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Ikea pack furniture in it. Gehry has made furniture from it. Now architects are shaping spaces with it. Is there any limit to the creative re-use of corrugated cardboard? With its unique physical consistency, its decidedly axial strength, and its deadening acoustic absorption, corrugated cardboard has many inherent qualities. As such it was the perfect material for this particular sound installation.
Made from 720 half square sheets of 7mm thick corrugated cardboard, stacked in 360 layers, this cavernous sound space is set within a 2.5m cube. As a space for listening to and experiencing music, the initial concept for the design developed from the architect's ambition to create a strong spatial intensity and a distinct internal atmosphere. With an irregular free-form interior set within a regular cubic volume, the object has a profound duality. Made from one material it also has an implied solidity that strengthens the architect's distinction between inside and out - a distinction that is heightened when the full acoustic ambience is experienced from within.
Cutting the cardboard took three working days, and assembly just one. The structure sits under its own dead weight, without any fixings or glue. And, for those of a technical persuasion, a simple calculation reveals that the combined compression of the 360 layers of cardboard is 20mm over the 2.5m height, or an average of 500ths of a millimetre per sheet. All services are integrated within the stack, including cable runs and apertures for the six-speaker surround sound system. R. G.
Produced by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk and released by Air's label Record Makers, Sebastien Tellier's new album 'Sexuality' is a rhythmic ode to - you guessed it - the art of love making.
'Sexuality' explores the common ground between Daft Punk's 'Make Love' and Air's 'Sexy Boy'.
Tellier's songs traverse voluptuous synths and sweeping strings. The drums throb and whir soothingly at the edges of the sound. Tellier sings in a convincing coo and whisper as if he is updating Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot's ascendant 'Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus'.
Where Tellier's French contemporaries like Justice head for the euphoric, chanting hooks, Tellier goes mellow, radiating warmth and revealing subtle analogue textures.
On the film clip for the instrumental track 'Sexual Sportswear', Tellier loops his keyboards like a double helix as a female body, lit up to resemble the iconic cover art for A Tribe Called Quest's 'The Low End Theory', writhes and moves to the music. By Nick Christie
Most definitely one for the lovers.
Hot Chip's new album 'Made In The Dark', is a wild ride. From thepopping, stomping squelches and whistles of 'Out At The Pictures', tothe LCD Soundsystem-esque groove of 'Ready For The Floor', the albumjumps frenetically between styles and influences.
With moments of delicate intimacy, soulful croons and straightforwarddance-pop, Hot Chip truly are the kings of hipster electro-pop.
Full of infectious, imaginative hooks and schizophrenic mood and tempochanges, you can lose yourself in 'Made In The Dark'. With somuch to process, it's an album that will reveal its more subtleelements on repeat listens.
Music for sound-tracking times of bliss and glee. By Nick Christie myspace.com/hotchip
Ah Presets, you haven't let us down. When a pre-release copy of The Presets new album 'Apocalypso' landed on the Coolhunter desk last week, it was with great anticipation that we gave it a first spin. And Bam! straight away, it hit us - that crispness of sound, Julian Hamilton's semi-comatose delivery and the wailing synths - it was indeed The Presets we have come to know and love. 'Apocalypso' is a more complete album than its predecessor 'Beams', the songs more fully formed and subtly layered.
With the pounding 'My People' a club staple for months now, the album's second single 'This Boy's In Love' has all the hallmarks of glittering synthpop classic with its rising verses and dream-like chorus backed by tear-drop piano keys. Elsewhere, 'If I Know You' sails by on skittering hi-hats and while Hamilton croons atop pulsating bass. On the album closer 'Anywhere', The Presets get emotional as sparse four-to the floor drums and empty vocals get overtaken by bouncy synth stabs and a New Order-esque, lighters-in-the-air crescendo.
The new album 'Apocalypso' drops on April 12, followed by a world tour. It's going to be a monster year for The Presets. By Nick Christie.
You’re in a difficult position when you find a new band and are ready to swear your undying love to them but you find out they’ve released one solitary song. You don’t know where they’ll go from here, you don’t know if you’ll even like it when they do because of you listened to that one little tune around fifty times already. Undeniably, you’re in a quandary. I know the feeling. For the last month we’ve been playing to death a track called Look At Me by UK synth-poppers Mirrors. It’s filled with pillow-soft synth bubbles, chilly atmospherics and glumstruck vocals which result in a resolutely stunning three and half minutes. But it’s not enough. As is common with such cases of new-band fixations, we had to know more about this enigmatic four piece.
As it turns out, Mirrors are as shrouded in mystery as their music, with scarcely little about the band yet to be revealed other than that they came together following the unfortunate conclusion of Mumm-Ra. “Since the growth of the Internet as a promotional tool, bands have become extremely accessible, and the mystique has vanished,” Mirrors says. “Mirrors aim to preserve that sense of mystery. Everything about us is presented subject to our vigorous aesthetic. What might be expected with other bands, we do not expect from ourselves.”
Beginning with such a bold and ambitious declaration as that makes it clear. Mirrors know what they want. Call it calculated, but I’d call it considered. They’re constructing an environment around the band itself, which, like Look At Me, is frighteningly easy to become immersed in.
“Our aspirations are to make a sort of electronic soul music,” Mirrors reveals. “. Individually, we had all come from a background of traditional pop music, and each of us felt as though we had taken it as far as we wanted to. Gradually we started falling in love with the seemingly limitless possibilities of electronic music as well as those artists that have managed to imbue stark electronic sounds with emotion and feeling.”
From here, Mirrors confirm that their next move is to reward the faithful and get out some new material. “We’re currently working towards an album’s worth of material. The process is very slow as we effectively build our songs in the studio, piece by piece until we have something that fits the band aesthetic. It’s very methodical, but it works. We want to alter the way people approach commercial/pop music. We want pop music to be an experience, not just a song.” Sounds like a plan. – Dave Ruby Howe
Alan McGee, the man who gave the world Oasis and The Libertines, has found the latest diamond in the rough. Scottish band Glasvegas are a four-piece that manages to combine all that was good from the Ronettes-era with all that is bad from modern-day Glasgow to brilliant effect.
Despite their obvious influences that range from Phil Spector to Elvis, what they come up with is so remarkably unique that they sound like The Jesus & Mary Chain getting drunk and having a go at covering the Grease soundtrack.
They draw you in with euphoric and unbreakable walls of sound but there is something so unmistakably bleak - something so unmistakably Scottish - about their sound that, in 2008, they manage to say a hell of a lot more about the state of things than sweaty, prepubescent boys with guitars ever could.
Lead singer James Allan has done for a thick Glasweigan accent what Alex Turner did for Sheffield and what Mike Skinner did for Mockney. And singing along in cod-Glaswegian is all part of the Glasvegas experience, as it is live where they excel. - Rob Facey
What springs to mind when you think of actors making music? Likely you’re confronted with horrific images of Russell Crowe and Keanu Reeves belting out their ‘hits’ in earnest, followed by the faint smell of bad ideas. But there are exceptions to the rule. Jason Schwartzman has impressed over two Coconut Records, uh, records, as has indie pinup Zooey Deschanel as half of She & Him. Well, now you can add to that list Donald Glover.
As well as being a writer on 30 Rock and starring in fellow NBC sitcom Community, Glover’s also been exploring his other creative outlets under the moniker Childish Gambino, releasing his latest album Culdesac for free online last month.
Yet unlike fellow network TV funnymen like Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island crew, Glover’s turn on Culdesac is completely straight-laced and serious, and all the more entertaining for it. Although it isn’t a great surprise, this dude can rap, throwing out tight-wound verses that have enough bravado and charisma to make any rapper jealous, particularly on tracks like Hero or the grandstanding swagger-fest Let Me Dope You. Elsewhere, something like Put It In My Video races along with frantic beats and These Girls is a sombre crooner’s jam.
It’s a twisted hip-hop fantasy made real with the effortless cool of guys like Wale and Pharrell, mixed with a bit of Eddie Murphy’s forays into music. And it’s all good. - Dave Ruby Howe
Two Door Cinema Club inhabit a curious position in the current musical landscape. On the surface they’re a typical indie-pop band, that’s obvious from the haircuts right down to the masterful knack for melody that these three Irish lads posses. But there’s more to it than that. The group’s energetic guitar blasts that riddle debut album Tourist History betray some serious punk leanings, not to mention the trio’s connection with French hipster den Kitsune has made them crossover stars with the dance and electro crowd. Indeed, the trio laid down parts of Tourist History with club stalwart Philippe Zdar of Cassius, an experience treasured by the trio
“He is the best producer working in dance music right now, hands down,” says Kevin Barnes from Two Door Cinema Club down a crackling phone line from Northern Ireland. “And he was great to work with, he just wanted us to try out all his toys in the studio,” he says, adding that the current musical climate helped facilitate the hook-up with Zdar. “Now those genres have really blurred and the label you put on the music doesn’t matter so much anymore.”
Indeed, the melting pot of styles found on Tourist History only serves to enhance the accessibility and sheer fun of Two Door Cinema Club. It’s an intensely listenable record, and its thoughtful simplicity is something to be cherished in an age of grand designs and high pretension in indie rock. “We just wanted to make something that was true to the music that we have all been influenced by, and this is what we came up with” Barnes explains. “We did our best to ignore all the hype and just focus on doing what we love.” Dave Ruby Howe
In the digital age of music, Turntablism has long remained a bastion of the analogue, a smoky backroom where arguments over white labels, pick-ups and the merits of the 'S'-shaped tone arm are the order of the day. Only recently has the turntable been dragged into the digital spectrum, beginning with the CD models ten years ago and being followed now by the emergence of hard-drive based decks.
The recent Picasso & His Collection exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA ) of Brisbane, Australia, managed to take the digital deck another step further. A significant part of Pablo Picasso's genius was the posthumous influence he had on modern Europe following his death in 1973, something GoMA's curators were excited to capture in their Contemporary Media Lounge, the centrepiece being the introduction of a touch screen turntable.
Co-ordinated by GoMA's Multimedia Designer, Aidan Robertson and calling on the skills of both the gallery's exhibitions team and post production company Cutting Edge's Interactive Designer, Dan Treichel, the brilliance of the turntables lies in the linking of a platter taken from a Numark HDX deck with an intuitive touchscreen. As the platter spins, the user is able to manipulate a range of adjustable filters onscreen to build, rearrange and reinvent the MP3 songs on the drive. While relatively easy to pick up and play, the turntables also possess a steady learning curve, letting the more committed and ambitious users create works of intimidating aural dexterity.
Thus Robertson, Treichel and their collaborators managed to weave together the practicality of both old and new, keeping the tactile response of the high-torque HDX platter but matching it to the easy access of media and filters provided by a touchscreen. By doing so, they created a compelling experience and in the process made the touchscreen-turntables an unexpected star of the exhibition. By Matt Shea
It's hard to imagine any band that's able to utilise the studio as effectively as Grizzly Bear. The Brooklyn-based quartet seamlessly weaves instruments into textures, rendering music that is almost irrelevant to discuss in traditional terms of rhythm and arrangement. But Grizzly Bear's art is not something to be thought about, it's something to be felt; it sweeps through you, feathering imagination and unlocking emotion. While this is prodigiously modern music, the cleverness of its coordination and restraint of delivery makes it seem of a porous and playful past, leaving the listener lying on a hardwood floor in the 60s, reading Kerouac and smoking Lucky Strikes. A spectacular triumph, Veckatimest is as absolutely enchanting as it is thoroughly impressive. - Matt Shea
There’s something uniquely Danish about Fagget Fairys; an aggressive modernity stirred to a potent beat that marks the duo (that’s MC Ena and DJ Sensimilla) as being distinctly of the Jutland, a place where political, social and artistic progressivism is the norm rather than the exception.
It’s in Feed the Horse that the duo has produced a dexterous debut album. Built on Sensimilla’s filthy, sweat-smeared bass lines, Fagget Fairys’ brand of ghetto-funk churns, pumps, wrestles and writhes. Feed the Horse is almost salacious in its intent, and you can’t help but listen without feeling either bizarrely elated or subtly violated, or perhaps just both.
“I think the album worked out in a really good way,” explains Ena in her signature elastic style, her mind occasionally tripping over her tongue in a torrent of engaging verbosity. “Everything happened at the right time, because we had our EP out last year with two tracks on it that became very popular on the music blogs, so we already had a good basis on which we could then produce. When we did the album, we did it half in New York and half in Copenhagen, so we were working in these lots of two weeks at a time, where we would go into the studio and not come out for two weeks basically.”
Perhaps the biggest coup with Feed the Horse was the recruitment of Grammy award-winning Danish producer, Rasmus Bille Bähncke. Sensimilla has plenty of experience shaking clubs across Denmark, but working with Bähncke was a whole new experience entirely.
“He’s a really, really amazing guy and I think it was a bit like love at first sight for all of us,” Sensimilla explains. “You have the perfect match personally and you have the perfect match professionally and I think he was our perfect match in a professional sense. He has a good ear for what’s catchy in the pop genre and I have a really good ear for the underground thing, so the combination on the album is really interesting I think.”
Fagget Fairys may be destroying sound systems worldwide, but they’re simply the sharpened spearhead of what’s turning out to be a gang busting groundswell in Danish popular music.
“There are so many really interesting sounds coming out of Denmark,” says Sensimilla. “I think it’s being recognised in a few places in the world that we have some strong names now and that’s really exciting!” Exciting doesn’t even begin to describe the surge in great Danish music that Fagget Fairys are leading, with a bustling and dynamic community of artists in the pack, the scene is on the verge of a musical triumph of truly epic proportions. – Matt Shea
”Kipling” is the title of a hauntingly melancholic yet somehow beautifully hopeful music video created for the Finnish indie rock band, Magenta Skycode, by Miikka Niemi and his Lapland-based team at Flatlight Films.
We love the way the open space, sparse nature and mythical plot leave room for the viewers’ own interpretations. The airiness and subdued light are perfect reflections of the chilly beauty of Lapland where this was filmed in Kemijärvi and Salla.
The voice and the music are those of Jori Sjöroos, Magenta Skycode’s founder and main man. The other band members are Niko Kivikangas, Kalle Taivainen, Valtteri Lipasti, Mitja Kiviluoma, Niina Sinkkonen and Jessika Rapo.
We especially love the rhythm that seems to recall a yoik (joiku), the Lapps’ ancient form of storytelling by singing. Combined, the video and music bring out thoughts of shape-shifters and shamans, tragic fates and dramatic lives, fear and hope. The man and dog (a white Swiss shepherd) never appear together. Are they the same?
Kipling gained its name from a Rudyard Kipling quote: “Of all the liars in the world sometimes the worst are your own fears.” The song ends with a beautiful verse: As your sadness leads you home, will you turn the scene around, moving closer to the stage where your fear ends up afraid?
Kipling is part of Magenta Skycode’s second album, Relief, that won the 2010 Finland Emma Award (Finnish equivalent of Grammy) for the Best Indie Album. In 2006, the Turku-based Magenta Skycode’s debut album, IIIII, became Finland’s Record of the Year. - Tuija Seipell
Adele is back with a new single and album - turn up the volume and enjoy 'Rolling in the deep'. We can't get enough of this dark bluesy gospel disco tune. Here's also a dance remix.
What is it that makes Australian electro duo Tim & Jean so special? That's not meant as a corny opening line for this feature, that's a genuine question. We really want to know what kind of magic potion is running through the water in their hometown of Perth or how many virgins one needs to sacrifice in order to have what they have.
With just one song circulating around at the moment, the blissful synth-pop jam Come Around, Tim & Jean have already blown bloggers and industry types away. Indeed, after wowing Australian audiences as part of Triple J radio’s Unearthed competition, the duo has found itself in the middle of a major label bidding war in the US, cementing its buzz as the next big thing set to go supernova in 2010.
On Come Around the kids, and yes I do mean kids as the two are just 15 and 18 respectively, show off a surprisingly masterful knack for melding mirror-ball electronics with stomping choruses and irresistible hooks. With more gold like this on the way now's the ideal time to fall for Tim & Jean as you can bet you'll be hearing a lot of them very soon. Listen below. - Dave Ruby Howe
See also 21 yr old Australian Jonathan Boulet
Great animated music video for the band Danger Beach. Their album Milky Way can be downloaded here:
Directed by Ned Wenlock
Character animation by Rodney Selby
I hate the term ‘comeback’.” That’s Casey Spooner, one half of Fischerspooner, the iconic electro duo who’ve just released their third album (Entertainment) after a four-year gap in recording. “It’s not a comeback because we didn’t actually leave,” implores Casey. He’s right too. Fischerspooner haven’t been hiding after their last album, Odyssey, failed to ignite in the same way that electroclash touchstone #1 did, they’ve just been busy working on other facets of the Fischerspooner universe. “Releasing albums isn’t all we do, we’re performance artists so we could be working on stage shows, theatre pieces, ballets or installations.”
Yet for a duo that can work (successfully) in so many different creative arenas, there is something appealing about the musical side of Fischerspooner that lured Casey and creative partner Warren Fischer back for Entertainment. “I often wonder why we do it,” Casey remarks with a pause for contemplation. “This job can be terrible. I haven’t had a day off since the beginning of the year,” he moans. “But I think, in the end, Fischerspooner as a musical entity offers us a chance to incorporate a lot of different elements and open things up for collaborations. For us, it’s never just an album. There’s a stage show we’ve got to think about and with that comes choreography, costuming, design as well as art and image direction. We’re always thinking of new stuff to do and who we can do it with to make it work right.”
Whatever they’ve done in the last four years has worked, as Entertainment shows off a charismatic and invigorated Fischerspooner. One minute they’re swanning through some pulsating electro (The Best Revenge), the next it’s brooding dance music for androids (Money Can’t Dance) or fractured and futuristic pop (the stunning Danse en France). Entertainment is an album filled with unbridled imagination, but more importantly it’s an album that sees the realisation of all these ideas. “We worked really hard on this record, and we’re proud of it,” Casey says grinning. “I guess I don’t mind too much if people see it as a comeback. It just means that we’ve been through it all. First we were loved by everyone, then hated and now people are excited to hear from us again. I quite like that feeling.”
It’s good to have them back. – Dave Ruby Howe
Speaking to Elly Jackson, the flame-haired singer and focal point of UK duo La Roux, on the eve of her ascent into the realms of pop-stardom - that being the pinnacle reaches of the pop charts - is interesting in that it's an incredible achievement for an electro duo, who regardless of their enormous potential don't fit the mold of conventional chart-darlings, and also because Jackson doesn't see herself popstar yet.
"Yeah, it's very weird in a way. I never expected us to do well on the pop charts like we have done, but yeah, it's nice anyway," Elly says, referring to La Roux's two most recent singles, In For The Kill and Bulletproof, hitting number 2 and 1 on the UK pop charts. "When In For The Kill first entered the charts we were chuffed about it, but then it started to climb and it reached number 2, so we were sharing space with genuine pop stars," she explains from the back of La Roux's tour van. "I was just happy because it meant that people were listening to our music. That's the important thing."
But despite the double-act's runaway success La Roux aren't a flash in the pan, as Elly states emphatically. "A lot of people think that we've just kind of appeared over night, but that's not the case at all. We've been doing this for years. It took a couple of years of recording and writing together to find out what we liked and what we didn't like, and then last year we started taking that around to labels and people who wanted to work with. It's been a long time coming for us, so if people think we've just sprung up out of nowhere, they're wrong."
As Elly suggests, the La Roux project has been developing and gestating for a number of years before taking off. The singer explains that the years leading up to their self titled album were spent "struggling" with songs. "It started out very different to what you hear now. We were doing things in an organic kind of way. It wasn't strictly folk music, but there were a lot of acoustic instruments involved. I grew up listening to a lot of folk music so I guess that was a big influence at the time," she says fankly. "But our songs weren't working. It was difficult for us. Like, the songs were good, but there was just something that wasn't 100% right. So we took a break from things for a little while and I started listening to a lot of electronic music, a lot of synthpop and stuff. Ben ([Langmaid], the other side of La Roux) and I got together again and decided to try things out with some electronic sounds, and it just clicked. The songs finally made sense.”
La Roux by La Roux is out now. Hit the band’s website for a free download pack. - Dave Ruby Howe
There’s no question rap music is in the midst of a major sea change. The jeans are getting tighter, the hoodies brighter. Gangsta is out, hipster is in, and those who don’t adapt are told they’re becoming obsolete. The fresh wave is young and ambitious, full of entrepreneurial spirit whilst spitting about SEGA and sneakers.
But away from the bum rush of hipster rap is a cleaner, more precise alternative.Throughout its reinventions, hip hop’s party trick has been its continued relevance as a medium for social and personal commentary, and it’s in this realm that 5 0’Clock Shadowboxers exist. This is soul-searing music, full of coiled aggression and biting humour. Shadowboxers’ rapper, Zilla Rocca, will laugh about the absurdity of it all one moment, and king hit you for not caring enough the next.
And he careens over some of the most carefully deployed sampology this side of a RJD2 record. Blurry Drones has grafted enough vinyl ammunition for three rap records and then crammed it all onto one. But this isn’t scattershot producing – throwing licks until one sticks – it’s precision work, carefully folded together for maximum effect. This is hip hop front-end loaded with killer instinct and a desperate perspiration. 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers are trapped in the dark corners of soul and society, and have just offered you a front row ticket as they fight their way out. – Matt Shea
Goldfrapp - Head First
Having pitched a seriously beguiling curveball with their fourth record, 2008's ambiguous Seventh Tree, UK electronic boffins Goldfrapp have seemingly stepped back onto the dancefloor for new LP, March's Head First. From the first taste of the album, coming in the form of new single Rocket, the band have rediscovered their love of electro, festooning the radio jam with neon-embossed hooks and Atari-aping synths. We like this a lot.
The Sound Of Arrows - TBA
Thus far Sweden's The Sound Of Arrows have given us just a handful of songs, released on labels like Labrador and Neon Gold, and whilst quantity is (unfortunately) not their thing, quality surely is. The Scandinavian duo have managed to breath life into whatever they touch, lacing their singles with widescreen pop sensibilities, buoyant synthesisers and un-ironic slices of Euro-pop. With a full length finally at hand it's time for The Sound Of Arrows to truly shine.
She & Him - Volume Two
Just like our album forecasts, good things come in twos, right? It's therefore fitting that the indie nerd's dream-come-true collaboration of Merge stalwart M Ward and Zooey Deschanel as She & Him would return for a second round of twee-pop loveliness. Set for a staggered March/April release, Volume Two will pick up where the duo left off, namely making boys and girls in cardigans swoon
The Drums - TBA
With every music sheet in the world teetering on the verge of delirium over The Drums and the surf-pop resurrection found on their debut EP, Summertime, from last year, the band were an easy shoe-in for this list. But beyond the deafening buzz that The Drums are stirring up as they march ahead to their first full length the group manage to back it all up, delivering lean and polished indie-rock tunes with style, accessibility and intelligence.
Vampire Weekend - Contra
Having brought afro-leaning indie sensibilities and boat shoes back into the mainstream with their irrepressible debut album way back in 2008, New York prepsters Vampire Weekend essentially set themselves up as the poster boys of the difficult second album. After all that hype and crossover success, how could they better themselves? From the first tastes of their follow up disc, Contra, due in January, not much has changed, with the band still rocking polos and summery hooks, but it's clear their charm hasn't faded in the slightest with the band now rocking more self-assured playfulness than ever.
Uffie - Sex, Dreams & Denim Jeans
Bursting onto the electro scene with over-sexed raps and over-dosed electro beats courtesy of the Ed Banger crew, Miami-via-Paris MC Uffie seemed poised to take a lofty position as the middle ground between Peaches and M.I.A., but, uh, she just never really released anything. That's going to change when she finally drops the delightfully titled Sex Dreams & Denim Jeans LP next year. With hook ups from Mr Oizo, SebastiAn and Mirwais she's definitely in good company, but time may've passed her by. Whatever the result, we'll definitely be listening.
Delphic - Acolyte
Sounding like the spiritual heirs to New Order's brand of immaculate electronic pop, young Machesterites Delphic have been making all the right moves in their short career. Already they've partnered up with the tastemakers behind labels like Modular and Kitsune, not to mention scoring the coup of having golden-touch producer Ewan Pearson helm their debut album Acolyte. Packing an arsenal of soaring vocals, champagne synthesizers and driving hooks, get ready to hear a hell of a lot about Delphic. - Dave Ruby Howe
Opening with just a billowing piano refrain and acoustic strumming, you get the immediate feeling that there's something pretty interesting about The Gadsdens' breakthrough single The Sailor Song. After that initial hook, the UK quintet completely ensnare you with some witting strings and slurred vocal coos from singer Jody Gadsden, sounding like he's had one too many drinks and far too many sleepless nights. Expect to see these guys gobbled up by the Greys Anatomy crowd in no time. - Oliver Queen
Electro has always been the bread and butter of the Western crowd. France kicked off the distortion explosion with Justice, DatA and the Ed Banger sound, while the US set have been high balling with crunchy jams courtesy of the Los Angeles party set, including Steve Aoki's Dim Mak crew as well as Classixx and the late great Guns N Bombs. But over in Japan, Shinichi Osawa has been making plenty of noise with his relentless output of forward thinking, super-sized bangers, beating his Western contemporaries at their own game.
Having already unleashed a celebrated artist album back in 2007 (The One), Osawa's latest masterpiece comes in Teppan Yaki, and despite its dubious title, the oversized package collects all of Osawa's biggest remixes to date, including main-room reworks for the likes of Boys Noize, Cazals, Van She and Bag Raiders, as well as an extra disc of the producer's remixes for Japanese artists like De De Mouse, becoming a primer of sorts for far-out Japanese club culture. – Dave Ruby Howe
Shinichi Osawa's Teppan Yaki is out now.
We’ve recently stumbled upon ‘We Don’t Eat, a single by Irish singer and songwriter James Vincent McMorrow. Now we cannot stop listening to it and we keep debating whether our attraction is about his high, halting, smoky voice, or the eerie aura of something very old, something we’ve heard a long time ago, something written by old men.
Whatever the main attraction, this piece evokes the damp darkness of the Irish landscape itself, and makes us think of Irish immigrants entering New York in the 1800s. It is cool. Literally and figuratively.
James Vincent Morrow released his debut album in 2010 and he’s just finished his first North American tour.
San Francisco duo Girls are masters of simplicity. From their love of stripped back and fuzzed-out garage rock tunes to their deliberately direct album title (it’s literally just called Album) Girls keep everything simple and immediate, and it really works for them.
On Album, the duo of Chris Owens and Chet White traverse through a set of sun drenched San Fran tales, from top-down roadtrips, to hazy trip-outs and wistful bust ups. While that might come off as a bit scattered, Album never feels ill-considered, and really Girls are just in a rush to move onto their next creative spark, never fussing over their production credentials or instrumentation.
As it stands, Album is pretty much perfectly of the moment. Whether you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and starting to head into the warmer months or you’re in Northern Hemisphere and are already feeling nostalgic for the fading summer moments, this is for you. – Dave Ruby Howe
September is always a busy month in the world of hip-hop and rap music, and this year's calender month marks another landmark period for the booming genre, with a host of big releases attracting attention. Amongst the release schedule, three records in particular standout, namely, Kid Cudi's debut LP Man On The Moon: The End Of The Day, Jay-Z's star-stuffed The Blueprint 3 and Wu-Tang mainstay Raekwon's long-awaited Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II. Yet although those first two records are securing the bulk of press hype, it's Raekwon that's seemingly walked away triumphant from this rap battle royal, delivering an album of blazingly fierce rap.
Whilst Raekwon's competitors have been focussing on dressing up their records with head-scratching concepts (Cudi's Man On The Moon is divided into five acts with Common narrating the action, go figure) and an overload of big name guests (Kanye West, Rihanna, Drake, Young Jeezy and even Empire Of The Sun make appearances on The Blueprint 3), Raekwon gets down to business on OB4CL2. The infamous Wu-Tang rapper sounds entirely uninhibited on the record, letting loose some serious lyrical fire throughout. Of course, there's a few hook-ups with producers like Dr. Dre and the late great J Dilla, but beyond that, the record is a reminder for all who'd forgotten that Wu-Tang Clan and especially Raekwon are as potent and essential as ever. - Dave Ruby Howe
Hot on the heels (or rather casually surfing behind) the success of psychedelic pop acts like MGMT, Animal Collective and long dormant sample-masters The Avalanches comes this new wave of blissed out artists with an affection for skewed pop-music and windswept psychdelica. Already the victim of a host of silly genre names – including no-fi, dreamwave and the piss-taking chillgaze – the emergence of this scene has been dominated by the likes of Washed Out, Emil & Friends and unquestionably, mystery-clad US duo Neon Indian.
The brainchild of former Ghosthustler and current VEGA mainman Alan Palomo, Neon Indian have already kicked up whirlwind of hype in their relatively short career and it’s easy to see why. With their debut LP, the appropriately named Psychic Chasms, Neon Indian successfully build this sprawling, psychedelic landscape of misshapen samples and bottomed-out synthesizers that feels like the perfect mixtape for a spontaneous cross-country roadtrip, twisting and turning through desert roads and star-clad night skies.
Whatever we’re calling this genre it is all sorts of fantastic. – Dave Ruby Howe
With rap mixtapes and DJ sets springing forth on blogs and Facebook accounts like an over-ripe harvest of late, it’s refreshing to find that someone isn’t sticking to the stock standard formula. With his new mixtape project Pianist Envy - yes, that really is the title -, Canadian piano genius Gonzales has flipped things, offering up a collection of quasi-covers in which Gonzales restrings populist jams from the likes of 50 Cent, Beyonce and Lil Wayne as ivory-thumping epics.
After past work with Feist and Jamie Lidell, cover work for Daft Punk and Boys Noize and turns as an MC and electro artist, Pianist Envy is Gonzales cementing his reputation as pop music’s artful chameleon, shifting from one idea to the next with not only swiftness but perfect execution. - Dave Ruby Howe
There’s gotta be something in the water, right? First it was Jonathan Boulet and his gift for Technicolour indie, closely followed by fellow Australians Tim & Jean who blew our minds with their perfectly realized synth-pop splendor. And now we’ve got Melbourne-dwelling twosome Gypsy & The Cat who despite their young age have already got a firm mastery of classic pop.
Yes, we know that’s a big wrap for these relative unknowns, but the proof is in the pudding, or in this case the luscious pop gold of Gypsy & The Cat’s breakout tune Jona Vark, which distills their love of electronic tweaks, Fleetwood Mac-tutored songcraft and soaring hooks into three perfect minutes. - Dave Ruby Howe
Listen also to Thieves of Aon
The night scene in Phuket, Thailand, changed permanently last fall, when SOUND Phuket night club opened. The launch night audience included the who-is-who of local and international jetset elite, and the vibes have only improved since.
Located on the third floor of the Jungceylon shopping and entertainment complex in the Patong resort, SOUND can accommodate an impressive 700 clubbers.
It is part of the stable of upscale boutique hotels, destination restaurants, clubs and bars conceptualized and operated by the Bed Management Company, the group behind the popular Bed Supperclub in Bangkok that opened seven years ago.
SOUND’s design theme, realized by Orbit Design Studio (Bangkok, London and Tokyo) in association with Bed Supper Club, is the human ear in all of its super-human awesomeness, so everything in the interior is rounded, curved and tubular. While mimicking the human body, the SOUND environment with its intense audio and visual effects offers a surreal, out-of-body sci-fi experience.
The walls and décor contribute integrally to creating a superior acoustics and audio environment. The fantastic lighting, designed by Inverse (London and Bangkok) uses the latest club lighting technology. One of the central attractions is the bar lit by a stunning 19-meter graphic equalizer LED screen that is synchronized to the music that ranges form electronic music, hip-hop and R n' B to house depending on the DJ and the theme of the night. - Tuija Seipell
We're completely obsessed with Margo from L.A - Wicked, original songs, videos and overall style. She holds her own, doing her own thing and totally OWNS it. Very Sheila E/Prince meets Cindy Lauper back in the day.
Born in Toronto, now based between L.A/new York, she's got the sexy, disco diva looks, individuality, talent, rockstar style, and performance skills to really make it big. Will keep an eye on Margo for now. Talent can only take you so far - we do hope she has good management behind her. Watch below
With fuzzed out guitar swells, biscuit tin snare drums, drowsy, shuffling vocals, and a Google-defeating band name, Portland’s 1,2,3 have everything a day-dreaming indie rock romantic could hope for. Already courting both blogs and indie radio waves, this duo will be on repeat for the rest of the year without question.
With just one track to their name - the epic synths and vocoder frenzy named Futuretapes - it’s probably too early to proclaim Philadelphia based collective CSLSX the best new act we’ve heard in 2010. But screw it, we’re going to say it anyway. Because what we’ve heard so far is bordering so close on perfect that it’d be scary if we weren’t too busy dancing.
Hailing from a seriously chilled hideaway in Australia’s Queensland, Flight Facilities are two young dudes causing a big stir with their smoothed-out house tracks. Already grabbing the attention of heavies like Aeroplane and the Bang Gang, these guys are making sax solos in dance tracks cool again. And that can’t be a bad thing.
The next heiress to the pop princess crown, Florrie has been making all the right moves towards chart domination, including star hook-ups with bonafide hit-makers like Fred Falke and Xenomania, the same team that made Girls Aloud and Sugababes so inescapable. That’s a very tight pedigree, but of course it always comes down to the tunes, and so far it’s looking as though has a knack for hooky, delirious pop tunes. Expect big things.
With every rapper with a mic rallying to be a part of the next crop, 2010’s break out star seems to unanimously be North Carolina’s J. Cole. Having already impressed hip hop big guns like Wale, No I.D. and Jay-Z (who signed the 25 year old to his Roc Nation label) and a debut album (Cole World) due to drop in a matter of months you can expect be hearing a lot from him at every turn.
With a knowing nod to ‘80s smoothies like Toto and Hall & Oates, Sydney tunesmith Matt Van Schie has brought the pop back to synth-pop with his Balmy Nights EP from earlier this year. He’s got another run of tunes due before he settles back into his fulltime band Van She, so lovers of seriously smooth music should get their fill while they can.
Mixing pounding tribal drums with glowing neon synths for some twisted ‘calypso-electro’ sounds kind of terrible on paper, but one listen to New York production team Tanlines and their infectious tracks and we promise you’ll be converted to the gospel. - Dave Ruby Howe and Oli Queen
Former jazz singer Lana Del Rey defines her genre as Hollywood pop/sad core and says she hopes her music can be the “sonic equivalent of a Vincent Gallo film”. The 24-year old New Yorker also describes herself as “gangsta Nancy Sinatra”, putting into words the surprisingly coherent mix of the classic 60s round sound, the gloomy, grown up lyrics and the strong, convincing presence. Owing to Marianne Faithfull as much as she does to Fiona Apple and Norah Jones, this promising newcomer contrasts dark references with her fresh face via a series of DIY Youtube videos.
Her yet-to-be-released album is still being produced with a little help from a very cool production team including Liam Howe, Chris Braide and Emile Haynie. The foregoing teasing Youtube offerings seem to be all instant hits despite the poor production value of the videos: this is definitely the most awaited release of this autumn (Lana has signed with Stranger Records on June 30th and Video Games and Blue Jeans will be available on October the 9th).
Befriend her on Facebook and keep an eye on those updates: 14k of fans before the album release can’t be wrong! - Andreea Popa
I am a very stylish video clip. It's Bros meets Robert Palmer meets Tom Ford.
Steed Lord is a musical performance art project from Iceland working on the frontiers of pure creativity and music making with impressive and energetic live performances, experimental filmmaking, photography, fashion design and styling, art direction, graphic design and other visual mediums.
The threesome KALI, MEGA and DEMO all hail from their native Iceland where they grew up in the entertainment and art world learning their craft at an early age in their fathers studios.
Drawing their raw inspiration from their Icelandic background, they have managed to create a world of their own that they call New Crack City where they create their art and write their music.
Steed Lord have since early 2006 been a 100% DIY project and toured all over the world with their music performing for thousands of fans while being featured in numerous magazines, on music and fashion blogs, in tv shows, on radio and they even designed a clothing line for retail giant H&M.
To listen to previous weekend playlists - click through to our music page
To listen to previous weekend playlists - click through to our music page