What is in rotation!
Marguerito, Spectrals, Five Finger Death Punch, White Denim, Rustie, Ryan York, Gauntlet Hair
Indie / Pop Features:
Album: I’m Having An Affair
Label: Not On a Label
Sounds Like: Destroyer, Pavement, and Wilco
Thoughts: New Jersey indie-rock band Marguerito (AlexNathanson’s high school friends) is the summation of what it means to havegrown up during the 90s and the 00s. The group defines itself as being, “thecenter point between Wilco, Kanye West, and Pavement, but way better.” Andwhile that definition reflects the band’s wry side, there is some truth behindthe faux-cockiness. Between the sampling of Panda Bear tracks and front manJake Fertig’s channeling of Andre 3000 and Drake on impromptu freestyles, I’m Having An Affair makes for one ofthe most eclectic albums of the year. However, it’s not just the sound thatmakes I’m Having An Affairunique–it’s also lyrical content. I’mHaving An Affair is a conceptual album that reflects the personal turmoilof Marguerito, a fictional character presumably from the Jersey suburbs–a placethat seems idyllic on the surface, but can be very stifling once you getsettled there.
Best Tracks: Marguerito, Let’s Grow Away, Minor League, YesMan, Rangers
Album: Bad Penny
Sounds Like: Big Troubles, Real Estate, and Air Waves
Thoughts: Spectrals’s front man, Louis Jones, has a grittyvoice that rings of Manchester native and former Oasis front man, LiamGallagher. But it’s not the voice itself that makes the music interesting. It’sthe fact that this gritty voice serves as a complement to a psychedelic beachpop sound–a sound that’s usually complemented by more murmured vocalists (takeReal Estate for example).
Tracks: Get A Grip, You Don’t Have To Tell Me, Big Baby,Doing Time, Luck Is There To Be Pushed
Artist: White Denim
Album: Takes Place In Your Workspace
Label: Downtown Records
Sounds Like: Chill Led Zeppelin, Tame Impala
White Denim is a band your dad would like. They may mine the same territory as Yes did over 40 years ago, but White Denim replaces the heady ambition of their Prog influences with sunny, folk instrumentation. As shown on their earlier albums, White Denim can kick you in the face with a bass riff, but on this EP, they choose to soundtrack your neighborhood barbecue. The style shift is not out of place in the context White Denim’s already lengthy catalgue. So far, they been nearly impossible to pin down and I can’t imagine them staying still for too long. ~ Jordan
Artist: Ryan Adams
Album: Ashes & Fire
Comparable Artists: Neil Young
Ryan Adams has been through a lot lately. In the past few years, he’s been through the disintegration of his short-lived band the Cardinals, endured a high-profile relationship then marriage with singer/actress Mandy Moore as well as a potential hearing loss caused by Meniere’s disease. The resulting album is appopriately reflexive, delivering an albumful pull of beautiful, folk-and-country flavored compositions. Some of Adam’s most heartbreaking songs since Easy Tiger‘s devastating closing track “I Taught Myself How to Grow Old.”
Best Tracks: “Lucky Now,” “Dirty Rain,” “I Love You but I Don’t Know What to Say”
Artist: Blood Oranges
Album: Coastal Grooves
Comparable Artists: Tennis, Tears for Fears, Duran Duran
One of the things that makes Dev Hynes’s (British composer, artist, producer, general musical guru) solo project, Blood Oranges, great is the variety of genres that it encompasses. In a single song, you can hear the influence of everything ranging from 60s beach pop to new wave and from post-punk to Asian classical music. ~Alex
Tracks: Sutphin Boulevard, S’Cooled, Champagne Coast, The Complete Knock
Artist: St. Vincent
Album: Strange Mercy
Sounds Like: Angelo Badalamenti, A crazier Feist
On her third and (I’d argue) best album, St. Vincent once again thrives on being her completely unpredictable self. A song that starts as a wistful lullaby can descend into a hell-raising guitar freak-out and then back again. It’s all held together by Annie Clark’s beautiful, if ethereal voice. Its an album of many layers and may require multiple listenings of every song to get the full extent of the elaborate songwriting. Still, well worth the effort. Looking forward to the day when St. Vincent provides the score to some off-beat indie feature. ~Mark
Artist: Mates of State
Sounds Like: Matt and Kim (less party more love), Dirty Projectors (less guitar more synth), Jenny and Johnny (more pop less rock)
I felt like I had already heard Mountaintops while listening to it for the first time. Mates of State is not exactly breaking new ground but they are doing really well exactly what we love them for, writing great pop-rock ballads. If you aren’t familiar with them they are an oh-so-cute married couple that sing with overlapping vocals, up-beat rhythms, synthy, and lovey-dovey. This album definitely walks the line of cheese (especially in “Changes”) to the point that I would not be surprised to hear Delilah play a track or two. Still a solid pop-rock record for cruising with your honey-bunny. ~Jim
Top Tracks: Palomino, Total Serendipity, Basement Money
Artist: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Album: It’s A Corporate World
Sounds Like: Beach Boys, Vampire Weekend
While I have my issues with the band too-quirky-for-its-own-good moniker, their brand of experimental pop hits all the right notes. Its never straightforward enough to be boring but it never squanders a good hook or harmony for weirdness’s sake. For someone just looking for some good chill music, it doesn’t get much better than this. ~ Mark
Tracks: Morning Thought, Nothing But our Love
Artisit:War on Drugs
Album: Slave Ambient
Sounds Like: If Bob Dylan Hooked Up with My Bloody Valentine and Had a Child
Significantly more fun than the actual War on Drugs, this American indie band delivers Springsteen-level anthems with the rich, experimental landscape of a great Flaming Lips song. For my money, the best debut album of the year (so far). ~ Mark
Album: Life Sux
Label: Ghost Ramp (Self-Released)
Sounds Like: Blink 182 if Blink 182 really didn’t give a fuck about anything and binged on Wire’s “Pink Flag”. Black Lips, No Age, Harlem
Imagine an alternate universe where pop-punk had artistic integrity AND retained the guilty-pleasure, sugar-sweet hooks you’ve come to know and love. Nathan Williams and Co is vying to make that fantasy a reality, and with Life Sux they succeed, albeit on a smaller scale. On this EP, Wavves takes another step away from the over-blown, ear-gouging production found on 2009’s album Wavvves, thusly putting William’s keen sense of melody front and center. These are the kind of songs that you’ll belt out while whizzing down freeway, wishing you too could meet David Grohl. ~Jordan
Top Tracks: “I Wanna Meet David Grohl”, “Nodding Off (feat. Best Coast), “Poor Lenore”
Artist: Dan Mangan
Album: Oh Fortune
Sounds like: Bon Iver, Swell Season
Electronic and such Features:
Album: Glass Swords
Record Label: Warp
Similar Artists: Kuedo, Zomby
Rustie’s debut album Glass Swords has caused a stir all over the internet lately and I was reluctant to jump on board immediately. Well, needless to say, everyone was right. This album is great. It takes a few listens, but slowly the albums complexity smooths into a wonderful ride through many genres. Rustie utilizes sounds from glitch hop, hip hop, funky and progressive house, as well as dubstep to orchestrate an electronic adventure. This is a wild ride! ~Chandler
Listen to these: Surph, City Star, Cry Flames, Death Mountain, All Nite
Artist: Gauntlet Hair
Album: Gauntlet Hair
Record Label: Dead Oceans
Similar Artists: CANT, Panda Bear/Animal Collective(sometimes)
Gauntlet Hair’s self-tited.. where do I even begin? This album finds itself nestled perfectly between lo-fi, shoegaze, and chillwave (or dreamwave.. or whatever kind of wave you want). This album floats effortlessly between upbeat, danceable tracks and chilled out, noisy songs. I’m all too often thinking of Panda Bear and Animal Collective during this album, which is a huge compliment in my eyes. This is surely a group that you will want to keep an eye on.~Chandler
Listen to these: Top Bunk, Mop It Up, Lights Out, Showing, Shout In Tongues
Secondary review, so you know it must good…
Gauntlet Hair is the kind of band that could only exist in 2011. Not only do they own their distinctively modern sound, loosely resembling Animal Collective covering Joy Division, but they are decidedly a “blog band”; Gorilla Vs Bear’s Forrest family records released one of the band’s early single, “Out, Don’t”. Nonetheless, Gauntlet Hair is determined to dance-rock your sinuses into submission and I’m not one to complain. ~Jordan
Top Tracks: “Top Bunk”, “My Christ”, “Overkill”
Artist: Ryan York
Album: If I Am This Forest EP
Record Label: Non Projects
Similar Artists: Anenon, a.d.l.r.
If you know anything about Non Projects, then you know that you can rely on them to release beautiful albums and EPs from a group of very talented, LA-based artists. Ryan York is probably the most prominent of these. He worked with Zola Jesus on her new record and is part of at least two other projects. If I Am This Forest is a solo work from Ryan York. However, the EP is just as rich with textures and elegant arrangements as any of his collaborative projects thus far. In fact, in might even exceed what he has done with others. Give is a go, it’s quite easy on the ears. ~Chandler
Listen to these: The whole EP: If I Am This Forest, Sea Water, As the Darkness (After the Crash), Me and You.
Record Label: Keysound Recordings
Similar Artists: DBridge, Scuba
A hugely hyped album that lives up to all of the previous hype. It all started in Nov. 2009 with the song Phonebox (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW3ZlOXCy8U). The deep, dark moods of his previous releases carry over to Sully’s newest work, Carrier. It’s not all doom and gloom, though! This album romps through heavy bass lines, ravey stabs, uplifting melodies, and sets you back down softly when it’s all said and done. Subwoofers or good headphones are a necessity to fully appreciate this one. ~Chandler
Listen to these: 2-Hearts, It’s Your Love, Bonafide, Let You
Album: Dance Floor Filth
Label: Currently Unsigned
sounds like: White Panda, Super Mash Bros, Kap Slap, 5&A Dime
I chose 3Lau because he is one of the youngest and most talented mashup house producer out there today. His songs have been on blogs with critical aclaim. 3 of his tracks have hit ~EdricTry: Jagger Bomb, Dubsex, Yacht Week in America
Album: Drive: The Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Lakeshore Records
Sounds Like: A poppier Krafwerk
One of the most visceral and ususual films of the year, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive also boasts an impressive array of hypnotic electronic-pop from both composer Cliff Martinez and select underground artists. It’s an album heavy on atmosphere and beautifully crafted dread. More importantly, unlike other soundtracks, it holds up on its own terms as an album. Though, of course, seeing the movie helps–Mark
Best Tracks: “Nightcall” by Kavinsky & Lovefox, “A Real Hero” (feat. Electric Youth) by College, “Rubber Head” by Cliff Martinez
Drake, Take Care
Drake’s sophomore effort, Take Care, released on Young Money, Cash Money, continues his hold on the soul/pop/melancholy hip-hop branch. The album features fellow Young Money label mates Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj as well as Rick Ross and The Weeknd, part of Drake’s OVOXO movement. The album is lengthy, measuring over an hour and fifteen minutes and Drake essentially spends it discussing a few central themes: confusion in love, an acceptance of success, and a certain balance of self-deprecation and bravado. Most of the product is handled by Drake’s right-hand man, Noah “40” Shebib, and there’s a sampling of various hip-hop sub-genres, from spacey sounds to southern maximalism, Take Care features it all. And just as Drake knows, all it takes is a few spins to realize that OVO and XO is everything you believe in.
Idle Warship, Habits of Heart
Blacksmith Music/Element 9
Idle Warship, composed of Talib Kweli and Res, released Habits of Heart on Blacksmith Music/Element 9 as their first studio album. The album features high energy tunes with vocals from Res and raps from Kweli. Although Res really steps into the forefront on this album revolving love and its trials, Kweli offers a nice edge to what would otherwise just be another collection of some well-executed ballads. Slightly funky, pretty soulful, Habits of Heart is a fresh take on hip-hop collaborations and duos.
Maybach Music Group (MMG) and Warner Bros.
Wale’s second studio album, Ambition, comes after the muted release of a debut album and several popular mixtapes, and it is this album on which Wale seems to find his voice in rap. . .and one with a heavy R&B influence. Several songs feature some of the hottest R&B artists of the moment from Miguel (Lotus Flower Bomb) to Lloyd (Sabotage), Wale backs up his rhymes with sweet crooners. The musical aspects of “Theory 11.1.11” act as a good preview to this album, as the overall vibe is created by Wale’s sense of arrival and merit of hard work. The production finds itself not following the trend of “Dub-Hop” or melancholy beats in the vein of Drake, but rather in a spirited and joyful groove.
Stand-out tracks: “Chain Music,” “Focused,” “Sabotage,” “Ambition”
Sounds like: Chip Tha Ripper, Meek Mill
Singles Selection: ~from Caroline
Childish Gambino, “Bonfire”
Sounds like: MF DOOM, Das Racist, and Donald Glover.
The debut single for Childish Gambino’s debut album, Camp, Gambino’s witty rhymes take a more aggressive delivery. The result is good fire indeed. Camp out November 15.
The Internet’s “They Say” and “Love Song”
Sounds like: The Weeknd
Two singles out from Syd and Matt Martian of OFWGKTA (Odd Future). Slightly sleepy and totally relaxed, The Internet offers a sound yet to be heard from the Odd Future collective. Stay tuned for more.
Tyga ft. Drake, “Still Got It”
Sounds like: YMCMB, Chris Brown (when he raps. . .)
The next big release since Tyga’s “Well Done” mixtapes, this Young Money MC tunes to more commercial rap with fresh bars over Drake’s “Still Got It.” The real question is if Drake every had it on this track.
Young Jeezy ft. T.I., “F.A.M.E.”
Sounds like: Eminem
Atlanta’s own Young Jeezy premieres his fourth studio album, TM103, with “F.A.M.E.” Taking a few steps from the Trap, Young Jeezy reflects on some facts of life with a melancholy tone. Be on look out for TM103: Hustlerz Ambition in late December.
The Weeknd, “Initiation”
Sounds like: The Internet
Possibly off the pending mixture, “Echoes of Silence,” The Weeknd released this track in his typical modus operandi–lots of mystery. Some try to call this R&B; some try to call this post-dub step.
Drake ft. Rick Ross, “Free Spirit”
Sounds like: YMCMB, SBTRKT
Rick Ross assists Drake in delivering a smooth set of raps about their lady friends over a relaxed snare beat. Made just for those times when you simply get so drunk you forget your name. Drake’s second studio album, Take Care, out November 24th. OVOXO.
Artist: Kassa Overall
Album: Stargate Mixtape
Label: N/A (self-produced/released for free)
Similar to: Das Racist, TECLA, Lupe Fiasco
Meet Kassa Overall. Rapper, producer, classically trained jazz drummer. Stargate takes listener’s on a journey from upbeat tracks fit for bumping in your ride on a Friday night to more serious contemplations of mental illness and cancer. Kassa’s rhymes shift seamlessly from gangsta to silly, never losing hold on his decidedly slick flow. With guests on the tracks including Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Gordon Voidwell, TECLA, and Heems & Kool AD of Das Racist, Stargate Mixtape showcases an MC only getting started…keep your eyes out for more from Kassa.
Top Tracks: “Fireworks” “Till I’m Gone” “Black and Yellow” “What Would You Do” “What’s My Name”
Artist: Das Racist
Similar to: Nobody in the game.
This September, hip-hop game changers Das Racist released their first LP, Relax. In the wake of two incredible free mixtapes “Sit Down, Man” and “Shut Up, Dude” Das Racist have taken the music world by storm. Das Racist seamlessly blends high brow racial commentary with thoroughly vetted hip-hop knowledge and a nonstop stream of wit and humor. Not to mention their top-notch lyrics and flow—these two MCs must be taken seriously…right? As the refrain from “hahaha……jk” states: “We’re not joking/just joking/we are joking/just joking/we’re not joking.” Himanshu “@HEEMS” Suri and Victor “KOOL AD” Vasquez are Wesleyan-educated and hail from Flushing, Queens, NY and Bay Area, San Francisco, CA respectively. Das Racist are probably best described by their own lyrics: “Is it parody, comedy, novelty, or scholarly? A little bit of Column A, a little bit of Column B.” This album must be heard to be believed.
Top tracks: “Relax” “Girl” “Punjabi Song” “Power” “Middle of the Cake” “Michael Jackson”
Album: “Cole World: The Sideline Story”
Artist: J. Cole
Comparable artists: Nas and Tupac
J. Cole may be asking for guidelines to get off the sidelines, but he’s done just that with his debut album “Cole World: The Sideline Story,” released on Def Jam September 27th. With beats that could stand on their own, Cole provides insights on everything from unplanned pregnancies to making his dream a reality delivered in his genuine, yet confident style. “Cole World” features several tracks off Cole’s previous mixtapes (In the Morning, Lights Please) which not only show that he has been in the game for a minute, but also commemorate all the work J. Cole put in to make this album happen. J. Cole wanted his first album to be his time to glow, holding just four features. Cole is no longer lending verses to Jay-Z and Kanye, he’s all-out, holding his own on the production and verses of his own studio album. How does J. Cole feel? Very happy.
Top Tracks: Lights Please, In the Morning ft. Drake, Lost Ones, Nobody’s Perfect, Rise and Shine
Album: “Black Up”
Artist: Shabazz Palaces
Comparable artists: Cunninlynguists, J Dilla, Ratatat
Dancing around the line of trip hop and dustep hip-hop, “Black Up” by Shabazz Palaces is an album to be experienced. Smeared synths complemented by sharp and striking lyrics define “Black Up.” Its atmospheric vibe and unique song structure make a listener hesitant to classify “Black Up” as hip-hop, but the subject material handles familiar topics just in a fresh and unorthodox way. So sit back, tune up, and zone out to “Black Up” by SubPop’s Shabazz Palaces.
Top Tracks: “free press and curl,” “A treatease dedicated to The Avian Airess from North East Nubis,” “Endeavors for Never”
Feeling Punky Features:
Artist: Five Finger Death Punch
Album: American Capitalist
Label: PROSPECT PARK
Comparable Artists: Killswitch Engage, All that Remains, As I Lay Dying, and Trivium
Review: Like any good band name does, Five Finger Death Punch tells you all you need to know. Sporting heavy rhythm, hard hitting double kick petals, blistering solos, and acidy vocals, American Capitalist pulls no punches (pun intended). The blend of deep, harsh screams and melodic vocals creates some beautiful destruction and a beat that is hard to avoid head banging too. At times, the vocals and guitar can become a bit to muddled, low and distorted, taking the listener a bit out of the moment. That being said, when they are at their best, Five Finger Death Punch creates some satisfying riffs and vocals that will keep you moshing for quite some time. Final score: 3.8/5
Best Tracks: American Capitalist, Under and Over It, The Pride, and Coming Down
Comparable Artists: Sum 41, +44, Angels and Airwaves, and Lit
After 8 long years, blink-182 has finally released a new album and it does not disappoint. I chose the album because blink-182 had a massive cultural impact on both the pop and rock world, defining many people’s childhoods (mine included) along the way. The tried and true trio is back for some good old pop rock. The overall production quality is better than their previous work, shying away from a bare bones set up of purely bass, guitar, and drums. This time around, keyboard, piano and a range of sound effects are a welcome addition, helping to flesh out a nice, clean sound. Tom and Mark are both back on vocals although Tom sounds a little less high pitched (for better or for worse). In terms of content, the album feels heavier. It is a departure from the teen-angst driven albums of the past such as dude ranch as you might imagine, considering several band members are now married with kids. The subject matter ranges from lost love to military oppression and blink certainly seems to boldly go where they have yet to tread. All in all, this is blink at its core and fans old and new will find something to relate to. Final score: 4/5 ~Avery
Best Tracks: Even if She Falls, Snake Charmer, Natives, Wishing Well, and MH 4.18.2011.
Local Music Features:
Artist: Little Tybee
Album: Humorous to Bees
Label:Paper Garden Records
Compare to: Tilly and the Wall, Bombay Bicycle Club
This local band recently got signed- and for good reason.The band addition of a violin beyond the regular guitar, drums, and bass createsa sweet sound that anyone can hum to. Humorous to Bees explores elements ofnature and love. With relatable lyrics and smooth instrumentals, this album iseasy listening. ~Sonia
Best Tracks: Design, Passion Seekers, Nero, In Range, Holding Stones
Artist: New Animal
Sounds Like: Clap your hands say yeah!, Animal Collective,
These two (three maybe? I think they recently added a thirdperson, but I’m not positive) guys are a local band that is quickly blowing up.Listening to the music, you would never guess how simple their live set-up is. Both members multitask with two instruments, in addition to the vocals, which is incredible. The vocals have a very raw nature to them, which I find enticing. Whether sitting or standing, any audience member can have a good time watching these guys perform. ~Sonia
Tracks: Lift you up, All I want is Gone, Kill the Lights, Grow Back Out, Take me If you Can
Sounds Like: The Knife, Sigur Ros, Lykke Li
Top Tracks: Crystalline, Moon, Virus
Have you ever had a dream that was both haunting and sensual? That is what Bjork sounds like but with strong female vocals. While most of her previous works have focused on romances between people, this album, as the title suggests (Bio-life, Philia Greek for love) examines her romance with the Earth and the heavens. Songs like Virus combine the two using the relationship of a virus and a host as a simile for human relationships, and, I believe, quite literally suggests Bjork’s love and awe of actual virus-host mutualism. -Jim
Artist: Zola Jesus
Label: Sacred Bones
Sounds like: hallucinating zombie bride on the artic tundra; grizzly bear, a russian bjork
With a voice that rivals the strength of Adele’s (yeah i said it), with a haunting hypnotic vibratto, 22-yr old Russian/American Nika Roza Danilova has quite a career ahead of her. Naming Her alter-ego after JEsus Christ and Emile Zola, she wished to “alienate peers”. She’s a dark little one, that read too much depressing Philosophy at University of Wisconsin. Co-self produced, Conatus is her third LP, and fuses wonderful string instrument elements with experiemntal rock and electronic pop. It’s goth-y and gorgeous, and you can even kinda dance (like a coked-out zombie) to some of the songs… ~Ladov
Tracks: Shivers, Skin, Hikikomori, Seekir, Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake
Artist: Nous Non Plus
Album: Freudian Slip
Sounds Like: A French Yo La Tengo on uppers during the 90s
Well if my “sounds like” didn’t convince you of the happy-go-lucky tunes of Nous Non Plus, let me try harder. ok ok, you spent the night at the discoteque listening to the Bung Bunga track, and you found your lover in matching blue-sequened jumpsuit. together, you gleefully stumble out the club, and decide to go for a frolick in a prarie field: white daisies in your hair, lollipops in mouths (except when your singing or kissing…, in french), and and there’s kittens and bunnies dancing with you too!
Tracks: All the ones on h-ro! Bunga bunga is much more dancey-disco, the others are very 90s pop.
My Friend’s In A Band Feature:
Album: Psychic Summer
Sounds Like: Surfer Blood + Clientele
Jake Krakovsky’s buddies are cool.
Bloomington, IN based Triptides is Glenn Brigman (guitar/vox), Josh Menashe (bass/vox), and Shaun Snyder (drums).
Having released a few singles, a mixtape, and an EP (most of which can be found at http://triptides.bandcamp.com/ for free) Psychic Summer (which can be found at their bandcamp for $4) is their first LP, available for digital download on the Beachtapes label. They have been described as “Psychedelic Garage Pop Landlocked Surf Rock” by me, and as AWESOME from dozens of music blogs. They’ve been getting lots of radio play in Europe, weirdly enough, and are currently on tour in California.
Influences include: Nazz, The Ventures, The Beatles, T. Rex, The Beach Boys, Tame Impala, Os Mutantes, Pavement, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Real Estate, Neil Young, The Resonars, Spacemen 3, Ariel Pink, Animal Collective, The Nuggets, Bare Wires, Deerhunter