Former Seattle then Portland musician Johnny Jewel used to be known just for his myriad projects, from Glass Candy to Chromatics. Now living in Monteal, the artist has been gaining a mountain of momentum with his recent soundtrack work for the film Drive, an act which may have contributed to Jewel's latest project, and his most audacious work to date.
It's called Symmetry, and it's an imaginary film. Today, Jewel released the full TWO HOUR long soundtrack to this imagination. And it's stunning. Full of atmosphere and electronic curiosity, these are not traditional pop songs by any means. Yet, the 37 tracks that Jewel has assembled really do feel like a full work of art, something that's as visual, and visceral, as anything that's come from the songwriter. And, while Jewel's music almost always contains a retro vibe, this score translates that retro feel into a futuristic setting, while still reveling in a nostalgia for (in my head anyways) iconic 1980s-type film scores.
Sounds great, right? Well, see/hear for yourself. Jewel has made this whole work available online and you can listen to the both hours of Symmetry right here, right now. Get to it!
South Africa's most prominent futurist (Sub Pop's most unexpected singing), Spoek Mathambo, is about to drop a new record, Nombolo One: A Motel11 Roadtrip Tape, that revisits and revises the rich history of South African pop. Released by Motel11.TV, the record points directly to Mathambo's most impressive achievement as an artist: True, he is inventing completely new music, new sounds, new combinations, but he has not at all broken with the foundations of South African pop and language. His music is fully South African and yet fully not South Africa. He brings both extremes (South African/not South African) into one whole.
Even if you haven't heard of Chev, you've probably heard one of his guest verses. Appearing on tracks like Common Market's "Certitude" and Blue Scholars' Jake One-produced "North By Northwest" Remix (one of the finer posse cuts in recent Town history), the South End rapper has been kicking around the local scene for a while. He just released his first album, Charles, on Bandcamp last week, and though it runs a bit long at 17 tracks, it's an honest and passionate effort from a dude who has seen some shit and can rap well about it.
The album and title track are dedicated to his late father, so some of the material here is pretty heavy. But Chev's natural rap voice and technical flow, plus solid production from Def Dee, Jester and BeanOne keeps things moving. Even a quick listen should reveal how much work he probably put into this, so check out standout track "Let It Bleed" below and download Charles on Chev's Bandcamp page or cop it on iTunes.
Tim Maia was a Brazilian pop/soul/funk musician who released 33 albums from 1970 until his death in 1998. Here is his hit single "Não Quero Dinheiro (Só Quero Amar)" from his 1971 self-titled, which was the second of ten different eponymous albums he put out. The upbeat number features some triumphant-sounding horns and strings and Portuguese lyrics about wanting love instead of money.
Enter Cambridge, MA producer Silky Johnson. In addition to having an excellent name and having produced tracks for Main Attrakionz (including a couple from the Mondre EP I posted about last week), he released a pretty strong free instrumental album a couple months ago appropriately called Hater of the Year. Here is the album's first track, "Fuck the Money," a title that makes much more sense with knowledge of the sample material.
He pretty much just loops a sped-up main chorus groove, but he adds in the perfect complements for it. Those skittering hi-hats, that cracking snare, the trunk-ready bass, all sounding like he ran it through some lo-fi filter to preserve that dusty '70s feel. A beat of this kind just begs to be freestyled to. Local rappers, take note.
Stream or download the rest of Hater of the Year on Silky Johnson's Bandcamp. While browsing and bumping along, see if you can spot all the famous haters on the cover art. And since 2011 is almost over now, who's your nomination for "Hater of the Year?"
Listen to Mondre M.A.N.'s "Cloud," produced by Seattle's Keyboard Kid. The track was released yesterday on M A N, a nice little EP featuring half of "best duo ever" Main Attrakionz spitting over beats by their usual all-star cast of Internet producers. Stream the whole thing on Bandcamp. 2011 is almost over and I'm pretty sure Main Attrakionz are my favorite musical discovery of the year.
Read Ian Cohen from Pitchfork's scathing pan of actor/comedian Donald Glover's rap alter-ego Childish Gambino's commercial debut Camp. I didn't think this was a big deal after reading it, but as rap blogger So Many Shrimp points out, there was a 12-page thread on Kanye West's forum about the review a mere 45 minutes after it was posted. Twitter is half up-in-arms and half nodding in agreement.
Download the slightly disturbing stan forum Odd Future Talk's Unreleased Vol. 3, which includes three previously unheard songs from the collective's M.I.A. best rapper Earl Sweatshirt. He was still going by Sly when they were recorded, and he sounds about 13 on one of them, but they're a good reminder of why so many kids are quick to chant about freeing him. "Rebellious Shit" is probably the strongest one.
Check out Juicy J's collaboration with current rap-buzz king A$AP Rocky and SpaceghostPurrp from his Blue Dream and Lean mixtape released this week. It's pretty underwhelming, but cool to hear weirdos from both the old and new school on the same track. Plus, the chorus features Juicy J boasting about "takin' naps."
Since Charles already posted the sick new Shabazz Palaces video I was going to also mention, why not watch Childish Gambino's horrorcore-knockoff video for "Bonfire," the first single from Camp, and decide for yourself whether you are into this sort of Human Centipede-referencing punchline rap.
Lakutis is best known for having three of the more memorable guest verses on Das Racist's Sit Down, Man mixtape and thoroughly abusing the DJ airhorn during the group's Nov. 9 show at Neumos. Today the rapper released his own EP titled I'm in the Forest on Himanshu Suri's Greedhead Music, featuring some Frida Kahlo-looking cover art and seven tracks of triumphantly ridiculous, hyper-referential East Coast nerd rap. The wackiness present here is even higher than Das Racist's already soaring levels of satirical, pop-culture-saturated lyricism, which is to be expected from a dude who apparently plays League of Legends.
The EP's highlights include his electronic party-rocker "Lakutis in the House," which he performed at the Das Racist show, and title track, which rides a Prodigy sample and introduces the "Seven Spiders of Hip-Hop," whatever the fuck those are. The following "Ja Rule" repeats the line "I'm out this world, ho" 16 times before Lakutis goes into his own mumbled/sung version of Ja Rule's completely terrible early-'00s R(ap)&B number "Put It On Me" over a warped psych-rock groove. Things get even more absurd with the Kool A.D.-featuring "I'm Better Than Everybody," perhaps the most #based of all based freestyles that valiantly attempts to outdo every boastful bar ever uttered by another rapper over a belligerent Big Baby Gandhi banger. The last track features both MCs from Das Racist and starts with the line "they be like 'Lex, you play Hungry Hungry Hippos?'" which would make it worth a listen even if it weren't for the already way-nice swag-rap beat from Chairlift's Patrick Wimberly.
Enough talk about this one, though. Head over to Mishka NYC's Bandcamp page to download it for free. But since I'm already talking about this Greedhead release, there's a couple more you may have slept on that I want to mention here.
I know they premiered this track during their Colbert Report performance last month, but today the reunited hiphop duo released the official Internet-single for "Fix Up," the first taste of their forthcoming follow-up to the now-classic Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star. Though it's been 13 years since the last album, both MCs still go in over this sample-laced, nearly drum-less Madlib production. The lack of percussive knock here doesn't exactly make it a superb, triumphant return to glory, but it's still great to hear them making music together again.
Kweli and Bey also apparently have an Aretha Franklin tribute side project in the works, simply titled Black Star Aretha. Check out the Oh No-produced first single "You Already Knew" below as well.
In case you missed it during your post-Halloween hangover stupor, Harlem's way-hot-right-now rapper A$AP Rocky released his much-delayed, much-hyped LiveLoveA$AP mixtape earlier this week. Easily one of the biggest blog sensations of 2011 thanks to his "Purple Swag" and "Peso" videos, Rocky (real name Rakim Meyers) translated his plentiful buzz into a $3 million RCA deal right before the mixtape's official release date. Usually a deal that big at a time like that is a career death knell disguised as an opportunity, a move that can only set a young artist up to fall harder from the pedestal they've been put on. While LiveLoveA$AP predictably fails to live up to all that hype, it's a strong enough release to avoid doing any permanent damage to the young rapper's career.
Giorgio Momurda doesn't have just a hilarious name that conjures up images of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in the studio with an Italian disco producer legend (hey, it happened with Phil Collins), he makes some pretty fresh slaps too. The Eastside resident released a free collection of what he calls "mainly throwaways" on Bandcamp earlier this week, but a few listens are enough to make you wonder what kind of heat this dude has stashed away if he thinks these belong in the trash. Momurda mines multiple genres for his tones and samples, mixing in dub (no bro) breaks and bass wobbles, warped or pitched-up/down vocals, even Asian string plucks. His drums tracks are consistently hip-hop, but range from spacey, downtempo head-nodders to straight Yay Area-style hyphy knockers. The third track "Mondre Momurda" appeared on Oakland duo Main Attrakionz' awesome Dark Grapes & 808s II—one of my favorite releases of the year—and features an incredibly smooth switch-up from cruising reggae bounce to breezy sax-sampling kickback halfway through the song.
Momurda has also produced for the likes of Lil B, and is collaborating on an EP with fellow 425ers Kung Foo Grip to be released in the near future. Download Momurda's beats for free, bump to em, rap to em, talk shit about em in the comments, or whatever you prefer.
Cloud Nice's Nacho Picasso released the macabre video for "Bad Guy," the opening track of his excellent For the Glory album, yesterday. In it, the rapper mobs around town with O.J. gloves on, raps into a mirror with bloody handprints on his shirt, stands over the camera while wiping a hunting knife clean, and carries a woman's limp body through a Seattle park. It's all seriously dark stuff, but it fits the already evil-sounding track well, complete with its threats of hiring Juggalo hitmen and tales of puking in your parents' new car. Not to mention that "Seattle we go hard/You can ask Ken Hamlin"—one of the coldest hyperlocal rap references I've ever heard. But none of this fazes Nacho, as he reflects while puffing a blunt and admiring the city skyline from the rooftop, like a rap comic-book villain. A city full of hip-hop heroes like Macklemore needs antagonists.
Local field-recording enthusiast Zimbo (aka disconnecteddot, aka Christopher Bradbury) has been recording the activities happening at various Occupy Seattle events. He's collated a bunch of MP3s on his Soundcloud page for curious citizens and future historians to sift through.
Here we have some rainy-day jazz goodness from LA's Brainfeeder camp. Peralta layers soulful keys over Thundercat's (real name Stephen Bruner) prodigious bass lines and fills while DJ/producer Flying Lotus mixes it all together and adds his trademark software-instrument accents. Not bad for a label known mostly for its psychedelic, beat-centric electronica.
If you missed out on Thundercat's FlyLo-produced August release, The Golden Age of Apocalypse, now is a good a time as any to catch up on the young bassist's future-thinking fusion compositions and ridiculous chops. Stream the whole thing on Brainfeeder's Soundcloud page here.
Cecil Frena (formerly the brains behind Canada's dayglo-pop act Gobble Gobble) recently reinvented/renamed his project Born Gold and released a collection of singles called Bodysongs under his new moniker yesterday. Half new songs, half of them previously released with Gobble Gobble, Bodysongs is a ten-track sampling of Frena's weirdo future-pop stylings. A sense of apocalyptic foreboding seeps from everything from the constantly distorted washes of melodic noise to the severely cryptic lyrics ("I don't want to chew my tooth chips/I just want to boil the head til/It's sparkling and see-through like we'd hoped we were"), but rather than wallow in the paranoia Born Gold finds some closure, and more importantly, reason to wild out like there's literally no tomorrow, in this acknowledgement. Pop music that's appropriate for these end times.
Some of this stuff has a little too much candy-sweet, DDR-synth poppiness to it to completely enjoy, but Frena keeps the songs moving along briskly, piling on the melodies until you can't help but listen. Bodysongs is available for free on just about every existent Internet format, so before you start digging out your sad, mopey winter records and wallowing in your Seasonal Affective Disorder, stream or download Bodysongs and get down one last time.
Souciant.com has an excellent post that introduces Italy's hiphop scene. One member of that is Karkadan. He is Tunisian and based in Milan. This is what Souciant has to say about "Ganja," a track Karkadan dropped last month.
Rhyming largely in Arabic over a classic reggae loop, the track’s gruff, druggy cosmopolitanism is the stuff legends are made of. Yellowman would be proud.Always and forever: It's yours!
This is a tune. It's called "Dreams" and it features the pipes of Sean Symphony...
Mr. Bis speculated about the possibility of the band reuniting yesterday, and it would appear the band is reuniting, at least for now. Some more news from Hardly Art:
Hardly Art is proud to share the first new material from Carissa's Wierd in over seven years. The seminal northwest group - whose members went on to form Band of Horses and Grand Archives, and spawned the solo projects of Jenn Ghetto (S) and Sera Cahoone - has recorded two new tracks, which will be released on a 7" and digitally on September 13. It is fitting that these tracks are presented as odes, both of which pack a wistful wallop that has come to be expected from the group. The first, to "Tucson," the birthplace of Carissa's Wierd, with the violin lines of Sarah Standard beaming through the adage "you can never go home again" before things get a bit metal. The second, to "Meredith & Iris," a dramatic waltz number delivered with an intensity that implies it has been marinating for the past decade. Both tracks feature Mat Brooke (Grand Archives, Band of Horses) and Jenn Ghetto (S) on vocals, and both songs are exclusive to this 7". Stream the b-side, "Meredith & Iris," here.
Jesse Lortz upcoming solo debut as Case Studies, The World Is Just a Shape to Fill the Night, drops August 16 on Sacred Bones. Individual tracks have been appearing on the internet since last last year, which isn't surprising. The record is a collection of new material, demos, and unused material from previous projects. In an interview we did with Lortz way back in September of 2010, he had this to say about Case Studies, "we had just put out a D/D record, so if I wanted to do anything with it, it had to be a solo thing. Now it has turned into a crazy project that is integrating lots of parts of my life and skills that I wasn't really exercising Turning into an art project." Read the whole thing here.
Here's another track from Gold Leaves, aka Grant Olsen of Arthur & Yu.
Gold Leaves play the Crocodile Sept. 1.
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