"Lil' Wooden Head" - Acrylic

Greg “Craola” Simkins is a California native, whose artwork is definitely beyond your wildest imagination. Picture characters that even Tim Burton would be afraid to create. I’m not saying that Craola’s work is meant to be scary in any way (aside from the fact that his website and online store are titled “I’m Scared”). From a young age Craola drew inspiration from family pets and storybook characters from such novels as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Phantom Tollbooth. I was fortunate enough to see some of his work at a local art gallery a few years ago, but his art is more accessible than you might think. Craola has collaborated on toys with the likes of Disney and Mattel and produced artwork for games such as Spiderman 2 and Tony Hawk 2X.

Craola will be kicking off his solo tour, The Pearl Theif, November 3. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I do.

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Heartsrevolution

The New York-based trio, HEARTSREVOLUTION, is definitely an electronic group to look out for. With a sound somewhere between Crystal Castles and Boys Noize, their debut album Hearts Japan is an in-your-face powerhouse of blips and synthesizers backed by a very Alice Glass-esque female vocalist. They define their music as crunk/thrash/hip hop and as detached as they all might seem, it is spot on (even though “electronic” could definitely be added to that list). So, if you are looking with a band with the intensity you loved from Crystal Castles but with the more polished dance beats of 80’s synth, look no further than HEARTSREVOLUTION.

Stones Throw Records

Now, when I say “best” I mean these particular record labels produce what I consider some of the best underground hip-hop artists ever. My inspiration for this particular post came when I was researching Junk Science (Def Jux Records), a group I came across about two years ago. From there I started thinking about all the great hip-hop artists I’ve come across over the past few years and all of their connections. So, here we are with what I consider the best indie hip-hop labels.

Mush Records

Alright, so Mush Records might not be a solely hip-hop label, with artists like Her Space Holiday, but I mention them as one of the best because they were the springboard for some of the more prominent underground hip-hop artists. Both Aesop Rock and Busdriver started out with Mush Records along with artists like Daedelus, who is beyond awesome but more experimental electronic, that often have hip-hop collaborators. In fact, the song “Experience” was sampled for the Madvillain song “Accordion”.

Definitive Jux Records

Def Jux, as it is commonly known, is definitely home to the grittier underground artists in the genre. Artists include Del the Funky Homosapien, Dizzee Rascal, RJD2, Aesop Rock, Cage, Junk Science, and Cannibal Ox. The Cold Vein, which is probably the most influential underground hip-hop album of all time, was a product of Cannibal Ox under the Def Jux label which is why, in my opinion, they deserve to be one of the best.

Stones Throw Records

Stones Throw has managed to amass some of the best producers and rappers in the business. It is hard to imagine the underground hip-hop landscape without the likes of Madvillain (producer Madlib and MF DOOM) or J. Dilla, who some argue to be one of the best hip-hop producers that ever lived. A large part of the label’s success lies with Peanut Butter Wolf who helped discover artists like James Pants, Koushik, and Oh No.

To wrap it up, I really hope those of you that aren’t as exposed to this genre check out a few of the artists.

Recommendations:

Cannibal Ox – “The F Word”

J. Dilla – “Nothing Like This”

Madvillain – “Accordion”

Aesop Rock – “None Shall Pass”

Royksopp - Junior

This Norwegian duo really knows how to shell out some pretty darn good music. Royksopp’s latest album release, Junior, is the perfect spring/summer album. I know what you’re thinking, “but, its the middle of fall…”. That technicality aside, this album is an electronic powerhouse, with collaborations from The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson, Robyn, and Lykke Li. Junior takes you though the gambit of summer emotions, with upbeat tracks like “Happy Up here” and “The Girl and the Robot” balanced out by the more melodic sounds of “Vision One” and “You Don’t Have a Clue”. This is probably Royksopp’s most accessible album for those new to electronic music. I will be keeping an eye out for the rumored follow-up, Senior, to be released later this year. If you like this album I would definitely recommend checking out Scars by Basement Jaxx.

To sum up Junior in one word: Brilliant!

The Apple & The Tooth

For those of you that don’t know Bibio, it is the musical moniker of British music producer Stephen Wilkinson. His most recent album release, Ambivalence Avenue, is definitely up there with my favorite albums of the year. Bibio manages to fuse folk and electronic music into a sound that is so fresh and inviting. The album plays like a dream, with hypnotic samples stitched together by folk guitar and lulling vocals. The best comparison I can give is a folk equivalent to music producer Danger Mouse, with the choppy production effect that manages to seem both effortless and timeless.

Anyways, I digress. I am writing this post to show my excitement for Bibio’s new album release, The Apple & The Tooth! Not only do we get one great album this year, we get two! The Apple & The Tooth, which gets released November 10, will include four original songs as well as an arsenal of remixes by the likes of Clark, Wax Stag, and Eskmo, to name a few. Check out a sample of “The Apple & The Tooth” or hear songs off of Ambivalence Avenue.

I came across Josh Keyes’ work in a magazine (I wish I could remember what it was called) about a year ago, and since fallen in love. His paintings and drawings depict a sort of beautiful post-apocalyptic dream world where the animals are taking back what’s theirs among the debris of human existence. Basically, I think they look pretty sweet and wanted to give you a little taste.

First off, welcome to my blog, where I can talk all I want about electronic music and rockin’ art. Don’t get me wrong, I am a man of variety and appreciate all genres of art and music. I just want this to be a place where people can come and check out new music and artists that I am into at the moment. If you love it, or hate it, let me know!!

Enjoy :]

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