Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fool's Gold Presents: Cam'ron, A-Trak & Party Supplies - "Humphrey" (Federal Reserve EP)

"WOOOOOO PARTTTTTYYYYY SUPPPPLLIIEESSS. "@ILLROOTS: CAM'RON & A-TRAK - HUMPHREY..." exclaimed Queens emcee Action Bronson in 140 characters or less; his Blue Chips 2 partner-in-crime and current tour-mate Party Supplies jointly co-produced the premier track from label-boss A-Trak and Cam'ron. What could quite arguably be labelled the Dipset general's long sought-after comeback, Federal Reserve EP is reportedly due out sometime this spring and will additionally feature Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, Just Blaze (drum programming), and executive producer Dame Dash. While the greater Hip-Hop-trolling corner of The Internet initially believed that Cam'ron's opening bars, "Dame said I'm 'bout it cuz I wanna fight B-Hop. I said I'll f*ck him up after 2 months of detox - true. Besides that, 8 mill from Reebok, I take him to the bar, pa. That's 33 shots..." was a lyrical jab at Jay-Z's cousin and Roc-Nation-affiliate B-High; it was actually a clever multi-layered reference to an upcoming in-the-works fight with World Middleweight Boxing champ Bernard Hopkins aka B-Hop. But it could end up being a total blood-fest because as Cam'ron himself puts it, he "hasn't knocked anyone out since '05." Rest assured, A-Trak & Cam'ron are currently prepping their Federal Reserve EP for a release this spring on Fool's Gold/Poppington/Dipset. All the while, A-Trak is rumored to be working on a number of additional collaborative projects alongside producer Lex Luger, Disco-House revivalist Duck Sauce's long-awaited full-length, and a possible DJ super-group with buddies Diplo & Skrillex.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Here and Nowhere Else: Cloud Nothings - "I'm Not Part of Me" (Carpark/Mom + Pop)

"I'm Not Part of Me" is the perfect kind of disjointed, yet introspective brand of Lemonheads-influenced Indie Rock that's almost tailor-made for use on modern Rom-Com film soundtracks. Cloud Nothings frontman Dylan Baldi recently described the band's forthcoming new album, Here and Nowhere Else as more "refined" and "subtle" that their previous works. Baldi further elaborated in a press release that "I was feeling pretty good about everything, so I just made stuff that made me happy. I had nothing to be angry about really, so the approach was more positive and less 'fuck everything.'" Ahead of Here and Nowhere Else's March 26-April 1st world-wide release, "I'm Not Part of Me" was unleashed Monday morning along with cover art, an 8-song tracklist, proper release details, etc. Since being initially established by Dylan Baldi as a one-man bedroom project back in 2009, Cloud Nothings has grown to include TJ Duke & Jayson Gerycz, who were brought on as full-time band members during third album, Attack On Memory's roll-out (2012). "Been itching to talk about this for a while, so I'm glad @cloud_nothings dropped their best song yet as a single," Tweeted Pitchfork writer Ian Cohen, who's seemingly been spinning "I'm Not Part of Me" and the sonic fruits of Baldi and friends' labors for a while now. Here and Nowhere Else is currently available for pre-order in North America through imprints Carpark and Mom + Pop, as of Wednesday morning; a number of deluxe to basic packages are available online... including everything from light blue vinyl and a Michael DeForge-designed shirt to standard CD/download package.

Monday, January 27, 2014

SONOS PLAYBAR Presents: N.A.S.A. & Karen O - "I Shot The Sheriff" (Grammy's commercial)

Well, it sounds like Lana del Rey wasn't the only artist to debut new music during a Grammy commercial break last night; Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O has once again teamed up with N.A.S.A. aka Sam Spiegel (Spike Jonze's brother) for a twinkling Reggae-infused cover of Eric Clapton by way of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff." Initially appearing within a brief 30-second SONOS PLAYBAR spot, "I Shot The Sheriff" was soon re-uploaded to Soundcloud in full-length form, as well as select digital retailers. Speaking as both a music writer and a fan of both Marley and Clapton's original versions, I'd quite honestly say that N.A.S.A. & Karen O's updated take is a fresh, new, slightly club-ready version of a decades old classic about love, loss, and remorse. Without any apparent further pans for a follow-up to N.A.S.A.'s 2009 debut, The Spirit of Apollo and Indie Rock darlings Yeah Yeah Yeahs' most recent album, Mosquito already in circulation, I'd guess it's pretty safe to say that "I Shot The Sheriff" is just a SONOS-sponsored one-off collaboration, for now at least.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Jr. - "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today" (PRODUCE, mixtape Vol. 1)

"We were working on samples to make a beat and we ended up sampling the Nina Simone version of Randy Newman's "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today" (1968), Josh Epstein recently told Paste Magazine in an exclusive premier-interview, which contrary to popular belief, dos not in fact sample Super Mario Brothers. Epstein along with fellow Detroit musician Daniel Zott are 2-man Indie-Pop band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. who just released their second album, The Speed of Things back in October. Simply based off it's attached Souncloud cover artwork, "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today" will seemingly appear on Jr. Jr.'s forthcoming mixtape, PRODUCE, Vol. 1; set to feature a wide array of acclaimed rapper-producers including Murs, Slim of 112, Chuck Inglish, Quelle Chris, Asher Roth, Tunde Olaniran, King Chip, Self Says, Goldenboyz, and more. It'll definitely be pretty interesting to hear what Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.'s Weezer-indebted brand of Indie-Pop will sound like infused with a little added Hip-Hop flair. Further release details on PRODUCE were currently unavailable at press time... But according to a January 18th dual-Tweet directed at rappers @tundeolaniran & @SelfSays, "It's coming before February," which is very soon!!! Meanwhile, their latest GIF breakdown-worthy Claire Marie Vogel-directed video-single, "Run" [below] premiered over at Buzzfeed roughly 2 weeks ago.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

David Letterman Art-Installation: No Age - "C'mon Stimmung" (I Won't Be Your Generator)

It's pretty damn awesome that David Letterman's people are even remotely interested in booking a disjointed post-Nirvana Sub Pop Art-Punk band like No Age to perform on national TV; following film director and special guest Spike Jonze, drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall took the Letterman side-stage during the wee hours of Thursday night into Friday morning. The band had seemingly re-outfitted the set with stark white sheets, including Spunt's drum kit, and wore matching denim outfits... essentially rendering Late Night with David Letterman into a quasi-art gallery installation, while ripping through "C'mon Stimmung." Not even 5-6 hours after their Letterman performance, No Age released a brand new Oliver Payne-directed video for album track, "I Won't Be Your Generator" in true Noise-Punk Rock fashion, as well. It's an artfully weird intimate-object(s) collage, presented in stark contrast against their recent "C'mon Stimmung" live TV pre-recorded performance video. Both aforementioned tracks appear on No Age's months-old Sub Pop record, An Object, which Dean Spunt & Randy Randall personally helped "prepare and assemble the physical packaging of An Object... fusing the roles of manufacturer, artist, and musician into one" along with assistance from Grammy-nominated designer and close friend Brian Roettingen.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Matt Swinsky & ATL Twins Present: Black Lips - "Boys In The Wood" (VICE Records)

When describing their forthcoming album, Underneath The Rainbow to Rolling Stone back in December, Black Lips bassist Jared Swilley said that "'Boys In The Wood" is an ode to Lynyrd Skynyrd and growing up in Atlanta... [it's] about doing bathtub drugs and doing bathtub gin;" a sentiment which is without a doubt echoed through out the course of their grizzly, just-released "Boys In The Wood" video. For whatever reasons, it was jointly directed by Matt Swinsky and James Franco-affiliated weirdos The ATL Twins and by non-Internet standards, "Boys In The Wood" would surely be rated R (aka totally NSFW). It's kinda like a twisted backwoods video-collage chock-full of blood, piss streams, wrestling, masked vixens, blazin' fire, general weirdness, sex, drugs & Rock "N" Roll all captured in 4K vision. Underneath The Rainbow was recorded between New York and Nashville with musicians-producers Tommy Brenneck and Patrick Carney of Budos Band and The Black Keys, respectively; "Just to clarify, our new album is not a Country record, nor is it a Southern Rock album. It's Elvis from the waist down," read a witty December Tweet. Frontman Cole Alexander is taking The Black Lips out on a massive 40+ date spring tour spanning from March through May, along with openers The Coathangers and Natural Child, ahead of 12-track romper Underneath The Rainbow, which will see a March 18th release on VICE Records and is currently available for pre-order online.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Method Records Presents: Disclosure & Bishop Nehru - "You Stressin'" (Soundcloud Bootleg)

"Got a new track with @BishopNehru called "You Stressin'" produced by us. Coming out on @MethodRecords," English super-producers Disclosure Tweeted Tuesday evening along with a Soundcloud link; following a productive week full of collaborations with Q-Tip, Mary J. Blige, and an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (Monday). Electro-brothers Guy & Howard Lawrence linked up with the 17-year-old New York rapper for their first recorded foray into Hip-Hop, aside from Slum Village-sampling album track "Grab Her!" BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe debuted "You Stressin'" on his web-radio show Tuesday afternoon and an untagged version was re-upped to Bishop Nehru's Soundcloud page soon thereafter. Disclosure's production is without a doubt indebted to the late great J Dilla and honestly, it's a pretty solid Electro-Rap effort for the rising emcee-producer team; Bishop Nehru somehow teeters the line between 1980's Boom-Bap and modern day Hip-Hop, while he feverishly weaves his way through the beat in a way not entirely dissimilar from Wu-Tang Clan's social urgency. Disclosure's critically-acclaimed debut Settle is now available for purchase, while Nehru is currently working on a long-rumored DOOM collaborative EP, NehruvianDOOM, and "You Stressin'" is expected to see an eventual re-release on Disclosure's own Method Records imprint sooner than later.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Merchandise - "Begging for Your Life / In The City Light" (4AD 12-inch re-release)

I must admit, I was initially drawn to "Post-Punk" band Merchandise because a recently-penned Ad-Hoc article likened their sound to that of The Smiths, who just so happen to be on of my favourite bands. Between their rapid-fire 2012-13 albums, Children of Desire and Totale Night, the band's membership quickly multiplied from three to five; now including Carson Cox, David Vassalotti, Elsner Niño, Patrick Brady, and sax player Chris Horn. Marking the announcement of their new-found partnership with Indie label 4AD, Merchandise unleashed a limited run clear 12" for "Begging for Your Life / In The City Light," a 14-minute track which was previously released on a split Chelsea Light Moving tour cassette. While 1,000 12-inches were briefly available for pre-order, set to ship on February 25th, 4AD almost instantly sold out and "Begging for Your Life" is now alternatively available on iTunes and a number of other digital retailers. For all intensive purposes, Merchandise took it upon themselves to edit down and upload a 4-minute stream of "Begging for Your Life / In The City Light" to YouTube, for those of us not lucky enough to score a numbered 12" record. It's a brooding piano and feedback-drenched romper of a squealing Jazz-infused Punk Rock track, which actually comes in around the 6-7 minute mark, but it's definitely quite an interesting listen! Merchandise are currently holed up in their Tampa, Florida home-studio writing and recording the proper follow-up to Totale Nite (2013). Frontman Carson Cox recently spoke to NME about the album's progress and overall vibe: "We're going to re-make ourselves as a Pop band. We don't have to put any long songs on the album, so now we can just do a formal Pop record. I'm talking about Pop, Rock, and R&B. I feel like it's going to be moody and sentimental."

Friday, January 17, 2014

Little Bit of Gold & a Pager: Chuck Inglish & Chromeo - "Legs" (Federal Prism)

While The Cool Kids have barely scratched the surface of their recent Retro-Rap return to form, rapper-producer Chuck Inglish is still planning to soldier ahead with his long-rumored album, Convertibles; now coincidentally complete with an April 8th release on Dave Sitek's newly-formed Federal Prism imprint. Chance The Rapper, Mac Miller, Action Bronson, Ab-Soul, buddy Sir Michael Rocks, and more are set to appear deep within. Federal Prism and Inglish's own Sounds Like Fun label unleashed a double-hitter of singles Thursday afternoon: "Legs" and "Came Thru/Easily" assisted by Chromeo, Mac Miller, and Ab-Soul (respectively). Chuck Inglish, Dave 1 & P-Thugg have almost seamlessly melded together their separate styles to create the buttery smooth Disco-Funk/Hip-Hop hybrid, now also known as "Legs." Although I must admit, genre-blending collaborations like these don't always end up sounding as good as they might seem on paper. But judging by Chuck Inglish's freshly leaked Chromeo team-up, Convertibles is poised to be chock-full of 12 tracks-worth of cutting-edge Retro-Rap hybrids. While Inglish is presumably busy putting the finishing touches on Convertibles, Chromeo are wrapping up their own forthcoming album, tentatively titled White Women. "We chose the title because it's the name of the first Helmut Newton book. He's a huge influence on us... you know, the legs, that 80's sexy look. And we thought the title was ballsy, funny, was going to get people thinking," Chromeo answered in a September Reddit AMA session. It's rumored to feature contributions from Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig, Solange, Toro Y Moi, Pat Mahoney (LCD Soundsystem), Fool's Gold signees Oliver, and Tawatha Agee of Mtume fame; while a solid album release date has still yet to be announced.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Beats, Rhythms & Life: BADBADNOTGOOD - "CS60" (III, Innovative Leisure)

Following a steady stream of FREE-releases and countless Hip-Hop covers, Canadian Jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD (BBNG) are finally gearing up to release their first label-backed album, III for Innovative Leisure. I think it's pretty safe to say that Chester Hansen, Alex Sowinski & Matt Tavares have progressed leaps and bounds since their early days of covering Odd Future and Waka Flocka Flame album tracks; instead, now penning their own original tracks with a definitive Hip-Hop-like edge. BADBADNOTGOOD's most recently released track, "CS60," seemingly pronounced "sexy," is a slightly darker 7-minute Jazz piece, which Complex vaguely confirms will indeed appear within III. Wu-Tang Clan-affiliated producer Frank Dukes and multi-instrumentalist River Tiber (cello) lent some additional recording assistance, perhaps outside of BBNG's typical cannon of knowledge. "CS60" seems to mark a new Jazzier and dare I say, more "adult contemporary" direction for the three classically trained Jazz musicians, who's fan-base now includes a bunch of impressionable young Hip-Hop & Jazz-informed teenagers. III will supposedly include both "CS60" and another recent track, "Hedron" is rumored to see a CD, vinyl, etc. release sometime this year on Los Angeles-based imprint, Innovative Leisure; a recent Facebook post claims that "2014 IS GOING TO BE VERY BASED WITH THAT NEW ALBUM [III] AND SOME OTHER RELEASES..." The bulk of BADBADNOTGOOD's roughly 60-track discography is still available for download online through their Bandcamp page and various file-sharing sites.

The Boys Are Back In Town: The Cool Kids - "Computer School" & "Chop" (HBK Gang)

Well, I can't say I'm rally all THAT surprised, but it sounds like Chicago's very own 1980-90's Boom-Bap revivalists The Cool Kids are finally back together... or as Chuck Inglish recently told fellow rapper-producer and apparent super-fan Tyler, The Creator, "Never stopped...It was just a time-out;" contrary to what Sir Michael Rocks (formerly Mikey Rocks) told AllHipHop back in December 2012, "We'll probably do something else, but as The Cool Kids and as Shark Week, no. Those ideas are done, and we're on something different now." Ahead of their long-rumored second album Shark Week, the loose follow-up to Gone Fishing, Tacklebox, and When Fish Ride Bicycles (2009-11), The Cool Kids simultaneously unleashed 2 new tracks on the unsuspecting Internet Monday afternoon, "Computer School" and "Chop." Chuck Inglish & Mikey Rocks' own Cake Recordings imprint will seemingly self-release their new/shelved recordings, to avoid major label set-backs that plagued their career early on; "Computer School" is nothing short of neck-snapping Retro-Future Hip-Hop in the same vein as The Cool Kids' formative Totally Flossed Out EP (roughly 2007). While "Chop," on the other hand, features a little help from Bay Area-based rap crew, HBK Gang and isn't too far off from their "throwback, perfect-for-the-whip steez as their early work," as my colleague Andy Bustard perfectly puts it. 2014 will not only usher in The Cool Kids' re-booted new album Shark Week, but head-producer Chuck Inglish's long-awaited Federal Prism full-length, Convertibles, as well. Both of which currently lack any form of solid release date, but rest assured, will be released this calendar year!

Friday, January 10, 2014

An Alfred Hitchcock Presentation: King Krule - "A Lizard State" (True Panther Sounds)

"Archy [Marshall] and I both love Hitchcock and we've spent a lot of time away from music talking about his films... I had this idea of Hitchcock introducing King Krule. I've seen every episode of Hitchcock Presents and every introduction that he gives is brilliant - you could use any episode and it would work. We loved the idea of Archy defying gravity and that being the setting for his performance," lamented interestingly-named director Jamie-James Medina in a recent True Panther web-press release. "A Lizard State" is only the second single pulled from King Krule's August-released debut, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon; modeled after Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 thriller Dial M for Murder, frontman Archy Marshall appears to be performing in some sort of anti-gravity room. 19-year-old Marshall kinda sounds like a whiskey-soaked Beat-Jazz singer mashed with a slightly misguided Lil' Wayne-like cadence (ie: "You're a bunch of f**king fat bitches"), as my lovely girlfriend noted upon viewing the black-and-white "Lizard State" video. Her and I were lucky enough to witness King Krule's blistering string of state-side dates back in early December at Philly's very own hole-in-the-wall bar/venue, Johnny Brenda's. What Jamie-James Medina has somehow manged to create seamlessly melds styles new and old, which I feel is basically the sheer epitome of King Krule; from his vaguely Beatnik-like sensibility, broad-shouldered suits, and Hip-Hop-tinged 2 Tone Ska swagger. Needles to say, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon is now available for your mass audio-consumption, and it's quite honestly one of 2012's best albums!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Action Bronson Presents: Party Supplies - "Security" & "Working Out" (The Fat Jew)

When functioning as Action Bronson's Soft-Rock-flipping power-producer, "Party Supplies" is the one-man moniker of Brookyln-bred own Justin Nealis. But Nealis recently started working with multi-instrumentalist buddy Sean Mahon and together, they created post-Blue Chips 2 masterpiece, Tough Love (Fool's Gold). After a few minor technical difficulties over the weekend, @xpartysuppliesx Tweeted "as a band, sean and I have always wanted to write a song like this, so we did" mid-Monday afternoon, along with a still video/download link to Security;" a track that he further describes as 2014 Steve Miller Band and #motown, which was created using a sunburst Fender Telecaster seemingly given to him by frequent collaborator Action Bronson & The Alchemist. "Security" isn't exactly Hip-Hop, more along the lines a shimmery Island-tinged Pop-Rock jam... But it's perfect music for a chilly winter day like today, where most of the East Coast is enduring single digits temperatures or colder, BRRR! Just mere hours after unleashing "Security," which I'm unsure will eventually end up re-appearing, Party Supplies uploaded a BRAND NEW video for Tough Love album cut, "Working Out." Directed by Sebastian Bear-McClard, Adult Swim web-producer Nick Gallo (@NickyBalls ha), and starring the one and only Fat Jew; Fool's Gold goes on to describe "Working Out" as "a gleefully obscene epic about life, love, and jail that somehow finds emotional truth in absurd, wildly immature toilet humor [NSFW]. You'll get a little verklempt." Fool's Gold dually notes that they plan to re-release Party Supplies critically-acclaimed debut Tough Love on CD and vinyl with bonus remixes from The Knocks, Lazerdisk, and more this upcoming spring.

Kennedy Center Honors... Herbie Hancock: Snoop Dogg - "Gin & Juice" (Cantaloupe Island)

Jazz-Funk pianist Herbie Hancock is quite arguably the Godfather of Hip-Hop; his 1983 Electro-Funk composition "Rockit" is oftentimes cited as an early sonic blueprint for the then budding genre. I can still vividly remember the first time I heard Hancock's music, on an RS 500 [Greatest Songs of All Time] sampler CD around the age of 12-15. It was "Watermelon Man" from his sprawling four-track Head Hunters album (1973) assisted by back-up The Headhunters; more or less a progressive and slowly deconstructing re-make of Herbie Hancock's own 1962 composition, which was originally inspired by "the cry of the watermelon man making the rounds through the back streets and alleys of Chicago. The wheels of his wagon beat out the rhythm on the cobble stones." President Obama & The First Lady amongst DC's finest inducted Herbie Hancock, Martina Arroyo, Billy Joel, Shirley MacLaine, and Carlos Santana at the 36th annual Kennedy Center Honors back on December 8th (my birthday!) World-renowned rapper, honorary pimp, and common house-hold entrepreneur Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion aka Snoopzilla donned a classic suit & tie ensemble to further honor Hancock in front of a bunch of awkwardly excited political delegates. Snoop Dogg and a four-piece Smooth Jazz-Fusion band proceeded to perform a live Hancock-indebted mash-up: "Gin & Juice" inter-woven with US3's 1993 Jazz-Rap mega-hit "Cantaloop," which famously sampled Herbie Hancock's own "Cantaloupe Island" (1964). The entire genre-blending performance can more or less be summed up by Snoop Dogg's closing remark, "Thank you for creating Hip-Hop. Hancock is supposedly working on some sort of mysterious new project along with Brain Feeder label-head Flying Lotus and modern day Jazz-Fusion bassist Thundercat, while further release details are currently unknown.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Perils of TMZ-style Reporting: Dan Auerbach & "Bob Dylan's Hair?" (The Black Keys)

In our web-industry, citing TMZ as a source is basically the real-world journalist equivalent of using Wikipedia as a source on a high school or college senior term paper; it's just something you're better off NOT doing, if possible because sites like these aren't generally the most reliable or accurate sources. But with that said, I think I'm about to commit blogger treason and cite TMZ within this very post (please forgive me!)... Back in late August, Pitchfork reported that Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach supposedly lost an interesting asset which court papers described as "Bob Dylan hair" amidst his bitter divorce from ex-wife Stephanie Gonis. While it was then "unclear how the hair was obtained, when it was obtained, [or] if the hair [contained] any product," an updated TMZ report uploaded Friday morning specifies that Auerbach was never actually in possession of Dylan's curly locks. Dan Auerbach himself recently told a guerrilla cameraman that the now-infamous "Bob Dylan's hair" listed in court documents was in fact a nickname he and Gonis had given to a psychedelic poster. The poster in question, seemingly titled simply "DYLAN," was designed by artist Milton Glaser during the 1960-70's and looks to be the inspiration behind ?uestlove's long-rumored Mo' Meta Blues jacket design (June 2013). Whether it's really to be believed or not, Auerbach says that "if he ever decides he wants an authentic lock from Bob [Dylan], he now has a pipeline into the singer to get one, thanks to a generous Dylan family member;" The Tennessean continues that "Bob Dylan's son" [Jakob] texted Auerbach after the divorce papers leaked, assuring him that "if you really need a lock of his hair, I can probably get it for you." Yeah, I'll admit, this is all pretty bizarre, but weirdly awesome at the same time... Although it kinda all makes perfect sense: Jakob Dylan recently wrapped up a few mystery sessions at Dan Auerbach's own Nashville-based Easy Eye Sound Studio, where The Black Keys recorded their forthcoming eighth studio album last January-March.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Mediation of Ecstatic Energy; an Interview with Guitar Mastermind Dustin Wong (Japan)

(1) For people not exactly familiar with your musical output, how would you best describe the process of recording with guitar pedals and loops?

I feel like my process is very straightforward. Its just one layer at a time, just like a painting. I use my pedals to change the color or timbre of the guitar. The loop pedal allows me to maintain a canvas, and the pedals and guitar allow me to paint on it.

(2) What sort of new projects, if any, are you currently working on? Would you care to go into a little detail (for each)?

As of now Takako Minekawa and I are working on a new record. I just bought myself a sampler keyboard, its exactly the same model Takako and I use for our duo. I told the public that the last record I made was my last guitar looping record. I wanted to get this sampler for myself and see what kind of sounds I can collect and use for my new adventure of music making.

(3) I recently reviewed your new Soundcloud track, "Foggy Cliffy Night Drive," which is awesome, by the way! Where exactly might that end up?

Thank you! I think for that particular song, its good as it is, it has the right amount of looseness and rawness that I like to keep it as that. I like putting up sketches or songs that has nothing to do with my releases, its just feels more fun that way and it makes it a fun process.

(4) Where would you suggest a new-found Dustin Wong fan start their sonic exploration: Ponytail, Seasons, or another specific part of your discography?

Hmm, that's a tough one and thanks for mentioning Seasons! That record has a special place in my heart since it was all songs written from 2002 to 2007 when I had no idea what I was doing, didn’t really know how to play the guitar that well either. So it was all trial and error, but there was a lot of freedom in that. You know, one thing I really want people to hear is a guitar duo I used to be a part of before Ecstatic Sunshine called Onsen. This was my first experience writing music [with someone] other than myself. My best friend from high school and college and I started writing music together and we didn’t know how to play the guitar but we tried our best, using our best judgment what sounds should come next.
You can download it here (direct link).

(5) How do you think the city in which you live affects your musical output? ie: Baltimore, Japan, etc.

A lot, a city, an apartment can totally change my creative process. Baltimore has so much extroverted energy that was overwhelming at times. For me, its about taking the right amount, no more no less. Japan has such a quiet energy but the introspective aspect is very intense. When I'm on a jam packed train, its quiet but its almost as if I can hear everybody thinking...

(6) It's just about that time of year for everyone's year-end lists; what were some of your personal favorite albums of 2013?

Co La - Moody Coup
Rod Hamilton - Atitlan
Ventla - Smuggled
I am The Center: Private Issue New Age in America 1950-1990

(7) I know it's a couple days late... But what's your personal favorite Christmas-themed movie or CD/song?

A Charlie Brown Christmas, Esquivel! Merry Xmas from The Space-Age Bachelor Pad

(8) So, I'm a self-proclaimed Hip-Hop aficionado myself and I was wondering if you’re into Hip-Hop, too; if so, what were a few of your favorite tracks/albums of 2013?

I don't know if Juke or Chicago Footwork [are] considered Hip-Hop, but Traxman and RP Boo [have] put out some excellent records [in] 2013.

(9) Have you recently discovered any note-worthy new artists, or even friends in bands with new music that you feel my readers should know about?

I saw this band from the UK called HALO HALO in the spring of 2013, they were fantastic! A lot of amazing bands form the UK, Flamingods is another. But like I mentioned earlier, Rod Hamilton and Co La [are] making music I really love.

(10) Little off topic for a music-centric interview... But where would you suggest is the best place to get a burger and a beer, if I'm ever in Baltimore, man?

Oooh! I haven't been there in a year or so, So I don't have the updates but, The Brewer's Art has a killer burger, and in Hamilton there is an excellent burger place called Hamilton Tavern.

(11) I couldn't help but notice your recent interaction(s) with Less Than Jake bassist Roger Lima (@lessthanRAJ), who I personally Twitter-viewed a few years ago... Would you care to briefly explain your relationship with Less Than Jake's music and talk about how it felt to get some positive feedback from an experienced musician like Roger?

I personally don't know Roger, he Tweeted at me out of the blue, which was a real surprise. It was one of those crazy social networking moments, where someone could actually contact you from a completely different world. I grew up on Pop-Punk, when in middle school Pop-Punk was the best thing ever, I did move on to other type of music. It was a really sad moment of my life when I had to move along to other types of music... I wanted Pop-Punk to have the same effect on me forever. It's a real honor getting praises from Roger, he's been at it for a long time!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Vampire Weekend, Danny Brown, Heems & Despot - "Step" (Wintertime Remix)

Just mere minutes before the stroke of 12 midnight New Year's Eve 2013-14, @vampireweekend Tweeted out a pretty self-explanatory mini-message: "wintertime remix of "Step" featuring Danny Brown, Heems & Despot. Happy New Years from Vampire Weekend," along with a smarturl hyper-link. It's the kinda thing that probably shouldn't work anywhere near as well as it actually does, and I'd guess that this is your typical Pitchfork staff writer's ideal wet-dream collabo scenario ha. "Step" (Wintertime Remix) builds off frontman Ezra Koenig's original, penned for Modern Vampires of The City and acts as the B-side to lead single, "Diane Young" [see below]. When juxtaposed against Koenig's past relationship reminiscing lyrics, Danny Brown, Heems & Despot manage to fit in surprisingly well with "Step"'s running theme. While the track's supposedly based off an unreleased and re-purposed Souls of Mischief couplet, this isn't exactly Vampire Weekend's first Hip-Hop-tinged experiment; back in October, Ezra Koenig penned a lengthy 1,195-word quasi-review of Drake's critically-acclaimed album Nothing Was The Same for artist review site, The Talkhouse, while multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij produced a few tracks for Heems' now-defunct rap group Das Racist's first and last album, Relax (2011). And with that said, Vampire Weekend's all-star Hip-Hop "Step" remix is now available for FREE download from file-sharing sites like smarturl, audiomack, etc. and their year-end list-topping album Modern Vampires of The City is now available for your listening pleasure, as well... "próspero año y felicidad," my friends!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Better Late Than Never: The Witzard's Top 5 Albums of 2013 (Happy New Year!)

Let's be honest here, it'd be almost impossible for a part-time writer/web-master like myself with a regular 9-5, too to even attempt to assemble a 50-album year-end list in an effort to "compete" with the Big Dogs like Pitchfork, Stereogum, etc; I think it'd be far more feasible to do a list of my Top 5 Favorite Albums of 2013, not even your typical run-the-mill best of list. So, with that said, here's a collective run-down of the most played artists and companion albums on The Serpent (my 160GB iPod), my car stereo, and personal iTunes library. I tried to compile a pretty diverse broad-spanning list, which ranges from Industrial Aggro-Hip-Hop to Philly-bred "Pig-Fuck." Enjoy the list and Happy New Year!

While The Wizard's #5-ranking album is seemingly an unwarranted 16-track leaked bootleg; the scattered fragments of Jai Paul's long-rumored XL Recordings album. Included within were 16 rough tracks, 3 of which had been previously released, and a cover of mid-90's mega-hit, "Crush." The unreleased album was supposedly uploaded from Jai Paul's stolen laptop and was only available on Bandcamp for about two days before XL and Paul had it taken down. At this point, you might be pretty hard-pressed to find a copy of Jai Paul's leaked non-album online; But @HIMANSHU said it perfectly in 140 characters or less, "jai [paul] made the best album of the year and what happened was [it's] a leak someone stole [from] his laptop [when] his label got fed up with him, y'all forgot?"

Pissed Jeans are a four-piece band from The City of Brotherly Love (Philly) that's led by righteous frontman Matt Korvette. For whatever reasons, their music is often referred to as "Pig-Fuck" ha, but it's basically Metal-infused Hardcore/Noise-Rock. Their latest studio album for Sub Pop, Honeys was released last February; Pissed Jeans ripped through the majority of Honeys' 12 tracks when my buddy Jason Morroni and I saw them at perfectly shitty hole-in-the-wall bar-venue Underground Arts the Friday after the album's release. Honeys spawned two of the year's best music videos, as well: "Bathroom Laughter" and Romanticize Me" (below). Newbie-director Joe Stakun somehow managed to conjure up a pair of tastefully simple, yet mildly offensive star-studded video-singles.

Ringing in the coveted #3 spot, we have America's favorite Albanian-Jewish Rap Singer, Action Bronson and his devilishly good-looking producer buddy, Party Supplies (Justin Nealis) with Blue Chips 2. First off, Bronson isn't your average "white rapper," the former Top Chef is equal parts Ghostface Killah and Rick Ross. Blue Chips 2, the long-awaited sequel to their similarly-titled 2012 effort is anchored by countless off-kilter YouTube-ripped samples; John Cougar Mellencamp, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, "Tequila," The Pharcyde, Quincy Jones, Dionne Warwick, and more. It's a fairly half-assed, disjointed "street album" (mixtape), but trust me, like any good wine or worth-while woman, Blue Chips 2 gets better with age! Action Bronson's finally headed out on The Blue Chips 2 Tour spanning from January 10th to March 3rd and Blue Chips 2 is still available online for FREE download.

Run The Jewels is El-P & Killer Mike's first full-fledged collaborative album, and the epitome of cold hard Hip-Hop. Fool's Gold unleashed Run The Jewels' self-titled/untitled album online for FREE download and later, in a number of for-sale CD and vinyl packages. Aside from a few quick Big Boi, Prince Paul, and Until The Ribbon Breaks guest spots, all 10 tracks were written-recorded by El-P & Killer Mike. Instant highlights include "Banana Clipper," "36" Chain," "Get It," and holiday anti-hit, "A Christmas F**king Miracle." Seasoned producer-rapper El-P sonically melts and contours almost every track into a wildly different mondo-beat mid-way through which makes the painfully short album just feel a little bit longer. Have no fear, Run The Jewels 2 is supposedly already in-the-works for a 2014 release!

It's kinda like an unknown music writer once said, and I paraphrase, Kanye had the best Nine Inch Nails album this year (who released an original album). Said record, Yeezus is a hyper-aggressive 9-track anti-Hip-Hop album, especially for a recently engaged first-time father. It's also littered with sonic fingerprints of Industrial, Chicago Drill, Acid-House, Dancehall, Noise-Rap, etc. Yeezus is arguably a modern day minimalist masterpiece, from it's album cover-less artwork to building-side promotional campaign. To date, three ear-piercing anti-singles have been culled from Yeezus: "Black Skinhead, "Bound 2," and "Blood On The Leaves." Attention College Drop Out enthusiasts: Throwback Kanye Soul BANGER "Bound 2" even received the celebrity re-make treatment, by way of a scene-for-scene James Franco & Seth Rogen video parody, obviously dubbed "Bound 3." Kanye's soon-to-be wife Kim Kardashian even went as far to Tweet, "You nailed it!!! Sooo funny!," echoing their consent of Franco & Rogen's experimental art-project ha.

Honorable Mentions: Queens of The Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork, Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience (Part 1), Elvis Costello & The Roots - Wise Up Ghost, Kings of Leon - Mechanical Bull, Pusha T - My Name Is My Name, Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of The City, Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city, Danny Brown - OLD, Jay-Z - Magna Carta... Holy Grail, King Krule - 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, A$AP Rocky - LONGLIVEA$AP, Ghostface Killah - Twelve Reasons to Die, HAIM - Days Are Gone, Daughn Gibson - Me Moan, and Daft Punk, Pharrell & Nile Rodgers - "Get Lucky."