Thursday, September 30, 2010

From LA to NYC

I've just touched down in New York, where I will be living for at least the next few months. Unfortunately, due to interviews and such I'm not going to be able to spend as many of my days here as I'd like. Regardless, expect more photographs from cities and schools around the country in the coming months. The apartment search officially begins tomorrow...

(If you're in the city and I haven't contacted you, shoot me a message or something!)

Review: Magnetic Man - Magnetic Man (Album)

Review: Magnetic Man Magnetic Man 2010
Dubstep / Electronic

1. Flying Into Tokyo
2. Fire (Feat. Ms. Dynamite)
3. I Need Air (Feat. Angela Hunte)
4. Anthemic
5. The Bug
6. Ping Pong
7. Perfect Stranger (Feat. Katy B)
8. Mad
9. Boiling Water (Feat. Sam Frank)
10. K Dance 
11. Crossover (Feat. Katy B)
12. Box Of Ghosts
13. Karma Crazy
14. Getting Nowhere (Feat. John Legend)


Magnetic Man, both the group and the album, is a big deal for dubstep. The genre's first "supergroup," the project consists of Skream, Benga, and Artwork, long-time friends since meeting at Croydon's historic Big Apple Records. Skream and Benga are two of dubstep's biggest and most prolific producers, responsible for many genre defining tunes such as Skream's "Midnight Request Line" and Benga and Coki's "Night." The Magnetic Man album contains the first dubstep-rooted single to crack the UK Top 10 ("I Need Air"), and "Perfect Stranger" looks poised to do it again. By all means, the release of Magnetic Man will mark a change in the genre. It will introduce dubstep to the masses, it will spur a league of copycats, and it will certainly split the already-divided followers of the genre. 

If you're not here as a dubstep devotee and wonder why I keep posting about it, listen to this album. If you have any interest in electronic music at all, it may end up being the best thing you've heard all year. I personally know a few listeners who were converted after Skream and Benga played at Nocturnal last weekend, stealing the show from the other, more mundane acts.

Unfortunately, I feel that the album will leave the rest of us slightly disappointed. Granted, some of the tracks are the best I've heard all year, including "Perfect Stranger" and "I Need Air." The problem, though, is that I have been listening to them all year. And having eagerly awaited the rest of the album for so long, what we're left with pales in comparison. "Flying Into Tokyo" starts the album off with a weird Yann Tiersen-esque vibe, which is fine but unnecessary, and "The Bug" is just pointless. "Anthemic," with its heavy, melodic vibe, is probably my favorite of the new instrumental tracks. "Crossover," while far from a bad tune, unfortunately doesn't hold a candle to its Benga-produced counterpart, "Katy On A Mission."

I like the album, but given that half of it was previewed before hand, I already knew I would. I only wish Magnetic Man would have pushed the envelope a little more, and I know they have the talent to do so. They've already begun to direct the course of dubstep, certainly in a more melodic and radio-friendly direction (see: Caspa's "Love Never Dies"). They could have also taken things to the other extreme by producing more interesting and heavy-hitting tracks to balance things out, but it seems they've chosen to play it safe. This may very well be the album of the year, but I'm confident it could have been better.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Interview

Prepping for interviews has got me looking around for some suiting inspirations. If I find the time, I'll try expanding this to a what-to-wear post. What makes the interview difficult, of course, is looking as sharp as possible without drawing any attention to what you're wearing...

Review: Soul Jazz Presents: Future Bass

Soul Jazz Records Presents: Future Bass

"Future Bass! Post-Dubstep, post-House, post everything! Four Tet, Mala, Untold, Black Chow (Kevin Martin/The Bug’s latest project), Coki and loads more all-exclusive new tracks on this new album for Soul Jazz Records."

1. Mala - Don't Let Me Go
2. Four Tet - Nothing To See
3. Untold - Fly Girls
4. Coki - Ransom
5. Ramadanman - Bass Drums
6. Black Chow - Air
7. LD - Mastermind
8. V.I.V.E.K - Talking Shadows
9. Randomer - Puzzled
10. Ginz - Boss
11. Harry Craze - Gone
12. Distal - Grape Donut
13. Sub Version - Free To Funk


A new and very highly awaited compilation from the label behind the well-received Steppa's Delight series. True to it's name, this comp operates mainly at the sub-bass level but keeps things interesting and manages to span a few genres. Randomer and Distal are the only two artists who haven't released through Soul Jazz before, and their tracks are very impressive. If you're not a big fan of bass-heavy music this may not be the best introduction, given the lack of melody in the high frequencies, but if this is your thing then seek this out immediately.

Randomer - Puzzled

Harry Craze - Gone

Ramadanman - Bass Drums

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

Deerhunter Halcyon Digest (2010)
Indie, Experimental, Alternative

1. Earthquake
2. Don't Cry
3. Revival
4. Sailing
5. Memory Boy
6. Desire Lines
7. Basement Scene
8. Helicopter
9. Fountain Stairs
10. Coronado
11. He Would Have Laughed


A pleasantly listenable new album from Deerhunter. A little uninspired at the beginning, but things really open up after "Memory Boy" into lush, somewhat dreamy sounds that are a bit surprising from a band known for their frequent genre-bending and experimentation. "Desire Lines" is a must-listen.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Skream & Benga (Live)

I've finally had to chance to see Skream & Benga (joined on-stage by Plastician, Hudson Mohawke, 12th Planet and Caspa) perform together after an entire summer of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those two short hours were probably the most fun I have ever had in front of a set of (very large) speakers. Both producers pulled out their best tunes from the past few months and even threw in some new surprises (I'm pretty sure they played a new Magnetic Man track, didn't record it but it was good). The crowd was a little weak, but a few of us in front knew nearly every tune they threw out, and being in good company you bet your ass we sang along. Don't judge. Shaky, unintelligble videos after the jump.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review: Magnetic Man - Magnetic Man (Sampler)

Magnetic Man Magnetic Man (Sampler)
Dubstep, Electronic, Drum and Bass

1. I Need Air (Feat. Angela Hunte)
2. Boiling Water (Feat. Sam Frank)
3. Getting Nowhere (Feat. John Legend)
4. Perfect Stranger (Feat. Katy B)
5. Mad


Magnetic Man is Skream, Benga, and Artwork. It seems like anyone who cares at all about dubstep loves them or hates them. Given the fact that Benga & Skream's Rinse show basically sit at the top of my essential-listening list, my stance should be no mystery. "Pop-step" or not, Magnetic Man tunes accomplish what dance music ultimately exists for--they get people moving. How do you reconcile that with a recent post praising Burial and all that dark, atmospheric artists have done for the genre? don't think about it, and move along.

Anyways, "I Need Air" was a chart topper in the UK and the forthcoming album (Oct 11) will certainly be no different. This little sampler was leaked a little while ago with two new songs from the group, "Boiling Water" and "Getting Nowhere" (featuring John Legend, somewhat unfortunately). Unfortunately, these are probably the two weakest songs they've put out so far. "Boiling Water" is basically "Perfect Stranger" redux, with less attractive vocals. The drum loop is almost identical as well, and how they managed this (on a sampler, no less) is kind of baffling. "Getting Nowhere" fares better, a little more spacey than the rest of the songs, but John Legend's vocals are a bit distracting and don't mesh well with the rest of the track. You've probably heard the other songs, but in case you haven't they're all good. When Mary Anne Hobbs dropped "Mad" in Tokyo, I was grinning from ear to ear.

The full album is out October 11. If you want to preorder it or just peek at the tracklist, it's listed on itunes here.

Magnetic Man - Perfect Stranger (f/ Katy B) (Video) from Adrien Picard on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Review: The Walkmen - Lisbon

The Walkmen Lisbon (2010)
Indie, Rock

1. Juveniles
2. Angela Surf City
3. Follow The Leader
4. Blue As Your Blood
5. Stranded
6. Victory
7. All My Great Designs
8. Woe Is Me
9. Torch Song
10. While I Shovel The Snow
11. Lisbon


The Walkmen's "The Rat" is one of my guilty pleasure songs. If I found it at a karaoke bar, you can bet it'd be near the top of my list. It's got tons of energy, it's fun to sing, and it's just as fun to watch it performed. "Angela Surf City" impresses for the same reasons, and kicks Lisbon off to a great start. It's quite obvious, though, that if I judged Lisbon that way I'd be missing the point by quite a large margin. Lisbon is a good album because it's timeless. Hamilton Leithauser has a great voice, and the production is top-notch. The album has it's energetic moments, but what's important is the refinement that's heard from start to finish. The melodies are stripped down to their essentials--perhaps too much at times, but generally to great effect. These songs may not catch you at first, but they'll never fail to provide a good listen. "Angela Surf City" may stand out, but it's "Torch Song" that really reflects the simple and mature song-writing that lies at the heart of Lisbon.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Atmospheric Re-entry Mixtape

1. Arbol & Fibla - Last Screening
2. Vaccine - Wishful Thinking
3. D1 - Sorrow
4. Silkie - Beauty
5. Pariah - Railroad
6. Zomby - Test Me For A Reason
7. Jose James - Blackmagic (Joy Orbison's Recreation)
8. D1 - Paradox
9. Skream - Organic
10. Darkstar - Videotape
11. Shuttle - Tunnel
12. Skream - Burnin Up (A Jungle Tribute)

I said I'd try my hand at mixing some songs together, and here's the promised result. After quite a bit of trial-and-error, I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out and the process was a lot more fun than I expected. I took a mix I made a while back that was taken down by the RIAA (!) and updated it a bit--the songs have a lot more in common this time around and the mix has it's title for a reason! Anyways, as I'm still in the learning process, feedback is definitely appreciated about anything, mixing technique, song choices, etc. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Burial/Kode9 Farewell Mix for Mary Anne Hobbs' Final Show

After 14 years at BBC Radio 1, Mary Anne Hobbs performed her last show earlier tonight with a guest mix from Burial & Kode9, capping a few weeks of farewell mixes from incredible guest artists (Skream, Joker, Digital Mystikz, Ramadanman and Shackleton). Having Burial come out of his trademark radio silence was the most memorable and appropriate ending she could have given her show, given that Burial (on Kode9's Hyperdub) and Mary Anne Hobbs are arguably the two most responsible for dubstep's rise in popularity over the years.

Download the mix here

1. Speedy J – Tesla
2. Zomby – Natalia’s Song
3. Brandy – Never Say Never (El-B version 1)
4. Brandy – Never Say Never (El-B version 2)
5. Brandy – Angel (X-Men vocal mix)
6. Laurie Spiegel – Voices Within – A Requiem
7. Alena – Turn It Around (Hard House Bantons
8. Cooly G – He Da Biz
9. Theo Parrish – Soul Control feat. Alena Waters
10. KMFH aka Kyle Hall – Girl U So Strong (Wild Oats)
11. Terror Danjah – S.O.S.
12. Darkstar – 2 Chords
13. Prince – Condition of the Heart
14. Erykah Badu – Telephone
15. Foul Play – Being With U Rmx
16. A Guy called Gerald – Silent Cry

I won't talk too much about the mix, because it needs to be heard for itself. I just finished listening to it and all I can say is it's incredible. It is every bit as atmospheric as one would expect from Burial, and even though it doesn't feature any new tunes by the artist his trademark ambience and haunting samples tie the entire thing together. This is definitely late-night listening material, to be enjoyed in the solitude of one's home.

If you have even a passing interest in the genre and you haven't listened to Burial's "Untrue," or Mary Anne Hobb's "Dubstep Warz" show, don't miss out. They are undoubtedly the sounds of a genre coming into it's own, and tonight the two came together to mark, and celebrate, the end of an era.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Skream - Outside the Box

Skream Outside the Box (2010)
Electronic, Dubstep, UK Garage, 2 Step

1. Perferated
2. 8 Bit Baby (Feat. Murs)
3. CPU
4. Where You Should Be (Feat. Samn Frank)
5. How Real (Feat. Freckles)
6. Field Of Emotion
7. I Love The Way
8. Listenin' To The Records On My Wall
9. Wibbler
10. Metamorphosis
11. Finally (Feat. La Roux)
12. Reflections (Feat Dbridge & Instra:mental)
13. A Song For Lenny
14. The Epic Last Song

1. Give You Everything (Feat. Freckles)
2. Do U Know
3. Amity Step
4. Organic
5. Stand Up
6. WTF


If you haven't picked this up yet, do so immediately. Like every other producer, there are some people out there who don't particularly like Skream, but the popularity of "Midnight Request Line" can't be ignored and the guy's output is huge. "Skream!" isn't a perfect album by any means, but that and Skream's Rinse CD played a huge part in selling me on dubstep as a genre. Not to mention, his show with Benga is one of the best things on Rinse and pretty funny as well...

Anyways, unlike the other originators of dubstep who find themselves labeled "brostep" these days (Rusko, Caspa, etc.), Skream seems to have attracted the "popstep" or simply "mainstream" label with both his latest album and his Magnetic Man project w/ Benga and Artwork. That's not too far off the mark, actually, but for the first time (and it was long due) dubstep can be called "catchy" and there's nothing wrong with that. Some of the backing vocals and melodies are so well done, in fact, that the more old-school Skream tracks like Widdler and Metamorphosis seem almost bare in comparison. On the flip-side, the collaborations with huge artists don't seem to bode well for the future of dubstep. Katy B and Freckles, fine. But Murs and La Roux...?

Despite his place as one of the founders of dubstep, Skream's latest album is probably best categorized as Electronic music, and left at that. It might not appeal to everyone, but hey--to each his own. Personally, this is one of the best-produced albums I've heard all year, even if the vocals are a little much.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Salem - King Night

Salem King Night (2010)
Witch House / Goth Juke / Drag / ??? / Triangles and Shit

1 King Night
2 Asia
3 Frost
4 Sick
5 Release Da Boar
6 Trapdoor
7 Redlights
8 Hound
9 Traxx
10 Tair
11 Killer


Depending on who you ask, this is either one of the most original albums of the year or a bad joke that's gone too far. It's hard to write about Salem or the genre without sounding ridiculous, so I won't bother. If you haven't been introduced to them yet, give it a try. You'll either find yourself having a blast, or turning them off pretty quickly. Personally, my favorite thing about Salem is that they're not afraid to show off their influences, from techno, shoegaze, the dirty south, and everything in between. Actually, scratch that, my favorite thing about them is their infamous live performances, which I really hope to catch one day. Anyways, this album is mostly previously released/leaked songs, and some of the new ones have yet to grow on me. It does seem like all of the songs received some much-needed professional mastering, though, which makes them all worth a re-listen. "Redlights" is always the favorite, but I'm quite happy/surprised that "Trapdoor" made the cut as well. Now where's the White Ring album?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mixtape Download: MATHBLASTER MIX

Mathblaster Mix

1. Submerse - One More Day
2. Baths - Nordic Laurel
3. Swarms - I Gave You Everything ft. Holly Prothman
4. Cop Magnet - Benched
5. Hard-Fi - We Need Love (Joker Remix)
6. Teen Daze - Driving Home From The Beach (The Feeling Of)
7. Erykah Badu - On and On (Pariah Remix)
8. Snowden - Don't Really Know Me
9. DJ Fresh - Gold Dust
10. TOKiMONSTA - Gamble
11. Benga - Slaughter ft. Youngman
12. Rubix Qube - Ride Round Town
13. Killa Kela - Everyday (Q-Bik Remix)
14. Starkey - Stars ft. Anneka

I made this mixtape for superfuture's mix-trading thread, which I am horribly late to. I tried mixing the songs together for the first time, but since I am a total amateur don't expect any fancy beatmatching or crazy effects or anything. Maybe next time! There's no real theme here either, just a few songs that I really like listening to (mostly new, some old). I tried not to overlap too much with the other mixes, and mixed up the genres as best I could. Enjoy!


For more mixes:
You Knew Pac (Pop) (sup DÜM)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Review: Pariah - Safehouses EP

Review: Pariah Safehouses EP (2010)
Dubstep, 2 Step, Future Garage

1 The Slump
2 Prism
3 Railroad
4 Crossed Out
5 C-Beams
6 Safehouses


Pariah is very quickly becoming one of my favorite producers. He hasn't been producing for very long either, which makes his music all the more impressive. 'Orpheus' was the track that really put him on the map, but I have yet to hear a tune of his that I don't like. The basslines on this EP are always rolling and heavy, characteristic of the Future Garage sound. Influences from Burial and UK garage are front-and-center as well; the vocal samples are always beautiful and often quite dark, and Pariah nailed the drum track grooves. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be 'Railroad.'

Music Dump

Here's some of the music I posted to facebook in my absence, will get back to new music soon. After the jump.

Movies, Guns, and Mann - Another Random Obsession

The American

Un Prophete

I watched both this week, and have happily added them to the small list of movies that understand how gunshots are supposed to look/feel/sound.

If you don't understand the obsession, watch the bank heist from Heat with the sound turned up (subwoofer or headphones are necessary, youtube here if you insist on low quality).

Mann was one of the first directors to understand that a gunshot is much more than a simple sound effect. In reality, the sound of a gun firing manifests itself both physically and mentally, by pushing sound waves into your chest and placing fear in your mind.

In the heist scene, when the shots start firing that's the only thing you'll be able to hear, and that's how it should be. Notice, too, how each gun has a very unique sound, something many directors don't bother paying attention to. At the very least, the way a gun sounds in a particular movie reflects whether the director intends to pursue realism or simply cater to what the average movie-goer is accustomed to. Mann may not be the most balanced film-maker in the world, but he was the first to focus on realism in his action scenes and it shows in all of his movies. (Another stand-out: The use of military tactics vs. untrained criminals in 2006's Miami Vice)


Another title for this post: Why I Liked Public Enemies Even Though Nobody Else Did