Nothing makes me more upset than when someone claims to enjoy “everything”, but can’t enjoy the simple things in music. I mean, pop and radio rock is the least challenging form of music to listen to. I understand there are many acts that are pretty bad (Nickelback, Finger Eleven), but claim bands that garner a large amount of success or airplay as not worth listening to is the prime example of pretentiousness. 2013 is nearing the end of it’s spectacular run, and it’s coming down to crunch time when picks are made, and time and time again my most listened too seem to be everyone else’s as well. It goes to show the popularity of an artist.
Now as I type this, I have a certain sound in my head when I think of constant radio airplay. It’s one of three categories. First is the club bangers, think big name rap artist featured on some pop stars track. Second category is the new, popular indie artist that everyone pretends they only like, (Mumford and Sons, The 1975, Capital Cities), and my final category is the tried and true rock. Since the 70′s, rock has been the only form of popular music that still receives radio airplay, even if it has fluctuated throughout the years. Different Days is a Montreal based band that grows from that popularized rock sound we all know. Strong, steady drumming, prideful vocals, and the one of a kind guitar tone. Oddly enough, throwing on the EP I received from them the first thing I thought was, “Is this PJ Harvey in 2000?”. It’s a spot-on comparison I’ve been told, and I guarantee if you listen to “A Place Called Home” and compare it to the band’s “Inconspicuous”, you’ll agree.
The group takes pride in their self-sufficient way of doing things. Having multi-talented members who can design artwork, master albums, and brag about a degree in classical production(?), they seem to have everything set. “Different Days” is not only the closer to the same-titled EP, it IS the epitome of their whole band. Feedback that salutes Sonic Youth, incredibly strong fills, and even the opening finger picking foreshadows the ultimate climax. There are so many different sounds on one EP. There’s a heavy metal sound, followed by a top 40 rock vibe, but it doesn’t feel forced with the exception of the opener, “Breathless”. It came across as tinny and lifeless. The upside is that the vocals are incredibly catchy, so it would be a different experience live.
Different Days is a band with a bright future. From PJ Harvey to Bikini Kill, the band knows their roots. They pick and choose only the most engaging parts from each artist to combine it into one unique, colorful blend of music. Different Days EP is a solid showcase into what the group has to offer. When experience and experimenting comes, they should be a band that brings a lot to the table for record labels. I guarantee them as the next indie sweethearts. Listen to “Static” and attempt to put a frown on, which is only acceptable when headbanging.
Listen to the entire EP below, and download!
Be to check out their facebook page here
Let’s take a moment and review some of the antics this group has caused in the past year and a half. They single handily won over an entire audience with The Money Store, which received worldly acclaim, and then gave the middle finger to the same record company by releasing No Love Deep Web without their permission. Remember the Sharpie covered penis? Yes, that was Death Grips. Following this, they began a massive tour, which they cancelled before to release No Love Deep Web, and then ultimately cancelled the SAME tour again. They didn’t even bother to show up to the Lollapalooza after show either, which received a lot of coverage as well. Now the hardcore hip-hop group released a new album, titled Government Plates, to the surprise of everyone in the music community. Coming across as a logical progression to No Love Deep Web, it combines the sound of the prior with the structure of the universally acclaimed The Money Store.
Now I’m a Death Grips fan. There’s no denying that I enjoy their music, but I went off for a few months without hearing a single song. It may have been the overkill with The Money Store, or the fact that I wish No Love Deep Web sounded like the previous album. It felt like getting back with an ex when I started the stream of the new album. From the beginning of Government Plates, I realized the group was back in business. The album opens with the horribly titled, “you might think he loves you for your money but i know what he really loves you for its your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat”. Yes, that is the title, and it’s all lowercase. The first noise on the entire album is a crash of something glass, and then follows the high pitched ringing that echoes the massive bass hits that seem to be a reoccurring theme on the album. It’s arguably the best song on Government Plates, and the worst title in music history.
Follows this is “Anne Bonny”, which is a great throwback to The Money Store. What this album does so well is it sets itself apart from any Death Grips album by being plain odd. There’s a lot more of MC Rides screaming, and the electronics on every song come across as extremely eerie, but dance-able. “Two Heavens” opens with a rotating synth chord, but then a double bass break comes in with a distorted voice. It’s something I can headbang too, but also sit in the dark and squirm until it’s over. Flatlander, the noise specialist in Death Grips, really steps it up for this album. He doesn’t try anything particularly new, but every track contains an immense amount of bass this time around so I can’t complain.
Zach Hill as well lets loose for this album. He’s pretty much given the OK to try anything, and that can be seen on “This Is Violence Now (Dont get me wrong)”. Over top the preset drum machine, Hill’s chaotic drum fills are fixated to the song like a metal-heads dream. Listening to Government Plates gave me a whole new perspective of the man’s talent, and reading that he was self-taught woes me every-time. It does make sense though, because he plays like he’s feeling the beat with his body, hitting everything in sight, but it does work well. He overplays, but in only the best way possible.
Now the overplaying can be tied into the reason for the free release. It proves that Death Grips aren’t in it for the business, but for the sake of a creative outlet. I don’t know any other ventures Flatlander and MC Ride are in, but Zach has had a resume full of past bands ranging from Boredoms to Hella to Wavves. The group seems to be a release from the world around them, and them allowing us to experience it seems to be a hard thing for them to do. MC Ride does hold back on this album, but he allows the other two members to stand out. His highlight does come in with “Birds”, which has some of the groups most cryptic and eerie lyrics possible. “I’ve got a black hat/ It might live,” is bad enough to pass up, but with the minimalist mess that surrounds it adds enough of an effect to show that lines like these have an effect.
Government Plates is the oddest release yet by Death Grips. The whole idea of them releasing a brand new album for free makes me wonder what their intentions are. Just to note how far they’ve came, when they released this album on their own website, it crashed within 30 seconds. I wouldn’t be surprised if they meant for that to happen, or they meant for the insane buzz that surrounded their no-show at Lollapalooza. What Government Plates shows us is an honest look at what Death Grips wants to do. They want to let loose, they want to have fun, and they don’t give a fuck. If people call Miley Cyrus “punk”, just wait until they know about Death Grips.
How much music is released on a daily basis? Let me rephrase that question; how much music do we miss out on a daily basis? Take a look at any Soundcloud, Bandcamp, or Facebook music page and that will put into perspective about the amount of potentially great tunes we forfeit by staying safe with our collection. I received a link recently with a caption titled, “Prod. by MF Doom”. It doesn’t matter what else was written, because I either thought this was a joke, or a surprise, but I assumed the first option. Readying my ears for embarrassment, I opened the link to a well made Bandcamp page that brightened my assumption of this ‘MF Doom’ track.
Attached was colorful images of bikini clad women and.. a cassette recorder? It was like I found deep web 10 years ago. My first thought before pressing play was another vaporwave track that’s covered by a solid layout, but I listened further and was pleased with the opening beat. Reminiscing an old feature flash game combined with DJ Shadow in his prime, “Foreshadow” was relatively fresh. I still didn’t know what to expect with the track, but I figured out the MF Doom label as soon as the instrumental broke into a replica beat. I assume the rapper is Dez Harley, who comes in pretty heavily once the new beat takes shape. I was sort of confused with the mixture of genres, but it began to make sense as the songs progressed. Dez Harley has a unique flow to him. He’s not out there like Danny Brown, but the guy has lungs of steel. I didn’t bother researching more about the artist, because the mysteriousness only added to my experience with this track. Apologies go out if I miss the mark completely.
He takes an enormous chunk of the song laying lyrics after lyrics praising his success and hard-work. It’s convincing enough to keep me captivated. After Harley takes a breath, the instrumental flows back into a vaporwave section filled with blips and bloops that just scream Twin Peaks and NWA. It’s nostalgia to my ears. At just over 3 minutes, Dez Harley takes a stab at the massively full hip-hop pool with a unique sound that stood out among the list of forgotten rappers. I would classify his style into a slacker-rap (Ironically his flow is extremely talented) with a heavy vaporwave influence. On the outside, this combination is doomed, but thanks to chances taken by people like Dez, I can recieve exciting new tracks like “Foreshadow”.
We’re heading to the Great White North to attend the 2013 Vancouver Folk Festival, and we can’t be anymore excited! The festival runs from July 19th-July 21st, and we’ll be providing photography, interviews, and written coverage of the entire thing. This year’s lineup has shaped into a wonderful mixture of world music, local talent, and huge superstars (Steve Earle to name the largest). Be sure to check the lineup below, and let us know if there’s any artists in particular that you want to receive info on.
We’re excited to see a lot of musicians like Kathleen Edwards, Aidan Knight, Hannah Georgas, The Wooden Sky, Steve Earle and the Dukes, and The Waterboys. Below I’ve included a list of the major headliners playing the evening shows at this festival. You can also click here to see the morning schedule for Saturday and Sunday. They include wonderful workshops, shows, and special events where artists talk about how they made a song or album, and great events filled with food and culture. You don’t want to miss our coverage of these great events.
Be sure to follow our twitter for real-time tweets during the festival, and check the website periodically for the full day-to-day coverage of the events.
When dance music comes to mind, punk rock and jazz generally isn’t the first to make the list of ideas. The UK band, Melt Yourself Down, does just that. Their full-length self-titled debut off the leaf label stands out among the recent releases of music. It’s hard to pin them down to one genre, but the group has the instrumentation of a funk band, but that’s only the beginning of their range of sounds.
Right from the beginning, the lead single “Fix My Life”, is a groove heavy blend of rock, jazz, funk, and even a bit of punk rock with a middle-eastern tinge thrown in. Surprisingly it’s not at all hard to handle with all these different sounds making their way into the single. It’s one of the catchiest songs off the album and only gets the ball rolling for the rest of the LP. The second track, “Release!”, is a more straight forward groove track with a Latin influence in it. It’s not as diverse as the first track, but nonetheless is still strong.
Tracks like “We Are Enough” and “Kingdom Of Kush” are the generally rock oriented songs off the album. “We Are Enough” is my personal favourite because of the energy involved in the music. Even though all the songs are extremely upbeat and energetic throughout Melt Yourself Down, this track is especially stronger in that category. The funky bass line has a definite punch to it that stands tall against the crisp saxophone riff. All parts to this song are memorable. Not to mention the electronic editing throughout showcases the ever growing changes the band can handle.
The band has some serious exotic influence on the album. Although the music is very “westernized” to get to the point, they stand out among jam bands because of their overall diversity. That’s not to say the music is perfect. At 8 tracks and 36 minutes, the music can feel like it’s dragging even though it’s a shorter album. Songs like “Mouth to Mouth” and “Tuna” don’t change their rhythm enough to keep things fresh. “Mouth to Mouth” has a strong African vibe going on, but it doesn’t exactly fit when the songs slows it’s pace down over top the saxophone rhythm. To me it’s forced.
Melt Yourself Down know their sound better than anyone making this sound. That partially has to do with their uniqueness and the fact that the band is in their own sound to begin with. They’re a quirky band with a strong start. Although the album does take a toll on the listener with it’s energy and non-stop tropical party sound, they have enough diversity to keep the sound new. From track to track though, the songs do begin to sound stale. It’s an album that’s perfect for summer, or even to spice up an outdoor party, but that’s where I see the album ending.
Check out two singles, “We Are Enough” and “Fix My Life”:
There’s a lot to mention leading up to the sixth album released by the American rapper, Kanye West. The SNL performance, the birth of his first child, the world wide projections, the album artwork. West’s mind is all over the place. I’d also like to remind the public the importance of the album title itself; Yeezus. As a play on words with ‘Jesus’, he’s referring to himself as the holiest, the highest, the greatest, and the meaning to life. It seems his messiah effect has gotten hugely out of hand, but that also plays a large role in his musical success as well. This album is the formal follow-up to the amazing My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which I’d argue is one the greatest contemporary releases ever.
How do you start a review to an album that is rumored to not even be finished? That’s the difficulty with West’s music because there’s always a trick up his sleeve. The album opens with the hard-hitting “On Sight”, which sounds oddly enough like “Come Up and Get Me” by Death Grips. There’s an experimental side to Kanye’s music, and it’s showed here. The distorted bass lines and minimalist structure is signature Rick Rubin style, who stepped up last minute to give these songs that boost of sound. The renown style of minimalism can be found on the amazing track, “Black Skinhead”, and the unique “New Slaves”.
Both of these tracks were in the polarizing SNL performance, and the sound is remarkably different. “New Slaves” sounds the same, but the atmosphere is completely different. The SNL was quite darker and had more tension, while the album version is more prominent with the bass, and there is more of a dynamic shift when the chorus kicks in. “Black Skinhead” definitely feels toned down on the album, which disappointed me hugely. Nonetheless, both songs are highlights on the album thanks to the production by Daft Punk. Even the features by artists like Justin Vernon, Hudson Mohawke, Frank Ocean, and Chief Keef bring a new dynamic to these songs.
Tracks like “Hold My Liquor” and ‘Blood On The Leaves” feel like aggressive versions of songs on his 2008 album, 808′s & Heartbreak. These songs are remarkably better than 808′s, but compared to MBDTF, I feel cheated with them. They don’t have the same creativeness and watchful eye that was on the previous album. There isn’t amount of carefulness put into this album. It almost feels rushed, with a lot of the tracks jumping into one another without any sort of connections.
The song that I enjoyed the most out of any other’s off Yeezus was “Bound 2″. The sample is grade-A typical Kanye, and he kills it lyrically, unlike a lot of songs off this album. What this song does is sum up the entire album up into 3 minutes and 49 seconds. It’s disjointed, melodic, odd, minimal, feels unfinished, and has the most abrupt ending to any album I’ve heard this year. Like the album cover, maybe that’s the point. All there is to the cover is a red rectangular sticker that keeps the album closed. Once broken to listen to the CD, there’s nothing but a blank cover. Kanye leaves it up to us to decide what we think of the music, but more importantly, it shows that he doesn’t care about any outsiders opinion on him. In an interview with The New York Times, he calls himself an outsider as well. I truly get that aspect on Yeezus.
At 40 minutes and 10 tracks, there is no filler found on this album. Before I knew it started, the album was already over. That’s what Kanye West was going for on Yeezus. He’s a man I’ll never understand, but I respect for his ability to stay on top of an industry that eats artists alive. Yeezus is no My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but it’s an album that will definitely garner a large number of new listeners because of the change in sound compared to older releases. It’s darker, more aggressive, and it’s extremely minimal sound perfected by Rick Rubin is very enjoyable throughout the album. Sadly, tracks like “Hold My Liquor”, “Blood On The Leaves”, and “Guilt Trip” don’t hold up to the bar set by the early songs on the album. The unconventional structure can’t compete against the inconsistency of Yeezus. The highest amount of respect goes out to Kanye for pushing the boundaries, but sadly, the album falls short of the expectations I had. That being said, this is a follow up to the amazing My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. If another artist released this album, it be highly praised, but that means there must be another Kanye West, and we all know there’s only one in the world.
Same for “New Slaves”:
Ironically, a genre that takes so much out of music is on the rise again with influence. No Wave was a short lived art scene out of the dirt cheap New York City downtown. It originated with the rise of constant drug use and visual art growing in the New York downtown area, and with a mentality of going against the pop-culture scene, many people took to the underground movement. No Wave is a weird style. It’s mostly atonal, and doesn’t have any sort of song structure. It goes against everything that is popular music, or let alone experimental music. No Wave is the epitome of experimental. Many artists have emerged as extremely influential in this genre, such as DNA, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Mars, and notably Glenn Branca.
What attracts me to this certain sound is how different it is. There’s no way of comparing it to other sounds, because there is no other sound. For a first time listener, it will be taken as pure noise, but I find that can be the point. It’s almost about pushing the limits of ‘what is music’ with textures. Many of these avant-garde musicians came from New York, but a group I’m very fond of came out of France. Out of all places, a small group called Rosa Yemen released their only EP, titled Rosa Vertov, in their home country. It garnered zero coverage, but lead vocalist, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, went on to have a semi-successful career out of using No Wave as an influence for her world beat and post-punk career. Now Rosa Vertov stands out to me as a great EP from this genre because of how raw it is. At just over eight minutes, this thing really puts a point across. The opening, “Decrypted” has an extremely arrogant and disjointed guitar riff that doesn’t get any easier to listen to as the song progresses. Any sort of structure with this song has flown out the window, and what is left is pure noise. Not the Merzbow style soundscapes, but a very natural and unpleasant sound only found in No Wave.
The second track, “Herpes Simplex”, has a very strong sense of emotion to it. The screaming from Descloux resembles any sort of garage rock or noise rock vocals today. The influences to bands like Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine are very strong. It’s like a history lesson on drugs. “Larousse Baron Bic” opens with a minimal guitar riff that 100% influenced the riff for The xx’s “Crystalised”. I’d be very surprised if I heard that the connection can’t be made. It’s for reasons like this that this EP means so much to me. “Rosa Vertov” is the fourth track, and it’s a complete mess. The vocals are everywhere, the guitar jumbles from tremolo picking to eight notes, and there’s a large amount of excess noise added onto the track. Not to mention there’s a droning sound in the background that only adds to the tension. A very interesting track to say the least.
Finally, there’s the semi-tonal track, “Tso Xin Yu X”. For once on the EP there’s a set beat and guitar rhythm that doesn’t fly off the tracks after a second. The track ends very suddenly after a minute and a half rhythm section, and sets itself as a solid closer for a wonderful mess of an EP. It’s very hard to describe No Wave without listening to it. I find that every artist has a different idea of what that term means, but to me it’s almost a play on words with “new wave”. It’s anti-tonal sound goes against everything new wave is, and the entire culture behind No Wave plays a very important role in modern music today. Although the sound might not click with listeners, the story behind the scene itself is seminal to anyone interested in music history. A great way to start is with Rosa Yemen’s EP, Rosa Vertov.
Here’s the track, “Larousse Baron Bic”, which is actually from the original EP, not Descloux’s solo album:
Also, check out the great track, “Herpes Simplex”:
In preparation for the young rapper’s latest album, Doris, there is finally a studio version of the track, “Guild”. It features Mac Miller, who has an inconsistent streak to him, but he really lays it down for this track. Both Earl Sweatshirt and Miller’s voices are lowered an octave to produce a muddy and slow sound that is prominent in Odd Future’s recordings. It’s another hint to the highly anticipated Earl Sweatshirt LP, which is yet to have a set release date. Earl also has mentioned in interviews how he sees the transition from his past sound and debut album, Earl, back in 2010 by saying on twitter,
“I anticipate a loss of fans. I also anticipate gaining some. So. You know. Yeah… I hope i lose you as a fan if you only fuck with me cause i rapped about raping girls when i was 15… I fucking love how it sounds. And uhh. Thats what matters… Im gonna go out on a limb and say that you can hear the progression.”
Check out the newest track below (Thanks to MassAssault for keeping it up on Soundcloud)