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Musings

There is a moment right after the first chorus in “Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace” from which the song can go anywhere.  Two piano chords wobble on a tightrope, back and forth, and one can’t help but wonder if perhaps the song is just going to end at that point, the soft heartbeat of percussion pulsing more weakly until it goes unheard, succumbing to the implacable fade.  This is the world in flux – lives waxing in and out of their parallels, possible futures vying for dominance.  Think about how rare it is these days to be genuinely surprised by a song, to sit with bated breath as you wonder where the music is going to take you.

Think about how rare it is for a song to imitate life so exquisitely that it hurts.

What I am trying to delineate here is why I feel bothered when people say something like, “The Mountain Goats are still great, but nothing compares to Darnielle’s output pre-2005.”  I can’t count the number of posts I’ve read saying something similar to that.  The phrasings may change a little from person to person, but the general idea is that Darnielle made better music when The Mountain Goats consisted mostly of one or two people.  Of course, any Darnielle – old or new – is good Darnielle, so my annoyance can never be too great.  But his output from 2006-2012 is one of the greatest musical runs ever, and some…

Once upon a time, I honestly hadn’t heard a proper hip-hop record. I was perusing through Sputnik’s recent releases, and lo and behold, a hip-hop album with cool artwork! Sobhi’s review for Dark Time Sunshine’s Vessel sounded promising enough, and so I decided to go out on a limb for the album. I found it on Amazon for a penny, and three days later I experienced the thrill Sobhi did– my experiences with it really lacked that pivotal context, though. I think one appreciates Vessel the most when they’re aware of hip-hop’s history, and understand how many new things the record brings to the table. This is drastically different than my first– and rather superficial– interpretation of the album: “Whoa, these cool beats, man!” In the beginning I saw the diversity of the album, as well as the fact that it traversed both optimistic and grimy territory with the flick of a switch– and really well, too. But there’s more about Vessel to consider.

One of the biggest things about Vessel that I’ve come to appreciate is what rapper Onry Ozzborn brings to the table. His lyrics are personal, but not too revealing– although we can all tell “E.R.” stems from a personal experience he’s had, we aren’t being drowned in the details. We can understand where he’s coming from, and that sense of relatability is what makes songs like “E.R.” really stand out. But on the other hand, Onry sometimes removes…

Sputnik’s Q1 Mixtape

Welcome to Sputnik’s first Infinite Playlist of 2013! For those of you who don’t know, this is one of the site’s best resources for discovering the best recent music from a selection of genres, as chosen by both users and staff alike. Every quarter, a new issue is published bringing you some of the best individual songs from the past three months. Thank you to everyone who contributed!

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This issue’s contributors are as follows:

insomniac15 / Typhoner / Brostep / clercqie / CaptainHadouken / pwalcher / AtomicWaste / OysterizerInsomniac / Turtlestlker /
fish. / SowingSeason

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David Bowie – “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”

Even if The Next Day’s first single “Where Are We Now?” is a beautiful, mellow and reflective tune, it was somewhat harmless and predictable coming after a 50-year, chameleonic career. However, the moment David Bowie debuted “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”, expectations rose up, as well as several question marks regarding the new record, released after a decade long break from the music industry. “The Stars” is an uptempo, straightforward rocker with a groovy bass line and simple, effective guitar leads. What makes it special is that Bowie adds his ageless and dramatic yet powerful vocals much like he used to all the way back in the ’70s. Also, the lyrics meld David’s passion towards aliens with ironic stabs at superstars, who are beautiful and flawless

In my early days on this site I made a niche for whored out myself by publishing a review of a Walt Disney soundtrack for every ten pieces that I wrote. That gag eventually got old and I moved on to more “serious” writing (most of those pieces were based around a single sex joke that had been taken and beaten to death anyway), but none of that should take away from the fact that those soundtracks were legitimately some of the raddest and most memorable pieces of music that many of us will ever hear in our lifetimes.

Youtube user Paint probably feels that exact same sentiment. “After Ever After”, a four minute piece which he published a few days ago on the video-sharing website, features him speculating on the post-movie fate of four Disney princesses while using musical motifs from the films to advance his light-hearted narrative. Everything about the performance – from the choreography to the vocal harmonies to the lyrics – appears to have been done by Paint himself and stitched together with the magical power of video editing. The result? A hugely entertaining skit that’s more than capable of rolling back the years and brightening your evening with a nostalgic grin or two. If I am to be perfectly honest, the lyrics are occasionally crude and may feel somewhat forced at times, but the real joy in “After Ever After” lies in trying to a.) guess which Disney…

Effective music videos are hard to find in 2013. There’s not really a uniform outlet in which music junkies can watch videos from their favorites, and financial issues in the music industry have led to a sharp decline of high-caliber music videos.

What this means, then, is that I freak out when something substantial comes along. Take Sigur Rós’ 2012 video for “Fjögur píanó,” and how the piece was simply saturated in eclecticism: the underwater car ride, the potentially electric popsicles and even Shia LeBeouf’s exposed penis all made us realize that a), director Alma Har’el had a disorienting message for us music-goers, or b), the specifics didn’t really matter. The latter makes more sense to me, although there are certainly poignant parts to the music video. Overall, though, what you got from the piece probably differed vastly from mine. I’m partial to my theories of the ‘ol acid trip gone amiss, but ultimately the video said much more to its audience than I can possibly know.

Dat emotion.

And ultimately, this is how I see fantastic music videos. The unconventional ones stick with me, the videos pushing the envelope towards what the song itself could only hint. Maybe it’s easier for directors to work with more ambiguous songs, then: more space means more flexibility. And “Old Skin,” serene as it is, really does leave room for the imagination. This is why I didn’t have specific expectations for the video, because it could probably focus on any…

Ian Fleming’s fictional MI6 operative James Bond has helped the Western World through a cold war, civil and technological breakthroughs, and a rapidly globalizing culture. As the film franchise celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, it’s time to take a look back at some of the memorable and quality music at the forefront of those films.

Dr. No (1962)
Monty Norman & John Barry – “James Bond Theme”
Byon Lee and the Dragonaires – “Kingston Calypso”

Monty Norman was recruited by Albert Broccoli after backing one of his musicals, Belle or The Ballad of Dr. Crippen, written by Wolf Mankowitz who would also go on to be involved in the screenwriting of Dr. No. The theme is arranged by John Barry and performed by his own orchestra, though the arrangement goes uncredited in the film. It has been speculated (and even argued in court) that Barry, in fact, composed the theme rather than Norman, though it contains reworked portions of music previously composed by Norman. At any rate, the theme’s big horns and buzzing guitar line are now instantly recognizable and entirely synonymous with the British agent.

The latter portion of the original Bond film’s opening contains a rather jaunty calypso number performed by Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, who also make an appearance in the film performing their song “Jump Up.” And after all these years, it would seem odd for Ursula Andress to run around Jamaica in a two-piece to anything else.

Goldfinger

SPOILER: this is old album art. Sorry!

Right when I start to think the forthcoming album should be renamed to something along the lines of This Record is Never Coming, Trash McSweeney and his merry band continue to release teaser after teaser that The Revolution is Never Coming is actually going to see the light of day sometime in 2013 (as opposed to the heavily-rumored 2010, 2011, and/or 2012 release dates).

Trash may have tone-to-color synesthesia, but just imagine how much I’d have to curb my anticipation if he had triskaidekaphobia.

All kidding aside, I’m looking forward to seeing them on their Chinese Whispers tour in April (the band is currently touring the United States after spending the latter part of 2012 in Europe), and keep your fingers crossed that I’ll be able to have a chat with the band prior to the gig. Their live shows are one-of-a-kind, and while I can’t promise that I’ll be a human canvas (the dude version of Lane Bryant wouldn’t want me to model for them, no matter how much they airbrush the hell out of my pasty ass), I can guarantee you that I’ll be obscenely geeked to watch them perform.

“Rain” is today’s track of the day, but it is the re-recorded version found on the forthcoming The Revolution is Never Coming. Similar to how the band revamped the immensely popular “The Streets Fell Into My Window”, their new “Rain” arrangement is characterized…

A heart-wrenching exposition, the video for James Blake’s latest single is an artful, soul-steeped take on the apocalypse. As the lone motorcyclist approaches what seems to be a party of sorts, she finds herself in a time warp of what seems to be the last second before certain all-inclusive death. Perhaps a message expounding the sanctity of our time on this planet, regardless it is refreshing to see such a creative take infused with science-fiction. Many circles have branded the single as lending far too much from the likes of Tom Krell (How To Dress Well), but as the adage goes, imitation is the best form of flattery. “Retrograde” takes this ambient pop formula and couples it with the most evocative soul performance of the fledgling new year. If James Blake performs this at the end of the world, I’ll surely see you there.

Despite a number of unsuccessful forays into the performing/making/selling music trench, I thought I’d have another go anyway. 1902 is comprised by myself on bass and backing vocals and two members of local heroes The Trestles filling out the rest of the line-up. Not much else I can say just yet. The EP was recorded and released 19/01/13, and frankly I figured at least a few of you would be interested.

Feedback etc welcome and ultimately I hope you just enjoy it. It is available for free download.

I’ll just come right out and say it to set the tone of this post: Quorthon is arguably the single most influential person in extreme metal. I could name at least two genres and countless bands that would not be the same – let alone even exist – had he not decided to get drunk and record Bathory’s self-titled debut in 1984. Taking thrash, speed metal, classic heavy metal, and even NWOBHM and pasting it with imagery so vivid as that of Mercyful Fate and Venom circa the early-1980’s and lyrical themes from years even before that, then mashing it all up in a mix of static, fuzz, and reverb he had essentially invented black metal. Sure, Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, and the oft-venerated Venom were around or had been recording in the same era (Celtic Frost’s Morbid Tales was recorded around the time Bathory was released and Hellhammer had been playing some very thrashy first-wave black metal since 1983, eventually to disband and become Celtic Frost), but the spirit of what black metal was to become was most definitely in the sound that Bathory developed. The genre is essentially a mangled spin-off of thrash – especially in its early days – but Bathory helped to bring it to places that would really change the game for this fledgling sound, and long after Quorthon had moved onto bigger and better things his creation flourished, for better or worse.

Rather than get into an argument over the details of the…

CityCop and Les Doux are two bands that have been making names for themselves in the post-hardcore/emo scene, each releasing a handful of material that has been very well received.  And rightfully so, as each band employs a chaotic yet cathartic brand of hardcore that draws inspiration from various acts such as Touche Amore and Pianos Become the Teeth.  While both bands differ very much in regards to their inherent sounds, teaming up for the Family Ties/Labors of Love split feels fitting.  The result is a varied, yet wholly wonderful combination of two truly talented bands.  Luckily, we have an official stream of the split for you to enjoy!

This is the start of a new series wherein I (and hopefully other staff!) will be drawing your attention to those who plow away at the furrow in our individual localities.

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Alpha Male Tea Party may compare themselves to “Elton John and sausages.” Their guitarist may possess a predilection towards dressing like a hyper-extended form of James Harries whilst on stage. Sure, their bassist may even don a pair of Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic goggles and dress up like Hulk Hogan when the time is right.

Don’t let any of this fool you. Alpha Male Tea Party are very much the real fucking deal. They combine the scope, intensity and talent of groups like Battles, Oceansize and Blakfish with the dress-sense and mad-cap divinations of Devo. For a genre and scene that can wallow in pretension, AMTP stand out with their surrealist mores; humourous song titles, unsubtle dress sense and a nod to weirder sides of life.

Having previously secured support slots with groups of the calibre of And So I Watch You From Afar, Adebisi Shank and Goonies Never Say Die, the trio have already laid waste to a number of venues in the North West of England and beyond. They also work closely in conjunction with Liverpool-based EDiLS Records, one of the fastest growing labels in the city. In spite of such a sparkling CV, the trio are still looking to broaden horizons; both their own and the audiences’.…

2013 Is The Real Apocalypse

The end of an old year and the start of a new one is perfect for musohacks to fill up space in their dog-eared magazines and laggy websites. December sees retrospectives that tend to be useless insofar as it’s stuff you and they already know. Come the new year, come a new way to fleece your audience; the BBC’s Sound of <year> collection is heavily plagiarised as writer’s pokerface us and say “Hey, we knew about this lot all along!”

What seperates Sputnik Music from the other sites is the technology available to us. For reasons best left unknown, all staff now have access to a computer that pings emails from the future. One future staff member (name not revealed so as to prevent paradox) decided to reveal the big talking points on a year ahead for us, but one already forgotten for them:

  • Captain Beefheart returns from the grave! Not content with being dead, the man also known as Don Van Vliet found out the other side just wasn’t as cool as he thought it would be. His return was heralded as one of the most shocking of all time, and his move onto the lucrative after-dinner speech circuit propelled him right into the heart of public affairs. It wasn’t to last, however. After attempting to strangle Barack Obama at a $10,000 a head White House dinner, the Captain caught fire and quickly combusted in the Oval Office. His last words? “Ah feel like battery

In March 2012, Lester Chambers (of The Chamber Brothers fame, a 1960s soul group) posted the following image to his official Facebook page:

That hit song? “Time Has Come Today”.

In fighting for an open Internet (especially in the face of threats such as SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, and so on), entrepreneurs such as Alexis Ohanian — who once upon a time co-founded reddit and created Breadpig in 2008, an organization he describes as “an uncorporation that deals in delightful geeky wares and helps people helping the world” — have decided to flex their proverbial muscle and do something about such injustices.  Upon seeing Lester’s story, Ohanian asserts that individuals around the world have an incredible opportunity to help support artists in the digital realm.

The two men met in April 2012, with Lester participating in a reddit Ask Me Anything around this time to tell his story and shed light on the corruption and tyranny of the record industry as he understood it. Lester’s story served as a catalyst to get him back in the studio to record another album.

With Breadpig, profits are disseminated to individuals and corporations that “make the world less sucky”, and the “uncorporation” spends its time “discovering and promoting fascinating technology, hacks, and ideas from all over the world” that are inspirational and impressive. Lester is now writing a new record, entitled Lester’s Time Has Come in an effort to not only rekindle his faith and trust in others’ vested interest…

Suppose you were knocked unconscious on December 31st, 2011, knowing that this would be the last time you’d see Dick Clark ring in a New Year with you:

RIP, old friend.

… and you went through all of 2012 in a 320+ day Rip Van Winkle-like coma, missing out on all that 2012 would bring with pop music, for good and for ill:

But then you miraculously wake up just to spite the Mayans or something, and decide that you need an eight-minute crash-course on 2012 Pop Music (for whatever reason).

Vancouver-based artist Daniel Kim (Facebook) strives to create such mash-ups every year.  The process is supremely labor-intensive, and he provides a brief, engaging overview of his process on his blog, The Gift of OCPD.

The mash-up is available below:

His alphabetical list of inclusions:

1. Adele – “Set Fire To The Rain”
2. Adele – “Skyfall”
3. Alex Clare – “Too Close”
4. Calvin Harris feat. Ne-Yo – “Let’s Go”
5. Carly Rae Jepson – “Call Me Maybe”
6. Cher Lloyd – “Want U Back”
7. Chris Brown – “Don’t Wake Me Up”
8. Chris Brown – “Turn Up The Music”
9. Christina Aguilera – “Your Body”
10. David Guetta feat. Chris Brown & Lil Wayne – “I Can Only Imagine”
11. David Guetta…

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