Archive for May, 2010
Finally, after disgracing himself with 808′s and then with that Swift chick, he’s done something worthwhile. It’s called “Power” and it is really cool. Like M.I.A. cool.
Listen over at the hypemachine.com
Phantogram – uhhh I’m at a complete standstill right now. I’ve listened to the album probably 50 times over and it’s still playing.
I had it on in the car the other day when driving my friend to an appointment. She commented, “What is this? It sounds kind of new age-y.”
Yeah it does, or something like that. It’s really hard to put your finger on it. Is it dance music or emotionally wrenching indie music? Is it traditional or super weird? You listen to a song like, “Futuristic Casket” and you think, hmm sounds like an R&B sampling or something. You think you have the song figured out until the vocals come in all glo-fi – all of the sudden the genre seems to change completely. But to what? I don’t know. If I had to compare them to someone, it would probably be TV on the Radio – but even that’s not quite right.
I don’t feel like describing anything in more detail because the music is still washing over me. I don’t want to figure it out yet, but just mindlessly enjoy it. Hey, it’s still senior week.
But, who knows how long this is going to last! Phantogram is a puzzle or a riddle I’m just really stuck on. Seriously, I was once on the subway from Columbia to Soho with my best friend and my boyfriend at the time. To entertain ourselves, my boyfriend told us a riddle. We spent the whole hour ride on it and were so consumed we barely realized that we finally made it to our destination, this jazz club called Fat Cat. We continued to annoy him with theories until out of frustration he finally just gave away the answer. But to the Phantogram riddle, the answer will not be given away by someone. I’m going to be all consumed until I figure it out. Until then, goodluck Aphera.
Last summer my family and I took a trip to India with our family friends and their son, Ravi. Our car trip to Leh, in northern India, brought us closer together. We helped each other find rocks to squat behind and shared rolls of toilet paper that we carried in our bags.
Once we reached Leh, we were surrounded by the mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum” that was carved into stones and prayer wheels all around Leh. We replaced the word “Mani” with our friend’s name, “Ravi.” And now when we feel nostalgic for the journey we traveled together, we text each other “Om Ravi Padme Hum.”
Saying mantras out loud is supposed to be – well, I’d call it therapeutic. Even the way the words vibrate on your lips and the way the air escapes from your mouth is supposed to affect you spiritually.
This graduation may be about remembering or even forgetting people you’ve grown close to. Imbibe a mantra to create the strength you need to move on.
I think we all feel that lyrics – sung words – can affect the way we feel. Here is a song to forget and another to remember. As Dave Matthews sings, “One drink to remember, then another to forget”.
To Forget: If you listen to Yeasayer’s “O.N.E.”, the emphasis of certain words and the echoes of others create a sense of empowerment. The words, “No, you don’t move me anymore, and I’m glad that you don’t” are exactly what we need to tell ourselves if we want to move on.
To Remember: Listen to Radiohead’s “A Reminder.” The song itself if supposed to function as a reminder of past love. It begins with haunting echo of someone announcing flights over an airport speaker. The last couple lines are,
If we’re still speaking
Pick up the phone
Play me this song.
You’ve got to love a band that can release all of their music for free and still peak at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart on retail release of the physical form. You’ve got to love them unless you’re a struggling artist who saw that move as a real slap in the face.
That was Lily Allen’s opinion of Radiohead’s release of In Rainbows. She saw it as a promotion of music pirating and had a whole blog post dedicated to its condemnation. Eh, it’s more like she’s just jealous but I do get how it can seem wrong when someone can pull off that business plan.
But Allen had it all wrong. Radiohead was not promoting music pirating, but bypassing it. And they did it by giving us what we want for free.
And that’s what Lefsetz of LefsetzLetter is saying, “In other words, the solution to the file-trading problem is not legislative, it requires business innovation. Which I don’t expect to come from Ms. Allen, I’ve never heard she was a good programmer.”
And now everybody is doing it. They’re giving us music for free. Grooveshark, Lala, and every artist releases a free single as a preview before their album -The National giving away “Bloodbuzz Ohio” before High Violet, Yeasayer giving away “O.N.E.” before Odd Blood - just to name a few.
But illegal activity will continue. Yeah, such is life. The newest craze, Dropbox, uses cloud computing to enable users to store and share files. It’s cool because folders are shared through email,and you kind of become a member of that shared folder. There is a feed that shows all recent activity so you can tell who is uploading new material. The space for free use is limited but deleted files can be restored. It’s illegal to upload copyrighted stuff, but it’s going to happen anyway.
A few nights ago I couldn’t contain my star struck excitement when I ran into Adam Lempel from Weekends. I was holding a bottle of wine in my arm and ordering a falafel from the Hopkins dubbed late nightspot, uni mini. I noticed a hipster to my right wearing blue skinny jeans, accentuating his emaciated frame and his bobble head with a messy hair. A moment went by before we recognized each other. Adam, being the sweetie he is, said hello, introduced me to the other band member, Brendan Sullivan, and remembered that I was interested in conducting an interview.
Adam and Brendan were grabbing a bit to eat before leaving for New York City to perform more shows. So I took advantage of my run-in to ask a few questions. I didn’t record the answers so I’m not going to claim accuracy but I do remember the answer I got for the question, ‘How did Hopkins spit you out?’
Adam understood what I was talking about. Hopkins is far from liberal-artsy. We have one arts building that the majority of the campus makes sure to avoid (they think the building is ugly). We are a research institution and everyone acts accordingly.
Adam’s answer was that he didn’t really spend a lot of time at Hopkins during his days here. His experience reminded my of one of my classmates’ – He’s a DJ who has infiltrated the Baltimore scene and brings influences from the west coast, from his home state down south and more. Adam was also a DJ for some time – frequenting Baltimore venues. But according to him, he got sick of playing other people’s music and decided to bring his own to the table. Luckily, he already had the skill, being a trained guitarist from a young age.
I guess being indie at Hopkins kind of makes you an outcast. It’s unlike other scenes where everyone is in a competition to be the weirdest kid on the block, to the point where being weird is no longer weird. Here, you hear stuff like, ‘They’re playing that Collective Animal shit up there.’ I’m not saying Hopkins is unique, but it sure is a different environment – a research oasis in the middle of the funky, indie, creepy Baltimore desert.
I think this pushes kids like Adam stand out and rebel to new levels not found elsewhere. Once he’s pushed the boundaries, he also find welcome in the city around him that has spit out artists like Beach House, Animal Collective and Wye Oak.
Well it’s actually mostly sampling,
but the Samps create classic 80′s sounds that hold their own even when disregarding nostalgia; they successfully steer clear of kitsch. They’re gonna drop a pretty bangin’ EP sometime this month on Mexican Summer and I’d suggest you check it out.
I added a song of theirs called “Magnetic Thys” to the playlist (link in sidebar) for you to check out but I also suggest you check out their myspace page to get a better idea of their musical madness (check out their single, “F.X.N.C.”).
^ This is apparently the title of M.I.A.’s new album. She’s dropped two songs from this album already, both of which are incredible, and one even sports a really gruesome video to go along with it.
The most recent track is called “XXXO” and it has two manifestation currently, a remix by Blaqstarr, and the much better original. Listen to the original here:
The remix version can be heard on her label’s super badass blog.
EDIT: Violence seems to be a theme with videos these days (oh my delicate sensibilities!). Watch Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor’s new band How to Destroy Angel’s bloody new video over at pitchfork.tv
Cold War Kids “Audience”
Massive Attack “Paradise Circus”
Massive Attack “Paradise Circus” (Gui Boratto Remix)
play by clicking colorful player on the right
Serena continues to be infuriating – acting overly sexual around her biological father and never giving anyone a chance to finish a sentence before she turns around to walk out of the room. The show, however, once it stopped portraying Rufus as a bumbling idiot, and once it brought back the darker sides of Blair, Serena and Chuck, took a turn for the better.
These past two episodes have been full of emotion, deceit, and desire. Appearances of new characters are not longer trivial and obnoxious (like the god awful episodes with Chuck’s mom). When every character has a believable stake in the situation, the plot seems so much more dramatic.
Enhancing this drama is the gossip girl soundtrack turned ominous. You can hear the intensity in all three of these selections. The intensity that would be present when two lovers are torn apart by betrayal, when a family is being split up by deceit, and when a teen feels like her world is falling apart.
It’s the everlasting gobstopper of ear candy yet it also achieves an incredible level of musical narrative. Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma will send you on a trip.
What Cosmogramma achieves is not easily or often accomplished. The sounds are immediate and explode outwards from the record. One could say Flying Lotus has perfected the art of recording, but to call what Flying Lotus does “recording” is too passive; he’s more of an architect of sound and form. Also, the idea behind a recording is that something was captured onto tape: it implies a source. The sounds are too novel to be such, but still Flying Lotus doesn’t rely on the novelty to capture your attention, the sounds are merely part of the overall idea of the album. It’s an album with a very concrete overall idea– space– which permeates through every aspect of the album: its soundscape and its structure.
Regarding the narrative of Cosmogramma, the track “Intro // A Cosmic Drama” is placed four songs into the album, implying a sort of prologue of the first three tracks, which sound like false starts considering their short and choppy nature. Nevertheless these tracks work to the effect of immersing the listener into the universe of Cosmogramma, because let’s face it, Flying Lotus didn’t just make an album, he created a whole new alternate dimension to put it in. The side-chained compression of “Nose Art”, which gives the song its dance floor pulsating feel, is an example of Flying Lotus’ ability as a producer to create otherworldly effects which only add to the total development of the album. FlyLo’s production is not an end in itself but rather an inseparable component of the album’s general aura. If the first three tracks frame the Cosmogramma universe, then the subsequent track, “Intro // A Cosmic Drama”, begins to fill that vacuum and from there forth, the songs just ooze into frame.
A third of the way into Cosmogramma, “Computer Face // Pure Being” hits you in the face. Its fugue-like sonic incline builds until a final collapse and release. Then comes magic– “…And the World Laughs With You”. How appropriate for a cosmic album and quite the “star-studded” collaboration. Thom Yorke’s vocals ask, “I need to know you’re out there/ I need to know you’re listening.” We’re listening, Thom.
At this point, it would be worth mentioning the slightly less prominent but nevertheless ubiquitous (he appears on nearly half the album’s tracks) collaborator, Thundercat, whose basslines move tracks like “Satelllliiiiiitee” and “Dance of the Pseudo Nymph” from sick to uber-fly. These songs are part of the jazz heavy, climactic second half of the album, a standout of which is “Do the Astral Plane” whose percussive drive makes it one of the danciest, grooviest tracks on the album (not to mention I think I hear Buddha laughing on that track).
In the same fashion that the first three tracks introduced the listener to the world of Cosmogramma, the last three tracks return to the album’s namesake mysticism, working off of the previously constructed stellar environment. Cosmogramma is in no way a traditional concept album but rather, it is simply one of the most unifyingly thematically cohesive albums I’ve ever encountered. Forget prosody and don’t even try to atomize; just soak it all in and make way for Flying Lotus, who will likely become the DJ Shadow figure of the 2010′s, at the very least.
“Trent’s been really busy lately what with his new wife and all.”
Rumor has it that Trent Reznor and his new wife, ex-West Indian Girl Mariqueen Maandig, have been “getting busy.” Well let’s hope so.
Actually, they’re making music… WHAT? Who do they think they are? Sonny and Cher? Well they call themselves How to Destroy Angels (HTDA) and I’m not quite sure what to make of it yet. Here’s a list of things that could happen:
a) More post-Year Zero refuse (how typical of you Trent)
b) A soundtrack to a documentary about Trent and Mariqueen and how they chose the worst name for a band ever
c) Something unpredictable (and hopefully really good [à la the Fragile])
d) An EP of music that sounds like NIN making music under the name HTDA
My guess is option D but I’m wishing for option C. Who knows…
Hold on a second, that’s not Trent’s hand…
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