February 16, 2008

Lately, I’ve been trying to find music that really deviates from the norm in terms of style and overall approach. Luckily I stumbled upon this guy, who has seemingly flown under the radar for a while now. Koushik, who is on the Stones Throw Label, can be pretty tough to stick in one particular category. According to Stones Throw, “what sets Koushik apart from the others is a beautiful ’60s psych-pop element that tends to pervade throughout. It shows itself in the spacious panned strings, acoustic guitars, and harpsichords that fall in and out of each other; and the beats have a harder regimented classic true school hip-hop sound.” If any of that last statement sounds even the least bit interesting, then you’ll definitely enjoy his last album “Be With”, which was released back in 2005. Definitely one to look out for.

More to come…Get at me!



Valentime Update!

February 14, 2008

I felt lame not hitting you off with anything, so I decided to post this:

Happy Valentimes!

February 14, 2008

I’m taking the day off in terms of writing. It’s valentimes. And I only celebrate commercialized holidays. So check back tomorrow for another update. In the mean time, get close to a loved one. Go back and check out any of the posts you might have missed.

Maybe if I get motivated, I’ll throw together a mixtape for you guys. *hint hint* comment!

the judge

Michael Jackson remixed…

February 13, 2008

Hmmm… Not sure how i feel about this. With the 25th Anniversary of Thriller (Best Album EVER) Michael Jackson has released remixes to some of his biggest hits on the album. Thankfully, no one touched Thriller. That would be blasphemy. But there were a total of 5 remixes, and I don’t know how I feel about them.

Well, that’s half a lie. I can say with certainty that I am overall dissapointed. In terms of guest vocalists, I think Michael Jackson could have acquired some much better talent (Fergie? Akon!??). But even some of the great talent left me wanting more… a lot more. How can KanYe West and Michael Jackson go into the studio together, and all that comes out is this:

It starts out promising, but gets really boring really quick… where’s that KanYe magic I always expect? Where’s that creative spirit that refuses to release anything less than excellent? He barely changed a thing, although I will say the drums are nice. Billy Jean is such an iconic song, that if you mess with it, you BETTER come with heat. KanYe, you failed me on this one.

I will go from my biggest dissapointment (not the worst track, but the one I had the highest expectations from and the worst relative result) to the highlight of the album (I mean, aside from the original tracks which continue to be fantastic even today). Will.I.Am is a brilliant producer. His remixed beats are really good, particularly P.Y.T.

 Come on Will.I.Am. Don’t hurt ’em. Too good. Aside from KanYe’s track, Will.I.Am did all of the other remixes, which, as I said, are very well produced. It’s a shame that Fergie and Akon had to mess them up. Especially Fergie. She was atrocious.

Will. I beg you. Stop letting Fergie mess with your brilliance. Seriously.

Here’s the other 2 remixes:

I know you’re trying to appeal to a younger audience (no pun intended), but seriously Michael. Step you’re standards up. You’re better than this. Way better.


the judge 



February 12, 2008

Pillowface and his Airplane Chronicles. New mix by legendary West Coast electro DJ Steve Aoki. And its really good. Having connections in the record industry (he started Dim Mak records will really help you pull together a lot of talent from a lot of different corners of the music industry to create a nice dance mix.

I will say, the mix was a little difficult to get into for me at first. Just the opening track doesn’t draw me in and make me want to dance the same way, say, A-trak’s Dirty South Dance did for me. That being said, Aoki does a great job of bringing the listener in and making them want to move. Its a really cool eclectic mix of anywhere from Rock, to Chicago Juke, to Electro. Its just really unique, and really fun. I don’t have that much to say on this album, except that its a good listen, and great for a party. Check it out.


the judge 

The Same Channel

February 11, 2008

I was walking around today, flipping through my ipod, and I came across this, and decided to give it another listen. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that my initial reaction to this album was uwarranted. Producers Styrofoam and fat jon (the ample soul physician), teamed up to release this album in 2006. What they created was a brilliant cross-genre futuristic space gangsta creation. They draw elements from hip-hop, electronica, funk, indie and other genres to craft this album that is truly ahead of its time. Perhaps this is why I didn’t truly appreciate it until now.

Two things struck me very hard about this album: the departure from what fat jon’s usual sound, and the delivery of all the vocals on the album. Fat jon’s sound has, in the past, been very down-tempo, relaxing, and almost purely instrumental. However on this album, there is a slightly more up-tempo feel, and a lot more electronic sounds introduced into the mix, as well as having fat jon rapping, and Styrofoam singing. Which brings me to my next point… the vocals.  The vocals are done very well. They are cold, soul-less and mechanical. This reflects the electronic, futuristic vibe of the album, but in someways it lends more emotion to them. Its a very odd thing to describe.

All I know is, the album is great, I’m mad I slept on it for so long, but I’m happy I’ve re-examined it.

Space Gangtas

fat jon & Styrofoam on MySpace 
the judge

Made in the Dark

February 10, 2008

I recently got involved writing reviews for a music magazine. Here is my review of Hot Chip’s Made in the Dark.

In the past, Hot Chip has impressed listeners with their cross-genre dance-punk/electro-pop/whatever-the-hell-it-is-they-do sound that drew in elements of funk, soul, and even hip-hop sampling techniques. Not that they’ve thrown this to the wind, but on their newest effort, Made in the Dark, they have certainly added in a much more prominent rock influence. In fact, they have still managed to carry over all the elements of their previous releases, and yet they’ve given the record a new vibe that, aside from a few tracks, works incredibly well.
The album opens strongly with Out At the Pictures. This track has a very slow build-up with some weird synthesized sounds that increase tempo up and increase tempo and eventually become backing to a phat guitar sound and some sporadic drums. Then this all breaks down and takes on a new tempo, drum, and melody, and here come the lyrics. This is a perfect mirror of how the album flows: unexpected, both in progression and in the combination of sounds, but somehow it all works wonderfully, eventually it all comes together and finally it resolves.
Next up is Shake a Fist, a highly danceable track that incorporates Afrikan drums, a haunting vocal melody, and a punchy synth, all marvelously. And when it breaks down into the hook, it is phenomenal. This breaks down into a brief spoken interlude, before breaking down once again into a bizarre (but in a good way) medley of sounds. This leads into the first single off the album, Ready for the Floor. This is by far one of the catchiest beats of the album. This is definitely the song to play at your next crazy dance party.
The rock edge really shines through on the next track, Bendable Poseable. A simple melody centered on a steady synth, robotic monotone voice: “bendable poseable,” and a recurring guitar riff. The breakdown at the end of this track is really a nice touch. And right after such a heavy hitting track, the mood gets very mellow. The contrast is somewhat jarring, and unexpected. This is definitely a very different kind of moment from the group.
This quieter sound continues on through the deceptively mellow Touch too Much, and on into the titular track Made in the Dark. Touch too Much plays a good balance between up-tempo and down-tempo contrasting the quick drum hits with the mellow lyrics. Made in the Dark (the song) is a complete departure from anything the group has ever done before. It is very slow, sad, mellow, and is centered around a melody played on an actual piano. This is where I begin to get mixed feelings. The song is not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it just doesn’t feel like Hot Chip to me.
The next few tracks pick up where Bendable Poseable left off in terms of energy. One Pure Thought comes through with a nice guitar intro, and then deviates into something completely different, electronic drums and synths that carry us through to the end, but not without the guitar coming back to lend a hand. Next is Hold On, another nice guitar-laced dancey track that lends itself well to head nodding. And of course, what would this track be without the fantastic conga drum breakdown towards the end. The next track, Wrestlers, is one of the best lyrical moments of the album. “It’s me versus you and love, we’ll tag-team double up./Hit you in the sweet spot and make you wish you’d duffed up.”
Next up is Don’t Dance. What’s remarkable about this track is that it makes you want to dance, while maintaining such an awkward time-structure and tempo that it is almost impossible to actually dance to. Weird. The final two tracks on this album, to me are a bit of a let-down. Again, they are not bad, but they have such little energy and are so unlike Hot Chip, that they don’t really fit well with the album. But as stand-alone tracks they are good. Overall, a very good showing, that only suffers from a few slightly dull moments (although I expect these to grow on me) in an album one would expect to be a bit more heavy hitting.

And here is the advantage of the internet coming into play:



the judge (MySpace me)