French pianist and composer Albin de la Simone is best known for his collaborations with Jeanne Cherhal, Vanessa Paradis and Keren Ann. Although Un Homme (2013) is his fourth solo album, de la Simone is still relatively anonymous among contemporary French chansonniers. His lyrics are clever and his melodies engaging, but what makes de la Simone stand out is his voice and remarkable subtle string and piano arrangements. “Moi Moi”, featured below, is a delightful duet with the lovely Emiliana Torrini.
Elegant songwriting with a dose of whimsy. Albin de la Simone & Emiliana Torrini – Moi Moi Albin de la Simone – Le Fuite + Purchase/Visit
Mickey Eats Plastic is very kind and friendly duo, Lucz & Bluermutt, from Rome, Italy. With custom-written software they toss together field recordings, guitars, electric bass, synths, and squeak toys into their compositions. Electronic music fans will feel the flavors of Kim HiorthÃ¸y, The Books, and Xploding Plastix in M.E.P’s creations. If you’re not an electronic music fan, these might not twiddle your brain as nicely. The tracks below are off their new album, People Eating Tasty People, which they generously licensed under Creative Commons. (That means its free, kids!)
An Miel Mia Pierlé is a Belgian pianist, accordionist and singer-songwriter who had been touring with a theatre group, starring in a Belgium television series and giving solo performances before she signed her first record deal in 1998. Unlike the debut album, her second record, Helium Sunset (2002) , was released outside of the Benelux and France and received many positive reviews as well. And now she has come back with a new record An Pierlé & White Velvet (2006) written with her co-songwriter, arranger, composer and lover Koen Gisen. This is the result of everything Pierlé and Gisen have experienced and absorbed so far, the new sound of An that grows and creates something new.
We here at Aurgasm are big fans of the folks at KCRW in Los Angeles. Aside from being a leading NPR affiliate, it is home to a wide variety of both locally and nationally-based arts, news and culture talk programs. KCRW might be headquartered in a basement at Santa Monica College, but maintains a worldwide fanbase due to the station’s 24/7 live-stream, web-exclusive music and news content, and podcasts. Musically, KCRW is perhaps one of the most influential independent radio stations in the world, garnering a “tastemaker” reputation due to their tendency to break the next big acts in music. Jason Bentley, KCRW’s Music Director and host of the venerable morning show, Morning Becomes Eclectic, was kind enough to answer a few of our questions and discussed discovering new acts, the “digital revolution” and his favorite new music.
Before you became the host of Morning Becomes Eclectic and the Music Director for KCRW, you hosted “Metropolis” (on KCRW) and “Afterhours” (on KROQ) for a number of years. “Metropolis” was especially connected with electronic music and global club culture. How was the experience transitioning from an evening show to a morning show? Does the musical aesthetic change when you’re talking about a morning show versus an evening show?
Yeah, the vibe is totally different. Having been a champion of electronic music and club culture for many years, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to broaden my musical horizons. I still bring my love of dance and electronic music to the mix, but my responsibilities as Music Director are different now. I still play out in clubs, underground events, art galleries, etc to fulfill my need to rock a dancefloor, so it’s all good.
[Fun Fact: The first artist Jason had on Morning Becomes Eclectic after he became the host was an Aurgasm feature! Oren Lavie performed on MBE on December 2, 2008. We first featured Oren in early 2007.]
Last September, you became the first DJ in North America to perform using the Pioneer CDJ-2000 when you spun the Gizmodo Gallery in New York. The player itself is a huge leap forward in terms of technology and as a digital player for DJs. In the last few years, KCRW has also digitized its entire music library. How do you think the transition to digital music affected how you listen and what you play on air?
The most immediate benefit of the digital revolution has been access to music – both in terms of finding/reviewing new material but also being able to call up a track as soon as the thought occurs. There’s definitely a lot more music out there and theÂ casual music fan will always need filters/curators so, on that level, the DJs role is even more important. I like to say that “I listen to bad music so you don’t have to.” In the end, technology is just a tool, there still needs to be a creative impulse driving the mix to make the magic happen.
KCRW is notorious for breaking new artists and keeping things fresh, musically. How have you discovered some of your recent finds? Word of mouth? Live shows?
I review a lot of new music, but word of mouth is legitimate as well. I kind of approach it as a fan and collector of music, so I’m initially looking for a few indicators – label, producer, general buzz, cover art, back story, etc… Having done this for a while, my ear is pretty well tuned. I can get a sense of whether something will work for me very quickly. Live shows are usually good for me to get a better sense of the true potential of an artist, whether there is any longevity.
At Aurgasm we always like to provide our readers with new music they probably haven’t heard before. Are there any songs or bands that have caught your attention recently? What music have you been excited about lately?
Tame Impala from Perth, Australia is stoner rock bliss, and Baltimore, MD band Future Islands‘ “In Evening Air” is a darkly personal record that haunts me still.
Editor’s note:Future Islands will be on Morning Becomes Eclectic this Thursday, July 24 at 11:15am PST. You can listen live at kcrw.com. Morning Becomes Eclectic airs every Monday-Friday, 9am-12pm PST.
When I first heard the gentle tunes of Alex & Sam, it was absurd how quickly I became enamored with their jazz-influenced, indie folk sound. Throughout their debut E.P., Sounds Like This: Part One, the duo’s deceptively simple melodies and intimate vocals are paired with full strings, keyboards, horns and a gentle percussion that keeps the whole record moving. Whether it’s Alex or Sam taking the vocal lead (or both), each song is a gem, lovely and unexpected.
From immediately catchy numbers to the laid back grooves, the duo of Nicolas Kantorowicz and Benjamin Sportes boasts a unique sonic palette. While packed with energy, colourful rhythms and peculiar sampling “Whistle” recalls the cheery, jolly retro kitsch pastiche, “Mundo”, taken from Paris Lounge (2001) double CD compilation, carries electronic nuances, seductive quality and a relaxed, downtempo feel.
The Dø is one of those musical gems I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time. Now, with their debut album A Mouthful (2010) finally released in the US and the recent North American tour, is the time to introduce this French-Finnish indie pop act. The Dø first captured attention of European music lovers with their song “The Bridge is Broken”, written for a contemporary dance performance Scène d’amour back in 2005. A Mouthful, a rather eclectic collection of songs, evokes similarities to the sweet quirkiness of Nina Perrson, the Knife’s electro touch and the sharp playfulness of Lykke Li. “At Last” carries rich guitar riffs, piano and bluesy harmonica arrangements woven with Olivia’s yearning, seductive vocals. Ukulele driven “Stay (Just A Little Bit More)” is simply a little delightful track.
Canadian songstress Lily Frost pays earnest homage to the heyday of the swing era. Recorded live in mono and accompanied by the Swinging Dukes, an upbeat swing band, Lily Frost’s album Lily Swings (2008) brings new interpretations of lesser-known Billy Holiday songs. Lily’s melodic, sweet voice and the arrangements of banjo, breathy tenor sax, low sweet clarinet and trumpets evoke the comfortable and stylish atmosphere of a jazz den.
French chanson tradition, Chinese folk motifs, Continental jazz and Latin notes are interwoven together into a colourful collection of songs on Jessica Fichot’s debut album. The versatility of her debut Le Chemin (2007) mirrors her multicultural and multilingual background. Often accompanied by piano and accordion, recalling the rhythms of waltz, polka and cabaret music, Jessica’s elegant songwriting evokes the images of 19th century Parisian coffeehouses and dance halls. “1,2,3” is a fine example of her inventive songwriting, clear vocals and a distinctly French instrumentation.
I spent Saturday night in NYC watching the final performance of Sufjan Stevens‘ BQE at BAM, an entirely incredible experience. A full live orchestral instrumentation behind his tracks took away my breath and brought me to tears during ‘Casimir Pulaski Day’. On the bus back home, it was tough to merge back into reality. Helping smooth my transition is an artist who has an oddly unique name. But just like with Sufjan, behind that jarring moniker is quite a treat. Magda Sinit weaves her soulful vocals into finger-snap groove.