Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Surprise Stream of SBTRKT's New "Transitions" EPs

It's been about three years since the release of SBTRKT's self titled debut album, which had us captivated by its dark and distant soundscapes paired beautifully with soulful vocals from featured collaborator Sampha. Since then, SBTRKT has toured the world and made several mentions of working on a follow-up, but not much new music has seen the light of day. Early last month, the masked UK producer dropped off a new track to BBC Radio 6's Mary Anne Hobbs with a brief message to read on air before it played. It was announced that the song, "Hold The Line", was the first from a series of instrumental recordings called "Transitions" that SBTRKT would release to keep everyone occupied until the new album was ready. Well, as of today, you can stream all six of the new instrumental tracks for free on SBTRKT's website. The spacey, textured beats are familiar and just as awe-inspiring as before so fans of the eponymous album should feel right at home, though we certainly miss Sampha's vocals and hope they return for the album. In addition to the stream, the site also contains a link to purchase physical copies of the music, in the form of three 12' EPs which will ship in May. Visit http://transitions.sbtrkt.com/ to hear for yourself!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mysteryland Announces Line-Up for its First USA Festival

Last summer, it was announced that one of the largest electronic music festivals in the world would finally make its debut in the good ol' USA. This Memorial Day weekend, Mysteryland, which has been going strong in its home country of the Netherlands since 1993, will be taking residence at the hallowed site in Bethel Woods, NY where the original Woodstock was once held. Dutch promotion outfit ID&T made their first major mark on America last September when they hosted TomorrowWorld, the US version of the legendary TomorrowLand held each year in Belgium, in Atlanta to rave reviews (that pun was terrible, I'll show myself out).

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Album Review: "Wedding Bells EP" by Cashmere Cat

Wedding Bells EP was released on Feb. 11 on
Amidst a bass-heavy dance music craze, it's become increasingly hard to find folks that turn the craft into much more than drop-ready club bangers. Elements from southern hip-hop begin to bleed their way into glitchy dance tracks and next thing you know everyone is "turning up" to the sounds of early 00's hip-hop memories, meshing nostalgia with hype for a sure-fire groover. Understanding the formula to lots of EDM acts can in a sense make you appreciate those outliers much more, but now we find that these outliers are the ones that have begun making their way into the mainstream. Take Cashmere Cat for example, where other folks are providing insular takes on screwed and chopped trap beats, Magnus August Høiberg instead crafts ornate soundscapes that are peppered with subdued bursts of bass, blistering hi-hats, squeaky bed springs and shimmering keys.

Høiberg was no stranger to the electronic scene prior to Cashmere Cat, the 26 year old Norwegian producer was a DMC World DJ finalist for years until he turned towards crafting his current style of music. In 2012 Cashmere Cat burst onto the scene with his debut EP Mirror Maru, introducing the world to his brilliantly juxtaposed styles. Cashmere Cat's textures are build around perfectly pitched vocal samples, blissful keys and harps, obscure percussive hits and an R&B inspired swing that makes you want to slow dance as much as throw bows. Høiberg's styles are versatile, allowing him to seamlessly switch between the standard EDM tropes of bass-laden bangers and intricately woven takes on cloud-rap. Remixes of Lana Del Ray and 2 Chainz gave Høiberg a slew of attention and he most recently produced a Ludacris track "Party Girls," substantially upping his production creds.

This rich and diverse background is important to take note of when jumping into Wedding Bells, as it contains bits of every previous endeavor that Høiberg has gotten into. The EP's opener "With Me" opens with a plaintive piano line before slowly unfurling with sharp synth lines, reverb washed vocal samples and bright, bouncy keys. All of this reaches a precipice before falling out of the mix and introducing a pitchy vocal sample that fades away to lend way to primal drumbeats, distorted synths and glimmering harps. "With Me" is a wonderful snapshot of Cashmere Cat's aural stylings and takes the listener on a brief but bountiful journey through rich soundscapes of various backgrounds. Tracks like "Pearls" dig even deeper into this established array of sounds, meshing unconventional percussive samples with smooth, pitchy vocals. It's all an immensely enjoyable listening experience, especially the title track "Wedding Bells," which obviously meshes the titular bells into Høiberg's typical structures.

While there's certainly an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality that can apply to this, it's a bit disappointing to see that Høiberg didn't delve deeper into the proverbial rabbit hole here. There's a lot of things on Wedding Bells that could have easily been found on Mirror Maru, which is a shame since Høiberg's live show contains a lot more diversity than found on Wedding Bells. It's clear that Høiberg has a lot of interesting tricks up his sleeve that he can pull out within the future of Cashmere Cat, and make no doubt, Wedding Bells is still a fantastic release, but it'd be a bit more enjoyable to see hints of some sort of aural development coming along.

Rating: 7.9
Standout Tracks: "With Me", "Wedding Bells", "Rice Rain"

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Album Review: "Wild Dreams" by Colleens

Wild Dreams by Colleens was self-released on Feb. 4
For a self-produced, self-released debut, Wild Dreams is a record that blows away initial expectations. However, the deeper you dig into Colleens' background the easier it is to understand why this band has gotten so damn good so damn quickly. Jonathan and Joshua Harter lie at the heart of Colleens, two brothers raised in San Antonio, Texas that were surrounded by music since a young age. They've since began working in their father's record studio as recording engineers, and when you combine their practical knowledge with their years of experience, it's only natural for Wild Dreams to sound as crisp and polished as it is.

Wild Dreams glides along and clocks in at just around 30 minutes, but it's the perfect amount of time to digest these blissful bursts of subdued Americana energy. Warm basslines help these songs trot along with a downtempo pace, rich organs flesh out the textures and soothing vocal melodies with rich lyrical content top it all of brilliantly. The album starts off with a smooth-sailing track "About You," tightly packed with sparse guitar lines, subtle harmonies and contemplative lyrics that sucks the listener in like a rising tide. Following that natural ebb and flow, the album's mood is set by an excellent pacing that spaces out the catchy and anthemic tracks while nestling the slow-brooding experimental tracks in between.

It'd be easy to write Wild Dreams off as your standard Americana leaning pop record, but there's much more to it than that. "No Flowers" sets a darker and more expansive tone, dreamy dark vocals croon about "endless pillows" and rich, yet desolate imagery over a simplistic yet embellished soundscape. "No Flowers" displays the artistic breadth of Colleens, soft strings build upon the heightened tensions while a quaintly finger picked guitar provides the baseline for this fantastic mid-way track. As "No Flowers" slowly fades out you're snapped out of your trance and thrust into the rambling "Sun Before I Set," one of the album's bright songs characterized by bouncy piano lines, distorted guitars and a chorus of backing vocals. 

There's a lot to love about Wild Dreams, and while there's nothing that sets the band out as groundbreaking, there's a lot of potential for the band to truly move into uncharted territory in future releases. There's a lot of prominent influences on display here that are masked by the Harter brother's obvious talents and originality, but some of the album feels plagued by comfort. It's a fun and easy listen through, especially given its short duration, but there's not a ton of replay value found within most of the tracks. Tracks like "About You," "Maybe We'll Fall In Love," "No Flowers" and "Second Century Home" lend themselves to multiple run throughs and seem to have tons of live potential, but the remainder of the album tends to feel like filler. There's nothing wrong with the tracks, but there's nothing really stopping you from skipping them to get to the more exciting endeavors. All in all Wild Dreams is a wonderful entrance from Colleens and leaves me waiting anxiously for future releases.

Rating: 7.8
Standout Tracks: "About You", "Maybe We'll Fall In Love", "No Flowers"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Album Revew: "Dad Claps at the Mom Prom" by Sun Club

Dad Claps at the Mom Prom was released on
Jan. 21 via Goodnight Records
When you cut your teeth in the Baltimore scene, there's pretty high expectations of your output. One must wonder how you could possibly escape the shadow of acts like Animal Collective, Dan Deacon, Beach House and Future Islands. However, the overwhelming pool of talent can also have the exact opposite effect on some artists, the creative output of the region fuels these musicians to adapt to their environment and create something wonderful of their own. This is exactly what the young group of musicians in Sun Club have been doing for the past few years. This past Tuesday the band released their latest EP Dad Claps at the Mom Prom, a brilliant collection of frenzied, high-energy psych-pop songs.

Dad Claps... kicks in with the boisterous "Beauty Meat," a track that serves as a pacesetter for the rest of the EP, brimming with anthemic wordless choruses, jaunty guitar lines and punchy percussion. Frequently devolving into a brief burst of frenetic rhythms and world-music inspired drum beats, it's not hard to find the influences of acts like Animal Collective bleeding in to Sun Club's music. Each track on Dad Claps follows an overarching theme of push and pull, whether you're starting with a balls-out blast of tight guitar lines and shouted vocals or slowly building with driving rhythms and spacey soundscapes you're guaranteed an exciting musical adventure.

While many of this new spring of psych-pop acts rely heavily on the standard structures of pop music, Sun Club isn't afraid to deviate from the norm. Tracks like "Repulsive Chocolate" rumble along with a slow-churning intensity that erupts with viscerally shouted lyrics. It's one of the finer points of Sun Club's music, the fact that they can so easily tear down this lush and ornate soundscape that they've created and build it back up upon entirely different rhythms and refrains. It makes each track feel unique while still fitting within the EP's aural spectrum.

There's a lot to fall in love with on Dad Claps at the Mom Prom, but that's mostly because Sun Club draws from a lot of different influences. There's bits of caustic pop music, the intensity of hardcore pop-punk bands and the expansive nature of psychedelic rock. Whether you're honing in on what you like best or soaking in all of layers, Sun Club is a group that you should certainly look into. They've got an uncontainable energy that makes for a joyous listening experience, and I can't even imagine how incredibly hyped their live sets are. The group just embarked on an East Coast tour in support of Dad Claps at the Mom Prom, check the dates below along with a preview of the EP:

Sun Club Tour Dates:
Jan. 23 - Washington DC - 930 Club with Los Campesinos
Jan. 24 - Boston, MA - TT The Bears
Jan. 25 - Brooklyn, NYC - Shea Stadium
Jan. 26 - Philadelphia, PA - Kungfu Necktie
Jan. 28 - Wilmington NC - Orton's
Jan. 31 - Nashville, TN - The End
Feb. 01 - Blacksburg, VA - Gillie's

Rating: 8.2
Standout Tracks: "Beauty Meat", "Cheeba Swiftkick", "Summer Feet"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Five EDM Artists That Will Own 2014

Like it or not, electronic dance music (commonly abbreviated as EDM) is everywhere these days. The bleeps, boops, and beats that were previously confined to drug-fueled underground warehouse parties and action movies about hackers and/or robots have, in recent years, risen to extreme prominence. Nearly all major festivals devote a portion of their lineup to big-name DJs and producers, while some of the most attended fests in the world are primarily if not completely electronic. Las Vegas is investing millions of dollars into bringing top-level DJs to their various night clubs (not to mention the annual Electric Daisy Carnival held there, which became the largest electronic music event in the world when they drew 345,000 attendees in 2013). We even had a few major EDM stars crack the Top 40 this year; I mean, seriously, how many days have you gone without hearing Avicii's "Wake Me Up" or Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" on the radio?

So now that EDM has firmly cemented itself into the mainstream, what's next? Well, the genre's newfound popularity will inevitably lead to the rise of new stars as tastes evolve and change. Here's a few we think you should keep your eye on in 2014 as they crank out dancefloor hits and see their names added to more and more festival lineups. And who knows: by this time next year, you might even be hearing them on the radio as you drive to work.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Manchester Orchestra Releases New Track "Top Notch" From Forthcoming Album

Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee
We here at Myxem are longtime fans of Atlanta-based alt-rock outift Manchester Orchestra. They've been touring heavily for the past year or so giving fans a tast of their new material and recently contributed a track to the soundtrack of the Oscar nominated film "Dallas Buyer's Club." Today, via Youtube, they released the first official recording from their next album "Cope", which is due to be released on April 1st. The track sounds just like the Manchester we've come to know and love, which leaves us anxiously awaiting their next record. Check out the song after the break.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Shaky Knees Music Fest Announces 2014 Lineup

The Lumineers headlined Shaky Knees '13.
Image courtesy of Shaky Knees
The onslaught of festival lineup announcements continue. This time, it is for the Shaky Knees Fest in Atlanta, Georgia held May 9th-11th. In only its second year, this festival is drawing major names and I would honestly be surprised if this is not a festival we'll be hearing for a while. It has a lot in common with Hangout, as reported earlier, but its differences are most definitely its strengths.

Modest Mouse, Conor Oberst, and Portugal. The Man, swing through Hotlanta before continuing on to Alabama for Hangout, but the undercard and other headliners make this an easy and obvious choice. The National, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Spoon, The Gaslight Anthem and Trampled by Turtles are obvious highlights, but for sake of brevity, I will forego simply typing the entire lineup; with some exceptions: Dawes, Lord Huron, Lone Bellow, Hold Steady, Blitzen Trapper, and the Airborne Toxic Event. There, guys, I'm done, I promise.

As mentioned, Shaky Knees is located in Atlanta, GA. Unfortunately, there is no camping, but I think it may be refreshing to be able to shower and use an air conditioner at a music festival. Staring down the barrel of thirty, I attribute this entirely to my advanced age. The bright side, here, is that tickets start at $150, so even with the added cost of a hotel room for the weekend, you're paying about the same as you would for a larger scale festival with the benefits of a hotel room.

Deer Tick, Man Man, Foals, San Fermin, Apache Relay, Mutual Benefit, Wake Owl, Cold War Kids - I'm sorry, it's just a really impressive lineup. You can find it in its entirety on the Shaky Knees Music Festival's website, as well as purchase tickets and find out a little bit more about the fest.

Hangout Music Fest announces their 2014 lineup

Photo courtesy of Hangout Music Fest

It looks like Hangout Music Fest can officially join the, "we've got Outkast playing at our festival" club, as the Alabama based festival announced their 2014 lineup this morning. Headed up by acts like The Black Keys, The Killers, Jack Johnson and everyones favorite reunited hip-hop duo, Hangout Music Fest boasts an impressive array of genre-spanning acts for their May festival. Taking place on the Gulf Shores of Alabama from May 16-18, Hangout Music Fest has had a tradition of pulling in acts from all areas of the musical spectrum, dabbling in equal parts hip-hop, bro-rock, EDM, and indie rock.

Also joining the marquee headliners are groups like Queens of the Stone Age, Pretty Lights, The Avett Brothers, Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips and more. Some of these acts are popping up for the first time on the 2014 festival circuit, making Hangout stand out amongst a crowded scene. 2014 standards also fill-in the lineup, acts like Chance The Rapper, Portugal The Man, STS9, Childish Gambino and Wiz Khalifa. But the best parts of this lineup lie in the fact that there's a few acts that will be hitting the Alabama beaches that we haven't seen much of on the festival circuit thus far this year. The aforementioned Modest Mouse and Conor Oberst make Hangout a solid choice for summer festivalgoers.

Listen to "CS60," a new track from BADBADNOTGOOD

Canadian jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD has gained quite a bit of notoriety for their jazz-centric covers of well-known hip-hop tracks, as well as their work with Odd Future members like Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean. With production credits on Earl Sweatshirt's Doris and Danny Brown's Old in 2013, the group has been swiftly rising through the ranks of the hip-hop world. That makes their forthcoming album III one of their most anticipated releases to date. A few days ago the band shared an mesmerizing new track from the forthcoming album entitled "CS60."

"CS60" finds the band treading into unheralded levels of sonic exploration, clocking in at just under seven minutes. The track deviates from their norm, trading in hook heavy covers and jazzy instrumentation for a more experimental and atmospheric style of music. A few head-bob worthy refrains pop in and out of the mix, but most of the track runs deep with densely packed percussion and smooth textures that emanate eerie vibes. Gone are the days of balls-out Gucci Mane covers, instead BBNG seems to have found their footing in brilliantly paced, excellently structured tunes.

III will be released later this year on the L.A based label Innovative Leisure. Check out the track below:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Album Review: "Give The People What They Want" by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Give The People What They Want was released
on Jan. 14 on Daptone Records
It's been one hell of a year for Sharon Jones. 2013 was set to be the release of the highly revered soul singer's sixth album with the Dap-Kings, Give The People What They Want, but instead Jones found herself sidelined for the better part of the year due to a hard bout with cancer. The album was pushed back and the usually headstrong, all-out soultrain was de-railed for what many thought would be a long period of time. But sure enough Jones' resilience shone brighter than ever before, although her chemo just ended on Dec. 31 Jones is already set to return to tour in February. Last week Jones and the Dap-Kings took to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for a dazzling performance and today marks the release of the long-awaited album Give The People What They Want.

And as if anyone had any other expectation, Jones and the Dap-Kings have done just that. Give The People... is a riveting display of the guttural yet smooth soul that has propelled the group to international acclaim. Although the album was written and recorded before Jones' diagnosis, the album feels like a triumphant statement proclaiming that nothing will stop this old soul revival from turning the clocks back to when Motown ruled the world.