All of the songs listed below were personally chosen by the artist or blogger above. I got in touch with a lot of artists and bloggers who were all kind enough to get back to me and take part in Desert Island Discs. If youâre unaware of the concept behindÂ Desert Island Discs,Â check out the basic pitch I gave the artists and bloggers I got in touch with. Â You can support the artists featured by clicking on the album cover and buying their music.
While I (Jess) did research on the track selections for the Jensen Sportag intro just over a month ago, their remix of Teeel's “Ojai Valley" caught my ear not only for its contrasting transformation, but also for his wide-spanning vocals and perceptive lyrics. As I make my way into researching his catalogue, take a look at the influences and must-haves of James Smith for this week’s Desert Island Discs; it should be apparent through the selection how he gets his preference for painting a Kubrick-ian vision with his music.
Obsessed with the 1971 film, A Clockwork Orange, I cannot express my passion for the heavenly synth-drenched soundtrack. Walter, now Wendy Carlos composed the soundtrack with MOOG synthesizers, which was one of the first times electronic music was featured in film. This song takes me right back into Stanley Kubrick’s timeless classic. A perfect way to start my day on the island.
Air - “New Star in the Sky”
Two of my favorite french producers make the sweetest and most romantic electronica using their massive instrument collection. I’m sure you’re familiar with their soundtrack work in “Virgin Suicides” “New Star in the Sky” is one hell of a sexy track that is a mix of of 70s prog rock, spacey experimental and elevator porn music that’s sure to tell a beautiful story. The vocoder vocals blew my mind when I heard this song live.
Tycho - “Dictaphone’s Lament”
I’ve pretty much broken the “Past is Prologue” album from Tycho from playing it so much. Scott Hansen creates some of the most amazing music and is also a fantastic visual artist as well. He’s perfected his craft and created a brand. I can honestly listen to his music on repeat, especially if I was stranded on an island. Beautiful melodies and distant reverb take me away to that special place in “Dictaphone’s Lament”.
Telefon Tel Aviv - “The Birds”
"The Birds" is an amazing electronic composition from Josh Eustis and the late Charlie Cooper. This song takes flight into a beautiful dream of pulsating synths, stuttering drums, epic vocals and drowning pads. Telefon Tel Aviv have created an own-able sound and have been at it forever. True pioneers in electronic music.
John B. - “Midnight Air”
I’m a big drum n bass fan and John B. is one of my all-time favorite producers in this genre. He’s written everything from beautiful trance inspired electrostep tunes that utilize gorgeous strings, layered pads and vocals to wicked bass heavy, rinsed out old school jungle. No matter what style, John B. conveys an idea and nails it every time. His electro/80s approach takes drum n bass music to another dimension and has it’s own uniqueness. “Midnight Air” is a personal favorite that I’ve listened to hundreds of times.
Tool - “Lateralus”
Tool is one of my favorite bands and write some of the most intricate and thought provoking music. They’ve managed to stay creative and true to their art and not selling out too bad. In Lateralus, Maynard James Keenan’s verses form the first few Fibonacci numbers, ascending and descending. They always put thought and emotion into their songs, videos and live performances. They are truly amazing.
Aether - “Anywhere”
This re-imagining and use of vocal sample “I’m not going anywhere” is amazing. Aether’s entire album could play on the island forever and you would get a full range of emotion from happy to sad. Nostalgia and good vibes come off this track leaving an amazing impression on the soul. Aether takes Vinyl dirt, smooth ambience, thumping drums, hints of guitar, sweet sample hooks, puts them in a blender and everything comes together like it was meant to be.
The Album Leaf - “Red Eye”
The Album Leaf aka Jimmy Lavalle has developed his own unique style of easy listening with his signature rhodes piano, live strings and vintage synths. With the help of Joshua Eustis from Telefon Tel Aviv, The Album Leaf get a nice treatment of glitch, bleeps, and hits. “Into the Blue” is an amazing album and one of my favorites and I feel “Red Eye” captures the essence of the entire concept in this epic 7-minute track.
Silver Sea - “La Lluvia”
This song from the first album of Silver Sea, one of my side projects with guitarist, David Payne. This music is actually perfect for chilling on the beach and relaxing. “The Lluvia” (The Rain) would be a good song for the end to the the day, sitting in my man-made hut and watching the sun set. Tropical rains trickle down to replenish the island which ends up casting a rainbow in the sky. Perfection.
Hello (It’s Me). This is Trung and Brad from TV Girl. Today we were unpleasantly surprised to find that the Warner Music Group started making good on their promise to remove our music from the web. Several blogs reached out to us after receiving takedown notices regarding our music. We…
Oh, man. You know that feeling you get when you’re rifling through shelves at a record shop, and you stumble on something that sounds intriguing, and then you play it, and it turns out to be amazing? Well, I had a similar experience recently. Of course, in my case it was a bunch of e-mails I was rifling through, but same difference. See, there was this message from a young guy called Malcom Lacey. Normally incoming stuff has some huge ream of press bumf attached, but this one didn’t. It was just a couple of lines, and not a lot in the way of hints about what to expect.
I like to think I’m a pretty generous guy. I tend to assume stuff will be at least all right, and then I have a listen to find out. I mean, sure, if it’s the latest “hit” by Shwawn Deezzy feat. MC Bustanut [Names were invented out of my own head and are not intended to refer to real people: if anybody actually goes by these names then a) I apologise, and b) seriously, change your name.] then I have a bit of an inkling it might not be my thing, but hey - nobody’s perfect. The point is, I wasn’t assuming the tracks were going to be bad. Also, I wasn’t expecting them to actually blow my mind.
Before I go any further, let me just give you a warning. It’s probably best not to listen to Arrange if you’re feeling a bit low. I played through debut album “Plantation” on the train, and just about broke down in tears a couple of times. A touch awkward.
Okay, I’m glad I got that off my chest. Arrange is the solo effort of the aforementioned Mr Lacey, who makes expansive, minimal music of disgustingly good quality despite only having been at it for a year. He’s inspired by the likes of Brian Eno and Akira Kosemura, which, if you have a listen to the tracks, will not surprise you in the least. Elegant piano refrains? Check. Sweeping ambient pads? Check. A whole bunch of Grammys? Presumably in the pipeline.
He touches on moments of pure Mogwai: “Golden Neighborhoods” especially has an “Auto Rock” feel to it. And in case you thought he was all about slow-paced ambience, “Sore” samples up some soul vocals and a funk beat for a quick detour into hip-hop. Did I mention that he sounds like Conor Oberst? No? He does. If Conor Oberst joined Memoryhouse, and agreed to sing at a half-whisper, this is pretty much what the end result would sound like. Can I just add as a little aside to Conor, Denise and Evan that this is an incredible idea, and they really should consider it.
If you’re looking for something light and disposable to stick on at a party, then you should probably keep looking. On the other hand, if you feel like something engrossing that you can lie in your room and mope to for an hour, head on over to Malcom’s Bandcamp, where you can download “Plantation”, and a bunch of EPs, for free. In the meantime, check out our hand-picked highlights below. Just, bring tissues.
I think you can file the new band, League, under the catchiest band of 2011. They first grabbed the indie-blog world with their ridiculously infectious track, “Golden Maps,” which has it all - a synthetic loop, fun vocals (think Passion Pit collides with MGMT), and a catchy beat that builds, making it impossible not to dance.
This duo, Jorge Ribeiro and José Tornada, comes to us from London, UK, and have a way of making the techno beats and vocals reminiscent of the Flashdance days of the 80’s, sound cool (i.e. “A-61” v. Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight”). Originally, students on their way toward far too restrained careers, Ribeiro and Tornada ditched their books and went straight for the synthesizer.
While I kid about “A-61,” the track actually has a lot of depth, filled with lingering guitar strokes, an intense electronic loop, airy and slightly sadistic sounding vocals, and accompanied by accentuated drumbeats to add drama. In fact, their entire “Golden Maps EP”, which is an astonishing and impressive eight tracks, has depth, variety, and a strong point of view. Their sound is signatory, which is a great quality to have in this new age of electronic music. Their disc art is perfect for their character - light and sunny, yet introspective and dreamy.
While listening to Teeel, I’m reminded of a roadtrip I took this last Christmas season through the American Southwest. I had never been to any of the states between Texas to California, but I knew the region was famous for it’s life-changing sunrises and sunsets. The aquired experience of hues I never knew nature could conjure is what I’m reminded of when hearing Teeel's music. In fact, James Smith's aim to arouse a sense of colorful calm is integral to his music style.
Largely influenced by futuristic film soundtracks such as Marathon Man, Smith takes to these films when in need of a muse; in fact, the title of his debut LP “Amulet” was taken from the movie “The Monster Squad” with the title track written as a reference to Dracula.
"Ojai Valley" stands as my favorite track from the album for the moment. While it made for great remix material for Jensen Sportag, on its own it sets a different mood, reminding me of the tall cacti encountered on my Southwest odyssey that stood in the open desert, emblematically comfortable in the harsh environment. It showed that even in such a desolate space, overtures of adapted flora gave the dry valley an underlying orchestral feel. The album largely shifts between building on minimalistic compositions and trance-inducing opuses, further cementing his film influence with his Kubrick-like musical storytelling.
In all, what I like most about Teeel is his ability to construct boundless musical arrangements without relying heavily on his celluloid influences. Smith’s intention is to invoke a sense of creativity, hoping to stir the mind of the listener into constructing these images upon an empty void— thus allowing the audience to partake in his vision of cinematic beauty.
One aspect of the music scene that the Internet has changed beyond all recognition is the ability to find, own and share new music. More often than not this is done illegally (something that we at Listen Before You Buy are dead against) but it has meant that artists now have to think about protecting their music more if they want to make money from it.
Refreshingly though there are guys (and gals) out there who make music just for the sake of it and don’t mind who downloads or shares it. We, the music loving public reap the rewards in that we have a constant supply of excellent music to listen to, sometimes even better than the stuff we have to pay for! Thankfully Holocron falls into this category.
A two piece (Sean and Tim) “electro-ish” band from upstate New York, Sean started out producing stuff in his basement then his college dorm, enlisting the help of good friend Tim for aspects of the live show. Holocron have created incredible dance music that wouldn’t be out of place in the nightclubs of the Star Wars universe that they get their name from (Sean’s a bit of a fanboy; wonder if I should tell him I grew up where they made the movies?).
Their new album, “II”, contains a fabulous mix of high class, danceable electro beats ranging from the lighter almost dreamlike “Summit” to the harder, edgier, title track “II”, to the sample laden “Sukiyaki”. My favourite track however is “Return”. With its screaming repeated vocal over a fast yet extremely tuneful backing track I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve replayed this, it’s immense.
Last year Sean set up a small record label/art collective called The Holo Group, as a way to legitimately release his music and to form a union of electronic artists in upstate New York. They don’t believe in selling art so you can download their album for free from here. These guys are definitely worthy of our One To Watch label because we’re expecting big things from them.
Allow me to present a simple yardstick to judge how awesome a song is. If it makes me want to dance to it while sober? Hot damn, you got yourself a winner. Which brings me seamlessly - seamlessly! - to Young Montana?, a.k.a. Jon Pritchard. Jon is from Coventry (Editor’s note - This is a town in England about mid-way between Manchester and London). Stateside readers may not be familiar with the phrase “sent to Coventry”, but it roughly means being ostracised. Because Coventry is not that exciting of a place. I would know: I lived in and around it for three years.
I’m not exaggerating here: Young Montana? is the best thing about Coventry.
But if you’re only going to have one good thing about you, it may as well be really, really, ridiculously good. Young Montana?’s debut album, “Limerence”, certainly delivers. I think every single song on it passes the David’s-sober-dancing test. “Sacré Cool” better than most. I even love the title - and it fits, because I have an obsessive, overwhelming need to listen to the album again. Seriously, this is an album that samples “Swan Lake” in its final track, and it feels understated.
It’s worth mentioning sampling, since a lot of the album consists of sliced and diced snippets from goodness knows where. Sampling gets a bad rep. Sometimes that’s deserved (Girl Talk, I’m looking at you. Right at you. Playing two tracks at once might be fun, but that is not composing.), but other times it really isn’t. In general, I’m fine with an artist taking a good hook and making something of it. Skip about 2:30 into Labi Siffre’s “I Got The”. Sound familiar? That’s my favourite sample.
Sometimes, though, sampling goes way beyond just taking a little clip and working it to death. Until now, my go-to artist on this front was The Avalanches. I’m not saying Young Montana? is better than The Avalanches, but he is right up there.
Okay, so you can expect sampling. What else? I’d be lying if I said the album was easy to pin down. I’ve been thinking for a while, and the best I’ve come up with is satanic chip-hop. Sample-laden, super-sliced, sub-heavy satanic chip-hop-cum-IDM. It’s like the love-child of Venetian Snares and Squarepusher and Wisp and Ratatat and Grandmaster Flash. It’s like musical bacon: delicious.
Anyway, I’m fawning. Don’t take it from me: listen to the album courtesy of Fact Magazine below, or download our hand-picked highlights. It is absolutely stellar.
When it comes to music, movies and popular culture, the U.S. is ahead of the curve in many respects. It usually takes some time for other countries to catch up. One example is the K-Pop movement in South Korea. The U.S. went through it’s teen-pop phase in the nineties, and now South Korea is experiencing its wave of underage/illegal looking, teen-pop girl and boy bands. Each country usually adds its own flavor to the music, but you can see the trends move from one side of the globe to the other. Another example, and one that is more relevant to LBYB, is the band White Shoes & The Couples Company.
While the U.S. has experienced the 70’s and 30’s music styles, it’s never been done like this before. This small band from Jakarta, Indonesia says their influences come from Indonesian movie soundtracks, 1970’s pop with a 1930’s big band twist. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an Indonesian film, but if the soundtracks sound anything like WSTCC, I’m happy to broaden my horizons.
While their muses come from blasts from the pasts, their sound is original, fresh and fun. Their story and whole aesthetic is so endearing that it shines through in their music, and through Miss Sari’s lead vocals (she’s also responsible for the finger snaps). Miss Sari (how adorable is that?) first collaborated with Mr. Rio (acoustic guitar/vocals) in 2002 while at an art institute at Cikini. The groups has since grown to a 6-piece band, including Mr. Saleh (electric guitar/vocals), Mr. John (drums/vibes), wifey, Mrs. Melah (piano/viola/keyboards/vocals), and hubby, Mr. Ricky (kontra bass/cello/bass/vocals).
This band is all smiles, especially with tracks like “Senja Mengglia,” which is a sunny, happy-go-lucky song - seriously, the lyrics are about sunshine shooting from your ass…kidding…sort of. WSTCC also has some nice ballads, such as “Sunday Memory Lane.” I really liked the video below, as it’s shot like a home video from the 1970s, with members of the band sporting the iconic oversized, dark-rimmed glasses and all.
One thing is for sure, this band will 1. blow your mind away/make you smile, 2. make you miss the 70’s, and 3. oddly enough, impel you to download a bunch of youtube videos of Indonesian movies. Download away, my friend.