29 January 2009

Artist of the Week - 25 January 2009

Let's cut the small talk and get on with my Artist of the Week!

Here they are: Edison Gem

I discovered Edison Gem on one of my safaris through the artists on myspace.com.

How did I get hooked on their sound?

Easy! The song "Things Change" did me in.

The wonderful starting synths are just loud enough to let the atmospheric drum-n-bass sneak in. When the big beat drops, your ears are hit with a symbiosis of downtempo vocals and Bristol-light (the rough bass line alongside of the drums reminds me of a softer version of Breakbeat Era's "Ultraobscene"). The lyrics are captivating and are able to be applied to so many situations: a break-up after a relationship that lasted many-a-year, losing touch with reality, a huge change in your normal routine (loss of a job, loss of a loved one, etc), even just trying to go on with life! The words are so soft, comforting, and reassuring. Great inspirational/reflectional song! 

"Should've done better" is another keeper which caught me unawares. The hook is just so catchy, the chorus - catchy, the throbbing synth sample - catchy, the "second movement(?)" - suprising (see, you thought I'd say catchy! Man, oh man. GOTCHA!) Trance-inducing head-bobbing at its best.

"Holdback" is a song that's perfect for dealing with situations where you are meant to be "seen not heard," like that pill of conformity which helps you toe the line of sanity and sanitarium. They use reverse pyschology (i.e. sarcastic snipe at certain sections of society) allowing you to take in the words, think about it, then realize, "Hey, I've been in a situation like this before... I know how that feels!" 

These are just a few of the "gems" (I know, har har... must have taken me what, 5 DAYS to come up with that one) from their track listing.

While listening to their music I get a sense that Orion definitely knows how to twiddle the knobs well enough to keep you wanting more of his d-n-b vibes without getting too down and dirty. Jadis's lovely vocals seem to keep Orion grounded and focused on the errand they've been destined to see through.

She gives an adept description of the subject matter they cover in their songs:

"You never know how things are going to end up - you can just feel them beginning. You move blindly searching for what matters, and until it smacks you in the face, you won't know what it is." (an excerpt from their myspace page)

Just lovely, lovely stuff!

Head to their myspace page to find out what I'm talking about.

Also, Amazon.com has their EP "Things Change - EP 1" available as an mp3 album download. Om records has their song "Lullabye" on their "Om Chilled: Vol. 2" compilation. 

21 January 2009

Artist of the Week - 18 January 2009

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know it's Wednesday, but I labelled it  because we're still in the week of the 18th... I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it!

My artist of the week is... monkeybacon!

The 'baconator (I'm sure I infringed on a copyright there, oops) describes his tools of the trade as "a collection of old synthesizers, guitars, basses, plus miscellaneous sound generating equipment [t]weaked and played by Paul Malmstrom." He also adds that his songs are "[i]nstrumental quasi-electronic tunes written and performed by Monkeybacon. It's a bedroom 'affair' with classic music machines stroked, plucked and hammered on with ten fingers."

Here's how I'd classify his music: enthralling

Take music from campy 60s/70s spy movies (crossref movies and such which would probably influence artists such as Chris Joss, Mr. Chop, etc.), jazzy sounds from older French/European films (or at least what I've stereotyped them to be), mid-90s Swedish pop sounds (the Cardigans, Komeda), fun hockey rink organ synths, some great instrumentation, and you've got a treasure that should be found!

Tracks such as "Spit" with the bouncy organ background, trickling piano notes, jazzy drums, old skool synthesizer melodies, and glitchy techno samples just get my "overactive leg disorder" going. "Dead Beef" has a wonderful "Spanish" spy guitar gizmo pushing the song over happenin' drums and colorful orchestrations. The electric bass(?) solo toward the end takes the track from good to great. His whole catalog is head bobbin', toe tappin' instrumentation at its best. Even his more laid back creations just ooze cool, fun and fantastic. 

When you head over to his site, make sure to sample all the wares! His page is super stripped down and simple; a perfect complement to his music. You can download most of his music there, he just asks for a donation to help keep the meat sizzlin'!

I'm sure you're tired of the kitschy/gimmicky lines by now...

but get your bottom over there and tell all you friends that monkeybacon is your new chillout daddy!

Update:  I've got my podcast finished... but it maybe pushed back a while. The file is too big, and I may have to upgrade a storage account. All will not be lost though! It'll be up before long. Thanks for your patience.

Update 2: Me and the missus have now been married (by the time most of you read this) six months now. Crazy, I know!

15 January 2009

Music misinterpretation and something new!

This link is to an article I found right after logging out of my email account. It takes me back to when I was with my wife's family in Hawai'i.

We were cruising around Honolulu and a popular song came on the radio. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, started singing along to the lyrics, which she got wrong. She thought the song said, "I want to make love in the world," when in fact the words go "I want to make love in this club." After I, my wife, and one of my brothers-in-law explained to her what the song actually said, the revelation came out she thought it was a song about making the world a better place; not scoring in a night club. 

I'm not one to pass too much judgement, because I'm just as bad at making lyric/quote mistakes. Ask me to quote a movie... I'll botch it up in a heartbeat!

This is why I'm glad Vicki Santillano took a few favorites and set our sails correct (I'm included in this, too) in her article Eight Commonly Misinterpreted Songs. I knew "Every Breath You Take" by The Police was a STALKER SONG!

Something new

I'm currently working on creating a podcast as we speak. I'm planning to make it 50-55 minutes long with songs covering a range of sounds within the downtempo/trip-hop/chillout genus. I'm even gonna throw in some dub-step. I have to admit, the music is very enticing!

Look for the podcast to be out in the next couple of weeks.

11 January 2009

Find of the last two weeks! (Also my wishlist...)

Here's a hat tip to Eamonn from Under!

If you're looking for another downtempo/chillout podcast that'll fill your need for slow grooves; head on over to Lifestyle Chill.

James Williams does a nice job mixing relaxing tunes to keep everything on the down low (I don't think I used that term correctly, just take it as it is. It's hard making up new "catch phrases" or using old ones in new ways). I recently downloaded his Lifestyle Chill #13 Podcast and it has become a staple for my workday! James also does a great job introducing his acts and keeping you interested in what he says without getting in the way. 

I give it my full UBLF endorsement! 

Here's to Lifestyle Chill

My Wishlist moment

(Update): Okay, I have weird tastes and odd requests, but go with me on this one! I've warned all of you I like polka. I am not gonna hide my love for the "Oom-Pah-Pah," the accordion and the bouncing tuba riffs! You can't make me! Now, listen now and don't laugh to hard. I think you could add to the 2/4 tuba and the wailing accordion some skanking guitar, titillating (see reference 2, definition 2 and leave out the last two parts) turntable, and some static-y glitchiness. What would you have... POLKA DUB! I'm not kidding. I think it could work! It would be one of those "Not ready for Primetime Players" albums, and may even get some laughs, but I'd love it!

(Update 2): We have a new gizmo on the side of the page! Thanks to James over at Lifestyle Chill, you can now listen to his podcast here! If you want to add it to your site, that's not a problem either. 

h/t Lifestyle Chill

correction: I decided to finally do my homework and found out that most Polkas are in a 2/4 time signature, not 3/4 as my post said. There is a Swedish dance (heavily influenced by the Polish) called the polska which is in 3/4. 

Artist of the Week - 11 January 2009

Well, well, well... I've finally come back to life. Sorry for the absence; I really have no excuse! Busy, busy times. 

I decided to change the name (as well as the background) of my blog to reflect more of a downtempo feel to this site . Yes, I will talk about all sorts of music here, but since my primary focus is the chillout scene I thought "Why not?" 

Update on the paper...

I've done some research to find magazine and scholarly articles about the history of ska, now I have to find a library where I can actually check them out.

Why did I decide to do ska? One of the major sub-genres of Downtempo/Trip-Hop/Chillout is Dub. Since the "dub force" is always out in full, I felt I should do some research on one of its genealogical roots to see where its modern offspring of Third-Wave, Reggae, Dub and even Dub-Step have journeyed from. I don't want to give anything away yet (because I don't have much), so stick around; suprises are to come! 

Now onto the Artist of the Week for 11 January 2009: Under

I chose Under for a few reasons:

a) Eamonn Flynn asked me to join his facebook group

b) I like their music

c) I want to help get the word out.

Over at lifestylechill.com and CD Baby, a description of their music is as follows:

  • "The music of Under has been described as 'pop noir' - vague, often melancholic lyrics, agreeably catchy melodies, warm sounds with a hint of something darker hidden in Jen Triano's distinctive, almost innocent vocal delivery."

That has got to be one of the best descriptions for their sound I can find. 

Here's my two cents worth:

  • Jen's breathy voice is a perfect match for their sound, and fits so well into the genre, that you are left trying to find more of their stuff. Eamonn Flynn keeps his electronic touch light-handed helping keep a wonderful ratio of background to go right along with the hypnotic vocal realities of the fore.

Properly Chilled calls them "organic opium," and Mike Stier from about.com adds:

  • The San Francisco group and lead singer Jen Triano and her nothing-short-of-intoxicating voice, creates a bloody brilliant primal slow-burner that I loved simply because it could be the perfect way to help alleviate and unwind a crowd after a long day's journey into the night and segueing into the wee hours of the morning. Love it, love it!

To fill your Under fix right now, you'll have to suffice for their self-titled e.p. (2006) which only has four songs on it. They do have an album due out sometime this year and I can't wait to hear it! (I've heard most of their songs on the Myspace page linked earlier on in the post and a snippet of "Cars Below" from CD Baby)

The television world is putting a commercial face to their appeal. The Morgan Page remix of "Under" has been featured on both ABC's "Ugly Betty" and CBS's "Moonlight." 

- One a side note: My wife will start singing along most times the song "Under" comes on. For me, that's a sign that the group is pretty good! (or as she puts it, I may play it enough that she knows the lyrics. She can't hide the fact she likes them!)

01 January 2009

Update on things - 1 January 2009

Hello to everyone and a happy NEW YEAR!

I just wanted to give y'all a quick update on a project I'm starting. Back in August, I asked a question to my brothers-in-law: what came first - ska or reggae? Their response: Reggae. The correct answer is: ska! Well, I'm on a quest to write a paper about ska to show how it became an eventual influence on reggae. I'm not talking about bands such as Mustard Plug, Five Iron Frenzy, Dance Hall Crashers, Bim Skala Bim... we're going back farther! Do the "Skatellites" ring a bell?

If you have any help for this (besides wikipedia... this is an outside wikipedia assignment), give me a hollah!