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Puff Daddy and Guy Gerber Release Deep House Album, 11 11

by Suzy Exposito | 70 days ago
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Who knew? Having spent the last several years cultivating his interest in house music, (including a flirtation with EDM in his 2010 album, Last Train To Paris), legendary rapper and entrepreneur Puff Daddy resolved to produce his first solely electronic album. He then recruited Israeli DJ/producer Guy Gerber to help carry out this mission, which culminated in the brand new album, 11 11. Puffy’s vocals are slick and understated beneath Gerber’s atmospheric synthesis of shoegaze with club-friendly deep house cuts. The full album is now available for free download via Beatport. Stream “My Heart” below:

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Artist of the Week: Vote for Your Favorite

by Suzy Exposito | 76 days ago
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Who was your favorite featured artist this week? You have until 11am EST next Friday to cast your vote for the next Artist of the Week! Choose between the following:

Kinoko Teikoku

As the resurgence of shoegaze grips Japan, Kinoko Teikoku are among its most thrilling practitioners. Kinoko Teikoku’s rise is due in part to the quartet’s intense live show, which has earned the band a spot on stages at some of Japan’s biggest festivals, including this month’s Rock In Japan, as well as two well-received tours in Canada. But their recordings are just as smoldering. Their next release will be the single “Tokyo,” due on September 9th.

Kiasmos

Kiasmos’ debut album effortlessly unspools. A swelling synth. A light wash of strings. A glitchy beat fading in and out as if their haunting compositions were blessed by the ghosts of techno past. It’s almost hard to believe that the hectic schedules of bandmates Janus Rasmussen (Bloodgroup) and Ólafur Arnalds (of, well, Ólafur Arnalds) forced the duo to write and record together during a very short period in April. Then again, maybe genius doesn’t need time — just a well organized iCal.

Catfish and the Bottlemen

Catfish and the Bottlemen opened for The 1975 on their UK tour last year, and it appears that they’re on the very same lightning-fast road to fame. Truthfully, though, that’s where the similarities end.  The 1975 is all ’80s synth pop and wine-soaked tales of lust, while Catfish and the Bottlemen are churning out straight-up old-school rock n’ roll about breaking hearts and making out. After a stint opening for the Manchester rockers — and playing 100 shows in 18 months — they hit the road again to promote their recently-dropped debut EP, The Balcony.

Wannabe Jalva

It was over a year ago that Wannabe Jalva decided that it was high time for a hiatus. But in 2013 they crossed paths with Eddie Vedder, who greeted them after their amp-climbing, freewheeling performance at Lollapalooza Brazil. “Keep on stage guys,” he said warmly, “Keep making music.” It’s good to see that a year after their hiatus, the band is back in session. Frontman Rafael Rocha offered up his parents’ basement, where their upcoming album, Collecture, was born. There, they shed their previous inclinations towards penning infectious, punchy dance jams and embraced a more cosmic, Space Age energy.

The Anomalys

Maybe they were aiming more for aberration than rarity with their name, but the latter is super applicable to punk trio The Anomalys. There are a bunch of blunders they could have made in meshing together their various motifs, and they didn’t. The Anomalys are true exceptions. The Dutch band oozes spookiness without sounding like a drugstore’s Halloween display, and fury without senseless anger. Their latest includes the cut “Deadline Blues,” which treads around like a gruesome ghoul in a swamp that belches hallucinogenic gas.


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Artist of the Week: Vote for Your Favorite

by Suzy Exposito | 83 days ago
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Who was your favorite featured artist this week? You have until 11am EST next Friday to cast your vote for the next Artist of the Week! Choose between the following:

Shura

There’s still an air of mystery about the 23 year old Russian/English singer-songwriter, but after she got admiration from Dev Hynes, Jessie Ware and music blogs around the world, internet fans were calling for more tunes immediately. After six months, Shura just dropped her second single, “Just Once,” which still showcases her touches of r&b and ’80s pop-rock. Within a week, she’s gotten over 100k plays and like her previous release, Shura’s strength lies in her honest delivery of the devastating realities of heartache.

Indee Styla

Indee Styla builds on tradition but gives it a fresh, new twist — a sort of “reawakening” as she calls it. She highlights bits and pieces of cultures from around the world via her lyrical prowess and while at it, gives history a breath of fresh air. An example of this is on her latest single “Nómada” off her same-titled 2014 EP, which celebrates ancient nomadic tribes across the globe.

Johnny Foreigner

Named after a cheeky term for non-Brits in the UK, Birmingham’s Johnny Foreigner have gone through many changes over the last 9 years, but seem right at home in moody math rock. (With additional real estate in the Isles of Indie. And a vacation spot in Emo-town for when they need time to process their feelings, or something.)  And having recently been signed to Philadelphia’s Lame-O Records, it’s about time the Johnny Foreigners claimed a base across the pond.

Laura Jae

Laura Jae is a mediator of music. The 23-year-old artist finds common ground between contradicting ideas: In content, knee-buckling heartache and personal fortitude and, in sound, an aesthetic that is simultaneously air-thin and full-bodied. Silver Lined Hearts, her debut EP released just last month, culls from emotionally robust soul tradition as much as it does contemporary ambient electronic.

FEMM

If mannequins had feelings, what would they sing to us? “Kill the DJ,” “Let’s party all night,” and “I’m sick and tired of human boys,” apparently. Japan’s semi-animate dance duo FEMM (Far East Mention Mannequins) are suited up in latex, armed with rapid-fire electro bangers, and inching their way to global domination in precise, dimestop steps.


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Artist of the Week: Vote for Your Favorite

by Suzy Exposito | 90 days ago
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Who was your favorite of the artists we’ve featured this week? You have until 11am EST next Friday to cast your vote for the next Artist of the Week! Choose between the following:

Lao

Whenever there is talk of Mexico City’s electronic underground, there are always two names that consistently pop up. The first is NAAFI — a club night turned record label which has consistently set the bar for some of the city’s most forward thinking dance sounds. The second, is of course, Lao — who in addition to forming part of the aforementioned label-cum-collective — has built a name for himself as both DJ and producer, as well as label honcho and content curator of the net-label Extasis Records.

Okmalumkoolkat

It’s safe to say that listing “random acts of fuckery” as a personal interest on his Facebook page is just an underestimation of what this jack-of-all-trades emcee is all about. Indeed, Simiso Zwane, the 31 year-old rapper, DJ, designer, producer, and songwriter, is best known under the alias of Okmalumkoolkat(pronounced okay-mah-loom-cool-cat), and especially for his all-encompassing appeal when it comes to everything hip-hop.

Madam X

Madam X (AKA Christiana Vassilakis) turned heads in June with the Kaizen Movements Volume 1 compilation that she assembled for her own Big People Music imprint. The 10-track album is a journey through the outer limits of grime, UK funky, and bass music, with vocal and instrumental cuts by Murlo, Samrai, Rubi Dan, Dark0, and more. And now that she’s got the attention of dance music’s tastemakers, she’s taking Mancunian music to the world, and reminding fans abroad that London isn’t the only city on the isle.

Smoke Fairies

Having met in a Sussex grammar school in the ’90s, Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies forged a bond as a couple of precocious young women, whose tastes aligned more with older blues and classic rock fans than with the bubblegum pop palates of their peers. But many years later, including one spent in New Orleans, their anachronistic tendencies have paid off. They’ve supported Bryan Ferry, Richard Hawley and Laura Marling on tour, and collaborated with Jack White on their 2009 double A-side single, “Gastown” / “River Song.”

Ases Falsos

Chile’s Ases Falsos are prime lyricists that cleverly hide social critique under witty tales of romantic woes, weird journeys, strange people and imaginary close encounters with history. That’s why they might just be the voice of la juventud americana: introspective, clever, worried about the ways of the world and not afraid to dance away the awkwardness while trying to figure it all out.  


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Artist of the Week: Vote for Your Favorite

by Suzy Exposito | 97 days ago
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Who was your favorite of the artists we’ve featured this week? You have until 11am EST next Friday to cast your vote for the next Artist of the Week! Choose between the following:

Tollcrane

With Red Bull Music Academy announcing their Class of 2014 this past month, we’re thrilled to see Tollcrane included on the list. As the guitarist and vocalist of Karachi’s Orangenoise, Tollcrane enters the electronic scene with a unique sound that is sometimes ambient, sometimes EDM, but always a little rock ‘n’ roll.

Riky Rick

In explaining his single “Nafukwa,” Riky Rick defines one-word title as meaning “do it,” a choice that, knowing Rick, makes sense. Whether he’s shooting his own music videos in the canals of Amsterdam or modeling for Ben Sherman, the South African artist leads the Jo-burg rap scene, embodies “nafukwa.”

Rebel Diaz

In the case of Rebel Diaz, hip-hop is more than just music: it’s a vehicle of resistance. Siblings Rodrigo Venegas (AKA Rod Starz) and Gonzalo Venegas (AKA G1) seek to fully expose the negative realities that the system tries to conceal via their lyrical prowess. Rebel Diaz’s recent full-length release Radical Dilemma does no less than that.

Death By Unga Bunga

Your 20s is a good time to experiment with likes and dislikes. Flip-flopping is completely excusable; you might spend a year obsessed with electronic music and the next deep in droning metal. Norway’s Death By Unga Bunga, however, appear to have been fully committed to old-school garage-psych since their teens.

Movement

The R&B-meets-house trio Movement first hopped on the scene  in 2011, pioneering  their self-dubbed genre called “minimal soul.” Somewhere along the way Modular Recordings (the label behind Cut Copy, Azari & III, Bag Raiders, and The Presets) plucked the group up and gave Movement the momentum they needed.


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Listening to David Broza as Violence Ravages Gaza

by Beverly Bryan | 97 days ago
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As Israel’s military offensive in Gaza continues and the violence spreads to the West Bank, it seems clearer than ever that the real burden of conflict will always fall disproportionately on the shoulders of innocent civilians. Of the 800 people who have lost their lives in the past 18 days of fighting, the overwhelming majority have been Palestinian civilians, many of them, as was the case in Thursday’s strike on a UN school sheltering Palestinians, women and children.

At times like this it is all the more astounding and inspiring when people like Israeli singer David Broza, who recorded his recent album East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem in a West Jerusalem recording studio with Israeli, Palestinian and American musicians, and especially the young Palestinian and Israeli artists in the Israel/Palestine episode of MTV World’s series Rebel Music reach across borders to build human bridges in defiance of war and occupation and to make music that talks about peace.

The ongoing violence and political impasse are products of structures and forces that are very difficult for most people to affect. The acts of artists like these are vital because they remind us of the will of ordinary people to work for peace, justice, and genuine change.

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Artist of the Week: Vote for Your Favorite

by Suzy Exposito | 104 days ago
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Who was your favorite featured artist this week? You have until 11am EST next Friday to cast your vote for the next Artist of the Week! Choose between the following:

Alice Boman

Alice Boman is one of countless extraordinary talents to come out of the land up north. She is still fairly new to the scene, having only released her first EP Skisser (Swedish for sketches) last year. Her hushed, restrained vocals carry the beautifully-constructed lyrics in a truly powerful way, making sure none of the emotion is lost in translation. One can only wonder what gave Boman the inspiration to write such personal songs that can still find a way to impact so many.

Anushka

Anushka are a soul-lovin’ house duo, comprised of singer-songwriter Victoria Port and producer Max Wheeler. The project began in earnest when Max caught Victoria performing as part of a neo-soul group in their home town of Brighton. The promise of free studio time lured Victoria to record with Max in his studio and from the outset they knew they were on to something promising.

El Caribefunk

The band name El Caribefunk is very straightforward. The group brings together music heard all over the Caribbean (Colombian champeta, Jamaican reggae, Haitian compas and zouk, Trinidadian calypso, etc) and threads the genres together through a contemporary take on funk. Their roots are in the live music scene in Cartagena, Colombia, but have been based in Buenos Aires and are spending the summer on tour in the United States.

Perturbator

The ’80s may be long gone, but some of its brilliance lives on through talented artists like James Kent, also known as The Perturbator. Inspired by slasher movies, retro video games and the sci-fi art that came out of the decade’s darkest corners, the French synth master adds his own touch of retrofuturism to expansive sonic landscapes, creating the kind of music that makes our endorphins fly. Mr. Kent’s metalhead roots also permeate his music, as he weaves in heavy beats with riff-like melodies.

Osekre and The Lucky Bastards

The music of Osekre and The Lucky Bastards is alive with treasuring every moment. They play a hybrid of Afropop and ska, punk, and reggae that is equally indebted to Osekre’s Ghanaian heritage and the Brooklyn DIY/garage/indie scene that thrived in the late 2000s. Osekre is one of the Brooklyn indie scene’s biggest cheerleaders, having been one of the founders of the annual The Aputumpu Festival celebrating rising local bands.

 

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At the Gramercy Theatre, the LAMC Hosts an Eccentric Cast of Latin Indie All-Stars

by Suzy Exposito | 106 days ago
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In commemoration of its 15th year running, or what they endearingly call its quinceañera, the organizers of the Latin Alternative Music Conference made like Miami royalty and secured only the best acts in rock, hip-hop and EDM to celebrate their darling teenage brainchild. Based in New York City and founded by Nacional Records owner Tomas Cookman, the conference offers a platform for international Latino artists and music industry reps to show us their chops. When compared to years past, the 2014 lineup represents a broader spectrum of performers across nationality, style and age.

Esteman at the Gramercy Theatre. Photo Credit: Jessica Chou

Friday night’s festivities kicked off with an acoustic showcase at Sounds of Brazil, otherwise known as S.O.B.’s in Downtown Manhattan. Equipped with a kazoo and combat boots, Cuban pop powerhouse Diana Fuentes struggled to keep the chatty crowd’s attention while closing the showcase. But under the hot lights of the Gramercy Theatre later on that night, her high-octane stage presence was commanding enough to hush the audience. Backed by a full Afro-Cuban jazz band, Fuentes burst into a blithe, free-form stream of salsa moves during their intoxicating instrumental breaks. Sung in tribute to the many Cuban refugees lost at sea, Fuentes’ performance peaked at “Otra Realidad,” her every vocal lunge stressing the great risks her people have taken to broaden their horizons.

Although Fuentes is a pretty hard act for anyone to follow, Colombia’s theater geek-turned-indie-heartthrob Esteman opened his set with an air of suspense. His band emerged, their faces obscured behind positively creepy masks with exaggerated brows and sinister smiles. They commenced with what sounded like the first few bars of “Rawhide.” Like the Phantom of the LAMC, Esteman let the audience wait a few minutes before he surfaced from behind the curtains, staring us all down from behind his mask and easing into his folky 2013 single, “Aquí Estoy Yo.” The masks came off and band ran through a string of tropicalia-infused indie pop gems that channeled the sophisticated beach party vibes of Esteman’s slim, jungle-print slacks.

As the lone hip hop artist in this evening’s showcase, Monterrey MC Milkman delivered a charged performance, but seemed misplaced among the cast of characters at Gramercy Theatre. His odes to booty claps and McDonald’s cheeseburgers had me wishing Ana Tijoux could roll in to serve her own breathy feminist smackdown. But instead, we were all liberated by a crew of intergalactic EDM heroes: touching down from outer space/Mexico City, came The Wookies! Churning out one long, decadent disco jam, the quartet of electric wizards grooved beneath gold capes and shaggy Wookie masks.

AJ Davila at the Gramercy Theatre. Photo Credit: Jessica Chou

The lineup took an even more eccentric turn when LAMC Artist Discovery Award winner AJ Dávila stormed the stage with his ragtag team of punks, Terror/Amor. Despite the raw power of Terror/Amor’s live set, it seemed like a travesty that they were playing here and not a dive bar or a dingy loft in Brooklyn. Having already tended to his more punk rock proletarian fans the night before at Radio Bushwick’s eventSolo Dame Indie Pop, Dávila’s spirit was a little more bored than boisterous. Yet he still mustered up flirtatious quips to a screaming lady fan and doused the audience with water while performing his cheeky single, “Dura Como Piedra.”  People repeatedly shouted “Boricua!” as a small pogo pit formed at the front of the stage. Up the Puerto Rican punx, down with venues where the cheapest beer is nine dollars.

Well past the witching hour, the lights dimmed down to a smoky blue for the final act. Los Macuanos reticently greeted the audience, providing little more engagement than downward gazes and nods towards their own respective iPads. And yet, for what their rather postmodern performance lacked in visual showmanship, they gained in the crowd’s response. Instead of expectantly facing the stage, the remaining audience members turned to each other and danced raptly under the influence of the Macuanos hypnotic beats. At the end of the day, it just goes to show that alternative music, in Spanish as in any other language, is not about record sales and appearances; but it’s about providing a more complex, expansive musical experience than what heavily-mediated, popular music usually offers.

Last but not least, here are some Superlatives for the LAMC Class of 2014:

Most Likely to Succeed: Diana Fuentes

Best Dressed: a tie between Esteman and The Wookies

Class Drama King: Esteman

Class Clown: Milkman

Biggest Flirt: AJ Davila

Most Likely to Start an Industrial Commune in a Ghost Town: Los Macuanos

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