Friday, November 29, 2013

The Mowgli's Live at Mills Record Company

There are at least a million things to do on Black Friday. Jockey for position in a seemingly never-ending line. Frantically call up a child, loved-one, or friend and ask if it's season 2 or 3 of Community they don't have (the small details matter). At any number of big-box retailers, you can test out your arm span by seeing just how many electric-scooters you can grasp. Maybe scouring through a DVD bin like a digital-age Viking is more your speed. If you're me, you're scarfing down a plate of warm pancakes to refuel before venturing back out into the madness. One improbable option is to go and see a midday concert, but thanks to the fine folks at Mills Record Company that tryptophan induced pipe-dream became reality.

Firmly nestled in Kansas City' vibrant Westport district, Mills is a new minted record haven for music junkies such as myself. Swear "I'll only spend five minutes inside" and you'll end up thumbing through their wood-crate bins for an hour plus. Getting lost in an opaque album cover from an unheard of band is the quickest vacation you can take. If you can't wait to get home to spin some vinyl and are fiending for music, there's a cassette tape or two to ease your blues if you're still rocking a Walkman. Today though, the listening experience was more immediate courtesy of So-Cal transplants The Mowgli's.

I must plead ignorance when it comes to the eight-piece "indie, gospel, folk, love-rock" group. Before today, I'd never crossed paths with their sun-soaked tracks. Packed into the store like a still-living sardine, I had zero expectations or reservations about what I'd be hearing. When KC-native Colin Louis Dieden and crew dug into their all-too-brief set, I was instantly sold. A cut like their top-4o alternative hit "San Francisco" rode an infectiously giddy wave of 60s pop "ba-ba-bas" and bore a drumbeat closer to the sunshine than any sidewalk. The rousing "Say It, Just Say It" adorned by jangly-tambourines and steady handclaps had the entire crowd of patrons and onlookers joining in on the jubilant chorus. I couldn’t see much over the crowd, but Dieden’s grin was easy to spot. While it may be virtually impossible not to smile during such a track, he seemed genuinely thrilled to be back on "home soil". 

That youthful energy sparked acoustic shuffler "Time". Imagine a version of Pink Floyd's similarly named song where you feel younger every day and defiantly tell the bank to "kiss your ass" and you're close to the conceit. As "pie-in-the-sky" as a line like "let’s make a harmony and life will sing" may appear, it lent the proceeding a communal feel. It was a community that easily could've been out at Walmart, as vocalist/percussionist Katie Jayne Earl joked. But instead, they'd taken time out from the fast-paced day to relax. On a day all about deals, the best one to be found was entirely free.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Playlist

Whether it's family, friends, food, or football everyone has something to be thankful for not just today, but everyday. That said, it's easy to fill up on too much food, throw the remote down after the Cowboys give up another touchdown, or storm off after your relatives give you just a little too much lip. I for one am thankful for music, and whether your day be friendly or dysfunctional, I hope there's something in this playlist that whets your appetite more than another plate of mashed potatoes ever could.

Have a safe and happy holiday, and try not to injure yourself during the Black Friday madness tomorrow, all those discounted DVDs won't watch themselves.

"Mashed Potato Time"- Dee Dee Sharp

"And Your Bird Can Sing"- The Beatles

"Ham & Eggs"- A Tribe Called Quest

"Family Business"- Kanye West

"Thanksgiving"- Kendrick Lamar

"She Don't Use Jelly"- The Flaming Lips

"Harvest"- Neil Young

"Macy's Day Parade"- Green Day

"Food Fight"- Titus Andronicus

"Chicken and Meat"- Das Racist

"Lonesome Electric Turkey"- Frank Zappa

"Vegetables"- The Beach Boys

                                                         "Yams" ft. Triple C's- Rick Ross

"Nutmeg"- Ghostface Killah

"Meat is Murder"- The Smiths

"Chicken Grease"- D'Angelo

"Filipino Box Spring Hog"- Tom Waits

                                                 "Peach, Plum, Pear"- Joanna Newsom

                                                            "Pecan Pie"- Golden Smog

                                           "Yam the King of Crops"- The Mountain Goats

"Littlest League Possible"- Guided by Voices

Somewhere in the list of the musically inevitable, Robert Pollard putting out another album ranks close to the top. Since he first tasted success with Guided by Voices breakout album Bee Thousand in 1994, the longest he's gone without releasing an album has been a scant two years. In some years, he puts out two to three LPs while juggling multiple side-projects and dropping the occasional boxset of unreleased material just to keep things interesting. If train-travel permanently ceased, you could set your watch to Robert Pollard releasing a new record.

That said he's been particularly reinvigorated since reuniting the "classic" mid-90s incarnation of GBV, dropping three full-lengths of solid earworms last year, and two sturdy offerings of hook-laden rock in 2013. If anything, the classic GBV lineup reconvening dispels the notion that it doesn't really matter who's backing Bob up. In the mid-90s GBV, Pollard had his foil in the inscrutable Tobin Sprout. If you subscribe to the notion that Guided by Voices are the Beatles with substandard recording equipment, then Spout is roughly the Lennon to Pollard's McCartney. Tempering Pollard's blasts of arena-ready rock on Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, or Under the Bushes Under the Stars were Sprout's ragged acoustic melodies in the way of "Awful Bliss" and the acid-tinged hypnosis of "To Remake the Young Flyer". The miniscule "Littlest League Possible" from the forthcoming Motivational  Jumpsuit continues the tradition. The cavernous drum strikes burst forth from a garage circa 1966, while the massive power chords recall any number of early-70s Cheap Trick records. Soon the guitar snarls, interrupting the indelible hook without fully disturbing it. The bass chugs in place as Pollard defiantly intonates "you've run out of gas, but that's not possible." With Sprout back in the saddle, there's seemingly nothing that can slow Guided by Voices down.

Motivational Jumpsuit is out February 18 through Fire Records.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Blood Moon"- Raum

By now it's been well-documented on the blog that Liz Harris' ambient wanderings as Grouper register as "quiet cries for attention that go unnoticed". Grouper's aching whispers don't push through but waft, constantly in danger of floating away. More than simple "cries for attention", they're cries of desperation. Harris' work quite often provides auditory evidence of a silent struggle.

Raum, her musical collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Jefre Cantu-Ledesma doesn't stray far from the slowly decaying Grouper formula. In true Grouper fashion, ambient waves spill forth from the speakers, creating a near-drowning sensation. Mere "dabbling" with Liz Harris work is impossible, only immersion can occur. Here though, that immersion or drowning sensation doesn't feel so isolated. The ambient waves cresting towards white noise suggest a doomed choir, submersed under the water. Layers of voices struggle towards the surface, as bone-numbing feedback continues to churn. Similarly swathes of shoegazing guitar fight to be heard in the whirling vortex. As dispiriting as it sounds, there's a silver lining buried underneath. If you're already doomed, there's joy in knowing you're not alone.

Event of Your Leaving is available digitally through Boomkat and iTunes now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"How to Be the Man"- Riff Raff

How has this collaboration not already happened? Rap-weirdo RiFF RAFF has thrived on booming, minimalist beats and over the past few years no one's done trunk-rattling minimalism quite like ratchet-music producer DJ Mustard. On should've been summer-anthem "Burn Rubber" Gameboy bloops were reconstituted as the backbone of a serpentine track. And lurking just beyond the shadowy menace of the song, there was goofball glee caught up in the infectiousness of it all.

Circa 2013 there's no more viable a candidate for the title of goofball menace than Houston-native RiFF RAFF. Almost every utterance from the man also known as JODY HiGHROLLER tows the line between yuk-yuk comedy and madcap villainy. In many ways he's the rap game's Joker, and if you don't take him seriously, he's the one getting the last laugh. "How to Be the Man" (from the supposedly forthcoming Neon Icon) is chock-full of chuckles. Tiptoeing across a squeaking futuristic swing-set (provided by Mustard), RiFF RAFF prattles about swirling cups of Pink Panther and kicking back in Versace wife-beaters. Like a rickety old-playground, he's absolutely unstable. In his manic worldview, catching matinees with Barry Sanders is probable because "my whole life's a weekend". On those never-ending Saturdays, he assumes the role of Mary Poppins and envisions himself as the "white Danny Glover" or "white Eddie Murphy" depending on his outlook. If none of it seems to make sense or you'd rather pass, it's fine. As the man himself says "I don't need acceptance". 

Neon Icon is tentatively slated for a 2014 release through Diplo's Mad Decent label.


Monday, November 25, 2013

What's New(s)?

Springsteen announces new album

On January 14, Bruce Springsteen will be following up his working-man ode Wrecking Ball with High Hopes, a collection of "some of our best unreleased material from the past decade" as the Boss himself pens in the album's liner notes. The album features multiple collaborations with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, including a studio reworking of "The Ghost of Tom Joad" and "American Skin" (41 Shots). And in a sly-nod to "State Trooper"s Suicide influence, Springsteen will be tackling the no-wave duo's "Dream Baby Dream".

Also included on the release will be several unreleased Clarence Clemons features, along with of cover of The Saints track "Just Like The Fire Would". Check out the tracklist below, along with the title track.


1. "High Hopes" ft. Tom Morello
2. "Harry's Place" ft. Tom Morello
3. "American Skin" (41 Shots)  ft. Tom Morello
4. "Just Like Fire Would" ft. Tom Morello
5. "Down in the Hole"
6. "Heaven's Wall" ft. Tom Morello
7. "Frankie Fell in Love" ft. Tom Morello
8. "This Is Your Sword" ft. Tom Morello
9. "Hunter of Invisible Game" ft. Tom Morello
10. "The Ghost of Tom Joad" ft. Tom Morello
11. "The Wall"
12. "Dream Baby Dream" ft. Tom Morello

Busta Rhymes drops "Thank You" video

Busta Rhymes springy, funk-rap workout "Thank You" features a pretty impressive guest list: Q-Tip, Kanye West, and Lil Wayne; and now that improbable crew has made an appearance in a new video. Shot multi-screened, the four MCs strut their stuff in and out of verses, and share screen time with A$AP Worldwide members Ferg and Nast. It's all fairly lowkey (save for a mountaintop appearance by Busta), but seeing these four in the same video is more than enough.

Busta Rhymes is currently readying sequel Extinct Level Event 2 for a 2014 release via Cash Money, but no release date has been announced yet.

Check back in tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s), and visit @AllFreshSounds on Twitter for additional news updates.

"Shabba" (Remix) ft. Shabba Ranks, Busta Rhymes, & Migos- A$AP Ferg

In terms of hero-worship, no song in 2013 has been as giddily starstruck as A$AP Ferg's menacing earworm "Shabba". In the minimalist chorus, the A$AP crew-member doesn't regale us with tales of the dancehall legend, he gleefully stutters "Sh-Sh-Sh-Shabba Ranks" ad-infinitum. He's not collecting gold chains or teeth purely for the sake of stunting, but to approximate his idol. The unbridled joy worked well enough to coax Mr. Ranks himself into a video appearance, splitting screentime with an affable A$AP Ferg and Rocky.

The "Shabba" (Remix) takes the hero-worship one step further, dialing up the dancehall crooner to drop a bomb of Jamaican patois all over the opening. Chock full of abrupt twists and frantic threats "chop off dem head with me cleaver" attempting to decipher his verse is as advisable as stepping in front of oncoming train. Further down the line, Atlanta's Migos (rap rookie of the year contenders) play double dutch with the booming horror movie score. Quavo's meeting "plugs at a Quiktrip" and partner Takeoff is aiming AK's fully intending to bust some lips. And if the energetic ante wasn't high enough, rap's eternal megaton bomb Busta Rhymes drops by to lay waste to the track. Frequently referred to as the "best-worst rapper" ever by me and my friends, Busta is a human cyclone on the track; twisting from promises of "drop kicks to the jaw" one moment to confessions of Islamic faith the next. At one point he sputters like a motorcycle engine, suggesting he's more machine than man. Then there's Ferg riding sidecar content to keep it "collegiate". Why do any lifting when there's so many heavyweights around?

Ferg’s insanely fun debut-album Trap Lord is out now on RCA, and the “Shabba” remix is up on iTunes.


Friday, November 22, 2013

"More"- Rich Kidz


If you're tethered to making comparisons when you talk music, Rich Kidz are certain to drive you insane. "They sound like Future" you fervently proclaim when the syrupy Auto-tuned hook comes wafting in. Confronted by the insistent half-snarl stuck in punchline mode you recast your ballot for 2 Chainz. On the other side, their frequently booming orchestral churn can't help but recall Gucci Mane's procedurals. And something about the duo's gleeful abandon invites comparisons to the eternally youthful Soulja Boy. The commonality between all these divergent interests? Atlanta.

On new track "More"; rappers Skooly and Yung Pu proudly wear the influences of their fellow ATL-natives on their sleeves. Produced by Gucci collaborator London On Da Track, "More"s chintzy synthesizers and lunkheaded bass bolt out of the gate like Roddy White in the midst of a 40-yard dash. The earworm hook revolving around "now my shoes cost more than your outfit" is half-slurred, but still potent. There's a yearning in the wavering hook, they've seen greener pastures and want over at any costs. "I need them m's" is declared with the urgency of a jacker on his last leg. A wraith-like synth floating into the mix threatens to turn "daydreams of paper" into nightmares. But the steely resolve of "forever, imma make it last" ensures longevity. Down the line, the notion of "solitary" is invoked just as audience applause dies down. However, nothing about the Rich Kidz' wide-eyed world is insular, they're absorbing everything and chasing whatever is in sight.

Rich Kidz new mixtape A West Side Story dropped Tuesday and can be downloaded here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What's New(s)?

Pharrell releases 24-hour video

Besides apparently being immortal, the Neptunes' Pharrell is also omnipresent in the year 2013. Between appearances on Daft Punk's endlessly grooving Random Access Memories, hooks featured in the Billboard-conquering "Blurred Lines", mixtapes with Ray Lewis, and severely slept on partnerings with 2 Chainz, Pharrell's dominated the music landscape in 2013. And now you can add to that already exhaustive list: 24-hour music video. The clip, which is for "Happy" (from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack) is interactive and features non-stop footage of people dancing which users can flip through or share particular moments from via Facebook and Twitter. If you have time to sit through the offering, you find more than a few celebs making appearances including: Magic Johnson, Steve Carrell, Tyler, the Creator and others. Also if you managed to make it through, Pharrell in effect owns one day of your life.

Watch the video here, or if you don't have time for that check out one of the "scant" four-hour clips featured below.

Oneohtrix Point Never announces tour dates



In support of his excellent October release R Plus Seven, Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never is taking his brand of dark, shadowy ambient out on the road for a string of dates starting next year. Lopatin will be joined on tour by frequent video collaborator Nate Boyce, who he recently collaborated with at the MoMA PS1, as part of Pitchfork's form series. Check out the video below, along with the tour dates (one of which will feature Instrumental Tourist collaborator Tim Hecker).

Tour Dates:

1/16 Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall (w Tim Hecker)
1/17 Columbus, OH - Wexner Center
1/19 Washington, DC - Atlas Performing Arts Center
2/3 Vancouver, British Columbia - Fortune Sound Club
2/4 Seattle, WA - The Crocodile
2/5 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
2/6 San Francisco, CA - 1015 Folsom
2/7 Los Angeles, CA - Echoplex
2/8 San Diego, CA - The Irenic

Arcade Fire releases "Afterlife" video


One thing that gets lost in the mix of the Arcade Fire's relentless promotion for new album Reflektor is the sense of humanity they've imbued the work with. Hidden underneath amidst all the discussions of dress codes, secret shows, and disco grooves there's a living beating heart. Today's release of a second video for "Afterlife" (the first being a live feature directed by Spike Jonze) has that heart beating as loudly as anything the band as done before. Opening on a cowboy-hat wearing man selling flowers, the clip moves through scenes of the man (a widower) eating a meal with his children, before the eldest eventually sneaks out to attend a friend's party and the others are left at home. While they sleep, we're privy to their dreams where: the father searches for his lost wife, the older brother sees visions of baptisms, and the youngest imagines rolling through a laundromat. The whole thing is deeply affecting and hard not to shed a tear during.

You can see the video below, along with tour dates for the band's Reflektor tour; tickets for which go on sale tomorrow at 10am.

Tour Dates:
3/6 Louisville, KY - KFC! YUM Center
3/8 Minneapolis, MN - Target Center
3/10 Auburn Hills, MI - The Palace of Auburn Hills
3/12 Pittsburgh, PA - Consol Energy Center
3/13 Toronto, Ontario - Air Canada Centre
3/14 Ottawa, Ontario - Canadian Tire Centre
3/16 Cleveland, OH - Quicken Loans Arena
3/17 Philadelphia, PA - Wells Fargo Center
3/18 Bridgeport, CT - Webster Bank Arena
4/9 Houston, TX - Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
4/10 Austin, TX - Austin360 Amphitheater
4/23 Denver, CO - Pepsi Center
4/26 Kansas City, MO - Starlight Theatre
4/27 St. Louis, MO - Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
4/29 Columbus, OH - Schottenstein Center
5/1 Nashville, TN - Bridgestone Arena
5/2 Atlanta, GA - Aaron's Amphitheatre at Lakewood
7/30 Mountain View, CA - Shoreline Amphitheatre
8/8 Seattle, WA - Gorge Amphitheatre
8/11 Edmonton, Alberta - Rexall Place
8/12 Calgary, Alberta - Scotiabank Saddledome
8/14 Winnipeg, Manitoba - MTS Centre
8/17 Washington, DC - Verizon Center
8/19 Boston, MA - Comcast Center
8/22 Brooklyn, NY - Barclays Center
8/23 Brooklyn, NY - Barclays Center
8/26 Chicago, IL - United Center
8/30 Montreal, Quebec - Parc Jean-Drapeau

Check back in tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s), and visit @AllFreshSounds on Twitter for additional news updates.

"Salt Carousel"- Evian Christ

"Salt Carousel", the first offering from British dance-producer Evian Christ's new EP Waterfall doesn't calmly announce its presence; it screams it with a metallic bang. A soft bed of wafting ambient vocals blunts the impact, but that initial strike is still deadly. Clobbering drums come in around the thirty second and threaten to obliterate everything in sight. As insular as the first few seconds of ambient wandering are, Christ makes it clear he's opening up, absorbing TNGHT's laser-focused "trap-rave" sound into his own. The sped-up vocals are a tip of the cap to rave forerunners, but on "Salt Carousel" their dizzying speed recalls the Chipmunks force-fed helium and attempting to sing the main theme from Psycho. After a few run-throughs, it’s clear why Kanye West tapped Christ to work on the decidedly non-commercial Yeezus. Hooks were far from a constant on that record and when they came they came with a serrated edge. On "Salt Carousel" one of the only familiar faces is a twitchy/glitch-ridden synth, nauseously spinning in an unending loop, coupled with those obstinate drums. Even the final few seconds refuse to lie down or fade away. Instead, they’re sparking and squirming like downed power lines. While more palpable than ever, Evian Christ's sound is spinning closer to the un-embraceable.
Evian Christ's new EP Waterfall is out sometime early next year through Tri-Angle.