Friday, February 28, 2014

Happy - Pharrell

Song: Happy
Artist: Pharrell
Album: G I R L

Pharrell puts a huge exclamation point at the end of a killer twelve month period by releasing a surprise sophomore album G I R L right after the semi-surprise slow-burn hit "Happy," initially released on the soundtrack to Despicable Me 2 back in June.

After being heavily involved with arguably the two biggest tracks of last year, summer staples "Get Lucky" with Daft Punk and "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke, Pharrell released "Happy" on his own back in November with a very cool 24-Hour music video.  The song has built in popularity over the past few months with it's irresistible charm and has now topped the Billboard charts in fifteen countries.

Just last week, as "Happy" rocked the charts and gets closer to a possible OSCAR win, (up for best song at this Sunday's show) the album was announced for release on March 3rd.  G I R L includes collaborations with Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Daft Punk, and Alicia Keys amongst others and is currently streaming in full on iTunes.

G I R L sounds pretty great and very very Pharrell.  It dips into Timberlake-esque balladry at times, but mostly it's falsetto-drenched pop-funk bops.  His bread and butter.

The man also has a, honestly they've-done-better collab with Azealia Banks called "ATM Jam," a hit-in-the-making called "Get it Right" on the Miley Cyrus album, and another infectious collaboration with Major Lazer called "Aerosol Can."  He's unstoppable.

Thinking back on some of the many amazing things this man has been involved in it seems only fitting that a playlist be made with some of his best moments, solo, collabs, and production work with the Neptunes and his band N.E.R.D.  Mind-blowing.



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Animal - Berlin

Song: Animal
Artist: Berlin
Album: Animal

Yes, that Berlin.

Los Angeles-based band Berlin formed in 1978 inspired by European electronic bands like Kraftwerk and Devo.  Because of their very new sound they had a hard time initially getting noticed until their breakthrough controversial single "Sex (I'm A...)" and then the Giorgio Moroder-produced single "No More Words."  The band split in 1986 just before the release of their biggest hit yet, the also Morodor-produced "Take My Breath Away" from the hit film Top Gun.

Singer Terri Nunn was an original part of the band but left before they took off to start an acting career (she auditioned for Princess Leia.)  She returned, saw them to success, and then legally retained rights to their name when touring with the Go-Go's in the late 90s.  The original lineup re-formed in '04 for the VH1 show Bands Reunited and did a string of live shows and a live album.

Nunn has since released a couple albums in the 00s under the Berlin moniker and just last year released another album Animal inspired by her new love of current EDM showcased from her radio show on Northridge, Los Angeles CA's KCSN.

Reader Sean clues WeCast into the title-track, a super-catchy and current sounding dance-pop banger that I am in love with.  The album was lead with unfortunately drippy ballad "It's the Way," but the majority follows "Animal's" dance-pop-with-guitars blueprint, and it's worth the listen.  This is no 80s nostalgia trip... Nunn, who sounds amazing, brings a contemporary flair to her brand of pop.  Check out "Nice to Meet You" and "Secrets."  Good stuff.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Going to the Ceremony - Kid Cudi

Song: Going to the Ceremony
Artist: Kid Cudi
Album: Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon

Cleveland-born, Brooklyn-based recording artist/actor Kid Cudi surprises with an out-of-nowhere 4th album; Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon released yesterday to digital retailers.  Initially intended as an E.P. and bridge from his third album Indicud and the third chapter in his Man on the Moon series, Satellite shifted into a full-length record after a burst of creative inspiration.  So much so that he's stated the physical release will expand on the currently ten-track album and contain bonus/extra tracks that he'll consider a "director's cut" of sorts.

After really loving his first two albums, Man on the Moon I & II, I just couldn't connect with Indicud.  Satellite seems to be cut from an even more experimental, stoner-friendly, spacey cloth.  Sonically it's pretty wild, with production mainly by Cudi himself along with Indicud collaborator Dot Da Genius. (Together as WZRD.)  He seems to be abandoning the more pop elements of his sound, which is a bit disappointing for me, yet I still find his flow and music to be rather fascinating.  


Going to the Ceremony
Satellite Flight

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sleepwalking - The Chain Gang of 1974

Song: Sleepwalking
Artist: The Chain Gang of 1974
Album: Daydream Forever

I really do love Spotify.  Not only do I discover new music daily through friends' feed, but listening to old playlists reminds me of artist and bands I'd kind of forgot about, or haven't followed up with in a while.  So such a situation occurred this past weekend when I heard the cinematic 80s-biting track "Don't Walk Away" by The Chain Gang of 1974.  Damn I loved that debut... and surprise!  A quick search on Spotify reveals... a sophomore album has JUST dropped earlier this month.  Marketing fail, but here we are.

The Chain Gang of 1974 is the moniker used by American musician and DJ Kamtin Mohager who resides in Los Angeles and makes epic pop that acts like the entirety of relevant culture exists solely in the filmography of John Hughes.  He's a bit tragically ignored (from what I hear on the other coast) but readers of this here blog know I've been going on about him since 2010.

So it comes with much excitement that the wait I didn't know I was in is over, and the sophomore follow up to 2011's excellent debut Wayward Fire, Daydream Forever is here!  The formula remains the same, electronic-tinged guitar-based pop music with some dark synths that nods consistently to Tears for Fears.  I've been listening to the record quite a bit and while it's not instantly grabbing me the same way the debut did, the new music is solid.  I'm just excited to let you know it's here.

"Sleepwalking" seems to be the promo single and it's the one that's jumping out to me the most.  Great stuff.

Also check out that debut album.  Maybe start there.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Out of the Black - Neneh Cherry

Song: Out of the Black (feat. Robyn)
Artist: Neneh Cherry
Album: Blank Project

Neneh Cherry has never been that prolific, and while she's been working in past years on projects like band/collaboration cirKus, as well as 2012's The Cherry Thing, an experimental jazz record with group The Thing, it's been eighteen years since the release of her last solo album Man in 1996.

Blank Project, her fourth album, is surprising not only for the wide gap since her last but also the rushed, experimental nature of the record itself.  Blank Project was produced solely by Four Tet and was recorded and mixed in five days.  Each Neneh Cherry release has been different from the one before and Blank Project is no different, though this time has completely separated itself from the hip-hop flavour she was initially known for from 89's Raw Like Sushi.

I couldn't get into The Cherry Thing at all, and while Blank Project is as oddly experimental and sparse as that record, it's got shades of Cherry's excellent sophomore album Homebrew, where mood took precedence over hooks... though Project goes further and more sparse than that trip & hip-hop touchstone.

You can look no further than the collaboration "Out of the Black" with fellow Swede Robyn which sounds like nothing you'd expect from either.  Dub-by and lush with minimal electronics, it's an odd track that's also strangely hypnotic, buch like the rest of Blank Project.

This album might disappoint old fans of her early work but this is a record worth listening to.  I hope it leads to a resurgence for the singer-songwriter... it's create to simply hear her voice again.


Out of the Black
Blank Project

Friday, February 21, 2014

I Got U - Duke Dumont

Song: I Got U
Artist: Duke Dumont
Album: I Got U

First heard of British DJ/Music Producer Duke Dumont through his killer remix of HAIM's "Forever."   He's since been releasing a couple singles including last year's "Need U (100%)" and now "I Got U" featuring the very Whitney-esque vocals of Jax Jones.  Also, he loves that 'U' eh?

I'm really digging this track quite a bit.  Good one for the weekend.

Happy Friday!


I Got U

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Jerk Ribs - Kelis

Song: Jerk Ribs
Artist: Kelis
Album: Food

The always quality-consistant, but unpredictable Kelis is returning with her sixth studio album Food in late April.  The album has been completely produced by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio who co-wrote every track on the album (save for one) with Kelis and Todd Simon.  First single "Jerk Ribs" is a funky, soulful, groovy little track that shows quite the departure from her last effort, 2010's dance-heavy Flesh Tone... which I loved.

The album is apparently a throwback to vintage soul and gospel-like organs paired with modern electronic flourishes for "a sound that's rootsy without ever being self-consciously retro," says producer Sitek.  Upcoming second single "Rumble" best highlights this sound with jazzy horns and Kelis' powerful delivery.

While I would have been plenty happy with a Flesh Tone pt. 2, that's not the type of artist Kelis is.  She's arguably never made the same record twice, setting her apart from many of her contemporaries.


Jerk Ribs

Video here.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Comfortable - The Knocks

Song: Comfortable
Artist: The Knocks
Album: Comfortable [E.P.]

The Knocks have been umm... knocking around for quite some time and yet we still don't have a debut album yet.  Maybe it's time to stop waiting and enjoy the pretty consistent wave of E.P.'s and singles the duo does chuck out.  And do that they do do...

Comfortable is the latest four-track E.P. from the group containing the title track as well as "The One," a groovy little number done with Sneaky Sound System.  "Comfortable" is a catchy, sexy track that I've been going pretty wild for over the past couple weeks.  They just keep on keepin' on.

The Comfortable E.P. is already on Spotify, and while we don't have an album to listen to, we have more than an album's worth of material.  So below is a WeCastPlaylist of The Knocks output which is really pretty stellar.


The One

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hideaway - Kiesza

Song: Hideaway
Artist: Kiesza
Album: Hideaway

Very promising "new" artist alert...

Kiesza is a London & NYC-based Canadian singer-songwriter who has recently dropped her debut dance single "Hideaway" late last month.  Just five days ago, the NYC-set single-shot music video came out which seems to be getting some additional traction for the song and singer.

A trained ballerina in her teens, Kiesza apparently joined the Canadian Navy after school and was being trained as a sniper until she decided to save the world with electro-pop instead.  It appears she released a folk album back in 2008 but having trouble finding confirmation that it's the same Kiesza.

"Hideaway" is a killer Deep House-meets-pop hybrid, radio catchy but club ready.  There's also a hint of 90s nostalgia that's also helped by the simple but effective music video.  (Acid wash jeans!) Which had its difficulties...

"Shooting the video seemed impossible," Kiesza tells Rolling Stone. "I had less than three days to learn five completely new dance styles. Almost everyone told me that we couldn't do it. Then to top things off, on the day of the shoot, I broke a rib. I did the video in two takes and couldn't move for an entire month afterward, but I pulled it off."

The "Hideaway" EP comes out at the end of March.  One to watch in 2014.



Friday, February 14, 2014

South American - Tom Sawyer

Song: South American
Artist; Tom Sawyer
Album: South American

This is a WTF song.

It makes you feel like you're on drugs.

I don't know how a man can "look like a spaghetti."  But then again I've never been to South America.

Can't really find much info about this Tom Sawyer, and only found the song on a handful of compilations, the one I got was called CD Pool Underground-Alternative December, which incidentally is a pretty good Psychedelic-Trance Deep House mix.

It's a mildly dangerous-seeming kind of sexy... the pulsating beat comes as a feeling, even though you're also thinking about it.  "Never get high on your own supply."  I've seen it written out as one word, unlike the country... so I can't really be sure.

Wait... are we on drugs?

Happy Friday.  Enjoy.

South American

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Get Me Through - Elk Road

Song: Get Me Through
Artist: Elk Road
Album: Waiting for Your Waves to Pass

Here's an exciting discovery...

Elk Road is a musical project by 22 year-old Australian law student Rory Garton Smith.  His debut three-track EP Waiting for Your Waves to Pass was put out just over two weeks ago, and it's really quite amazing.

Waiting for Your Waves to Pass is a mix of soulful Electro and House, each track with a different yet unifying sound.  All three are pretty excellent and hard to pick one to highlight so I'm going with "Get Me Through" feat. Tasha Baxter, the last track which will remind you of recent popular vocal dance tracks like Zedd's "Clarity" etc.  But you should listen to all three and can download them for free from Elk Road's official Soundcloud page.  (You'll also find a rather nice remix of Rudimental's "Free" feat. Emeli Sandé, which is also free to download.)

This kid is just starting out but shows quite a lot of potential with this EP.


Pool on My Mind
Get Me Through

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Big Banana - Havana Brown

Song: Big Banana
Artist: Havana Brown
Album: Flashing Lights

I was in Ft. Lauderdale, FL last month and mid-evening was getting drinks at a popular local video bar with a large group of friends when sometime in the middle of round three a music video came on with a sort of abrasive song that demanded attention... it was "Big Banana" by Havana Brown and it pretty much stopped conversation for the whole group.  Who and what the Hell was this?!?

Havana Brown is an Australian DJ, Writer, Dancer, Singer who got her start as a DJ for Island Records Australia which lead to opening slots on some high-profile tours including Enrique Iglesias, Britney Spears, Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, and Chris Brown.  Her debut as a recording artist came in 2011 with "We Run the Night," which was subsequently remixed with Pitbull, getting the Melbourne native increased exposure.

She has since released an EP which contained "Night," and her debut album Flashing Lights was released in October of last year.  It's a Pop-Club record with production from such remix kings as Afrojack, R3hab, Darkchild, and RedOne.  Funny enough, when listening to "Big Banana" I was reminded of the RedOne production "Starships," not that they sound similar, but are just big, loud, abrasive, and kind of dumb... yet fill a very specific need.  Incidentally, "Big Banana" isn't a RedOne production (though he did two other tracks on the album) it's R3hab, best known for production work with Infected Mushroom and remixes for Lady Gaga, LMFAO, & Calvin Harris amongst others.

There's a good chance you won't really like this... it's pretty abrasive, but silly/ridiculous and doesn't take itself too seriously.  Probably best to watch the head-scratcher of a music video with your first listen/view.  You might also want to be drunk.


Big Banana
We Run the Night
Flashing Lights

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Plastic Soul - YACHT

Song: Plastic Soul
Artist: YACHT
Album: Plastic Soul

New single from L.A.-based by-way-of Portland indie dance quartet YACHT.  "Plastic Soul" follows 2012 single "Second Summer" as one-off's post their 5th album Shangri-La from 2011.

"Plastic Soul" is an odd little track but I quite like it.  It builds and builds to a throbby, ethereal, trance-y state with indie deadpan vocals and a killer final minute.

No word if the band has a new album in the works.


Plastic Soul
Second Summer

Monday, February 10, 2014

In Your Room - The Bangles

Song: In Your Room
Artist: The Bangles
Album: Everything

There was something about the new U2 track, maybe it's the guitar line right in the beginning, but I instantly thought of The Bangles' 1988 track "In Your Room" from their third album Everything, the follow up to their breakthrough, 1986's Different Light.  And subsequently, I can't stop playing it.

I remember having Different Light on cassette, utterly obsessed with "Walk Like an Egyption" as well as "Manic Monday" but remember I didn't get the follow up... my Mother did after the Adult Contemporary cross-over smash "Eternal Flame," the band's biggest hit.

"In Your Room" was co-written by Billy Steinberg, who also co-wrote "Eternal Flame" with lead singer Susanna Hoffs and Tom Kelly.  Steinberg is responsible for a slew of huge 80s hits including "Like a Virgin," "True Colors," "I Drove All Night," "So Emotional," "I Touch Myself" and "Alone" by Heart.  It's a punchy, propulsive track, that does sound a bit dated but still quite rockin'.

The band split after a Greatest Hits record in 1990 only to reform a decade later for their fourth album Doll Revolution in 2003.


In Your Room
Eternal Flame

Friday, February 07, 2014

Russian Kiss - Annie

Song: Russian Kiss
Artist: Annie
Album: Russian Kiss

The Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia officially start today... you may have heard.

The P.R. certainly hasn't been very good, and is just getting worse.  Athletes and journalists that have arrived have found the Olympic village to be a little less than ready.  But of course the big news leading up to the games has been President Vladimir Putin's war on homosexuals with the governments "Propaganda" laws, which have lead to an upswing of anti-gay violence.

In response, Norwegian singer-songwriter Annie and Richard X, fresh off a winning E.P. collaboration released last year, have teamed up with visual artist Bjarne Melgaard for a protest track and short film (see below) to raise money for gay rights non-profit All Out.  More information can be found on Annie's website.

The track itself isn't too far off from their A&R E.P., a 90s-tinged deep house track that even includes some male moans of ecstasy toward the end.

After quite the hiatus Annie has been hitting it out of the park with one-off singles, the E.P., and now this hypnotic track that highlights a nasty violation of human rights.

Buy the single on iTunes: US and UK.

Russian Kiss

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Invisible - U2

Song: Invisible
Artist: U2
Album: Invisible (single)

U2 debuted this brand-new track in a commercial during the Super Bowl, tied to Bono's RED organization that fights AIDS globally.  It is said to be a "preview" track from their upcoming, as-yet-untitled 13th studio album which is being produced by Broken Bells/Gnarls Barkley co-founder Danger Mouse.  The bands been working on the album since 2011.

"Invisible" sounds like classic U2 with some slight electronic flourishes.  There's that Edge guitar, soaring Bono vocals... and a reminder that new U2 is always like going home a bit.  I haven't been totally enamoured with a U2 record since 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind, but "Invisible" certainly gives me that vibe... I look forward to hearing the new record.

There is a Mark Romanek-directed video on the way for the track.



Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Louie the First - Duck Sauce

Song: Louie the First
Artist: Duck Sauce
Album: Duck Droppings [EP]

It's been four years since Duck Sauce dropped their first EP as well as their still best known single "Barbara Streisand" in 2010, and we still don't have an album... but the DJ/Production duo of A-Track and Armand Van Helden continue to release killer one-off singles and E.P. so it's gotta happen at some point.

The latest disco-meets-house EP Duck Droppings is a four-track romp of infectious, upbeat tunes that are bound to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.  I'm loving the Hot Chocolate "Brother Louie" (theme from "Louie") sampling "Louie the First," despite being a little repetitive... as well as first track "Party in Me" and the totally nuts "Calamari (Put the Sauce on It.)"

Really love these guys.


Louie the First
Calamari (Put the Sauce on It)
Radio Stereo

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Holding on for Life - Broken Bells

Song: Holding on for Life
Artist: Broken Bells
Album: After the Disco

Broken Bells (Producer/Musician Danger Mouse and The Shins leader James Mercer) return with their second set After the Disco, following the duo's self-titled debut from 2010.

As the title hints, After the Disco incorporates a bit more electronic elements to the band's hippy-dipped indie-rock psychedelia.  The results are rather subtle, I've been listening to it for about a week and it's melodies and charms are just unfolding for me.  It's a beautiful record that like their debut, has a country-tinge to it... but the influences and sounds are wide ranged, yet result in a lush, confident work that on paper sounds a bit messy, but in practice is ultimately sublime.

First single "Holding on for Life" is an immediate standout, as is the throbbing title-track which sounds a bit 80s to me. The album is really starting to gel with me and could be an early 2014 standout.


Holding on for Life
After the Disco
The Changing Lights

Monday, February 03, 2014

Blue Moon - Beck

Song: Blue Moon
Artist: Beck
Album: Morning Phase

It's been six years since Beck's last studio album, 08's Modern Guilt, and while the man has continued recording and most recently released some one-off singles here and there, as well as some side projects, we haven't had a new album since Guilt which was the last entry in his contract with Interscope records.  Until now.

Morning Phase, to be released at the end of February, will be Beck's twelfth album and a supposed "companion piece" to 2002's melancholy break-up album Sea Change.  From the start you'll hear the absence of hip-hop beats and electronic elements, even the garage rock bop of Modern Guilt.  The folky-acoustic sound, mixed with a warm touch of psychedelia, is once again present on Morning Phase as on Change, one of his most acclaimed albums.  The one pointed difference is the sad heartache of Sea Change has been replaced with what Morning Phase's press release describes as "infectious optimism."  Regardless, it's pretty beautiful sounding.

"Blue Moon," the first single, with obtuse lyrics about being "cut down to size" and being left alone sure don't sound infectiously optimistic... but the music has a quiet uplift to it... I've been quite enjoying it over the last couple weeks.  I've only just recently gotten to hear the album and like Sea Change does have a consistent tone throughout and does sound, as the title suggest, great in the early morning.  It's a new dawn record, and the perfect re-inroduction to the once very prolific 90s artist.

Morning Phase is the first of two albums promised for this year from Beck whom bassist and frequent collaborator Justin-Meldal-Johnsen has commented has "three-to-four albums worth" of new material he's recorded since Modern Guilt.


Blue Moon