20
Dec
14

Top 3 EPs of ’14 In No Order…

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Perhaps it’s the inability to focus on much for long. Or maybe I only have limited patience for a whole record before wanting to aurally ingest another vibe. Regardless, the EP is a preferred format. Many of my favorite extended plays have been introductions to acts. A sampler — or a track or two — can only go so far. If the act hits hard, I want more. The EP gives you enough to not tire of that artist before a proper full length is released. The material that the EP provides, especially those artists who may be debuting themselves on record, aren’t providing you with filler — sometimes the debut EP is the best thing the band ever does. It’s 4-6 tracks that don’t stop. What’s below are two absolute favorite artists in EP format and a newcomer to me.

Matt Mahaffey of one man jam fame sElf has been teasing us with “Super Fake Nice” for a minute. It ended up being an EP, one six songs long and housing five new ones. Rewind 14 years ago, and Gizmodgery and its toys took over my speakers. Now in 2014, I have an official sElf release to monopolize my ears. From the opener, “Runaway”, with its smile inducing melody and shoulder shake inducing bounce, to the closer, “Splitting Atoms”, with its SPM-era fuzz and driving guitars, lies six classical sElf numbers bristling with Matt’s recipe for my aural satiety. His fusion of 80s beats and rhymes, an adulation for Prince, sugary pop sensibilities, and a 19 year old solid track record make Super Fake Nice an automatic go-to for 2014.

A debut EP from one of the most trusted names in my musical catalog. Blake Smith, a co-creator of Chicago staples Fig Dish, Caviar, and the Prairie Cartel, has unveiled his latest concoction: Forgotten Species. The Hades Fades EP is self-described “noise-pop”. A barrage of distorted cacophony care of ear plug inducing guitars is laced throughout the five tracks, sure. But interwoven amongst the fuzz and Brit influences are pure pop songs, ones that Blake has been writing for two decades. It’s not that he has a formula that he’s repeated with four previous acts, it’s the man knows how to construct songs that matter. Tracks I’ve been repeating since ’95. One part wit and charm through well penned lyricism; two parts rock; one part Chicago hustle.

Soulful house, music that the right church, one that wants to lose themselves in celestial, gospel-like lyrical patterns could embrace, if their pews were sturdy enough. Tourist, a London-based DJ/producer welcomed himself into my speakers this year. Four tracks, all pulsating with an eruption of beats as a foundation as minimalist yet powerful vocals evoking a better tomorrow drive me into one of the most played EPs of 2014.

 

 

 

 

30
Nov
14

The Essential Shuffle…

Streaming is convenient. The cloud has a lot to offer someone who’s about the music. Things are different now. I no longer have all my music on a hard drive and can randomly hear unrelated track after unrelated track. The surprise factor has disappeared. No longer am I telling myself how great of a track that is; now when I listen, I know what to expect. I’m the curator of my listening habits.

I broke out my old laptop with 10,000 plus tracks. I hit shuffle. It reacquainted me with tracks from yesterday. Ones that weren’t worthy of being forgotten but got lost in the transition from digital files to streaming content. Below is a five track sample of tracks from another era. A time period not too long ago. Songs that I used to bump louder than today’s blast level. Due to them not being conveniently located in the cloud, simply disappeared from my conscious. Someone’s not going to dig it, but there is going to be an old, tank-like laptop that’s going to be permanently housed on the shelf. Why? Shuffle.

Hood Internet :: Burn It Again

Felix Da Housecat w/ James Murphy :: What She Wants

Earlimart ::Everybody Knows Everybody (Such a smart pick as an album of the year)

Fluid Ounces :: She Blinded Me With Science

Thieves Like Us :: Drugs In My Body (long version)

26
Nov
14

Local H Wants You to Join Them In the Studio, kinda…

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How many of your favorite acts are still gettin’ after it? They still stepping on stage and giving their all? Consistently churning out new, quality music for you to enjoy? Local H, Chicago’s hardest working act, is back at it again. The duo is stepping into the studio to create their 8th full length record. But this time, they want to make it interactive — giving us a chance to experience their chemistry and output as they progress through the record. Using Pledge Music, Scott and Ryan are offering this unique experience:

 

And this time we want you to join us. Be there when we start recording on December 3rd at Electrical Audio and Million Yen Studios right here in Chicago. You’ll get exclusive access to the entire process with updates from the studio, rough mixes, and whatever else may happen.

Depending on what you pledge/donate, Local H is offering unique incentives. My girl doesn’t know it yet, but she’s going to absolutely love the used and sweaty Batman and Robin costume my $400 pledge just bought us. Check your options…

http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/localh

 

We live in a time where this opportunity exists. According to Steve Albini, the man behind Electrical Audio studios, the music industry is in a great place. If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to read his current thoughts on why this is a great time to be involved in any facet of the industry:

Steve Albini on the surprisingly sturdy state of the music industry

14
Sep
14

Ask Matt (Mahaffey) Anything…

A lot has transpired in the world of sElf since this blog has surfaced for air. An official release took place entitled, Super Fake Nice. The first commercial EP or LP since 2000, actually. 14 years post Gizmodgery, we can support sElf monetarily. Hell, there is official merchandise available, too. For awhile, there weren’t many sources toting sElf and Matt Mahaffey on the web — now, I’m not one of the only ones boasting of his musical ingenuity. In fact, it’s almost a challenge to keep up with all the sources now telling you to tell your friends of this wonderful sElf product.

A basic attempt to share a few sElf links:

Matt Mahaffey did an AMA on Reddit.

I could read this material for days:

[–]Tgg161 8 points 18 days ago

Was there a real marathon shirt and what happened to it?

[–]mattmahaffey[S] 16 points 18 days ago

Yes it was a Tracker Trucks Shirt and it had Tony Hawks autograph on it, to which he wrote “To Matt, Blaze.”


National TV over the past 10 years has stepped up their game musically. Jimmy Kimmel continues this new tradition as sElf make their national TV debut on his show:

Runaway

Lucid Anne


Matt does “Runaway”, “Microchip Girl” and “Mother Nature’s Fault” acoustically care of Yahoo!


Alternative Press interviews Matt.

 

15
Aug
14

Harvey Danger Seeing Much Deserved Press…

 

How many so called one hit wonders have an entire catalog of brilliance? Seattle’s Harvey Danger were simply unlucky. Their ’97 debut, Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?, had yes, “Flagpole Sitta”, an undeniably catchy slice of chaotic power pop; but the album from start to finish was just as strong as the song that was hard to avoid in the late 90s.

Sean Nelson, the lead singer/song-writer, of Harvey Danger provides some introspection on their ill-fated one hit wonder label and what it’s like to see their debut record re-issued on wax.

It’s Complicated: Sean Nelson & Harvey Danger

A look at 9 bands of the 90s who were capable of being one of your favorite bands – and definitely still could be due to their brilliant output. Care of Brooklyn Vegan, 9 of the best ’90s bands you didn’t think were the best ’90s bands and the awesome stuff they’re doing now. Note: I’d slightly revise this list. But numerous bands have had more than a nod or two on this site.

30
May
14

Scandinavia’s Monument…

Music collaboration is no different from the dating world. You either have chemistry and create unforgettable experiences, or you two simply aren’t meant to be. The only unforgettable experience you’re penning is a story to tell your friends about how awful she was. The formidable duo of Svein and Torbjørn have paired with Sweden’s pop-songstress Robyn to bring more of that chemistry they unveiled years back. On ‘The Girl and the Robot’, the duo planted a charging electro pulse as Robyn attacked vocally. The formula of one part Royksopp and one part Robyn wielding their musical prowess was a match. On 2010’s ‘Body Talk’ record, ‘None of Dem’ pounds harder as the beat pulses seismically and Robyn ferociously wails. 2-2 on the collaboration tip. We knew it, as did they.

What this Scandinavian powerhouse has birthed is a sweeping 5 track EP. A most excellent collaboration within the realm of ‘Royksopp Forever’ and ‘Dancing On My Own’. And a ragin’ Speak & Spell guttural banger, too.

Thanks to The Creators Project, we have a sit down with this dreamy team as the trio talk us through ‘Do It Again’.

 

17
May
14

Lou Reed’s “Dirty Boulevard” Reinterpreted…

Take a song and make it your own. Simply, put your twist on it; maybe that’s a restructure, a whole new vocal delivery, extending the composition, etc. Leave it up to Ontario’s Hawksley Workman to produce an exemplary model of what a cover can sound/look like. This time, Hawksley is putting his spin on the literary rocker Lou Reed’s “Dirty Boulevard” off the ‘New York’ LP.

 




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