heavy grooves and unexpected musical transitions.
The first track “Pray For Rain”, featuring TV On the Radio singer Tunde Adebimpe, “brings the black back” to Massive Attack — as founding member Grant “Daddy G” Marshall said he would. He may have been joking, referring to race as opposed to mood — but it sounds like both are back. The song moves darkly through low dub, wicked piano, African drum beats, and these lyrics tinged with sulfur and brimstone:
“In deepest hollow of our minds. / A system failure left behind. / And their necks crane, / As they turned to pray for rain. / Dull residue of what once was. / A shattered cloud of swirling doves. / And their eyes changed, / As they learned to see through flames. / And their necks craned, / As they turned to pray for rain.”
The track “Flat of the Blade” soothes with computerized bleeps, synth-drums in reverb — with vocals sung by Guy Garvey. It’s a song that sounds a lot like David Bowie.
For those that don’t know, Massive Attack is the Bristol, England duo Marshall and Robert “3D” Del Naja. They’re an ensemble band, featuring guest singers on a majority of their tracks. They’ve worked with Sinead O’Connor, Tracey Thorn (Everything But the Girl), David Bowie, and Mos Def. “Heligoland” features Martina Topley Bird (who has worked with Tricky), Damon Albarn (Blur and Gorrilaz frontman) and the husky-voiced Horace Andy.
“Heligoland” came about in a strange fashion. Daddy G says that he and Del Naja were working in separate studios on an album called “Weather Underground” — putting their creations together and going on tour with the results. Both became bored with the music and stripped it down and began re-working in Albarn’s studio. They created news sounds, new songs and made the music more cohesive.
“Splitting the Atom”, the third track on the album, showcases the band’s trademark supernatural elegance, with deep, thumping organ and hand claps before moving into a beautiful slacker hip-hop vocal delivery:
“Incandescent light at doors / In adolescent menopause / In little clicks you got the music stops / The needle sticks and the penny drops / The summer’s gone before you know / The muffled drums of relentless flow / You’re looking at stars that give you vertigo / The sun’s still burning and dust will blow / Honey scars, I’ll keep you near / Our blood is gold, nothing to fear / We killed the time and I love you dear / A kiss of wine, we’ll disappear / The last of the last particles / Divisible invisible.”
One of best tracks on the album, “Paradise Circus” (apparently named for a roundabout) seduces with intermittent and alternating bass beats, symphonic violins, and the sexiest vocals Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) has ever delivered. The band released a video for the song (explicit material) featuring legendary porn star Georgina Splevin. The 73-year-old starred in the adult movie, “The Devil in Miss Jones” in 1973 — and reminisces about her role in the movie and what she loves about sex, seduction and film. – Art and words by David D. Robbins Jr. (“Heligoland” album art manipulated)
HOLDING ITS WATER: I first heard Dan Snaith (aka Caribou) under the stage name Manitoba — through his wildly inventive track called “Skunks”. (Right click, “open link in new tab” to hear song.) That song clanked, smashed, and stormed like a runaway train teetering on disaster. Cymbals clashed off rhythm, a trumpet squealed with delight, drums were hammered — all over the top of the one constant, a looped guitar melody. There was method to the madness. It was gorgeous. So, it doesn’t surprise me that Snaith appears to combine that same cacophonous calamity (i.e., fluttering flute, bell jingles, a screeching noise loop) in “Odessa” with an uptempo, electro-pop club sound, and Erland Oye-like vocals to create a cool, liquid-smooth dance groove. The track will be on his upcoming April 20 release “Swim”.
NEW SCHOOL GOES OLD SCHOOL: Okay, so they’re not really sisters. Los Angeles-based Eleni Mandell, Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond) and Inara George (The Bird and the Bee) formed the band The Living Sisters — and plan to release their album, “Love to Live” on March 30th, 2010. This trio creates sweet harmonies, lullabies, country-soul and even a doo-wop styled track called “Double Knots”. They’ve been working together off-and-on for years. These ladies are out to have fun — and in a way sound like the modernization of the Andrews Sisters. “Double Knots” sports these fun, and charming lyrics, “I wanna take my baby’s shoes off / I wanna sing rock n’ roll / I wanna prove I’ve got a big heart / I wanna jump in the water, take off all our clothes … I wanna drink a gin martini.” The song works through a melodic jazzy guitar line, hand-claps, addictive harmonies and a lazy island-vacation kinda sound. I’ve long considered Mandell one of the best songwriters today — known for her own idiosyncratic music and lyrics that one reviewer elegantly dubbed “trash noir”. (Which oddly enough, sounds nothing like the track below.) But seriously — Mandell is one of music’s best kept secrets. If The Living Sisters aren’t your thing — be sure to listen to Mandell’s albums Wishbone (1998), Thrill (2000) and Snakebite (2001). Those are three of the best works by any musician over the last two decades.