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Category Archives: Pop

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Following the threads of genius through commercial hip-hop to the logical destination of tomorrow, there comes a collaboration of fwd-thinking youths (via label/collective creative powerhouse LuckyMe) with the potential to forge a white-hot vision of next-level funk worthy of a lot of the hyperbole already associated with the sound.

Ciorsdan Brown originates from Glasgow’s increasingly fertile beat farms and combines with the similarly vital creative mind of Hudson Mohawke to form NADSROIC, a project producing the most sophisticated and vivid future R&B since the glory days of Timbaland/Pharrell et al. Raised on Celtic fiddle and song she comes off like a languid Missy E, cloaking the lyrical barbs and potent flows with a delivery that matches the mellifluous to the delectably louche. Hudson’s shattered rhythms and starry-eyed sample clusters have never before sounded so completely at home.

Incoming ‘Room Mist’ EP on the 29th. Check LuckyMe for updates.

HudMo / Nadsroic mini mix culled from Mary Anne Hobbs Experimental: X Chromosome Special, 22nd of April 2009:

Nadsroic & Husdon Mohawke mix
Hudson Mo Loops – ‘M5000 Loop’
Damfunk – ‘Rhythm Trax’
The Blessings – ‘Faberge’
Nadsroic – ‘Room Mist’ (prod HudsonMo)
Nadsroic – ‘Saw You There’ (prod HudsonMo)
Nadsroic – ‘Peekaboo’ (prod HudsonMo)
Nadsroic – ‘Step Back’ (prod HudsonMo)
Nadsroic – ‘Allhot’ (prod HudsonMo)
Download

(Thanks to A Shaving Of The Horn That Speared You)

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Gotta post this video for grime firebrand Tempa T‘s ‘Next Hype’ banger on No Hats No Hoods featuring urban legend / national hate figure Mr. Tim Westwood (c’mon, I know us English warm to a bit of self-deprecation). It’s ‘proper jokes’ in the parlance of our times and pretty damn hype to boot. PS I get ‘par game’ but what the fuck is ‘pars’? Anyone? Maybe the joy is in the mystery. Carry on!

via The Fader and No Pain In Pop

Photos courtesy of VICE photo blog, see the whole set here. Im in there somewhere.

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Stage full from the off + rampant stagediving + multiple bundles for the birthday boy from all concerned = THE most full-contact thirtieth birthday celebrations I’m ever likely to attend, all in honour of modern day renaissance man and full-time tower of power Andrew WK. Known by many and dismissed by some due to/in spite of only one of his myriad musical outlets (über-party metal, not unlike Van Halen playing the theme tune from Funhouse while Journey rediscover thrash-punk), a relentlessly awesome alpha-person who goes from motivational speaking to playing with legendary UK experimental everything act Current 93 to presenting a show on Cartoon Network. The guy is a fucking inspiration, I file him under ‘personal development’ along with anyone else with such a superhuman ability to headbutt negativity into non-existence with nothing but an honest approach and infinite enthusiasm. Word.

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Warming us all up (other than a sickly-sweet stroll down the last 10+ years of pop-punk) was fabricated NY socialite Bad Brilliance (website also worth checking), alter ego of Andrew Strasser – a man whose day job at PatrickMcMullan.com identifying celebrities for photo captions inspired him to create a character with a name for a face. ‘It’s a recognizable character by definition’ he notes, sagely. With the help of actress/socialite Sophia Lamar he quite literally wobbles around town looking for high society events to get escorted out of, presumably in a manner as affable as his own.

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Dude was MCing over a set of his own neon awesome cartoon crunk and spazzy electro-hop, waving his huge inflatable head around with aplomb and to great applause and I thought YES, although the term ‘performance art’ tickles my gag reflex, in reality I’d rather see this absurd, imaginative and fucking funny character chat over his technicolour soundtrack than a million+1 spit & sawdust spiky guitar bands do something authentic in a garage. Good effort Bad Brilliance, now put a record out so I can buy it.

Love it or hate it – yes, there really are only two options people – this is the tune destined to be bellowed by the drunk and sunburned and blasted out of builder’s radios all summer long. A ludicrously moronic lyric (sample: Some people think I’m bonkers / But I just think I’m free or A heavy bassline is my kind of silence) that would be cringe-worthy over a moody grime rhythm is slapped into check by the irrepressible pop (dare I say) genius of Armand Van Helden who crafts a bassline hip-house energy flash fully celebrating it’s own stupid vitality, spinning around and falling over like child tripping balls on tartrazine. Dismiss it if you want but those people in the video are definitely having more fun than you. Check it out – I challenge you to meh.

Further to my decision to reacquaint myself with the quality end of disco (mainly of the Italo variety, early to mid 80s), I gorged on blogs and rapidshare links in a frenzy. One of my most enduring discoveries has been French/Italian singer Valerie Dore, best known for two singles ‘The Night’ and ‘Get Closer’ – virtually identical in arrangement but with different vocal performances. Both tracks (actually sung by Italian singer Dora Carofiglio, Dore mimed as performance front woman) achieved European chart success, though notably not in the UK.

Although part of the Italo-disco scene, this is more dream-pop. The wistful, languid beauty that is missing in much of today’s electro-pop but finds parallels (aesthetically if not sonically) in shoegaze bands that followed such as Mazzy Star and My Bloody Valentine. Starry-eyed with a faint tang of melancholy, rich in a tone that washes through you and over you. Sumptuous, luxurious and a little sad.

Contemporary equivalents are hard to place. The brief shoegaze revival has brought Ulrich Schnauss and Maps to the fore but the former seems a little impersonal and the latter (for me) failed to transcend run-of-the-mill indie-pop.

For me, Fever Ray has been the one act of late to touch on the certain ethereal quality of dream-pop. Admittedly the timbres are a little more visceral but the spirit manages to transport the listener into that ‘other’ state reserved such music with a nebulous, wondrous magic. I covered her album recently, but now I have an excuse to post more of her music:

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I mentioned the charms of Acton beat-polisher Bullion in an earlier post. I won’t go into his sound again, suffice it to say that his few releases thus far have had a instrumental hip-hop skewed pop charm. His new EP ‘Young Heartache’ is his best yet, a solid release representative of his skills.

A producer’s DJ set generally provides certain things – a snapshot of their influences and a round-up of their peers, peppered with some future releases. It’s not to say that Thursday’s Hyp!Hyp!Hyp! (see flyer) didn’t provide those things, it just felt a little predictable. An unfocused mash of familiar hip-hop, soul and classic funk breaks, none of it bad in any way, just not particularly exciting. When an artist’s recorded output shows glimpses of invention and individuality it’s easy to expect too much – you want everything they do to demonstrate the same flashes of genius. If I’d gone expecting a standard funk / soul night, rather than the proverbial ‘next-level shit’, maybe I wouldn’t have been disappointed.

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Round the corner (almost) there is however The Joiner’s Arms, a love-it-or-hate-it semi-gay pub that’s perpetually rammed until its slightly unclear closing time. Beloved by many Shoreditch hipsters, what it guarantees is loud and lively late-night drinking for anyone feeling like they’re ‘on one’. It’s trendy enough to attract the arty type with generally good DJs and an extensive and tempting jukebox but not so cool that everyone’s scared to have a good time. Everyone dances, it’s a bit dirty but hey – it’s exciting. After an hour or so of worthy funk and wholemeal hip-hop it had the perfect tonic, a room full of people dancing on tables to some rousing, full-blooded, damn sexy Disco. I haven’t had to ask a DJ what tune he was playing for a long time but Stephanie Mills made it happen once more:

Time to get back into Disco.

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Expectation is something i’m still hoping to master. Expect too much and you’re destined for some form of disappointment, expect too little and you’re one step further down the path toward joyless cynicism. Neither I like.

Discovering the existence of a solo record from The Knife’s Karin Dreijer is exciting enough without working myself into an embarrassing impatient wreck. I knew it had the potential to blow me away but if you go into anything thinking like that you’re risking being monumentally let down. So I er… tried not to think about it.

Anyway.

Karin possesses my favourite voice in music and along with her brother Olof, The Knife manage to present love and emotion in a breathtakingly refreshing and visceral manner – far removed from the bland plateau of sensitive ditties making up much of the musical landscape. Their reinvention of the ‘Icy Scandinavian’ cliché brought them critical recognition (the infamous Pitchfork named 2006’s ‘Silent Shout’ album of the year) and a clutch of well chosen remixers edged them onto the more stylish of dancefloors.

The Knife was (and still is, I hope) however very much made up of two creative minds. Karin’s piercing and sometimes heavily-pitched, androgynous vocals were always matched by Olof’s similarly stark electro beats and synthesizers. Two voices singing each song, in unison but using different machinery.

On first inspection her solo effort – Fever Ray – is musically identical. Listen closer however and although the timbres are similar, creatively it is a much different affair. Christopher Berg (who mixed The Knife’s work) and Stockholm production duo Van Rivers and The Subliminal Kid helped Dreijer give form to her musical sketches, but they are merely conduits. This is very much her record.

Dreijer has thus far only worked as a collaborator, with her brother in The Knife or making appearances on other people’s music. Here she finally gets the stage to herself and control of the atmosphere, creating a world of dreamy lounge-noir that befits her ethereal songwriting. The drum machine beats and simple analogue synth-style melodies, though clear as a bell, sit comfortably in second place to her voice. Each individual story is as dark as a Scandinavian forest, always retaining a certain mystery and cold beauty.

Her single ‘If I had A Heart’ is available now. The video, directed by Andreas Nillsson captures the spirit of the song wonderfully.

If Twin Peaks (the series, not the film) were to ever be remade, Dreijer would make a perfect Julee Cruise. Temporary Roadhouse crooner Cruise performed in some of the series’ most pivotal moments with dreamy lounge gems written with director Lynch and composer Badalamenti. They are as much part of the programme as any of the characters or oft-quoted dialogue and when combined with the plot, highly emotional moments are created.

Exhibit A:

Crushingly beautiful. Especially if you’ve followed the story… which you all should do at some point.

Goodbye!

ed_banger

Mr Oizo – Lambs Anger (Ed Banger)

Continuing with our theme of society’s musical bugbears, spare a thought for Ed Banger.

Along with similarly gallic electro-pop label Kitsuné Music, they have been soundtracking more fashionable dancefloors for the best part of this decade, picking up from where Daft Punk and, er, ele*trocl*sh left off. The fashion link stems from the shared love of glamour, shameless pop hits of the 80s and  general extroverted hedonism. Like power-dressing with shoulder pads, this is power-dance music.

The eternal complaint leveled against music with such a trend orientated ethos (Kitsuné is itself an offshoot of a clothing label) is a lack of depth, sincerity, or enduring value. It’s viewed as throwaway music inspired by the seasonal nature of fashion collections, blankly plundering the past to steal ideas at face value. The problem with these criticisms are, of course, that they’re bollocks. Sure, the transient, empty nature of the fashion world chills to the bone but I’ve no reason to let that affect my view of these musicians – wherever they draw their inspiration from. Also, dismissing music based on its audience or commercial success is snobbery of the highest order.

Interview with Busy P, Ed Banger head honcho

Ed Banger have been arguably the most successful of the two labels, launching the careers of shady figureheads Justice whilst releasing an uninterrupted stream of boisterous dancefloor destroyers. They’ve also developed an original furrow to plow – hyper distorted digital noise pop. At times desperately intense but always with a brain-melting dayglo hue, like whacking the colour saturation on your TV up to 100% until everything bleeds together. Justice reined it back a little on their MTV theme tune ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ but generally fly the flag, leaving SebastiAn to be it’s most ardent and dedicated fan.

Justice – ‘D.A.N.C.E.’

SebastiAn – ‘Ross Ross Ross’

Which leaves today’s subject, Mr. Oizo, in an odd position. Known to all since the 90s (thanks to his head nodding mascot Flat Eric in that Levi’s advert) so probably the scene’s most veteran member, his music has at once influenced and been influenced by Ed Banger’s output to date. ‘Lambs Anger’ is his first album since 2005 and sitting amongst its fellow releases it seems positively restrained.

To be fair, it’s still dance drawn with a big chunky pen. All the sounds fit together like oversize Lego and there’s ear popping over-compression throughout, albeit to a lesser extent. It just feels a lot more playful, less over-sexed and less overpowering. It flows like a party record, peppered with short ‘skit’ like tracks between the more obvious peaks, and peaks it has: ‘Steroids’ is some wonderfully stripped back double-dutch, ‘Positif’ channels Switch-esque grinning fidgit-house and ‘Bruce Willis Is Dead’ rocks some charmingly demented idiot-bass. There’s even *gasp* a worthwhile version of ‘It Takes Two’ (‘Two Takes It’ in this case) – Possibly even the best track.

‘Two Takes It’

‘Steroids’

I like it. It’s fun. Whilst that doesn’t necessarily make it a good record, it makes it exceptional amongst dance albums that tend to be either a bunch of nose-bleed thrashers or just everything that particular artist hasn’t put out on vinyl yet. It’s a party record, It made me want to leave the house and have a good time – isn’t that what dance music’s about?

Right, I’m off. Bye!

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Nu-metal, yesterday.

Nu-metal.

The bête noire of many a music fan, maligned by most for its screamingly ham-fisted mélange of monosyllabic rawk, picture-book hip-hoppery and one-dimensional ’emoting’. The prime suspects are notable in their massive worldwide success – appalling jock rockers Limp Bizkit who have, admittedly, managed to implode, executive drama kings Linkin Park and Slipknot. The latter have always intrigued me the most, mainly due to their elaborate, carefully constructed image and legions of supremely devoted fans (notable even in this field).

A three night run at the Hammersmith Apollo seemed a good a time as any to sate my curiosity so, suitably liquored, we boarded the Piccadily Line. That feeling of being in the field of an enormous music magnet returned as you see unusually animated commuters, some clutching beers, dotted amongst the crowd following a similar bearing. The ratio increases, and as we arrive it’s a strikingly clear split between obvious young enthusiasts and rubberneckers – people just as curious as I.

It is undoubtedly a mesmerising spectacle. In the broadest terms they are the torch bearers for the brand of trashy shock rock invented by Alice Cooper and celebrated by Marilyn Manson. The comic book horror of the ever-changing outfits combined with their pop-metal anthems create a potent beast, a 100% showbiz monster. It’s unsurprising so many teens fall under the spell of a troupe of heavy metal cartoon characters, led by a demented Barney the dinosaur. Teletubbies for teenagers anyone?

Regardless of their proficiency or enthusiasm, for the cynical the cogs of the machine are laid bare. Cameras soar above the crowd recording the band’s latest DVD, there’s a promotional Xbox installation and at least a dozen t-shirts on sale. I guess this is run-of-the-mill for bands and gigs of this size but what it drives home is how efficiently they play on the the eternal angry teen, whatever the age of the listener, in order to shift units.

It is nonetheless genuinely exciting, in a sort of of shlock-horror circus way. This level of slick production is put into practice with most bands this size, and it would be wrong to suggest that it’s members are any less sincere than the majority of musicians out there. For the kids as well, their experience –  however crafted it may be – is a valid and worthy one. This is gateway metal, opening doors to the more extreme and experimental sounds out there.

Good luck to them all.

http://www.myspace.com/slipknot1

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I love basslines.

I love all the flavours. Floor shaking sub, quacking mid-range, shifting analogue warmth… i admit that a lot of the time it’s the extremes that really excite. It began for me with the jungle dub madness of the 90s but of late, it’s the mutant children of UK garage that are providing the low end treats.

T2’s ‘Heartbroken’ represented the wonderfully literal sub-genre ‘bassline’, and was the crossover hit of ’07. Ruthlessly basic yet joyfully ludicrous – the sound palette heard before but boasting an immediacy and NRG all too rare. It was commercial yes, but through pop nous rather than cynicism.

Kid Cudi, along with Italian DJ duo Crookers, serve up the spiritual follow up. Cleveland rapper Cudi is Kanye West’s latest protégée, socially conscious lyricism spliced with the steamingly trendy Fool’s Gold scene of Kid Sister, A-Trak et al. Crookers spring from the similarly oh-so-now pumping b-more world of Mad Decent and the like, it’s a match made in heaven (or East London).


Such accolades all too frequently precede disappointment but thankfully, the track’s a gem. Springing up persistently on 1xtra, It’s got the pop hooks to follow T2 into commercial overland and when the bass drops… it’s all over.

http://www.kidcudi.com

http://www.myspace.com/kidcudi

Kid Cudi mixtape: http://sharebee.com/7e3ff6d8

www.myspace.com/crookers

Crookers essential mix: http://www.wiredla.com/news/crookers-essential-mix.html