The Neighbourhood have been releasing songs about California since they first grabbed our attention with “Sweater Weather” last year and lead singer Jesse Rutherford’s background as a solo hip-hop artist has never been a secret. Those influences had never jumped to the forefront of a song quite like they do on new single “West Coast”, though. The song features tight hip-hop drums, a laid-back whistle that’ll remind you of “Gin and Juice”, and is clearly influenced by California’s rich hip-hop roots.
Rutherford flips the traditional “everything is wonderful here” vibe that we’ve grown to expect from indie bands who writing songs about the sunshine state and instead throws in more realistic lines like “I’d say it’s happy here / but it’s depressing” and reminds us that “this California shit is rigorous / they say it’s happy here / happiness is figurative / I’m happy because of me / doesn’t matter where I’m living”. Can’t argue with that.
Maybe it’s because he’s a genius. Or maybe it’s because every time Kanye West steps on stage, there’s an unpredictable feeling that at any moment shit could hit the fan and we’ll witness another famous “Kanye moment”. Either way, it’s always worth paying attention whenever Kanye shows up on live national television — especially when it’s to release new material.
Last night he dropped by Saturday Night Live to perform two new songs off of his next album (rumored to be called Yeezus) and both of them carried dark, defiant vibes. These are definitely not obvious radio singles, but at this point in his career he doesn’t really have to play by the rules anymore. At this point he can do whatever he wants and we’ll all still pay attention. Even if you don’t enjoy these songs or you think Kanye is a self-centered douche who takes himself and his art way too seriously, you have to appreciate his ability to create the feeling of an ‘event’ whenever he steps on stage or releases new material — and whether you agree with the lyrics or not, you’ve gotta appreciate that they’ll inspire conversation through controversy.
Anyway, watch Kanye perform “BLK SKN HEAD” (a song clearly inspired by punk music) and the politically-charged “New Slaves” below. I’ll update this post with CDQ streams/downloads when they’re available.
Milky Chance has a name that’ll make middle school boys laugh and a voice that’ll make you cry. (Sorry, that was my attempt at a clever opening sentence – I think I’ve been reading too many ‘How To Be A Journalist’ books). Anyway, Milky (maybe I should just call him Chance?) is an artist from Germany who’s working on releasing his debut album Sadnecessary on May 31st — and if the songs we’ve heard so far are anything to go by, it should be one of the better albums of the year.
Chance’s stuff is rooted in the sounds of folk music, but it almost takes on a modern EDM structure as rhythmic acoustic guitar riffs mingle with steady bass thumps to form pulsing backdrops to his weathered vocals. Check out a few songs from the upcoming album below and look for Sadnecessary in a couple weeks. You might have to order it from a record store in Germany (no word on a US release yet), but the extra shipping should be worth it.
Today I came home from my embarrassing day job, sat on the couch, and opened my laptop to do what has become second nature over the last few years: look for new music on the Internet to share with you weirdos. At this point, I’ve worked out a pretty efficient (and totally nerdy) system of sifting through the intimidating daily stream of new music to find the good stuff without too much hassle. (Hint: Reeder is your friend). Even with these tricks, finding anything worth sharing just doesn’t happen sometimes, though.
Today was one of those days.
I spent three hours listening to hundreds of songs recommended by bloggers I have a lot of respect for, but for some reason nothing jumped out and grabbed me. This had to be something wrong with me, right? It wasn’t like all the talent and creativity was just sucked out of the world on a random Tuesday, leaving me with nothing worthwhile to listen to… right?
When I finally clicked play on a song called “Cherry Lips” by Australian rockers Loon Lake, I had my answer: There was totally something wrong with me. I’d become a fuckin’ music snob. All day I’d been listening to a bunch of music that was undoubtedly worthwhile but had passed it up because I was taking it all too seriously and was looking for specific sounds, ignoring anything that didn’t fall into my stupid set of made-up requirements. You know, typical music snob stuff.
Then Loon Lake came through with a song about ‘putting cherry on your lips and shaking your sexy hips’ that shook me out of my funk and reminded me what life was like before I became an annoying music snob. Even though the song was everything I had trained myself to hate (glossy radio-friendly production, surface-level lyrics, etc.), I found a big stupid grin on my face as it played through my speakers. The song reminded me of all the corny bands I listened to in high school and all the careless fun I had listening to them. I remembered what it was like to put on a record without thinking about deeper meanings, feeling the need to dissect every little flaw, or worrying about how listening to something sorta corny might detract from my carefully guarded sense of ‘music taste credibility’ (whatever that even means). I remembered what it was like to take music for what it is — and in the case of Loon Lake, that’s providing the soundtrack for a really good time.
So I turned it up a little too loud and danced around the room like a complete idiot. My cat looked at me kinda weird — but other than that, everything turned out great (my cat’s super judgemental and mean anyway). My brain didn’t rot, I didn’t suddenly become a huge Justin Bieber fan, and my friends still think I have a decent taste in music. Actually, I probably have a better, more well-rounded taste now (and my weekends will have more appropriate soundtracks too).
Hear “Cherry Lips” and two other Loon Lake songs that just soundtracked my awkward dance session below.
Contrary to the words inside the parentheses above, I don’t think everybody wants to be a cowboy. Actually, I think most people would like to be anything but a cowboy — because most people are lazy (or they’re like me and are terrified of being associated in any way to Tim McGraw). People love to romanticize being a cowboy, though. We love the image of a badass guy riding through a pasture at sundown, free of the heavy restraints of society. We love the idea of independence and the thought of feeling so relaxed and free that we’d be able to just roam around and whistle to ourselves.
As Bon Iver proved over the last couple years — everyone also loves sensitive guys with angelic voices and outdoorsy appearances. With the release of Lowing’s new song “I Will Wait For You (Everybody Wants To Be A Cowboy)” those two worlds finally collide through two and a half minutes of awesome handclaps, acoustic guitar, soaring vocals, and whistling. Catch a stream below.
After listening to this crazy song from French experimental psychedelic indie pop band Niagara, I really wanted to sit down and type out a detailed write-up describing all of the awesome things that had just happened in my headphones.
Then I realized I had no idea what the hell just happened in my headphones. There were definitely ukeleles and what I’m assuming were human voices — but besides that, everything else collided to create a bizarre (in the best way possible) song that I’m finding difficult to describe. I usually subscribe to the thought of “less is more” and am naturally attracted to more simple, minimalistic songs… but in this case, the complexity is where the magic happens. Get lost in the weird sounds of Niagara below.
If there is such a thing as having a case of the Mondays, everybody’s favorite French electronic music duo just provided the anecdote this morning. A week before its May 21st release date, one of the year’s most hyped albums is now available for streaming on iTunes. If you happen to be a dirty hipster like myself, you can geek out on the vinyl packaging in a teaser video they also released today as well (which is pretty much just porn for music nerds). It’s awesome.
Our third taste of Vampire Weekend’s next LP Modern Vampires of the City is a winner. Combining crisp percussion, a singalong-friendly hook, and bizarre chipmunk vocals, it has everything we’ve come to love from the NYC band and will likely become a highlight of their live set. Check out a lyric video below (but look away if you don’t think you’ll be able to handle their complete lack of respect for champagne – it gets kinda brutal).
Chance The Rapper was suspended from school a week before his high school graduation for “weed-related activities”. Then he started dropping acid on a regular basis. For a normal human, that’s usually a sign of a pretty sketchy future. Not for Chancelor Bennet. I don’t know what the hell he is, but he definitely isn’t normal.
Chance’s voice is the definition of ‘distinct’, his constantly changing flow doesn’t sound like anything your favorite rapper is into, and his drug of choice is something aging psychedelic rockers do — not 20 year-old rappers from Chicago. All of this (and a knack for working with incredible producers) is exactly why he’s found himself in the enviable position of being one of the most buzzed about emcees of 2013. Whether he’s rapping about taking drugs, falling in love, or just how good he is at rapping, his sound is refreshingly unusual and whether he actually is or not — Chance comes across on record as a carefree dude just trying to have as much fun as possible doing this rap thing for a living. That translates to an incredibly infectious and enjoyable mixtape. Stream below and snag a free download HERE.
My early favorites: Interlude (That’s Love), Intro, Nana, Juice, and of course… Smoke Again.
If Chance The Rapper wasn’t already on your radar, he will be after you watch this three and a half minute clip. Over what’s immediately my favorite hip-hop beat of the year (please listen to this on anything but laptop speakers), Chance’s distinctive voice sounds more comfortable/polished than ever and Ab-Soul delivers one of his strongest verses to date. Oh, and the visuals are perfect. Avoiding the temptation to go over-the-top in an attempt to be “trippy” for a song about weed, the guys over at Illroots played things subtle and ended up with one of the coolest videos in recent memory. Check it out below.