Friday, February 5, 2016

REVIEW: LEON BRIDGES 'COMING HOME' (Columbia)

I admit I fell for it. The retro packaging, old-school typography, the classic outfit...I thought somebody had gotten to work reissuing some classic 60's R&B star that we had never heard of. I was immediately interested, and nothing after dropping the needle suggested otherwise.

It wasn't until I Googled our new friend Leon Bridges that I realized he's very much a current artist, an artist carrying a Motown-lit torch and making the kind of records that simply are not made anymore. Recently the title tune justifiably lit up Spotify with a "Most Viral Track".

He's simply fantastic. Smooth like glass, this album is like a treasure of lost Sam Cooke songs. There's nary a bad song in the bunch, and I can't stop listening it. His ace backing band, complete with sax, doo-wop singers and boogie piano envelope with an unheard-of authenticity that you would otherwise need a time machine to replicate.  Haters will cry that he's peddling the wares of a bygone generation, but I'll argue he's peddling the best ones, and in here 2016 he has made a peerless album.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

LAURENT GARNIER BOILER ROOM LYON DJ SET


The magnificent folks at Boiler Room outdo themselves time and time again with their insane commitment to the best underground dance music, but this one may well be my favorite. How the hell can you go wrong with Laurent Garnier? He's been exploding craniums for over 20 years with some of the sneakiest and grooviest builds anywhere. Even his short sets are filled with magic. But don't just take my word for it, read some of the comments underneath the video on its home page:

"Amazing. Class is class."

"Laurent is the KING!"

"GARNIER !!!!! MAKES ME CRAZY SINCE 1994 - best DJ of all time"

"best Dj in the world by a long shot..."

"...indeed, it's a masterclass."

And those are just the first few of hundreds. Whether you like the video, or just the audio, Boiler Room (as always) makes it easy to pick your poison.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

ETSY ECSTASY: popeclectic


The Star Wars franchise, while beloved by me as much as anyone, isn't something I generally associated with high concept design. That was until I stumbled across popeclectic on Etsy. 

It never ceases to amaze me the way fan art can recreate something you think you know backwards and forwards, and browsing around popeclectic had my jaw on the desk. Excellent minimalist composition, smooth clean lines, retro-future aesthetic and as Homer Simpson once said "I think this racing stripe is pretty sharp".

Star Wars isn't the only pop culture getting a design makeover here. Mad Men, Big Lebowski and numerous others receive the popeclectic treatment with stellar results. Definitely worth a click or two of your time.


Friday, January 29, 2016

SANDRA COLLINS - CITYSEVEN COMMUNIQUE

American stalwart DJ Sandra Collins is not only responsible for many a fine time in my life (particularly in the previous decade), but to her immense credit has always pushed the envelope further and further down the rabbit hole without compromise. A good many of these young scamps that call themselves DJs while playing pre-recorded versions of the Beatport Top 10 and cashing in on bottle service could do themselves a huge favor by listening to how a professional does it. But then again, producing dreamy, hypnotic, epic and beautiful music seems to be the least of their concern$. Sandra's Soundcloud page is an embarrassment of riches; tons of fantastic, full-length sets from across her storied career. I've been enjoying this latest stream in particular from Luke Brancaccio's show. Happy Friday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

THE LENNON CLAYPOOL DELIRIUM "CRICKET AND THE GENIE"

On paper, this didn't look like something I needed to chase after...it sounded like yet another unnecessary vanity project trying to be weird for the sake of weird (and the fact that Sean Lennon once tried to put the moves on my lady friend has likely left me with a lingering grudge, which probably isn't fair...it means we both have good taste in women, right? I digress.) 

Happy to say I couldn't have been more wrong. His pairing with bass magician Les Claypool has created the "song I've streamed most in 2016, so far"; a swirling eight-minute dervish of lush psychedelia and acid imagery that would have been beautifully at home on The Magical Mystery Tour. Now I find myself eagerly awaiting the full project. It has been too long since rock music was this effortlessly outlandish and straight-up fun. Hear the track by clicking here

Friday, January 22, 2016

NINA KRAVIZ LIVE @ AWAKENINGS FESTIVAL, 6/27/15


 If you're even a passing fan of dance music, then BE-AT.tv is a thing of beauty. It's an immense archive of full-length DJ sets presented in stellar video and audio quality at your fingertips. There's tons of options in the UI, and even (gasp) tracklists so you can put your Shazam away. Whatever your flavor, there's something here for you. I'm kicking off my Friday with some Nina Kraviz with her sneaky, creepy set from last year's Awakenings Festival that features some top notch techno tracks from the likes of Bjarki and Barcode Population. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

ETSY ECSTASY: iQstudio

All these years in, I'm still delightfully surprised by the amazing objects and creators you can find on Etsy. Yet, at times the sheer girth of the site can be a bit overwhelming if you just want to browse. One little game I sometimes play is to type in atypical search terms, just to see what random results come back. I was doing this the other day while listening to some Fela Kuti, and on a whim entered his name, just for kicks.

I love this experiment, especially when it pays off with finds like iQstudio. The Fela print that turned up is excellent; an unexpected assemblage of textures and clean lines that looks like little else I've seen. I was also particularly fond of the Malcolm X, and the composition in the map art prints of various cities.

If you're not in need of prints, the shop has numerous other product lines including clothing, tote bags and other formats that are dripping with the color-intense pop stylings, and if you're even mildly intrigued by the works you see here, you're bound to find that perfect item to illuminate your personal space.

Monday, January 18, 2016

REVIEW: THE STAPLES SINGERS 'AMEN' (EPIC/LEGACY)

It's not a coincidence that very few musical blockbusters are ever released around the holiday season (2014's Black Messiah by D'Angelo is one of the exceptions that proves the rule). It makes sense. Everyone is on a plane home and/or spiking the eggnog, and even greedy record executives take a break from trying to convince you how good the latest vanilla pop-tart tastes.

But that doesn't mean we should sleep on their holiday release schedules. Case in point: Epic/Legacy has quietly made some crucial, long out-of-print albums by The Staples Singers available as digital downloads via your favorite online stores. And while the very mention of The Staples Singers is likely (and rightly) to conjure the immediate recollection of major hits like "I'll Take You There", the less-fussy early material here is not only beautiful, but a necessary precursor to a legendary story.

Several albums are available, my favorite being 1965's Amen!
No magic production here, just Pops Staples' belief in his family's gift, unwavering faith in a higher power, and the earthy sounds that would catch the ears and the imaginations of contemporaries like Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead. There's an authenticity captured in standards like "Samson And Delilah" and " Nobody's Fault But Mine" that is equal parts eerie and uplifting; seeing the evil but never fearing it.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

SOME OF THE BETTER BOWIE TRIBUTES

If you've been anywhere near the interwebs since Monday, fan or not, you've likely faced an onslaught of Bowie tributes of every size and stripe. Before we begrudgingly move on, here's a wrap-up of some of the ones I enjoyed the most.

Michael Paulson at the New York Times examines the how the stage show and song 'Lazarus' now resonate in the days following Bowie's death: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/14/theater/after-david-bowie-death-lazarus-holds-new-meaning-for-fans.html?_r=0

One of the first thoughts I had upon realizing Bowie recorded this album as his "parting gift" was the last Johnny Cash/Rick Rubin collaboration that mined similar territory. Geoff Edgers at Washington Post looks at that album and several others that were made while facing mortality: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/david-bowie-and-the-sad-inspiring-history-of-making-art-while-dying/2016/01/13/72f85030-b94b-11e5-829c-26ffb874a18d_story.html

A glowing tribute from legend Nile Rodgers:

Scott Beggs @ Indiewire stole the thoughts right from my brain on this one. The Prestige is fantastic. Find it immediately if you're a fan who hasn't seen it: http://www.indiewire.com/article/the-magical-david-bowie-performance-nobody-appreciates-nearly-enough-20160111

The rare public vulnerability of Iggy Pop:

Perhaps the most unexpectedly moving tribute from Tim Lefebvre (Tedeschi Trucks Band), the bassist that worked with him during his final sessions:
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/blackstar-bassist-on-bowie-the-greatest-musician-ive-ever-heard-20160111   
From The New Yorker