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If you think Gobble Gobble’s internet presence is visually spastic, wait ’til you see them live.
The Canadian electropop foursome is still trekking through the US bringing bright colors and upbeat melodic-electronics to venues large and small. We caught one of their four appearances at SXSW this year, and it was a little more raucous and a lot more shirtless than anyone expected.
Gobble Gobble hit Austin in the midst of an intense tour schedule. They could be anywhere at this moment, and maybe, just maybe, they’re in your backyard right now, go look! But first, check these out so you know what to look for.
All photos by Chris Carrasquillo
Fareed Sajan looks like a typical modern day rocker, but the sound of his Allentown PA by-way-of Brooklyn NY project Headless Horseman is taking a direction in the way of hip hop and R&B. It doesn’t have the feel of alt rap like Das Racist, whose Greedhead imprint houses Headless Horseman, but Fareed and bandmate Conner O’Neill’s production is beginning to lean more toward the R&B sound that rings nostalgic among other musicians their age. Fareed cites Chicago-based ambient act How to Dress Well.
“How to Dress Well are very R&B influenced. They’re basically rehashing melodies from R. Kelly from memory, but doing it in this way that’s very ambient and lofi, and stripped of all of the context that R Kelly situates himself in. That’s something im seeing more and more often. With indy music and the ability to record at home, more and more people can take this memory of top 40 music and recreate it.”
Though their songs are embodying this sound, Headless Horseman’s own process doesn’t make a deliberate attempt at creating one sound in particular. The idea of the creation of their music being “headless” plays a big role in their production.
“Headless is the idea of not thinking when you’re writing a song. I think of headless as being a symbol of anti-thought. A lot of what stunts us when we’re writing is when we over intellectualize it or overthink it. Most of our writing is in the editing. We’re not a band that jams and figures it out live. The idea of headless is not having a planned direction, stumbling upon your sound, and using mistakes, and using all those little things that surprise you along the way.”
Circumstance guides Headless Horseman’s sound outside the studio as well. Fareed mentioned a recent travel mishap that’s effected their instrumentation.
“I recently lost my guitar, left it on a Chinatown bus after a show we played in Philly. I’ve been wanting to get away from guitar anyways, I’m taking it as a sign.”
That incident confirms that the band’s new material won’t sound anything like their first release. On their debut 5songs, each track takes on a distinct personality. The common thread through it all are near incomprehensible lyrics through falsetto vocals. While a few of the songs are more straight forward rock songs or acoustic ballads that traditionally fit the vocal style, their song “SH8KER” is more indicative of where they are headed, particularly in how it’s put together.
“Our process is very elaborate and kind of strange because it’s two of us and we use this old recording program called Magix. We’re attempting to make electronic music with a process that was pre internet, or pre-synthesizer craze. We like this program because it doesn’t have any plugins. There are no presets. Every sound that we make, we really have to work to craft it and find a way to get what we want. We really don’t use any samples or anything, but we do want to start doing that.”
Magix is a pretty dated software. While the duo could switch to something of a more “professional” grade, Magix is doing the trick for now and there’s no reason to abandon it. Their sequences are sprawling, soundbites upon soundbites strung together into songs. Fareed sent us an example.
It’s amazing what two musicians are capable of when they put their collective lack of a head together. Fareed and Conner began their musical excursions together as a post rock band called Night Owl Cafe Killers in sleepy Allentown, PA. Though that project is over and done, the locale that spawned them remains relevant.
“I feel like Allentown has a lot to do with our sound. It has sort of a Twin Peaks vibe to it. It’s a small town, and we have a lot of friends there, and we just know the kind of drama that goes on there. It’s kind of a suburban wasteland, but at the same time there are also really beautiful parts. There’s a dark imagery to it that I have in my head.”
Coming up in Allentown, Indian-American Fareed didn’t have much contact with the Desi community. Like many first generation South Asian-American kids, he fell into a musical community regardless of his heritage. Though they now run with Das Racist, who liberally reference Indian culture, including it in his music is not a priority for Fareed.
“[Das Racist's Himanshu Suri] is more into the culture than I am, so it makes more sense for him to incorporate it into his music. But for me, Headless Horseman is the love of my life, and I’m putting everything I am into it, but I don’t feel like it’s reflective of my skin color. It’s reflective of my upbringing and my relationship with my family and my religion, but I don’t think it’s necessarily reflective of being South Asian. In opposition to making political music, or music that is a commentary on culture, we are more interested in creating something that is a world of its own. That’s why the music is so dense, and why we take so much pride in creating every blip and bleep, and why our process of creating is so vexing. This is how I deal with my confusion of being a South Asian in America. If we are able to create this dense music that is our lives, by that we live and breathe it, and that it orders our daily lives, then we are able to conjure a new spirit. For now this new spirit is satiating, it brings me peace. Though perhaps someday it will lead me back home, where I can also embrace a more traditional spirituality… I think that would be most beautiful.”
Nevertheless, the prospect of having a Desi segment of their fan base is something Headless Horseman can get down with. In fact, they’re working on something that just might win over Desis’ with traditional taste.
“I have been listening to more Indian music. In fact, right now I’m working on a remix of an Indian song. It’s called “Choli Ke Peechay.” Have you heard of that one?”
Now based in Brooklyn, Headless Horseman is working on new music and should have something ready for release in early 2011. In the mean time, their roster of shows is starting to build. Catch them on Thursday, December 16th at Glasslands with Slow Animal and labelmates Keepaway. 5songs is available via their bandcamp page.
Check out “SH8KR” by Headless Horseman
For an album that begins with excessive triangle, the Bomb Zombies’ EP Sincerely Yours drops heavy quick. The lead track and single for the groups debut “F***whatchaheard” raised my expectations for the record. DJ Nobody’s minimal beats and unprocessed synth basslines heard on that track carry throughout the album, but there are a few more little tricks that pop up to poke fun at the big time.
Nocando’s forwardly ignorant lyrical content somehow mismatches his snarky and intelligent tone, turning his verses into little exercises in sarcasm detection. It all sounds like it’s supposed to be infantile. In the end the joke is on you, because you were bobbing your head the whole time. The Bomb Zombies were just kidding.
A notable theme in the production of the EP is the constant little bit of distortion on Nocando’s voice. The fuzz turns his snide voice into something tinny, like your boy on the phone making fun of you for staying home. The crispness of this vocal effect and the snap of of Nobody’s sharp attack snares deliver Nocando’s misogyny with a bite. It’s more valuable for its rhythmic intensity than anything else.
In that respect, the bulk of the EP doesn’t surpass the lead single. A couple of the upbeat tracks come close like “Get ‘em” with it’s extra-shifty use of autotune, but even in a short run of nine tracks it can get monotonous. It all depends on your level of tolerance for this style of lyrics. By the last song, it can feel like your boy on the phone won’t shut up and the chiding conversation has gone on for a half hour.
Whether it engages you or not, there should be more rap music like this. At one time, underground rap was intelligent in the face of oversimplistic mainstream rap, but that’s changed with the type of cleverness heard on Sincerely Yours. Lyrics don’t have to be nerdy to be smart and beats don’t have to be complex to be good.
Hear the Bomb Zombies single “F***whatchaheard”
I’m up on this.
New York’s Das Racist recently tweeted a track that speaks a little more to the mid 90s tail end of the golden age that I’m positive they listen to more than their contemporaries. A loungy guitar sample leads into a more dissonant one that made me think of Prince Paul’s sample in “Oodles of Os” (don’t say that sounds like “Cool Like Dat”). Guest Homeboy Sandman doesn’t share the relaxed, slow flow of the Das Racist MCs, but he sounds good fitting twice as many words per bar into the playful B part of the beat.
“I’m Up On That” is a slick and slow grooving track that’s a little break from the group’s bigger sounding beats. This one’s a keeper. Have a listen.
No one was surprised when the Haitian government decided that Wyclef Jean wasn’t eligible to run for president of Haiti. Even Wyclef himself didn’t seem fazed by the announcement. Maybe he realized that he’d have a better shot at running for a school board seat in New Jersey, where he’s lived since he was nine. Following his rejection, he vowed to continue supporting Haiti in whatever capacity he was capable.
Turns out that capacity is the same contrived song writing he’s been peddling to audiences for years. As though trying to show the struggling population of Haiti what they’re missing by not having a former Fugee for a leader, Jean is releasing an EP titled If I were President: My Haitian Experience on December 7th. The six song collection is led off by his single “Election Time” in which Wyclef delivers current hot button news topics in quick succession, every line making the song a little more disposable.
The hook is an admitted amalgamation of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” complete with a chorus of children. However, in Wyclef’s version he notes that in this election, “He gon’ vote Taylor Swift, she gon’ vote Kanye.” We didn’t realize he was talking about the Teen Choice Awards.
So here’s what this is: It’s the second part of a documentary which is a teaser for the new Cut Copy album, Zonoscope, coming out in February. The hype surrounding the upcoming release is a testament to how big the Melbourne, Australia band has gotten since their 2008’s In Ghost Colors.
Director Krozm gives us a black and white peak into the chasmal warehouse that is home to Cut Copy’s creative process. Pulling partially working instruments from the stacks around them, the setup the members have assembled looks like that of a glorified garage band, with blankets draped over musical objects to create makeshift sound booths among mountains of gear. While the end resulting electro-pop sound seems like it may emanate from a sterile and high tech studio environment, Cut Copy look like they’re having way more fun doing it this way.
In part 1 of the documentary, founder Dan Whitman hints that Cut Copy’s sound is what would have happened if the linear development of music diverged in the 70s, giving rise to an alternate future that plays on ideas that this future has forgotten. That explains the unapologetic cheese-factor, upbeat and sing-songy, that permeates Cut Copy’s music making it ever so listenable. Part 2 of the documentary gives us a look into how the group creates some of the sounds that find their way onto the record.
For as long as we can remember, Ninja Tune has been dropping superb releases from artists that play to the full spectrum of genres. If a turntable prodigy like Kid Koala can share a label with a multi-piece Afrobeat orchestra like Antibalas, we want to hear every release between and beyond.
Well, it has now been 20 years since Ninja Tune dropped their first release, Zen Brakes Vol. 1, quickly followed by DJ Food’s Jazz Brakes Vol. 1, 2, and 3, which find themselves in every DJ’s toolkit to this day. Through the years, Ninja Tune has revolutionized produced music by releasing work from artists like Amon Tobin, Luke Vibert, and the Herbaliser, and scores more. The last decade has seen the label reach into the international pool of alternative producers and musical acts, picking up Canada’s Kid Koala, Norway’s Jaga Jazzist, and America’s Blockhead, among others. The rule has always remained the same: artists that excel at their craft, no matter the style.
To celebrate two decades of killer releases, Ninja Tune is releasing the Ninja Tune XX compilation; two full length CDs and six short run CDs (or 7″s), as well as two exclusive 12″ via mail order. The comp features new tracks from every Ninja Tune artist you can think of, including Roots Manuva, Cinematic Orchestra, The Bug, Wagon Christ, and Jaga Jazzist, as well as tracks from notable guests such as El-P, cLOUDDEAD, Cut Chemist, the Orb, and a fictional monster named King Geedorah, who you might remember as an alias of one MF DOOM.
For this release, there are shows planned all over the world. From London to Tokyo and back again, Ninja Tune artists are on the move this month. Check for a show near you on the Ninja Tune XX event list.
You may also want to have a listen a couple of mixes by Martelo and Eskmo on the XX page.