Congratulations to sensitive Sheffield rockers Nai Harvest! Their reflective yet rollicking joints rocketed them to first place in our Artist of the Week poll. Dig their delectable mix of dreamy and dissonant:
It’s time for another artist of the week poll. This one is kind of a big deal. One of this week’s five artists will be the first artist of the week of 2014. You, our esteemed readers, must decide who it is going to be. So get ready, and vote! You have from now until 11 a.m. EST next Friday when the poll will close. See you next year!
Just because there’s an accordion in the mix doesn’t mean it’s gypsy punk. For Blackbird Raum, to call them as such is irksome. First of all, they’re generally against the appropriation of Romani culture. That’s a massive can of worms we’re not opening right now, though. This is about Blackbird Raum. The Santa Cruz troupe culls its fractured, sometimes frenetic, folk sound from the genre’s early Irish, French Canadian and American traditions. Beyond that, their influences are widely spread. Caspian, who handles the banjo, told us in an email that personally, he was mostly listening to Kate Bush and old Crass 7-inches while they were writing False Weavers, their latest album.
Are they emo? Are they indie? Are they punk? These are just minor details for Sheffield duo Nai Harvest, who volley between more laid back indie rock ruminations and mosh-worthy melodies. At first glance, you may mistake this two-piece for an average garage band with a stripped-down, vacant sound; but their crafty plays on rhythm and dexterously executed shredding are anything but average.
Lanterns on the Lake’s sophomore effort Until the Colours Run is a joyful listen. The English five-piece pepper their thoughtful compositions with orchestral flourishes, generous helpings of good ol’ fashioned guitar-driven melodies, and frontwoman Hazel Wilde’s ethereal vocals—making for the kind of album both post-rock and pop fans can agree on.
Rapper Okmalumkoolkat (real name: Smiso Zwane) and beatsmith Dokta SpiZee (real name: Zamani Xolo) call their genre of music “primus stof” after the humble stove that South Africans used in their homes before electricity became widespread. The stove was heated by paraffin, whose distinctive smell used to emanate all over, another inspiration for the duo’s name Dirty Paraffin. “Primus stof” combines the light-hearted jokesterism and synth-and-beat-machine beats of early rap with the township funk of kwaito and artsy wordplay.
Siete Catorce began as an alternate project of 20-year old producer Marco Gutierrez. Though initially reminiscent of ZZK-style new cumbia, the project quickly evolved into its own hybridization of tropical beats and bass du jour, taking cues from his ruidosón brethren in Tijuana, as well as his own array of side-projects. The Mexicali-bred producer quickly scaled the ranks of Mexico’s electronic music elite, thanks in no small part to an unparalleled unanimity among his peers regarding his talent.
In a rare upset, metal has carried the Artist of the Week poll! Congratulations to Barcelona thrash metal monsters Crisix. For awhile it seemed like it was anyone’s race but we’re really not surprised the pennant went to these guys. Their mammoth opus “Ultra Thrash” is as unstoppable as it is unrepentantly metal.
The Japanese punk rockers formerly of Teengenerate are probably the last to toot their own horns; but their fan base seems more than happy to keep their momentum going. Twenty years since they first formed, the fury of this legendary four-piece will be resurrected on-screen in Get Action!, a new documentary following their hey day as a righteous rock ‘n’ roll band. From their English press release:
“It was 20 years ago today… Though only together for 3 years, there was a band here that left mighty footprints. Playing 80 shows a year on tour in Europe and the US and at their home base of Shimokitazawa Shelter, they recorded more than 70 songs in 3 years, and released singles and records on labels in the US, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Australia. Determined that [rock 'n' roll] is for ‘right now,’ this band sought to bring it back with a vengeance with a rapid fire barrage of primitive 90-second blasts of rock trash that cut straight to the bone. No band like this had ever existed in the history of Japanese [rock 'n' roll]. This band was Teengenerate. Their unique no-rules approach resonated with kids all over the world and set off a massive rock and roll tidal wave. But even though they changed kids’ lives overseas, they were all but ignored by the Japanese media. What the hell happened?! Get Action! tells the story of their short but furious career through the testimony of people who were there including members of the band.”
Directed by Junya Kondo, the manager of Tokyo’s cult film house Theater-N Shibuya, the film is jam-packed with original footage from their live performances. It also features interviews with some of our favorite Japanese garage punks, like Ronnie Yoshiko Fujiyama from The 22.214.171.124.’s and Seiji from Guitar Wolf. Keep your eyes peeled for more details on this film, showing March 2014 in Japan.
Awwww, you guuuysss … It’s the last Artist of the Week poll before the end of the yeaaarrrrr. Close your eyes and make a wish! Then vote for one of these five rising artists to ring in the new year as MTV Iggy artist of the week. You have from now until 11 a.m. EST next Friday when the poll will close. Happy New Year!!!
Now back residing in the big LDN, rapper Knytro released his September 2013-released Project Haarpoon mixtape to rave reviews, which led to him touring around Europe and performing on Reading Festival’s BBC Introducing stage. The lead track from the tape, “Still Standing,” was accompanied by a video that captured the reverberating excitement around this new artist, while “Status Quo” is another standout from the project that offers an effortlessly cool, electronic stammering, coupled with vocal melodies in an R&B mold that heighten the aggressively controlled bars he delivers. With an EP in the works for 2014, Knytro’s pronunciation and flow – along with the heavy drums and electronic additions, notably present on “The Domino Effect” – position him as a rapper removed from anything else emerging from the UK music scene.
Blue Daisy is a producer and rapper from Camden, London, whose obscure electronic beats and hell-approved lyrics have been burning a hole through the underground since 2009, albeit sporadically. Born Kwesi Darko, 20-something-year-old Blue Daisy has released a handful of “dark art” masterpieces in his time, with each work framed in the pages of your favorite music magazines and hung up on your daily-checked blogs (2011 album, The Sunday Gift, being his most critically acclaimed effort thus far). But he isn’t in it for the glory. Darko is simply out to remind the world that life and love isn’t all, well, blue daises and picture-perfect, like some of today’s pop stars would have us believe.
Many great dancers have made the leap to music stardom. Paula Abdul and Jennifer Lopez are probably the most famous examples. FKA Twigs is a more recent case. Having stage presence, sex appeal, and slithery moves give a performer an element of gravitas, elevating them from pretty face and voice to a goddess-like figure. Portugal’s Blaya (real name: Karla Rodrigues) has that ferocity. She joined Portuguese electro-kuduro group Buraka Som Sistema in 2008 and has gone from being the frontwoman of the crew to launching her own solo career this year, while also teaching kuduro dancing on the side. The opening tamborzão beat of “Superfresh” sets the stage on her speaker-loving Blaya EP. A primary influence of that song the tawdry, gritty baile funk of Brazil, but as informed by global bass strains like moombahton, zouk bass, and kuduro. She also relishes in the all-encompassing bass, snare, and skittering hi-hats of American trap music.
Perfect Pussy rises triumphant from the ashes of Shoppers, vocalist Meredith Graves’ former band that met its demise after her rough breakup with the drummer. Flooded with all kinds of feelings, their first EP, I have lost all desire for feeling, has been one of punk’s biggest highlights of the year and was honorably mentioned in our Best Rock Albums of 2013 list. These four songs alone pack quite a punch, unleashing a tempest of heavily-distorted hardcore riffs and sometimes even the distant, gentle singing of a synth. Graves ditches her classical vocal training in favor of some painfully sincere, high-pitched shouting. Her words are often buried beneath the undertow of white noise and feedback, but her fierce vulnerability shines through like sunlight in the eye of a storm.
As aggressive as thrash metal can be, it’s actually a sound held together quite delicately. Balance is crucial: Shredding should be both intricate and rough; rapid-fire percussion requires a meticulous touch; vocals should be guttural, but decipherable. Crisix is a group that’s found that harmony—and then some. The Barcelona band is so sure-footed, they aren’t afraid to kick custom to the curb on occasion. Tucked between the fiery riffs, primitive yowls and other thrash traditions with which their sophomore effort, Rise…Then Rest, runs rampant are unprecedented, borderline bizarre surprises. There’s the feather-like weight of the intro to “Frieza the Tyrant,” for one. Not only is the kickoff a refreshing approach, but also the subject: Frieza is one of the primary—and most awful—villains in the Dragon Ball manga and Dragon Ball Z anime.
Congratulations to Swiss electro-swing cool cats Klischée! They won our artist of the week poll with their independent minded, genre mixing electronic music. It’s always sweet to see people get rewarded for doing their own thing. Keep it up!
Dig their hep beats.
UPDATE: In the interest of genuine fairness and in consideration of the overwhelming support on both sides we have decided to extend the poll for a full 24 hours to account for time differences. The poll will now close at 11am EST Dec. 21. This is a final amendment. If the poll crashes or there are any technical difficulties, it will be declared a draw.
Wow. This has been one of the most thrilling and emotional reader polls that we’ve ever done. Song of the Year 2013 became a neck-and-neck show down for who has the most has the most passionate fans in the world.
In one corner stood Bunji Garlin. His track “Differentology” demonstrated that soca didn’t just have to be confined to Trinidad and Tobago or Caribbean communities around the world; it has worldwide infectiousness that fits right in with the domination of electronic dance music in 2013. And with Tessanne Chin’s win on The Voice this week, the future is looking very Caribbean.
In the other corner stood G-Dragon. The Big Bang member released his career-defining album Coup d’Etat this year, churning out singles “Coup d’Etat” and “Crooked,” which showed the world how magnetic and sonically eclectic and he could be. In “Crooked,” G-Dragon manages to be a mysterious, fun-loving, stylish, super-charged bad boy and his fans can’t get enough.
Both fan camps put their time and energy into making sure that their favorite artist pulled far and away from other notable contenders like 2NE1, Los Bunkers, and Zedd.
All of that was paying off until, with less than an hour to go… The poll froze. We worked as hard as we could to fix the problem (which is likely outside of our ability to fix), but THE FANS WERE TOO MUCH FOR THE SERVERS TO HANDLE. At the time that the poll, the margin between between the two artists was .02%. That ish is cray!
After a staff discussion, we only thought it would be fair to give the fans a little bit more time. You now have until 5pm EST this evening (12/20/13) to choose just between Bunji Garlin’s “Differentology” and G-Dragon’s “Crooked” for MTV Iggy Song of the Year.
It seems Brooklyn-based sleepyrapper and fine artist Kilo Kish has been anywhere but Slumberland this year. Ten months following the release of her dreamy K+ mixtape, she’s back with a new project called K+ THE BOOK.
Described as a work in progress, this digital art zine is a “carefully curated living document of the collaborative process of making music.” Throughout the production of K+ the mixtape, she obsessively archived all her drawings, photos, sticky notes, receipts, emails, informal iPhone videos and demo recordings that went into her process. She even covertly recorded conversations she had with friends and collaborators during this time, through Skype and in real life. This gradual collection of aural and visual mementos culminated in a one-night art show, where Kilo Kish says she and her friends eventually got drunk and cathartically tore down the whole installation. Luckily though, she kept a back-up, which is now the ebook.
A multimedia collage of creative breakthroughs, murmurs and outtakes, K+ THE BOOK is available for download on iTunes and Amazon. And if you’ve been sleeping on K+ the mixtape, featuring acts like Childish Gambino, Earl Sweatshirt and Matt Martians of OFWGKTA, here’s your golden opportunity: