I happened to catch these guys a little while back when they opened for DECIBELity fave King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and they definitely made an impression. Their musicianship was on point, and I was particularly taken by their well-polished songs —little glittering morsels of indie pop.
And after I checked out their debut LP released a few weeks later, I like them even more. As it turns out, they‘re signed to Stones Throw Records, which is one of my favorite labels of all time and, their founding member Alexander Brettin was also the guy behind Salvia Plath fka Run DMT (man this guy has some issues with intoxicants).
Anyway, the recordings of these aforementioned pop morsels are fantastic—charming, lo-fi in all the right ways, more than a little blues-y with just the perfect amount of hiss and warble. And hooks get stuck up in your head. This is perfect Indian summer music, for those of you in applicable locations.
Check out a few of the tracks below and grab the album at the Stones Throw shop.
Awful Records is, without a doubt, one of my favorite finds this year. The prolific Atlanta-based collective, which counts somewhere near a dozen heads among its ranks, has been steadily gaining momentum since sometime in 2014. And with good reason: they manage to somehow produce consistently quality rap music while maintaining their independence both creatively and financially within the Mecca of over-produced carbon-copy radio rap.
This can be at least partially chalked up to their idiosyncratic DIY approach to production, which finds obvious influence from broad palette of sounds spanning well beyond the reaches of pop music. But their real quirk comes from their cadre of oddball MCs—Father, iLoveMakonnen, Ethereal, OG Maco and Key! and the rest — who spit off-the-wall raps and hooks that are refreshingly absent of drugs and violence.
As an R&B singer and the cohort’s only female, Abra is something of an outlier within a crew of outliers—an exception to an exception. And her debut, Roses, released this summer, is accordingly unique, and likely one of 2015’s best releases.
As with the rest of the Awful clique, production is sparse and understated. The sound of modern Atlanta-style rap clearly informs the it but so do more exotic sounds like British drum & bass and Darkwave synthpop (in fact she has styled herself as “Dutchess of Darkwave”). There’s a density, an emotional weight perhaps, to this record that belies the simplicity of its structure.
The emotional heft is not from the lyrics, which trod well-worn themes in R&B—love and heart break etc.—but from the sonic character of her voice, and how well the plaintive piano melodies, scattershot 808 snares, gurgling synthesizers and cavernous basslines accompany it. It’s a cohesive artistic statement from someone whom we should be hearing much more from in the future.
Check out the rest of album here:
Here’s a non-album track featuring Awful Records boss Father
You know, back in the early ‘00s I used to listen to quite a bit of music with this kind of vibe—nu jazz (and sometimes broken beat) they were calling it at the time. It was basically a bunch of house music guys from London trying to re-imagine jazz-fusion with samplers. When it hit right, it was an irresistibly funky cocktail of melody, low-end and impossibly dope rhythm, but alas it basically disappeared up its own ass (in much the same way as jazz fusion actually) sometime around 2004.
This Australian four-piece— self-described as “multi-dimensional poly-rhythmic gangster shit”—would have likely smashed that London scene to bits. Anchored by a vice-like rhythm section and front woman Nai Palm‘s cryptic song writing, their hybrid sound threads at least half a dozen genres together no sweat. Plus all of these guys have classical jazz musician-level chops.
Their debut full-length Choose Your Weapon, which was released this spring via independent Australian imprint Flying Buddha, is, simply put, an opus. A sprawling offering that changes that switches kaleidoscopically through textures, styles and time signatures, it connects the dots between the African poly-rhythms the atmospheric mysticism of Sun Ra and Lonnie Liston Smith and the synthetic bounce of Brainfeeder/post-J Dilla LA beat scene.
It’s been a minute we realize since we last posted a DecibelCast mix (or anything else for that matter). We’ve all been pretty busy doing adult stuff in our respective lives and, unfortunately, this blog has suffered for it. We have of course continued to discover and enjoy lots of different music, we just haven’t made the time to write about it. But, I digress…
This here is a mix I made specifically for a recent trip to Los Angeles (hence the title)—it starts with a bunch of West Coast G funk-inspired stuff and then works its way into some slick summery electronic pop. All tracks are new (with one obvious exception) and all are ideal for the warm weather. It’s a damn fine collection of songs, and I’ve been rinsing it steadily for the past few weeks. And so I figured “Why not share it with all of you?”
STS & RJD2 – “Doing it Right”
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Can’t Keep Checking my Phone”
Thundercat – “Them Changes” (feat. Flying Lotus & Kamasi Washington)
NxWorries – “Suede”
Kendrick Lamar – “Momma”
Knxwledge – “Komestostai.Aintreallynootherwaytoputitro”
213 – “So Fly”
The Hood Internet – “Try Out” (Spoon x Dej Loaf Mashup)
The Internet – “Just Sayin/I tried”
A$AP Rocky – “Everyday” feat. Rod Stewart & Miguel
Hudson Mohawke – “Very First Breathe” (feat. Irfane)
Shamir – “Demon”
Jamie xx – “Good Times” feat. Popcaan & Young Thug
Hudson Mohawke – “Ryderz”
Dam-Funk – “Free”
Tuxedo – “Do It”
Hot Chip – “Love is the Future”
LA Priest – “Party Zute / Learning to Love”
Chromatics – “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around
Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”
Young Fathers – “Sirens”
There are a lot of guys that try to make this kind of music. Legions of MPC (er-Fruity Loops)-wielding crate diggers trying to find that perfect obscure soul sample to flip into a beat. And everyone inevitably evokes J Dilla or Madlib when describing this sort of endeavor. Press releases want you to know this is like a Jay Dee track, or that is Madlib-inspired. Music writers are probably even worse with the lazy comparisons. And the producers themselves? Well most would probably welcome being called the next Dilla or the next Beat Konductor.
So, at a certain point, one just get kind of desensitized to it all. I used to be really into “beats,” but it all got so eff-ing predictable—just a copy of a copy of a copy of someone raiding J Dilla‘s vinyl collection.
Enter the Knxledge.
Pronounced Knowledge (the ex is actually an oh), this guy has been on the scene for a while now, but this year he’s really blowing up with a slew of high profile production credits (including Kendrick Lamar’s opus To Pimp a Butterfly) and an absurdly dope long-player called Hud Dreams released via Stones Throw Records.
He’s got a ton of stuff out—srsly, a metric shit-ton of stuff—but let’s just talk about that album. It’s laid out like a mixtape with the beats (usually under 2 minutes) running into each other. There aren’t a lot of crazy production tricks or studio gimmicks here, just a really good ear for sampling and a (obviously) deep crate digger with an intuitive flare for rhythm. These tracks sound effortless, sloppy even, but in the right way if you get me? They’re busting at the seems with the DNA of obscure soul, doo wop and jazz, all chopped into swaggering boom-bap that recalls the golden days of yore.
One final point to consider, because I am going to place this in it’s rightful lineage: How many of knock off Dillas can say they signed to Stones Throw, the label that actually put out all that seminal Dilla and Madlib? Exactly.
But, why take my word for it, give it a listen yourself:
Here’s a sick video of him jamming some beats live in the basement:
And here’s the first single from the man’s R&B project titled Nx Worries.
Also, dude is putting up new beats on his Soundcloud like daily, check it out:
Kero Kero Bonito, which translates roughly to “ribbit ribbit fish” in Japanese, is something like the logical conclusion of a problem involving Hello Kitty, Beenie Man, Chrono Trigger and, uh, England.
The London-based trio, consisting of producers Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled and vocalist Sarah Midori Perry, first appeared on the DECIBELity radar last year; their tune “Flamingo” was one of the highlights of Ryan Hemsworth’s excellent Secret Songs compilation, which we posted.
Anchored by Perry’s infectious singsongy hooks, their hybridized, post-globalization style of pop music, incorporates cartoonish imagery, Internet neologisms, Nintendo-esque sound effects, dancehall riddims and elements of UK rave culture and J-Pop.
KKB’s debut mixtape Intro Bonito, self-released late last year, was like nothing we had really heard before.
And given the quality of the two singles they’ve released in 2015 (see below), we’re pretty excited to see what’s next from these guys.
And definitely check out this fire “mixtape” they dropped last week, should be perfect for the warm weather.
John Dwyer’s (Thee Oh Sees) synth heavy side project (Damaged Bug) has a follow up to last years Hubba Bubba and I can not fucking wait! Its called Cold Hot Plumbs and drops June 1st on Dwyer’s Castle Face Records. The first two singles are a beautiful glimpse into the evolution of his solo electronica. Hubba Bubba was a good record but overall was too obvious a starting point unrealized. Jet In Jungle (one of two singles off the new record) proves this is no half assed thing, this is pure Dwyer energy boiled down and crystallized, this is hard wired brutal noise that penetrates, this is not to be fucked with.
check this space for a pre order link as one becomes available
Anton Newcombe, Brian Jonestown Massacre ring leader and talent scout for his Berlin based record label, A Recordings Ltd has been collaborating with Toronto born singer/songwriter Tess Parks over the last year or so and has preppeda full length record, I Declare Nothingavailable June 29th via A Recordings Ltd.
Tess Parks is responsible for all the lyrics and when delivered through her evocatively stirring, cracked vocals, at only 24, she’s proving to be a true force. One reviewer describes her as “Patti Smith on Quaaludes”…sounds about right.
Scope the first two singles below and check this space for a pre-order link (as one becomes available) for I Declare Nothing
The Swedish psychedelic dream pop trio, Death and Vanilla drop their latest effort To Where The Wild Things Are May 4th via Fire Records. Story is they recorded this whole thing with a single vintage mic…also “We found an old library record where one of the tracks was just someone playing single notes on a harpsichord and we sampled each note and built melodies from that. The notes were slightly out of tune, but we thought it sounded good anyway.” yeah…I think it sounds good too.
That old adage about it being better to do one thing well, holds true with music in that its pretty much always preferable to pick a simple idea and nail the fucking shit out of it than to try to “push the envelope” with a bunch of half-cooked ideas.
Tuxedo, a collaborative project from vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mayer Hawthorne and hip-hop producer Jake One (who has produced for everyone from G Unit to MF Doom to Brother Ali) is definitely not breaking any new ground, but with songs that are this fun, who cares.
The duo’s eponymous debut, released last month via Stones Throw Records, is a homage to the late-‘70s/early-‘80s heyday of the West Coast funk—that same influential sound that informed a generation of G-funk ‘90s gangsta rap.
Basically it’s a smoothed out collection of electrified disco boogie, full of synthetic melodies, squiggly Funkadelic sounds and ridiculously, get-stuck-all-in-your-head hooks, that fans of Chromeo and Dam-Funk will be all over, and a soundtrack that will surely heat up some parties/dance floors as the weather gets nice.
And here we have some Christmas boogie for that ass
Also, there are a bunch of killer DJ mixes over at the Souncloud page if that is your kind of thing.