A lot of the music that has been released throughout 2013 has been a nostalgic reinterpretation of sounds presented in earlier decades. Some bands and artists appear to obsessed with a different time period and proceed to mimic their influences, while others choose to bring a modern flavor to a classic sound. This is what UK singer FKA Twigs does on her new EP, aptly titled EP2. On this short collection of tracks, Twigs lays ethereal vocals over airy and atmospheric production provided by Arca. What we manage to get is an EP inspired by the likes of Tricky and Massive Attack, with the production chops of some R&B contemporaries such as The Weeknd.
In a recent video, Anthony Fantano (a.k.a theneedledrop) addressed the question regarding music and image. While music and image have always gone together to some degree, it is pretty much agreeable that if the image eclipses the art, then the music will have a short lived shelf life. There have been musicians who have let their antics outshine their talent (i.e. Kanye West), as well as those who strictly live for the spotlight (ummm…Miley Cyrus?). However, in the midst of all the pandemonium, there are artists that use their music, along with a strong visual concept, to weave together a memorable narrative.
Janelle Monae, with the release of The Electric Lady, continues to expand upon the eccentricity displayed on The ArchAndroid. The result is one of the most ambitious R&B/pop albums this year, one that mixes rock, soul, funk and dance fusion all together for something truly grandiose.
As I get older, I realize that I am uncomfortable with constantly taking the “safe” route. This sentiment especially applies to the way I feel about the state of music in its evolution. For example, I am always wary of the typical Beatles “fan,” due to the simple fact that the revolutionary group is a safe mention to anyone looking for acceptance amongst music aficionados. That is not to say that all Beatles’ fans ONLY refer to the Beatles when talking about music, it is just an observation.
Regardless of my armchair philosophy, I do realize that there is “safe” music that is good (at times, even great) and catchy, while also being able to satisfy the left side of the cranium. This is something that New York indie pop outfit Vampire Weekend has been able to constantly do throughout their short but rather definitive career. The quartet continues to do so on their latest full length, Modern Vampires of the City, releasing a collection of accessible, fun and baroque pop songs of the independent persuasion.
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Tonight marks the official release party for DeeJay Tone and Shyste’s EP “Climate Control – Winter Edition” at Bogies. Tickets are $15 at the door and the show will feature performances by DeeJay Tone, Shyste, RA The Rugged Man and PJ Katz and the Fat Buckle Band, with DJ Deuce on the 1’s and 2’s. The first 50 people through the door will get a free hardcopy of the album so don’t sleep.
While listening to the 15 tracks that make up Almost Home you are getting to know the artist behind the music as if he’s there sitting next to you on a park bench, casually bearing his soul to you, while also making you laugh and carefully listening to what you have to say. That’s Masai, as I’ve come to know him.
For some unfortunate reason, such a personable artist-and-listener interaction and consequential intimate relationship feels rare in today’s music scene, in both local and international examples. In this particular release, emcee and writer Masai created an album that in theory, is all about him, his life and his experiences, and in its outcome, it is actually not only about him, his life and his experiences. He takes small details and turns the focus on the larger picture, all with the collaborative help of over a dozen reinforcements.
Almost Home joins releases Almost Gone (2007) and Almost Back (2010), bringing Masai’s trilogy of solo albums full-circle. The release date of Almost Home, today, February 13, 2013, marks the one-year anniversary of the passing of his mother and serves as a tribute to her life. The album overcomes hardships and grief, displaying strength, honesty, perspective, growth and depth, which are core themes of hip-hop and life, in and of itself.