Friday, June 27, 2014

Good Girl Gone Bad: Grimes & Blood Diamonds - "Go" (penned for Rihanna)

"It's our summer jam, so we figured we should put it out, cuz I am very bored of waiting to finish my album [before] releasing new music haha," Grimes (real name Claire Boucher) said in a recent press release. Last winter, Boucher signed what some might call a mildly head-scratching management deal with Jay Z's own Roc-Nation off-shoot company — alongside previous signees HAIM, M.I.A. Santigold, Mark Ronson, Shakira, Wale, and The Ting Tings. Grimes and her fellow Canadian comrade/frequent collaborator Blood Diamonds were reportedly commissioned by Roc-Nation to produce and original track for R&B super-star Rihanna. While it was ultimately rejected by the Roc-Nation team, Grimes & Blood Diamonds recently recorded their own version of the track, now re-titled "Go." Blood Diamonds' 2010-12 reminiscent Dubstep/Electro-leaning production work seems to have been influenced by Grimes' former Full Flex Express touring mates, Diplo and Skrillex. Grimes assures die-hard fans that "Go"'s sugar-coated Pop sound isn't exactly indicative of her long-rumored fourth album; writing on Twitter just the other day, "[you] know releasing a song that's so different from my usual music is stressful, but y'all [are] being SO damn nice!!! Gracias." No word just yet if Grimes' fourth album will feature any collaborations with her long-forgotten lady posse L$D or her new-found Twitter BFF, Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast. It's also worth noting for whatever reasons that Grimes perfectly self-describes the overall look of her new press photos shot with brother Mac Boucher as and I quote, "an anime elf assassin who is a big fan of Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stereogum Presents: You Blew It! - "Surf Wax America" (Topshelf Records)

"Well shit. Since @stereogum posted the You Blue It pre-order, the [first] 100 sold out. Looks like the others might too," You Blew It! Tweeted Tuesday afternoon upon the release of "Surf Wax America" premiered by the good people over at Stereogum; whether it was intentional or not, the Florida-based Emo revival band will unleash their You Blue It covers EP on the 20-year anniversary of Weezer aka "The Blue Album" and have seemingly already gained the backing of Indie Rock blogs and fans alike. Although I was only seven when it came out, Weezer was always one of my favorite bands and quite honestly, The Blue Album and Maladroit are amongst my "desert island" albums. I forget where, but I once read that frontman Rivers Cuomo made a 3-ring binder of chart-topping Pop songs, breaking down their various characteristics, and essentially cracked the code of what makes a hit song; his meticulous sonic research surely paid off because nearly every song on The Blue Album, be it an official single or not, was more or less a radio hit. "We chose "Surf Wax" because it's a really great song, plain and simple. We didn't want to do singles from the record, and luckily "Surf Wax" is one of those cuts that could have held its own as one, but seemed untouched enough to allow a fresh perspective on it," frontman Tanner Jones lamented to Stereogum as to why the band ultimately decided to record the track. "Not that we or any other band could, but we really didn't want to try and out-do Weezer. Our goal was to add our touch to [The Blue Album], but first and foremost, we wanted pay tribute to the songs themselves in the most respectful way possible. "Surf Wax" is a great example of that I think," he continued. Their cleverly-titled You Blue It EP will see a digital release on July 15th, followed by a 10-inch vinyl available on August 12th (currently available for pre-order in both formats). Topshelf Records pressed up around 1,000 special multi-colored copies of You Blue It: "100 cyan / royal blue half and half with white splatter, 250 cyan blue, 250 half white / half cyan blue, and 400 cyan blue / white." I ordered mine yesterday afternoon and I believe I got one from the 250 cyan blue batch... so, get 'em while they're hot!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Stones Throw Presents: The Stepkids - "Wanderers EP" (Troubadour left-overs)

What we have here are essentially three newly un-vaulted Troubadour era non-album Stepkids tracks; Stones Throw quietly uploaded their Wanderers EP to it's label website and companion Soundcloud page this past Tuesday, June 17th. "The songs in this collection are different than anything else we've done. We wrote and recorded them at the height of our experimentation," The Stepkids quipped on the free-form nature of their latest mini-EP. "We spared no artistry and weren't limited to any business strategy, a target audience, single considerations, or [style] limitations... In other words, for better or worse, you will never again hear anything like this from us, let alone anyone else. Enjoy," bandmates Jeff Gitelman, Dan Edinberg & Tim Walsh collectively continued. The Wanderers EP standard download zip-file comes complete with three previously unreleased carelessly noodling Psych-Rock tracks and six variations of it's largely black-and-white cover image, while an upgraded 6-track package (with instrumentals) is available for just $4.99. It can be assumed that The Stepkids are currently working on their third album, but Stones Throw has yet to make any form of official "album progress" announcement.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We Can Make This Better... or Not: Busdriver, Aesop Rock & Danny Brown - "Ego Death" (Big Dada)

For his latest single, "Ego Death" LA-based rapper-producer Busdriver has essentially assembled an all-star team of Underground Hip-Hop MVP's; Busdriver, Aesop Rock & Danny Brown spit hot fire in succession over the course of Stones Throw affiliate Jeremiah Jae's nearly 6-minute neck-snapping beat. While hailing from three separate corners of the Underground Hip-Hop spectrum, the three veteran emcees surprisingly mesh very well together (I believe Busdriver & Aesop have rapped together before). "Yeah, no... I understand what you're saying. But is is sexier than torture?" opens Jae's slightly off-kilter beat, which features multi-layered lines like: "And downtime is never met with an overjoyed grin / cause sleep and death have always been conjoined twins," "He shoots the whores, truly stupid troubadours," and Danny Brown's fairly sound assertion that he's the "Rap Marilyn Manson." It's our first preview from Busdriver's upcoming tenth album, Perfect Hair, which will see a post-summer release on September 9th and will likely feature appearances from Rock, Brown, Open Mike Eagle, Pegasus Warning, Mono/Poly, Kenny Segal, and plenty more Hellfyre Club affiliates. Big Dada Recordings' accompanying press release eloquently describes Perfect Hair's overall tone as, "The album vibrates, oscillating between journalistic extremes du jour, occupying a space few have let rap extend to. It is neither cheerful nor depressing, beyond those qualifiers. The rapper, having moved past the limited authority of rejection or ostracization, has arrived at a truth... The pieces, parts, sinews, synapses, synopses, passions, thrusts, and bits burst outward and realign of their own tremendous gravity. It is on this album that an OG announces his presence."

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Jack White is vinyl's best friend:" Third Man's Deluxe Lazaretto ULTRA LP (wax review)

Whether or not you're a fan of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, or his recent work with Neil Young, you really can't deny the sheer impact that Jack White's own Nashville-based Third Man Records has had on the vinyl record industry or the modern day Blues-Rock revival in recent years. Entirely intentional or not, White has single-handedly helped usher in the 21st century resurgence of the age-old waxed medium; the former Record Store Day ambassador has gotten involved in a number of unique record-centric projects including producing Young's latest covers album, A Letter Home from inside a 1940's Voice-o-Graph portable recording studio and somehow managed to record, press, and sell the world's fastest record in record-breaking time this past Record Store Day. While Jack White's second solo album, Lazaretto was released last Tuesday, June 10th, I was lucky enough to receive my pre-ordered "ULTRA LP" the weekend prior to it's official release. The Roots band leader Questlove [Gomez] perfectly described the underlying sentiment behind Third Man's special edition package as, "dude. Jack White is vinyl's best friend. I'mma cop 20 copies of #Lazaretto. y'all ain't gonna believe what he hooked up @thirdmanrecords," in 140 characters or less, of course. It's honestly the most intricate, inter-active vinyl I've ever seen and trust me, I've seen a lot of vinyl in my record diggin' days! While Third Man's creative team might not have exactly invented all of the special features etched into Lazaretto, it's definitely the first time the greater record-buying public has seen this kinda thing on such a large scale. Jack White and fellow Third Man Records employee Ben Blackwell quickly outlined a few of Lazaretto "ULTRA LP"'s cutting-edge features in a 9-minute promotional video; Side A essentially plays in reverse from the outside in and end with an infinite locked groove (as does Side B), Lazaretto as a whole is a 3-speed record... playing at 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM, "Just One Drink" utilizes dual-groove technology and features either an acoustic or electric intro, relevant to where the needle is dropped, 2 vinyl-only hidden tracks are etched below the center labels, and Side A features a hand-etched "floating hologram" angel. Lazaretto itself features a different running order than the CD/digital versions and "absolutely zero compression [was] used during recording, mixing, and mastering." It's a great modern day Blues-Rock record and whether you were into The White Stripes or not, Third Man's special edition "ULTRA LP" is without a doubt worth $20; I recently ordered a second copy because I know one is libel to get scratched up while I'm attempting to discover it's countless special components!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

the powers that b: Death Grips & Björk - n**gas on the moon EP1 (Third Worlds Records)

"this is "n**gas on the moon," featuring björk on all 8 tracks. it is the first installment of our new double album, "the powers that b," due out later this year on Harvest/Third Worlds Records. the second disc is titled "jenny death,"' Death Grips wrote along with eight newly-released YouTube audio streams uploaded on Sunday around 12 midnight. While little else is known about n**gas on the moon, a couple days later, Björk did in fact confirm that she appears on the mini-album and that she's thrilled to be Death Grips' latest "found object," which I'd assume would basically mean that they used chopped and sampled vocal fragments. It's their third consecutive album meticulously "leaked" online in such a manner; n**gas on the moon was preceded by their November free album Government Plates and infamous Epic Records contract-infringing dick pic album, No Love Deep Web. Björk's nearly unmistakeable, oftentimes high-pitched wail has been reduced to a jittery almost Tribal sounding stutter, which when grafted against Death Grips' aggressive Noise-Rap, actually sounds a lot like M.I.A.'s unique brand of world music-blending Hip-Hop. It's not exactly the first time Death Grips & Björk have worked together, since they previously produced two remixes as part of her Biophilia Remix Series, namely "Sacrifice" and "Thunderbolt." Unfortunately Robert Pattinson and Colin Hanks probably aren't involved whatsoever, but I wonder if the powers that b is in any way attached to drummer Zach Hill's long-rumored short film, which was supposed to feature a soundtrack collectively assembled by Death Grips; in any event, their fourth 2-disc album the powers that b is tentatively slated for a release this upcoming Fall on the band's own Third Worlds Records imprint in conjunction with Harvest/Caroline Records.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Jonas & François Present: Jack White III - "Lazaretto" (Third Man Records)

"There are kids at school who dress like everybody else, because they don't know what to do, and there are musicians like that, too," Jack White recently told Rolling Stone in a particularly telling no-holds-barred interview. "I'll hear TV commercials where the music's ripping off sounds of mine, to the point I think it's me. Half the time, it's The Black Keys," he continued. It's only the latest set of comments accumulated in an on-going public feud with Dan Auerbach & Patrick Carney, which originally erupted when TMZ leaked a batch of White's private emails last year. The same Rolling Stone interview, in support of this forthcoming solo album Lazaretto, somehow managed to bash former bandmate Meg White, Lana del Rey, Adele, Duffy, Danger Mouse, and the late Amy Winehouse, which have since been retracted. Jack White seems to have been converted to the age-old school of thought that nearly all press is good press; a new-found attitude not too dissimilar from that of Kanye West, whom White nearly ended up collaborating with on his recent Industrial-Rap masterpiece, Yeezus. Ahead of his Monday/Tuesday night appearance on The Tonight Show, Jack White unleashed the proper music video for his award-winning world's fastest record album single, "Lazaretto." French directing team Jonas & François have executed a stark black-and-white clip to match the underlying aesthetic echoed throughout White's gritty Blues Rock-influenced track. It's a fairly simple music video treatment, which manages to incorporate quick-strike scenes littered with broken glass, blazing fire, shadow-executed guitar solos, a bitchin' sports car doing donuts, White savagely spitting on the camera, band performance shots, transgender dancers, and dueling mandolins. Jack White's long-awaited second solo album, Lazaretto is out this Tuesday June 10th and quite honestly, Third Man's one-of-a-kind $20 ULTRA LP package is really the only way to go, even if you're just a casual White Stripes fan.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Come as You Are: Homeboy Sandman & Blu - "Atlantis" (Stones Throw)

Not even counting his seemingly endless pre-Stones Throw material, veteran emcee Homeboy Sandman has released one album, First of a Living Breed, and about four EP's with the documentary-wielding Indie Hip-Hop label since inking a deal in 2011; most recently having concocted a Jaylib-style collaborative EP with Stones Throw affiliated producer Paul White, ingeniously titled White Sands. According to Stones Throw, Homeboy Sandman's latest track, "Atlantis" is "one of a few dozen new tracks Sand's been working on this year. Expect to hear the best of them in a new full length album set for Fall 2014 - title, producers and track list TBA." It's single cover is essentially laid out to mimic Nirvana's iconic Nevermind album artwork and the track itself was produced by insanely prolific rising West Coast rapper-producer Blu. Comfortably nestled atop a jittery off-kilter beat, Homeboy Sandman ferociously raps, "I'd rather live under the sea," of course referring to the infamous lost city... a clever non-sequitur that's further fleshed out to include: "as far as I can see, it's not gon do. I'd rather live under the sea. That's what I'm gon do." While it's largely unclear who exactly has submitted beats for possible inclusion on Homeboy Sandman's forthcoming album, judging by his recent propensity to work with one producer per project, it would really be awesome if he just recruited artists from across Stones Throw's broad genre-blending roster; a little Jonwayne, Dam-Funk, Madlib, The Stepkids, Vex Ruffin, James Pants, some dusted off J Dilla beats, etc. Stones Throw strongly suggests that "if you [still] haven't seen the man's live show, don't miss out. He's touring the midwest & east coast states all through June."