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.
Archive for the 'sElf' Category
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.
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:
I could read this material for days:
Was there a real marathon shirt and what happened to it?
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:
It’s 2000. Mahaffey is doing his prolific composing and unleashing of sweet pop simplicity laced with tales of G-I-R-L-S. Back then, I only dug the beat and didn’t really give a damn about the lyrics, initially. With time, its meaning crept in; then sank in and registered. Maybe even spoke deeply enough to compare his message to my life. But at 21 and still wanting to live, I couldn’t start to fathom a song about a girl wanting nothing but a nuptial. With me. But later, 13 years to be exact, the script has been flipped. This is no longer the same song I’d loop over and over again in the infancy of my 20s.
Third decade has arrived. I’ve begun to stretch into it, become acquainted with what it means and what it could bring. Matt’s ode to girls waiting for the man to step up now speaks volumes. Its message has now become parallel with my life.
Selfafornia, where “Waiting” originates from, follows up Breakfast With Girls, the heavily layered grandiose masterpiece. BWG proclaims texture. Has endless moments of experimentation with countless sounds, tweaks, beats, etc. “Waiting” isn’t as deep, texturally speaking. Voice, keys, and a beat care of Matt’s drums. But its message is profound: She’s waiting….
Your favorite band unleashes a new record, it’s essential you add it to your collection. Let’s take it a step further: your go-to act, sElf, puts out a re-issue of their debut, Subliminal Plastic Motives, with its original, intended sound — on wax no less — and pledge to also play that record live in its entirety, your attendance is a non-negotiable. Matt upped the ante more when he decided to play the capital of the world: New York City.
peeping out the sElf – Subliminal Plastic Motives test pressing today. FYI, the album was mastered by Bob Ludwig close to 10 times originally for the compact disc. the final result being, to my ears, very harsh, tinny, & compressed. this was no fault of Bob’s, as he was under direct orders to make it sound like a smiley face rock EQ…..but i’ve always loathed the CD version. the vinyl, however, is cut from his VERY FIRST mastering, & it is phenomenal. i am hearing this record for the first time. you guys are in for a treat!
As the years press on, my show count seems to dwindle. But whatever, when they’re of this top-notch caliber — so early on in the year — does it matter if I’m barely dipping into double digits?
You play it more, you inevitably dig it more than the rest, right? A year comes to a close and I look to statistical data to sway my best of list. These artists didn’t release any new material, right? I can’t get enough, no matter the year or decade their output was released. Why these acts are always at the forefront of topics around here…
A song in someone’s homage is flattery at its finest. As with most of my heresy on this blog, I can only present to you circumstantial evidence about this dedication. Prince, back in the mid 80s, churned out “Baby I’m a Star”; the epitome of an 80s banger care of flash and bounce. One with lyrics like…
Hey, look me over, do you like what you see? Hey, I ain’t got no money, but, honey, I’m rich on personality…
sElf, an act co-spawned from Prince’s output, created “Potential”, a boast about some snooty, difficult-ass gals, and how they’re all about monetary flash; girls wrapped up in everything but a man’s reach, his potential to become a star. Modeled perhaps after Prince’s hard hitter “Baby I’m a Star”.
Place these two songs in a Venn diagram showcasing where they stand lyrically and the similarities abound. Girls can’t always see it. Or they’re rockin’ their blinders and only looking for one or two things. Neither being potential. It’s there in most, not all possess as much as others though. These maestros knew they had it. So they did what they knew how to do best: