Archive for February, 2010

23
Feb
10

THE GIG LIST – NUMBER 36

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The (r)evolution continues with our second party event of 2010.  Last month was a massive success, with the predicted set of Brighton hipsters turning out.  Highlights included some fantastic laughs with Eleni Mettyear’s Photobooth, the results of which you can see here, but the stars were undoubtedly Plugs, as they blasted out an outstanding headline set.

So we arrive at the next event, with Eleni Mettyear returning with her booth and the Ophelia Fancy girls will once again be handing out our gifts, which include our exclusive new mixtape (# 3), featuring a collection of the music getting critiqued on this blog.  In case you missed it, the mixtape from our last party is attached below.  Lastly, we plan on having two outstanding bands that we promise will knock your sexy socks off.

THE RECOMMENDER MIXTAPE # 2

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:KINEMA: – Hitting the stage first will be :Kinema:, a trio of ascending stars from the Brighton music scene, with their magnificent synth pop.  Expect Dom’s sexy showmanship, with barrels of positive confidence and tunes to match.  This will no doubt be one of the last times you will be able to catch this band in such an intimate environment, so rapid is their climb.

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VELO – Headliners tonight will be a proper buzz band from the London hipster circles.  To give you some context, Velo arrive with a group that counts one member from Marina & The Diamonds, one member from I Blame Coco and one member from Golden Silvers.  This is a band with real potential, gaining lots of chatter on the blogs and they even hit the number one spot on Hype Machine within the last couple of weeks.  2010 is theirs for the taking.

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BATTERY POWERED DJs – Our resident DJs will round off the evening, playing tracks exclusively from the blog, so expect cutting edge, razor sharp selections.  If you want to know what tunes you should be listening to this year then check out this set from Brighton’s scenester DJs.

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Tickets are available from Ape, Resident and Rounder Records.  If you can’t get to the shops in person, simply phone them up and ask them to put a ticket on the door for you and they’ve agreed to help.  It’s only £3.50 advance and £4 on the door, as we seriously don’t want anyone missing out on the action.  Welcome back to the future…

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19
Feb
10

THE RECOMMENDER – NUMBER 75

PHANTOGRAM

Some bands hunt in the dark and attempt to suffocate you with their bleak, scary music (see the likes of Portishead, The XX, Emika).  Some bands pour sugary pop all over you with a childish abandonment and produce friendly, neon cartoons of songs, (see Marina & The Diamonds, Tony Basil, early Madonna etc).  On the odd occasion you get a band who produce something that straddles a bit of both camps, a wide gap to attempt to breach by anybody’s standards, but they work out a way to compile tunes with enjoyable pop harmonies, whilst still being atmospheric and unsettling.  You could see examples of this with Sneaker Pimps, (oh you remember them, with their hit Spin Spin Sugar, back in the mid-90s), who made the kind of music that Girls Aloud would probably go for, if that scary blonde one, Sarah Harding, called all the shots.  Well Phantogram revisit Sneaker Pimps grave and seem to tap into the promise that was made back in 1996.  They take a portion of that dark trip hop, complete with the compulsory crackling sound from a dusty needle on vinyl and the slow, folding break-beats.  What really lifts them up to the light though is a real sense of a pop melody.  There are moments in their songs, particularly in the vocals, that are astonishingly gorgeous, “Showing love, you’ve got your hand on the button now”.  Amongst all the slightly more experimental distractions, they carry the tracks into verses and choruses and climaxes that any pop maidens would be proud of.  This male/female duo, from Saratoga Springs, New York, released their first full length LP, Eyelid Movies, in America last week.  This type of black magic is full of difficult tricks, but on the odd occasion someone creates something listenable, memorable and rather surprisingly hands you a smile from the shadows.   (MB)

Find them here:       Myspace

Hear them here:      PHANTOGRAM – WHEN I’M SMALL

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YEAR OF THE TIGER

This duo from Brooklyn contacted us recently as they state they are readers and followers of The Recommender, so they asked very politely if I’d check them out.  However, the real positivity they bring us come in the form of the electrical charge that buzzes throughout their amazing music.  It’s a real pleasure to locate and bring you fresh music from around the world, but it seems not even Brooklyn’s blogs have cottoned on to this band yet, so new out of the wrapping are this pair.  If you’ve come across our posts about the likes of MNDR, or more particularly Sleigh Bells, and enjoyed both of those talented New Yorkers, then you will adore Year Of The Tiger, as they also chuck out the same brand of killer electroclash pop.  Henry Ivry, one half of today’s duo, described to us that their sound was planned out to be “aggressive, but fun“, which seems like a similar methodology to the way the Recommender critiques music, so that works for us.  There’s a real fearless fusion of rock, electro, dancehall and pop folded into the mix in each track, but the alluring melodies are never lost in the noisy fuzz.  At times it’s astonishing to think that they’ve only been together two months, especially when you hear Henry’s self-proclaimed ‘best friend forever’ and the second half of this duo, Sable, work her vocals on tracks such as The Message,  “Your asking me to give my mind up“.  However, the finest worksong from the small collection has to be Heart Of Steel, with it’s amazing riffs, climactic bridges and punched beats.  This is music designed to slap you around your drunk face, so you can tune into exactly how good the party has become in your hazy absence.  It’s confident, sexy, dangerous and energetic, so it comes with the same warning that your friend gave you when you were thinking of approaching that beautiful chick that’s clearing the dancefloor, “watch out, she’s a total party animal“.  You correctly ignored your mate and enjoyed the best ride you ever had, right?  Right.  These special Brooklynites plan to work on getting some live shows in NYC soon and will produce an EP before the year is out.  We will keep you posted on their likely rapid progression.   (MB)

Find them here:         Myspace

Hear them here:        YEAR OF THE TIGER – HEART OF STEEL

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BULLION

Back in the 90s there used to be a kind of sound or genre called big beat, typified by many successful Skint label signings, peaking with Fat Boy Slim‘s global domination.  It’s a sound with a very heavy horse-clap bass drum, seemingly live in percussion, instantly enjoyable and the samples were packed on top so much the songs could barely breathe.  It’s hard to trace what the sound has evolved into since, if indeed it ever did, but we think Damian Harris‘ Skint roads could have easily led him to Bullion.  The beats are absolutely fucking enormous, his grooved chords are delightfully fuzzy and his samples are plentiful, although enjoyably selected and well placed within each song.  It’s music for feeling positive, music for the summertime, music not to be taken too seriously, like all this genre’s best predecessors.  One of the world’s largest blogs, Gorilla vs Bear, have been all over him, following his EP release a few years ago of a Beach Boys and J Dilla mashup, entitled Pet Sounds : In The Key Of Dee.  He’s more recently been writing his own orginal tracks with the below tune, Say Goodbye To What, which came out on the 18th January on the One Handed label.  Although it’s as confused as any tune Norman Cook would have penned, it’s a very excellent track with a Klaus Nomi/Leonard Cohen vocal sample that gives the music an excellent refrain throughout.  At 1 min 25 seconds in there’s a beautiful chanting mantra that breaks the tune in half, before the fun dances back in like a bendy Christopher Walken.  This masterful mixer, from Acton, West London, is heading out on a tour supporting The XX through March, which is both remarkably good for his publicity, but a shocking match up, considering how unrelated their sounds are!  It certainly confirms that obscure mix ups are precisely what he does best.  (MB)

Find him here:       Myspace

Hear him here:       BULLION – SAY GOODBYE TO WHAT

15
Feb
10

THE RECOMMENDER – NUMBER 74

MONTAUK

This new Scandinavian pair and their wonderful tune, H.O.L.I.D.A.Y, (listed below), arrived in our inbox in recent weeks and it’s given us the perfect opportunity to discuss something totally awesome that’s happening in the blog community.  Namely that blog’s are taking back a little bit of control.  Right in the middle of the storm created by the Google-owned Blogger, who recently decided to shut down a handful of popular blogs for illegally hosting mp3s.  Should we be scared?  Not if the likes of the Big Stereo, Discobelle, Nightmagnets and Ohh! Crapp blogs are a sign of things to come.  We will talk about the former two blogs in the below posts, so our attention is initially focussed on the amazing Ohh! Crapp / Nightmagnets blogs and the brave move they’ve made by creating their own label, which hosts Montauk for it’s second release, following the success of the What Kind Of Breeze Do You Blow premiere.  These are very large, successful and acutely sharp tastemakers in the blog world.  We are massive fans, so any release by them automatically comes with a stamp of awesomness.  Feel the power surging back at the thought of blogs no longer being a service to the record labels, but instead putting it’s own fantastic music out.  For years we’ve been stealing the thunder from traditional journalism, being much quicker to almost everything, so now we turn our attention to the labels who harbour such misplaced animosity.  Swedish duo Montauk churn out slow-driven, groove-heavy music that’s at the end of the house spectrum in which the lounge is located.  It’s gorgeous nightscape instrumentals drip smooth electronic chocolate all over the basslines, snares and claps.  This Toronto blog label, the superbly named Brilliantine, have informed us that they have more neon tricks in their box, so we will keep you posted as the revolution takes shape.   (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:       MONTAUK – H.O.L.I.D.A.Y

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BABY MONSTER

Amongst a sporadic collection of others, Neon Gold Records have been doing this blog-turned-label thing for some time, to massive success, with Marina and Ellie due to hit extraordinary heights in 2010, but as much as we love them here at Recommender Towers, we see them as more of a feeder label for the majors.  They locate music that is very high in potential and bring it to the surface, where as the second label that we are discussing today, Big Stereo Records , seem to have a slightly more distinct independence.  The more we think about this whole evolution, the more obvious and natural it seems, as bloggers with brains look to capitalise on all their hard work.  They’ve spent years making connections, getting involved in the promotion and discussions on new music, they are better socially networked than almost everyone, have giant quantities of passionate followers, not to mention their immaculate taste and vast knowledge of music’s many scenes.  To ram home the example in a shameless plug, we here at The Recommender have taken to throwing our own monthly parties, which is another natural step, using our connections and knowledge to showcase cutting edge music.  The massive, brilliantly written blog, Big Stereo, with a designed layout that’s as sharp as their ability to lead the pack, have now taken up the business of releasing music under their own self-titled label.  First out of the stable is Baby Monster, a pairing from Oregon with jams so tight and sugary that your taste buds may at first recoil, but pay attention as each track develops rewardingly.  It has descriptive lyrics that talk of their lovers, over misty synth pop that’s laid out like a silk sheet over the framework of each song.  Of all the new signings discussed today it’s perhaps Baby Monster that have the most obvious potential.  We may even grab them to play our blog parties should they visit the UK.   (MB)

Find them here:          Myspace

Hear them here:         BABY MONSTER – SHE COMES ALIVE

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MVSEVM

The last of our examples today, and there will be more as the evolution continues, is regarding the highly successful Swedish blog that centres itself on highlights from the world of electronic music, Discobelle.  Once again we believe this to be a perfect example of clever progression.  Blogs are the perfect A&R people, with their reach global and their resources seemingly limitless.  Only time will tell how they cope with the practical sides to signing artists and distributing their work.  Discobelle will simply be an online digital retailer, but to be honest, in most cases releases will be pushed out free to download on the blog, which, although seeming a little counter-intuitive, should actually allow the artists to reach millions of people with one song.  As you will no doubt see, and this applies with Nightmagnet’s and Big Stereo’s releases too, many producers will be lining up to remix the tracks on offer, creating yet wider spread and attention in all the right circles.  Discobelle’s first signing, MVSEVM, provide an attractive track, French Jeans, to start things off, with remixes coming from So Shifty and Dada Life, amongst others.  Assured beats and light electronic samples are like a breath of fresh air to the brain, ticking along until the tune breaks and begins introducing layers like a techno building site.  It harks back to the 90s a little, which is perhaps understandable considering this trio from Finland have a history rooted in techno, but rest assured that this is electronic music for articulate grown ups.  OK, so we are well aware that this blog post has been more about the significant developments in blogs, rather than focussing purely on the music, but we thought it a story worth covering.  Like all good record labels this will be an organic journey worth keeping an eye on.  Oh and don’t forget to hit up their blogs too, as label or no label, they all still promise to carry out their generous critiques.   (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:       MVSEVM – FRENCH JEANS

11
Feb
10

THE RECOMMENDER – NUMBER 73

MY GOLD MASK

It’s actually the remixes of My Gold Mask’s tunes that caught our attention initially, but obviously we are a bunch of inquisitive little fuckers, so we checked out their original music too and uncovered something very fresh indeed. It’s the remix that we decided to list below, as it’s so totally fine in all it’s mashed up glory, brilliantly sampling Love Is The Drug by Roxy Music, and that alone is worth something, but there’s a delightful bag of magic held in their original tunes too. This is a female/male partnership, jamming out loose and raw hits, using that same awesome method that Sleigh Bells have recently been doing, or White Stripes did so enchantingly a decade before them.  The excellent frontwoman Gretta Rochelle drums whilst simultaneously belting out the kind of peroxide-killer showmanship that Karen O would be proud of, with her shrieking, ultra-styled vocals.  Completing the Chicago pairing is Jack Amondo, Gretta’s husband (have we been here before – check it’s not his sister!?  – ed), who tweaks the guitar like a giant ghostly shadow on the wall behind her. For a couple of lovers playing music it’s perhaps unsettling to witness such a dark undercurrent, but rest assured there’s also a lot of pop in it too. It’s that same mixture The Cure or Siouxsie Sioux used to drum out, but without all the rolling eyes and foppishness. Like all good couples in music there’s definitely a chemistry which allows a level of creativity or confidence that perhaps might not come out were they not so intertwined. They released a nine track debut LP early last year, but follow it up this year with a new five track EP, called A Thousand Voices. It’s this towering piece of adventurous darkwave pop that finds them reaching a new height, complete with a touch of scary vertigo. (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:        MY GOLD MASK – BITCHES (THE HOOD INTERNET REMIX)

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HUSSLE CLUB

Are you looking for some top-drawer music that’s dirty, punchy and so rammed with pop swagger and invention that you’re not even sure what’s staring back at you?  Look no further.  Before now, this New York ex-drummer-for-hire has been found rattling the sticks behind the likes of HEARTSREVOLUTION and Santigold on tour, but now he’s found stretching out his many talents, creating what’s turned out to be some truly remarkable music.  Alongside a whole batch of recent NYC-NSTRS he’s making new music that’s as fresh and devoid of stereotypes as it gets.  Avoiding pigeon holes always leans artists around the restrictions of a genre and thus generates more interest and attention from the likes of us bloggers.  Although doing this is risky and often a little hit and miss, it’s brave, it’s confident and it’s worthy of praise.  Boundary-pushing always wins and it’s precisely what music needs, now more than ever before.  This is no wild experimental dirge though, as there’s loads of fine, solid tune-smithery here.  The man behind the magic is Prince Terrence and his chiming samples and collapsing beats play out behind his sometimes clouded, sometimes sharply styled vocals, before you reach the clever, bursting choruses.  Distorted guitar static, not heard since Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, fizz over claps, tambourines and cowbells, hitting all the buttons marked ‘satisfying’.  Looking through his photos he isn’t short of image and an attention to art either.  Rather pleasingly, The Culture Of Me blog just confirmed to us that Prince Terrence is in the process of signing to a label and releasing some singles.  If this mother fucker doesn’t burst through this year then we’ll jolly well start up a label and sign him ourselves!   (MB)

Find him here:         Myspace

Hear him here:         HUSSLE CLUB – I HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS…

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DUTCH UNCLES

Like trying to lift someone onto a speeding merry-go-round we’ve been reaching out for Dutch Uncles for what feels like months, following their self-titled debut LP last year.  At last we’ve finally got around to posting about this talented Manchester five piece and it’s not a moment too soon.  It’s criminal it’s taken this long, but the only excuse we can provide is that we’ve been listening to them so much we’ve not spared the time to put pen to paper.  Um, should that be keys to blog?  Anyway, there’s loads to enjoy with these northern scenesters, who emerge as part of a broader music scene from the tune factory that is Manchester.  Alongside Delphic, HURTS, Egyptian Hip Hop, etc there’s a new healthy line of artists on the current production line, however the sounds are varied and the genres broadly crossed, so the city’s borders are perhaps one of the few connections.  They all enjoy a very high level of quality and all of them make creative, fresh, exciting new music.  Dutch Uncles are one of our favourites from this scene, with their angular, sharp, stuttered melodies and off beats.  They are the bastard sons of Foals and Brighton hopefuls Heels Catch Fire, with the guitars being very much the star of the show.  Played high up the neck, the twinkling staccato riffs and jagged pace reach the brain like a cap of Russian vodka to the eyeball.  It’s intelligent and free flowing stuff, before the vocals come in and provide the beauty, occasionally draped like silk over the bands racing clutter, which, prior to the vocals, was like trying to pop a balloon with your foot.  You’ll find lots of catchy hooks and highlights in each track so we expect lots of success to go with it.  Sadly, on this merry-go-round, the record label’s outstretched arms are often harder to grab, but this lot were certainly worthy of the extra reach.   (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Here them here:      DUTCH UNCLES – TAKEOVER

06
Feb
10

THE RECOMMENDER – NUMBER 72

THE AMPLIFETES

It’s rare that an artist gets on to The Recommender on the back of one tune, but we make exceptions when said track is this fucking loveable.  To be fair this tune is a little off our beaten path, with it’s retro, Roy Wood riffing and rather shameless Canned Heat influence, but the magic and uplift is so strong we simply stopped caring.  This tune is made to be a soundtrack to a movie’s bank robbery scene, or a BBC montage, or frankly any time you choose to forget your inhibitions in a happy, drunk haze.  Lyrics that go from almost nothing, “The sound goes off the record“, to name-dropping the coolest of culture, “Easy Rider, Kafka, Kubrick“, but it’s seemingly a tale of a “first class ride” with a beautiful woman.  Nice.  This Swedish four piece have only been together for just over a year, but they’ve worked in the  industry as separate parts on various projects for the likes of Kelis, Madonna, Grandmaster Flash, Peter, Bjorn And John, so there’s form and caliber here.  They aim for a mixture that sits somewhere between garage, electro, 60s psychedelia and pop.  A wide and adventurous target for sure, but if the results are as strong and entertaining as this debut EP, then their collective lights will shine brightly.  Their debut is being mastered at Sterling Sound NYC  right now and a release is planned for March 2010.  Tour dates around Europe are currently being scheduled, so look out for them as their bus rolls around the festival circuits.  In the mean time, we suggest you lift your mood, tuck into that beer and slip this on, very loudly.   (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:       THE AMPLIFETES – WHIZZ KID

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CASSIAN

If you like your dance music and remixes with as much buttered funk as possible, then check out this Australian producer.  Be warned though you’ll need to exclusively drink vinegar and pure lemon juice to get this amount of sticky sugar out of your system.  It’s all slapped bass, flicking guitars and those shiny synths wouldn’t have been out of place on a Sonic The Hedgehog game. It’s not particularly surprising that a DJ who hails from Sydney seems to pack the sunshine into his songs, but you may require some serious shades to avoid going blind.  Although he’s completed many decent remixes, for the likes of Empire Of The Sun, to Damn Arms, to Classixx, it’s actually his original work that has earned him a Recommender posting.  He is signed to the Bang Gang 12″ label and following several appearances on their compilations, he finally released his Friday Night EP in December last year.  It’s three tracks are all fantastic, with The Fuck Song listed below, which due to it’s slower pace than his remixes, perhaps finds itself better suited to soundtracking a spot of bedroom fumbling.  In fact it’s probably best imagined as the backdrop to an Axel Foley sex scene.  Although the funk and disco remains, there tends to be a touch more electro in his original tunes and this removes some of the overloaded honey found on his reworks.  The title track, Friday Night, is reminiscent of the wonderful early 80s Swiss double act, Yello, and will surely fulfill it’s promise of a weekend party at DJ sets around the world.  He recently jammed at this week’s Big Day Out festival in Sydney, a party that surely got the place pumped up.  If your pancreas can take it, then we strongly suggest you too take a sip on this wonderful, sugary boost. (MB)

Find him here:         Myspace

Hear him here:        CASSIAN – THE FUCK SONG

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PRIORS

To be fair this article is more a question than a Recommendation;  What has happened to Priors?  Let’s take it back to the start.  This French pairing are a combination of people already familiar to many, Raw Man (a member of the Buffalo Bunch) and Yan Destal (a member of Modjo).  These two made music throughout the turn of the century and it’s fair to say that Priors reminds us of the kind of French house that we used to get way before Ed Banger electrofied (sic) it.  You know, that kind of vocal heavy house music that makes you feel good.  It’s boderline pop music, just stopping short of all that camp fluff.  Just.  The kind of whirling, uplifting tune that Daft Punk evolved into after they finished their Homework crunching.  It’s grown up and as slick as it gets.  The kind of songs that you lose yourself in on the dancefloor towards the end of a Saturday night clubbing.  In the below track the vocals are very strong, provided by Yan Destal, but it’s their ear for a proper melody that hooks you, of the kind that embedded itself in your cerebral cortex for days, well after Saturday night had long faded into the distance.  Now back to our original question, because this magic duo first released the attached track in the first half of 2008, followed by a fair bit of buzz, an extended remix and another tune, Into The Fight, but absolutely nothing since!  There was talk of an album, but here we are in 2010 and we are still scanning the horizon in hope.  Perhaps they went their separate ways?  Perhaps they returned to their original projects?  Well, some good news recently arrived from Eye Industries, who claim a batch of new remixes of What You Need are finally on their way.  If you look up the word ‘anticipation’ in the dictionary, it says – see Priors next release. (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:       PRIORS – WHAT YOU NEED




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