Here at sputnikmusic.com, we have a whole crap-load of users who have yet to write a review. It’s not necessarily in my job description as a staff writer to notice things like that, but then again it’s not my job to stare at the leggy photographs in the liner notes for Joanna Newsom’s Have One On Me for hours on end either, which is what my day generally consists of. Some of these users are fairly established, with a few hundred comments or so. It’s clear they’ve read plenty of reviews and would theoretically be able to accurately reconstruct one of them in their own unique voice, so why haven’t they? And then it hit me:
I haven’t written a how-to guide yet.
this guy looks familiar
I have been on this site for far too long now. I won’t say how long exactly but I will hint that it may or may not be more than four years. As such, I’ve watched reviewing trends come and go out of style like all those articles of clothing in the American Apparel ads (or maybe they’re cool because they’re out of style? Are they post-out of style?? What sort of man wears a scarf in the summer anyway?). Back when I first joined the site, people were still writing track-by-track reviews and at that point I think there were still only 175 or so Pokemon. Things were simpler back then. There was a basic reviewing progression…
We’re all just too geographically, musically, and culturally disparate for it to ever happen, but if Sputnik actually did have an office, The Tallest Man on Earth would be hogging our stereo pretty badly right now. Even as early as April, The Wild Hunt looks like a shoe-in for our year-end top 5, with no less than 10 members of staff already giving at least 4 stars.
The early favourites seem to be “King of Spain” and “Kids on the Run”, but for my money, the album’s highlight is the tortured “You’re Going Back”. Rather than the obvious reference points of Devendra and Dylan, this vaguely unhinged, end-of-tether melody recalls the best of Tusk-era Lindsey Buckingham, in the way it suggests that the writer has an unwavering belief in love even as it tears their mind apart.
The sun and the moon, and even Mars
The Milky Way and fucking shooting stars
UFOs, a river flows
Plant a little seed and nature grows
Niagara Falls and the pyramids
Everything you believed in as kids
Fucking rainbows after it rains
there’s enough miracles here to blow your brains
I fed a fish to a pelican at Frisco bay
It tried to eat my cell phone, he ran away
And music is magic, pure and clean
You can feel it and hear it but it can’t be seen
Taken from their latest two-track EP, Tastes Like Magic, Three Red Birds showcases mr. Gnome’s most appealing characteritsic; their gorgeous handling of the masculine vs the feminine. While this would make sense, seeing as this is a male/female duo, the actual execution of the theme is impressive. Sludgy, aggressive guitars sparring with the haunting, delicate vocals of Nicole Barille make for an immediately engaging listen that should have you rifling through the rest of their discography. Kinda like a heavy Land of Talk, sans the boring.
At a recent production (recent being circa 1995), permatanned paddywhacker Michael Flatley and his Riverdance crew performed an impromptu tap routine to the tune of Adebisi Shank’s 2008 smash ‘Snakehips.’
When asked to comment on the performance, Flatley was unresponsive, lending credence to rumours that his face may, in fact, be constructed entirely of wax.
So the sun finally came (and stayed) out today, meaning it is officially time for sick summer mix tapes. What’s that, it’s only April? This is England. Got sun? Got shorts? Got temperatures above 20 degrees celsius? Got summer. Besides, Buddy Peace deserves to be heard by everyone, at all times of the year – anyone who can make MF Doom seem right at home in Jose Gonzalez’ IKEA kitchen is clearly doing something right. So dig out that SPF factor 50, whack on them sunnies, and enjoy the scorchingly mild heat to the tune of one of the best mix tapes of the last decade in Wolf Diesel Mountain. The track below is a minimix of that album, with a few extra bits thrown in for good measure.
Starkey is a Philadelphia producer who is releasing his second full-length LP, Ear Drums and Black Holes, on April 19 with Planet Mu Records. Starkey’s bouncy, major-key sound is a bit out of place on the usually abstract Planet Mu, but the convoluted details in his production and the active, heavy beats fit in nicely. The two tracks below represent the two distant poles of Starkey’s sound. “OK Luv” is ever-changing and throbbing like any good club banger, whereas “Stars” is introspective and sidereal, which works well with Anneka’s guest vocals. Make sure you also check out the Lala sidebar because I’ve uploaded an alternate version of “OK Luv.”
Starkey – “OK Luv”
There is a curious phenomenon that I’ve only come across a few times in my music listening history. Think about an album that you’ve been listening to for a few years or more, an album so familiar that you wouldn’t be able to begin to count how many times you’ve heard it. Now, think about the last time you listened to that particular album. Did you really listen to it, or did it simply wash over you? I’m not implying that you didn’t enjoy it, but you probably feel like you’ve heard all there is to hear, you’ve felt all there is to feel. The music is well worn and well loved, but you regret that you can’t regain the way you felt when you first heard the album.
Every now and then though, I listen to a song that I’ve heard hundreds of times, only it feels like the first time again. It’s similar to the feeling you get when you put on a record you love but haven’t heard in awhile. Something you grew tired of a few months ago and haven’t thought about until now. That’s a great feeling, but it’s the same as when you jump back into a pool after adult swim is over. The air is cold, the breeze sharp, but the water welcomes you when the whistle blows. Very common. The one I’m describing is much rarer and deeper.
Specifically, I was listening to blink-182’s self-titled album. This is an album that I’ve…
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t attracted in the least bit to Best Coast because of their music. This isn’t because their music is bad, of course (well, it mostly isn’t) – “The Road”, found on the band’s Something in the Way EP, is one of the best songs of this young year. But what intrigued me was that Bethany Cosentino, the muscle behind the project, was also affiliated with a Cali band called Pocahaunted, which is a totally psychotic psych-folk band that doesn’t sound like it should have any associations with something as phosphorescent as a band like Best Coast. Questions brewed in my mind: why would someone like Cosentino want to take part in a lo-fi, unapologetically trendy project like this? For fleeting recognition from bloggers? (She succeeded in that regard.) Or, perhaps, and this is what I believe to be the case, Cosentino got hung-up in the confines of Pocahaunted, a band so experimental that doing something more traditional would seem like a cop-out. Thus, a new moniker, and a new beginning from those who don’t discover your music through means that involve your former band, was born.
It won’t surprise me, however, if Cosentino totally defies her past allegiances; “The Road” is a step towards doing so. While “Something in the Way” and “Wish He Was You” were sunshiney to the point of being vexatious, “The Road” is immediately a different beast: its opening riff is hard and instant, and propels the rest of the song…
For those of you who haven’t checked out one of Japan’s most endearing songwriters (and why haven’t you??), now is certainly as good a time as any to seek out Shugo Tokumaru who, for this lowly critic’s money, released one of last decade’s strongest pop collections. Shugo is gearing up to release his fourth album, Port Entropy, in Japan on April 21, three years after Exit’s sugar rush. Based on the new video below, we are in for some more indelible, colorful, very foreign folk music. No news yet on release dates around the world, but that shouldn’t stop you from eating up the rest of this man’s discography. It is weird and humble in a very, very good way.
Last month, Pantha Du Prince released “Stick to My Side”, a collaboration with Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) of Animal Collective, as a single. The song comes from his superb February release Black Noise. With the single came five remixes, two of which are posted here. The former is a Four Tet remix, which brings the song closer to a dancefloor jam a la “Love Cry” with enhanced bass and synths. The second takes a completely different spin on the song and makes it more of an Explosions in the Sky cum Toro y Moi affair, emphasizing the hidden guitar riff in the song and altering Panda Bear’s vocals with heavy delay and modulation. Both are excellent interpretations of an already great song.
Thera is a 5-piece band out of Alaska. Their core sound could most generically be described as alternative or emo, but there’s more to it than that. Thanks in large part to the vocals of Stephanie Plate, the band’s music takes on an epic feel despite the short duration of the songs. Her voice is very unique and capably conveys the raw emotion of her lyrics. Musically the band creates pieces that can move from uplifting highs to crushing lows within the span of a single song. I know it’s still early, but this may very well be one of my top 3 albums of 2010.
– The Aftermath
– The Downpour
– Don’t Hesitate
Blame it on my peers (who have been a bit slow to this new genre reveal), but dubstep has been infecting the air lately. Spreading to this disease is former Seattle-based producer Deceptikon (Zack Wright), whose latest release Mythology of the Metropolis has dropped the womp-womp kick right into his chill electronic work. The result is nod-worthy tracks like Mythology’s propulsive opener, “Tokyo Burning,” which shows just how far dubstep has come at creating a legitimate and uniform sound, and how artists like Deceptikon are splaying it across their own influences. “Tokyo Burning” even bangs a bit like old school hip-hop, flopping seamlessly between a woodpecker beat and a two-step jig worthy of the illest Biggie verse never recorded. Makes one wonder what might happen if Flying Lotus decided dubstep was his thing.
Mythology of the Metropolis was released March 16 on Daly City Records
Eyes Set to Kill have always occupied a weird niche that left people a lot of room to dislike (or dismiss) their style of music. It was always too poppy for the metal crowd (and having a female vocalist never helped), but it was always too heavy for the mainstream rock fans (mainly due to the screams). With the release of the band’s first single “All You Ever Knew” from their upcoming album Broken Frames it’s not certain whether or not they’ll be able to break from that niche, but they’re definitely trying. This track is more powerful than anything the band has ever done before. The screams are finally not a hinderance (as they’ve been pretty poor on every other album), and even Alexia Rodriguez has stepped up her vocal performance. Behind them is music that finally has more in common with metal than the pop of the past. Listen and judge for yourself. The album comes out on June 8th through BreakSilence Records.
Read an interview with Alexia Rodriquez about the new single at RevolverMag.com.