Posts from 2005

The Memory Band

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005 by Andrew Ladd

pastoral pop // instrumental ambient folk

The Memory Band’s self-titled debut made it onto my Best of 2004 list, and received raves from a Who’s Who of mainstream music journalism – Mojo, NME, Q, etc. And yet, inexplicably, they remain under-exposed and under-appreciated (if their Audioscrobbler results are anything to go by, anyway). The two tracks here are beguiling gems, but are only a shade better than the rest of the album, which is full of earthy grace and delight from start to finish. I particularly like ‘This is How We Walk on the Moon’, which is vaguely Four Tet-ish and sounds like ivy crawling up walls; but ‘Ploughshares’ is equally pleasant, a swarm of sunny glints on the ocean.
Soft but confident, a stroke of genius.

The Memory Band – This Is How We Walk On The Moon
The Memory Band – Ploughshares
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Mint Royale

Friday, May 20th, 2005 by Paul Irish

vocal brighton downtempo // big beat

The starry-eyed look of love. The romantic dance under the lantern-lit tree. The music swells and supports that perfect moment, amalgamating the texture of her dress, her soft fingers curling around your nape, her breath combing down your cheek. Mint Royale, a duo that was once mistook as a pseudonym for Norman Cook, traditionally leans on the more brash party big beat sound, but in “Little Words” they deliver a soulful ballad of calming intent. It fits the perfect soundtrack moment where two strangers fall for each other, dance in the warm summer air, and land in a place of congruent love.
Falling back into bed with her never felt so good.

Mint Royale – Little Words
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Max Avery Lichtenstein

Saturday, May 14th, 2005 by Paul Irish

acoustic instrumental // film score

A month ago, I was taking a drive with my friend Christin who was in town. She was visiting her boyfriend, however after a three days of together-time, they were arguing non-stop. During our ride, she went on and on about her boyfriend and how much of an petulant asshole he was and all that. And then right in the middle of it all, she paused. I thought something was quite wrong. But Christin waited a beat and said, “I really like this song.” That’s exactly what ‘Tarnation’ will do – it’s relaxing melodies just grab you and elevate your mood. The song has a simple repetitive structure with guitar, piano, and cello forming the body. It’s the title theme from the award-winning documentary Tarnation which is set for release on DVD Tuesday.
Powerful music from a quiet sound.

Max Avery Lichtenstein – Tarnation
movie trailer for Tarnation
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Chris Thile

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005 by Paul Irish

acoustic mandolin // progressive bluegrass

I don’t spend too much time watching CMT – probably 10 minutes total in my life. But the first time I paused on that channel was when I heard Nickel Creek – beautiful rural bluegrass instrumentation matched with resonating vocal harmonies. Chris partnered with the Watkins’ siblings (Sean & Sara) to release their impressive self-titled album. Later, as part of the one time collective, Mutual Admiration Society, he released “Laurie De’ Tullins” – a bucolic tune of soothing string plucking. Halfway through, a deep double-bass enters teasing a counter-bassline to the mandolin work on top, somehow recalling Glover Gill’s excellent Waking Life soundtrack into my memory.
Pensive plucked thoughts giving way to coy aural interplay.

Chris Thile – Laurie De’ Tullins
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Barbara Morgenstern & Robert Lippok

Friday, May 6th, 2005 by Andrew Ladd

ambient electracoustica // german electronica

For those of you who like Aqualung, but think that Matt Hales is neither sufficiently electronic nor sufficiently German, you might consider Tesri, the quirky little album from which the below track is taken. There are definitely shades of Mr Hales in the sparse rhythms and doleful keyboards, though the similarity shouldn’t be overstated. The joy of Aqualung comes from its rich acoustic texture, whereas Morgenstern & Lippok aren’t afraid to throw the odd electronic buzz or pop at you. Thankfully, though, they’re not the sort of melody-ruining buzzes and pops that you so often find in ‘cutting edge’ electronica. On the contrary, ‘Gammelpop’ is a pleasing blend of idyllic twitters and big hugs, a tranquil break from the grimy, industrial sound of the rest of the album.
Controlled and considered, an impressive sound.

Barbara Morgenstern & Robert Lippok – Gammelpop
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Olav Basoski

Friday, May 6th, 2005 by Paul Irish

funky house // disco house

[Guest post from D. Laster today] The repetetive bass kicks and hi-hat snarls of house music will never cease to create the perfect late-night dance club moment. Dutch producer Olav Basoski uses a signature blend of hard hitting house beats, filtered disco breakdowns, and perfectious timing to get bodies moving with every track. Basoski has an extensive discography, including commisioned remixes for Moby, Bob Marley, and James Brown. He recently started Rootz Records with DJs Alex Romano and Silverius where he has released a series of transitional tracks for DJs entitled RTZ Tools. Check out this 2005 remix of Rockefeller’s “Do It 2 Nite”, itself a remake of SOS Band’s r&b classic, “Take Your Time”.
Funky, groovin’ house music all night long.

Rockefeller – Do It 2 Nite (Olav Basoski remix)
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Emilie Simon

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005 by Paul Irish

female vocal electronica // orchestral folktronica

An eerie glockenspiel speaks. A xylophone answers. With the sound of streaked glass, Emilie asks of you, ‘Won’t you open for me, the door to your ice world?’ “The Frozen World” is a beautiful concoction of shivery sounds – the most subtle and crippled samples tense you up while Emilie holds the bass entry till nearly a minute into the song. She manages to hit the right combination of warm bass, swells of strings and her voice to the point where your spine shivers. Turn the volume up on this one. “To the Dancers on the Ice” hits you like a 7am hug after a sleepless night. Pair it with Ratatat’s “Cherry” on your mix cds – together they’re divine.
Beautifully crafted songs direct from childhood imagination.

Emilie Simon – The Frozen World
Emilie Simon – To The Dancers On The Ice

Trailer for La Marche de l’empereur (songs are from the soundtrack)
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Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005 by Paul Irish

dancehall // pop reggae

My commute home, like yours, is a time to unwind and forget your day’s stresses. Luckily, Boston’s WERS has a daily reggae program (Rockers) that helps me out huge. Listening for the past week, a couple gems stand out: the drop leaf riddim and this dynamic track “Sunshine Girl” by Capleton. Featuring Bob’s second son, Stephen Marley, “Sunshine Girl” erupts with life; a playful bassline gives way to a gets-in-your-head chorus. Stephen’s innocent voice sings the killer hook and Capleton covers the verses with flawless Jamaican ragga style.
The summertime reggae anthem. Pairs beautifully with sunshine.

Capleton – Sunshine Girl (feat. Stephen Marley)
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Sunday, May 1st, 2005 by Paul Irish

hip hop // political rap

Common has been the influential uncle of the hip hop scene. But even though he’s got some of the most sophisticated lyrical technique, his sales haven’t come close to your typical hip hop juggernauts. Jay-Z even addressed this disparity between substance and sales, rapping in “Moment of Clarity”: Truthfully, I wanna rhyme like Common Sense/But I did five mil/I ain’t been rhyming like Common since. But later this month, Common releases Be, which critics are tipping as his more-or-less ‘breakthrough’ album. Hip hop’s true artist proudly calls “The Corner”, his first single off of Be, his “best work ever”. And it def gets the head nodding – Common’s flowing jazz-rap syncopations and Kanye’s loose-wrist production keep it hot. In this impetuous remix, Mos Def grabs ahold of the third verse and lays it down so smooth he nearly outshines the master.
A wet, wet beat with the the sleekest of rhymes.

Common – Corners (Remix feat. w/ Scarface & Mos Def)
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Tuesday, April 26th, 2005 by Andrew Ladd

acid jazz // jam band // electric funk

Britain’s answer to the Greyboy Allstars, Corduroy are an impossibly retro blend of Gat gun drums, chilled-out keyboards, and wah-wahed guitars that swoop and distort like a funhouse mirror. Dad Man Cat, their debut, swings effortlessly from laidback foot-tappers to frenzied, all-out blasts that squeeze dance moves from the most reluctant of limbs. ‘Ponytail’ is a good example of the former, with a theme like beer at a sunset barbecue; ‘Money Is’ showcases the latter, a driving melody from a Starsky and Hutch chase scene. And the album as a whole is just one great tune after another, every bit as good as having an actual band in your living room (better, in fact, because you won’t have to clean up all the cigarette butts afterwards).
Retro fun that’ll keep you hopping all night long.

Corduroy – Money Is
Corduroy – Ponytail
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