Saturday, July 31, 2010

J. Cole - "Untitled"

J. Cole doesn't need any help killing tracks, but throw his bars over a jaunty piano/bass-heavy Jim Jonsin beat (basically owned 2009 with "Whatever U Like" and "Lollipop"), and it's pretty hard for anyone else to compete. Kid's officially in takeover mode so all other MCs what yourself.

Download: J. Cole - "Untitled"

MySpace: J. Cole

Video: Dexter - Season 5 Trailer

Dexter has been one of those rare series that has grown increasingly interesting, dynamic, and complex as the seasons progress. Season 4 included not only one of the peaks in the series with Dexter meeting his most worthy adversary (props to Bill Simmons for creating the Trinity Killer award in one of his sports bags) but one of the most shocking and stupefying final scenes in the history of television. I wasn't sure where the hell they could go from there, but after watching this preview, I'm feeling like they can spin straw into gold...and that this might be the show's final season. Either way, I'm excited again. Oh, and (SPOILER ALERT)...I STILL CAN'T BELIEVE THEY KILLED RITA

Season 5 premieres September 27th.

Wale - "The Eyes of a Tiger"

Wale seems to be to getting really serious with the ladies and, judging by his new trailer, ladies are getting really serious about him too. And let me retract my statement about him abandoning his go-go drums. Shit BANGS here. More About Nothing is well on it's way...DMV on the map again August 3rd

Download: Wale - "The Eyes of a Tiger"

MySpace: Wale

Kid Cudi - "Mojo So Dope"

This song is as sluggish as, well, a dude who smokes a shitload of bud. True. "Mojo so dope" is another phrase Cudi likes to mathematically insert in place of a thoughtful hook. True. But something about this still gets with me, even though it seems like throw away shit compared to the possibilities locked inside the clever inner workings of the Moon Man's mind (see The End of Days). Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager has been pushed back until October 28th, probably suggesting the heads at G.O.O.D. wanted to give a second-look at some of the material, but I have a feeling I'm going to gobble up whatever he puts out like a hungry, hungry hippo. I believe the industry term is "bias", but "I give a fuck about your lifestyle".

MySpace: Kid Cudi

Video: T.I. - "Got Ya Back" (feat. Keri Hilson)

I guess Mr. Harris already knows this song is going to smash regardless so no sense it throwing around the big bucks for a worth while video. It's definitely the most radio-ready track we've heard off King Uncaged thus far...the hook on this is undeniably enormous, though. At least getting to stare at Keri Hilson for 3-or-so minutes make the bland visuals bearable. King Uncaged drops September 28th.

MySpace: T.I.

Video: Jarrod Gorbel - "Each Breathe (feat. Rachel and Jack Antonoff) (Devil's Made a New Friend: Session 5)

Back stateside and feeling the throes of jetlag hardcore...7 am is far too early no matter how late my body thinks it is. Lets keep things at a glass-half-full perspective and settle that it gives me an early start to catch up on all the killer happenings in the music biosphere that I missed during the two weeks I vanished from the cyberwebz to that Europe classic (the band of course...)

Anyways, let's get reacquainted with another one of Jarrod Gorbel's ingenious Devil's Made a New Friend sessions. This time a rather Ricky Fitts-looking Jarrod (American Beauty anyone?) joins the bro-and-sis combo of Rachel and Jack Antonoff (of Steel Train fame) for a rising number praising a thirst for life in a hollow best suited for Brian Fallon. Now that's a NYC collaboration I'd kill to see. Devil's Made a New Friend drops August 31st.

MySpace: Jarrod Gorbel

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mid-Year Top 20 Records of 2010

I'm about to head off on a two-week nautical adventure with my family in the UK so expect a short-term hiatus from the blogosphere, but I figured what better parting gift than my list of the best albums of 2010 up to this point. All things considered this has been another excellent year of music for indie, hip-hop, and, well, music lovers in general. Hope you agree with the familiar names on here and give a solid listen or two to the one's you've never heard of. As always, leave the love/hate in the comments and I'll see you there or I'll see you some other time. In the words of the wise sage Aubrey "Drizzy Drake" Graham: "I just hope that you miss me a little when I'm gone"...

1. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

2. Circa Survive - Blue Sky Noise

3. Local Natives - Gorilla Manor

4. The Roots - How I Got Over

5. Four Year Strong - Enemy of the World

6. Broken Bells - Broken Bells

7. Steel Train - Steel Train

8. Butch Walker - I Liked You Better When You Had No Heart

9. The Black Keys - Brothers

10. Minus The Bear - Omni

11. The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever

12. Yeasayer - Odd Blood

13. Portugal. The Man. - American Ghetto

14. Wavves - King of the Beach

15. Vampire Weekend - Contra

16. Drake - Thank Me Later

17. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

18. LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening

19. RJD2 - The Colossus

20. Crime in Stereo- I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone

Video: K-OS - "Zambony"

Little known fact: Drake is not the first Canadian rapper to spit lines and sing his own hooks. K-OS has been the reigning king of the hip-hop game in the Great White North and shows off more love for the Habs including two of their most famous "H" exports in his newest video: hockey and Hayden Christensen. Definitely my favorite song of Yes! too. Give this a peek and before you call Drizzy the most talented MC to come outta Toronto, educate yourself.

Zambony from Khv on Vimeo.

MySpace: K-OS

Drake - "Do It All"

Another b-side off Thank Me Later...decent verses, dope beat, and a hook reminiscent of some of Drake's earliest tracks add up to more of the same, but as they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Download: Drake - "Do It All"

MySpace: Drake

Lloyd Banks - "Light Up" (freestyle)

Those bottles by the forklift and chronic by the cases have Lloyd Banks sounded a lot more croaky, but don't seem to get in the way of his sizzling bars. When it comes to Drizzy's "Light Up", it's hard to top Lil' Wayne phoning in some rhymes from Rikers, but Lloyd Banks more than and holds his own, making us all understand why he's an extremely underrated lyricist when he's not looping a list of luxury car companies.

Download: Lloyd Banks - "Light Up" (freestyle)

MySpace: Lloyd Banks

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

R.I.P: Envy on the Coast

I've followed Envy on the Coast since they were a baby-child band coming out of Strong Island. Their initial description as a combination of Incubus and Glassjaw had me hooked from the start and after my first listen to their self-titled EP, I was blown away. Ryan Hunter has some serious vocal chops and the band could transition between effects-pedal freakouts, hardcore breakdowns, and straight-up soaring pop-punk hooks within one song. While Lucy Gray and Lowcountry had it shortcoming, you could hear a band working/struggling towards reaching their untapped source of potential (the LOST golden light, anyone?). Sadly, after an announcement from Ryan yesterday, it looks like the band's differences will never let them fully realize that energy. Hopefully they will all continue to create music, and I'll continue to keep tabs on that, but Envy on the Coast is going to be another one of those groups that's going to get filed into an ever-growing "Coulda, Shoulda" category.

As a parting gift, like my boy CJ over at bedwetting cosmonaut, I put together a 9 song compilation of my favorite EOTC songs for your enjoyment. That's the beautiful thing about art...even after everyone is long gone, their creations will live on forever. Thanks for the jams guys and good luck in the future!

Download: Envy on the Coast - Greatest Hitz

MySpace: Envy on the Coast

Nick Torres - Glamour Kills Acoustic Set

I'll always look back on Northstar, specifically Pollyanna, as one of the more special musical connections of my youth (feels weird saying that at 21). Thankfully Nick Torres decided to stir up some pleasant ghosts and break out acoustic renditions of a bunch of Northstar tunes, including half of Pollyanna and a couple from Is This Thing Loaded? at a Glamour Kills birthday party. Talk about a gift that keep's on giving.

It's a fresh hit of nostalgia to hear these songs again. I'm embedding two of my favorites ("For Members Only" and "Two Zero Two") below, but hit the link to catch the rest of the set and don't forget to check out Nick's almost-as-excellent new band Cassino whenever possible.

Watch: Nick Torres - Glamour Kills Acoustic Set

MySpace: Northstar

Video: Kid Cudi, Rostam Batmanglij, Best Coast - "All Summer"

You know the saying: "walk a mile in someone else's shoes"? Try walking around a Brooklyn apartment in someone else's huge paper-mache head. As hard as it is to block of the sunshine of the song, I gotta say the video ends up being the more irresistible of the two. Begrudgingly due props to Converse.

Skyzoo - "Frisbees"

After hearing Sky use The Salvation to showcase slowed down street narratives, it's nice to see him let loose. This one's coming off Live from the Tape Deck, his upcoming mixtape with NJ producer Illmind, and is a lyrical prizefight: hit after hit of word-twisting jabs that knock the wavy synthezier-heavy beat out. Show me you can catch it...

Download: Skyzoo - "Frisbees"

MySpace: Skyzoo

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Video: Steel Train - "Bullet" (live on Letterman)

A wide-eyed Steel Train took the stage on Late Night with Letterman to kill the opener of their brand-spankin' new self-titled record. Just what you want to see: lots of energy, presence, and Jack's vocal command is down right stupid. Glad to see these guys getting themselves out there. If you haven't picked up Steel Train yet, you're missing out big time. One of the best records of 2010 so can take my word for it here or wait 'til I drop my mid-year top 20 on Thurs afternoon. Gettin' psyched yet?

MySpace: Steel Train

Video: Big Sean - "What You Doin'? (Bullshittin')"

Sean makes up for all the vibrancy and personality this song is lacking in the video. I gotta admit some of the lines have it growing on me, (see: I'm a monster/I should be in District 9") but overall it's a snore fest.

MySpace: Big Sean

Terrible Things - "Wrap Me Up"

For any emo-head growing up in the late 90s/early 2000s, it's hard to top a super group of Andy Jackson (Hot Rod Circuit), Fred Mascherino (Taking Back Sunday), and Josh Eppard (Coheed and Cambria). But that's exactly what we get with Terrible Things. got an exclusive interview and stream of "Wrap Me Up", a solid first tasting spoon of what they trio has cooking up...aside from their instrumental mastery, I think a chorus of "I was built to fail you/it's part of my design/you're better of without me/in your life" is enough to have everyone dusting off their square-framed glasses and heating up their hair straighteners. Terrible Things is out August 31st.

Listen: Terrible Things - "Wrap Me Up"

MySpace: Terrible Things

Monday, July 12, 2010

Drake - "Paris Morton Music"

Drake answered the hate for his pedestrian verse on "Aston Martin Music", by releasing another one that gets on the level of his cosmic hook (think So Far Gone). There's some uncertainty to whether this will make the final cut of Teflon Don...if Rick Ross is smart he'll drop it because Drizzy killed this track like it was LeBron James coming back to Cleveland. Don't even get me started...

Download: Drake - "Paris Morton Music"

MySpace: Drake

Video: Kevin Devine - "New York, I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down" (LCD Soundsystem cover)

K Dev and crew unleash a rousing cover of James Murphy's bittersweet ode to Gotham at a recent gig. Needing to see him live might classify as my understatement of the year.

MySpace: Kevin Devine

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Acceptance - "In The First Place"

A previously unreleased cut from the late, great Acceptance. One of the ultimate "coulda been" band's...excellent songwriting, solid instrumental backing, and of course Jason Vena's pitch-perfect vocals. This is another example of what made Phantoms so excellent. Reunion anyone?

Download: Acceptance - "In The First Place"

MySpace: Acceptance

Wale - "Women Lie, Men Lie" (feat. Black Cobain)

Ain't that the truth. Wale and fellow DMV native Black Cobain go in over Young Money's simplified/bass-heavy instrumental. Wale was apparently under the weather when he recorded this, hence the unreleased status...but still absolutely slaughters it. "Who here works as hard as me"? I think we know the answer to that.

Download: Wale - "Women Lie, Men Lie" (feat. Black Cobain)

MySpace: Wale

Video: Set Your Goals - "Gaia Bleeds (Make Way For Man"

Set Your Goals go green and unite their Captain Planet rings with Michael Moore-approved statistics, stopping just short of plastering "fuck you BP" in big, block letters across the screen. No doubt the heaviest song on This Will Be The Death of Us (helped greatly by some throaty barks from former Terminal vocalist Jon Gula), and maybe the hardest they've ever written, but it still sounds out of place to hear such a politically-charged hardcore song coming off a record that airs way more on the pop-punk side of their sound. Either way, their message is Sabs-approved...I'm off to go recycle something.

MySpace: Set Your Goals

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Gaslight Anthem - "Boxer" (acoustic)

Brian Fallon turns down the gruff and driving riffs adding some extra soul and vulnerability to the mental heavyweight. Remember when we knew a boxer, baby?

Download: The Gaslight Anthem - "Boxer" (Acoustic)

MySpace: The Gaslight Anthem

Video: Four Year Strong - "It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now"

When I was flying out to Las Vegas with my friends last month, we met a guy on the plane who claimed to be directing a video for this song involving a Revolutionary War reenactment. Consider me disappointed. They already released a fan-friendly version in London utilizing some awesome props, now the official one is a pretty traditional montage of concert shots and the band's general shenanigans. Now I just don't know whether there was a change of plans or the dude was straight up delusional...moral of the story: airplane friends are weird.

MySpace: Four Year Strong

Local Natives - "Eyes Wide" (Fool's Gold Remix feat. Aristotle Pop A Bottle)

While Suckers went the noisy route and Teen Daze opted for a dreamier re-working, Fool's Gold takes it straight to dirty South. All the cerebral intricacies are passed up for eerie synths, rapid-fire trunk rattling bass, and a guest spot from an unknown MC named Aristotle Pop A Bottle (seriously.) Would've put a lot of money on the fact that you'd never be able to "bump" Local Natives, but I better pull those bets now.

Download: Local Natives - "Eyes Wide" (Fool's Gold Remix feat. Aristotle Pop A Bottle)

MySpace: Local Natives
MySpace: Fool's Gold

Wale - "Workin'"

D.C.'s top MC and John Wall's newest BFF celebrates the announcement of his newest mixtape with a trailer and an aptly titled new track. The lack of go-go drums are glaringly obvious, but Wale rides the squishy synth-laden beat like he's got a concrete boot down on the gas pedal. Strangely, this won't show up on More About Nothing, dropping in August, but if more of the like appears, it's gonna be some serious stuff.

Download: Wale - "Workin"

MySpace: Wale

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Video: Brandon Flowers - "Crossfire"

I've often wondered who would come to Brandon Flower's rescue if he were kidnapped by ninjas. Apparently the answer is Charlize Theron. Somehow Mr. Flowers keeps getting locked up in some precarious positions by some nightcrawlers (the first one reminds me of the ball-rapping scene from Casino Royale), only to find a deus ex machina in the form of the South African beauty, busting in with samurai swords and throwing stars blazin'. Tarantino style, baby. Song's not too shabby itself. Flamingo is out in September.

MySpace: The Killers

Dustin Kensrue - Live on 103.1 The Buzz

I'm pretty convinced Thrice songs sound excellent in just about an re-created setting. Well, except for those lame fan YouTube covers... Anways, Dustin proves this more than ever, taking on some cuts from Beggars with only an acoustic guitar and a stool to aid him for a streamed set over at Stickam. He touches on a trio of favorites off the record ("In Exile", "The Weight" and "Beggars") and leaves us in awe of the power, emotion, and general goodness that is Thrice's music.

Download: Dustin Kensrue - Live on 103.1 The Buzz

MySpace: Thrice

Kid Cudi, Rostam Batmanglij, Best Coast - "All Summer"

Converse wanted a summer anthem and, after enlisting the help of Kid Cudi, Rostam Batmanglij, and Best Coast, this is what they come up with. Cudder lays down his usual melodically chilled out verses, Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino delivers a hook that's as sunny as it is melancholy, and Rostam manages a beat that adds chiming bells and fuzzy riffs to the tumbling drums that's more align with a VW tune. Nothing too crazy here, but a solid tune and worth a couple listens...especially for free. If you ain't broke, you ain't doing summer right.

Download: Kid Cudi, Rostam Batmanglij, Best Coast - "All Summer"

Video: Underoath - 2010 Studio Update #5

Grant gets us psyched up for what Spencer is bringing to the table vocally for the new record. I don't know if the dynamic will be the same without Aaron's delicate harmonies balancing out everything, but I'm certainly willing to give them a listen.

Watch: Underoath - 2010 Studio Update #5

MySpace: Underoath