October 29, 2012

New Music Wrap-Up: October

As the month of October comes to a close, I have decided to reflect here on the best music I have heard for the first time in the past month. While not all of the music was released this month, it was new to me, and I hope you find some new gems in here too! It was a great month for rap, with two of the most exciting debuts in a long time seeing release: Macklemore and Kendrick Lamar. This month's single-maker was definitely Ellie Goulding, who released her second album, Halcyon, displaying a darker, more emotionally heavy side to her writing. Enjoy!

October by the numbers:

New songs added to my library: 308

Most listened to track: Ellie Goulding-"Figure 8"

Top 3 albums added:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist

Ellie Goulding - Halcyon

Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city

Best Surprise of the Month: Adele-"Skyfall"

Funkiest Track: Big Boi-"Mama Told Me (feat. Kelly Rowland)"

Best Remix: Beyonce-"Party (Kaytradamus Remix)"

Chillest EP: Different Sleep - INFINITE Download Here

Album I'm most excited for in November: Big Boi - Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors

October 16, 2012

Tunesday: Zeds Dead - "You And I (feat. Omar Linx)"

Zeds Dead, an electronic duo from Toronto, Canada, takes their name from a Pulp Fiction quote. Pretty cool, I know. The two guys have done a huge range of remixes, varying from Bon Iver's "Woods" to The Roots, "Dear God 2.0." My personal favorite, however, is a track they made with rapper Omar Linx. His gravelly voice flows well over smooth synths and a beautifully sung chorus about a failing relationship. This song sets a pretty sad tone, but it does it so so well. 

Zeds Dead-"You & I (feat. Omar Linx)"

October 11, 2012

6 Mashup Albums You Should Download Right Now

Xaphoon Jones - Mixtape Vol. 1

The first of three excellently diverse mixtapes from the Chiddy Bang beatmaker was his most mashup-heavy. And there are some real gems. A lively jam mixing Bob Marley and MGMT, as well as Biggie rapping over Passion Pit and Beyonce. My personal favorite however, blends Kanye's "Testify" with "Reckoner" by Radiohead. Check it out!

Download the album here

Wick-it The Instigator - Grindhouse Basterds

Possibly the coolest mashup concept I've seen, Grindhouse Basterds combines various Quentin Tarantino quotes and soundtracks into funky hip-hop tracks. Using tracks and wonderfully selected quotes from Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds and more, this is a must for any Tarantino fans. Listen to "Look At Mexico Now." I'll give you one guess as to what rap that uses. 

Download the album here

Neutral Bling Hotel - In My G4 Over Da Sea

At first I was skeptical. Neutral Milk Hotel didn't seem immediately like it could really be made into hip-hop material. But Neutral Bling Hotel went and proved me wrong. It definitely has a few bumps, some not so great tracks, but overall it is an impressive work. It also features some pretty sweet song names like "Untitled Paint Job," "My 1st Aeroplane," and "Oh Dougie," which you can hear below. 

Download the album here

Wick-it The Instigator - The Brothers of Chico Dusty

This is the album that really kick started my love of mashups (And it was one of my very first posts on this site!). Being a fan of Big Boi and The Black Keys predisposed me to like this of course, but Wick-it really ties the artists together perfectly. Big Boi's clean, funky flow contrasts the gritty distortion of the Keys. Now when I hear the Black Keys tracks, I can't help but expect a little Big Boi action on top. Now that's a successful mashup. Check out "Afraid Of The General" below.

Download the album here

Brooklyn. Chicago. London. 

This album, brought to our ears by Urban Noize, ties together three artists who are all extremely passionate about their hometowns: Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Adele. Adele's orchestral tunes provide the instrumental as well as the choruses, while the Throne trades off verses. If a collaboration like this, between three of the worlds biggest stars, ever happens, the world may explode. Hear "Hometown Glory" below. 

Download the album here

Terry Urban - Born Ready To Die

When Lana Del Rey was making waves with her controversial debut and SNL performance, Terry Urban had the wise idea of pairing her with a true classic, The Notorious B.I.G. Her moody vocals and instrumentals work pretty nicely with Biggie's deep swaggy rhymes. Have a listen to "FTW."

Download the album here

October 09, 2012

Tunesday: Ana Tijoux - "1977"

If You Like: Bomba Estéreo, Calle 13

I may not understand every word of Ana Tijoux's raps, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy. The French-Chilean rapper drips with urban soul and attitude and her track "1977" melds Spanish horns with a loungy beat. While not many Spanish-language artists break into the American rap market, her sound can resonate with hip-hop heads everywhere.

Check out her debut album here, and her newest release, La Balahere .

Ana Tijoux-"1977"

October 02, 2012

Tunesday: Balto - "The Railyard"

If You Like: The Tallest Man On Earth, James Vincent McMorrow

Balto is not named after the famous sled dog, but they still sing about epic Northern adventure. The group's debut album, October's Road tells the story of a man's self-imposed exile to Siberia. The entire album induces chills and weaves an intricate, beautiful story. "The Railyard," filled with a sense of doubt and hope, displays this perfectly. For the next few weeks, you can download the whole album here for only $2! Their new EP, Monuments, was also released a few weeks back. Check it!

Balto-"The Railyard"

September 30, 2012

Interview with Michael Kiwanuka

The wonderfully soulful and talented young British artist Michael Kiwanuka released his first solo album, Home Again, this past March. With the incredible emotion and musicality this man possesses, it's no wonder that his album was recently nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize.

Michael took some time with me after his set at the Outside Lands Music Festival to chat! Read below to see what this awesome singer-songwriter had to say about his life on tour, his excitement about his new album, and more, and listen to the soothing sounds of his celebrated single, "Home Again."

Michael Kiwanuka - "Home Again"

Your album dropped here in the States only a few months ago, how do you feel the reception has been so far from Americans?

Michael: Good! I feel the reception has been really warm. People have been so supportive and encouraging to me, they always say really nice things. We bump into people that were in the audience when I’m walking around. And at the shows, people have always been really nice and very warm. It feels really good, I’m really enjoying it!

You’ve done quite a few festivals recently! Do you approach festival playing differently than smaller venues?

Michael: Yeah, we like to play a little more upbeat, it’s still intimate though. I just play as upbeat as I can get. It’s more slower songs and solos when we’re playing in a club. But it’s nice to have that change, it doesn’t get boring that way.

Is touring everything you thought it would be?

Michael: No, I mean I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s...definitely a big change. But I love it. Sometimes people are not excited about touring, and I can see why, everybody goes through quite a bit of stress. But it’s exciting being in different places all the time and playing shows in places I never thought I would go to, like San Francisco, and having fun on the bus. I like going out in different cities, meeting people. It’s really cool.

You and your band seem really tight, have you all played music together for a long time?

Michael: Yeah, I’ve known Miles, the guitar player, since I was about 14. So we grew up around the same area. It’s so good to hang out, they’re the nicest guys. And some of the best musicians ever, I’m very lucky. We have fun, it’s all our first time doing most of it, so it’s good to share it with someone else. It’s so cool having friends and people to share it with.

What’s been your most embarrassing onstage moment?

Michael: Once we were playing in Florence, at a festival, and the PA went down, so no one could hear anything except the drums. But I thought they could all hear us, and I was like, “Wow, this is great!” and I was really into it! [laughs] But then I looked to the side of the stage, and my tour manager was like, miming, “They can’t hear you!” and I was just going for it, it was pretty funny.

Who are you most excited to see at Outside Lands this year?

Michael: I’d say Stevie Wonder, Jack White, and some other really great bands that are here, I’m excited.

Michael Kiwanuka performing at Outside Lands

September 27, 2012

Monsters Calling Home

If You Like: The Head and the Heart, Of Monsters and Men, Andrew Bird

A friend of mine recently informed me about Monsters Calling Home. At first, I must admit, I thought the video would show Of Monsters and Men covering The Head and the Heart's "Home." While that would be awesome, these guys were better. While the instruments had a similar jammy feel to The Head and the Heart, the vocals were grittier, more raw, and spectacular. The addition of delicately plucked violins just makes the whole arrangement come together. Look out for the new monsters in town.