Monday, March 31, 2014

Desafinado - Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd

Samba Week!

Song: Desafinado
Artist: Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd
Album: Jazz Samba

Let's take a bit of a detour this week...

Over the past six months or so I've started to get into Samba, the Brazilian dance and musical genre which started in the beginning of the 20th Century and has roots in Africa, from the West African slave trade and African religious traditions.  Samba has become a key cultural expression of Brazil and Brazilian Carnival.  It became popular in the 30s and 40s with the likes of actress Carmen Miranda helping it receive more attention.  The late 50s and 60s saw the sub-genre Bossa Nova become popular, which morphed through the 70s and 80s into Samba Funk, etc.  (There are many sub-genres)

At this point I am no expert, but have found myself oddly drawn to this type of music as of late and a bit of Jazz in general.  So this week will simply highlight some great, classic records I've discovered and can serve as a light 101 course or dipped toe into the world of Samba.

While not the first Samba album I heard (we'll get to that later) Jazz legend Stan Getz's collaboration with guitar virtuoso Charlie Byrd Jazz Samba from 1962 is a great starting point.

Jazz Samba is considered the first American Jazz Bossa Nova albums to hit the scene and helped build excitement for the genre.  Getz won a Grammy for best Jazz Performance in 1963 for the first track, "Desafinado" which was written by Antonio Carlos Jobin & Newton Mendonça.

I love listening to this album in the morning on weekends, and it's a nice way to ease into a Monday AM.  I'll be building a Samba playlist via Spotify this week which you can follow below.


Samba Dees Days

Friday, March 28, 2014

Losin' It - Ola

Song: Losin' It
Artist: Ola
Album: Carelessly Yours

Swedish music super-fan Luis had introduced us to former Swedish Idol contestant Ola Nils Håkan Svensson, (who thankfully goes simply by Ola) and his catchy, pop-dance track "I'm in Love," which I... loved.  (Man that was ages ago.) I've been very interested in hearing the full album, Carelessly Yours, his fourth, which came out in January but it was impossible to find aside from snippets... not on US iTunes, not on Spotify, so I bought it on Amazon and it arrived Wednesday via Switzerland!

Carelessly Yours is a pretty strong dance-pop record filled with electro-tinged hooky tracks that might be a little too pop for some tastes.  (At the most, a track like "Rich & Young" sounds a bit One Direction frankly.)  But there are some worthwhile gems here.  I like the 80s sound to midtempo "Human," as well as the MGMT "Kids"-ish "Maybe."  The thumping "Losin' It" is also a winner with it's throbbing beat and incessant synth stabs.  (Parts are even reminiscent of Major Lazer's "Bubble Butt.")

The Swedish and their pop!


Losin' It
Jackie Kennedy

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Modest Life - RÜFÜS / RÜFÜS DU SOL

Song: Modest Life
Album: Atlas

Friend and reader Melanie introduces us to quite a promising trio coming out of Sydney, Australia, though there is a bit of confusion/mystery...

RÜFÜS DU SOL have recently released a four-track EP Desert Night which Melanie pointed me to, featuring the title track, another called "Modest Life" and one remix of each.  Both songs are really amazing so I wanted to know more...

It turns out RÜFÜS DU SOL actually started about four years ago and when by simply RÜFÜS.  They've released a couple EP's and remixes and last year put out their debut album Atlas in Australia and New Zealand in August.  The album has spawned three singles, and even went to no. 1 Down Under.  Atlas happens to contain both "Desert Night" (which was the first single) and "Modest Life," (which wasn't one of the three singles but is my favorite.)

The band is now touring under RÜFÜS DU SOL, and released Desert Night EP earlier this year.  I can only assume that they will release Atlas under the new name world-wide, and have done so because doing an internet search for "rufus" doesn't bring you to the band.  I don't know.

Regardless of this name kerfluffle... RÜFÜS / RÜFÜS DU SOL are really amazing and should be checked out.  I've put together a Spotify Playlist that combines the early RÜFÜS EP's as well as the two killer tracks under RÜFÜS DU SOL.  Atlas isn't on Spotify yet, most likely because it hasn't been released world-wide, but I got a copy and it's a great record.


Modest Life
Desert Life

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You - Galantis

Song: You
Artist: Galantis
Album: You

Well this has promising written all over it...

Galantis are a new duo comprised of Linus Eklow (a.k.a. Style of Eye) and Christian Karlsson (a member of both Miike Snow and Bloodshy & Avant.)  They've only released a handful of singles and a couple remixes so unsure when an album can be expected if at all.  I'm really digging late last year's single "Smile" as well as the recent "You," which sounds exactly what you'd expect a Miike Snow/Style of Eye collaboration to sound like.  (That piano!)

The duo are on tour, which you can find more about via their website, an EP is expected in early April.  Check out the YouTube tracks below or their Soundcloud page for more.

Karlsson had confirmed last year that he and Andrew Wyatt were working on the third Miike White album, and Eklow's single "Kids" under Style of Eye has been taking off.  Interested to see where the duo takes this collaboration.

High-energy, club-centric, pop-bliss.  I'm into it.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fever - The Black Keys

Song: Fever
Artist: The Black Keys
Album: Turn Blue

The Black Keys return for their eighth album, oddly announced by none other than Mike Tyson... via his Twitter account yesterday.  The album title and image were shared as well as first single "Fever."  In a press release released about the album, drummer Patrick Carney noted that the title Turn Blue could refer to:

"A: Suffocation B: Sadness C: Numbness from extreme cold D: A Cleveland late night TV host from the 1960s named Ghoulardi E: All of the above."

The album is produced by Danger Mouse and "Fever" is a sexy, rollicking number with a keyboard hook and killer groove.  So... straight up Black Keys.  Their last effort, El Camino housed their biggest hit, first single "Lonely Boy."



Monday, March 24, 2014

Awake - Tycho

Song: Awake
Artist: Tycho
Album: Awake

Let's start the week and this Monday with something a little downtempo to ease us all in...

Tycho (Scott Hansen) is a California-based ambient musician and Awake is his fourth full-length album.  He is also involved in photography and design work, which he uses the moniker ISO50 for.  His music is instrumental guitar and electronic-based, and is soothing yet punchy at times; a hard combo to make work, but he does.

I was introduced to his music via Awake, which was released earlier this month, but have also really liked his 2011 album Dive, which is in a similar vein.

Good music for mornings, cleaning house, or out-of-body, transcendental experiences.



Friday, March 21, 2014

The Weekend - Michael Gray

Song: The Weekend
Artist: Michael Gray
Album: Analog is On

Happy Friday!  Here is the perfect track to add to your permanent end-of-the-week playlist, one that I can't believe I'd never heard.  Thanks again to friend and reader Nick for introducing this one to me.

Michael Gray is best known as one half of the DJ/Remix production duo Full Intention who have officially remixed songs for the likes of George Michael, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor to name a few.

Gray started releasing tracks under his own name in 2004 starting with "The Weekend," which became a worldwide hit later that year.  In 2005 it became a top 10 hit on Billboard's Hot Dance Airplay chart and was featured in commercials and television programs.  How have I missed this track?

The subsequent album, Analog is On was released in Japan only in 2007 with other singles "Borderline" and "Somewhere Beyond" failing to reach the success of "The Weekend."  I've been listening to Analog is On and it's a great little Pop/House record that covers a lot of ground from summery, poolside jams to harder club cuts.  I recommend.

Get hyped y'all... it's FRIDAY.


The Weekend
Somewhere Beyond

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Want it All - Karmin

Song: I Want it All
Artist: Karmin
Album: Pulses

I thought Karmin held some promise when they came out a couple years ago, getting notice doing covers of pop songs uploaded to YouTube which lead to a record deal.  I really liked their single "Brokenhearted" but was ultimately disappointed with what I thought was their debut album Hello.  Turns out that was just an EP and the band have released their true full length album after some reported delays and conflict with their record label.

Pulses comes out next week preceded by singles "Acapella," "I Want it All," and the title track.  "Acapella" didn't really grab me but I've been enjoying "I Want it All," which thankfully does not include any of Amy Renee Heidemann's grating rapping, which is all over Pulses.  It's a straight-up sunny pop song that's infectious and hummable.

I took a listen to Pulses and don't really recommend; it's a bit juvenile sounding and all over the place, maybe I need some more time with it.  Check out "I Want it All" though, great pop song.


I Want it All

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Summer - Calvin Harris

Song: Summer
Artist: Calvin Harris
Album: Summer

It's been a long Winter.  And here's our first taste of Summer...

Calvin Harris returns after his impossibly successful third album, the ultimate collection of singles called 18 Months that sent the man's career on fire.  (He had nine UK top 10 hits from the record, surpassing Michael Jackson's record.  And Forbes names him the most successful DJ of 2013 with total revenue around $46 million.)

Even with his last single, "Thinking About You" still gaining momentum after it's release last August, Harris has a new single on the ready, a pretty Calvin-by-numbers track called "Summer" that none-the-less is catchy and well... sunny.  Harris returns to vocal duties on "Summer," last heard from his oddly huge "Feel So Close."  Is this man unstoppable?

Unsure if he's going to go for hit after hit using guest vocalists for album four, it would be nice for him to make another album in the vein of Ready for the Weekend.  We'll see.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Do That Dance - Shit Robot

Song: Do That Dance (feat. Nancy Whang)
Artist: Shit Robot
Album: We Got a Love

There's something about singer Nancy Whang's voice that works so well with epic, indie-tinged house tracks, it's a bit deadpan... which is odd, because the songs become such an emotional listening experience.  I can't get enough.

I've been loving two separate new tracks Nancy has featured on as of late, the first with her most frequent collaborator The Juan Maclean with their most recent single "Get Down (With My Love)," as well as the new single "Do That Dance" from DJ/Writer/Producer Shit Robot (AKA Marcus Lambkin.)  It's the first single off his sophomore album under the moniker called We Got a Love that was just released.

I'd wager that Nancy's best known moment is the epic closer from The Juan Maclean's sophomore album The Future Will Come, the twelve-plus minute space and time traveling odyssey "Happy House," still one of my favorite dance tracks ever.  They've collaborated since, with "Feel So Good" and now "Get Down."  And they're all amazing.

I'd heard of Shit Robot before but never took a listen... maybe it was the awful name, but it's unfortunate because I've been missing out.  Lambkin met James Murphey of LCD Soundsystem in NYC and started a DJ partnership with him in the early 00s and released a bunch of material on their DFA Records afterward, including Shit Robot's debut album From the Cradle to the Rave in 2010.  Shit Robot's work falls in line with the indie-house/punk/disco vibe of both LCD and The Juan Maclean while also maintaining a distinctive personal sound.  Vocals can be sparse or at least not the forefront, unlike "Do That Dance" which has Nancy smartly at the front of the mix.  This is some killer groovy hipster house that's good from start to finish.

Take a listen to We Got a Love here.

Beyond Shit Robot and The Juan Maclean, Nancy has sung for Holy Ghost! and also featured on one of my favorite tracks of last year, Classixx "All Your Waiting For."  She even starred in the tongue-in-cheek video.

I recommend checking out We Got a Love as well as From the Cradle to the Rave, but also Nancy Whang in general.  It's obviously The Juan Maclean heavy, but I've put together some of the Nancy moments I know in a playlist which you can listen to below.  Leave a comment below if you know of one I've missed so I can add.


Do That Dance
We Got a Love

Monday, March 17, 2014

Chandelier - Sia

Song: Chandelier
Artist: Sia
Album: Chandelier

A lot has happened since Sia's last album, 2010's We Are Born.

The Australian singer-songwriter has had a slow-build career that started in her teens in the early 90s.  From her trip-hop-flavoured early albums to her track "Breath Me" being used as a culminative emotional moment in the finale of Six Feet Under, it wasn't until 2011, a year after becoming co-writer on Christina Aguilera's ultimately disastrous Bionic album and gaining more acclaim from We Are Born, did Sia feature and co-write two tracks that changed everything; "Wild Ones" by Flo Rida and "Titanium" by David Guetta.

Since she's had a fairly good-sized hit with a follow-up with Guetta called "She-Wolf," some soundtrack songs, and then writing Rihanna's smash hit "Diamonds" in 2012.  She spent last year writing for herself and others, including Aguilera, Katy Perry, Jessie J, Britney Spears, Eminem, and Beyoncé to name a few.

"Chandelier" is the first single off Sia's as-yet-untitled sixth album.  Producer Greg Kurstin returns, after having become quite successful post-We Are Born as well.  It's a rousing, hip-hop flavoured, pop track with a commanding drum beat and Sia's BIG vocals, that are only sometimes intelligible.  It sounds a bit Rihanna, and I could hear her singing it... but Sia owns it.  Could be huge.

Now I'm begging for a Fred Falke remix.



Friday, March 14, 2014

You Got the Power - War

Song: You Got the Power
Artist: War
Album: Outlaw

War, the American Funk/Rock/Latin/Reggae/Jazz/Rhythm & Blues band from California is best known to me from some of their classic songs that have been used excellently in films like Dazed and Confused to Boogie Nights.  The several-member band started in 1969 and are still performing today and have been sampled by a wide range of artists given their anything goes sound.

Friend and reader Nick recently introduced me to the killer, uplifting, funk explosion of "You Got the Power," the first track off their 1982 album Outlaw.  It's got SUCH a groove... impossible to not move to this one.

Inspired by the track I finally got a much needed compilation for the band I'm just getting into.  Not the typical thing I'm listening to lately but this music is really undeniable.

Enjoy, and Happy Friday!

You Got the Power

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hit the Waves - The Mary Onettes

Song: Hit the Waves
Artist: The Mary Onettes
Album: Hit the Waves

Friend and reader Luis introduces us to (yet another, wink-wink) Swedish band, this time Jönköping's four-piece The Mary Onettes, who come inspired by 80s/90s bands like Echo & the Bunnyman, The Cure and The Stone Roses.  Formed in 2000, the band label-hopped a bit before settling onto Sweden's Labrador where they released their self-titled album in 2007.  Just before the release of their second album disaster struck when singer/guitarist Philip Ekström had every song they had recorded stolen off a hard drive he had in his car, and the back-up he had on his home computer also died from a power surge the same day.  After regrouping, they released an EP in early '09 and then their sophomore set Islands later that year.

Hit the Waves, their third long player was released early last year and they've already followed it up with a new mini-album/EP Portico this year.  Luis played us the very Cure-like sexy title track, but I took a listen to the whole record and really liked it.  It reminded me slightly of the honestly 80s-nostalgic The Chain Gang of 1974, whom I love.

Really digging this and plan to research more of their material.  Thank you Luis!


Hit the Waves

Evil Coast
Black Sunsets

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Strokin' - Clarence Carter

Song: Strokin'
Artist: Clarence Carter
Album: Dr. C.C.

Here's something you should have in your collection... my friend Robb just introduced me to this insane soul classic from the 80s that... I mean you should really just listen to it, look at that title!

Clarence Carter is an American blues and soul singer that played, wrote, and produced music starting in the mid 60s through the late 80s.  His straight up soul sound was hit in the 70s as disco grew in popularity, which affected his.  He continued on though, and in '85 saw "Strokin'" become a word-of-mouth hit.  Deemed too risque for radio at the time, his label placed "Strokin'" into bar jukeboxes and grew from there.  The song apparently was used in Eddie Murphey's The Nutty Professor.

Carter's music appealed to a working class African-American audience and he continued to release music and tour the southern states through the 90s.  It's notable that his '68 track "Backdoor Santa" was sampled by Run D.M.C. for their own holiday classic "Christmas in Hollis."

This track has a touch of novelty in it, but Robb notes that this is the track that would get everyone up towards the end of any wedding or BBQ.


Dr. C.C.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Geronimo - RuPaul

Song: Geronimo
Artist: RuPaul
Album: Born Naked

The sixth season of RuPaul's Drag Race started two weeks ago just a few after HBO's new high-profile gays in San Francisco dramedy Looking, and while the public reception (if you count my Facebook feed as anything) was certainly different for both, regardless... it feels like Gay, Inc. is really having a moment.  Drag Race has turned into a behemoth, at least relatively so...

For most of us, RuPaul is a singer first, best known for "Supermodel (You Better Work)" from '92, this Ru 2.0 that started with Race doesn't lose that, and if anything has shown that Mr. Charles is a very smart opportunist, making his music part of his show.  Again, these things are relative in size to other music but RuPaul makes everything seem B I G somehow.

Born Naked is now RuPaul's sixth album, and it's important to note that it took eleven years for the first three, and just five for the last three.  This bitch is currently on fire.  And if I let the jargon of my friends tell me anything, Rupaul's mix of shade, camp, and absurd one-liners has been embraced into the homo lexicon in a truly unprecedented way.

Born Naked in some ways is more of the same but feels a bit of a culmination of everything that's occurred before it.  Drag Race seems bigger this year, and RuPaul knows it.  There's the tracks made for the show like "Sissy That Walk," tracks that speak to the Ru-philosphy like "Can I Get an Amen," "Let the Music Play," and the title track, and then just some bangers, like "Geronimo" and "Adrenaline" with Britney demo singer-turned back-up-turned co-songwriter (?!?!) Myah Marie.  It's all pretty fun.

I recommend reading the recent New York Times article about RuPaul and her rise to fame.



Friday, March 07, 2014

Make Me Feel Better - Alex Adair

Song: Make Me Feel Better
Artist: Alex Adair
Album: Make Me Feel Better

Here's something super fresh...

Alex Adair is an up and coming remixer/producer out of Sussex, UK.  He was born in 1993, which means he's twenty-one. (gulp)

His remixes lean most toward progressive house, and you can hear and sometimes download many of them on his Soundcloud page.  He's done a lot of pop stuff, from Katy Perry to Tegan & Sara, but his latest original tune, "Make Me Feel Better," which was uploaded twelve days ago, is proper amazing and beautiful. (and also a free download at the very top of that page.)

Can't really find much more info on the man, not sure who is singing on the track... but there's really something here.  You're big inhale/exhale out of the workweek into the weekend.


Make Me Feel Better

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Love is All I Can Hear - Music Go Music

Song: Love is All I Can Hear
Artist: Music Go Music
Album: Impressions

It's been over four years since the release of Music Go Music's excellent debut album Expressions, which I initially heard towards the end of 2009.  By the end of that year, I was ready to claim it one of the years best, and then Fred Falke did a remix the following year and I was a full blown fan.  And then that was it.

Early last year I hit another binge on Expressions, had the ABBA-dipped, 70s-soaked, "Explorers of the Heart" on repeat, and wondered to myself... where is this band?  Nothing new was on the internet and I worried that they would end up an overlooked, indie-rock footnote.  I happened to be listening to my Fred Falke Playlist early this week and his epic take on the bands already epic "Warm in the Shadows," and I once again paused to lament on no new Music Go Music music... until Wikipedia quietly, and surprisingly, hit me with new info... the band had released a new track last September, and their sophomore album Impressions would be out sometime this year.  Yaaaaasssss!

But I also learned some info about the band that has escaped me their entire debut as well as the years since... that two of the three main members of Music Go Music are actually husband and wife team David and Meredith Metcalf playing in M.G.M. under aliases, and who have another band Bodies of Water who released their third album Twist Again in 2011.  Oh.

But... but... new Music Go Music music?  So yes, the band apparently released a track called "Love is All I Can Hear" in September and then another last December called "People All Over the World."  And like a surprise visit from a dear old friend, the songs dive right back into the semi-cheesy, sun-soaked 70s disco-rock vibe of their early work.  "Love is All I Can Hear" adds some surprising electro-synths, while "People" has a let's-join-hands-and-sway-to-this-organ ELO-ish moment.  I wasn't sure if this held up to their earlier material but I am now floored.  Excellent.

I took a listen to Bodies of Water's two albums on Spotify yesterday and while I hear the essence of M.G.M., they have a more Arcade Fire, quiet, standard indie vibe.  I'm still listening, but I'm just such a sucker for M.G.M.'s goofy hooks and kitsch-embracement.  Very very excited to hear Impressions, which currently doesn't seem to have a release date.


Love is All I Can Hear
People All Over the World

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Do You Feel the Same? - Hercules & Love Affair

Song: Do You Feel the Same?
Artist: Hercules & Love Affair
Album: The Feast of the Broken Heart

Andy Butler brings his ever-changing band of singers and musicians he calls Hercules & Love Affair back for their third album of indie-house dance music.  The Feast of the Broken Heart will be released May 26th by Moshi Moshi, who also released 2011's excellent Blue Songs.

First morsel from the album is "Do You Feel the Same?" with vocals from singer Gustaph.  It's a groovy throwback that's quite sublime.  It's very Hercules.  The song is being released in mid-April with a couple non-album b-sides.  The big exciting news is that singer-songwriter John Grant, who released his own excellent sophomore album last year, will also guest vocal on two tracks on the record along with Rouge Mary and Krystle Warren.


Do You Feel the Same?

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Fall in Love - Phantogram

Song: Fall in Love
Artist: Phantogram
Album: Voices

Greenwich, New York's Phantogram return with their sophomore album Voices, retaining a bit of their trip-hop-ish moodscape while expanding their sound to a more pop and guitar, song-focused record.

Since their debut and breakthrough Eyelid Movies, Phantogram (Sarah Barthel & Josh Carter) have toured with the likes of Yeasayer, Brazilian Girls, Metric, Future Islands, Zero 7, School of Seven Bells, and The XX to name a few.  They collaborated with The Flaming Lips on their last album The Terror as well as Big Boi of Outkast on his solo album Vicious Lies and Terrible Rumors.  They were credited with producing the track "Objectum Sexuality" and the partnership was fruitful enough to garner a whole EP with Big Boi they will release in the future.

Voices is a nice evolution for the duo and proof-positive that the band has a long future ahead in mind.  Check them out.


Black Out Days
Bill Murray

Monday, March 03, 2014

Magic - Coldplay

Song: Magic
Artist: Coldplay
Album: Ghost Stories

Coldplay return in 2014 after an extensive and very lucrative worldwide tour supporting their most popular album to date, 2011's Mylo Xyloto.  That record was intended to be a return to their stripped back, acoustic sound, but ended up being their most pop and colorful to date.  Going into recording their sixth album, they once again plan to return the more acoustic sound.

The band have recently released two tracks from the upcoming sixth album, entitled Ghost Stories and while they are less bombastic than previous singles, they are far  from acoustic.  "Midnight," released last week, is a quietly hypnotic electronic-based track with lots of robotic-sounding vocoder-effected vocals.  It's the centerpiece of the nine-track album and builds into an ethereal, trancy state.  It didn't do much for me initially, but that build up towards the end recently grabbed me... it's pretty transcendental.
Today the official first single "Magic" debuts, a dubby track with a minimalist beat that retains singer Chris Martin's vocals effect-less.  It's a pretty track, and certainly an antidote to the "big" sound they've been recently known for.  "Magic" also builds like "Midnight," culminating in a rather joyous acoustic-guitar assisted climax.

Not exactly what we've come to expect out of Coldplay, but I'm intrigued.