Friday, December 30, 2011

Last Mixtape of 2011: DeAndre "Soulja Boy" Cortez Way - Gold on Deck (Clams Casino Riddim)

Self-proclaimed "Ringtone Rapper," Soulja Boy is that young, instantly successful artist that everyone loves to hate. Soulja's detractors proclaimed that he's one of the highly "disposable" rappers that have allegedly "killed" [ruined] Hip-Hop in recent years. His die-hard fans will obviously fire back with examples supporting the exact opposite. I must admit that I am in fact one of those fans; Albeit a close observer who's followed Soulja Boy's career path over the years, but a fan nonetheless. A creative 21-year-old young man hailing from Chicago, Soulja Boy's overall message is surprisingly positive and violence free - In an era of "Hard as Nails" gun-slinging rappers, DeAndre Way is a rarity: Guy simply traveling down the straight-and-narrow who claims absolutely no gang affiliation whatsoever nor a violent, blood-drenched past.

Soulja Boy initially burst onto the music scene with debut single/turned viral meme, "Crank That" (2007). Since then, he has released numerous Pop Radio-tinged singles: "Kiss Me Thru the Phone," "Pretty Boy Swag," "Yahhh!," and "Turn My Swag On," Way is currently prepping his fourth studio album, Promise, which is rumored to be slated for an April 2012 release. Soulja Boy is in fact championed by many of his fellow peers... with celebrity mega-fans including the likes of Kanye, Gregg Gillis (Girl Talk), Clams Casino, and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. In recent times, Soulja Boy's self-produced beats have become more complex and his rhyme schemes have become more densely-layered. He almost sports a free-associative, stream-of-consciousness rapping style akin to close friend/collaborator, Lil B BASEDGOD. Prime examples of this uniquely "weird," natural progression can be found on semi-recent mixtapes like 1up and Skate Boy (Deluxe Edition).

While Clams Casino's signature mood-setting BASED production work is mysteriously absent from Soulja Boy's latest mixtape offering, Gold on Deck... that now-expected weird factor is still alive and present throughout it's 17 Pop-infused tracks. The bulk of Gold on Deck's production work was handled by Soulja Boy, along with friend-producer Lil Keis. Those who still believe that Soulja Boy is NOT a forced to be reckoned with, are without a doubt in for an unpleasant awakening. DeAndre "Soulja Boy" Cortez Way is here to stay! - Deal. Promise will reportedly feature verses from Big Sean, Snoop Dogg, KREAYSHAWN, Busta Rhymes, and Nicki Minaj. All of which will be paired along with the nation-wide release of Soulja Boy's upcoming feature-length documentary, Soulja Boy: The Movie (October 2012). Happy New Years 2011-12, my friends: Live long & prosper!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

You Know That I'm No Good: Ifan Dafydd - "No Good" (Welsh Winehouse Dub)

Initially assumed to be a musical alias of James Blake, as a result of corresponding stylistic nuances... it has since been proven that Ifan Dafydd is in fact Blake's cousin/ex-flatmate [college buddy]. Ifan Dafydd's premier track is essentially Dubstep-drenched, sample-based Funky affair; "No Good" skillfully employs and re-purposes a sampled chuck lifted from Amy Winehouse's Dap-Kings-assisted "You Know I'm No Good" (2007). In what seems to be an eerily [in]appropriate sheer coincidence, "No Good" was released to the masses in August 2011 - During the timeframe just after Winehouse's all too sudden death. But with that said, I think it's a fitting "tribute" and final bow, of sorts.

In the day & age of mass over-exposure, Ifan Dafydd is a rarity. A true mystery of a man, the Wales-bred Dance producer is currently prepping his debut release for Push & Run, Treehouse EP (Jan. 30-31st). Dafydd's only other available track, "Miranda" (B-side) features the vocal assistance of yet another Popular crooner, Usher Raymond. By all accounts, Ifan Dafydd seems to have quite the affinity for layering additional dramatic undertones beneath already "dramatic enough" Rhythm & Blues tunes. On top of his now burgeoning production work, Dafydd is also a self-taught Jazz guitarist and childhood piano/cornet player. Be on the look-out for many great, innovative sounds from Ifan Dayydd in 2012. Here's to a safe & Happy New Year, my friends: Live long & prosper!

Ryan Adams: "OFF! makes me want to rip my arm off & beat myself in the head." (First Four EP's)

[First Four EP's] makes me want to rip my arm off and beat myself in the head with it. It makes me want to destroy my teeth and replace them with live sharks. Keith Morris (Black Flag-Circle Jerks) on vocals, Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides) on guitar and Goldilocks-gone-wrong hair, Steve McDonald (Redd Kross!!! wow) on bass with super awesome style, and Mario Rubalcaba (Rocket from The Crypt) on drums - He beats the shit out of them elegantly) ... This is a band from LA and they are on their own trip. Fast, furious, no bullshit Hardcore. As much as I loved the Circle Jerks this is the brass ring. It's Keith at his best and as a band they literally make me want to get the fuck up and go.
Listen - these songs are tiny nuclear bombs for your brains. They take less than a minute and half each to destroy your humility. If you ever get a chance to see them live you will either restore your faith in the power of Rock "N" Roll or convert you to some form of evangelical localism.
This is the record I was hoping for and for so many years and to be around when it was made is something special. I wish I could hire helicopters to drop copies of this off on suburban neighborhoods in hopes of starting some mass uprising of bands that truly were getting crazy for themselves - But in reality the pilot would get fined and jailed for reckless flying and I would probably get some kind of "air-litter" charge. Either way - Fuck everyone! They make me happy to be alive and fucking proud to live in LA.

- Ryan Adams AKA: "Sleezy Handshake"

"The Rise & Fall of The Dark Knight:" Benjamin Andre Moore's Bat-Suit Timeline .jpg (1939-2012)


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Teddy Big Oak's Hitlist: KREAYSHAWN & The Million Dollar Ba$hers - "Gucci Gucci" (2011 Rap-Up)

Young KREAYSHAWN sure did have one sudden, albeit triumphant rise to fame this past calendar year; Her debut single, "Gucci Gucci" amassed some 3 million YouTube hits in it's first 3 weeks, which imminently resulted in the signing of a coveted $1 million deal with Columbia Records (June). That's the thing - I can tell that KREAYSHAWN has this completely RAW, un-tapped natural talent(s): Film, music, video editing, graphic design, pixel art. KREAYSHAWN was born and raised in The Bay Area to a single, Punk Rock-loving mother. Although she dropped out of Berkley film school, KREAYSHAWN has since shot and edited music videos for a wide range of Popular artists including: Lil B BASEDGOD, Soulja Boy, A.P.B. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stalker, Dread, D.B. The General... and even starred in The Memorials - "We Go to War" (music video).

Essentially, she has yet to prove much of anything @ all, but I can tell that KREAYSHAWN has a lot of drive. So, her eventual career could include many great successes or one tremendous "EPIC Fail." With that said, the fan base/media attention that KREAYSHAWN has managed to garner with such little musical output in a short time-span is highly impressive! Aside from 2 pre-"Gucci Gucci" mixtapes: Kittys X Choppas & KREAYSHAWN x The Bay (2010-11), KREAYSHAWN has only released 1 original track, a few official remixes, and a featured rap or 2.

Rolling Stone reports that her debut album, which may or may not be titled "Life with Loopy" is currently on track for an early 2012 release. Working alongside producers Jean Baptiste, Boys Noize, and DJ Two Stacks... KREAYSHAWN has managed to craft a very diverse album built upon various genres, "from Brazilian-type music to Indian freestyle to Techno-type music." KREAYSHAWN has reportedly worked with fellow rappers including: Theophilus London, Snoop Dogg, The Madden Brothers, 2 Chainz, Juicy J, and highly controversial White Girl Mob rapress, V-Nasty.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Buried Life Re-create Rihanna & Calvin Harris - "We Found Love" (Holiday Music Video)

When Matthew Arnold penned "The Buried Life" (98-line poem) way back in 1852, I'm sure he never imagined that his compiled works words would still be inspiring young people some 160 years later, in 2012. The present-day incarnation of "The Buried Life" is made up of 4 Canadian-bred friends [brothers]: Ben, Jonnie, Duncan & Dave. Armed with nothing more than a rudimentary cam-corder, a purple bus named "Penelope," and a grandiose vision - The guys set forth on a mission to help the hard-working people of the nation.

The crux of Ben, Jonnie, Duncan & Dave's companion MTV series, which originally ran for the length of two 2010 seasons... was to assemble a lengthy bucketlist of "100 things to do before you die." This would, of course, warrant the assistance of many good-hearted, helpful people along the way. For every item crossed off "The Buried Life" crew's list, they promised to assist a newly-befriended stranger in achieving one of their very own dreams. Taylor Swift and Obama even managed to get get roped up in the pay-it-forward action.
While the bulk of their bucketlist was completed before MTV hastily cancelled the series after just 18 episodes (2011)... a "new & improved" version of "The Buried Life" is currently being fleshed out and filmed. Nearly 6 years-deep into their do-gooder mission, "The Buried Life" has [now] morphed into some sort of larger-than-life grassroots initiative. Fans should expect the new series to include multi-platformed, inter-active content; All kicked up quite a few notches! Until the show's imminent return, check out Dave & Duncan's irony-filled riff on Rihanna's recent fun-loving single, "We Found Love."

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Teddy Big Oak's Hitlist, 2011: Clams Casino - "Instrumentals" (MASTERED 320)

Earlier this year, 23-year-old Nutley, NJ native, Mike Volpe ("Clams Casino") released a mixtape chock-full of instrumental Hip-Hop beats - completely on a whim. Said mixtape, the aptly-titled "Instrumentals" was received with great praise far and wide! So, instead of making one of those cliché "Year-End Lists" like everyone and their brother, though I will admit that I briefly contemplated the idea... I'm just gonna go ahead and say it: Clams Casino - Instrumentals was hands down, the Mixtape Album of The Year! And with that said, it's almost inappropriate to categorize this genre-jumping materpiece as solely "Hip-Hop." Soon after, Witch-House label, Tri Angle released a collection of original Volpe material: Rainforest EP (June 2011).

For all intensive purposes, Clams Casino essentially created Lil B's now infamous stream-of-consciousness #BASED musical stylings. One could further argue that Volpe also had a strong hand in "Cloud Rap" (Chillwave)'s 2010-11 formation, as well. For those not yet familiar with Clams Casino... his sound can essentially be described as: atmospheric, "mood music," ambiance, sample-based, Chopped & Screwed, airy, emotional, and soundtrack-esque.
Instrumentals is made up of 11 unadorned beats, which were previously utilized by the likes of Lil B BASEDGOD, Soulja Boy, Squadda B, Main Attrakionz, and Deezy D. Mike Volpe originally liberated the mixtape online back in March-April, Type Records then released a physical 2xLP package... and just yesterday, Instrumentals was re-released online - mixed, mastered, and now presented in 320 kbps. Clams Casino has recently begun working with a few note-worthy "mainstream" artists including: A$AP Rocky, Big K.R.I.T. The Weeknd, and Lana del Rey (Remix). Right now, it looks as though 2012 is fixing to be yet another BIG year for up-and-coming producer, Sir [Michael] Volpe!

Early LP2 Demo: The xx - "Open Eyes" (2009x10 "Islands" Re-release)

Romy xx, Jamie xx & Oliver Sim are currently isolated - hard @ work on the untitled follow-up to their highly successful debut album, "xx" (2009). The xx plan to release the set ahead of a string of Summer 2012 festival appearances. Jamie xx has said that his production style is now inspired by Club music and is "party-motivated." Since bursting onto the UK music scene, Jamie xx has worked with [remixed] the likes of Florence + The Machine, Drake-Rihanna, Gil Scott-Heron, Adele... Shakira, Kwes, and Gorillaz.
Later on in 2009, second guitarist-keyboardist Baria Qureshi parted ways with The xx due to "personal differences;" Qureshi was one of the band's 4 founding members - All of whom met in 2005, while studying @ Elliott School (London). The first demo from "xx2," "Open Eyes" was released over Christmas Holiday. A sparse, feedback-drenched piano/guitar-based piece, you can tell that "Open Eyes" is a rough skeleton of a song. But with that said, it's a very powerful one, which is almost reminiscent of The Cure. Eager fans should expect "xx2" TBR sometime during Summer 2012.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Detroit Electro Funk-Soul: Black Milk & Melanie Rutherford - "Simply Having" (Wings Donut)

"Black Milk chops up one of his favorite Christmas songs and links up with Melanie Rutherford for the re-make. Check the artwork, I guess Charlie Brown & company's fighting skills are on point as they each have a pair of [Jordan] Concords. *shrugs... I never understood this shoe fetish people have. Dah well? [Here's a Merry Christmas to all you 2dopeboyz & girls out there!!"]

- Shake

Friday, December 23, 2011

MRRY XMS | eve of destruction: jj - "vi" (a$ap rocky)

jj is an up-and-coming Hip-Hop tinged Swedish Pop group, consisting of Elin & Joakim. Already 2 full-length albums deep into their fledging career... It seems as though jj have started an annual tradition of releasing Grade A non-album content every Christmas. Last year, it was "kills" (mixtape) and this time, it's a double present: "eve of destruction-vi." Nearly a year later, "kills" is still available for download. The highly-recommended set includes dark Dream Pop re-interpretations of Dr. Dre, Taio Cruz, M.I.A. Jay-Z, Dirty Money, and Kanye-penned hits.

Originally released around Dec. 15-20th, "eve of destruction" seems to be a quasi-protest song; Made famous by Barry McGuire and written by P.F. Sloan (1965), jj have re-purposed the track for reasons yet unknown. Even though parts of the lyrics are somewhat incomprehensible and the bulk of online content is written in Swedish... You can sense the sheer passion and drive in Ellin's quivering voice, which is cleverly bookended by that instantly recognize-able, "Demonic" A$AP Rocky hook!
Now, "vi" was seemingly uploaded to Vimeo by user-director, Olivia Kastebring late last night everyone was sound alseep. Borderline 6:00 minute affair, "vi" is precursed by about 2 minutes-worth of [largely] silent film reel. The scenes showcase Elin & Joakim's new-found acting "chops," which are mildly reminiscent of The Knife's early video work, and the audio is littered with touches of Dubstep-Club music. Only time will tell... But I'd say it's safe to assume that an "infectious" track like "vi" will imminently appear on jj's upcoming mixtape/album offering. MRRY XMS, WRLD!

Cheech & Chong Present: "The Miracle of Christmas" (Groovy Sounds of '71)

The true beauty of Christmas is that everyone has their own unique way of celebrating it: traditions, customs, festivities, and what have you. Cheech & Chong even went as far as to record their own very "special" interpretation on this pre-recorded song/stand-up routine, "Santa Claus & His Old Lady." The Ode 7" single's B-side, "Dave" was later included on the comedy duo's aptly-titled debut album, Cheech & Chong (1971). Their eventual 1978 feature film Up In Smoke and it's companion soundtrack were later met with great fan-fare. Cheech & Chong followed it up with a gaggle of mind-altering content. For all intensive purposes, I've included a sample excerpt from "Santa Claus" down below. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and... "A Festivus for the rest of us!"

"Once upon a time, about, hmmm, 5 years ago, there was this groovy dude and has name was Santa Claus, y'know? And he used to live over in The Projects with his old lady, and they had a pretty good thing together because his old lady was really fine, and she could cook and all that stuff like that, y'know. Like, she made da best brownies in town, man! They used to live next door to me [with all these midgets], y'know... until they got kicked out, man. Santa Claus used ta have this really charp chort, man, y'know? It was lower to da ground, had twice-pipes, candy-apple red, and button top. Oooo, clean!"

- Cheech Martin

XO Stocking Stuffer: The Weeknd - Echoes of Silence ("The Balloon Trilogy")

Intentional or not, Abel Tesfaye managed to make quite the [late night] ruckus by boldly opening Echoes of Silence with a spot-on Michael Jackson cover: "Dirty Diana" (Bad). Tesfaye initially burst onto the scene in March 2011 under the musical guise "The Weeknd," along with fellow Canadian producers Illangelo & Doc McKinney. Their critically acclaimed inaugural mixtape, House of Balloons was released soon thereafter and Part 2 of "The Balloon Trilogy," Thursday was released that following August. The Weeknd's unique brand of sample-based R&B draws heavily from a number of Indie Rock sources: Beach House, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Cocteau Twins, Thieves Like Us, and Marina Topley-Bird. Mild production work has since been outsourced to fellow up-and-comers, Clams Casino and DropxLife (XO).

Echoes of Silence was released @ roughly 12 midnight, Dec. 21-22; That is, during Fall 2011 (albeit the final minutes) as originally promised. The Weeknd remains unsigned, rarely play public shows, and Abel Tesfaye is largely absent from the public eye - with little to no mass media interaction. Early reports speculate that Echoes of Silence's underlying plotline details it's titular character's journey as he discovers that... his countless "girlfriends" are actually playing him, instead of vice versa, as he was lead to believe. The third volume of "Balloon Trilogy" features an odd 9 tracks, just like it's predecessors. House of Balloons' staple track, "High for This" appeared on the Entourage (Season 8) soundtrack... and Abel Tesfaye recently co-wrote and appeared on 3-4 tracks from Drake's sophomore album, Take Care. In his spare time, Illangelo has crafted remixes for the likes of Lady GaGa and Florence + The Machine.

David Banner - "Yao Ming" (A$AP Rocky Remix)

"Yao Ming" is the send premier cut from David Banner's forthcoming record, The Make Believe Album. Wile specific details (release date) have yet to emerge, it's been said that the Mississippi native will self-produce said album... which will reportedly showcase some "futuristic Southern[-fried] Rap creations." Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz/Tity Boi were featured on the first version of "Yao Ming" - A$AP Rocky has stepped up to the reigns on this newly-released remix. 2 Chainz' latest critically-acclaimed mixtape, T.R.U. REALigion is now available for download. The follow-up to A$AP Rocky's debut mixtape, LIVELOVEA$AP is currently in post-production. All of A$AP Mob's members and affiliates will be featured in the forefront - 2012!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Festive 2011-12 "Countdown:" Sondre Lerche Covers Beyoncé (Norwegian Boyz II Men)

"This year, it's officially a tradition: For the third time my annual Christmas gift to you is my humble solo acoustic version of someone else's song; My favorite of the year, no less. In 2011 there was a tie between two incredible songs ("Changes" by Sandro Perri being the non-Beyoncé one), and both proved equally impossible to tackle or do justice to alone. But it's what I do, and there are worse jobs, so I did it. I took the liberty of making some gender-oriented changes to the lyrics to better accommodate my macho-persona (although I wouldn't dare tamper with Beyoncé's appeal to all women to show their man they are THE [FLYEST] simply by grinding "up on it girl, show him how you ride it"). That being said, the trick is to get passed the novelty-factor and just sing a beautiful song at the best of your abilities. Obviously, a significant part of this song's appeal and ecstatic energy comes from the dizzying vocal performance and the mind-blowingly "cool" production work - Elements and talents useless to even attempt replicating (especially not in my father in-law's basement). But as long as there's a song underneath, there's a way. That's how I operate. It's what I do. Thanks for all the good times this year - and for listening. Happy Holidays, y'all."

- Sondre Lerche

Teenage Dream: Katy Perry Inching Towards Mike Jackson Singles Record (Bad, 1987-89)

Katy Perry is slowly inching towards a record 6 Billboard Hot 100 #1 singles culled from one album... she's imminently on track to break Michael Jackson's long-reigning record. "The One That Got Away" recently jumped from spot #9-4; As we all know, the other 5 singles pulled from Perry's 2010 album, Teenage Dream include: "California Girls," "Teenage Dream," "Firework," "E.T." and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" Over the course of it's 68 week stay on Billboard 200 chart, Teenage Dream has amassed nearly 2 million copies sold. Katy Perry is now tied with Janet Jackson and George Michael, who all possess 6 Top 5 singles from one album. Time will tell, but it seems that in a few more weeks, "Got Away" will reach #1, thus beating Jackson's record set with Bad (1987).

In a last-ditch effort to push "The One That Got Away" those last few spots, Capitol Records has commissioned rapper B.o.B. to add in an extra verse or 2. Similar initiatives have previously proven successful with Katy Perry's other album singles, "E.T." (Kanye) and "T.G.I.F." (Missy Elliott). "Got Away" Remix is now available on iTunes for a mere $0.69. Written-produced along with frequent collaborators Dr. Luke & Max Martin, "Got Away" reveals Katy Perry's often shielded vulnerable side. Detailing a topic which is already highly relate-able to her many adoring fans – summer love, additional nuances are added with the inclusion of Pop Culture references: Radiohead, Ford Mustang, Johnny Cash & June Carter-Cash.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

8 Days of Hanukkah Hip-Hop: Asher Roth - "Pabst & Jazz" (Blended Babies Sessions)

I must admit, that in addition to becoming quite the talented rhymesmith... Asher Roth has also managed to become "The Master of Ambiguity," as of late. His latest effort, Pabst & Jazz (Sessions) was released earlier today to positive fan-fare, without a single premature leak; Aside from a couple planned "leaks" [promo singles], even the mixtape's tracklist was kept under lock and key up until today's wide-spread release. Pabst & Jazz marks a new direction for Roth... uncharted territory, which is laid back, Soulful, and Jazzy! In fact, 14 of it's 16 tracks were produced by mysterious production duo, "Blended Babies." Chuck Inglish (The Cool Kids), 1500 or Nothin', and Asher Roth himself also contribute slight production chops.

Pabst & Jazz is a truly great mixtape; What a diverse batch of top-notch "Soul" baring recordings! After a few complete listens, I really can't pinpoint a skip-able track in the set... and honestly, it almost feels wrong to call Pabst & Jazz a mixtape. "Street Album" almost seems like a more fitting word to describe it, as you can easily see how much hard work and effort went into crafting this piece of art. While there are essentially 16 "Acts"-worth of Asher Roth-led memorable moments, here are a few of my early favourites: "Choices" [with fellow hustler, Action Bronson], "Common Knowledge," "Bastermating," and "Ampersand." Featured throughout this small sampling of tracks are The O'My's, A$AP Twelvy, Chip Tha Ripper, and YP. All of which strongly highlight Blended Babies' trademark blend of "Golden Age Hip-Hop," Funk-Soul, and Jazz.

Additional primary elements that contribute to the overall "Deep Soul" vibe include: Kenny Keys' ivory work on "Pabst & Jazz", Chicago's very own 18-20 year-old musical youth: Kids These Days, Soulful samples including Al Green ("Ampersand"), Nathan Santos' HEAVY vocal riffs on the mixtape's 2 closing tracks, and a horn sample which sounds eerily similar to New Order's 1983-88 hit single, "Blue Monday." 1500 or Nothin's lone contribution on the final track, "Dope Shit" is also of particular note. The 7-minute romp lacks a proper "-feat." credit, so I'm lead to believe that the Soulful sample-hook combo was in fact culled from some sort of unknown source. Pabst & Jazz Sessions is now download-able over @ DatPiff and tickets are still available for Asher Roth's upcoming small club tour, "Pabst & Jazz Parties." Rest assured, Asher Roth's long awaited sophomore album and Def Jam debut, "Is This Too Orange?" is indefinitely coming soon (March 2012) to a pair of speakers near you.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Holidays from: Action Bronson & Rap Friends - "Mistletoe" (Party Supplies Remix)

"Bam Bam Bronsonelli" himself announced that he has a number of projects currently in-the-works, set to rival his highly successful 2011 output(s). Action Bronson set Twitter ablaze last night, Tweeting about 3 upcoming releases: "Blue Chips" mixtape with Party Supplies (February), Tommy Mas-produced sophomore effort "Mr. Wonderful" (Summer 2012), a currently [finished] untitled album with The Alchemist, and a project entirely made up of Harry Fraud beats. It seems as though Action Bronson wasn't happy with JUST taking over Underground Hip-Hop, he's prepping to dominate the mainstream market in 2012 A.D!

Merely minutes after the stream of announcements, Action Bronson liberated a BRAND NEW Party Supplies-produced sampler track, "Mistletoe" (Remix). Bam Bam spits a few quick bars over a chopped and edited version of Justin Bieber's recently-penned Christmas jingle. Now, you can knock the man, but don't knock "the hustle." Bieber's holiday album, Under The Mistletoe has sold nearly 2 million copies since October!
Action Bronson spins the tale of a promiscuous ex-lover who, "Now likes to snowball guys... and [has] lacerations on her shins, knee pads like Pat Ewing." While Action Bronson's slightly vulgar "Mistletoe" (Remix) might not exactly be kosher for your upcoming family gatherings, it'll fit right in on that "Christmas 2011-12 Playlist." Happy Holidays, my friends... "A Festivus for the rest of us!"

Rising: Gotye & Kimbra - "Somebody That I Used to Know" (Luiz Bonfá Donut 1967)

Word choice [use-age] can generate such a raw, introspective look into one's mind. Most of the time, people don't even realize how much emotion they're subliminally revealing. If "love" were substituted into the phrase, "Somebody that I used to know," it mean an entirely different thing. based solely on word choice, I wouldn't be stretched to assume that the relationship in question ended quite bitterly... and by most social standards, it would be safe to assume so. Drawing from a number of failed relationships, singer-songwriter Gotye penned "Somebody That I Used to Know" in his parents' Mornington Peninsula (Australia) barn. During the early stages of producing the instrumental, Gotye pulled a sample from Luiz Bonfá's 1967 composition, "Seville."

"Somebody That I Used to Know" was originally released in promotion of Making Mirrors, which was issued worldwide @ the close of Summer 2011. It's companion music video has since garnered 24,000,000 views and counting! "Somebody" was completely directed, produced, and edited by Natasha Pincus and stop-motion technologies were skillfully employed throughout. Right when the music video begins, we see the camera angle pans across Gotye's body, while he melodically laments about love - lost. A spontaneous background is painted behind Gotye as he slowly layers on the details of said failed relationship, over top of a charming xylophone-based beat. The pitch of Gotye's singing voice shifts a level higher and the abstract painting "grows" onto his blank canvas.

Our view soon shifts over to Kimbra, who's seemingly been standing off to the side and out of frame the entire time. She too sings about a disastrous union... while the instrumental progressively grows "angrier," Kimbra moves closer and closer to Gotye. The 2 then trade accompanying verses, which on camera plays out like the pinnacle end-all-be-all "shouting match." Kimbra slowly drifts away, her body paint fades away, and together they both sing "Somebody That I Used to Know"'s final line, "somebody:" Signifying the relationship's end. Gotye's third album, Making Mirrors is now available for purchase.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Punk Rock Girls, Beer & PARTYING: Diarrhea Planet - Loose Jewels (Infinity Cat Nashville)

"Diarrhea Planet" may very well be the most memorable, ambiguous juxtaposition of random phrases [band name] since "Foo Fighters" 1994 inception. Diarrhea Planet's 4 lead guitarists (Jordan Smith, Brent Toler, Evan Bird, and Emmett Miller) without a doubt add depth to their already dense, Balls-to-the-Wall Rock "N" Roll sound. Drummer Casey J. Weissbuch and jungle-stompin' bassist, Mike Boyle round out the band's extensive 6-man team. Jordan Smith dually acts as "leadsinger," but all of the guys are able to contribute vocal riffs when needed. Diarrhea Planet was originally formed in 2009 as a 2-piece Noise band and with a few changes/additions, this current line-up was recently solidified on record.

After self-releasing 2 EP's-worth of material and "endlessly" touring the Nashville area, Diarrhea Planet were signed to JEFF The Brotherhood's hometown label, Infinity Cat Recordings. Philly label, Evil Weevil re-released Aloha 7" (2009) in Spring 2011 and their Infinity Cat debut 45, Yama-Uba EP, was issued that following summer. DP went into the studio with producer-friend, Ryan Ellis to lay down tracks for their debut album. Loose Jewels was released @ the end of September; The first 100 Infinity Cat pre-orders came packaged with a mixtape CD and band-made tanktop.

I've been listening to Loose Jewels a lot lately and it really is a well-structured 20-minute album, one which easily warrants repeat listens. When it comes down to it, Diarrhea Planet is a Nashville-bred Punk band... inspired by Old School Punk greats: Black Flag, The Misfits, Fugazi, The Descendents, Bad Brains, etc. While the arrangements are pretty simple, together they employ the formula for a nearly perfect Pop tune. Loose Jewels is chock-full of catchy, sun-drenched [often screamed] frantic Pop songs. For example, the 2 mp3's included here: "Raft Nasty" & "Warm Ridin'" are amongst my current favourite DP album tracks for that very reason... simple, Punk-inspired Pop structure. You can tell that Casey, Jordan, Brent, Mike, Emmett & Evan had one Hell of a time recording Loose Jewels: A guitar assault of an "album" - centered around the simple lifestyle of girls, beer, and PARTYING!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blu & Exile Present: "give me my flowers while i can smell them" (Unfinished 2009 LP)

Late last night ["early morning"] while many of us were sound asleep, Blu quietly posted a mysterious link to his Twitter handle, @HerFavColor. Turns out that very link lead zealous fans to Blu & Exile's long-awaited, mildly forgotten follow-up to Below The Heavens (2007). give me my flowers while i can smell them was written and recorded soon thereafter, only to be hastily abandoned upon partial completion in 2009 for reasons unknown. With that said, "flowers" is a raw, un-mixed/mastered 15-track album, but since this seems to be a common practice for the man simply known as Blu... fans should expect to see a proper, fully mixed down version of the album up for wholesale within the next few months. Nature Sounds recently re-issued 2 [rough] Blu albums from 2009 in this very fashion: Open and HerFavoriteColo(u)r.

While Blu & Exile have been relatively silent since 2007, they've been far from musically in-active. Exile crafted an album made from old AM/FM Radio samples and Blu released a handful of random recordings across the vast waves of the internet. Although he's been active ever since 1995, 4TRK MIND (2011) marked his proper debut as a rapper; Exile self-recorded the bulk of the album straight to rudimentary 4-track technology. One of Blu's most significant offerings of the year was essentially released in the most un-official manner possible... NoYork! was sold @ Rock The Bells and quickly leaked online. For now, Warner Bros. is imminently withholding the long-rumored Experimental album from wide-spread commercial release. But it has been met with great fan-fare and features members of Sa-Ra, J*DaVeY, Wu-Tang, and Pac Div. Head over to Bandcamp and pick up a copy of Blu & Exile's recently-liberated "flowers" for just about $15.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Evil Twin Presents: Peanut Butter Lovesicle - "Black-Eyed Blues" (Ocean City Rock)

Peanut Butter Lovesicle now have a special slice of pizza AND an ice cream flavor named after them. In my book, that right there is "success!" For all intensive purposes, Phase 1 of The American Dream is getting scrumptious food/drink named after specific person, place, or thing in question. Over the course of Summer 2010, brothers Mike & Jake D'Arc teamed up with their drummer-vocalist cousin, Timmy Miller to form Peanut Butter Lovesicle... in a conscious effort to get more girls and beer. PBL was soon enough playing backyard gigs all over Ocean City, NJ and slowly but surely managed to gain quite the "ROCKIN'" reputation. A pair of introductory releases: Heavy Daze Wildcat Craze EP-The Raucous Kitten (Live EP) were both liberated sometime in 2010.

Peanut Butter Lovesicle's latest single, "Black-Eyed Blues" was released to the masses earlier today. The globe-trotting family band's unique blend of Soulful Rock "N" Roll and Southern-fried Rhythm & Blues is on full, unhinged display here; An "Evil Twin"-directed affair, the music video stars SI: Swimsuit model, Julie Henderson along with seasoned English actor, Ed Westwick. "Black-Eyed Blues"' primary plotline is that of a fairly simple, yet effective one: Sultry siren (Julie) single-handedly captivates an entire bar, 2 dueling suitors (Ed) proceed to duke it out, woman continues to dance seductively all the while, and she then ultimately ends up going home with... the "dreaded" leadsinger-drummer (Timmy).

Peanut Butter Lovesicle sport a "Throwback" Classic Rock sound, somewhat similar to that of The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, or Free Energy. But I'm sure PBL would easily kick all of those bands' asses... in a musical throwdown, of course! Minute elements Rhythm & Blues, Funk-Soul, Glam Metal, Punk, Indie Rock, and other assorted styles are often skillfully inter-woven throughout the music. Mike, Jake & Timmy are currently holed up in their Brooklyn, NY studio - Putting the finishing touches on their debut long-player, which is slated for a March 2012 self-release.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Smooth Jazz Sounds of Asher Roth - "Pabst & Jazz" (Accompanied By: Kenny Keys)

Similar to the vast majority of Hip-Hopping up-and-comers anymore these days, Asher Roth really manages to flex his lyrical "nuts" across the length of his free-form mixtape releases... Maybe it's the chance to pull samples from just about any source (free of charge) and "GO HARD" without a single worry or fret that's all the more liberating. Whether it be The GreenHouse Effect (2008), Seared Foie Gras with Quince and Cranberry, or THE RAWTH EP (2010); Roth's intelligent Beats & Rhymes which are thinly spread across his mixtapes, regularly TRUMP his companion major label-spun album by-products. Fun Fact: Asher Roth and Justin Bieber actually share[d] the same talent manager, Scooter Braun.

Asher Roth initially burst onto the music scene in 2009 - upon the release of his radio-friendly lead single, "I Love College." Paired along with Asleep In The Bread Aisle (premier LP), Roth managed to reach the #5 spot on Billboard's Hot 200 chart! Even though he was mildly pigeonholed and shunned after it's release, Asher Roth's musical stylings have gradually progressed with each imminent project since unveiled.
While a proper follow-up album has been long-rumored, Asher Roth has remained fairly silent since the release of his last great mixtape, Seared Foie... Def Jam will finally release Roth's Jazz-inspired mixtape EP, Pabst & Jazz to iTunes this coming Tuesday, Dec. 20th. The Spaghetti Tree "Is This Too Orange?" (Album #2) will follow soon thereafter. Nearly a week before it's release, it seems Asher Roth was in a giving mood and liberated the mixtape's title cut, "Pabst & Jazz;" Just days earlier, he revealed 8 show dates for an upcoming small, intimate nation-wide [supporting] tour... where he'll be backed by a LIVE band and supported by DJ Wreckineyez.

Stones Throw Presents: Homeboy Sandman - "New York Nights" (DFM Flute Loop)

Homeboy Sandman's unique sound is built upon a Boom Bap [Hip-Hop] foundation which artfully blends Rhythmic Blues & Smooth Jazz. The Queens rhymesmith, born Angel del Villar II, somehow manages to layer clever Pop Culture references, subtle industry jabs, and intelligent punchlines into his dense lyrics. Since bursting onto the music scene in 2007, Homeboy Sandman has self-released a number of well-received projects: Nourishment EP-LP (2007), There Is No Spoon, Actual Factual Pterodactyl (2008), and The Good Sun (2010). One of Sandman most note-worthy, interesting guest verses recently showed up on Kyle Rapps - "Love, Love [2]" (Air Re-dux).

Sandman quietly signed to Stones Throw back in August 2011... But no one really took much notice until earlier today - when the Indie Hip-Hop label liberated "New York Nights." The woodwind-assisted track is slated to appear on an upcoming Stones Throw/Serato record set. Homeboy Sandman is currently roped up in the studio, earnestly completing his debut Stones Throw EP; Expect it TBR released @ the top of 2012. Sandman has been on my "radar" for quite a while now... and I personally believe that he's the greatest of Stones Throw's recent batch of signees. Easily the label's most commercially accessible representative [artist] since Throwback R&B crooners, Mayer Hawthorne or Aloe Blacc.

Monday, December 12, 2011

BADBADNOTGOOD Original Composition: "Rotten Decay" (Jazz Meets Hip-Hop 45)

Matt Tavares, Chester Hansen, and Alex Sowinski are 3 no-holds-barred rhythmic Jazzcats more commonly know as "BADBADNOTGOOD." Undoubtedly knowledgeable beyond their [lack of] years, studio footage of the young Canadian musicians covering a few Odd Future standards soon emerged (Summer 2011). Hot off the press, they were originally known as "The Odd Trio" and exclusively re-tooled Tyler, The Creator & Odd Future-related tracks; BADBADNOTGOOD's simplistic blend of keys/guitar-bass-drums works surprisingly well when re-interpreting Tyler's often airy, Jazz-esque compositions. If Tyler, The Creator has any sense whatsoever, he'll employ the BBNG boys to lay down some sophisticated riffs for his upcoming "progressive" album, Wolf (2012).

BADBADNOTGOOD's latest release is the aptly-titled BBNGSINGLE - The first sampling from BBNG2 (mixtape). To the best of my knowledge, "Rotten Decay" is the group's premier original composition... slated to appear on an upcoming 7" single with a cover of Waka Flocka Flame's "Hard In Da Paint" on Side B. "Paint" is without a doubt one of BBNG's most storied recordings; A song which was previously tracked and released on both BADBADNOTGOOD EP and BBNGLIVE1. In the meantime, surf on over to Bandcamp to pick up a wide assortment of Jazz-Hop tracks... This including: Tribe, Madvillain, Slum Village, Gang Starr, Nas/Ol' Dirty, Flying Lotus, Gucci Mane Bangladesh, and King Geedorah (DOOM).

Occupy History Books: B. Dolan & Strange Famous All-Stars - "Film The Police" (Buddy Peace)

Not unlike it's infamous 1988 predecessor, "Film The Police" is an urgent call to arms... a call to the young people of the nation to right common injustices. Essentially, it's an anti-violent protest song against often overlooked senseless instances of police-citizen brutality. In recent years, police brutality has become a far-reaching worldwide problem; One which has remained null in the United States, until this recent ring of "Occupy [insert city]" protests. Since many Millennials (1980-2000) were far too young to recall the dramatic events surrounding the release of N.W.A.'s "Fuck The Police," they [we] have now developed an updated message to match the current state of the nation: "Film The Police." It's a quite simple concept... if you see police brutality taking place, keep your distance, whip out your cell phone, and document that shit! The time is now to take action and MAKE HISTORY, my friends!

["Film The Police"] features a reconstruction of Dr. Dre's original beat, brilliantly reanimated by UK producer, Buddy Peace. Label CEO, Sage Francis, opens the song by picking up the gavel where Dr. Dre left it 23 years ago, introducing a blistering, true-to-style flip of Ice Cube's original verse by SFR cornerstone, B. Dolan. Toki Wright (Rhymesayers) follows up by stepping into the shoes of MC Ren, penning the people's struggle against cops as a case of "Goliath vs. a bigger giant." Finally, Jasiri X rounds out the track by filling in for Eazy-E, reminding us that police brutality disproportionately affects poor people of color.
With the Occupy Movement bringing various forms of injustice to the forefront of people's consciousness, "Film The Police" is a reminder that cops have been a continued and increasingly militarized presence in public streets. Thanks to the widespread use of smartphones and video cameras, along with the popularity of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, the power of the media has been put back into the people's hands as they document the injustices perpetrated by those who have sworn to serve and protect them.

- Strange Famous Records Sage Francis

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Great Expectations: The Jolly Boys - "Rehab" (Mento Winehouse Dub)

Amy Winehouse was not unlike the late-great Ol' Dirty Bastard: Wildly talented, mildly deranged - A genuinely tortured soul. Winehouse's last known batch of proper recordings was recently collected and released as Lioness: Hidden Treasures. The Jolly Boys consists of 3 laid-back 70-something gentlemen: Albert Minott, Derrick "Johnny" Henry, and Joseph "Powder" Bennett. Utilizing sparse instrumentation -- acoustic guitar, 'rumba box [bass sub.] and maracas -- The Jolly Boys create a distinct brand of "Mento" music... a centuries-old style of Jamaican Folk not generally known outside of the island region. Legend has it that The Jolly Boys' up-beat riddims were the soundtrack to many of [actor] Errol Flynn's infamous "never-ending" yacht parties.

"Powder" & "Johnny" were 2 of The Jolly Boys founding members, upon it's formation back in The Roaring 50's. Albert Minott seems to be the band's newest addition; Although he's a longtime supporter and affiliate of the band... a former fire-dancer who would perform gigs @ the same Port Antonio [resort] hotel as The Jolly Boys. Their trademark sound effortlessly grafts Roots Reggae, Mento, and Ska against the modern-day pitches of Rhythm & Blues, Classic Rock, and Punk. The Jolly Boys' latest record, Great Expectation (2010) holds the true epitome of these collected sounds. It houses numerous covers of many Popular artists including: Iggy & The Stooges, Steely Dan, Rolling Stones, The Clash, New Order, and Johnny Cash.