FKA Twigs – “LP1″

At this point there probably isn’t a lot left to be added regarding this—it’s even been reviewed by Gawker for fuck’s sake. It is, however, a masterpiece and will most certainly make it to our end-of-list, so it feels kind of necessary to acknowlege.

The backstory behind Tahliah Debrett Barnett, the artist Formerly Known As Twigs or FKA Twigs is that she is a gymnast who apparently used to work as a backup dancer in music videos. Then in 2012 she self-released an EP, EP1, via Bandcamp. The release caught the ear of the A&R guys at Young Turks (home to Jamie xx, SBTRK and many more), who promptly signed her and released a second EP in 2013, the excellent EP2 (featured on DecibelCast Vol. 18), which was a collaborative effort with formidable Venezuelan bass experimentalist Arca. The EP and its leading single “Water Me” generated a ton of internet hype, which set the stage for a year of hype. When it did finally drop earlier this month, LP1 lived up to the hype and then some.

Stretching and contorting the pop music ethos to the edge of what seems possible, LP1 is as daring a pop record as you’re likely to find anywhere. Twigs’ ferbile vocal delivery comes wrapped in an icy veneer, which eventually melts giving way to a vulnerability as fragile as the newly fallen snow. And while her voice is definitely the distinguishing feature which binds the record together, it’s the music crafted around her, and how she interfaces with it that makes for such a rich and singular sonic experience.

Absorbing bits and pieces of various mainstream pop and much of cutting edge, underground electronic music, the studio wizards behind LP1 run these disparate elements through a complicated chain of effects processing and spit out some post-modern cubist approximation of R&B/club music—a synth-heavy juggernaut, densely atmospheric, with huge oscillating low end and multifaceted rhythms that splay outward with skittering trap-like percussion that seems to materialize and fall to pieces. The processing extends to her vocals as well, which are doubled, and pitched and twisted and warped until they become just another strange feature of the alien landscape.

Essential listening for 2014.

“Two Weeks” from LP1

“Pendulum” from LP1

“Water Me” from EP2

Twigs is also, apparently, an accomplished video director and producer. Here are some videos she’s been involved in:

Shabazz Palaces – “Les Majesty”

Sophomore albums can be tricky business, particularly when the record to be followed up on is as brazenly and uncompromisingly brilliant as Black Out (SubPop), which dropped on an unsuspecting world with the force and precision of a laser guided-missile. It was, simply put, a revelation. There was nothing at the time even remotely like it.

So the challenge in these types of situations is always: “How to meet expectations without just rotely rehashing what worked in the past?”, but pulling this off requires a deft balancing act, which all-too-frequently can’t be maintained by the heretofore celebrated act. (It doesn’t help that we, as a culture, so enjoy holding our idols aloft only to tear them down as soon as they misstep.) Fortunately for us (and also for them I guess), Shabazz Palaces avoided all that shit, by doubling down on what made them so great in the first place: their eclectic and unabashed weirdness—a wellspring that has proven remarkably deep. The Seattle-based duo went even further out on their trip and in the process created a record that while demanding becomes, upon repeated listens, a thoroughly satisfying sonic experience.

Shabazz Palaces tearing up the New Parish (Oakland CA) on July 29, 2014

Expansive and (let’s be honest) obtuse at times, Les Magestey contains most of what was great about Black Outthe mystic imagery, the Afro-futurist motifs, the startling attention to texture and detail—but as an album, is paced much differently.  The “songs” are shorter and more numerous, blending together with dream-like interludes, creating larger “movements.” The atmosphere is denser and weirder. And the beats slink along rather than smacking the listener upside the head.

I caught these guys in Oakland a couple of weeks ago, and fuck it might have been the best show I’ve seen all year. (Here’s some video courtesy of YouTube user Johnohnoh)

You can purchase Les Majesty here, and check out some of the songs below.

Shabazz Palaces – Motion Sickness from Tourist on Vimeo.

Woods – “With Light and With Love”

I believe that I can safely say all of us here at DECIBELity love this band, and yet somehow to the best of my knowledge we’ve never shown them any of it.

That changes now.

Simply put, these guys are a force of nature. Anchored by singer/guitarist Jeremy Earl’s impressive songwriting and distinctive falsetto, the Brooklyn-based outfit has been averaging about an album a year since forming in 2005–and amazingly they all have been quality. What’s more, they run their own record label, Woodsist, which is excellent and organize a music festival of the same name every year.   And, on top of all of that, they’re one of the best live bands in the game.

Seriously. I recently caught them again (for like the third time) and they were smashed it! They were vice-grip tight as they ran through a range of material from their catalog, even though the monitor engineer kept fucking up and they couldn’t hear themselves very well.

One of the great things about this band is how versatile they are: Their sound effortlessly incorporates the best aspects of pop, folk, Americana and psychedelic rock–hell they even get a little jammy from time to time.

Their latest album, With Light and With Love, released earlier this year on their own Woodsist imprint, actually took a little while to fully grow on me. Fortunately when a band has the kind of track record that these guys do, I’m going to keep listening until I until I get the full effect.

Great band. Great album. Get it here

Also, they’ll be touring in the states for the rest of this month, before leaving for an extended tour of Europe.

08-14 San Diego, CA – Casbah w/ Little Wings ***
08-16 Pioneertown, CA – Woodsist Festival Pioneertown ***
08-17 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom ***
08-19 Marfa, TX – El Cosmico
08-20 Austin, TX – Holy Mountain
08-21 Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon
08-22 Chattanooga, TN – Sluggo’s

GOLD ZEBRA – GOLD ZEBRA

GOLD ZEBRA

I’ve really been enjoying this dark, synth heavy wave of music for a little while now with artists like Chromatics and Polica.  One group that hasn’t gotten enough recognition though is GOLD ZEBRA.  They are a girl/boy duo from Montreal and they released their self titled album a few months back on Visage Musique.  The album is full of synthesizer melodies, simple beats and rich spacey vocals and it kinda feels like driving down a dark desert highway with no end in sight.  It’s worth a listen if just for the next long nighttime drive you might take.

Check out some of my favorite tracks and videos below and check out their bandcamp to get the album here.

GOLD ZEBRA – Apart Again

GOLD ZEBRA – Everything Beautiful Is Transient

 

Lone – “Reality Testing”

Matt Cutler has been recording under his Lone moniker since at least 2007. In that time, he has carved something of a niche for himself, developing a style that fuses ’90s golden-era hip-hop production with fat analog techno.

Reality Testing, his latest offering, released via R&S Records earlier this summer, is the most fully realized incarnation of Lone sound.

Besides playing nicely as an album (as opposed to merely a collection of tracks) it manages a to deftly balance decorum and functionality, effortlessly jumping back and forth between glowing electro-infused boom-bap and vintage Chicago house music.

Even when he’s in full-on dance mode, the rhythms remain interesting, slightly off-kilter, syncopated with a tilted swing anchored by throbbing analog bass lines and a colorful array of synthesized melodies.

“I think there’s always been a connection with certain house and hip-hop tunes, or any electronic music for that matter. I’m always drawn to any form of electronic music that has the rawness of hip-hop production,” Lone recently told Resident Advisor.

Here are a few previews from Reality Testing.

And here is his Resident Advisor podcast showcasing the primary musical influences behind behind the album.

RA Podcast Episode 420 Lone

Tracklist 
Kenji Kawaii – Unnatural City 2
Tha Alkaholiks – Killin’ It
Mobb Deep – Temperature’s Rising
Ghetto Concept – Much Love (Instrumental)
Pete Rock feat. Method Man – Half Man, Half Amazin’
Gangstarr feat. Inspektah Deck – Above The Clouds
Klear Soul Forces – Get No Better
Hieroglyphics – You Never Knew
Lone – 2 Is 8
Boards Of Canada – Opening The Mouth
Theo Parrish – Lost Angel
Urban Beat Dance – Urban Dust
Anthony Naples – Tusk
Seven Davis Jr – Celebrations (Funkineven Edit)
Brawther – Spaceman Funk (Deep Club Mix)
Brownstone Express – Metro
Omar S – Set It Out
Jtc – South Brooks
Greg Beato – Pma

Joel Gion – “Apple Bonkers”

Joel Gion is best known as the tambourine weilding/percussionist personality for the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Although, on August 18th he will prove himself to be much more than that. Harnessing a similar ’60s psychadelic vibe Gion will emerge on his own, or as the leader rather with his debut, Apple Bonkers  via a co-release between The Reverberation Appreciation Society and The Committee To Keep Music Evil and a limited edition cassette on Burger Records

Joel on the record…”With all the BJM members now living  so spread out across the world, I found myself increasingly missing the album making process. This feeling of disconnect is what kick started me into exploring my own song writing process and turned out to be a hugely important piece of self discovery. No more time for my beloved laziness. So I made my own music with a bunch of friends in the studio coming and going and having a great time creating. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by this album.”

Co-produced by current BJM members Collin Hegna and Rob Campanella the record features a string of BJM members and ex-members along with Pete Holmstrom of The Dandy Warhols, Ryan Van Kriedt of the The Asteroid #4/Dead Skeletons and Jason “Plucky” Anchondo of the Warlocks/ Spindrift.

pre-order the record here and bundle it with the limited edition 7″ he released in May.

YES (Apple Bonkers)

Southern Boutique “s/t”

The Austin based lo/fi psych poppers, Tiger Waves have been featured several times here on DECIBELity and made an appearance on DecibelCast Vol.5 back in the spring of 2012. Unfortunately the band is no more…but out of the still smoldering ashes arise Southern Boutique. Comprised of two members of Tiger Waves they travel along the same vein, carrying the psych driven torch into a more refined, focused landscape.

As of this morning, the 18th, they’ve uploaded their brilliant self-titled debut to bandcamp (follow that link) as a free download. They seem to be label searching at the moment, although I have zero doubts they will be picked up in the immediate to near future at which time we will be celebrating a physical release.

Southern BoutiqueGrowing Old

Southern Boutique – Rabbit Trails

DecibelCast Vol.21 – “The Riddum Method”

Sometimes we forget about the rest of the world; we live in our own little universe of crazy American drama that we think is so important when, in reality, it’s mostly just ridiculous.  Then every few years, when huge sporting events like the World Cup or the Olympics happen, we realize we must take note of other countries.  In a great way we take in and take on other cultures and remember that we are not the only thing out there.  It’s quite the amazing, humbling and enlightening experience (even if it is for the sake of sports) and it’s a great reminder to keep our eyes open to the rest of the world.

DecibelCast 21 keeps this worldly theme throughout although it is mostly focused on African music. Africa is the world’s second largest and second most populous continent, and African music has influenced about every kind of music we have today, so it’s really deserving of homage. This mix takes a journey through this rich influence by blending traditional songs from artists like Fela Kuti, with popular modern-day mutations of African and world music by the likes of tUnE yArDs and ?uestlove and Major Lazer.  It was originally inspired by thinking of drum- and rhythm-heavy music (the name came before the mix), but then it morphed into this summertime dance party that goes really great with hot weather and, as it turns out, international soccer.

Get the album and tracklist below:

Download: dB-21 “The Riddum Method”

Fela Kuti & The Africa 70 – Let’s Start

Mos Dub – Summertime Running

Tani Diakite & The Afrofunkstars – Nungulunba

Jay-Z feat. Fela Kuti – American Dreamin (Nigerian Gangster Remix)

BK-One – Tema Do Canibal

Hot Chip – Atomic Bomb (William Onyeabor Cover)

Yvonne Chaka Chaka – Kwendini

Major Lazer – Sound Bang (feat. Machel Montano)

Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens – Kazet

The Very Best – Kondaine (feat Seye)

Noumoucounda Cissoko – Noumou Koradioulou

Paul Simon – I Know What I Know

tUnE-yArDs, ?uestlove, Angelique Kidjo & Akua Naru – Lady

K. Frimpong & His Cubano Fiestas – Gyae Mensu

Amadou & Mariam – Dougou Badia (feat. Santigold)

Oumou Sangare – Iyo Djeli

Dilon Djindji – Sofala

 

 

DecibelCast Vol. 20 “The Nineteen Ninety-Four Tape”

dB20

The idea with this one is pretty straight forward: It’s our 20th DecibelCast, and it’s been 20 years since 1994, so here’s a 20th anniversary celebration of hip-hop in 1994.

1994 was a massive year for hip-hop, many believe it to be the genres creative zenith, (although I think you could make a case for 1993, 1995 and probably 1996 as well). The West Coast G-funk sound was still largely dominant, but the tides were changing and New York was again asserting itself— setting the stage for the East-West battle of the mid-’90s

Biggie and Nas both released their debut LPs–both were insta-classics. Gang Starr, Jeru the Damaja, Organized Konfusion, The Beatnuts, Digable Planets and The Beastie Boys all put out great records.  The Roots signed to a major label, Slick Rick dropped an album from prison, and the Wu Tang takeover was in gaining momentum. In the south UGK and the Ghetto Boys were continuing to do there own thing, and an unknown duo from Atlanta called OutKast quietly offered the world a glimpse of the future of hip-hop. On the other side of the Atlantic Mo’ Wax was inventing trip-hop with singles from DJ Shadow and DJ Krush at the same time a French tastemaker called DJ Cam was perfecting his mad blunted jazz  sound.

This mix largely focuses on the resurgent New York style of ’94, it’s an ode to East Coast boom-bap, which has aged much better than the West Coast G-funk.

dB20 “The Nineteen Ninety Four Tape”

Side A

Digale Planets – “Dog it”

Brand Nubian – “Word is Bond”

The Roots – “Mellow My Man”

Artifacts – “C’Mon With Da Git Down”

UGK – “Front Back & Side to Side”

The Beatnuts – “Superbad”

Big L – “Put it On”

DJ Cam – “Gangsta Sh*t”

Notorious B.I.G. – “The What” feat. Method Man

Scientifik – “As Long as You Know”

Gravediggaz – “1-800 Suicide”

Beastie Boys feat. Q Tip – “Get it Together”

MF Grimm feat. KMD – “What a Nigga Know” (Remix)

Peanut Butter Wolf – “Currents”

 

Side B

Del – “Undisputed Champs” feat. Pep Love and Q-Tip

Jeru the Damaja – “Come Clean”

Society – F.U.N.K.

Outkast – “Git Up, Get Out”

Nas – “One Time for Your Mind”

Thug Life – “Pour Out a Little Liquor”

Heavy D feat. 2pac, Notorious B.I.G. and Grand Puba – “Let’s Get it On”

DJ Krush – “Am 300 Tag”

Gang Starr – “Mostly the Voice”

Common Sense – “I Used to Love H.E.R.”

Sway & King Tech – “Wake Up Show Anthem (1994)” feat. Nas, Lauren Hill, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Po, Rass Kass, Dred Scott, Saafir & Shyhe

Raekwon – “Heaven or Hell” feat. Ghostface Killah

DJ Shadow – “What Does Your Soul Look Like (12″ Single Mix)

Todd Terje

DJ/producer/remixer Terje Olsen, who records as Todd Terje (a play on the name of house legend Todd Terry), has been steadily releasing records since 1999, and moving crowds for longer than that. As the youngest member of Norway’s “space disco” trifecta  Terje was perhaps lesser known than fellow countrymen LindstrØm and Prins Thomas.

His profile began to rise In the early aughts as he began to release a series of quality re-edits of obscure disco tunes, edits which found their way into many a DJ’s record bag.

In the last few years however, it’s been original productions that have been turning heads (and moving feet), as Terje has dropped bomb after bomb on clubland seemingly without missing a beat (pun intended)

The sound Terje has perfected is eminently dance-able, fusing hot and cold elements–funky tropical percussion with icy melodies courtesy of a variety sweet vintage synthesizers from the ’70s and 80s.

His official debut It’s Album Time released on his own Olsen Records imprint is actually largely a collection his previous singles, like “Inspector Norse” and “Swingstar”, that have been strung together into a seamless DJ-like blend, with the newer, generally more mellow songs acting like interludes.  There’s a conscious retro campiness that pervades the album neatly summed up by the comical lounge lizard cover art. He even covers Robert Palmer – Robert Palmer.

 
Here are a bunch of his more popular tracks– all are certified bangers, take your pick.

Todd Terje – ”Inspector Norse”

Todd Terje – ”Swingstar I & II”

Todd Terje – ”Q”

Todd Terje – ”Spiral”

Todd Terje – “Delorean Dynamite”

Todd Terje & LindstrØm – “Lanzarote”

And here are a few of the aforementioned reedits:

José Gonzalez – “Killing for Love” (Todd Terje Brokeback Mix)

Studio – “Life’s a Beach” (Todd Terje Beach House Mix)

KC & The Sunshine Band – “I Get Lifted” (Todd Terje Re-Edit)

Canned Heat – “Wanda Rode Again” (Todd Terje aka Wade Nichols Edit)