Living in the sub-tropics means that spring comes both early and ends quickly. Not two weeks ago we missed 5 days of university because of snow (admittedly it was kind of a fluke) and now for the past few days the weather has been dominated by mid-70’s temperatures and a lot of sun. Pretty soon those mid-70’s will be phased out by mid-90’s and a whole lot of humidity, but the cool thing about such a short spring is that you become all the more aware of how you’re environment changes and grows with the coming of the heat. You can physically see wildlife burst into periods of growth and begin to spread through the dormant landscapes of winter and watch the progression from the infancy of seedlings into the lush greens and browns that were painfully absent in the frigid temperatures.
A change in seasons also brings with it an entirely new environment in which to listen to music. I’ve always listened to music for its impressionistic and expressionistic qualities, so the environment I choose to listen to music in has to be evocative in some way of the world the music is trying to build. Winter has its strengths no doubt, but humans were designed by nature to exist in nature, and winter all too often forces man to break that connection with walls of comfort. Spring is the natural relief from this state, an invitation for us to come out of our warm houses…
I was playing pub trivia earlier this week with some friends, and one of the rounds was “Disney by Decade”. I knew this was coming because the ultra-shitty hostess was playing “A Whole New World” and “Part of Your World” and probably some other songs with “World” in them (perhaps “Two Worlds” was played, but Phil Collins gets a pass from me because it’s better than listening to 3 hours of Lilith Fair music, as is tradition in the hostess’ usual playlist).
Como si dijiera una palabraaaaaaaaaaa!
Anyway, we aced the round (Can you name 3 out of the 5 animated films Disney released in the 1980s? How about the 2 animated films from the 1970s where a lion is depicted as royalty? I can’t remember the other questions because, you know, it’s a bar), simply because the girls on our team know their shit (my contributions rely solely on sports, music, and maybe books; in other words, I would get my ass kicked on Jeopardy! in every direction imaginable).
Speaking of which, fuck this guy:
What the hell is a 'compliance analyst', anyway?
If you don’t recognize him, take a listen to this smarmy asshole. Hunting for the Daily Doubles is brilliant, but only wagering just enough to advance to the next day is a bitch move (in my opinion, you play to win the game).
One of the most difficult things about becoming an emeritus of sputnik is discovering amazing new artists and lacking any time whatsoever to communicate that interest to others who care about music. Since “graduating” from sputnik, or “becoming part of the force” (or whatever silly analogy makes sense to you), music has become an increasingly intimate thing to me. I don’t spend as much time searching for new artists, analyzing them, and especially writing about them. But when I encounter something I have a true admiration for, I typically find myself desperately striving to achieve five hours of sleep while finishing up lesson plans, grading papers, planning a wedding, and performing household duties. And all so I can wake up and go to work exhausted again. Needless to say, it’s a busy time for me and I regret that I don’t have ample time to review everything that I feel passionate about (i.e. Snowmine’s new record Dialects, which I heartily recommend to all fans of atmospheric alt/indie). So, in lieu of two reviews that I really want to write but have absolutely no time to, I present you with the first of what may be a continuing string of brief passages concerning artists and new albums that I have found to be exceptional.
Run River North – Run River North
At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this band – they clearly have a knack for accessible songwriting akin to Of Monsters and Men,…
When young dubstep prodigy James Blake stows the electronics and takes a seat at the piano, the results always seem to be astounding—like the soulful “DLM” from his most recent album, Overgrown. But his cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” on 2011 EP Enough Thunder takes the cake for Blake’s balladeering. Simple as it is, his hurried vocals exude such sincerity and vulnerability that it perfectly illustrates how powerful music can be when it’s just a man and his piano. Or a woman and her guitar.
Van Halen – “Ice Cream Man”
Electing to cover a somewhat obscure blues tune would seem extremely odd for a band like Van Halen, were brothers Eddie and Alex not raised by an accomplished jazz saxophonist and clarinet player. And the suggestive lyrical content that kept the song from being released until 1969 made it a perfect fit for David Lee Roth, who opens the number dedicating it to the ladies. Diamond Dave gets things started off slow and sultry over some acoustic guitar before everything erupts into a typical Van Halen rock epic. Eddie absolutely dazzles with his acrobatic shredding and whammy bar assaults. The tribute to the Chicago bluesman is often overshadowed by the also excellent cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” on the same record, but “Ice Cream
There’s something enchanting about what electronic producer Four Tet does in the below video – rather, what dontwatchthat.tv forces him to do. You can tell the guy’s got mixed feelings about having to compose an entire track in only ten minutes, and furthermore, only with samples from Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It’s the kind of process that forces one to rely on creative intuition, nothing else- and you can see that side of the producer shine through as he places Thriller on the record player. He spins it, and lands on arbitrary moments, and then assesses- he considers each instant as a possible instrument for the tune he’s about to make, and then he proceeds based on how he feels about it.
It makes me think about music in a different way. We get so used to hearing entire tracks, and we music lovers sometimes convince ourselves that hearing a song in any other way besides start to finish is sacrilege. But you see Four Tet cobbling together random moments from the record, and you see how much fun it can be to hear snippets from really engaging records. Each time he lifts the needle and picks a new spot it sounds like a new artist, and so when he fuses all these ingredients to make his own song it feels so unlike Thriller, and yet so familiar to that record my parents used to play around the house.
Watch this video if you want to see how Four Tet works…
Sometimes I think the best and worst decision I’ve ever made was to become an obsessive music nerd, but what do I really have to show for it? A few hundred records dating from the sixties all the way up to today, three massive CD booklets, two terabyte hard-drives full of everything from top 40 pop to all but forgotten black metal cassette rips, and thousands of dollars in lost savings in the form of ticket stubs. I don’t regret a single second of it. But I must admit, being constantly inundated with new and unknown media almost every waking hour be it in the form of Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, emails, or friends texting me about what new records have leaked has done considerable damage to the way that I take in new music. It used to be you bought a record and over the course of hours, days, and weeks it would blossom and grow. That first impression was important but even the most off putting records usually revealed some sort of secret, even if I didn’t necessarily enjoy them right away. Hell, Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was a 4 year endeavor for me to finally see its genius. Now, though, I just don’t have the time to wait. It’s unfortunate and I hate it. Now those slow burners get tossed by the wayside. If it doesn’t hit immediately I move on to something else that does. Rarely does an album ever…
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of October 22, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
AFI – Burials (Universal Republic) – Adam Thomas
Best Coast – Fade Away (Jewel City)
Brandy Clark – 12 Stories (Slate Creek Records)
Cage – Kill The Architect (Eastern Conference)
Dead Gaze – Brain Holiday (Fat Cat Records)
Def Leppard -Viva! Hysteria (Frontiers Records)
Drop Electric – Waking Up To The Fire (Lefse Records)
Emphatic – Another Life (Caroline (Universal)
Hell – The Age Of Nefarious (Nuclear Blast)
Katy Perry – Prism (Capitol Records)
Linda Thompson – Won’t Be Long Now (Pettifer Sounds)
Lita Ford – Bitch Is Back (Steamhammer/SPV)
Meek Is Murder – Everything Is Awesome Nothing Matters (Meek Is Murder/MetalSucks)
MEN – Labor (Men Make Music)
Metal Church – Generation Nothing (Rat Pak Records0
Motorhead – Aftershock (UDR)
NOIR – Darkly Near (Metropolis Records)
Omar Souleyman – Wenu Wenu (Ribbon Records)
Poliça- Shulamith (Mom & Pop Music)
Ryan Hemsworth – Guilt Trips (Last Gang Records)
The Strumbellas – We Still Move On Dance Floors (Six Shooter Records)
The Twilight Garden – Reconcile (Metropolis Records)
My Metallica experience went something like this: I downloaded St. Anger on a whim in my first year of university, listened to them for the first time, and was blown away by how awesome it was (before I continue any further let me assure you that I know much better now). I then went on to borrow the band’s entire discography from a post-graduate friend – who still listened to them on his trusty old Discman – and proceeded to devour the entire thing over the next couple of months. All this happened when their soon-to-be ninth studio album was still in its infancy and Mission: Metallica represented the zenith of artist-fan online interaction. It was, as I now believe, a particularly good time to become a new Metallica fan, as the development of Death Magnetic - famously billed as Jaymz and co.’s attempt at constructing a second half to Master of Puppets - also brought with it a strong degree of hype that had been virtually absent throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.
When Death Magnetic eventually came out I jammed it so much and so hard – godawful mastering and all – I wouldn’t be surprised if this mild ringing in my left ear is a direct result of listening to that album a few times too many. Fast forward a few more months to November 2009, and the World Magnetic Tour was already on my chilly Ottawa doorstep. I recall turning up…
Welcome to Sputnik’s Second Infinite Playlist of 2013. Here you can look through some of the finest tracks of the past 3 months, as selected by the users of the site, and find some of the best music you might’ve missed this year.
Elena Tonra’s haunting, Florence Welch-esque vocals and heartbreaking lyrics pervade this lovely track from Daughter’s album If You Leave. As my favourite song from their 2011 EP The Wild Youth, I was expecting (and hoping for) a carbon copy of the song on the album. Whilst the LP version isn’t as intimate, the thumping drums and ethereal guitars transform the song into a different beast entirely. Some may feel the lyrics are treading a very fine line between genuine and cliché, but I reckon they fall just on the right side of that line. This track is well worth checking out, and gives a great indication of what you can expect from the rest of the album.
Ever since I was little I’ve always dreamt about having a machine that could just translate your thoughts instantly and directly into word form and transcribe them onto the page. When I was young, these were happy-faced, benevolent machines that always kept your privacy and never made a mess. As I get older, I care less for the tidy construct of untangled wires and the sweet sound of scribbling pencil attached to swishing robotic arm. Instead, in my growing desperation for what is true and naked and unsullied, I imagine a pair of hands plunging through my forehead and into my brain, ripping out a handful of thoughts, and scattering them with a clang onto a shiny silver tray. An image from a horror movie, perhaps, but purity has never been dependent on clean cuts.
Such a machine, ethical implications put to one side, would be a revelation for most of us because of a deep and debilitating affliction we all share: I like to call it The Fridge Door Syndrome. When the fridge door is closed, the disco ball spins. Seeds are swapped, skins are dropped, foodstuffs roam from shelf to shelf to shelf. You know it, I know it, Homer knows it. But then when you open that fridge door and look inside, the foods freeze, deaden, become statues of themselves. Close the door again, the volume knob is spun and the party resumes. So it goes with…
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of July 2, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
A Great Big Pile Of Leaves – You’re Always On My Mind (Topshelf Records)
Big Black Cloud – Black Friday (Eolian Empire)
Billy Woods – Dour Candy (Backwoodz Studioz)
Jay-Z – Magna Carta Holy Grail (Roc-A-Fella/Roc Nation)
The Leisure Society – Alone Aboard The Ark (10 Spot)
Lisabi – Acts (Lisabi/Bandcamp)
Look Alive – Mistakes & Milestones (Autumn + Colour Records)
Maya Jane Coles – Comfort (I/AM/ME)
Never Shout Never – Sunflower (Loveway Records)
Owen – L’Ami Du Peuple (Polyvinyl Records)
Pretty Lights – A Color Map Of The Sun (8 Minutes And 20 Seconds Records)
Relient K – Collapsible Lung (Mono Vs. Stereo)
The SpacePimps – Eternal Boy (The SpacePimps)
Warbrain – Void Of Confusion (Resist)
Yesterday, it was discovered that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have named their child North. That’s right. North West. And maybe it’s because they actually decided to name their child a stupid pun a precocious seventh grader might come up with when pressed to come up with a name for a baby with the surname “West,” or maybe it’s because Kimye didn’t go with the infinitely better Easton as they’d hinted at earlier in Kim’s pregnancy, but that’s it. I give up. There have been many things leading up to this moment, but this is the absolute final straw.
I am so fucking done caring about Kanye West.
After reading all the shit that’s flying around Yeezus right now, a record that’s as close to an embodiment of the Shakespeare quote, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” as I’ve ever heard, the thought popped into my head: why? Why do we care about Kanye West? Yes, he’s a celebrity, a monstrous cultural figure that’s totally unavoidable. To ignore him is to bury one’s head in the sand, to pretend to live in a world that isn’t real, to choose to be culturally out of touch, yadda yadda. But does that really mean we have to shit ourselves pondering the politics of Kanye West? He certainly wants us to, which is why Yeezus is purposefully drenched in all that EQ-busting, industrial abrasiveness, and we’re taking the bait like donkeys with carrots…
Some background, if you’ll forgive me. In the early 1990s, a group of friends from Louisville, Kentucky, went to a Jodeci concert in their hometown. After apparently coercing a security guard into letting them backstage, the group met with Donald DeGrate, Jr., also known as DeVante Swing, the de facto leader of Jodeci. They came specifically to Swing to promote their R&B trio, A Touch of Class, probably hoping that he would like what he heard at least enough to pass their name on to one of his connections, if not take them under his own wing. It worked, and after coming off the tour for Jodeci’s hugely popular sophomore album, 1993’s Diary of a Mad Band (which peaked at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 and would go on to sell two million copies), Swing contacted Jawaan Peacock, a.k.a. “Smokey,” a member of A Touch of Class, who had since restructured his group into a trio with Benjamin “Digital Black” Bush, another original member of the group, and Stephen “Static Major” Garrett, a high school friend with whom Smokey had reconnected at the University of Louisville.
Some time around 1994, Swing decided Playa, as they were now called, were worth his time, and he promptly signed them to his Swing Mob label—a subsidiary of Elektra Records in the U.S.–which placed them in the company of such heavy hitters as Missy Elliott, Ginuwine, and Timbaland. Swing Mob collapsed in 1995, but Playa were able to successfully jump ship to…
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of May 21, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
30 Seconds To Mars – Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams (Virgin/Universal)
Alpine – A Is For Alpine (Votiv)
Amos Slade – Hungry Earth (Sodak Media Group)
Baptist Generals – Jackleg Devotional To The Heart (Sub Pop)
Christopher Paul Stelling – False Cities (Christopher Paul Stelling)
Club 8 – Above The City (Labrador/Universal) Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (Columbia)
Darius Rucker – True Believers (10 Spot)
Dead Gaze – Dead Gaze (Fat Cat Records)
Dirty Beaches – Drifters/Love Is The Devil (1-2-3-4-GO!)
Extrema – The Seed Of Foolishness (Scarlet Records)
FACT – Burundanga (Good Fight Music)
French Montana – Excise My French (Interscope Records)
The Front Bottoms – Talon Of The Hawk (Bar None Records)
Have Mercy – The Earth Pushed Back (Topshelf Records/Universal)
Japanther – Eat Like Lisa Act Like Bart (Recess Records)
The Joy Of Painting – Tender Age (South Division Records)
Linda Draper – Edgewise (Linda Draper)
LVMRKS – Pale Fairytale (LVMRKS Records)
Majical Cloudz – Impersonator (Matador Records)
Man Or Astro-Man? – Defcon 5…4…3…2…1 (Warm Electronic Recordings)
The National – Trouble Will Find Me (4AD Records)
NK – Nothing To Be Gained Here (Triple Crown Records)
Palisades – Outcasts (Rise Records)
Radiation City – Animals In The Median (Tender Loving Empire)
Red Hare – Nites Of Midnite (Dischord Records)
Saturday Looks Good To…