Sunday, June 3, 2018

Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo (2018)

I'm going to briefly explain how a Houston based trio, manages to build a career on making some of the most unique Surf, Psychadellic, Thai-Funk music in the history of the world.  Oh, you don't think it's possible?  What part?  The part where they're from Houston Texas and sound like this?

Maria TambiƩn

It's kind of easy really.  The same way a lot of indie groups figure out their sounds, maybe this one is slightly different.  Instead of meeting in college or on a concert circuit, they met in church.  Not just any church in Texas though.  This was St. John's Methodist Church in Houston.  Yep, the same church that gave rise to some little group called Destiny's Child.  The guitarist, Mark Speer, and drummer Donald Ray started out there playing for the church group.  It wasn't until a little while down the road that Speer met up with Laura Lee and taught her to play the bass that Khuangbin was born.  

Their first EP back in 2010 was nothing short of a tease.  It was a collection of 3 tracks that sounded much more like a DJ set/sampler.  It spanned everything from soul to deep psychedelia to shades of an Afgan that frankly I doubt anybody in Texas had ever heard of before.  While it was brilliant, and the people needed to hear more it wasn't until almost 5 years later that they came out with their first album, The Universe Smiles Upon You.

People Everywhere (Still Alive)

Their newest album, Con Todo El Mundo our this past February, was something that I stumbled on while looking for something different.  Over the past year or so, I've fallen into enjoying psychedelic music more.  Bands like Tame Impala and Gum have definitely made modern psych more popular.  Khruangbin popped up on Reddit of all places as a passing comment on my blog after someone read my post about Tame Impala and how I had been looking for something that in the same ballpark.  Khruangbin was nowhere close.  Their music style has a lot more melody and soul than psych ever will.  You can get lost in the strings of this like you could in the electric(ness) of traditional psych.  This is a lot less synth and a lot more driving.  Lee's bass is powerful, Dj's drumming is simple yet funk driving.  And Mark Speers guitar work is nothing short of world style  If that makes any sense.  Throw in the elements of good old southern church music and you've got a really laid back sound that managed to marry everything exotic of music you just couldn't imagine ever hearing from Texas.

Evan Fins The Third Room

It's kind of fun to listen to all of their music and see where they drew influence from.  I could swear that I've heard shades of west coast hip-hop, European jazz, funk for sure, and definitely some 60's/70's soul.  For an instrumental heavy group, it's cool to hear these guys with such a wide reach, both in their inspiration and hearing their music in the wild.  There's no doubt that with this current album, they're going to become a whole lot more popular.  As a matter of fact, I think, if you really listen hard enough, you'll recognize some of their music.  

As usual, I had to get this album the day it dropped.  I snagged the white edition from Newberry Comics, only because the edition I wanted from Late Night Tales was sold out in the weeks leading up to its release.  Keep an eye on Late Night Tales, those guys have a bunch of artists and series of DJ album's that you're just not listening to and you really should be.  

Here are some links:

Khruangbin on Bandcamp

Khruangbin on Twitter

And in case you missed the link on the left sidebar, their NPR Tiny Desk concert from May 19th


I'll be back, maybe in a few days.  I'm kind of on vacation, not too far from the world famous Red Scroll Records.  Something tells me, I'm going to hit that store like I'm mad at it this week.  Also, if there's anyone in the NYC area that hasn't heard, you're really missing out by not going to Academy records in either Brooklyn or their East Village shops.  You never know what gems you'll find there.  Like that awesome Siouxsie and The Banshees album, I'm coveting on their wall in Brooklyn right now.  

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Gum - The Underdog (2018)

I know what you're thinking, this is a surprise.  You're right, it is.  I'm not going to begin to justify why I haven't written or updated my corner of the web, mainly because I doubt anyone would care.  That said, I should at the very least let you in on what I've been doing since I've been away...

Buying and listening to records of course!  Since I last updated, I've added over 100 amazing vinyl albums to my collection!  Far and away one of my favorites that I added fairly recently Jay Watson's, (AKA, Gum), newest album, The Underdog.  

The Australian Multi-instrumentalist singer and songwriter Jay Watson, known as Gum when he's not performing with his associate groups, Tame Impala, and Pond, finally granted us some new psychedelic hotness in the way of a new album back on April 6th.  The Underdog is his 4th studio album since beginning with The Delorian Highway back in 2014.  

Now, you would think that as much of a fan of Tame Impala that I am, I would have discovered Gum a long time ago.  He didn't enter into my consciousness until the late summer last year when I took on an unhealthy obsession with Pond and their hot as fuck album, The Weather, which I will certainly talk about in a future post. None of that would have happened unless I wasn't mindlessly trusting Google Play Music to guide me through new artist suggestions.  Seriously!  The progression from Tame Impala leads to The Unknown Mortal Orchestra, which exposed me to Methyl Ethel, whom I saw in concert last fall, to Pond, to Gum.  Listening to the opening of The Delorian Highway and then his following 2 alums made me obsess just a bit.  I finally understand why Tame Impala is so good.  The sum of their parts, while possibly greater than the whole, is built on some of the most progressive and talented minds in music.  Indeed, Kevin Parker is a gifted artist, but let's be honest, after his work in 2015 with Mark Ronson on Uptown Special, I think we can agree that Kevin is a really good producer.  Jay Watson is still all about the music.  

The Underdog is a focused collection of psychedelic prog, I'm even throwing in some synth-pop into the mix simply because of the chords and highly polished use of electronic instrumentals no doubt driven by someone who knows how to use them.  From the introduction, titled, Introduction, you get a feeling that you're in for an album full of soaring riffs and chill out music reminiscent of Lonerism with a lot fewer experiments and a lot more groove.  I'll again mention his other group, Pond and their album, The Weather.  

The Blue Marble

The first single, The Blue Marble popped up and surprised me somewhere as just that, a single.  I initially thought there was no way this was the prelude to a new album having just released  Flash In The Pan in 2016.  How wrong was I?  After putting this song on repeat more times than I would like to admit, I found out in about 15 minutes that there was, in fact, a new album on the horizon and it would be out in about a month.  Unfortunately, true to form like his previous 3 releases, it would be released on vinyl, only in Australia.  The humanity!  I had to go through some hoops to secure this album, but it was too worth it.  So, shout out Rocking Horse Records in Brisbane Australia for having this.  Since I don't own any of Gums other releases, as they're far too expensive, and again, only available in Australia, it's good to know that indie record stores are thriving all over the world.

As usual, if getting this hotness on vinyl isn't for you, (And I gotta ask why the hell not?), you can snag it from Google Play Music or iTunes, or perhaps Spotify.  Though I gotta vinyl shame you here for a bit.  You're never going to appreciate the sound of this album, it's synths, it's soul, and it's character until you've listened to it balanced and analog.  To that end, check out Spinning Top Music and of course Rocking Horse Records.  Perhaps they'll have a copy or two to send your way.

The Underdog

Gum: @jay_w_watson
Spinning Top: @Spinning_Top

Looking ahead, I've got some awesome vinyl from the U.S. Girls, XTC, Pond, Jack White, Parliment, Depeche Mode, Tricky, and a whole ton more.  In the meantime, what's that that I spy on deck beside Gum?