Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dreams Money Can Buy: Jai Paul - "Jasmine" (Acid Jazz-R&B, XL 2012 Demo)

Jai Paul is a mysterious London-based singer-songwriter & producer who basically has one sole, albeit wide-spread claim to fame: "BTSTU" (2012). Upon it's initial XL Recordings-fueled release, the track quickly blasted atop many online music blogs' year-end lists; Paul's melodies were even sampled by a few popular artists: Drake, Beyoncé, XV, Pusha-T, and Intuition. When I contacted Holly @ Air Force London ("other shit") back on 11/8-11/2011, she simply replied saying that "Jai [Paul] will be releasing his next single in the New Year and the album will some sometime after, please stay tuned."

The Indie blog community as a whole, I included, has yet to hear a peep from either Jai Paul or Air Force London since "BTSTU." But man, that all changed late yesterday afternoon, right as the weekend was beginning to start... seemingly out of nowhere, Jai Paul uploaded a BRAND NEW [demo] track, "Jasmine" to XL Recordings' label-wide Soundcloud. Just go ahead and bask in it's Acid Jazz-R&B glory, which kinda sounds like a mix between Steely Dan/Daft Punk. It looks like a Jai Paul + XL full-length just might be coming semi-soon, compadres!?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Swing Lo Magellan: Dirty Projectors - "Gun Has No Trigger" (Domino Release, Update)

Originally formed in 2002 as the passion-filled solo project of frontman David Longstreth, has gradually morphed into a melodic sextet. Like many Indie Rock fans nation-wide, I first fell in love with Dirty Projectors' 2007 album-length project, Rise Above; Loosely re-imagined version of Black Flag's debut LP, Damaged (1981) spun solely from Longstreth's [spotty] memory. Wile previous incarnations included members of Vampire Weekend, Dirty Projectors is currently made up of Nat Baldwin, Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, Haley Dekle, and Brian Mcomber. It's follow-up, which materialized some 2 years later, Bitte Orca ["please whale"] ended up appearing on many year-end lists. David Longstreth & Dirty Projectors recorded it's companion EP, Mount Wittenberg Orca "on the fly" along with Björk. The band became friendly with The Roots after playing Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and "The Dirty Projectors Girls" eventually ended up laying down vocals for The Roots' phenomenal album, How I Got Over (Intro).

Dirty Projectors started recording new material last Summer, sessions which were nearing completion in October, and a new album that should be out either this upcoming Spring or Summer. Unveiled just yesterday over @ Domino Records' Soundcloud without much prior warning, "Gun Has No Trigger" is the premier track from DP's new record. Sample #1 is a sparse affair, laid over a simple Hip-Hop-esque drumbeat and further accented by the combination of male/female voices. David Longstreth himself said that it'd probably end up being similar [sound-wise] to Mount Wittenberg Orca EP, woody drum sounds, and a batch of songs dealing with themes of Horror-fear.

NEWS FLASH: Domino Records will release Dirty Projectors' new album, Swing Lo Magellan on July 9-10th. 12 songs were culled from a batch of roughly 40 fleshed out demos (B-sides) for the record, some of which include: "About to Die," "Just From Chevron," "Impregnable Question," "Maybe That Was It," and "Irresponsible Tune." The companion press release also states that Angel Deradoorian didn't take part in Swing Lo Magellan's creation and is on some sort of "hiatus."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Roots Underground, Like Veggies: Homeboy Sandman - "Mine All Mine" (Stones Throw EP 1)

Homeboy Sandman is far from your average gun-slinging, crack-dealing, bitch-slapping rapper. Granted he's no Will Smith either, but Sandman teeters the fine line between "parent approved" and parental advisory. His playful, blatantly honest couplets often remind me of one of my personal favourite rappers' schemes: Biz Markie. While he's amongst Stones Throw Records' freshest crop of signees, Homeboy Sandman has been self-releasing music for the bulk of the past 5-6 years (2007). Past cohorts [collaborators] include: Das Racist, 2 Hungry Bros, Paul White, Nottz, Kyle Rapps, and DJ Mick Boogie.

Subject: Matter EP is being billed as "6 Rap songs dealing with content no one has ever rapped about before," which ultimately showcase Homeboy Sandman's intelligently-woven wordplay and keen sense of storytelling. "Mine All Mine" is the second music video culled from Subject: Matter, released in just as many weeks. Filmed throughout Sandman's hometown of Elmhurst, Queens, NY by Maven Multimedia, he can be seen... chilling with family & friends, "mean mugging," living his everyday life, and lamenting about possessions over top of a 2 Hungry Bros beat. Homeboy Sandman's Subject: Matter EP is now available over @ Stones Throw for $6-10 and it's follow-up, Chimera EP should be expected sometime during April.

Wu-Tang Horrorcore Revivalists: Flatbush Zombies - "Laker Paper" (Erick Arc Elliott, Beats)

Brooklyn's very own Flatbush Zombies are preparing to essentially single-handedly "bring [back] da mother_ucking ruckus." The One, Two crew of tag-team rappers Meechy Darko & Zombie Juice are backed by the morbidly RZArected beats of in-house producer, Erick Arc Elliott. Flatbush Zombies indeed evoke the mid-90's, Gravediggaz popularized genre of Horrorcore... adding their own unique updated twist(s), in an effort to revitalize the music after Limp Bizkit forever tarnished and brutally killed it.

From what I can tell, The Zombies released their first track, "Thug Waffles" back in November 2011; Since then, they've slowly leaked out a handful of additional tracks: "S.C.O.S.A." "Caps Lock," "Gucci Gucci" (KREAYSHAWN), and "Suspiria." While their latest track, "Laker Paper" was liberated roughly 2 days ago, there are still no signs of a Flatbush Zombies mixtape/full-length. But if the major labels know what's good for Hip-Hop, they'll come looking for Meechy Darko & Zombie Juice soon enough. Shouts to Arelie Gutierrez, 2dope Meka, and Magic Johnson!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Girl with The Lower Back Dragon Tattoo: Nine Inch Nails - "Down In It" (Dance Party USA, 1989)

"Many years ago, a young and naive Nine Inch Nails were asked what TV shows they'd be interested in appearing on. As a joke (and likely drunk), they thought of the most absurd choice they could come up with at the time. They were then informed their bluff had been called and were actually booked on said show... They hopped in their Honda Civic touring vehicle and traveled many miles to (I think) NJ for the big show. They had a laugh making fun of the people, their fashion choices and hairstyles. Life was good. Years later, The Internet is discovered... There's a moral in there somewhere. Come to think of it, Skrillex may indeed owe me some publishing on that hairdo."

- Trent Reznor

Monday, March 26, 2012

Reggae-Soul Soundsystem: The Lions - "This Generation" (Stones Throw Dub)

The latest addition to Stones Throw's ever-growing and eclectic label roster are The Lions; A loose collective made up of 10-12 LA area Reggae musicians. Formed in 2007, The Lions are currently putting finishing touches on their Stones Throw debut, which should be expected this upcoming Summer/Fall season. It's formative members include Dan Ubick, Black Shakespeare, Malik Moore, Deston Berry, Alex Désert, and Dave Wilder... as well as a number of additional musicians who have played with the likes of De La Soul, Barrington Levy, Beck, Raphael Saadiq, Big Daddy Kane, and Black Eyed Peas. In conjunction with the BIG announcement, Peanut Butter Wolf let loose The Lions' premier Soul-tinged Reggae track, "This Generation" (Dub). Custom edits often used in traditional Roots Reggae music, it's essentially a remixed & re-mastered version that ends up taking a few rhythmic, pretty "zany" turns!

"All the guys in The Lions grew up on classic Jamaican records so since we began we have wanted to give our records that same edge and roughness that we grew up hearing on LP's by The Upsetters, Soul Syndicate, The Rockers Band, and Roots Radics. The rhythm section was all recorded to tape, the Hammond buzzed a little, fuses blew and good mistakes were left in. We basically made the dusty Reggae-Soul LP [that] WE have been wanting to hear for years!"

- Dan Ubick (producer)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Scott Crawford Presents, "Salad Days: The DC Punk Revolution" (Hardcore Teaser Trailers #1-2)

For all intensive purposes, writer/director Scott Crawford was roughly 12-years old during the height of "Reaganomics" (1981-89) and of course, the rise of Hardcore Punk forming adjacent to the nation's capitol: Washington, DC. D.I.Y. fanzine publisher, Crawford was a fairy instrumental player attached to DC Hardcore's initial burst in popularity. Around the same time, young Hardcore bands like Misfits, The Ramones, and Beastie Boys were making waves on the nearby coasts of New York and New Jersey... Now, some 30+ years later, he's piecing together an end-all-be-all documentary to properly tell the story of the genre and city that he knows best! Salad Days: The DC Punk Revolution is scheduled for a 2013 wide release and interviews are still being conducted, but we already have 2 short "teaser trailers" to help whet your appetite.

In an earnest attempt to fully convey the passion-filled story of DC Punk, Scott Crawford is currently re-interviewing the people who were there... assorted members of Black Flag, Minor Threat, Fugazi, Bad Brains, Scream, Soulside, Dag Nasty, 9353, Kingface, and more: Dave Grohl, Henry Rollins, H.R. Brian Baker, Ian & Alec MacKaye, Bobby Sullivan, and Bruce Hellington. In addition to it's historical monuments, Washington, DC housed a handful of musical benchmarks during Hardcore Punk's heyday; Minor Threat & Fugazi's [alternative] Straight Edge movement, Bad Brains' seamless blending of Punk-Reggae stylings, Dave Grohl (Scream) later notoriously becoming Nirvana's drummer, Dischord Records' formative backcatalog, Henry Rollins' move to California to front Black Flag, and countless seedy Punk Rock shows. Expect to hear some more elaborate details concerning Scott Crawford and his "Salad Days" documentary (2013) coming your way soon!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hardcore Punk Mixtape: Titus Andronicus Unleash "Titus Andronicus LLC Mixtape, Vol. 1" (SXSW #200 CD-R)

While I love Hip-Hop and almost anything mildly "Punk Rock," I can honestly say that I've never really heard tell of a Hardcore band releasing a mixtape... and the sheer notion of it DOES sound pretty sketchy on paper. But I digress - Let's use the term "mixtape" loosely here and think of Titus Andronicus LLC Mixtape, Vol. 1 as more of a Who Odds & Sods-esque mix CD or hand-dubbed cassette; Rather than an arrogant DJ drop-filled collection of unclear-able sampled Boom-Bap beats and rhythms. Roger that?

Titus Andronicus sold 200 copies of a hand-made CD-R rarities collection @ SXSW this past weekend. Due to a wider response than expected, Titus Andronicus LLC Mixtape, Vol. 1 was liberated on the band's Tumblr come Monday morning. It's essentially a 23-track collection of live cuts, covers, demos, out-takes, rehearsal sessions, and miscellaneous "odds & sods" spanning 2005-12. While the quality obviously varies from track to track, LLC Mixtape (1) plays out like that scratched sought-after, "roadtrip-ready" mix CD-R continuously traded throughout your circle of friends!

Amongst Titus Andronicus' stand-out mixtape tracks are nostalgic covers of popular Weezer, Thin Lizzy, Velvet Underground compositions... as well as great [formative] Punk Rock songs from Replacements, Bobby Fuller, Cock Sparrer, Television Personalities, and Spider Bags. According to Casey of Diarrhea Planet, "Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape with The Flood of Detritus" (Track 3) is slated to appear on an upcoming split 7-inch "for [Titus Andronicus'] new label, which should be out very soon!" Titus Andronicus' third studio album for XL Recordings should be expected TBR sometime during the course of 2012.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Odd Future Continue Reign of Terror: OF Tape 2 (Earl Sweatshirt's Back for "Oldie")

Not unlike the vast majority of middle American youth, my initial reaction after first see/hearing Odd Future was, "What the fuck!? That was AWESOME!" Post-Late Night with Jimmy Fallon thoughts: Wu-Tang Clan, Jackass, and The Neptunes. I'd heard of OF before Tyler & Hodgy's fateful Roots-backed performance of "Sandwitches," but I must admit that I missed the boat when Bastard and the other [solo] online releases came out (2009). To be completely frank, I was a tad bit put off by Tyler The Creator and company's vulgar rhymes about murder, rape, hate, etc. Because let's face it, no one's really that obscene, unless they're a serial killer; and either way, that shit's got to get old after while! "Yonkers" was great... Goblin, Nostalgia ULTRA, Untitled EP, "64" [Bass Drum of Death], "Earl" and his mysterious disappearance/return, The Internet, etc.

OF Tape 2, which is out now, marks the crew's first collaborative effort since 12 Odd Future Songs... Earl Sweatshirt's triumphant return back to civilization, Odd Future "dialing it back" a little bit, and 18 BRAND NEW tracks for the masses. I personally feel like OF Tape 2 plays out like 36 Chambers: Every crew member contributing. In-house artwork, production, rapping, design, promotion, the whole 9. Components which OF were initially based around that I feel like they strayed away from recently with their initial burst of fame. OF Tape 2 is an in-your-face no bullshit, no gimmick posse album that represents everything that they stand for pretty well! For Odd Future fans both new and old alike.

"Oldie" is the record's closing cut (Track #18) and it literally features every member of Odd Future: Tyler The Creator, Hodgy Beats, Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean, Mike G, Syd Tha Kyd, Left Brain, Taco, Jasper Dolphin, The Internet, Domo Genesis, and friend-skater Lucas Vercetti. "Oldie"'s companion music video was filmed behind-the-scenes @ a recent Terry Richardson photoshoot by Lance Bangs (Jackass). Jeff Tremaine, Bangs, and Dickhouse Productions will all contribute to OF's upcoming Chappelle's Show-esque 15-minute sketch comedy series, "Loiter Squad." Episode #1 will debut on March 25th during Adult Swim's scheduled block of shows. Expect new efforts from Tyler The Creator, Frank Ocean, and MellowHype TBR sometime during 2012.

Lana del Rey & Woodkid Reunite for Big-Budget "Blue Jeans" Music Video (Born 2 Die)

Easily becoming one of the music industry's most widely loved/hated aspiring young star[letts], Lizzy "Lana del Rey" Grant released a lavish, new music video for "Blue Jeans" earlier this morning. Originally unveiled with a hand-made Grant video back in Sept. 2011, "Blue Jeans" (single) will see a major label re-release this coming April. Lana del Rey's music is essentially manufactured, sugar-coated Pop perfect for Britney Spears' angst-filled tween 20-something fans. While I have yet to hear the complete Born 2 Die album, I must admit, that of the 8-10 tracks I have heard, "Blue Jeans" still remains my personal favourite.

"Blue Jeans"'s re-loaded video is an eloquent black & white affair that shows off Lana del Rey's best assets, as well as her blooming acting/modelling chops. "Blue Jeans" was directed by Yoann Lemoine (Woodkid) and co-stars model Bradley Soileau, who both previously worked on "Born 2 Die." Lana del Rey's major label debut, Born 2 Die is now available for purchase and her pulled "Lizzy Grant" album (2010) is expected to see a proper re-release in the coming months. Whether you love or hate her music and public image, you must admit that Lana del Rey is slowly but surely becoming a house-hold name!

Monday, March 19, 2012

She Wants The Young American: Topher Mohr - "Forever Yours" (PHLOTILLA 12")

I must admit that I've kept in contact with Topher Mohr since our last featured article (2010)... he's parted ways with Mayer Hawthorne & The County, recorded a second full-length album, and is currently shopping new material around to major labels. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of said album, Phlotilla and I must admit: What a varied, cleanly-produced piece of work we have here! 4 of it's 11 tracks previously appeared on Topher Mohr's self-released Ruthless EP in slightly altered form(s). As a whole, I think it'd be safe to categorize Phlotilla as "Soft Rock;" Sonically reminiscent of Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, and The Beach Boys with touches of Reggae and Funk-Soul. Friends and frequent collaborators: Quentin Joseph, Alex Elena, and Quincy McCrary added unique musical flourishes [backing] to the record's 11 original compositions.

"Forever Yours" -- one of the newly-penned, unreleased tracks of the bunch -- was recently released online complete with a grainy, black & white music video. Essentially a single-shot clip directed by bandmate, Alex Elena (drums), "Forever Yours" is inter-spliced against shots of Topher Mohr strumming an acoustic guitar and spending quality time with wife, Jane Park-Mohr. Phlotilla is currently being shopped around to various major labels, in hopes of a wide release within the next few months. In the meantime, head on over to Soundcloud for a [continuous] stream of Tracks #1-3. Stay tuned, as I'll be posting an in-depth interview with Topher Mohr, which we're planning to unveil in conjunction with Phlotilla!

Diff'rent Strokes for Diff'rent Folks: Death Grips - "The Money Store" (Epic, NSFW Cover Art)

On the cover, you have an androgynous masochist on the leash of a feminist sadist who's smoking. The sadist has carved "Death Grips" into her bitch's chest. There is an overly confident quality to the woman smoking and a calmness to the androgynous masochist... We consider ourselves feminists, we fiercely support homosexuality, transparent world leadership, and the idea of embracing yourself as an individual in any shape or form. Acceleration is a mantra, we're not a political band, we are freaks and outsiders. It was important to project that message and energy through the artwork of this album. This is free thinking and eternally open-ended music... [The cover] is like an ambassador to the sound.

- Flatlander (Death Grips)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bearded Whalers: Those Lavender Whales - "Shake Your Palm-Palm Branches" (Myles Walsh Animation)

Drummer Jessica Bornick shot me a quick email over the weekend simply stating: "We wanted to share an animation video our friend created. It features our song, "Shake Your Palm-Palm Branches." Clocking in @ about 45 seconds, it showcases a track from Those Lavender Whales' "odds & sods" cassette, Pilgrims, Friends & Blood-ties (2010). Myles Walsh animated short features 3 bearded Whalers, resembling their "Growth In Question" music video, inter-spliced against scenes of dancing palm trees. It reminds me of those 1960's "Beatlemania" cartoons and somewhat of grammatically incorrect superhero, Captain Caveman (1977-80). Those Lavender Whales' most recent album, Tomahawk of Praise is now available... through bandleader Aaron Graves' very own Indie Folk label, Fork & Spoon Records. It's the perfect record to help usher in Spring/Summertime and personally, I highly recommend it!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pretty Girls Driving My Sports Car: Frank Ocean - "Whip Appeal" (nostalgia, lite EP?)

Frank Ocean uploaded his latest track, "Whip Appeal" to his personal Tumblr account earlier this evening. Like many of his other recent "releases," the track was pulled from the bulk of Internet servers just a few hours later [presumably by Def Jam]. Soon after "Whip Appeal" was yanked, Ocean hopped back on Tumblr to clarify that the track probably won't be appearing on Nostalgia, ULTRA's major label re-release, which might never even see the light of day. Frank Ocean has logged studio time and penned hits for the likes of Nas, Justin Bieber, Kanye & Jay-Z, John Legend, Beyoncé, Bridget Kelly, Pharrell, and Brandy.

Since he self-released what would have been his debut project on his own back in February 2011, Frank Ocean and Def Jam have been on not so good terms... But his currently untitled premier release is expected sometime during 2012. "Whip Appeal" is roughly 5-minutes long and features Ocean lamenting about "pretty girls driving [his] sports car," over a glitch-filled drum-heavy beat. Frank Ocean is slated to appear on a handful of tracks across Odd Future's upcoming group mixtape, The OF Tape, Vol. 2 (March 20th). Frank Ocean is scheduled to open for Coldplay, whom he previously sampled for "Strawberry Swing," on a string of European Tour [closing] dates throughout August-September.

Damon Albarn & Richard Russell Present: Bobby Womack - "Please Forgive My Heart" (Future Soul?)

Frequent Gorillaz collaborator and 1970's Soulman, Bobby Womack is fixing to make a triumphant comeback with the release of his first album in nearly 20 years, The Bravest Man In The Universe (June 11-12th). Womack's music career was kick-started back in the early 60's with family band, The Valentinos and later as Sam Cooke's backing guitarist. Recorded over the past few years along with friends Damon Albarn and XL Recordings head honcho Richard Russell, "Please Forgive My Heart" is our initial taste of the album; Man, it's a bubbling, piano-driven synth-heavy affair that's slightly reminiscent of Albarn & Russell's Electro-leaning collective outputs...

But have no fear, Bobby Womack's passionate, heart-felt vocal delivery first heard on revealing original hits [and covers] like "Fly Me to The Moon," "California Dreaming," "Across 110th Street," "Sweet Caroline," and "It's All Over Now." Towards the end of Womack's new sample track, all of the Futuristic R&B elements fade out, only leaving a stripped down acoustic guitar rhythm. Controversial songstress, Lana del Rey is rumored to have lent her vocal flourishes to one of Damon Albarn & Richard Russell's inventive creations. Head on over to Pitchfork to check out The Bravest Man In The Universe's 10-song tracklist and stay tuned, as more details will imminently emerge with the release date slowly inching towards us.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lost In Translation: Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire Signs to Universal Republic? (Gil Scott-Heron)

Brooklyn rapper Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire has signed with Universal Republic, Billboard has learned and confirmed with the label. The news came on the heels of a SXSW 2012 panel eXquire participated on Wednesday (March 14), "The Importance of Online Video & Social Media," a topic in which the rapper is quite well-versed. Since posting his $400 video for "Huzzah" on YouTube last spring, eXquire ignited the attention of the Underground Hip-Hop community and the Indie blog circuit alike, making Pitchfork's year-end list and attracting interest from rappers like Danny Brown and Das Racist, who guested on a remix of "Huzzah."

- Andrew Hampp (Billboard)

In November of last year, as the rapper's success began to rise, Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire took to his Tumblr to share a few words: "What [an] ill fuckin' journey this year has been for me! When that New Year's Ball dropped, I would have never thought I'd be on TV, magazines, websites, and all this shit... Man, 9 months ago I was in a fucking small-ass booth checking parking tickets, now I'm a starving artist... shit fuck's my head up. I just be wanting to stop right here cuz I never thought I'd make it this far. Too late now [though], I told my nigga Trax once, "We gotta make money now, cause we can't get no broker!"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hyperbolic Chamber Music: Lakutis - "POOL PARTY" (Dapwell & Battles for Mishka NYC)

Hyperbolic Chamber Music is essentially one long, free-form 22-minute-long posse cut commissioned by Mishka NYC and [entirely] produced by Ryan Hemsworth. Amongst it's included 27 up-and-comers are: MondreM.A.N. Squadda B, Kool A.D. Big Baby Gandhi, Fat Tony, and Shady Blaze. Average Russian-American John Q. Public and Das Racist-affiliated rapper, Aleksey "Lakutis" Weintraub appears @ some point during "Hyperbolic Chamber Music"'s latter 1/2. Lakutis' 2-3 bars have since been segmented into "Pool Party," which now has it's own companion music video... directed by Das Racist and Battles members, Dapwell and [drummer] John Strainer.

Roughly a 2-minute affair, "Pool Party" comes off as weirdly low budget D.I.Y. yet surprisingly endearing and heart-felt. Dapwell manages to employ a gaggle of go-to camera tricks: swanky furniture, flashing lights, an e-cigarette, geometric shapes, and "explosive" stock footage. Lakutis' most recent EP, I'm In The Forest is now available over @ Bandcamp (Greedhead), while "Hyperbolic Chamber Music" is currently streaming and download-able online, via Mishka's Soundcloud page.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

128 Beats Per Minute: Diplo & Nicky da B - "Express Yourself" (New Orleans Bounce)

Philly-bred DJ, Thomas Wesley "Diplo[docus]" Pentz has recently gone against music production's coveted behind-the-scenes nature by essentially becoming the world's mos recognizable champion of Dubstep and various progressive Dance-based formats. In recent days, Diplo has managed to bridge the gap between underground independence and mainstream success... working with house-hold names like: Beyoncé, Wale, Usher, Passion Pit, Lil' Wayne, Chris Brown, Das Racist, Yelawolf & Fefe Dobson. Pentz is nearly 18 tracks deep into a mysterious full-length joint album along with Snoop Dogg, of which little else is known. Before breaking onto the Electronic music scene in 2003, Diplo worked as a Philadelphia-area school teacher: Mr. Pentz.

Dilpo is gearing up to liberate his latest solo release, a 6-track EP titled Express Yourself (May); It looks like Elephant Man, Datsik, Sabi, LAzerdisk Party Sex, and Billy The Gent will be featured within. Earlier today, the companion music video for lead single, "Express Yourself" was released online. Directed by LILINTERNET & Shomi Patwary, it basically showcases 2 of Diplo's favourite things: beats & asses... alongside New Orleans' finest Bounce rapper, Nicky da B. Brief glimpses of Diplo himself can be seen inter-spliced between ass shots and juxtaposed against NOLA's bleak, carnage-laden city backdrop(s). Make sure to pick up a copy of Express Yourself EP along with Dilpo's premier book, 128 Beats Per Minute when they arrive on May [unspecified date], 2012.

The Rise & Fall of American Idol #1: Kelly Clarkson - "Stronger" (What Doesn't Kill You)

Anyone else remember Kelly Clarkson? "Miss Independent"'s career, since winning American Idol (Season 1) has fluctuated almost as readily as her weight over the past 10 or so years. But I really do think that Kelly Clarkson is a beautiful, shapely woman who has an amazing, far-reaching set of pipes! Her soprano abilities have allowed her to maintain a [Pop] Rock edge, while still managing to release Country-tinged Ballads, akin to her Lone Star State roots. I must admit that I've paid fairly close attention to Clarkson's brief, yet productive career and have thoroughly enjoyed singles like "Since U Been Gone" (2004) and "Walk Away" (2006). Kelly Clarkson somehow has the ability to write infectious, meaningful Pop songs that manage to reach a shit-load of people; Sometimes even those who don't generally enjoy that sort of thing, like yours truly.

The title track and second single from her latest album, Stronger... her fifth album, to be exact, which was released way back on October 21, 2011... is also pretty great, if you ask me! Since it's initial release, "Stronger" has become Kelly Clarkson's third #1 single, effectively making her the first artist to top nearly all of Billboard's Hot 100 charts: Dance/Club Play Songs, Country Songs, Adult Contemporary, and Adult Pop Songs. The companion Shane Drake-directed music video for "Stronger" (What Doesn't Kill You) progressively builds and becomes more "complicated" along with the track's structure. But it's essentially a performance-based video inter-spliced with with scenes of Clarkson fans performing a choreographed dance routine. Kelly Clarkson watches various clips in some sort of control room and in it's final scenes, features Clarkson dancing along with with her rhythmically-talented flash mob.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hand-Made Wooden Glasses: Shwood x Bodega - "The Bushmills" (Canby, #100)

Shwood has joined forces with BUSHMILLS Irish Whiskey and Boston, MA boutique, Bodega on a limited run of Shwood's "Canby" frame style... crafted from genuine BUSHMILLS Irish Whiskey barrels. Limited to 100 pieces, the White Oak used for the frames dates back over 100 years! The eyewear is packaged in a custom wooden whiskey crate, with a crowbar to pry it open and get the goods.
Based in Portland, Oregon Shwood creates hand-crafted wooden eyewear using fine exotic hardwoods. Shwood's in-house manufacturing process merges precision technology with classic skilled craftsmanship to create a timeless art form. Every step from veneering and precision lens cutting, to shaping and finishing is conducted in our own Portland-based workshop to promise an entirely handcrafted eyewear piece.

- Shwood Eyewear

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"It's a Long Way to The Top, If You Wanna Rock "N" Roll:" The Skins - Bandcamp 3 EP (Brooklyn Youth)

When I first heard The Skins' "Summertime," I thought it sounded vaguely like Rage Against The Machine as told through the aggressive, long-forgotten voice of Led Zeppelin's orphaned "children." Formed @ Brooklyn's own [Paul Green] School of Rock, The Skins consists of 3 siblings: Bayli (18), Kaya (16), and Reef Mckeithan (13), along with friends Daisy Spencer (18) and Russell Chell (19) on guitar. Indeed talented far beyond their lack of collective years, The Skins started up-keeping a pretty rigorous Manhattan/Brooklyn area touring schedule @ some point during Summer 2011.

The band's premier release, an untitled 3-track EP was unleashed to the masses back on Jan. 1st; Ben Rice lent his recording & mixing talents, while Dale Becker went in and mastered everything after the fact, with semi-cryptic album art provided by Aya Brown. The Skins EP is rounded out by "Getting Down" and "Ocean" and is now available over @ Bandcamp for just $1/track. I've been talking with Miss Daisy Spencer and if all goes well, a full band interview should be soon forthcoming... Stay tuned, ladies & gents! Shouts to my amiga, Arelie Gutierrez for the introduction!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Re-Tom Breihan Presents: Usher & Dilpo - "Climax" (Mad Decent x LaFace)

Earlier this year, Usher linked with Diplo to make "Climax," a pretty amazing heartbroken R&B track with masterful Dance-music flourishes and an excellently subtle string arrangement from Indie-Classical wunderkind, Nico Muhly. It's an early contender for Single of The Year (2012) and a fine reminder that, no matter what you may think of Usher and/or Diplo, they are both extremely good @ driving their respective lanes. The new "Climax" video is a bit of fairly typical R&B-video melodrama, all about Usher contemplating the different tragic paths he and his ladyfriend could take, but it's a nice excuse to enjoy the song again. Watch it below... Usher hasn't announced a new album yet or anything, but the "Climax" single is @ iTunes now.

- Tom Breihan (Stereogum)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fear Fun with Aubrey Plaza: Father John Misty - "Hollywood Forever, Cemetery Sings" (Sub Pop)

"Father John Misty" is the newly-adopted nom de plume of former Fleet Foxes drummer, J. Tillman. While it's not exactly a "Hip-Hop" album by definition, Tillman's story evokes repeat run-ins with 3 of the genre's most commonly employed [de]vices: bitches, drugs & money. Father John Misty's upcoming debut full-length, Fear Fun (May) essentially chronicles one man's journey as he lets his guard down for the first time and takes some risks... "weird-ass songs about weird-ass experiences [written] almost in real-time" and then re-recorded with a handful of local LA-area musical friends. Josh Tillman has been recording and releasing music under his given name since about 2003, but just now feels as though he's finally coming into his own as a singer-songwriter. Fear Fun will eventually be followed up with a companion J. Tillman-penned novel, which was written during the same spontaneous coastal roadtrip that spawned the album's initial demo recordings.

Initially premiered over at Entertainment Weekly back on January 31st, "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" was slowly liberated across the waves of The Inter-web in the coming weeks soon thereafter; Music video director, Noel Paul really went out on a limb when casting Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Rec) as the crazy deranged, yet mildly entertaining lead role. Plaza proceeds to effectively ruin everyone else's "good time." Ravaging her way through a funeral procession... Aubrey Plaza wrecks and eats flowers, partially strips, table dancing, smoking an apple, and generally causing a ruckus. Brief glimpses of J. Tillman can be seen throughout the course of the music video, but let's just say he makes his presence known in it's final scenes! Sub Pop has likened various moments on Fear Fun to Led Zeppelin, George Harrison, Waylon Jennings, Harry Nilsson, and Arthur Russell. Father John Misty is currently on a short, buzz-building tour leading up to the album's slated May 1st release date.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Wolf Presents: Vex Ruffin - "Eulogy" EP (The Cure & DMX-Fried Punk Rock?)

Vex Ruffin releases his second EP today entitled Eulogy, which we're currently making available as a free download. The new work is a follow-up to his debut effort, Crash Course EP. The 6-track Eulogy EP picks up with the minimalist Pop of "Secret Weapon," Post-Punk "Perfect Congestion," and Goth, Dark Wave title track. Like Crash Course, all of the tracks on Eulogy were written, performed, and recorded solely by Vex. Stones Throw plans on releasing a vinyl edition of Eulogy EP as well as a third, as-yet Untitled EP this Summer followed by Vex Ruffin's full-length debut in the Fall...

- Stones Throw (Staff)

Vex's live band will be playing a series of shows in Austin @ SXSW music conference, including the official Stones Throw showcase on March 13th. With the addition of drummer Liv Marsico, the four-piece band brings to life songs that were previously only performed solo by Vex Ruffin in his [home] studio. The band will also be playing a warm-up show @ Stones Throw's bi-monthly party, "56" in Los Angeles on March 8th.

Monday, March 5, 2012

"TV Party Tonight:" John Belushi, Hardcore Funnyman (Live from New York - 1982)

30 years ago today way back in 1982 - a greatly unique, [w]reckless, and promising young man passed away @ the hands of one last fatal "speedball:" John Belushi. He was an up-and-coming comedian, who really only revealed a segment of his many talents to the word while briefly on top. Belushi was a member of the inaugural Saturday Night Live cast (1975), along with buddies Chevy Chase & Dan Aykroyd. SNL-bred John Belushi characters which present-day audiences might recognize include: Jake E. Blues & Kuldorth [Conehead]. Following his 1979 departure from the popular sketch comedy show, Belushi appeared in a number of successful movies and assorted TV shows: National Lampoon's Animal House, The Rutles, 1941, The Blues Brothers, and lastly Neighbors (1981). At the time of his sudden death, Belushi was working on a number of projects, which were ultimately cancelled.

A little known John Belushi-related factoid is that he was an avid Hardcore Punk fan and aficionado; Perfectly aligned with the genre's 1975-80 rise, Belushi was presumably a fan of East Coast Hardcore's finest bands... Black Flag, Minor Threat, The Ramones, The Misfits, Fear, Beastie Boys, Scream, Bad Brains, etc. John Belushi was instrumental in booking Fear for his Halloween 1981 "comeback" appearance [hosting] SNL. Hardcore Punk was still figuring itself out as a genre and I bet that American youth had never seen anything quite like it on Live TV! Fear's aggressive set has since gone down as Punk folklore: Ian MacKaye slamdancing alongside John Belushi, an New York press-deemed "riot," flying Jack-O-Lanterns, nationally broadcasted curse words, and roughly $500,000+ worth of studio damage. John Belushi was a hard-PARTYING Rock "N" Roll funnyman who truly led a life of excess; Imminently peacing out with the 3 things he loved most... booze, dope & women!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reebok Classics Presents: Action Bronson & Party Supplies - "Blue Chips?" (Fool's Gold Bootleg)

"Blue Chips" is an off-the-cuff, spontaneous project that started as a vibe session one Winter afternoon... and spiraled into a 17-song dusted journey through the warped comedic minds of Action Bronson and the prodigy producer/artist known simply as Party Supplies. This journey includes appearances by Roc Marci, Meyhem Lauren, and Das Racist and was recorded in the confines of Party Supplies' Williamsburg, [Brooklyn] chalet. It's a "project," as opposed to a mixtape or an album and sits in a nether world somewhere between the two. Most of all, it's a moment in time made [during] a 3-week period of hanging out at Party Supplies' house. In between cheese plates, snaps and spliffs the 2 artists came up with this testament of creativity and spontaneity! #March12th

- Reebok Classics

Friday, March 2, 2012

Open Up & Bleed: DOPE BODY - "Lazy Slave" (Hardcore Punk Revival, Baltimore?)

As cliche as it sounds, Punk Rock is NOT just a mere fad; Angst-filled youth rebellion is something that will never go out of style! But let's face it, even today's finest Hardcore bands are way less "threatening" and society-damning than they used to be. Then again, it seems as though we're currently experiencing a "Hardcore Punk Revival," of sorts... with fresh, new bands like Fucked Up, Diarrhea Planet, WEIRD WIVES (Surfer Blood), Pissed Jeans, Death Grips, PARTY ANIMAL, and Odd Future popping up every so often. But on the other hand, the sum of all these musical parts don't even begin to stack up against the single greatest Hardcore band of all time: Black Flag!

Dope Body are an aggressive young bunch of D.I.Y. musicians, hailing from Baltimore, MD. Andrew Laumann, Zach Utz, and David Jacober have been creating mashed-up Noise Rock together as part of the city's "Wham City" scene since roughly 2008. John Jones was recently brought into the fold to help beef up Dope Body's sound, which has been getting progressively more polished and cleaned up with each release since Twenty-Pound Brick (2009). The follow-up to their critically-acclaimed 2011 album, Nupping is slated for a May 22nd release on new label, Drag City. Just yesterday afternoon, Dope Body decided to unleashed Natural History's premier sampling [single]: "Lazy Slave." And man, it plays out like a swift, crippling punch to the gut!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pink, It's Not Even a Question: Liv Tyler for Givenchy - "Need You Tonight" (INXS)

The true, unhinged genesis of Pop Culture is often revealed when actors try to flip the script and attempt to start up a "singing career," or even vice versa. While they might not always garner the most sonically pleasing results, it's definitely something to see! Honorable mentions include: Bruce Willis, "Marky Mark" Wahlberg, Lindsay Lohan, Keanu Reeves, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Though the latest actress up to bat has quite the musical background - Liv Tyler. Her father's been the flamboyant frontman behind Aerosmith since nearly 1970 and Tyler [herself] even appeared on a Leonard Cohen cover along with Lemonheads (2009), a liner note which for the most part flew under the radar.

Liv Tyler recently teamed up with perfume brand, Givenchy and Swedish director, Johan Renck to produce a very compelling full-length music video: "Need You Tonight." While the Industrial-tinged INXS cover's producer is currently unknown, it kinda has a New Age meets Nine Inch Nails-type of vibe. Renck's black & white music video is essentially a long-form commercial that's attempting to promote Givenchy's latest perfume scent, "Electric Rose." I'm almost positive that no one who buys Givenchy is gonna know that this is a perfume spot or an INXS re-work, for that matter; Man, Liv Tyler looks really hot for being a ripe ol' 34! But the true irony of it all... "The Fame" (Pop Culture) could've been what ended up killing INXS frontman, Michael Hutchence in November 1997.