Back in the 1990’s when Snoop and Dre released The Chronic, the two old-school gangstas spawned an entire new aesthetic of hip-hop: stone cold chillin’. The easy, laid back feel of The Chronic struck a chord in its audience and informed a seemingly uptight generation (grunge, N.W.A., the Los Angeles race riots) about the good things that can go on in the hood. With this came a slew of rappers focused on relaxed production and calm, easy-going flows. From Ice Cube’s narrative of a perfect day in the ghetto in “It Was a Good Day” to Baby Bash’s ode to females in the top 40 hit, “Suga Suga,” chilled out hip-hop is a very relevant segment of the genre in today’s world. On “Moon & Stars” by Big K.R.I.T. feat. Devin The Dude (Clams Casino Remix,) the rappers illustrate a doobie-rolled date through the description of a perfect midnight drive. The song flows in such an easy manner that you are forced into the backseat of K.R.I.T.’s convertible, cool wind in your face, star’s gleam in your eye, ready to begin or conclude a breezy night. Clams Casino’s production is bouncy and filled with just enough fog to subtly mask K.R.I.T.’s confident, solid flow. Devin the Dude’s verse is comical yet determined, clearly informing the listener of his “score” on the date. The song rolls at half-speed providing just enough time for the listener to absorb the anecdote that Devin the Dude and Big K.R.I.T. are trying to tell. Hip-hop seems to have three pathways for its rappers to walk-down: the chill path, the ignorant path, and the blue collar path. All three are perfectly acceptable, but on “Moon & Stars” Big K.R.I.T shows just how soothing the chilled path of hip-hop can be.
The world is filled with different kinds of people: millionaires, plumbers, druggies, teenagers, architects, burnouts; the list is endless. Music is a fantastic way in which these certain genres of people openly express themselves. One could look at music as post-literature; each artist has their own personal story to tell, their own internal struggles and insecurities, and their own take on the best philosophy to live by. On the debut album, Mickey’s Dead, from South Carolina native Matt Cothran a.k.a Elvis Depressedly, the scarred troubadour spins a harrowing tale of his destructive upbringing and faulted childhood. On “Mickey’s Dead” Cothran focuses on his unfortunate emotional detachment from his parents, singing, “I ain’t loved my father since I can’t remember when,” and “I ain’t seen my mother since I can’t remember when,” each cadence dripping with sincere melancholy. The song’s lo-fi production enables extreme personal appeal as it forces the listener into Cothran’s bedroom as he spews out his anxieties. The voyeuristic approach of this debut may turn some listeners off but Mickey’s Dead is never not therapeutical. Cothran’s life must be tough, but he accepts this, and sharing his story allows him to release his demons and allow the world to relate to his issues. Music can be the healthiest drug out there; it can take your mind off of the world’s dark spots and show the you the clear ones.
Here’s a download for the entire Mickey’s Dead
If you have not noticed yet, this blog has been littered with the words, “surf,” “nostalgia,” and “garage,” in many posts. That is simply because I love nautically themed music; it’s my niche, if you will. There’s something so alluring about the beach and the sea. The boardwalks, the way it looks during a storm or a moonlit night, the breaking of its waves; it is just a very comforting place of solitude. But the beach can also be a place for youthful raucous partying. Beaches are like America’s Amsterdam: you can get away with anything. Beer pounding, reefer puffin’, overtly loud and crude language, bad tattoos and male nipple piercings, and for the more “adventurous,” sex are all things that avid beach-goers will encounter. “All We Wanna Do” by Two Wounded Birds transports the more happening side of the beach into a one minute and fifty-one seconds breakneck jammer. Two Wounded Birds are an indie-rock collective from Margate, UK whom specialize in reverb and infectious pop melodies. The ooh’s in the song’s intro kickstart the beachcomber motor in the anthem, eventually ascending into slurred, cool punk-rock vocal shouts. The band seems to be a group of James Dean aficionados; each of them emulates “cool” and pulls it off very well. “All We Wanna Do” is a jam packed bullet of surf and garage that strikes you right in the heart and forces incessant head-bobbing and sing-along. Two Wounded Birds will have you selling your Camry for a Ford Woody and trading your bike for a surfboard. Summer is brutally hot but water (bless its heart) is here to cool us down. If you are like us, hundreds of miles from a beach (if you could even consider the Gulf a beach) Two Wounded Birds will bring the waves, food stands, and sand to your ears.
Here are some others:
Look at these cool cats.
Influential and game-changing music has a way of going undiscovered. A lot of people think Bruce Springsteen wrote “Jersey Girl” when it was in fact Tom Waits, most consider “Blinded By The Light” to strictly be a Manfredd Mann song when its author is ironcially Bruce Springsteen, and nobody seems to understand the importance and history of sampling in hip-hop. Some of the greatest bands out there are the favorite bands of today’s biggest bands (if that makes sense.) New Zealand made its contribution to the indie-rock world by birthing a late 1970’s post-punk, garage band known as The Clean. Formed by two brothers, Hamish and David Kilgour, The Clean tore up New Zealand’s local scene, eventually signing to the country’s biggest independent label, Flying Nun, and releasing five full-length albums and a massive handful of compilations, singles, and b-sides. “Oddity” captures the band at their most Clash-Ramones style punk, with its buzz saw guitar downstrokes, its pounding and ambitious cymbal crashes, and David Kilgour’s DIY Replacements-esque growl. The song is dangerously friendly, punching you in the mouth and then helping you wipe the blood up. The Clean represent some of the great aspects of music: capability, fun, and accessibility. The Clean have been credited to planting the seeds of 1990’s indie-rock, with Pavement and Yo La Tengo citing them as a major influence. Regardless of all of the accolades, “Oddity” and The Clean are the poster boys for “That band that really changed everything but nobody knows who they are.” It proves that the deeper one digs into a record bin, the farther one’s knowledge extends.
A teenager’s summer can become quite monotonous; there’s only so many segments of SportsCenter, re-runs of the Maury Show, Facebook stalking, and Grand Theft Auto-ing that a teen can ingest before being totally succumbed by the social black hole of repetition. On the plus side, a summer can provide beautiful glorious things like stone cold pool relaxation, beach fireworks, summer flings, bikinis, cool nights, and memorable, peer-related anecdotes. Pure X, an Austin-based trio successfully captures the warm breezy sensation of a slightly-inebriated summer night. Their debut LP, Pleasure is a collection of opaque, sticky slow burners that gel together to make a friendly syrupy blend of reverb and fuzz. Preceding Pleasure, the band released a four song EP entitled You’re In It Now that followed the same moonlit beach aesthetic of Pleasure. “Don’t Wanna Live, Don’t Wanna Die” –a cut from the EP finds Pure X at their most accessible, featuring poppy Real Estate-esque guitar melodies, head-bobbing ride cymbal caravanning, and soupy, masked lo-fi crooning. The opening guitar line shimmers like the glint of an ocean swimmer’s float, caressing its infectious, doo-wop inspired harmony slowly into the back of your brain until it goes unnoticed. Jesse Jenkins’ bass rolls with heavy relaxation that can only be described as a stoned metronome–seemingly providing the band with the only incentive to keep jamming. The song is so relaxed and carefree that feeling uptight after one listen is impossible. When the song lapses, the listener is forced into consciousness, bitterly ending their “camping-on-the-beach-drinking-beer-with-your-friends” daydream. Pleasure and You’re In It Now will fit comfortably in the record shelves of salt water smelling, marijuana purchasing, kelp infused hair styling surf addicts. And even if you’re not one for the waves, you can’t not get caught up in the ice cold chilling that is going on in “Don’t Wanna Live, Don’t Wanna Die.”
Here’s their website
Digging through the immeasurable pile of burned CD’s that inhabit my closet’s shelves, my tired eyes laid upon a CD with the title, “Ry-Man 2010.” The year struck a chord within my memories and I popped the CD into my computer. Instantly, I was taken back to the “good ol’ days” and filled with nostalgic sensation. The mix came to a close with a simple, guitar and vocals tune that I really loved. Googling the lyrics turned up nothing. Googling “slow acoustic song + lyrics” also failed. So I decided to ask the mad scientist behind the mix: my dad. I let him listen to it and he went into his musical man cave and returned carrying a yellow-blue album entitled Fortunately. I soon learned that the “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want-like” acoustic closer was called “The Wind” by an Austin, Texas based band called Brothers and Sisters. I placed the album into my stereo and let the bad boy play. I was shocked at its folky brilliance. Led by Will and Lily Courntey, Brothers and Sisters are an eight-piece pop band who wear their Neil Young, Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield influence on their sleeve. Will Courtney’s voice is simple yet entirely distinct–very reminiscent of Doug Martsch. His sister’s voice is as lofty as it is infectious, swirling with Van Gogh-like impressionism throughout each track. When finished with the album one can’t help but to feel like they are in the 1960’s, raging against the societal machine. Fortunately is so anachronistic that it could almost be considered a time capsule from the future. The band’s musicianship is exceptional: each song is carefully crafted and each instrument is implemented with close attention, from whirling pedal steels to buzzing organ and groovy fuzz guitar. Fortunately lacks any sort of indie-rock pretension; it just flows along like a kite in the wind. Sometimes our walls seem to be getting closer and closer to our noses, encapsulating our every move and deterring our happiness. Brothers and Sisters are one of those bands that show just how infinite the world of music is, and that to me is joyously affirming.
Brothers and Sisters’ Website
A whole mess of people claim that hip-hop died when ‘Pac and Biggie died. That belief is by far one of the most ludicrous ideologies one could possess; it’s on par with racism and Evangelicalism. But to be fair, I could see why people believe this. The West Coast-East Coast era is debatably hip-hop’s golden age, boasting landmark albums such as Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, Biggie’s Ready to Die, and De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising. The 1990’s was undoubtedly a great time for hip-hop and Joey Bada$$ plays on this. On the young rapper’s appropriately titled debut, 1999, the prodigy taps into the sounds that characterize ‘90’s hip-hop: DJ-infused samples, slowed relaxed beats, ice cold flows, record scratches, and even lyrical content. The opening “Pinky and the Brain” sample kicks straight into a saturday-morning-cartoon rhythm, preceding a rollicking piano loop that sounds like a drunken Ray Charles riff. Bada$$’s flow is a paradox, flowing with sloppy ease and vigorous rigor at the same time. The MC’s lyrics take on a philosophical stoner’s persona, covering topics from opium to 1999’s hit film, The Matrix. The debut singlehandedly refutes the “hip-hop is dead” claim and adds more beeps to the genre’s heartbeat monitor. Clinging to an era simply because it is comfortable is nothing new to the human race. From Jay Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy Buchanan to Christopher McCandless’ escape to the wilderness in search of solitude, the human race craves comfort, solace, and warmth. 1999 contains all three of those but never falls victim to cheap imitation.
Here’s the download for 1999