August 28, 2012
There actually is something quite exotic about Stripmall Architecture‘s new EP, The Exotic Sounds of Stripmall Architecture. At its heart, it’s electropop, but each song is strikingly unique in how it frames that sound on the San Francisco band’s collection. Album opener “Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart” brings forth a little doo-wop flair while “Experiment 1″ takes a turn toward chillwave. My favorite, “Missing Piece,” is retro-spacey, laid out with glamour synths. It’s all a definite steal at “name your price” on Bandcamp right now.
August 23, 2012
If you are basically anybody, you probably have not heard anything by Netherlander Jacco Gardner. Mostly because he has not done much, but the little he’s done has captured my complete attention. The video above is one of a few he’s posted this year to promote his pair of singles and B-sides. While much modern popular music purports some kind of vintage quality, Gardner’s music literally sounds like it was made in the ’60s, his videos look like they were filmed in the ’60s (and in fact the video for “Where Will You Go” uses footage from Frank Capra’s 1956 film “Our Mr. Sun”) and, heck, Gardner himself looks like he stepped out of the ’60s.
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August 22, 2012
This album has been my jam for several months, but I wanted to wait until the end of summer (and attending their show in Chicago) to make sure. The duo are Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and Swedish producer Johan Hugo, who met in a London thrift shop and soon became musical collaborators as The Very Best.
We’ve come a long way from Paul Simon’s Graceland, but I can imagine what it must have felt like the first time people heard Ladysmith Black Mambazo emerge from a sea of new wave and hair metal. Inherently danceable, with Hugo’s infectious, bouncy, edgy beats offset by Mwamwaya’s joyous multilingual vocals, MTMTMK embodies the spirit of modern globalism. This music would not be possible without internet technology and travel capabilities, and TVB’s growing mainstream notoriety is (hopefully) indicative of Africa’s broadening appeal beyond typical “world music” enthusiasts.
Recording for the duo’s second LP began unsuccessfully in New York, but their inspiration flowed once the duo ventured to Lilongwe, Mwamwaya’s hometown. You can practically taste the heat and the pent-up, flavorful energy of West Africa’s clubs in each track. With distinguished featured guests such as Baaba Maal, Xuman, and Mo Laudi, and a wide range of instruments from flutes to synths, it’s a zazzy, eclectic mix whose range from hip-hop to dancehall to dubstep and reggae-inspired (inspiring?) cuts.
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August 21, 2012
If you’re lucky enough to have a sibling, it tends to become one of the most important relationships of your life. Despite our differences, my brother and I share a bond that can’t be replicated with anyone else. I remember when my dad was in a hospital bed, dying, my brother and I found ourselves in each other’s arms, because we were the only two people who knew exactly how the other felt. That was one of the most powerful moments of my life, and it could not have been had I felt those feelings alone.
I bring this up because siblings Ike Peters (of one of my favorite bands The Coasts) and Katie Mitchell have come together as The Rough Drafts to celebrate that special relationship. The pair have released their three-song Valley Forge EP in an effort to help raise money for a family looking to grow. You can read about the Townsend family at a website they set up to accept donations for a new adoption. Robert and Amy are looking to give their daughter Layla a sibling.
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August 20, 2012
This past weekend, on Aug. 18, marked the 25th anniversary of the release of pop singer/songwriter Debbie Gibson’s debut album, Out of the Blue. At that time, in 1987, I was just a wee thing at 5 years old, and wasn’t hip to the day’s pop hits. I knew children’s music such as Raffi, Tim Noah and Joe Scruggs; I knew the music that my parents listened to, like the oldies (Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Connie Francis, Gary Lewis, etc.), classical, and some adult contemporary stuff; and I knew what I heard in movies. One thing I definitely wasn’t keen to was Debbie Gibson.
But, for whatever reason, my mom bought me Debbie’s album on an audiocassette tape and that was that — I was a Debbie Gibson fan. In first grade, I had friends who fawned over Paula Abdul and New Kids on the Block. We would meet for playdates and they’d play those tapes. “Paula Adbul is my FAVORITE,” my friend Michelle would rave while we drew pictures (hers being exclusively of horses, another one of her FAVORITES) and I would shrug. “Do you wanna listen to Hangin’ Tough?” one of my besties Alison would ask while we jumped rope in her driveway. One thing all of these friends had in common was that they did not have any albums by Debbie Gibson, MY favorite.
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