Another week, another edition of your mixtape of the internet, Friday Music! Maybe someday soon I’ll be able to create some non-FM content for this blog, but as busy as I’ve been, that probably won’t be for another few weeks.
The image at left is the cover to our first track, from the Los Angeles based group BRÅVES. To quote their website: “Take three musicians. Conceal their countenances from the general public. Create pop music without an image. Roll it out through a series of beautiful, albeit unnerving videos. Circumvent the political, pandering bullshit associated with most record labels. Shock the system. Rinse. Repeat.” The video for this track features actor Matthew Lillard and disability rights activist Dr. Victor S. Pineda, dancing with each other on a featureless soundstage, challenging the social mores of how we interact with disabled people. Even before I saw the video, though, something in the sound of the song brought tears to my eyes, no joke. BRÅVES – “Catch Me.”
Speaking of “groups that alter the spelling of their commonly-occurring name so it’s more easily searchable”, Scottish synthpop band CHVRCHES have a new album coming out in May, and this is the first single, with guest vocals by Matt Berninger of The National. A group I love, with guest vocals from another group I love? Yes, please. CHVRCHES – “My Enemy.”
Been listening a lot recently to the late Japanese downtempo/low-fi producer Nujabes (pronounced new-ja-bess, by the by). He died in a car accident in 2010, and I absolutely adore his work, combinations of boom-bap hip-hop beats riding forward in the mix, over washed-out low-fi jazz and RnB samples, all hisses & pops. He’s probably best known over here for scoring the 2004-2005 anime series SAMURAI CHAMPLOO (the follow-up to COWBOY BEBOP from director Shinichirō Watanabe) . This is the closing credits track from the show, featuring Japanese reggae & RnB vocalist MINMI. The title means “Song of the Seasons.” Nujabes – “Shiki No Uta (feat. MINMI).”
Sticking with the downtempo vibe for a moment, Clearside is the nom de guerre of L.A. producer and mixer Bryan Dych, who uses big retro analog synths over downtempo beats, producing a sound inspired by 90s Big Beat electronica, which is right up my alley. Clearside – “Cop Drama.”
I have to admit that I’m loving the fact that a lot of my favorite musical genres are experiencing retro revivals. For example, this L.A. based group (hmm… I’m detecting a theme here), Kitten, produces absolutely spot-on late-70s/early-80s post-punk New Wave. The vocals of the lead singer, Chloe Chaidez, really makes me think of Patty Smyth from Scandal. Good stuff: Kitten – “I Did It.”
Of course, with retro revivals come new releases from older groups. I helped to crowdfund this one, from Dave Wakeling (from The Beat and General Public), who is recording under the “English Beat” name the band used in the US. The album, Here We Go Love, will be out in a couple of months, but the first single is now getting radio play in the UK. It’s a slice of socially-conscious ska, but I have to admit that I miss the interplay of Wakeling’s voice with Ranking Roger (who has his own version of The Beat, touring the UK & Europe) — The English Beat’s new toaster, King Schascha, isn’t really used to much effect on this single, though, so we’ll see. The English Beat – “How Can You Stand There?!”
Stewart Copeland has put together a group of friends into a “hey, let’s record some shit” effort which some media are trying pin “Supergroup” onto, but really just sounds like some friends having fun. The group, Gizmodrome, is comprised of Copeland (The Police), Level 42 bassist Mark King, Italian keyboardist Vittorio Cosma, and guitarist Adrian Belew (King Crimson, Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, etc.). The album is fun, and definitely has the sound of the tracks that Copeland wrote and sang for the Police (On Any Other Day, for example). Gizmodrome – “Zombies In The Mall.”
So there you go, kids. Hope you’ve enjoyed this! See ya in 7.