I’m excited to be getting back into blogging about music again. Since my last post, streaming music has EXPLODED! Lucky for me, I’ve been able to expand my musical horizons as a result and find some new favorites. I want to focus more of my time writing about music that I’m really excited about, but I’ll still post fun art, photos, tech(?), basically anything I find neat enough to want to share. Enjoy!
There were definitely a lot of great albums and new new music artists that came out in 2009, but I have to say there was one that stood out the most. Miike Snow is composed of Swedish producer/songwriters Pontus Winnberg and Christian Karlsson (who are also know as Bloodshy & Avant), as well as American songwriter Andrew Wyatt (Fires of Rome). They came out with their self-titled debut album in October and it is a knock-out from start to finish. Their first single, “Animal”, is a shining example of this group’s ability to make music that can get you out of your seat and on to the dancefloor. Having two amazing producers means you can beat on some great remixes too. Check out remixes of “The Reeling” by Passion Pit and “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” By Vampire Weekend, as well as remixes of “Animal” or “Burial” by the likes of Mark Ronson and Benny Blanco. One thing that I really admire about them is that they are true artists who put passion and meaning into everything they produce. Their music videos for “Silvia”, “Black & Blue”, and “Burial”, which you can watch on their Myspace page, are shot beautifully and leave you thinking, if not just entertained. On top of all of that, they are amazing live performers, which is a huge plus. They are currently touring Europe, but I can’t wait for them to come State-side at the end of March. Overall, I believe Miike Snow had a stellar year and put out an album that I won’t stop listening to for a while, so that is why I name them the “Best Music Artist of 2009”.
Thinking about studying fashion? Ever consider Japan? Bunka Fashion College is Japan’s first vocational school for fashion and over the past 50 years has churned out graduates that have entered the Paris Collections (Yohji Yamamoto with Y-3 and Kenzo Takada with Kenzo as examples). The coolest thing about Bunka? The students! The school is within walking distance of the famous Harajuku district and the influences couldn’t be more apparent. There is such a tremendous diversity amongst the students, ranging from vintage to gothic to anime to just over the top. I have so much respect for this particular type of Japanese fashion because it speaks of a generation and you really have to be fearless to go out dressed like they do. All I have to say is I thought figuring out what to wear everyday was hard enough, I’m glad I don’t have to keep up with these guys.
Here is a video of one of their fashion shows. Enjoy!
Sweden has done it again. The LK bring the upbeat, fun electronic music we have come to love from other Swedish artists such as The Knife, Robyn, The Softlightes, and Teddybears but put a fresh alternative twist on it. With a voice reminiscent of The Whitest Boy Alive, this group has a sound that is so warm and fresh, even on softer tracks. Their album, Vs. the Snow, is a perfectly crafted work that covers all the bases with stand out tracks including “Stop Being Perfect”, “Down By Law”, and “Eurovision”. If you’re ever in a bad mood this album is an instant pick-me-up.
Andrew Zuckerman is by far one of my favorite photographers. He able able to capture so much beauty and depth with seemingly so little effort. A simple white background helps keep the focus on his subjects and it has never seemed so powerful. He has photographed the likes of Nelson Mandela, Clint Eastwood, Jane Goodall, and Willie Nelson for his book titled Wisdom and in Creature he captures fantastic images of wild animals in a way that truly brings out the beauty in nature. His most recent book, Bird, is a stunning example of his ability to capture form and color in something spontaneous and natural, which really gives depth to something you might otherwise overlook. Check out his website for more samples of his work.
Imagine a mix between Radiohead and Coldplay, but with more ups and downs, and you’ve got Dan Black. His music is both deep and fun. On his new album, UN, he blends downbeat percussion with piano melodies and strings on songs such as “Let Go” and “Ecstasy”, but tracks like “Pump My Pumps” and “U+Me =” are equally at home on the dancefloor. Check out the music video for his new single, “Symphonies”.
It’s been a long while since my last post, but I just came across an artist that I have to share with everyone. Machinedrum is a Brooklyn-based music producer whose sound is a mix between Dam-Funk, Kanye West, and N.A.S.A. I highly, highly recommend checking this guy out. His beats are equally effortless and thumping and the guest MCs have some of the best flows I’ve heard. His recent album release, Want to 1 2?, is a 22 track masterpiece that ranges from mellow cruise music to all out club-bangers. Check out his Myspace for some great remixes and singles that didn’t make the album. I will definitely be having this guy on repeat for a long time.
Designers R. Mackswell Sherman and Sarah Jones are the duo behind the very bright, very fun, and very earth friendly Ruffeo Hearts Lil Snotty. Their studio in Redhook, Brooklyn is where everything is made and the best part is that all of their materials are either recycled or upcycled. They started out making shirts for mackswell’s experimental puppetry/speed rap performance art and realized people were into their bright colors, geometric shapes, and innovative designs. Aside from their unique clothing and fun image, the thing that really stands out is their mission. The use of salvaged and vintage materials help cut back on fashion waste and they have partnered with Etsy.com under their business model Parachute to help get small-scale fashion designers in a position to compete with huge fashion houses.
You can purchase their clothing on their etsy.com page.
I can’t believe it! The time has finally come for James Pants to unleash another album into this world! The one man band brings a blend of “80’s Soul, Electro Boogie, Early Rap, New Wave, & Post-Punk Disco” in a way no one can touch. For most people, his music might come off as a little off-the-wall, but listen to a song like “Ka$h” or “Crystal Lite” and you can’t help getting up to shake your groove thang! His debut album, Welcome, was a great introduction to his production and vocal styles, but expect something a little more sinister on his upcoming release Seven Seals. It was said that inspiration came from reading mystical books and books on Revelations, which lead him to wanting to start a cult…..and Seven Seals would be the soundtrack. Don’t get freaked out, he is not the next Jim Jones or anything, but you know if he did start a cult it would be the biggest dance party ever! Anyways, definitely check this guy out. His music will instantly put you in a better mood.
Seven Seals will be released December 8 on Stones Throw Records. Can’t wait!
Imagine this. One day, you’re cruising through your favorite hip-hop community website and you come across this jazzy, funky, dreamy track by some dude from the Netherlands. You say “hey, this is dope. I think Im going to rap over it.” You send your track back to this guy, and over the course of one year you produce an entire, critically-acclaimed hip-hop album…without ever meeting each other! Welcome to The Foreign Exchange.
Made up of Phonte from Little Brother and producer Nicolay, The Foreign Exchange is one of the very few groups that manages to bring together hip-hop, jazz, r&b, blues, and downtempo electronic in a way that is nothing short of sublime. Their debut album, Connected, was produced entirely from exchanging tracks over the internet and has much more of a hip-hop influence. Standout tracks include “Nic’s Groove”, “Come Around”, and “The Answer”. Leave it all Behind, their most recent release, is much jazzier showcasing Phonte’s diverse vocal ability with tracks like “Take Off the Blues”, “House of Cards”, and “Sweeter Than You”. I highly recommend this group for anybody looking for some laid-back hip-hop to chill out to.