Sunday, January 23, 2011

Smiths Western - Dye it Blonde

Aritst: Smith Westerns
Album: Dye it Blonde
Genre: Indie Rock
Link to the Music: Smith Westerns - Dye it Blonde

The Smith Westerns, an Indie Rock band based out of Chicago, released their second album, Dye it Blonde, January 18 of 2011. The bands first self titled album was recorded almost entirely in the basement of guitarist Max Kakeck's Chicago home it was characterized by it's lo-fi garage rock sound. For their latest release the band signed with Fat Possum records and had access to a proper studio. The lo-fi sound that characterized their first album is gone, replaced with a polished sound and tons of reverb. Reverb was the first thing I noticed on the album, when you hear Weekend a wavy keys melody kicks into a guitar riff that adds even more reverb. Lead singer Cullen Omari has a light, effervescent voice that melds into the light indie rock sounds of Dye it Blonde and floats gently on top of all the reverb they managed to shove in there

Cullen Omarie mentioned in an interview with metromix that "I think 23 is really old...When I'm 23, I want to be, like, much more successful with music than I am now". Here we are a year later and the Smith Western's sophmore release is head and shoulders above their last album. Their newest album shows a lot of promise, and I look forward to seeing what else this young Chicago band puts out in the next 3 years, before they're "really old".

Keep Rocking.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Janice Whaley - The Smiths Project

Artist: Janice Whaley
Album: The Complete Smith's Project
Genre: Acapella, Indie, Cover
Link to the Music: The Complete Smiths Project

Twenty three years ago The Smiths an alternative/indie band from the UK broke up, to date there has been no reunion tour. Some of you may remember the hilariously vulgar comment made by Smiths frontman Steven Patrick Morrissey that he would "rather eat [his] own testicles then reform the Smiths". You may be wondering then what a band that broke up when Ronald Reagan was in office (and also the same year yours truly was born) doing here on I&H? Well today's album comes to us from San Francisco singer Janice Whaley and is a cover of every original Smiths song that has been released. This 71 track juggernaut doesn't stop at just covering the songs though, instead of the generic Smiths cover bands this album is 100% acapella. For those of you unfamiliar with acapella singing, it just means it's all vocal and there is no instrument accompaniment. Whaley layered hundreds of tracks of her own singing to produce the album and it is truly mesmerizing the work that she put into this while still maintaining her job and caring for her 4 year old son as a single mother.

It takes a while to listen to the entire thing, but is truly a testament to Whaely's dedication and devotion to The Smiths and her craft. The purchase price may seem daunting coming in at $60, but she had to cover costs to buy the rights to reproduce the 71 songs.

If you only want a certain album (e.g. The Queen is Dead) these can be found either on Whaleys website:

Or by perusing her bandcamp page.

Keep Rocking.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Robyn - Bodytalk

Body Talk [Explicit] [+Digital Booklet]

Artist: Robyn
Album: Body Talk
Genre: Electropop
Link to the Music: Robyn -Body Talk

Today's album Body Talk by Robyn has been on my "music to listen to" list since early December. During exams, I didn't listen to it because I can't study to music with words. Then I forgot to pick it up before I went to Trinidad, so here we are, a month+ after this final album in the Body Talk trilogy was released and I finally got around to listening to this album. The Body Talk trilogy was released from September to November by Swedish artist Robyn. Body Talk features 10 songs from Body Talk pt. 1 and pt. 2 and has 5 original tracks (separately available as Body Talk pt. 3). 

With electropop the singers often have a tendency to sing in cold, emotionless, robotic voices. Not here, well at least not always. Don't Fucking Tell me what to do and Love Kills conform to a more standard electropop emotionless soundscape. But then songs like Get Myself Together and Dancing my Own convey a level of vocal emotion that isn't common in this genre.

The synth sounds on this album are really well produced and are my favorite part of the album. The synth on Indestructible sounds straight out of a Daft Punk album. The music is really well produced and compliments Robyn's vocals well. 

The album has done really well with other reviewers, and if you read the top 100 albums for other music reviewers, its usually in the top 20. I enjoyed the album but not enough to say it's one of my favorites of 2010. It's worth listening to if you're into electropop but if you're not, this isn't a "can't miss" album. 

Keep Rocking. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wick-it the Instigator - The Brothers of Chico Dusty

Artist: Wick-it the Instigator
Album: The Brothers of Chico Dusty
Genre: Mixing
Link to the Music: Wick it the Instigator - The Brothers of Chico Dusty

I am back in St. Louis and have a college buddy visiting from the Old Line State. I don't have much time to write, bu a few quick words about this album.

Wick-It mixes two 2010 albums Brothers by the Black Keys a blues rock band and The Son of Chico Dusty a hip hop album by Big Boi. This is a cool innovative mashup worth giving a listen if you liked either of the albums. It doesnt rise to level of mastery that Girl Talk has mixing tunes, but it is still entertaining.

Keep Rocking.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

ArtOfficial - Fist Fights and Foot Races EP

Artist: ArtOfficial
Album: Fist Fights and Foot Races EP
Genre: Funk/Hip-Hop
Link to the Music: ArtOfficial - Fist Fights and Foot Races EP

Happy New Year readers. I have been away from the blog for the first couple days of the year because of the whirlwind of activities that were happening in Trinidad. I left Trinidad today and instead of heading to the cold of St. Louis, I stopped off in Miami for a quick visit with my sister. Readers, cold weather is overrated. I don't know why anybody yearns to see snow. Today I have been to the beach, walked down the street in a t-shirt, and sipped frozen margaritas on the beach. It's January, this weather baffles me.

To add to it all I found a new band today to share with you that comes from, you guessed it, Miami. The band, ArtOfficial, is a Jazz/Hip-Hop fusion project. The band arose a glorious phoenix from the ashes of two previous bands, one Jazz and one Hip-Hop. The conglomeration of the two styles results in a sound that makes you want to sit up, listen and groove. When you're not listening to the sick sax/flute melodies, the pumping bass or the drums that don't quit, you hear the seamless lyrical styling of two emcee's sharing a stage flawlessly. The lyrics are intelligent, quick and creative. For instance in Word Bending the emcee's spit out for the hook:

This ain't rapping, its word bending,
 Lyrical acupuncture for your nerve endings.
 Ya'll ain't rhyming, ya'll just pretending 
you can't fathom the way that we we twist a sentence.

The verses only get better from the hook but were too quick for me to catch and write down. The lyrics however aren't the only ingenious area in the song. The saxaphone at the song's conclusion really steals the stage with a solo that keeps pace with the lyrics and coupled with a flute melody they really drive the song home. Throughout the album the combination of the two emcee's, keys, sax, flute, bass and drums stays fresh and each song has its own ipseity, yet remains a coherent flowing album.  

ArtOfficial  identifies their sound with that of the bands Soulive and The Roots. The comparison between the bands, particularly The Roots during the  Do you Want More? to Phrenology phase and Soulive's songs with Black Thought (surprise?), is understandable, those are two of most well known Jazz/Hip-Hop bands. Although they undoubtedly draw inspiration between these two titans of the genre, ArtOfficial has managed to carve out their own distinct sound that certainly has the potential to make it to the big time.

This album is only two dollars on bandcamp and I highly recommend spending the cash for it, you won't regret it and this is music that after hearing you will want to support.

Art Official
I am headed back to the 'Lou tomorrow, but for you Miami readers January 8th there will be an ArtOfficial show at the Electric Pickle on the 8th, from what I've heard their shows are sick, if you have a chance check it out. Details for the show can be found on the ArtOfficial Facebook page: ArtOfficial Facebook Page

Keep Rocking.