After a 3-year long hiatus fueled by Natasha Khan‘s desire to live a “normal” life while still kindling her desire to create and express, she is back with a vengeance and has announced that the release of her newest album, The Haunted Man, is to be expected in October of 2012.
With her newly released single, “Laura,” The Haunted Man holds such promise for Bat For Lashes fans, pulling on Khan’s well-loved themes of sorrow, self-identity, love, and transformation. Khan is a storyteller (however nebulous at times) and “Laura” seems to offer a glimpse into a piece of her personal story that I enjoyed discovering. Morose, dramatic, and soft, “Laura” features a beautiful piano piece that accompanies Khan‘s fabulous vocals. The track may not propel Khan to the forefront of the indie-charts, but it will leave you breathless and wanting more.
Described by Khan as being “raw” and “stripped back,” the concept of the new album is evident even by the image contained on its cover. Shot by photographer Ryan McGinley, the album-art is fiercely beautiful and strangely intriguing. Ladies and gents, Natasha‘s gotten naked for us (pun intended), and what a sight she is to behold. Clearly she isn’t holding anything back, as proven by the symbolism behind the also-naked man draped around her shoulders. I could have a field day with the implications of the photograph alone, but I digress.
Will her newest installment flop, not living up to her previous glitter and glam? Or will it shoot her into a new realm; one of deeper meaning that showcases her superb creative prowess? Only October will tell. Until then, put away your salivating tongues and feast your hungry ears on Bat For Lashes‘ newest gem.
So, dearest readers, my beloved month of June has come and gone, and with it the month of Pride has nestled back into its 11-month slumber. It’s a little late, I know—I suck. The San Francisco Pride Parade also happens to fall on the weekend of my birthday like clockwork every year, and I can’t help but to cover myself in feathers and glitter and dance through the crowds of smiling, loving people in celebration of Pride, of life, and most of all, of love in all it’s hues. With that said, I have a pretty good excuse, so don’t go getting your panties in a twist (unless you like that sort of thing). I wanted to make a lengthy and ridiculously all-inclusive list of every fabulously out-and-proud individual with a band of mention, with acts like Antony and the Johnsons, the Scissor Sisters, Magnetic Fields, Xiu Xiu, and Rufus Wainwright adding to the fruit bowl, but decided in the end to shorten it to just a few of my top faves in honor of the month of Pride.
Bianca Casady of CocoRosie
The first time I heard CocoRosie’s tracks “By Your Side” and “Noah’s Ark”, I found the vocals a bit strange and I didn’t quite know what to make of them, but regardless I found myself drawn-in and captured by the melodies. Now, several years later, I love both members of CocoRosie to death. Formed in 2003 by sisters Bianca “Coco” and Sierra “Rosie” Casady, the story of their lives both individually and separately would take ages to delve into respectfully, so for now I won’t go there. Musically, their style is completely eclectic, and their vocals range from childish and shaky-edge to operatic and haunting, to something more akin to a gangster rap. It’s for this reason I had the hardest time deciding on which song to showcase. It didn’t help one bit that they are both genuinely amazing lyricists (note the lyrics for their track “Werewolf”, which has a number of great dubstep remixes floating around; breathtaking). Up for debate were also the tracks “God Has a Voice” and “Fairy paradise”, the music video for which is performed live in the middle of a random park with unsuspecting bystander’s lounging on benches and in the grass while Sierra plays the harp, Bianca sings, and some dude beat boxes. I settled on “Rainbowarriors” for the sake of the theme of this article. Note that Bianca is notorious for drawing on a mustache; I love her.
Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend and Discovery
I just love what Rostam is capable of. The member of 2 fantastic groups (the first of which is the band Discovery, whom I’ve written a piece on already), he’s a multi-instrumentalist whose parents originated from Iran and who settled in New York, where he met the members of the alternate group he is apart of known as Vampire Weekend. Popularized originally by the track “Holiday,” Vampire Weekend was formed in 2008, and released their most recent album in 2010 called “Contra”. On that album, Rostam is responsible for co-writing the lyrics to the tune “Diplomat’s Son.” It’s a real pleasure to listen to, so do yourself the favor and hit play.
Brad Fordcox of Deerhunter
Deerhunter is a post-punk, shoe-gaze, indie-rock band formed in 2001 and headed by vocalist and drummer/keyboardist Brad Fordcox. Generally dreamy and often lo-fi, I can’t resist the opportunity to place them on this list for Fordcox‘s lovely vocals alone.
Khaela Maricich of The Blow
I’ve previously touched on The Blow for the song “The Love That I Crave,” and now I’m bringing them back with the track “True Affection.” I’d always had the slightest of inklings that singer Khaela Maricich swung my way, particularly when I heard the track “Come On Petunia” which repeatedly manipulates the words to that old Police song “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” but it wasn’t until I really searched into the matter that I sighed with relief at the confirmation that my gaydar was still in-tact. I’m pleased to say she makes it to this list.
Edward Droste of Grizzly Bear
“Knife” was the first song I ever heard by Grizzly Bear, and at the time my gaydar was definitely sleeping, or staring off mindlessly drooling and unaware, because I had no idea. It’s not the first place my mind goes to, wondering who is and who isn’t. Music isn’t like that; it’s transcendent and liberating and in a million shades of gray. But boy was I pleased to add them to this list due to Grizzly Bear‘s vocalist Edward Droste. A Brooklyn-based indie rock back, they’re not for everyone. But then, who is? The video for this song is unsettling and a little creepy, so of course I can’t get enough. Love, love, love.
Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson of Sigur Ros and Jónsi
Jónsi is just beautiful. I’ve loved his first well-known band Sigur Ros for many, many years, perhaps since I was as young as 13 or 14, though I could be remembering wrong. Images of the end-scene to the film Vanilla Sky (which played out to the tune of a Sigur Ros song) come to mind, with Tom Cruise teetering over the edge of a building and then jumping off into oblivion, the wind in his hair and a deep desire for freedom in his heart. Jónsi has come a long way from those days, and his music style has definitely progressed. I can’t express to you the look on my face when I found out that he was living out of the closet and somehow the news had evaded me; it was priceless, I assure you. I couldn’t even begin to choose an adequate song to display the full range and beauty of him, so I just resigned to not scratching the surface and picked blindly. Interesting tidbit, one of the most interesting things about him is that, in his early band Sigur Ros, not only did he sing in his native tongue of Icelandic, but some of the time he was singing in no particular language at all, but a mumbo-jumbo language he created, using his voice more as an instrument in itself. Forever the innovator. If you like the song, check out some his accoustic offerings, such as “Tornado” and “Go Do” off of his self-titled albums under the name Jónsi. They’re so raw and glittery.
Kele Okereke of Bloc Party
From their older material to their newer stuff, Bloc Party is just all-around good stuff. They range from deep and dark, angsty and pleading (see songs like “Skeleton” and “Octopus”), to buoyant and light-hearted, dance-y and carefree (such as “I Still Remember” and “This Modern Love”). Singer Kele Okereke is out and doesn’t mind who knows. He’s fabulous.
Jake Shears and Del Marquis of Scissor Sisters
Frontman Jake Shears along with Del Marquis of Scissor Sisters is openly gay and I love them for it. Inspired by the gay nightclub scene of New York, their tunes are dance-friendly and fun to listen to.
Thao and Mirah
Mirah has such a soft, small voice for such a big heart. Mirah will forever have a place within me for songs like “Don’t Die In Me” and “The Dogs of B.A.” When I discovered that Mirah teamed up with Thao Nguyen to form the duo Thao and Mirah, my heart was forever held captive. Writing pieces of their own, as both play guitar and sing wonderfully, they’ve also covered tracks such as Pat Benetar‘s “Love Is A Battlefield” and Salt-n-Pepa‘s “Push It” for the television show Portlandia’s tour. While Mirah is out of the closet, it remains nebulous as to Thao‘s standing, however it’s been hinted that she is less than the perfect poster-child for heterosexuality. Whatever the case may be, I love the artistic chemistry between them. “Little Cup” is a somber little folksy tune that picks up pace towards the end of the song. If you like it, don’t be shy and delve into the rest of what they have to offer.
For all those lazy summer days spent earnestly chugging fresh sangria (insert PBR for all you adorable hipsters getting your youth on with one of the cheapest beers around) by someone else’s pool (in my case, the nearest apartment complex whose gated fence was short enough for me to ghetto-hop and break into), this is my toast to having absolutely nothing to do, my gift to you; a sentimental summer soundtrack.
It’s been brought to my attention that the majority of amateur bloggers believe chillwave, or glo-fi, was born in 2010 and died that same year. With bands like Toro Y Moi, Neon Indian, Washed Out, MillionYoung, and Memory Tapes batting for the genre, I’d like to submit that this is completely untrue. Criticized for being forgettable, noncommittal, and “a hedged, hipster imitation of the pop they’re not brash enough to make,” as Jon Pareles said in the NY Times, commenting on the band MillionYoung, chillwave was birthed in the summer and was arguably meant for just that. I find myself going back to it when the wind gets warm, the sun becomes unbearable, and I gain 20 different shades of tan in 10 different shapes of tank top. Dreamy and lo-fi, a shoe-gazers paradise, chillwave is the kind of music with which you shouldn’t operate heavy machinery; the kind of music you dance to in your head while you lay there in a pensive daze, sunglasses pressing irritating imprints into the bridge of your nose while thoughts of ex-boyfriends (or girlfriends), childhood memories you can’t go back to, and laundry-lists of the things you should be doing float arond in the back of your mind. Or perhaps that could just be me. In any case, I couldn’t bring myself to showcase chillwave alone; while it’s thoroughly amazing in my opinion, the summer belongs to so much more in the realm of indiepop.
Consider this my warped shout-out to all of the hot (and not-so-hot) mama’s out there! And In keeping with my incessant need to do absolutely everything in my power NOT to do as my mama told me, I’ve decided to compile a list of some of my current faves in the realm of Dubstep, as Dubstep seems to be the genre that mom’s all over the world are gawking and scoffing at. I can be so evil sometimes.
Um, yes, actually. If you wanna get with me there’s some things you gotta know: I like my beats fast and my bass down low. Way low.
Thank you Dexcell. Thank you.
All the goodness of the original Passion Pit track, with the added genius of Borgore‘s heavy bass drops.
Ellie Goulding has been remixed dubstep-style a number of times, and I had a hard time deciding whether to post Jakwob‘s “Starry Eyed” remix or Bassnectar‘s “Lights” remix, and decided ultimately to go for “Starry Eyed”. Not to say I like this one better, I just made the executive decision to pick a Bassnectar track with a little more oomph.
I absolutely love edIT from the group known as Glitch Mob, a similarly amazing trio consisting of edIT, Boreta, and Ooah. edIT is a “G” when it comes to the hip-hop dubstep style.
I’ve already ranted and raved about the glory of Zeds Dead. They just keep on keeping on.
Melodic with a low bass line that doesn’t drop in any “typical” dubstep fashion, this one’s for the lovers. Actually, I’m not even going to say that this is dubstep, because more than likely it wouldn’t be considered as such. But it’s amazing nonetheless and stays on this list.
This song is just amazing. Many would attempt to argue that Skrillex isn’t dubstep. And to this I’d say that mostly, they’d be right. But this is only because you can’t necessarily label an artist as a “dubstep artist” when a vast majority of them change up their styles. Not all of Skrillex‘s tracks have the crazy heavy bass this one does, but I don’t care what the masses are saying about him; Skrillex has a piece of my heart. And La Roux? I mean, really.
Something about this track is heavily addicting. The majority of Mimosa‘s tracks are instrumental pieces, all of which I have a huge amount of respect for. I had a hard time picking just one song, and settled on this one finally because it was one of the newer tracks I’ve heard; it’s chill feel is carried on with the pull of the beat, and the bass isn’t too heavy so it’s a great track to pepper in with the rest of the songs on this list. If you like it enough, check out the first Mimosa tracks I myself heard, “Flux For Life”, “Sirius” and “Psychedelic Stereo”.
Earlier this month, Bassnectar‘s sold-out show at the Civic Auditorium in Santa Cruz, California was cancelled last-minute due to the city’s concern about the noise level, or more specifically, the volume of the bass. If that doesn’t say something about the artist’s reputation for heavy bass drops and energetic whomps, then perhaps his notoriety would be better expressed by the fact that Bassnectar‘s latest album VAVA VOOM recently hit Rolling Stone‘s Top 40 list. Otherwise known as Lorin Ashton, a UC Santa Cruz graduate, Bassnectar is a beast. Enough said.
A more-or-less instrumental track, the title of the song as “Hardly Strictly” is misleading, because this track was actually originally titled “Priceless.” Nastynasty also made a 20 minute mix of a number of his songs which was also titled, “Hardly Strictly,” which began with the track “Priceless.” So, rather than post up the entirety of Nastynasty‘s 20 minute “Hardly Strictly” mix, and rather than post the track “Priceless” (as “Priceless” and it’s counterpart as “Hardly Strictly” do actually sound different) I opted to post the shorter 2 minute version of “Priceless” as it appears in “Hardly Strictly.” Confused? Just wait for the bass drop. It won’t even matter.
Get down with the get-down and shake what your mama gave ya.
This week I’m delving into some of the newest European electro-pop to hit the streets this year, with two of the most recent additions to my list of “Hot Topics.”
If dinosaurs ever had sex appeal, this guy knew what it took. Consequently, he turned it into the audio-visual sensation that is Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
The son of Professor Edward Higginbottom, conductor of the choir of New College at the University of Oxford, Orlando Higginbottom was born in March of 1984. Educated at the Cherwell School in Oxford, he worked for some time as a music teacher at various schools. An English electronic producer and DJ, Orlando began releasing tracks in 2008, which were primarily remixes, starting with a remix of the track “Denial” by the Sugababes. In 2009 he remixed the likes of Professor Green and Sky Ferreira, followed by his remixes of tracks like Fur Coat‘s “Space Ballad”, Wafe‘s “Ewis Disco” and Killa Kela‘s “Everyday.”
It wasn’t until 2011 though, that Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (often abbreviated as TEED) got to re-vamp the likes of Lady Gaga (“Marry The Night”), Katy Perry (Firework”), and Friendly Fire (“Hawaiian Air”). 2011 was also the year that TEED began releasing his own tracks, his first two being “Trouble,” as well as my personal favorite “Garden.” In 2012 TEED was at it again, releasing his next two singles “You Need Me On My Own” and “Tapes & Money.” Two shows, one hosted by Annie Mac and the other by Nick Grimshaw, on Radio 1 in the UK popularized TEED‘s tracks, with “Trouble” being nominated for Grimshaw‘s Record of the Week in May 2011 and “Tapes & Money” being nominated for the same in February of 2012.
The best part about all of this? Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur‘s first album, Trouble, isn’t scheduled for release until June of 2012. I love me a fantastic up-and-coming artist. His electro, power-pop beats and catchy melodies are designed to ensure your eardrums pulse with the rhythm and guarantee you find yourself, at the very least, nodding your head. This goes without mentioning TEED‘s quirky on-stage presence; watching some of his live performances, one of which was with the great Deadmau5 himself, you notice immediately that a.) he and his on-stage crew don creative and often elaborate dinosaur costumes, and b.) he has that rare vocal quality that allows his voice to sound exactly the same live as it does recorded and mixed. It’s a beautiful thing.
Also new to the scene is a group from Stockholm, Sweden called Niki & The Dove. Consisting of members Malin Dahlström (vocals), Magnus Böqvist (drums), and Gustaf Karlöf (keyboards), the trio boasts a style that’s mildly a clash between the vocal sound of Tegan & Sara mixed with the airy, earthy feel of Bat For Lashes, with an electronic twist that’s made them a new club favorite. The group formed in 2010 and was co-signed by Sub Pop and Mercury Records. In 2011 it was announced that Niki & The Dove had been nominated for the BBC‘s Sound of 2012 poll, and finished in an impressive fifth place.
2011 also saw the release of their first EP, The Drummer, but more excitingly, the group‘s first official album, Instinct, is slated for a May 14th, 2012 release. Niki & The Dove were popularized by the release of their stellar singles “The Fox,” and “DJ, Ease My Mind” in 2011, followed by “Tomorrow” and “Mother Protect” in 2012.
I must confess, whether remixed or standing alone in all their original glory, I’m absolutely smitten with Niki & The Dove.
Be among the first to fall in love–just hit play.
In completely unrelated homage, I’d simply like to say RIP to Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys, who passed away today after a 3-year battle with cancer. I feel like it was just yesterday when I felt extreme disappointment at learning that the Beastie Boys would be canceling their performance at Outsidelands in San Francisco in 2009. I ended up seeing Tenacious D instead because “MCA” had just discovered the tumor in his salivary gland. And now I’ll never get the chance. You sir will be sorely missed.
Ever stumble across some amazing little snippet of music, discover how long ago it hit the streets and wonder which rock, exactly, you must have been living under not to have heard it before?
The hit “Let Me know” was the first and only track that jogged my memory; it was a track I definitely heard played once or twice out and about in the club scene. For me it was always one of those songs that I found catchy, but for whatever reason I always failed to search for and download it. Sometimes it’s the tracks that never receive any radio-play that end up really rocking your world.
A true disco-queen, Irish singer-songwriter Róisín Murphy‘s music is known for it’s electronic feel, being described as electropop, synthpop, nudisco, house, triphop, and nujazz. Murphy grew up in Ireland loving the fashions of the 1960′s thanks to her mother, who was an antiques dealer. When she was 12 her family relocated to Manchester, England where she spent most of her time listening to The Pixies and Sonic Youth, keeping her singing voice to herself. At 15 years old her parents divorced and moved back to Ireland, but Róisín decided to stay in Manchester, living with a friend for a year before qualifying for housing benefits and moving into a flat of her own. Bullied in school, she fell in with a “group of weird boys who wore black” and considered art the most important subject in school. Murphy first appeared on the scene as one half of the music duo Moloko with her then boyfriend, Mark Brydon, who she met at a party in 1994 with the pick-up line, “Do you like my tight sweater? See how it fits my body.” The two began dating and recording music together, were signed to Echo Records and released their first album Do You Like My Tight Sweater? in 1995. Moloko then released 2 more albums, but by the release of their 4th album the couple was falling apart, and Murphy was left with the majority of the production on that final record.
Once the two ended their romantic relationship, Murphy worked with writer and producer Matthew Herbert and released her first solo album in 2005 titled Ruby Blue which featured the upbeat, snap-your-fingers jazzy composition, “If We’re in Love.” She worked with the likes of Handsome Boy Modeling School for her phenomenal track, “The Truth”, and Boris Dlugosch for the track “Never Enough,” which became a club hit and wedged itself into the top three on the US Hot Dance Club Play chart. Her label, Echo Records initially didn’t care much for Ruby Blue, commenting that the album was odd and that Roisin should rework most of the tracks to be more radio-friendly. But, of course, as all true divas must do, Murphy stuck to her guns and her label inevitably conceded to the album remaining, as Murphy put it, “as pure as possible”.
In 2006 Murphy signed with EMI records and by 2007 she had released her second album Overpowered. The set’s dark and melodramatic namesake track was launched as the first single and was mixed by the likes of the legendary Tom Elmhirst (Amy Winehouse, Röyksopp). The album was a hit, and garnered her a nomination for the MTV Europe Music Award for “Best International Act” as well as a performance on Friday Night With Johnathan Ross. Murphy is currently working on her third solo album, which she has described as being “quite gritty” and “more urban and bass-ey than Overpowered“, but the release of the album has yet to be announced.
In the meantime, Róisín Murphy has worked with the production duo Crookers, singing on their tracks “Hold Up Your Hand” and “Royal T,” David Byrne and Fatboy Slim for their track “Don’t You Agree?”, DJ Mason on the track “Boadicea,” Calvin Harris and Cathy Dennis for the track “Off and On”, and Tony Christie on his album Now’s The Time!, my favorite tune of which is titled “7 Hills.”
The girl is on a roll.
So check her out! You might be as surprised as I was to see what you’ve been missing out on.
Alright, all you softies, it’s time to bust out your bleeding hearts and wear them on your sleeves with pride.
Thanks to NPR, formerly National Public Radio, the acoustic, live set has never been more thoroughly amazing. The host of 900 public radio stations in the US, NPR is a privately- and publicly-funded membership media organization that produces and distributes news and cultural programming. Two of NPR’s most successful news broadcast programs, and indeed two of the most successful programs in the country, are Morning Edition, and the afternoon broadcast, All Things Considered. All Things Considered‘s director Bob Boilen began a weekly online multimedia program in January of 2000 titled All Songs Considered which broadcasts and introduces unsigned and unsung up-and-coming artists, as well as music from the best of the best in the indie world. By 2007 All Songs Considered became the cornerstone program of NPR Music, the music site for National Public Radio. It’s this little gem that brings us the amazing Tiny Desk Concert series that completely blows my mind.
Hosted live at Bob Boilen‘s desk in the NPR music office, class acts perform 3-song sets; acoustic renditions into a microphone surrounded by bookshelves and beaming onlookers. Stepping into that legendary little room are beauty’s such as Adele, The Cranberries, The Decemberists, Iron and Wine, Booker T. Jones, Horse Feathers, Freelance Whales, Milagres, Noah and The Whale, Beirut, Wilco, The Civil Wars, Yo-Yo Ma, Local Natives, The Avett Brothers, Foster The People, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Tallest Man On Earth– to name a few.
To give you a little taste of what your eardrums are in for, here are a few of my favorite performances so far.
Local Natives, a Los Angeles-born indie-rock band infamous for their eclectic Afrobeat rythms and stunning three-part harmonies, performed their tracks “Wide Eyes”, “Cards and Quarters”, and “Airplanes”. With closed eyes they spilled their souls out into the little room and took my breath away.
Foster The People, sky rocketed to the top of the charts for their radio-favorite 2011 summer tune “Pumped Up Kicks”, bring a different side of themselves to the table (desk, rather) by performing “Houdini”, “Helena Beat”, and, of course, 7 minutes and 22 seconds into their set “Pumped Up Kicks”.
Adele, sweet Adele. Belting out with a fullness and weight you’d expect from such a diva, she performs “Someone Like You”, “Chasing Pavements”, and “Rolling In The Deep”. The video is full of the most wonderful close-ups of her pretty little face; even those who don’t care for her music can’t deny the raw passion spilling out of her lips.
Beirut is a quirky, multi-instrumental little band of indie outlaws with musical influences that differ as much as the members themselves. A little bit of jazz, a little bit of klezmer, a little bit alternative (whatever the term means nowdays) using horns, drums, organs, accordians, banjos– you name it, they’ve more than likely thrown it into the mix. Performing “East Harlem”, “Santa Fe”, and “Serbian Cocek”, Beirut‘s lead vocalist’s lilting voice carries you through each track from one blow of the French horn to the next.
The Avett Brothers; 12 minutes in performing “Bella Donna” my soul fell to its proverbial knees. This is a group I’ve literally, with no exaggeration whatsoever, seen 5 times and would still go see again, and again, and again. Country-raised with all the goodness and sincerity of true gentlemen, these three brothers at times almost scream out their earnest melodies, harmonizing and playing off of one another in perfect time. With the help of their amazing violinist, The Avett Brothers perform “Laundry Room”, “Down With The Shine”, and “Bella Donna”.
Returning from my mini-hiatus I assure you, dearest readers, I have missed you so.
I am such a huge fan of the remix; whether you’re updating an old favorite, putting a different spin on the beat, or pulling the track into a completely different genre, it’s a fantastic way to keep things fresh. You can tire quickly of your favorite song, but it’ll never go out of style, especially when it continuously gets its salad tossed by the talented fingers of a great producer.
And boy do I love a good, solidly tossed salad.
In an effort to apologize and woo you all over again I’ve lovingly compiled a little list of some of my current favorite baby greens, some of which I’ve newly stumbled across, and others that I’ve dug up from the depths of my music archives.
1.) Marina & The Diamonds – I Am Not A Robot (Penguin Prison Remix)
I am so thoroughly in love with this track. Marina and The Diamonds are amazing enough already, but when Penguin Prison got their hands on “I Am Not A Robot”, the birds and the bees came out to dance and love was in the air. If you like the sound of this tune, do yourself a favor and browse through not only some of Marina & The Diamond‘s tracks, but dig into what Penguin Prison has to offer; a personal favorite by Penguin Prison is called “Animal Animal.” Check it out!
2.) MGMT – Congratulations (Erol Alkan Remix)
As if MGMT needed any help being awesome, Erol Alkan stepped in and flipped “Congratulations” around, doing what he does best and putting his own magnetic spin on it. This track definitly made my list.
3.) Lana Del Rey – Video Games (Nikonn Remix)
We’ve already established Lana Del Rey‘s fabulous factor, but leave it to some of the greatest producers to take what’s already good and make it something you can actually dance to. I had a hard time deciding which of the 2 versions of Lana‘s “Video Games” I should post. It was a toss-up between Nikonn‘s and Joy Orbison‘s remix; obviously I settled for Nikonn. It fit a little better with the theme of the rest of this mini-mix. However, let’s not leave Joy Orbison out of this equation; definitely give the remix a listen. It’s got it’s own little dance beat to it, but the tune’s been given a dreamy, hazy lounge aspect that’s lacking in Nikonn‘s version
4.) The Sonnets – Sebastian Said (Montauk Remix)
Slow to start, this track is just beautiful. It pulls you through the track gently like a soft breeze. I considered putting the “Sebastian Said” Remix by Oh, The Ashes! but decided Montauk‘s version offered a bit of softness to contrast the rest of the tracks on the list. If you like what you hear here, give the original or Oh, The Ashes‘! mix a shot.
5.) Grafton Primary - I Can Cook (Miami Horror Remix)
Miami Horror had me sprung from day one, so of course I give just about every one of their remixes a listen. Their remix of Grafton Primary‘s “I Can Cook” is still one of my favorites.
6.) Florrie – Call 911 (Florrie Remix)
Florrie is coming up in the world, start paying attention to this girl. At the age of 23 she’s already producing her own beats and writing her own music. I had half a mind to put her “Call 911″ remix by Fred Falke up instead, simply because of how amazing Fred Falke is, but then I heard Florrie‘s own remix of her song, and it bumped Fred Falke‘s off the list. This track is ridiculously catchy and is already a club-rat’s fave.
7.) Her Majesty & The Wolves – Glaciers (Roksonix Remix)
It’s been a while since I’ve touted the beauty in dubstep. An oldie but a goodie, Roksonix took Her Majesty‘s “Glaciers,”chewed it up, and spit it back out full of whomps and wobbles and breathtaking bass drops. The original track is dancy and sung a bit slower, and I don’t know what it is about the dubstep version I just can’t get enough of, but it’s got me hooked. Give it a listen if you’re feeling brave; the vocals alone are a sucker punch to the gut.
That’s all for this week; keep those hearts open, faces smiling, and whatever you do kids, keep those feet moving!
I warned you to keep your eye peeled for this one.
The Mexican-born, Texas-raised, Alan Palomo, is a god among men when it comes to the analog throwbacks of an era long-gone. Released in October of 2009, Palomo’s debut album Psychic Chasms quite literally knocked the socks off of every shoe-gazing, pop-junkie with a set of working ears. Coupled with the stage-name, Neon Indian, and a set of lush, big brown eyes, he’s incredibly hard to ignore. Categorized simply as “chillwave,” the term hardly does his music justice.
Upon its release, Psychic Chasms offered a washed-out view of pop that left its listeners feeling drugged and sun-baked to the tune of lo-fi dream-beat, shooting lasers, and retro synths. Tracks off the album such as “Deadbeat Summer” and “Terminally Chill” gave it an upbeat and playful feel, while “6669 (I Don’t Know If You Know)”, “Mind, Drips” and the title track “Psychic Chasms” brought it dreamily back down to earth. Reminding us of Palomo’s nostalgic nature, “Should Have Taken Acid With You” was a track that made it onto the album due to an ex-girlfriend; a musical apology for a missed-date, and by whom the name Neon Indian was originally conceived.
A tribute to Palomo’s adventurous spirit, Era Extraña was recorded during the winter of 2010 after he schluffed off to sun-starved Helsinki. For this second album, released in September 2011, the production value increased and featured streamlined melodies as well as additional mixing by well-known Dave Fridmann (the Flaming Lips and MGMT.) Era Extraña illustrates a more subtly complex nature that’s lovelorn, expansive, and just as drippy with the ooey-gooey goodness of the debut.
Peppered throughout the album is a three-part instrumental piece, beginning with the first track, “Heart: Attack,” followed by the fifth track, “Heart: Decay,” and finalized by the eleventh track, “Heart: Release.” “Polish Girl” and bonus track “Arcade Blues” bouey the album’s tempo while “Halogen (I Could Be A Shadow)” and “Future Sick” sink the album with a more hypnogogic pop-glow resonance. “Hex Girlfriend”, “Suns Irrupt” and “Future Sick” are filled with Palomo’s signature space-cadet static, while the title track “Era Extraña” expands upon that dreamscape with an incredible longing that guarantees you’re left in a waking daze. The complexity and progression in Era Extraña is hard to miss, and even harder not to appreciate.
If you’re not a fan, at the very least you’d better brush up on the tunes if only to know who everybody’s talking about as he climbs the ladder into the limelight; I personally am tickled pink to know that Neon Indian will be performing this April at Coachella, and you can bet I’m squeezing my way up to the front of the stage. Like what you hear? Neon Indian has also released a number of singles that don’t appear on either album, including the trippy melodrama “Sleep Paralysist;” check it out!
The second studio album by American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey, Born To Die, was released on January 27th via iTunes. Four days later it was released worldwide on Interscope, Polydor, and Stranger Records.
From the moment it hit the shelves, a flurry of mixed reviews flooded in. The Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot cast-off the album for its “repetitive production.” BBC‘s Jaime Gill touted that the album “isn’t perfect,” while Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone stated that Del Rey‘s lyrics, with their “pop-trash perversity”, were what strengthened the album, but that her voice was “pinched and prim.” He even went as far to say that she “wasn’t ready to make an album yet.” Even more ridiculous is The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis‘, who stated that Del Rey “doesn’t have the lyrical equipment to develop a persona throughout the album.”
Well never fear dear readers; I’m here to set the record straight.
Described by Del Rey herself as “Hollywood sadcore”, Born To Die debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and also topped the charts in Ireland that same week. Furthermore, it reached the top five in Belgium, Norway, and Poland, selling 50,000 copies on its first day of release and an additional 20,000 copies within the following 2 days, easily making it the fastest-selling album of the year. Criticized for its highly repetitive nature, the LP has far more to offer than its given credit for.
The album opens with “Born To Die”, which was the second single released on December 30th, 2011. Initially minimal in beat, its symphonic strings pull you in and compensate perfectly in melody. The title track is followed intelligently by “Off To The Races,” a track that showcases the variations in vocal mastery Del Rey has conquered, unwaveringly bouncing her voice from high to low with perfect intentional emphasis over a strong drumbeat that fades out softly into the album’s third track, “Blue Jeans.” Highly confessional, “Blue Jeans” drops lines I find myself wanting to quote appropriately–”you’re so fresh to death and sick as c-c-cancer,” and quite inappropriately, to the dismay of my current love interest–”you fit me better than my favorite sweater.” The track completely captures her own description of herself as a “gangsta’ Nancy Sinatra” and highlights her admitted Elvis Presley influence.
With the fourth track on the album, “Video Games,” it’s no mystery why it was the track that propelled the singers’ rise to online popularity. After signing to Stranger Records, “Video Games” was released in June 2011 as her debut single and quickly garnered success worldwide, reaching number one in Germany and ranking in the top-ten in Belgium, Austria, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, Netherlands, and the UK—just to name a few. How Pitchfork‘s Lindsay Zoladz could boldly state that Born To Die is the “album equivalent of a faked orgasm– a collection of torch songs with no fire” is completely beyond me; Del Rey admits to still crying when she sings “Video Games;” you can’t fake raw emotion, and you can’t fake dedication. “Diet Mtn. Dew” holds the spot for the fifth track on the album; hypnotic and entrancing, the lyrics loop and repeat themselves dramatically and dare you to throw on your heart-shaped sunglasses. Believe me when I say, those words will be embedded in your brain for days.
Tracks six through nine only serve to add to the picture of her persona painted throughout the entire album. “National Anthem” is an almost-rap, reminiscent of the lyrical style of Coco Rosie, followed by the addicting, although highly criticized, “Dark Paradise.” “Radio,” track number eight, is soft and lilting like a song played during a major motion picture’s end-credits and is followed finally by “Carmen,” a track which highlights Del Rey‘s incredible knack at painting highly romanticized portraits of the dark and hopeless wasteland of youth.
Track number ten, “Million Dollar Man”, is like having drug-infused sex on a hugely excessive pile of money while “Summertime Sadness” makes me want someone to “kiss me hard before (I) go” wherever it is I’m going. The final track, “This Is What Makes Us Girls,” is haunting and leaves you breathless and ready to start the whole album over again.
Lana Del Rey‘s deeply resonant vocals in conjunction with her wasted, sultry, sex appeal is what keeps me coming back for more. While I think the album’s only flaw is the shift of tone from one song to the next, each track can easily stand alone, proudly succeeding at capturing Del Rey’s beautiful inner strength and the power behind her persona.
Want more? Do yourself a favor and search for Lana Del Rey‘s exclusive bonus tracks, “Without You” and “Lolita,” which were released exclusively through Target. Also be sure to checkout “Video Games (White Lies C-Mix),” a French-released limited edition track.