Among the flurry of hot new albums dropped during the month of February, underground cloak-loving NY based pair The Doppelgangaz’s fourth studio album, “Peace Kehd”, made the fav list, consistently blaring from my speakers since its release. Duo Matter Ov Fact and EP’s amusing and brilliantly bizarre content’s become their trademark in their catalog with colorful titles of songs like “Suppository”, “Barbiturates”, “Sh*t Rock”, “Dumpster Diving” , covering topics like diseases, food, sailors and liars with past videos settings at the Renaissance Fair and haunted houses. Often put in the 90’s NY hip-hop box, there’s nothing typical about them.
Between his vocal contributions on “Blurred Lines” and “Get Lucky”, Pharrell Williams was heard absolutely everywhere in 2013. That music ubiquity is only going to continue with the release of his own album G I R L on March 3rd. If anyone has the makings of being the next big crossover star, it’s this multitasking hip-hop, R&B and funk dynamo. In addition to guest appearances from Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys and Justin Timberlake, it will feature “Happy”, first heard as part of the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. If for whatever reason this song hasn’t burrowed its way into your eardrums yet, I command you to spend some time at 24HoursofHappy.com, where you can watch 360 videos of celebrities like Steve Carell, Miranda Cosgrove, the occasional minion, as well as ordinary Los Angelenos creatively dancing along to Pharrell’s infectious toe-tapper.
There is a word which every music critic in the history of music criticism will use at least once. No matter how hard you strive to avoid it, that word will keep popping up and you will be forced to confront it. You will consult a thesaurus to try to identify alternatives, but in the end, this word will knock on the door of your mind until you finally let it in. And that word is…….”over-rated”! We all have our bands/songs/albums which meet that description – Yes/”A Day in the Life”/”OK Computer” are just a few of mine. Don’t confuse over-rated with over-familiar. Just because you have heard a song so often does not make it over-rated – you are probably just tired of hearing it. In truth, if you think about it, it probably is a classic. You’ve just probably heard too much of it.
As Curtis once said, “Move on up!”
In the world where we live or die on the hot single, as a music fan nowadays, it’s rare to find cohesive albums that hold your attention with intricate production from start to finish. E-digging in the crates yet again, I came across such a gem called “Renegades” by New Zealand born, LA based producer, musician and orchestra bandleader Mark de Clive-Lowe. I immediately explored more of his diverse discography and found fiery music cutting across at least five genres (latin and classic jazz, soul, electronic, broken beat) from someone drawing comparisons to other avant-garde producers like Quincy Jones. Fortuitously, as is the case in LA, that same week, I attended Mark’s live “CHURCH” show which brought the music (which will be on his upcoming album dropping in June) to life and had the whole crowd dancing with some spirit-filled tambourine shaking.
One consequence of not having LP album covers any more is that I find myself unable to recite the lyrics of many of my favourite songs which date from after the demise of the vinyl LP. This is a direct consequence of not having the lyrics printed on the inside sleeve, as was so often the case back in the seventies and early eighties. Sometimes, I do not even remember the names of the tracks, but just know where they are. And that is a consequence of the dreaded skip button. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of advantages to the CD and the MP3/M4a, especially where domestic space is at a premium. But to my mind, if I cannot make space for one of the greatest loves of my life, in my living space as well as in my heart, then I feel I would be lacking something.
On we go.
Fans of Canadian indie rock were pleasantly surprised a few days ago with the unexpected news that Constantines are reuniting in 2014. For the uninitiated, it’s been four years since the Guelph-born band’s last show together, who were celebrated throughout the 2000s for beautiful and brilliantly written songs such as “Young Lions”, “Soon Enough”, and “Shine a Light”. The latter is the title track of their first album to be distributed worldwide with Sub Pop – if THAT name rings a bell, they were the record label to sign a little band named Nirvana and kick start the grunge movement. As the 5-man group collectively wrote in a comeback proclamation (which you can read for yourself at TheConstantines.WordPress.com), Shine a Light being reissued for its unconventional 11th anniversary is apparently the catalyst for Constantines getting back together.
Back in the day, when this place was crawling with forums and chats about random acts of music, we used to poll ourselves to see which release by an artist not only set them atop of the industry but stapled them in as musical gods.
No longer just a face of the Rhymesayers group, Brother Ali has notched himself a styling and fan base that can not be underestimated. With that being said…
Call me old-fashioned, but I still have a predeliction for albums and do not consider myself actually owning a piece of music unless I can pick it up in my hands and look at it. Of course, though I have more CD albums now than vinyl ones, I have many singles and EP’s for there was a time when that was all I could afford to buy, especially if I did not care much for the rest of a particular band’s output. But albums were the mainstay. There was nothing like taking that smooth platter out of the sleeve, which was often a work of art in itself, holding it gently, the outer rim resting on the ball of my hand and my fingers holding it in the middle. Then slipping it slowly down that phallic pole onto the turntable, switching the record player on and gently dropping the diamond-tipped needle onto the edge of the vinyl. Then sit back, with the album cover in your hand, read the lyrics as they came out and slowly immerse yourself in the music. Compressed digital code does not, and never will be able to replicate anything like that.
We will be a third of the way through after this week’s twenty.
Drawing a myriad of contrasting influences from rockabilly, Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, Fleetwood Mac and spaghetti western, UK based Fanfarlo returns this week with their third full-length offering, “Let’s Go Extinct”. Addressing evolution, existential and futuristic themes, it takes the listener on an outer space opera pop mission. Blending in 80’s synch, contagious choruses and rich instrumentation, there’s a lot to digest between “The Beginning and The End”.