Wednesday, March 23, 2016

(UPDATE) Honest/ly RJD2 Peace Of What - (2016)

Update:  After the massive feedback I've gotten, thank you all by the way, I'm going to snag Dame Fortune first thing in the morning and listen to it while I travel up and down the east coast this weekend.  Expect a full WMV vinyl pick post when I get back in town after Easter.  I'll even try to spin Deadringer before I leave Saturday.  Frankly, Dame Fortune is sounding like it may be the "deepest" DJ album in a real long time, I'm talking 90's, to attack music. 

I can confirm that if you're in the New England states, you'll be able to find this album at Newbury Comics, (Call ahead to your local store, it hasn't hit their website yet.), or online through Amazon here.  Not familiar with RJD2?  Shame...  Check these guys out, they're kinda something special.

This is the most psyched I've been over a launch day album since Blackstar.   


So this is happening on Friday 3/25/16.  The Philly Hip-Hop infused Chillwave DJ is back with his 10th studio album, Dame Fortune.  DJD2 falls into the category of music you've definitely heard but probably don't know where it came from.  From what I've heard of the new album, this one is full of guests, and all kinds of new rhythm.  I really can't wait to go on faith that this is as good as if not better than the last few of his albums that I've bought.  Remind me to feature 2002's Deadringer for you one day.

I'll be traveling to CT on Saturday, hHopefully Exile On Main Street  in Branford has this one in stock.  I gotta shop local whenever possible, though if that's not possible for you, it's available through Amazon, and I'm sure if you ask nicely, the fine folks at Newbury Comics ought to stock this one.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Neon Indian - VEGA INTL Night School (2015)

Twice now I've lied about what vinyl I was going to feature here.  A month ago, I "promised" that I was going to feature my collection of singles.  Last week I "promised" that I was going to talk about soundtracks.  I called an audible over the weekend when I received my vinyl copy the newest Neon Indian LP, Vega International Night School.  You see sometimes, the first world problems of a vinyl appreciator/collector include getting music that's so good, you just have put a lot of things on hold to create a new playlist for your life.

So a little upfront disclosure about a few Neon Indian related things.  I was turned on to these guys back in 2010 about a week before my birthday at a concert in Terminal 5 in NYC.  They were one of the openers for yet another best I've ever seen Massive Attack concert.  Initially, I wrote them off as a really strange psychedelic/electronica group.  Lots of sounds, with no real music that drones on 5 minutes too long.  I came to that conclusion simply because the girl that I was dating at the time had pulled me along to an Animal Collective concert that previous summer.  There's nothing more aggravating than being eaten alive by mosquitoes in Prospect Park on a summer night listening to what roughly balances out to music class for kindergartners.  I'm all about psych-rock, but damn.  There's a line between Phish and a bunch of high 20yo hipsters jamming out to 20 minute long instrumental menageries of sound.  {sigh}  I had a point here, at the end of the half hour, maybe less, that Neon Indian's set was, I couldn't help but say to my lady friend, "Why aren't these guys headlining somewhere?"


In 2010, they were touring with various bands mostly on the indie circuit behind their first album, Psychic Chasms.  That's the album that I bought on mp3 that year and subsequently spend an unhealthy amount of time listening to.  (Side Note:  That album is hard AF to find on vinyl.  If anyone should venture across one, please let me know.) Somehow an indie electronic chillwave group managed to create a sound that was beyond the experimental and actually made music.  All credit to Alan Palomo and his visionary style.  Annie was the first single from this album, from jump after a seemingly literally backwards broke beat intro song, Annie goes into a real synth driven Caribbean banger.  It's borderline Caribbean funk.  That may be the biggest takeaway from this whole album.  In addition, to it falling under Psychedelia/Chill-wave/Synth-Pop, I really can't help but to actually groove to this when I'm alone.  By its categorization, this isn't dance music, though it really is simply because of the funk element.  


VEGA INTL Night School is the 3rd album from Neon Indian.  Frankly, I wasn't going to buy this one, let alone on vinyl after their 2nd album, Era Extraña in 2011.  It was such a departure from their first album that clearly they were going mainstream.  You know you've made it as an indie artist when you're more concerned with production and radio quality than a focus on the art of your craft.  With this album, Neon Indian made good on the assumption that Psychic Chasms was an incomplete album that left the listeners wanting more.  To that end, the 2nd single, Slumlord, was probably the most coherent radio-friendly song on the album.  That's not to say that there wasn't a good groove throughout the rest of the album.  It's more of an indictment that their 2nd album, Era Extraña, which was all about radio play and seemingly little more.  Wasn't bad by any means, but it was a pretty hard left turn from Psychic Chasms and Night School.

The Glitzy Hive

So in the disco funk vein of this album, the 3rd single, The Glitzy Hive released in October was somewhat of a "Yasss Queen" moment for the group.  If you ever really wanted Goldfrapp's 2005 Supernature to have a continuation, it would have ended with this song.  Why?  Cause it's glamourous. 

All things considered, for this Chillwave group's 3rd release, it's easily one of the best albums out there that you may never have even heard of.  There's enough approachability to turn even the hardest anti-electronic music fans on to trying something new.

It took some serious wrangling to finally get this album on vinyl.  It's not difficult at all to get, and it comes with a mp3 download card for you non-vinyl folk.  I also encourage you to check out Neon Indian's previous 2 releases, you will be pleasantly surprised with what you hear.  

The next post will be heavily critical to RSD 2016. Then we're back to the music.  All the music that's fit to spin anyway.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tricky - Maxinquaye (1995)

I've mentioned it numerous times in and out of posts for as long as I've been posting, but I figure I may as well dive into it a bit deeper as opposed to making an entire post about it.  Music from the 90's was strange.  That's my point, and I'm sticking to it.  

What does that mean exactly?

Well, for openers, unlike any other decade before it, the 90's somehow managed to cycle and support many different types and genre's of music.  Sure, each decade has it's factions, but in the 90's, never have so many distinctly different types of music manage to come to the forefront of prominence and stay there, or at the very least, leave a lasting impression.  Go with me for a sec, How on earth does such a huge amount of seemingly underground music, become so mainstream that it actually makes things like alternative and subculture, popular?  This is really a whole other type of post after all and I'll do it someday.  Instead, think about how on earth we rediscovered that music could come from anywhere that wasn't LA, the midwest, or down south?  In the 90's we discovered that "Seattle" sound, praised the resurgence of Detroit Rock, this time, they're garage rockers.  Both the east and west coast took rap music and did two very different things with it, both somewhat incredible.  Globally, music became just that, more global.  The Caribbean influences we once knew of Reggae, Island, or World music, became Ska when mixed with punk.  European DJ's began fusing musical styles together and created Trance.  Still there was one real big surprise, a holdover from the 80's that somehow managed to evolve into something bigger.

Music from the UK in the 80's was largely straight Punk.  Sure, there were UK rockers, but they were for older people.  Nobody can or should ever discount The Rolling Stones, Elton John, The Who, and much too many more to mention.  Instead, you got to ask what could pass as UK's underground?  Frankly, Rap.  Rap, across the pond, was by many rights considered, well, dirty.  Not from a context point of view, but more of a class point of view.  Not too dissimilar from here in the US when you think about it. though while Rap here was generally always been about either status social issues, there it was more political and then social.  Yet, for some reason, it was far too liberal for the mainstream and therefore, considered something that should only be heard in a club or the confines of your personal music player.  To that end, is it any surprise that the 90's trend in music could affect the UK as well?  The global landscape changed so much in Europe that the tail end of generation X began to speak up and have a voice.  It was that voice that took underground music to the mainstream with a message.  Fittingly, in January of 1994, this happened.


For context, I was still in high school when I heard this for the first time, Coming from the school of darkwave music where Depeche Mode, the Cure, Dresden Dolls and Bauhaus were my hero's, this was so damn life changing I had to really think about whether or not I was completely goth or not.  Ahead of Tricky's first solo album, Maxinquaye, he released Aftermath as the first single about a year before the album ever went off.  At the time, people only knew of Tricky from his work with Massive Attack who at this point were still riding high from their legendary 1st album, Blue Lines.  Tricky enlisted his then Girlfriend, and accomplished and incredibly talented singer by her own right, Martina Topley-Bird to duet with him, and for added quality, selected a co-producer in Marc Saunders.  The same Marc Saunders that produced 2 Cure albums, Mixed Up and Wish 2 years prior.  The thing about Aftermath that really caught my attention as well as the attention of others was the production style.  Up until this point, nobody had even conceived such a style of music.  How could something so gritty, disjointed, and tempo shifting be so addictive?  3 Months later we found out that Aftermath was only the beginning.


Ponderosa popped up like a fluke.  People had already forgotten whatever Aftermath promised to be, without an album to support it, it became a 1 off to musical oblivion.  Then Ponderosa happened.  Tricky took a slightly bigger backseat to the performing side and let Martina shine here.  He also experimented with a number of musical styles, samples, some seriously unheard of broke beats.  It came together like a beautiful mess.  It was the first song that I had ever heard that sounded like it could have started off with worst of intentions and became someone's art project.

As 1994 wore on, Tricky finished producing Maxinquaye, named after his mother, there wasn't another single released until January of 1995, a month before the actual album was released.  It made a lot more sense to release something that's was as hard hitting as Aftermath was a year before.  It ended up serving as the arrival of something differently great.  You see, had Maxinquaye been released in 2004, it may not have really registered with anyone.  We needed to hear Queen Latifah's U.N.I.T.Y, Ini Kamoze's Here Comes The Hot Stepper, Sheryl Crow's All I Wann Do, and quite a few others before we could absorb something so different to music.  (Yep, that all happened in 1994.)  By 1995, Aside from TLC, there really wasn't anything else out that nobody hadn't heard of yet.  That really developed a landscape free for the taking.  That's when Tricky released Overcome.


By the time the album dropped a month after this, Trip-Hop was officially a genre.  Tricky, along with Martina Topley-Bird, Massive Attack, up and comers Morcheeba and Portishead a year before had become legitimate with the release of this album.  This song, in particular, gave this music an anthem for the most underground of underground sound.  

Black Steel

In March, Black Steel was Tricky's take on a Public Enemy hit from 1989.  If you ever wondered what Public Enemy would sound like if they were Punk - Rock, you get a real good sense of it here.  Martina Topley-Bird really stood out here more so than any other song on the record.  Tricky at this point was really a background singer.  Another thing of note is that it's the 4th in a series of released music that doesn't have a stable tempo whatsoever.  This style of music would continue to not only be a hallmark of music that will become popular in the future but a trademark of Tricky for years to come.  


The last single released from here was Pumpkin.  If you listen really close, you'll hear a very young Allison Goldfrapp.  That's right, the same Goldfrapp that got super popular during the resurgence of glam-pop in the early to mid 2000's.  You'll have to listen to this song on its own.  It's a good thing that there's no official video to go along with it.  I'm sure you'll have no problems whatsoever coming up with your own images here.  It's just that vivid.  Tricky is one hell of a personal storyteller and an even better artist.  Maxinquaye is the result of such genius.

Maxinquaye to date has sold well over 500,000 records worldwide, and while that doesn't sound like very many, I assure you for something once widely regarded as underground only, or for subculture fans only, to be as acclaimed it was, and to become a defining album in all of music, it's nothing short of outstanding.  Like much of music from the 90's, it was up until fairly recently damn near impossible to find on vinyl.  The fine folks over at Music On Vinyl rereleased this album in 2012 and as of 2016, it's becoming harder to get again, especially as a new generation of people are discovering Tricky for the first time.  The jury is still out on his newest album, Skilled Mechanics.  It was released on January 22nd and I haven't had  a chance to listen to it completely yet.  When you're ready, you can find this, Maxinquaye and perhaps a few other great Tricky releases at Newbury Comics.  

Next week, yes I promise you there will be an update next week, I've already started writing it, I'm going to deal with a few soundtracks.  Some fun, others funny.  All of them on vinyl.  Never stop spinning.