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
SputnikMusic’s Most Played Artists of the Week (according to Last.FM):
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…
Sputnik’s Q2 Mixtape
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.
This issue’s contributors are as follows:
Daughter – “Youth”
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.
from the album If You Leave
Cheyenne Mize – “Among the Grey”
Written during a time of “harrowing self-doubt”, Cheyenne Marie Mize commented that the vast majority of one’s life is not composed
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)
SputnikMusic’s Most Played Artists of the Week (according to Last.FM):
1. Run The Jewels
1. Run The Jewels
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)
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!
This issue’s contributors are as follows:
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.
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.