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!
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
I’m beginning to think that I have some sort of affinity with bands from Louisiana. Just two years ago, I awarded my album of the year to little known indie-pop outfit Givers and their debut LP ‘In Light’. While that feat won’t be achieved in 2013 by the quintet I’m about to introduce you to, The Pelican State has once more delivered a band that has been on high rotation on my playlist of late.
Having initially caught my attention with one of those gimmicky self-proclaimed genres, Super Water Sympathy walk the talk on their second LP ‘Hydrogen Child’. The aforementioned self-labeling is that of “water pop”, but one gets the feeling that the term has only been created because it sounds better than “alternative indie pop-rock”.
Below is ‘Uh Oh!’; the lead single and album opener from ‘Hydrogen Child’. A bouncy and deceptively catchy tune where each instrument gets a chance to shine without dominating proceedings, it provides the framework for the eleven tracks which follow.
Double Disco Animal Style has completely taken me by surprise. Practically unknown Paris-based Loading Data teamed up with renowned producer Alain Johannes only to churn out one of the most distinctive desert rock releases of the last couple of years. It’s supremely produced, groove-laden heavy rock that just reeks of unadulterated fun. That’s why, I’ve seized the opportunity to interview the mastermind of the band, Patrón.
For SputnikMusic users who’ve never heard of Loading Data, how would you describe your style?
It’s definitely rock. It’s groovy. It’s sexy. It’s dark at times, much lighter at others. Heavy riffs, catchy riffs, melodies. I insist on melodies. We’ve always been too heavy for a pop audience, and too pop for metalheads. Our sound is heavy but we have melodies. Nothing symphonic, just good old melodies like The Beach Boys or The Beatles who knew how to write them. I regret that in this musical genre a lot of people forget how important melody is. Headbanging to heavy riffs is fine, and you can do it to some of our songs, but being able to whistle tunes is what I go for.
I’d love to hoist up this type of music out of the stereotypes of the genre. I’d love to have a sexy crowd, well groomed, not just metalheads and hardrockers. We should give out tuxedos and three piece suits at the entrance of our shows, and have free hairdressers as well. …
“I feel like I’m going to go home and throw up a sandbox for my small child,” Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis cracked near the beginning of his band’s closing set Sunday night. At this point the sand was less of a nuisance and more an actual hazard, whipping up into your eyes, your mouth, your nose, your ears – my friend remarked that he entered Coachella as one race and came out another. The standard festival uniform transformed from baring as much skin as possible with an emphasis on neon colors to shutting everything off with anything at hand, turning a legion of fans into balaclava-wearing music terrorists. The gum I had been gnawing on for hours grew suspiciously in size as tiny particles added a bit of extra crunch to my mouth feel. The storm buffeted the main stage, whipsawing the sound across the festival grounds and turning Peppers mainstays like “Dani California” and “Can’t Stop” into warped contortions of themselves, as if the sound guy had had a bad case of epilepsy among the fade and balance dials. It wasn’t a great loss – as far as headliners go, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the same-old-same-old, playing a strangely subdued set of hits and new songs that never really latched onto anyone. Sure, they were good – the rhythm…
For the first time in my years attending Coachella – whether it’s because Sputnik is finally ascending to the big leagues or the organizers were annoyed at my yearly badgering – I was granted a media pass. This is not as cool as it initially sounds – i.e., I can’t go backstage or to the VIP and do coke with Pusha T, nor can I flash my bracelet at security and bypass the huddled masses at the general admission lines. I can, however, acquire free water and fruit bars (shout out to Fruttare! your strawberry rules) at the media area, as well as use bathrooms that aren’t piled high with MDMA shits and don’t stink (quite as bad). I also got to go backstage at the Do LaB and see just how that party of water guns, painted dancers and endless, twitchy bass functions from noon to midnight, as well as check out the VJ booth at the Sahara tent, an island of sanity and artwork amidst a sea of shirtless, sweaty ravers. It’s where the VJ (video jockey) and his team work out the 3D video mapping visuals for the DJs who perform, where light shows are as integral a part of someone’s set as the music is. It’s also where women in high heels lay out on the couch and guys sip Heineken self-importantly – at Coachella, your power and coolness directly correlates with how many…
So four years and four Coachellas later for me, and you’d think the desert festival had lost the capacity to surprise. Indeed, the checklist for a Coachella Weekend goes something like this: Up-and-coming indie band makes good on their promise via rousing early afternoon set that ensures double the audience for next weekend; sunburns will be accrued at melanoma-threatening rates; sound problems will invariably affect what could have been an amazing set; the unholy signature dish that is Garlic Crab Fries will simultaneously thrill and torpedo my digestive system; the weather will turn on you; a band I never would have predicted beforehand will become my favorite set; the shadow of Daft Punk will hang heavy over the entire weekend, regardless of the fact that most of the attendant rumors come from neon-tank-adorned bros who first heard of the French duo after “Stronger” introduced the pair to a whole new audience of college-age Natty Ice fans. And on and on it goes.
So, to get it out of the way – no, Daft Punk didn’t play. This despite many a false sighting, including a literal stampede to the Gobi tent after a trailer played before TNGHT’s set, the same teaser that later played before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’main stage gig. There were no big surprises for the weekend – no offense to Phoenix, who killed it, but no one has been surprised by anything R.…
In the baking heat of Coachella, which begins this upcoming weekend at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA, there’s only two places to escape the 100-degree+ heat: the green-lit, hypnotic techno Heineken dome where the titular drink and light show assaults your senses and your taste buds in exchange for glorious, glorious air conditioning and relentless doses of tech house; or the Do LaB, a pop-up piece of performance art and a potpourri of oddball electronic artists that this year includes Gaslamp Killer, Andreilien, Kaminanda, G Jones and a number of others that would likely be more comfortable at Low End Theory than out in the middle of the desert leading half-clothed festivalgoers with eyes the size of quarters into fevered worship of the bass. The music is only half the fun at the Do LaB, though; the essential piece is the water cannons that see almost constant use, drenching the audience and any other passerby who might stop fora second to see the wildly costumed dancers that roam the stage.
It’s an interesting experience, and more importantly a refreshing one, both physically and musically – most of the artists at the Do LaB are mostly unknown to the average attendee. It’s also a preview for one of southern California’s more criminally under-looked festivals in the summertime. Lightning in…
Devo’s first LP, 1978’s Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo is a chopping board of insane ideas that somehow work. Underneath the madcap dress code, jerky rhythms and daft subject matters lies a dark heart. ‘Space Junk’, once its lyrics are studied, is something of a post-apocalyptic fever dream; the world is laid to waste by falling cosmic debris. Poor Sally…she never stood a chance.
Well she was walking all alone
Down the street in the alley
Her name was Sally
I never touched her, she never saw it
When she was hit by space junk
When she was hit by space junk
When she was hit by space junk
“In New York, Miami beach
Heavy metal fell in Cuba
On Christmas eve”, said Norad
A soviet sputnik hit Africa
It’s falling fast
It keeps coming, it keeps coming, it keeps coming
And now I’m mad about space junk
I’m all burned out about space junk
Walk and talk about space junk
It smashed my baby’s head, space junk
And now my sally’s dead, space junk
The Twin Towers @LIVE music festivals have been an integral part of the Formula One race weekend in Kuala Lumpur for the past few years. While the Sepang International Circuit at the edge of the city is undoubtedly where the bulk of the action tends to take place, the festivals have also played an important role as a much-welcomed conduit between the excitement generated by playing host to one of modern motorsports’ premier events and the city’s general populace. Last year’s edition of Twin Towers @LIVE saw former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, along with Kelis (of “Milkshake” fame), and K-Pop outfit SNSD paint the town purple, while the debut iteration of the festival back in 2011 featured American rock band Hoobastank as headliners, with support provided by local acts Yuna, The Azenders, and rapper Joe Flizzow.
The most unusual feature of Twin Towers @LIVE is immediately evident in its name: the music festival is held at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers, the interconnected double megaliths of concrete and steel which are arguably Malaysia’s most recognizable architectural feature:
The Petronas Twin Towers
Admission to Twin Towers @LIVE is free, but a small amount of “Fanzone” passes are distributed to the general public – typically in association with the purchase of Petronas Motorsports merchandise and promotional events. Admission to the Fanzone provides festival-goers a direct and more intimate view of the weekend’s proceedings.
“Go big or go home” is the maxim that the Western Canadian band KEN mode apply. Their fifth album Entrench (out this week on Season Of Mist) continues the evolution of their unique fusion of ferocious noise rock, tense hardcore punk, and boisterous sludge metal. In support of that release, the trio is currently on intensive tour across the US and Canada delivering one formidable show after another. Luckily, amid all the fuss around the band the guitarist and singer Jesse Matthewson found a moment to answer my questions.
1 – KEN mode is a rather controversial name. What inspired you to name your band like that? Why do you think it fits your style so well?
KEN mode is a tag line that Henry Rollins used to name the psychological state of mind that Black Flag was in while touring for the My War album. They’d been tied up by legal battles with a major for several years and were unable to release the album, and thus to properly tour (being that touring gets stale with no new music to sell). They were finally free again, had a new record, and were taking the stage with a ferocity HOUR dubbed “Kill Everyone Now mode” as that was their agenda. They were in KEN mode all the time.
We tend to approach the band in a similar way, and I’ve even taken it that step further to have the phrase relate to a way that…
In ‘My Childhood Friend’, Swedish post rockers Dorena have offered up one of the best surprises of the year so far. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I won’t. Just give it a listen. For a genre that’s been criticized in recent years for becoming too stale and predictable, this is a much welcome blast of fresh air.
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…
Okay, so is it just me or is R&B getting, like, too good lately? 2011 saw The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Drake and others, but those were the “cool” artists who were primed, in a way, to release some deliciously trendy beats and hooks with the latest producer close behind them. But look at 2012: Miguel, always a fantastic singer but never a captivating artist, had both the catchiest single and corresponding album in “Adorn” and Kaleidoscope Dream, respectively. Then there’s Jeremih, the dude who wrote, uh, “Birthday Sex”–he showed up with his Late Nights mixtape, a mainstay in the car-playlist rotation for those lucky enough to have sought it out on Datpiff.
Now we have Ciara, of all people, releasing the jam of at least the first quarter of the year. I don’t even really know who Ciara is–I had to YouTube “1, 2 Step” to remember its melody–but this has to be the last straw. Produced by Mike Will Made It (who also took the reins on Jeremih’s similarly awesome “773 Love”), “Body Party” is so convincingly sexy and catchy and lush that I’m pretty sure all R&B artists are forming a cabal and want to demobilize me with an onslaught of jams or something like that (also: that new Justin Timberlake album). It’s a conspiracy, guys. But what a sexy conspiracy it is.
The other day someone asked me if I’m familiar with Clutch, and I was like: HAHAHA. Here’s their new song from their upcoming album Earth Rocker which is set to be released on March 19th. “Crucial Velocity” juxtaposes darkly tinged riffs with sing-along chorus and, most of all, it grooves like hell. The futuristic themes known from the outfit’s previous albums come back in full force. Neil Fallon is all about his “rocket 88″ that’s “fastest in the land” making a nice allegory to the great power of imagination. “Unpredictable times call for the reliable friend” after all.