The iPod is no more. You and all your friends stream music. There is no more peering into someone’s soul by picking up their iPod or music specific device to see what aurally pleases them. The next best thing in 2015, the playlist. Right? Prince’s protege, Matt Mahaffey, or the music impresario behind sElf, has curated a happiness playlist. It’s 27 tracks deep and contains safe, Mahaffey-like picks like Beck’s “Hollywood Freaks” and Prince’s “17 Days” –remember this? But keeps us guessing by including hair metal meets AC/DC “Shake Me” by Cinderella and none other than Fatlip with his Knight Rider inspired “Cook” track.
The hardest working duo in the game, Local H, are unleashing their 8th LP in April, Hey Killer. Through their Pledge Music campaign, we’ve been sprinkled with a song here or there; snippets are rather appetizing and keep up the anticipation. The public can now take in their hard hitting “The Misanthrope”. Not one hint of Scott slowing down, and their new drummer, Ryan, hits harder than your mom after you failed her again.
My collection is lacking in dance music. What that genre even means today is beyond me. At one point, it was electronic based exclusive. A pulsating beat and sharp, shimmery synths was an automatic gravitation for me. Operators, Dan Boeckner’s latest musical offering from his prolific band creating ability, has birthed a dark acidic house banger, “Ecstasy In My House”, that screams at you to either move, or simply reach for the repeat button. Shit, around here, it’s been both.
It hits you with its arpeggio charge, seeps inside of you, and is a duration that lets you find your groove and roll with it. The rumor is that when this quartet graces the stage, the sounds that are emitted from their instruments take control of the listener and cause people to make babies. Twitter hasn’t failed me yet, so realistically, I want to believe this. This is shaping up to be Dan’s best project since Divine Fits — that was his last. He’s that good….
I did that goofy year in review via Spotify and it wasn’t too telling of what I really was spinning last year. Or maybe I’m simply hiding something? Regardless, it did speak to one of the records I spun more frequently than others. One outta 1996. Shit, maybe it’s time to admit I’m stuck in the past. Like you, I don’t take to change oh so much. 19 years later, it’s Failure’s Fantastic Planet that won’t leave my head, or obviously my speakers. A top 20 record without a doubt…
Via their FB, Failure has confirmed they’re prepping a new record, and it leads me to believe we’ll see its release by the close of this year. New material in record format excites me; though what makes me really psyched about this news is the inevitable tour. Their loud, crushing sound translate excellent live as they use their guitars as weapons of destruction.
Something historic takes place and no matter how profound it is in the moment, its true effects aren’t known till later. Two decades might begin to show how that historical moment influenced today. Rage Against the Machine set a new standard for genre defying. It’s the early 90s and heavy metal has subsided; Kriss Kross, regardless what you’ll admit to, was making you jump; nu-r&B practically ruled the charts, and Sir Mix-A-Lot was pushing boundaries. On the brink of the Nirvana era, a young Los Angeles band breaks through any genre labeling anyone wants to place on them by blending rock, mind altering guitar solos, heavy metal riffs, and an MC activist with lethal verbal delivery. It hits hard. And in a whole new way that was new to most. As we move into ’92…
A gem of a find lies below. Rage Against the Machine destroy the stage of the LA-based Pitzer College back in ’92. Carve out 36 minutes of your day, attach this live performance to a pair of strong, blast capable speakers, and behold this formidable quartet seven months prior to one of the more pivotal releases of the ’90s…
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.
sElf :: Super Fake Nice
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 deep 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.
Forgotten Species :: Hades Fades
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.
Tourist :: Patterns EP
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.
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.