November 19, 2009

Quickie: New Vampire Weekend

(Awesome new cover for equally awesome new single, "Cousins")

Been a busy week, but look for a slew of new posts next week as I will be blogging from sunny Florida.

Vampire Weekend exploded onto the blogsphere and then the mainstream with their excellent and commercially successful self-titled debut. Influenced heavily by Paul Simon ripping afro-pop, Vampire Weekend make their Graceland. Now these Columbia University alums are dropping their sophomore album, Contra, on 1/12. After a leak of the song "Horchata" I was a bit concerned about a sophomore slump - it had some of the charm of the last offering, but less of it (the classic symptom of most sophomore outings). But first single, "Cousins" (video below) brings this right back near the top of my list of anticipated 2010 albums. "Cousins" is bursting with energy as much influenced by Paul Simon as The Clash. Vampire Weekend showed some inclinations for punk music on the aptly titled "A-punk", but this track blows that one out of the water (and A-punk was one of my favorites on the first album). Lots to be excited about here! Check it out:


November 10, 2009

Everything You Need to Know About (EYNTKA): Spoon

It is like Wikipedia, if Wikipedia was only concerned about you sounding cool.

(Britt Daniel, front left, and Jim Eno, front right, of Spoon)

Exciting News: Spoon are coming out with their seventh LP, Transference, due January 26th 2010! They dropped one of the songs off the album as a single a few months back called Got Nuffin'. (Fun fact: They enjoy misspellings - you can see them all over their song titles) Check out the song: LINK (Also on the upper right in the lala playlist)

Background: Spoon is one of the defining bands of the 00s. They formed in Austin, Texas and are considered a huge influence on the bands coming out of that exciting music city. While technically, Britt Daniel and his right hand man, Jim Eno, started the band back in 1993 and had released two full LPs and a slew of EPs in the 90s, it was the 00s that saw their distinctive sound take full form. They have had some rotating backing members, but the current other players include Rob Pope on bass and Eric Harvey on keyboard.

The Sound: Their brilliance like so many of the great bands before them from the Beatles to Nirvana is quite simple. There is little technical wizardry - it is simple guitar, piano, drums and bass. The brilliance is in their interplay - the layering of the instrumentation, the classical music like movements and the continued variations always in touch with the song as a whole. They are like the Beta Band meets Gang of Four. They are punks working within the pop construct, but just barely.

Hipster Talking Point: Is Spoon referred to so often as underrated that they are in fact overrated? Obnoxious hipster response: "Once they started showing up in the Billboard Top 10 and playing SNL I was through." Correct answer: Either (a) bitch slap (b) rolling eyes and walking away or (c) "Each of their 4 albums released this decade is front to back loaded with hits of pop, rock and experimentalism gelling like late 60s Beatles or Stones. This is rock n' roll at its finest. Only when your mom knows about these guys are they overrated" (Sorry Mom).

Key Albums / Song Highlights / Cliff Notes Description:
Note: All of the songs mentioned can be listened to on the lala player in the upper right - check them out.

A Series of Sneaks (1998) - "Car Radio" - More experimental, less polish. Missing that production sheen. Still ripping a bit from the Pixies.
Girls Can Tell (2001) - "The Fitted Shirt" - They begin to strip down their sound, beginning their minimalist approach, production is much tigher and refined.
Kill The Moonlight (2002) - "The Way We Get By", "Stay Don't Go", "Vittorio E", EVERY SONG - this is their magnum opus, no doubt. Stripped down rock n' roll perfection. One of my favorite albums of all-time.
Gimme Fiction (2005) - "I Turn My Camera On" (Personal favorite song of theirs - can't describe how utterly brilliant this song is. This is as if Prince and the Stones got together and put out a song better than anything either of those groups had ever done) - To follow-up Kill The Moonlight with this is incredibly impressive. This album is more sonically rich and diverse, but less focused. Other highlight is "My Mathematical Mind".
Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007) - "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb", "Finer Feelings" - This album sees Spoon more focused, back to more minimalist instrumentation, but more experimental than Kill The Moonlight. Some consider this to be on par with Kill The Moonlight (and it is damn close).
Transference (2010) - Can't wait!

Rarities & Covers: For those all ready attuned to Spoon's brilliance and looking for some more, here are a bunch of rarities and some videos of the new albums tunes played live. LINK


November 2, 2009

New Spins: Notorious + Miley, MJ, Chromeo, Shwayze & MORE

Only the best remixes, mashups and reimaginings of other tracks. Remixes are basically the hipster excuse to listen to pop music without having to fully admit to likely the underlying pop song.

Notorious B.I.G & Miley Cyrus - Party And Bullshit In the USA (Hathbanger Mash-up Remix) - This is the best mashup I have heard this side of Girl Talk and old-school Danger Mouse. It has been blowing up all over the blogsphere and for good reason. Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" is absolute pop candy and it serves as a perfect backdrop to Biggie's flow. A must on any party mix of the moment. LINK

Michael Jackson - Thriller (Discotech Remix) - Anytime you hear "Discotech" at the beginning of a remix you know you are in good hands. He has been the most consistent producer of party remixes as of late and this is no exception. Outside of adding some jamming synths in the beginning, it is pretty true to MJ. For the most part any remix of MJ should mainly just let him be MJ. LINK (You can peruse a bunch of other interesting Thriller remixes here as well)

Chromeo - Night By Night - This one is the original version and its on here because it is by far the best mix out there and these guys are DJ / producers so I think they deserve a shot to make the best mix of their own song. This song could be a lost track from Daft Punk's Discovery (in other words it is amazing). LINK
Shwayze - Get U Home (Alan Wilkis Remix) - Alan already put out my favorite Phoenix remix of the year (his spin on the great "1901"). His take on Shwayze is blowing up right now and is just an all-out banger. Great the chorus - just epic. LINK

Ellie Goulding - Starry Eyed (Jakwob Remix) - It seems like a new electro-pop golden girl comes out of Britain every week (see: Little Boots, La Roux, etc. in my previous New Spins post: HERE) and they are all so damn good. Layered vocals, breakbeats...need I say more LINK