men of many crowns

Men of Many Crowns: Review

I took my first listen of Men of Many Crowns self-titled debut album while raking leaves in my parents front yard. I may as well have been aimlessly skipping stones because the afternoon wind picked up every fifteen minutes, throwing me off and giving me an excuse to keep checking my phone to see what track I had just listened to. Like the romantic I am, I was all about the juxtaposition of listening to sounds created in a warmer place while doing some east coast upstate New York chores and letting my mind get lost in the album.

The album is the first release of a new collaboration between San Diego emcee MoodSwingKing and DJ/producer W. Steele, and has with ease found a place in my heart’s top 10 albums released this year. For me, this was a year of “good, not great” hip hop releases in general, and the last two months of this year are totally making me reconsider and get hyped for what 2015 has in store.

Plus, wicked bonus – it’s available for the generous pay-what-you-want download option.

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KC’s Music Monday: J57

If I was a musician, after finishing a project, I’d probably allow myself take some time to relax before starting the next one. And that’s one of maybe thirty reasons why I’m not a producer or rapper. Brooklyn-based J57, of the Brown Bag All Stars, just happens to be both. And he puts the work in.

I always personally enjoy when an artist breaks into another element of creating – such as a DJ learning production or a rapper getting into more than just rocking the mic. It’s all about putting passion into learning your craft inside and out, and J57 is living proof there’s nothing wrong with being well-rounded in the studio these days.

I also really appreciate the “no days off” vibe I get from all members of the Brown Bag All Stars. After all, you get out of it what you put into it – in this case, it’s a multitude of amazing tracks. Additionally, it’s noteworthy that with the BBAS (much like with our music scene in the 518), there is a solid and visible balance between independent projects and group endeavors, and support for every effort from both the members of the group and those listening alike. It’s hard to keep up, really, and that definitely holds true with J57.

Today, URB Magazine debuted a new track by J57 titled “Heisenberg Blue” which is this pretty instrumental that holds a large, cinematic feel before turning into a tease by ending quicker than I’d have liked. Luckily, the track is part of an forthcoming “freEP” presented by URB Magazine, titled 0057: FlaskLIFE, so there will be more to look forward to in the near future of this capacity.

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William Gibson at EMPAC: Recap

The following is a guest post from Scott Birdsey.

Legendary science fiction author William Gibson has a new book out called The Peripheral, and appeared in support of if at EMPAC on Sunday night. Mr. Gibson did a few readings from the new book, and took questions from the audience, which was a diverse mix – academics and punks, literati and nerds.

To pay tribute, I wore my black MA-1 bomber jacket, which was the iconic wardrobe mainstay of Cayce Pollard, the main character of Gibson’s 2004 novel Pattern Recognition. Gibson’s stories occupy a space between fiction and non-fiction, and that jacket is the perfect example: Buzz Ricksons, the high-end Japanese designer of the jacket referenced in the book, didn’t actually make the MA-1 in the color black in real life – but decided to shortly after the book came out and found themselves flooded with requests. Mine was a cheaper Alpha Industries model, but did the job.

Gibson read chapters from the new book, which is set in two timelines – one near-future, which includes veiled references to Walmart and Google Glass – and a more alienating far-future, about 100 years from now. EMPAC is very much a great environment for William Gibson. This is the guy who coined the phrase ‘cyberspace’ in Neuromancer, years before Al Gore would invent the internet. But Gibson was down to earth about EMPAC, focusing on the podium of all the things – that it was the tallest he’d ever used, and that it was even adjustable. The Peripheral feels a bit like this – epic in its scope and vision into where our society is going, but stopping along the way to explore the odd little details.

After the reading, Mr. Gibson took several questions from the audience, summarized below.

On whether video game storylines are becoming on par with literature:
“Pong was the only video game I was any good at. When they went to Tetris I said ‘no, that’s too complicated’.”

On what music he listens to:
“It disappoints people.”

On whether Neuromancer will ever be made into a movie:
“People don’t realize, the end point of the novel IS the novel.”

On whether or not any other careers were considered:
“I’d been an aspiring cartoonist as a kid. The only thing that remains of that is how I’ll sign your books tonight.”

Myself, I wasn’t able to get my copy of the Peripheral signed – I’d bought an electronic version of it the previous week from Apple. Exactly the stuff that makes William Gibson tick.

And North on After The Jump

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And North founder Emma Tuccillo was recently featured on a podcast I love, After The Jump. Emma talks about her website And North which bills itself as a curated guide to upstate New York (which we’d most likely call the Hudson Valley – but that’s neither here nor there).

Listen to the episode on HRN and check out And North for some great day-trip inspriation and ideas.


Early bird tickets available for Level Up Conference

Level Up, a creative tech conference taking place on October 8 and 9 in Saratoga has put for sale their first set of tickets. If you’re likely to attend such a conference, you can save $50 by purchasing your tickets before tomorrow.

Speakers for Level Up include talented designers from Amazon, SoundCloud, Quora, Seven Heads Design, Appropriate, Inc., UserScape and more.

Learn more about Level Up on their website.

Giant Gorilla Dog Thing – Hematoma

Jesus. These guys keep raising the bar. After two+ years of work, Giant Gorilla Dog Thing‘s album HORSE is coming out on March 28th, and here’s a track off the album, accompanied by an incredible video with artist credits longer than a CVS receipt.

For info on pre-ordering the record, some background on the artists and more head to the Pig Food Records website.

The Gap by Ira Glass, animated by Daniel Sax

As a photographer, this really spoke to me. That slump is very difficult to get through but it’s what makes a pro a pro. Brilliant.