Category Archives: radioblog

Track Review: Major Lazer ft. Laidback Luke & Ms. Dynamite – “Sweat”

Laidback Luke and major combine efforts on a song only this match made in heaven could procure. The song (as well as the video) catch your attention within the first five seconds, and the hook keeps you around. Styled in a nightclub fashion, the video shows off beautiful body artwork that glows in the dark. The song has a definite Major Lazer feel, but laidback Luke brings more of a housey vibe into the mix. The song is heavy in tropical drums (the song actually says “bang the bass drum” throughout so it seems appropriate) and shakers. The synth is very edm esque, but it seems to give off more of a tropical vibe overall. One thing that stands out to me the most is the sheer amount of work that Diplo (One of Major Lazers producers) has his name on. The song is a serious hit, I recommend adding it to your playlist ASAP.

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What’s On Repeat w/ DJLNM, Volume 4.

           Whenever I find something I like, I’ll bury myself in it ‘til I can’t stand it anymore. This behavior applies to almost everything in life—e.g. Southern accents (2001 until my brother graciously told me to stop a few months later), Flaming Hot Cheetos (2002-2003), Adidas Superstars (1998-2002, I had a pair in every color), music by perennial pervert Peaches (2005-2007), music/actors/paraphernalia from West Side Story (2003 to never)—especially music. When I find a song, artist, or album that I like, I’ll listen to it on repeat nonstop until it is forever burned into my psyche.
            So every week, I will present to you, blog reader, tracks that have been playing on repeat on my Spotify and a quick explanation why. I might only have a single track, or an entire album; it might be a current mainstream artist, or someone old you’ve never heard of! You’ll just have to check in every week and see.
Week of Nov. 22 to Nov. 29, 2013
            Last week was a Lykke Li week, and this week was Yuna week. Yunalis Zara’ai hails from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has the ridiculously smooth voice of an angel, and super fresh style (!!cool headscarves!!). If you have some spare time, you should YouTube some live performances, because not only is she great in the studio, she has live chops as well. The following two tracks are my favorite off of her new album Nocturnal. BUT! If you like what you hear, you should def check out her EP and first album.
Mountains by Yuna
I Want You Back by Yuna
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Happyoblivion Top Tracks

Mild-Mannered DJ Bryan here to give you some of the top indie pop tracks and releases!  These are some of the songs and albums I just can’t shake, so the best thing to do is turn up the volume    and enjoy them as much as possible.

 

Slow Beach_Artwork  Slow beach – Lover, Lover (6 song EP release)

Slow Beach is a new indie-pop group from Japan.  Dai Ogasawara, the founder Ano(t)raks (who brought you such great Japanese bands as Post Modern Team and the Paellas) has collaborated with producer Kai Takahashi, Yuriko Ohno (keyboard), and Keito Taguchi (bass).

The title track “Lover,Lover” is an awesome catchy song by Slow Beach.  Various parts catch snippets from the 60s evoke images of early Beach Boys. They are not really slow, but there is a nice relaxed feeling to their songs, and definitely the beach tropical feel that they are trying to evoke.  “Lover, Lover” is a singable, hummable delight!

Aloha!  Their second track is entitled “Hawaii”!  Now, we know folks from Japan have quite the love affair with our fair islands in the middle of the Pacific.  On “Hawaii,” Slow Beach tends a bit more ethereal with the vocals and pulls in something more of a Caribbean feel with the steel drums.  Perhaps not specifically a song that evokes Hawaii, but more of a general feel of a tropical island. Sipping an ice cold drink on the beach would be apropos with this song..

Track 3 is “Slow Down,” and it has more of a chill vibe with the floating vocals and a soft electrosynth bed to whisk you along.  Close your eyes and lie down, feet towards the wind and let yourself be swept upwards with this wonderfully nice track.

Motel,” the fourth track, has a bit more of a groove and upbeat dance feel to it.  Heavy on the synthesizers and almost a Stevie Wonder-like feel to some of the extended synthesizer bits.  Not a bad thing, and definitely good head-bobbing music as you cruise around late at night.  The guitar and bass work well to support the synth-focus, and groove you out at the end.

Run Away” is the fifth track on the release, and mourns the end of a relationship.  The lyrics are quite straightforward, a little melancholy, but the melody is relaxed and comfortable, like a chaise lounge.  Of course, as always, it is always darkest before the dawn, which leads us logically into our final song on the release.

The greatest contrast is with their last track “Surfin’ Today.”  Dropping the synthesizer and instead backing with a straightforward piano plus guitar and bass, they sound most authentic here, again pulling a little bit of the Beach Boys influence along with the C86 sound.  It is a brighter and happier sound as well, and serves as a wonderful cherry on top of the superbly creamy and delicious first EP release.

I am definitely looking forward to future releases from this excellent Japanese indie-pop outfit.  In the meantime, you can find them online and listen in as much as you like:

http://anotraks.bandcamp.com/album/lover-lover

 

Here are another 6 tracks that have been tickling my ear and might be of keen interest to you:

 

northernportrait Northern Portrait – The Young and the Hopefuls

Popular Danish indie-pop band the Northern Portrait have a new track on the Matinee Records compilation release “A Sunday Matinée.”  This is a superb teaser after their excellent debut LP “Criminal Art Lovers.”  Northern Portrait are like a less melancholy and more upbeat version of the vaunted Smiths/Morrisey sound that many enjoy.  Their lyrics are also quite insightful, though sometimes the melodious sound and delicious hooks are deceptively cheerful enough to cause you to sing along without realizing it.  At the end of the song, singer Stefan Larsen croons, “We have no social ambitions; as we don’t care about the rest.”

https://soundcloud.com/matinee-recordings/northern-portrait-the-young

the fin.  The fin. – Without Excuse

Pretty much everything from this 4 member band from Kobe, Japan, has been superb.  The latest track from them, “Without Excuse,” continues in the band’s upbeat and uptempo brand of synth-based music with creative vocals.  Yes, that is correct, their name is lower case with a period after it.  Bandmates are Uchino Yuto (lead vocals), Odagaki Ryosuke (guitar), Miyasako Hideyuki (bass), and Shibano Koji (drums).  They have the requisite Beatles-like hairstyles, as well as the lyrical range to go along with the nice melodies and reliable percussion.  “Without Excuse” has takes you on a partly sunny and breezy musical journey.

https://soundcloud.com/user745587/without-excuse

Alpaca Sports 3 Alpaca Sports – Let’s Go Somewhere

Oh yes! “Let’s go somewhere, let’s go somewhere alone” is part of the lyrics and really this is just pure wonderful indie-pop at its cheeriest.  Happy melodies and vocals are all part and parcel of the great twee music from Swedish band Alpaca Sports. This is the latest single from them, and they are also currently touring Japan.  In fact, they just played with Japanese band Wallflower, which we will talk about next!

https://soundcloud.com/alpaca-sports/alpaca-sports-lets-go

Wallflower (fan art by Ray Kimu)Wallflower – Dreamy Days

Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Wallflower has been bringing their combination of dreamy pop vocals combined with jangly guitars and positive emotions since 2010.  Back in 2012 they were invited to tour with the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and comparisons have not stopped.  A Japanese version of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart?  Indeed, this is pure indiepop gold!  “Dreamy Days” has the nice wispy sound that follows you around like a shiny helium balloon, so you won’t help but smile when listening.

https://soundcloud.com/fastcut/dreamy-days

Beach Vacation Beach Vacation – Escape

Would you think a band named Beach Vacation would be from the Pacific Northwest?  Well, despite that incongruity in perception, this band from Oak Harbor, Washington, does a great job of conjuring up a wonderful flowing sound that is perfect for any sort of vacation near the ocean.  They proclaim to be influenced by Craft Spells and the Radio Dept. and it definitely shows in their sound.  “Escape” is a wonderfully jangly tune with lots of hummable riffs and melodies.  Yet despite its initial impression of lightness, this song definitely has staying power.  Lovely on all levels!

https://soundcloud.com/beach-vacation/escape-1

Super Furry Animals – Juxtaposed With U

This is the introduction song to each Happyoblivion show.  Quite accessible, yet sneakily subversive, this is the setup for the Happyoblivion show—easy to listen melodies and harmonies, but sometimes with that undercurrent of irony and lyrical dissonance.  For this song, some key lyrics are “Over-priced unreal estate, surreal estate; The highest price they’ve hit to date, creating new divides and tension. You’ve got to tolerate all those people that you hate…”  If you have never watched the video before, I highly recommend it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jw7u4f-Ujg

 

See you on Saturday afternoon, 12-3pm, on the Happyoblivion Show!

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CONCERT REVIEW – OFWGKTA

Date Of Concert : November 16, 2013
Venue : The Republik

Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, otherwise known as Odd Future, made its collective return to the islands, this time, sans-tsunami warning. The group came in full force; only Frank Ocean was not in attendance. Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt started and ended the performance strong, cycling in and out with other members Left Brain, Mike G, and Hodgy Beats. Taco stayed on the DJ set up.

Opening the show, Taco came out and hyped the crowd. With his approach to the front of the stage, the audience smashed into each other to grasp at the apex of the show. And after about fifteen minutes and in the middle of dropping M.I.A’s Paper Planes, the show began.

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DJ KNO NAME REVIEW : Kingdom Come

Every few Thursdays, DJ Kno Kname posts a throwback review of a classic hip hop album or an album by a classic hip hop artist released on that particular date. The review is divided into four parts, each analyzed under the lens of the four pillars of hip hop: MCing, DJing, breaking, and graffiti-ing. The MCs section analyzes the lyrical content of the album and suggests songs which up-and-coming rappers might want to listen carefully to. The DJs section is further divided into two parts: an analysis for DJs like DJ Premier, who produce songs, and an analysis for DJs like Rob Swift, turntablists who mix, beat match, and beat juggle. For the DJ Quiks out there, that’s what the MC section is for. The b-boys section suggests song which could be good for breaking/battling to, and the graf artists section analyzes the album artwork – is there anything worth integrating into pieces?

Kingdom Come – Jay-Z

Released on this date in: 2006

Context: Probably the only not-so-throwback album that will be reviewed, but with serious hip hop culture significance, Kingdom Come is Jay-Z’s un-retirement album, released three years after the supposed retirement Black Album. Grantland has a pretty good article contextualizing Jay-Z coming out of retirement in general (http://www.grantland.com/blog/hollywood-prospectus/post/_/id/92570/10-years-later-what-if-jay-z-had-stayed-retired-after-releasing-the-black-album); defer to the professionals whenever possible, right? What can be said specifically about this album with regards to a comeback album is this – there is little doubt about the mixed feelings about a comeback album, especially for a legendary artist after a strong retirement album like The Black Album. You never really wanted them to officially retire in the first place, but you know that any sort of return will be extremely scrutinized. Can’t live with the artist retiring, but you don’t really want to see them come out of retirement. Alas.

MCs: Very little needs to be said about Jay-Z as an MC. Notorious for never writing down his flow, never jotting down lyrics, you know you’ll get some crazy extemporaneous rhymes but also some predictable combinations. Besides, with 8 solo albums (one of which was a double album) and 2 collaboration albums with R. Kelly, some content is going to be used up. Which means all the interesting lines are from songs which are different from his typical library. “Minority Report”, which talks about Hurricane Katrina and samples some audio from news reports and interviews, is deep and thoughtful with some good rhymes (“But life is a chain, cause and effected/N****s off the chain, because they affected/It’s a dirty game, it’s whatever is effective”). If we’re talking about typical battle rapping, look no further than “Kingdom Come”, “Dig a Hole”, and “Trouble”. “Kingdom Come” takes its name from a DC comic book mini-series, so you get some juicy superhero analogies (“Take off the blazer, loosen up the tie/Step into the booth, Superman is alive” – does he mean the phone booth or the recording booth?) , though the hook leaves a lot to be desired (“So after this flow you might owe me a favor” – ugh). “Dig a Hole” and “Trouble” call out Jay-Z’s critics, so of course some ferocious lines (“How n****s dissin’ me, I made it possible/for n****s to make history, how is this possible/Please explain this s*** to me, how is this logical/Have we forgotten our history? Let’s open our Bibles” from “Dig a Hole”).

DJs: A lot of the usual suspects when it comes to production – Just Blaze, Dr. Dre, the Neptunes, Kanye, and Swizz Beats. Just Blaze samples Rick James’ “Super Freak” very well on “Kingdom Come” and Dr. Dre’s “Lost One” has the classic Dre piano stabs that every producer should know how to incorporate into songs.

For the beat mixing club DJs, there’s nothing too challenging to overcome and nothing particularly interesting to sample, except maybe for the audio clips on “Minority Report”. It might be advisable to avoid “Beach Chair”, which is slow and atmospheric.

B-boys: It all comes down to how you like to break with this album. Aggressive, battling, in your face power moves and holding your crotch at your opponents in your freezes? Look no further than “Oh My God”. Energetic and explosive in a circle with no enemy? “Show Me What You Got”. Always trying to be the center of attention when you break? “Hollywood” would be the song and B-boy name of choice.

Graf artists: A ’00 album, you’re looking at uninteresting album artwork; just high def pictures of Jay. The only saving grace is the cover, which has a little 3-D action going on. If you wear red-tinted glasses, you get one image, and green-tinted glasses gets you another. Nothing else to see here, though, move along.

Singles: “Show Me What You Got”, “Lost One”, “30 Something”, “Hollywood”
Shoulda been singles: “Oh My God”, “Kingdom Come”,

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What’s On Repeat w/ DJ LNM, Volume 3.

Whenever I find something I like, I’ll bury myself in it ‘til I can’t stand it anymore. This behavior applies to almost everything in life—e.g. Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets (every meal in February 2002), hedgehogs (1995), Crocs (2007 until someone asked me if I enjoyed dressing like a toddler in 2009), Ugg boots (2005 to never)—especially music. When I find a song, artist, or album that I like, I’ll listen to it on repeat nonstop until it is forever burned into my psyche.

So every week, I will present to you, blog reader, tracks that have been playing on repeat on my Spotify and a quick explanation why. I might only have a single track, or an entire album; it might be a current mainstream artist, or someone old you’ve never heard of! You’ll just have to check in every week and see.

 

Week of Nov. 14 to Nov. 21, 2013

 This week was a Lykke Li week. Although both of her albums (“Youth Novels” in 2008 and “Wounded Rhymes” in 2011) have been playing non-stop, I have the tendency to hit the ‘back’ button more often on these three tracks:

I Follow Rivers by Lykke Li

I feel like I don’t have to say much to explain why this is such a good track. Just listen to it, and, “I, I follow, I follow you/ Deep sea baby, I follow you” will be stuck in your head for the next 48 hours.

Melodies and Desires by Lykke Li

Normally, I’m talk-averse, meaning I don’t like it when singers talk during songs. Rappers are, of course, a different story. My skin crawls a little bit when I hear a fake phone call/answering machine message in the middle of a song. (Thank goodness that fad stopped in the early 2000s.) But, this song is absolutely, totally, 100 percent a different story.

Melodies and Desires is so friggin’ well written. The lyrics are simple, but packed with imagery and paired with a soft yet dramatic backing. My favorite lines: “You’ll be the rhythm and I’ll be the beat/Then I’ll be the rhythm and you’ll be the beat/And love, the shoreline, where you and I meet.” *Swoon*

 

I Know Places by Lykke Li

            Holy moly— this song is so heartbreakingly sad and haunting. My girl, Lykke, is trying to convince a guy she loves (who has been previously hurt) to trust her and let her help. Every time I listen to this six minute-long track, I’m on the verge of sobbing, “Come on, buddy, just let Lykke love you! You’re worth it. YOU DESERVE TO BE LOVEEEDDD! Eeeev-veryone deserves to-to-to be love-d-d-d.” Thanks to I Know Places, recent riders of the #4 and #1 bus now think I’m a depressed mess.

 

Check in next week for more DJ LNM repeats!

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Track Review – Kerosene by Big Black

In 1987, the new Sonic Youth EP, “Master-Dik” was released with a warning label saying “Not as good as Atomizer, so don’t get your hopes up, cheese!” (This warning is on the copy of “Master-Dik” in the KTUH vinyl vault, as well as Big Black’s “Headache” EP) The warning aped the recently introduced Parental Advisory stickers, but for those who had loved Big Black’s 1986 LP “Atomizer”, it was unlikely that anything in the last year lived up to it. Though Big Black’s crudely titled follow up album is perhaps their definitive statement, “Atomizer” is a crushing album, with loud, distorted guitars, pounding drum machines and Steve Albini’s bile-spewing vocal delivery. Albini would later reach greater success producing classic albums by The Pixies, Nirvana and The Jesus Lizard. “Kerosene”, the centerpiece of “Atomizer” expresses the frustration of growing up in a small town, with the mild frustration building to a literally explosive climax.

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Track Review – Sankaiten to Hito Hineri “Kirikae Girls”

Sankaiten to Hito Hineri released their single back around August.  As a result, “Kirikae Girls” captures the laidback warmness of summer while complimenting the sullen amber atmosphere of autumn’s start.  Somewhat bittersweet, the song tells a story of never finding what you desired, but not wanting it anymore.  Yet, the song retains that young, joyful vibe that is gentle and lush up to the climax.  It’s one that seems to have found a resolution for itself.  It’s also one of this year’s intriguing and catchiest songs.

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Tropkillaz Jet Blue Jet

DJ Zegon & Andre Laudz have been working in the music industry for years, but now that they have combined to make the group tropkillaz, they’ve become a strong contender in the EDM market. It’s hard to put their music in a specific genre, sometimes it has a very strong trap feel, other times its moombhaton, hip hop, or 100 bpm twerk music. On average they release about two new tracks per week, and astounding feat. The sheer amount of music as well as the quality is bringing new listeners in by the thousands. They recently just reached thirty thousand followers on Facebook, and as of right now they are close to forty. The recent remix the song by Major Lazer further proves their worth as upcoming artists. Check out jet blue jet here, https://soundcloud.com/tropkillaz/jet-blue-jet-tropkillaz-remix

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What makes your music stand out?

Modern EDM music has seen its twists and turns, over the past three years, trap and EDM in general has exploded into the forefront of the music world. But what keeps the songs from getting repetitive or boring? It seems like a skeleton can be created for every genre. Four on the floor for house, lots of hi hats for trap, 110 bpm for moombhaton. But why do these genres still prevail and grow? Diversity is what keeps these genres alive, the people who refuse to work within the preset boundaries of the genres are the ones who make good music. A prime example is a new song called touched by what so not. Not many people knew this group before the song came out. They combined an interesting rhythm with a super original synth and now they’re a hot topic. Link to the song here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO1C_OnWm4g

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