Sunday, October 30, 2011

Concert Reviews : Das Racist

[Relax Tour, Sons of Hermann Hall, 11 p.m.]

Things always seem to get a little weirder around Halloween, and Das Racist’s set at Sons of Hermann Hall was certainly no exception. The Brooklyn based hip-hop group led by Himanshu “Heems” Suri and Victor Vazquez (aka Cool A.D.) and hype man Ashok Kondabolu, or simply “Dap,” delivered a night filled with an impromptu “We are the world!” sing-along, a back to back performance of “Rainbow in the Dark,” multiple punk rock song interludes, and plenty of air horn. DR was all kinds of wasted on stage, but each member somehow delivered their rather intricate verses to perfection. And despite the heavily drugged out ambience, the show was surprisingly high in energy and constantly entertaining.
Most choice outfit: Dap’s Air Force jumpsuit
Number of Presidential Shout outs: one (to Ronald Reagan)
Best between-song stage banter: when the trio chanted, “It’s spooooooky time!” for about five minutes
Number of Guitar Solos played by Heems: at least five
Actual number of guitars on stage: zero– Mr. Suri rocked out during most of the show while air-guitaring on his microphone
Length of set: 43 minutes
Percentage of set accompanied by air horns: 30%

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reviews : Neon Indian : Era Extra

Neon Indian      
Era Extraña
[Static Tongues; 2011] 
 8.0/10 ____________________________________________________________________________________

In 2009, the subgenre frivolously entitled chillwave- think warm, reverb heavy, sample-based music cheaply recorded by male twentysomethings on their laptops- emerged as an interesting, yet questionable, strain of pop music. Critics and listeners groaned and laughed at the genre because of the seriousness its practitioners associated with chillwave. Neon Indian was lumped with a handful of electronic acts into the microgengre, though based on their sunny and lo-fi first LP Psychic Chasms, and equally goofy live show, Neon Indian demonstrate that they are aware of the silliness inherent to chillwave.
Lead man Alan Palomo and co. procured a surprising amount of popularity after the release of Chasms that attracted fans of mainstream indie bands like MGMT and Passion Pit. With the band’s profile raised, Neon Indian’s latest effort, Era Extraña, builds upon the bright, intricate synth arrangements on the first record, but ups the production value in hopes of sustaining and increasing their fan base.
On Extraña, the lyrics are clearer than they were on its predecessor, and the arpeggiated synthesizer instrumental breaks are no longer as indulgent. Along with the immediacy of the record as a whole, the songs themselves are more conventional as well. You can picture a large festival crowd singing along to the wordless chorus on “Hex Girlfriend.” And the upbeat melodicism and fist pumping beat on “Halogen (I Could Be a Shadow)” make for a catchy, life-affirming anthem, despite its lonely lyrical content.
Palomo recorded a majority of the album alone in Helsinki, Finland during the height of winter, and it shows. The theme emptiness is explored on “Halogen. “I could be a shadow/ In the light I'll be behind you.” Longing is another theme present on the album. Palomo describes his discontent for growing up in a time that is aging faster than he is on “Future Sick.”
This record ultimately ditches the nostalgic homespun charm and wit present on Neon Indian’s first LP to focus on more serious subject matter. And while everybody needs to grow up at some point, Neon Indian is best when they are conscious of their juvenility.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reviews : Big K.R.I.T. : Return of 4eva

Big K.R.I.T.      
Return of 4eva
[self-released; 2011] 
 8.0/10 ___________________________________________________________________________________

Southern rapper/ producer Big K.R.I.T. is incredibly genuine. Upon first listen of his self-released mixtape Krit Wuz Here that came out last year, it is evident the Mississippi native did not enter the rap game in order to become famous or make money like a handful of rappers just starting out, but rather, for his love of crafting soulful, low-riding hip-hop anthems. Following the release, he even went so far as to offer $1000 and a batch of brownies to anyone that could identify every sample on the tape, exhibiting the rapper’s true Southern hospitality. On the new, free mixtape Return of 4Eva, K.R.I.T. reexplores the typical Southern rap motif, consisting of cars and women, that showed up on his first release, but also, takes a portion of the album to reflect upon the poverty and racism that troubles the streets around the country, and the materialism so prevalent in hip-hop today.
“I ain’t rap about dope, nor did I sell it/ I guess the story of a country boy just ain’t compelling,” raps K.R.I.T. on the low-key track “Dreamin’.” Lyrically, Big K.R.I.T. deviates from hip-hop conventions such as rape or drugs, and instead, his lyrical content comes from a place of sincerity, illustrating that he does not pride himself on showing off or being stuck up. He is simply being himself without getting caught up in cliché urban antics. While K.R.I.T.’s iconoclasms are apparent within his rhymes, the production on his tracks is undeniably reminiscent of mid-90’s Southern hip-hop.
On last year’s K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, he firmly established his prowess for crafting warm, sample-laden beats often recalling production comparable to Aquemini-era OutKast or Mississippi rapper David Banner. K.R.I.T. further develops his sound on Return of 4Eva creating an even hazier and more soulful strain of hip-hop evoking nostalgia of the South. “R4 Theme Song” in particular, exhibits this southern comfort rather effortlessly by riding between soul and crunk, and layering vocals on top of one another, all while backed by pounding 808s (808s refers to a particular drum kit on the Roland TR-808, a drum machine manufactured in the eighties that is used heavily in hip-hop ever since it was developed).
Most tracks on 4Eva play out with a laid-back quality, but every now and then, he’ll bring forth something a little harder; like the marching band horn stabs on “Sookie Now” or the wavering siren on the reworked “Country Shit,” a single from K.R.I.T.’s previous release that is amplified even more here. The reworked single features verses by Southern rap veterans Ludacris and Bun B, who sound fresher than they have for quite some time. Even Chamillionaire, a rapper has not been too active since his hit “Ridin’” over five years ago, finds his niche on “Time Machine,” a highlight from the mixtape in which the listener is invited follow K.R.I.T. back though his childhood memories while driving around with his father. Fittingly enough, Return of 4Eva itself provides the perfect background music for cruising around with your friends and the windows rolled down in these coming warm summer months. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reviews : The Pains of Being Pure at Heart : Belong

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart      
[Slumberland; 2011] 
 8.1/10 ___________________________________________________________________________________

In 2009, the Brooklyn heartthrobs The Pains of Being Pure at Heart released their self-titled debut album, reviving the melancholic noise-pop of the late eighties. Amidst the innumerable bands that attempted to romanticize the era, few others were quite a successful as the indie-pop quartet, suggesting that the band appeals to more than just music bloggers and adolescent hipsters. Recently, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart delivered their sophomore effort Belong, a manifestation of those promising speculations suggested by their first album.  
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is a record that undeniably tried to emulate the pop aesthetics of 80s bands like The Smiths and The Jesus and Mary Chain. A nostalgic album recorded with generous amounts of reverb, the debut seemed to have a homespun sensibility, which is why it was surprising when the band announced that they were recording their sophomore LP with heavy-weight producers like Flood and Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins). On Belong, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart bulk up the bedroom sounds on their first album to create a more refined piece of work that nods to the Pumpkins circa 1994.
Belong opens with the title track, and almost immediately, one cannot help but assume that Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan must either adore or completely despise these guys. On “Belong”, lead vocalist Kip Berman conveys the same theme of solitude he explored on their first album, but here, the words are sung over squelching guitars: “I know it is wrong, but we just don’t belong/In their eyes, in the sun, no we just don’t belong.” The band also revisits their coming of age motif and the “pains” associated with adolescence on “The Body”, where Berman sings, “Tell me again what the body’s for/Cause I can’t feel it anymore/I want to hurt like it did before/We shouldn’t sin.”
Ultimately, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have not created an album about maturation, nor have they deserted the innocence of their previous work; they have simply produced a record that builds upon their first effort and displays the New York four-piece’s more developed sense of songwriting. In a recent interview with the online music publication Pitchfork Media, Berman discussed their new sound. “We wanted the songs to exist in an immediate and instinctual place. The album sounds like we're taking away what we were hiding behind before.” And, while Belong feels somewhat distant from their previous work, it is also incredibly homogenous. This record will certainly appeal to the kids that fell in love with the band two years ago, and, thanks to big-budget producers Flood and Alan Moulder, the album is sure to appeal to a much larger audience as well.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beaches - "Don't Get Any Ideas"

I recently finished up a rather spacey r&b track.

Check it out below. 

Don't Get Any Ideas by nickdas

Monday, March 7, 2011

Music : Hooray For Earth - "Sails"

The New York via Boston four-piece Hooray For Earth recently released this single from their upcoming album True Loves, which comes out early May. 

Listen to the song below. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Music : Wavves - "Horse Shoes"

Wavves' Nathan Williams just posted this new song on his blog.

Check it out.