Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Over at Exclaim!, I've written a review of the new Rob Swift record, which is roughly themed around his explorations of classical music. I also got a chance to talk to Swift about his discovery of classical music and his late colleague, the incredible Roc Raida (you can read a slightly extended version of his Raida reminisces here). Click the excerpt below to read the whole review/interview.
His virtuoso scratching turns eerie minor note violins and driving string arrangements into startlingly effective long-form compositions. The classical influence manifests itself both in The Architect's sound, as well as its structure: "Lower Level" and record highlight "Rabia" both appear as three-part movements, and the album centres upon a number of recurring scratch and sample motifs. "Lower Level" explores more conventional turntablist territory, as Swift expertly cuts vocal samples into blaring horns and soaring strings.
I also penned a review of DJ Babu's new instrumental record, The Beat Tape Vol. 2, which you can read here.
While we're talking about Raida, his '96 DMC routine is still jawdropping. Just watch.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Did an interview with the supremely talented D.C. rapper yU for Passion of the Weiss. You might be familiar with Y from his work with DMV supergroups the Remainz crew and most recently, Diamond District, or from his excellent solo record from last year, Before Taxes. Click the excerpt of the interview below to read the whole conversation.
It seems like D.C. hip hop has only recently begun attracting attention on an international level. Where is D.C. at now?
What you’re hearing on a wide scale is about 15 to 20% of what’s going on. A lot of the greats from [D.C.] have been playing for a long time. And a lot of them were stubborn when it came down to certain advantages. A lot of them were slow to [adapt to computers], don’t really want to get online, to blogs and all that. But I guess that people are finally growing up. A lot of our music scene is really coming together now. Like Asheru, he’s been touring and putting albums out for a long time. I would see him at [D.C. hip hop club] Bar None and stuff. But for a while, certain artists weren’t dealing with the younger generation. They had talent but didn’t know what to do business-wise. But the reason you’re seeing more work come from our area is a lot of those folks now are interacting and spreading the wealth. Personally, I’m definitely trying to get with the young people now. They ask me stuff and I help them.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Check out my newest Popscene piece over at the Passion, wherein I discover that once you get past Brett Anderson's squealing, Suede are actually pretty great. Click the excerpt below to read the whole piece.
The band’s greatest innovation was teaching a generation of U.K. bands the significance of a skilled guitarist. Butler’s crunchy guitar riffs channel both Mick Ronson and Johnny Marr without approaching pastiche, thanks to Ed Buller’s layered yet crisp production. Anderson’s lyrics largely chronicle the youthful indiscretions that came to define early 90s London youth, experiments conducted with needles (“So Young”), medication (“Sleeping Pills”) and bisexuality (“The Drowners”, “Moving”). The gentler numbers tackle more universal topics: Breakdown” is a tribute to a friend dealing with depression, while album closer “The Next Life” is a piano-led ode to an imagined escape from everyday drudgery.
Monday, February 8, 2010
I've spent 90% of my life in Canada, the top exporter of politeness, snow and mediocre pop-punk, and yet I've never made a winter mixtape before this year. Summer mixes, sure, but a cold weather mix is unexplored territory.
I recently coordinated a virtual murderer's row of music writers to select their favourite wintertime tunes for a mixtape over at the Passion. Thanks to Jeff Weiss, Nate Patrin, Zilla, Douglas, Matt Shea, Dan Love and Renato for picking an amazing tracklist and contributing insightful writeups. Props to Sach O for the stellar mixing and for his excellent picks. You can check the tracklisting and stream the mix below.
1. Boards of Canada - 1969
2. Bang Bang - Two Fingers
3. Pantha du Prince - Stick by my Side
4. Royksop - Remind Me
5. Beach House - Apple Orchard
6. Bjork - Immature
7. Prodigy & Nas - Self Conscience
8. Blurry Drones - Winter Weather
9. Marvin Gaye - Inner City Blues
10. Radiohead - Airbag
11. Wu-Tang Clan - Jah World
12. The Cinematic Orchestra ft. Roots Manuva - All Things to all Men
13. Walkmen - Blizard of 96
14. Real Estate - Fake Blues
15. A Guy Called Gerald - Hekkle & Koch
16. Doves - Black & White Town
17. The Chi-Lites - Coldest days of my life
18. The Grateful Dead - Cold Rain & Snow
You can read the writeups and download the tape here. Please share if you like it!
Monday, February 1, 2010
The Prisoner is a 1967 TV miniseries created by Patrick McGoohan and George Markstein. It follows the travails of an unnamed British secret agent who resigns from his position one day, only to wake up in a mysterious village separated from normal society. The Village is populated with people who are referred to only by numbers; the agent goes by Number Six. Six discovers that the so-called Number One is trying to discover Six's reasons for resigning, a task largely carried out by a rotating lineup of "Number Twos". The enigmatic higher-ups utilize a full array of insane technology to monitor Agent Six and force him to confess his motivation for resigning from his position.
Without spoiling anything, let me say The Prisoner is incredibly well-scripted and directed. The ridiculous special effects only add to its charm. This is a series where the greatest threat is a sentient white balloon named Rover that basically engulfs and suffocates anyone who opposes Number One.
Some of the acting and styling feels a bit camp now but Goohan plays it all completely straight and pulls it off. He is perfect for a role he largely wrote for himself, refining James Bond into a kind of impossible cool, complete with kung fu skills and impeccable dress sense. Tell me Pat didn't rock the shawl collar.
I'm only three episodes in and I'm hooked. Scientists: It's 2010, how come our phones don't look like this yet?