Pairs Well With…Lykke Li, David Byrne, Sleigh Bells
St. Vincent’s 2014 self-titled record will hold up as one of the best from any artist all year.Industrial stamps and flowing electronic rock intermingle in African dances and mini-feedback freak-outs throughout St. Vincent.Front to back, St. Vincent is coherent, inventive and forthright – a major accomplishment for a talent who isn’t scared the blow the roofs off, albeit in a controlled, future-class way.Every song here is a single, though some are charting in a parallel universe somewhere where people dress like Elizabeth Banks in the Hunger Games.Wildly, if you peel back all the sonic goodness, St. Vincent’s tracks are classic rock/pop songs, an unbreakable core for all of forty minutes.St. Vincent’s live show, one that has somehow eluded this listener all year, has received rave reviews, mixing choreography and rock jams for something artistically new and unique.St. Vincent is on a world tour that continues all the way through December, so no excuses from here on out – check this one out at the top of her game.
Hip hop, R&B and down-tempo electronica – all elements of emerging producer STwo’s impressive concoctions.STwo is a beatmaker and remixer by trade, but his tracks are so well rounded that they work as complete pieces without accompaniment.His music is easy on the ears, minimizing body-shaking intentions for massaged melodies and understated rhythmic anchors.Latest track “Aura”, released just this week, is perhaps STwo’s most spacious yet.While this follows in STwo’s mostly instrumental foundation, be sure to give a listen to “Lovin U” for a fully formed, down-tempo R&B-pop song.At just twenty years old, STwo is overflowing with potential – keep an ear out for this early streak of strength to continue into the next few years.
Sweater Beats – “Where You Are” (w/ Vindata and Bella Hunter)
Pairs Well With…Ryan Hemsworth, Esta, STwo
Some more pop music from the future comes from Sweater Beats, another strong entry into the world of R&B electronica.Sweater Beats’ music is often accompanied by sexy, mysterious vocals as complete tracks, but the intricacies of his intricate production is what makes these tunes so warm.Whether going for punch or patience, Sweater Beats puts his own spin on the open genre.Melodies are unique and come from left field, understanding that the beat is just the start of the music experience.Some songs are full-on dance numbers (“Where You Are”, “MLLN DLLR”) and are complemented by minimal tracks, a yin-yang counterpoint without losing some pop accessibility.2013 EP That Feel has already been followed up by some choice collaborations and remixes, a sign of things to come for sure from this promising NYC producer.
An album-of-the-year candidate and a pair of R&B-infused beatmakers top this hypnotic and striking Friday night Post-SXSW set. Highlights:
St. Vincent (10) - Industrial stamps and flowing electronic rock intermingle in African dances and mini-feedback freak-outs throughout St. Vincent. Front to back, St. Vincent is coherent, inventive and forthright – a major accomplishment for a talent who isn’t scared the blow the roofs off, albeit in a controlled, future-class way.
STwo (8) - His music is easy on the ears, minimizing body-shaking intentions for massaged melodies and understated rhythmic anchors. Latest track “Aura”, released just this week, is perhaps STwo’s most spacious yet.
Sweater Beats (7) - Sweater Beats’ music is often accompanied by sexy, mysterious vocals as complete tracks, but the intricacies of his intricate production is what makes these tunes so warm. Whether going for punch or patience, Sweater Beats puts his own spin on the open genre.
Teen Flirt (6) – Teen Flirt’s latest EP Welcome Home is a down-tempo mini-gem, a melding of R&B rhythms and snappy dance beats. Check out “Her Fake Name Is Sofia” for a multi-faceted glance into Teen Flirt’s music in under three minutes.
Tacocat (5) – Seattle’s Tacocat play with a mix of rock, punk and power pop on their pleasantly diverse full-length NVM. The band definitely has a West Coast beach vibe, summery but dressed in black.
Toadies (5) – Growing up in the Northeast, Toadies didn’t twist my radar back in the 90s with their hallmark post-grunge record Rubberneck beyond “Possum Kingdom”, but I’m the exception apparently with the reception the band still warrants around Texas twenty years later. The band has been touring the record in full this year including SXSW – a chance to relive your teenage breakups all over again.
Pairs Well With…Ryan Hemsworth, Nosaj Thing, Flying Lotus
Orbital waves and bubbling beats underscore producer Shlohmo’s music, a beautiful current to take on R&B and hip hop scores.Shlohmo’s recent efforts, including remixes, originals and collaborations, are spot on, full without overflowing.This is not necessarily dance music - rather beats and melodies play right for the head.Haunted bass rumbles and unexpected rhythms are also tenets Shlohmo’s sound, one that transforms with his latest work with R&B artist Jeremih.The No More EP is sexy, moody and hazily transparent.Each note and beat is wide and purposeful, a hallmark of the maturity the young LA producer has reached at this point in his career.Shlohmo is spending this month on the European festival circuit, running through six countries in nine days to well-earned larger stages.
Pairs Well With…Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Nirvana
Since Soundgarden’s stop at SXSW this year was fully in support of Superunknown’s twenty-year reissue, it’s a bit hard to go new-band-discovery style with this one.I grew up in the 90s, so Superunknown is heavy on the nostalgia scale, but listening back the record does hold up.The production is definitely of the time, but Cornell and gang’s dark and moody songwriting is current as ever.In an age where guitar music is taking a backseat, the power of Soundgarden’s music resonates.Who knew that alternative/grunge rock would become such a timeless sound?Soundgarden is touring this year with fellow 90s warriors Nine Inch Nails on a well-received shed tour that happens to be swinging through Austin on Thursday.
In what might be the most sinister track to grab an OEB spotlight, Sophie’s “Lemonade” is two minutes of spoken madness amid twisting and unpredictable beats.The trick is that its also one of the catchiest.The English producer is following up a string of singles in the same vein, including the space-Pong rumble of “Bipp” and relatively traditional trance rhythms of “Nothing More To Say”.It’s a quick evolution one and certainly a fearless one – “Lemonade” and “Hard” both are sonically piercing and rhythmically complex.The acid house/drum and bass leanings seem to take queues from warped acts like Squarepusher, catalyzed by chippy K-Pop samples for something wholly unique.Even though technicians will dig into the nuances here, Sophie certainly isn’t demanding serious stares with his music, so don’t worry about shimmying in your office chair to this one.
Shlohmo (8) - This is not necessarily dance music - rather beats and melodies play right for the head.Haunted bass rumbles and unexpected rhythms are also tenets Shlohmo’s sound, one that transforms with his latest work with R&B artist Jeremih.
Soundgarden (8) - The production is definitely of the time, but Cornell and gang’s dark and moody songwriting is current as ever.In an age where guitar music is taking a backseat, the power of Soundgarden’s music resonates.
Sophie (7) - In what might be the most sinister track to grab an OEB spotlight, Sophie’s “Lemonade” is two minutes of spoken madness amid twisting and unpredictable beats.The trick is that its also one of the catchiest.
SicksentZ (5) – Brooklyn producer SicksentZ hides in dark corners of the hip hop sonicsphere, mingling spaced out backbeats with shaded synth melodies.Even recent psyched-out banger “Rachet” finds a way to expand in depth with a simple Danny Brown sample.
Slowtrain (5) – A barroom blues band from Austin, Slowtrain stands out a bit for some inventive songwriting, taking pop forms from the 60s and 70s and melding them on top of an expected, alt country landscape.Check out “Not the Only One” for one of the best results, a detour well worth the trip.
Sober (5) – DJ Sober has been clearing a path for himself in Dallas hip hop and dance scenes the past few years on is taste reputation and performance technique.Sober took on SXSW solo this year, but he also full-time gigged with A.Dd+ and is half of the production duo Booty Fade, staying busy morning to night.
Pairs Well With…James Blake, Mount Kimbie, How To Dress Well
It’s only a matter of time that the Australian invasion of this decade is officially declared.Dubstep remnants and ethereal tones channeled through Seekae’s inventive prism become unnatural yet warm.Technically, the building blocks of Seekae’s music are EDM, but the human sadness that comes through the often-disjointed rhythms opens up multiple layers unknown.It’s as if Seekae builds a complete R&B song, plays it backwards, only to start from the top in an abyssal journey of self-reflection.Experimental and often lounge-ready, this is brain music with blinders on.The Sydney group has been at it for years, now ramping up the release of their third, The Worry, due September 12.Early singles “Another” and “Test and Recognize” are the tightest of Seekae’s catalog, a sign that a possible autumnal breakout is right around the corner.
Down-tempo indie dance-pop artists Rufus Du Sol (the “Du Sol” was recently added to their moniker) have released a few singles leading up their debut full-length Atlas (due Stateside August 25), a record that will seemingly live in an ether between the dancefloor and the stage.This intermingling of genres is certainly top-of-mind in many music circles and Rufus Du Sol belongs squarely in the conversation.Musically, the Australian group is both spacey and edgy, sharp and soulful.While these sounds are electronically constructed, Tyrone Lindqvist’s vocals are airy and pure.Highlight track “Desert Night” is cleanly and smartly produced (Classixx and Casino Gold traded off on production duties for Atlas), a nice show of patience in what could easily have turned into abrasive pop.“Sundream” carries even more of an indie soul vibe, aided by the most pronounced beat of Rufus Du Sol’s early tracks.Atlas has already achieved success in Australia, so it’ll interesting to see how their comforting tracks are received across the globe.
Pairs Well With… Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Black Keys, The Civil Wars
Folk rock road warriors Rosco Bandana continue to support their 2012 debut Time to Begin this year, a rambunctious, rootsy introduction that begs to be heard live.The Mississippi band’s swampy blues tint is what stands them out from the crowded pack, either through acoustic picking or amplified heroics.Rosco Bandana has just a few late summer dates on their plate, so hopefully some new tunes are on the way shortly.
2013 Review: Rosco Bandana sounds like a band from Gulfport, Mississippi should.Heavily steeped in Americana and country, Rosco Bandana stands out for the rambling energy throughout their debut record Time To Begin.The top half of the album is a clever introduction, starting with the slow-burning “Time To Begin” before unleashing on “Woe Is Me”.With blues licks that could have been pulled from a Zeppelin solo, the track burns with passion and soul.From there, Rosco Bandana jumps back and forth from elegant country to hard driving rock.I especially love Rosco Bandana’s guy/girl vocals, a strong interplay to put this young alt folk band on the map.
We’re stepping off the festival circuit for a couple of weeks and it’s an ample opportunity to close out our SXSW artist recommendations.This evening, a pair
of Australian electronic acts happens to take a couple of the top slots.Highlights:
Seekae (8) - Dubstep remnants and ethereal tones channeled through Seekae’s inventive prism become unnatural yet warm.Technically, the building blocks of Seekae’s music are EDM, but the human sadness that comes through the often-disjointed rhythms opens up multiple layers unknown.
Rufus Du Sol (7) - Musically, the Australian group is both spacey and edgy, sharp and soulful.While these sounds are electronically constructed, Tyrone Lindqvist’s vocals are airy and pure.
Rosco Bandana (7) - Folk rock road warriors Rosco Bandana continue to support their 2012 debut Time to Begin this year, a rambunctious, rootsy introduction that begs to be heard live.The Mississippi band’s swampy blues tint is what stands them out from the crowded pack, either through acoustic picking or amplified heroics.
SETH (6) – Brooklyn’s SETH is in the style of dreamy, electronic R&B, but the duo’s production is highly experimental with a deep dubstep slant.When it works, it works really well, so SETH could break beyond these early singles.
Saint Pepsi (5) – Electro-soul experimenter Saint Pepsi meshes old school, 70s funk with warped, liquid production.While Saint Pepsi’s music falls squarely in a pop category, there’s enough distortion through his songwriting to appeal to a close ear as well.
Adrian Younge– “Lovely Lady” Venice Dawn ft. Dennis Coffey
Pairs Well With…Rappers, Singers, dusty vinyl
With just a few releases under his belt, producer Adrian Younge has established a sound that is immediately identifiable for its sweeping cinematic sound. With each major release he has highlighted a different genre or sound. Younge came to prominence after creating the playful soundtrack for the 2009 action comedy Black Dynamite. He followed up with the supremely soulful Something about April and a collaboration album with The Delfonics. Last year saw the release of the concept album Twelve Reasons to Die with Wu-Tang Clan member, rapper Ghostface Killah. Sticking with rap for his next release, Younge is releasing an album with the hip hop group Souls Of Mischief later this month.
Anderson .Paak, formerly Breezy Lovejoy, is a producer, rapper, and singer. His last full length album LOVEJOY was a mixed bag musically and vocally. It’s apparent .Paak won’t allow himself to be placed in any one genre box. He followed up LOVEJOY with an EP of covers that pay homage to and subvert popular and untouchable rock tracks. .Paak is signed to the Hellfyre Club record label bringing a nice soulful vibe to the labels stacked roster of established and emerging rappers.
At the top of this set is producer extraordinaire Adrian Younge and emerging rapper/singer Anderson .Paak. The pair shows two of the many sides of the diverse L.A. music scene. Highlights:
Adrian Younge (10) –Adrian Younge is an exciting hip hop and soul producer with a cinematic style. His songs are great sweeping tracks that pay homage equally to a diverse mix of artists including Ennio Morricone and RZA.
Anderson .Paak (9) –Anderson .Paak is a producer, singer, and rapper out of L.A. He has a relaxed style that makes all the complicated vocal and musical twists in his tracks look like child’s play. He’s become a more engaging artist with each release and the upcoming full-length album, MALIBU, looks like it should be a fantastic record.
Alpoko Don aka Dondada (6) –Alpoko Don aka Dondada is a rapper with a magnetic personality that received a lot of positive attention from videos of the rapper sitting on his porch free styling while he tapped out a beat with a pen. Dondada has continued to release popular videos and recorded an album featuring the tracks that brought him attention. He’s currently working on a proper studio full length Album, “Straight From The Heart.”
B.o.B. (6) –B.o.B is a well known producer and rapper out of Atlanta. He mixes both pop and hip hop elements on his catchy radio-friendly tracks.
Blake Carrington (6) –Rapper Blake Carrington raps over soulful beats with a laid-back casual flow. His songs are perfect windows down summer hip hop.