Latest Features

On Deck: Vaadat Charigim

By Joshua Pickard; December 5, 2013 at 9:46 AM 

websize-charigim

If you were to tell someone that they needed to check out the new album from Israeli shoegazers Vaadat Charigim, I’m sure you would get a few puzzled looks — if not for the name alone, which means “Exceptions Committee” in Hebrew.  However, after their first listen, any puzzlement would disappear, quickly to be replaced by big grins and some eventual air guitar motions.  But the band is more than even my hastily applied description would have you believe.  Elements of 80’s jangle rock, as well as a certain post-punk kineticism, can be found just under the surface of their music.  Their debut album, The World Is Well Lost, contains sheets of guitar squalls, muscular riffs, and enough fuzz to make MC5 proud.

And speaking of influence, we talked recently with the band regarding some of the records that have helped to shape Vaadat Charigim’s own sound. Their choices reflect a vast array of inspirations and genre-hopping tendencies. They spend some time talking about indie rock albums from the 80’s — including LP’s by Wipers, Husker Du, and The Feelies, but also discuss how Yo La Tengo, Beat Happening, and 90’s-era Sonic Youth records played a crucial role in their formative musical experiences. Check out their full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.


The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms
The Feelies – Crazy Rhythms

First time I heard the Feelies was on tour in the USA.  Somehow I missed them completely but some dude we stayed with played me this record in his house. What immediately caught my attention was the way the songs build up slowly, from nothing, to this rhythmic pounding almost bee-hive like assemblage of toms and strings.  I had never heard any song build up like that before.  It was like listening to a philosophical method.


plastic venus
Plastic Venus – S/T

I played the CD version of this record so much in high school in the nineties, that it got to a point where it wouldn’t work anymore.  My definitive go to band when I feel like listening to something in Hebrew that will make me feel vital and dark.


Husker Du - Flip Your Wig
Husker Du – Flip Your Wig

When I just started out playing I would read about Husker Du’s guitar sound. Which pedals they used, which amps, what effects.  The guitar sound of this band is so cathartic for me and so emotional that when I tell someone about what this band means to me I am usually at lost for words.


Wipers - Over The Edge
Wipers – Over The Edge

Same as Husker Du but add to that Greg Sage’s elusive, introvertive non-rock star persona, north western contemplative rock ‘n’ roll spirit, and weird self-inflicted alienation drenched lyrics and you have love at first sound. Atleast for me. Sage sounds like truth. When I watch videos of him with a bandana I just think “here is an anti-hipster if ever I saw one”. He is the only one who could pull off a non-cynical use of a bandana.


Beat Happening - You Turn Me On
Beat Happening – You Turn Me On

What can I say. They have such a natural sound. This record specifically, is the reason I tune my guitar the way I do, for the sake of interesting open tunings.


Yo La Tengo - And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out

I loved this record when it came out in 2000. I am including it here because I think it’s very memorable cover art, New Jersey suburbia subject matter, and the very deep and dark sound of the record sort of stayed with me since. I often think about this record in regard to Israeli suburbia.


Sonic Youth - Washing Machine
Sonic Youth – Washing Machine

When I was 12 my best friend bought me this album by mistake. I listened to it once and didn’t get back to it untill years later. It grew on me. And now it is my favorite of all Sonic Youth albums, no matter how many other more “important” SY albums there are. I know it by heart.


Nagisa Ni Te - On The Love Beach
Nagisa Ni Te – On The Love Beach

An odd pick maybe, but I got this record on tour maybe 7 years ago. I really like this band. They sound like nice people. They sing in Japanese, but not “out there” Japanese, not the kind of Japanese that westerners come to expect from watching Anime. You kind of feel their austerity and everydayness. Its soothing.  I don’t understand a word of their music, but I know it’s something simple, reduced, concrete. These are not songs about nonsense.


Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand

I love GBV so much. This is my favorite album by them.  I sometimes close my eyes and try to imagine the places these songs were recorded in. The moods. The sound is so “found”. Its as random as passing by an accident. Songs that stick with you regardless of structure, clarity, or message. Music that acts like a photograph, that tells half truths about fleeting moments.

Vaadat Charigim’s debut record, The World Is Well Lost, is out now on cassette via Burger Records but will find a vinyl distribution on January 21st via Warm Ratio.

On Deck: Take Berlin

By Joshua Pickard; December 4, 2013 at 2:00 AM 

Take Berlin

It’s funny the things that can happen as a result of finding an old tape deck in a mound of snow in Brooklyn — as well as a subsequent connection made with a stranger at a concert on the Baltic Sea.  At least it was for Brooklyn/Berlin duo Take Berlin.  The discovery in question was made by Jesse Barnes and the stranger was Yvonne Ambree.  Meeting backstage at the Baltic Soul Festival, Barnes and Ambree immediately knew that each was a kindred spirit but only a few weeks later when they met again in Glasgow were they able to spend any appreciable amount of time together.

After countless sleepless nights talking about their respective lives in Brooklyn and Berlin — and a half dozen trips back and forth across the Atlantic to record — Take Berlin’s debut EP, Lionize, was completed.  Drawing from a wide array of influences, including the writing styles of Louis L’Amour and the distinctive fretwork of Joao Gilberto, the duo had a handful of songs that felt unique and approached their own inspirations through a filter of acoustic guitar and Wurlitzer.  All the songs on Lionize were recorded directly to that discarded tape deck and the often skeletal arrangements and gauzy textures bring to mind the series of interconnected events which brought Barned and Ambree together in the first place.

Recently the duo took some time to talk about some of the records which figured heavily in the creation of their debut EP.  From the expressive rock wailing of Jeff Buckley to Bjork’s icy electronica, and including the pastoral folk rock of Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes, they delve headlong into their influences and lay out a complicated and extensive blueprint of Take Berlin’s own sound.  Read their full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.


YVONNE AMBRÉE:

jeff buckley grace
Jeff Buckley – Grace

I was introduced to this record by two friends –a couple- in high school. It must have been in ’99. Until then my whole music knowledge was influenced by my father (who was a big fan of classical music) and mostly my brother who was a huge collector/listener of Hip-Hop and Soul-records. I never listened to any alternative, rock, indie or even singer/songwriter kind of music. I never really bothered to dig into that style when I was in my teens…until I heard Jeff Buckley for the first time. I never heard a guy sing like that. For me it sounds like he can project so many different emotions all at once – sounding strong and sweet and angry, seductive and moving – all in just one line.

All his lyrics made me wanna get out my German-English dictionary to not miss a single word and meaning he was trying to get to the listener. Every song on that record is meant TO BE. No songs that fill any gaps or work as a “placeholder”. I think “Grace” influenced and marked my way as a musician and songwriter more than any other record. It made me curious to go out there and check out as much artists as I could find (no matter what style and genre).


bjork - homogenic
Björk – Homogenic

This one is definitely my favorite record of her. I think it is even more of a common thing these days to mix electronic music with classical / orchestral arrangements but Homogenic is definitely one of the best ones. This record is just beautiful – Björk sings her heart out accompanied by an orchestra sounding like nothing else could replace it in the slightest way. “Bachelorette” – that´s the one.


ritual-union-little-dragon-cover
Little Dragon – Ritual Union

Although “Twice” is one of my all-time favorite songs Ritual Union is definitely my favorite album by Little Dragon. Yukimi Nagano’s singing style is like no other – a blend of Erykah Badu mixed with traditional Japanese influenced melodies surrounded by electronic beats and old synths made in Sweden. Can it get any better than that? If Take Berlin will ever become more electronic, these guys are definitely some inspiration.


Father John Misty - Fear Fun
Father John Misty (Fear Fun) vs. Fleet Foxes (Fleet Foxes)

I couldn’t decide. I’m a huge fan of both despite of the fact that they DO sound different although it all seems so close. Fear Fun definitely grew on me over the last months. I listened to it because I’m a big Fleet Foxes Fan and I was curious to see what Tillman would be doing on his own. His voice ( for my personal taste) is not as strong and versatile as Pecknolds but I really dig the songs and arrangements on his first solo record as Father John Misty.
Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to see him and his band perform live but Jesse met him at a festival this year and was really impressed by their live performance. So that´s definitely on my list for 2014.


JESSE BARNES:

Milton Nasciemento - Clube de Esquina
Milton Nasciemento – Clube de Esquina

Milton’s voice soars over some of the grittiest tracks throughout this gem of the post-bossa period in Brazil. The arrangements are perfect (Deodato I believe), performed by some of the heaviest Brazilian musicians of the time, including Toninho Horta on guitar. I usually prefer bossa nova’s old guard (Joao Gilberto, etc.) to a lot of the later rock/psychedelic records that came out of Brazil, but this one didn’t sacrifice songwriting for the bigger production. I still remember the moment about 7 years ago when a friend of mine dropped the needle on the opening track “Tudo o que voce.” It’s a double LP and if you have the time, listen the whole way through.


Digable Planets - Blowout Comb
Digable Planets – Blowout Comb

Both of their records were influential but these cats elevated the game with Blowout Comb. The record oozes with this Afrocentric, 90’s Brooklyn culture in the most groovin’ way. It’s obvious that they did a lot of investigation…historical, musical, cultural…powerful shit, especially for a 14yr old kid growing up in the Midwest. It’s a concept record for sure and I still feel as transported as the first time I heard it. They will probably always linger in my musical subconscious, no matter what style of music I’m performing or writing.

Take Berlin’s debut EP, Lionize, is out now.

On Deck: Josh Berwanger

By Joshua Pickard; December 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM 

Josh Berwanger

Josh Berwanger is no stranger to the scrapes and bruises that can come from being in a band. Before his recent stint as a solo artist he played with early 00’s band The Anniversary, who imploded during one of their tours through Japan. He then founded a country-rock group called The Only Children, releasing two records before dissolving – and subsequently began working as high school basketball coach in Lawrence, Kansas.

But musicians are rarely still for very long, and so Berwanger, rather than admit that his musical days were behind him, got together with a group of friends and began writing and recording again. “There’s this part of me that really wants music to be normal again,” he explains.  “I don’t even know what I mean by that exactly, but I know what normal isn’t—designer outfits, fireworks, crazy gimmicks. I don’t know how to relate to that. I want to make rock and roll. I want to make something honest.”  And on his latest record, Strange Stains (out now via Good Land), he brings along former Anniversary drummer Michael Hutcherson to create a collection of songs that harken back to the upbeat singer-songwriters of the 70’s — complete with glistening melodies and immaculate production.

We recently sat down with Berwanger to talk about some of the records which played a role in his own formative musical years.  From the vast wealth of musical talent that is Hulk Hogan (?) to records by Ron Wood, The Leopards, and Mel Smith, he lays out a substantial trail of influences that blurs any line between genres or set aesthetics.  Check out his full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck Series.


Hulk Hogan and the Wrestling Boot Traveling Band - Hulk Rules
Hulk Hogan and the Wrestling Boot Traveling Band – Hulk Rules

This record is out of control influential it has everything anyone could ever ask for on an album: Rock, Rap, Country, Heavy Metal, and a ballad. You might be thinking I’m talking about Kid Rock right now, but before that slime-ball somehow became popular Hulk and his WBTB were destroying the studio making one hell of an album. Take the ballad “Hulkster In Heaven” about a fan who passed away, Hulk sings “I use to tear my shirt, but now you tore my heart, I knew you were a Hulkamaniac right from the very start”. Phew! I need a minute. The song “Beach Patrol” could of easily been written in South Compton in the early 90’s, in this one Hulk “raps” about being the king of the beach and let’s guys know not to look at his babe “whoop there it is check it out check it in, you’ll be six feet deep if you touch my girlfriend”. Its hard not to talk about how dynamic each song is but lastly I’d like to touch on “I Want To Be A Hulkamaniac,” Hulk lays it all on the line with this one and tells you the best way to live your life “you don’t need drugs to move your feet, when the dealer tries to push on you just tell them what you’re gonna do”. Fans of this album know what I’m talking about and if you don’t already own it, rush out to your local Best Buy to purchase on cassette tape or compact disc format.


Ron Wood - I've Got My Own Album To Do
Ron Wood – I’ve Got My Own Album To Do

I always find it useless to mention a Stones album because they are all good and I take them out of this category of most influential records. I’ve also listened to Stones records so many times that I get tired of them and have to listen to the next best thing I’ve Got My Own Album To Do which I might honestly like more than a lot of the classic RS records. I love everything about this album from the cover art and Ron misspelling his last name by crossing out the “s” to the diversity of each of the songs. He has some of the most bad ass players on this album as well. Standout tracks are “Shirley” and “Crotch Music.”


The Leopards - Kansas City Slickers
The Leopards – Kansas City Slickers

I’m very proud to be from Kansas and to know this record was made no less than 20 minutes from where I live. KCS is one of those records I can’t believe everyone doesn’t own. To me its so honest and I can hear through the songs and the recording how much effort went into making this album.


Ratt - Dancing Undercover
Ratt – Dancing Undercover

I got this on tape as a kid and it didn’t leave my walkman for an entire summer. I still listen to it weekly. Front to back legit pop-rock n’ roll songs. The chorus to “Looking For Love” could be a hook for any rad power-pop band. I’m also a big fan of Warren D’ Martini’s guitar work. I’ve seen Stephen Pearcy solo about 5 times and Ratt 3 times, they never disappoint!


Mel Brown - Chicken Fat
Mel Brown – Chicken Fat

It’s hard to choose between this one and MB’s Fifth but the guitar work on “Greasy Spoon” makes me put this album over it. It’s dumb making lists like what guitar player is better than who but I think Mel does things Jimi could never do. I probably just pissed off 3 people by saying that, but there are also 4 people who know what I’m talking about.

Josh Berwanger’s latest album, Strange Stains, is out now. 

On Deck: BAMBI

By Joshua Pickard; December 3, 2013 at 10:55 AM 

Band_Photo_

UK rockers BAMBI seem tailor-made to confound expectations. From their cartoon-associative name to the short time that they’ve been recording together as a band (8 months, give or take), the band has understands these assumptions and then completely turns them inside out. Their sound feels lived-in — a mixture of 80’s jangle rock and britpop aesthetics but with reverbed, pop-centric melodies and jagged rushes of frenzied fretwork and percussive rhythms.

On their new single, “Reap From The Dying Love,” BAMBI take elements of Echo & the Bunnymen and The Chameleons and mix them together to create a hook-filled, riff barrage that doles out equal doses of memorable harmonies and singer James Gonsalves rafter-raising vocals. But the band feels and sounds like more than just a compendium of their influences and inspirations — their songs are wildly energetic and present a creative twist on modern indie rock.

Recently, we spoke with the band regarding a few of the artists which helped to shape their own formative musical experiences. From the pop punch of early Weezer to The Bends-eraRadiohead, they discuss in detail how these bands came to affect each member’s own musical preferences and approach to making music. Read their full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.


Weezer - Undone (Sweater Song)
Weezer – “Undone (Sweater Song)”

Rinsed this when I heard this gem, a magical band, Weezer. I’m quite stubborn with my music to be honest, I’m picky and annoying but if I like it then I ain’t going to lie you know? This tune you should just stick on repeat, it’s a big sound and it’s kinda joyful, I like that. The riffs are cool and they swing nicely with the fluffy chord being picked. The feedback from the guitars are proper ear grinding, when they start up and that chorus comes in and those lyrics. Dude they’re the coolest caps on earth.


Radiohead - The Bends single
Radiohead – “The Bends”

It’s a pretty sweet tune, it’s got some awesome sections, some cool riffs and Thom Yorke sings like a proper dude. The albums are all pretty tight, I don’t think there’s one bad Radiohead album when I think about it hard haha. The little section they throw in right before the second verse in this tune is so sick, where Johnny Greenwood is bending the shit out of those notes, it sounds cool. Listen to them if you somehow haven’t, they’re freaky.


The Vines - Ride
The Vines – “Ride”

The Vines are a weird one, mental and loud. The way that tune comes in man with those panned chords straight up, the vocal melody is pretty sweet, that whimsical stuff gets me every time ha. I like a mixture of hard hitting and sweet and soft tunes, like Tiramisu?

There’s a lot of overdrive in the song, but the sweet verses and middle 8 fills the gaps nicely.


Nirvana - In Bloom
Nirvana – “In Bloom”

Tune.

I’m not one to bum Nirvana, but they have some mental tracks. The chords in this are peng. I know it’s all mainly chords but where the next leads is what makes this a banger, plus Dave Grohl’s tight drumming of course. I love how the vocals come in with just the bass and that drum beat. It’s hard to put your finger on Nirvana, not many happy tunes, that’s probably why I feel the need to move on after a quick Nirvana session, though some may not agree which is cool.


Moby - Porcelain
Moby – “Porcelain”

When I put this on I wanna float haha, it’s a dreamy tune and that intro leads you to those sick vocoder robot vocals. I love how spaced out it is and how smooth everything is, kinda makes everything around you just, feel smooth. The beat is at a nice bpm to nod to and helps you sink in your lazy boy for the Friday night chiller. Another good artist in my books.

BAMBI’s debut single, “Reap From The Dying Love,” is out now.

Video Premiere: Son of Stan – “Noxeema” + On Deck

By Joshua Pickard; November 25, 2013 at 1:00 PM 

Son of Stan

Jordan Richardson (aka avant pop artist Son of Stan) had the distinction of playing drums for both Ringo Starr and Ben Harper before deciding to lay down his sticks and begin the walk toward the front of the stage.  Music history is littered with artists’ misguided forays into solo status — but Richardson will not be counted among them.  His music owes as much to glistening 80’s pop as it does to a more modern and chillier pop aesthetic, and through Son of Stan, he is able to cohesively match up his love of these sounds.  On his latest album, Divorce Pop — out now via Wizardvizion — he and producer Adam Lasus (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Yo La Tengo) tackle pop’s sordid history and come up with a sound that traces its lineage through the radio hits of the 80’s and on up through its recent mainstream renaissance.

With the help of Emmy-nominated director Daniel Stessen, Richardson recently filmed the video for Divorce Pop-cut “Noxeema,” and it’s every bit as pop-curious and art-damaged as you might expect.   Taking its cue from his album’s title, the video begins with Richardson completing a divorce filing for two people before unceremoniously getting run over by those same two people.  We’re then taken to watch a version of The Grind dance party in heaven, ending with a young green-skinned alien boy watching all of this on his TV.  I would describe it in more detail, but in all honesty, it’s something you really have to see for yourself.

Richardson also sat down and wrote a bit about some of his favorite records for Beats Per Minute.  From the Michael McDonald-guesting Aja by Steely Dan to the sex romp of Beck’s Midnite Vultures and on to Das Racist’s Shut Up, Dude, he takes us on a guided tour of his influences and inspirations.  Check out his full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.

SON OF STAN – NOXEEMA from Jordan Richardson on Vimeo.


So I tell my friends all the time when they ask what are my top 5 favorite albums (or songs or movies or farm animals) that that is one of the most stressful questions for me. I’m not exactly sure why. I can be pretty opinonated about the things I like and the things I don’t like but I think I have an allergy to rankings. That’s probably why I was always psyched to get like 7th place or something terrible at the Elementary School Track meet. I think the color of ribbon for 7th place is like off-white. I was stilll pumped up though. Anyways, I’m excited and up for the challenge this time. These aren’t necessarily my top 5 end-all-be-all albums of all time because I’m not quite sure if I could ever confidently make that list, but these are certainly the solid contenders for “top most important albums to me right this very second as I construct this list” list! Here goes! *Also, it should be noted that ‘The Fat Boys’ was the first album I ever owned.

Steely Dan - Aja
Steely Dan – Aja

Ok, this one is easy for me. This definitely, consistently has been my favorite album probably since High School. Steely Dan is my favorite band as well. Aja is the first album that I remember hearing at a very early age, streaming out of the speakers of my dad Stan’s late 70’s Toyota Celica. Like a lot of people’s favorites I think, this album speaks for my memories as much as my musical tastes. Every note of it reminds me of being a little kid and thusly some awesome trip to Six Flags or specific GI Joe. Nostalgia is a big part of it for me on this one. From a musical perspective, though, I could listen to these smooth jams on repeat for hours (and I do). This record created a lot of my foundations as a drummer and paved my way for musical nerddom. Aja has my two favorite drummers on it (Bernard Purdie and Steve Gadd), and they are just one of those bands that completely connects with me. I understand the love/hate relationship with this band that people have. I’m on the love side for sure. The standout track to me is “I Got The News”. Michael McDonald gets nice as shit on the background vocals on it!


Beck  - Midnite Vultures
Beck  – Midnite Vultures

This record is another no-brainer for me for the list. I’ve listened to this record more than any other record (except for maybe Aja) and its probably been the most influential. Beck has always blown my mind for the ability to consistently write incredible songs that cross genres, from album to album and song to song. This is the one for me though. To me, this is the peak of Beck as a funk/r&b/hip hop mad man and that in turn is my favorite because I tend to prefer music that has soul and sex and swing at its core, and this does all that but it’s Beck’s fucked up sense of irony and humor that puts me over the top about the record. It’s genius art that transcends just being music. That always goes a long way for me. “Nicotine & Gravy” is the standout track on this album for me. The way it chaotically spins out of control in the pre-chorus is almost nauseating and then turns on a dime into the hookiest and funkiest breakbeat chorus. Its perfect. Also, the show I saw on this tour was my favorite concert ever, pretty much. They all got into bed and rose into the rafters at the end. Mind blown.


Das Racist - Shut Up, Dude
Das Racist – Shut Up, Dude

When my roommate, aka Emmy-Nominated Director Daniel Stessen (who has also directed my music videos) first showed me “Who’s Dat Brown” I sort of lost my mind. It had been a long time, personally, since I fell in love with a hip hop record and Shut Up, Dude definitely re-lit my flame that I had once had for rap music. What really got me hooked was their connectivity with the ridiculousness of the “hip” generation. I totally love to celebrate any time the actual coolest people come along and totally shred “the cool people” to pieces. To me, Heems and Kool A.D. are like Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde on weed (laced with other stuff probably). I had a girlfriend one time that told me she didn’t like music that had humor in it. I knew the relationship was over then. “You Oughta Know” and “Rainbow in the Dark” are two of my favorite songs of all time.


LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem

In case anyone was wondering, I really really like dancing to disco music. No one was wondering. James Murphy is a hero. He’s the most talented. He writes the most personal songs of introspection and party. He produces other artists and makes everyone slam. He is not super skinny. I look up to him like few other contemporary artists and on his/their first record he’s just destroying it all. I hate to assume, but I feel like there is always some magic spark when people who have previously been seriously involved in other ventures make their own “first” records as solo artists. You can hear the frustration and reaction to whatever came before and at the same time, its so bold and optimistic. James Murphy is another dude that tells the conventional notions of hipness to fuck off. It’s the ultimate party record and its filled with substance. There is no filler track and its dance music with guitar amps, real drums and analog gear. I hope LCD goes into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame someday. “Losing My Edge” is my favorite poem ever written.


Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe
Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe

This record came out 3 days before I’m writing this. It’s my favorite record of the past year and it will probably be amongst my favorite records of all time. Dev Hynes is my favorite producer right now and I’m a total sucker for “producer records”. His first record pulled me in fast a couple years ago and it was one of those albums that led me to believe that the second record would be a masterpiece and it is. In a parallel universe, this is the music that is being played on R&B pop radio. The album plays as a complete work, like a Pink Floyd album, and it makes me feel mysterious and takes me somewhere else. I’ve listened to it 10 times in 3 days and they wont stop anytime soon. I gifted it to my sister who loves classic R&B and she has totally similar feelings about it. I want to play a show with him more than any other artist going…maybe Chairlift, but they’re on this record too! “Uncle Ace” into “No Right Thing” is an incredible transition and they are my two favorite songs on the album as well.

My honorable mentions:
Pink Floyd – Animals
Janet Jackson – Control
Tears For Fears – Songs From The Big Chair
Primus – Sailing The Seas of Cheese
Prince – Dirty Mind
Stevie Wonder – Innervisions

Son of Stan’s latest album, Divorce Pop, is available now on Wizardvizion.

On Deck: George Barnett

By Joshua Pickard; November 11, 2013 at 8:14 AM 

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UK singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist George Barnett likes to do things on his own – as evidenced by that somewhat detailed description.  We could also add video director to the list but that might seem like overkill, if no less true.  His habit of singing and playing every instrument on all his albums has led to each of his records feeling particularly insular and attuned to a unique musical mindset.  Not that this tonal specificity has affected his music negatively.  In fact, this individuality is what makes his songs so endearing and memorable.  Building on traditional guitar/piano/percussion pop templates by incorporating orchestral flourishes and electronic ephemera, Barnett draws inspiration from modern artists like Justin Timberlake and Nine Inch Nails (odd musical bedfellows, I know), as well as the gossamer radio pop of the 80’s.  His aesthetic is a style of acclimation and aggregations; each song’s influence can be easily divined, but it ‘s the way in which Barnett molds and reshapes his inspirations that cause his music to resonate so soundly with his audience.

Recently, Barnett sat down with Beats Per Minute to discuss some of his favorite records and those which had a profound influence on his own formative musical development.  From the alterna-rock funk of Red Hot Chili Peppers to the pastoral folk-rock of Fleet Foxes, as well as the R&B influenced beats and rhymes from Frank Ocean, he lays out a fairly extensive framework of inspiration that covers a handful of disparate genres.  Check out his full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.


Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik

I got this when I was 12 years old and I love every single track on it. Every song is a banger. Every song is great.  I’d play it and find a track and I’d think that’s my favourite. And then I’d play the album again and change my mind. The album reminds me of when we were living in this house that was a bit haunted. It was a huge house with lots of outbuildings and we were living in a converted stable.  The main house was where there had been a murder and the weapon was found in my room. Obviously not while I was in it – a long time beforehand! But it was a great house as we could make as much noise as we wanted as there were no other people around.  So it reminds me of being there. In a good way – not in a murder way. The album was produced by Rick Rubin and I like the story of where it was recorded – in a place called The Mansion and that’s supposed to be a haunted house. When I found that out I thought…ah a parallel.


Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

This is a kind of a folk album and it’s really nice. When you listen to that record you can’t help think of nature and tress and stuff even if you’re somewhere quite far from that. The sounds and the way they use harmony make you feel like that. This is another album where I like every song. I don’t know the title to every song because I have always listened to the album the whole way through without skipping tracks. Oliver James was the best possible way to end on an album like this; the a capella drenched in reverb tailing off into silence completely sums everything up.


Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

It sounds like it was made in a day…in that every song perfectly follows the last in a cohesive musical way. Everything is so understated – it never feels too angry or loud against the mellow tone and his voice is just fantastic overall. Songs like Bad Religion and Pink Matter are exceptional, song writing-wise and Pyramids is a production masterpiece. Frank Ocean is an amazing artist – he will be a future “great”. This album reminds me of a beach but I’ve never been there. Listen to it.


M.I.A – Mantangi
M.I.A – Mantangi

I’ve been listening to this recently on my ipod.  All the beats and production on it hit so hard. There’s a lot of Indian Rhythms that she uses which sound great. I like the fact that she literally sounds like she doesn’t care about anything and it’s great! There’s some stuff on there that’s so discordant. Songs like Come Walk With Me – it sounds really rough and sing song and kid of nursery rhyme as if it was done all in one go , kind of like an abandonment of trying to sound ‘nice’. She has a pure personality and doesn’t seem preoccupied with what other people think and that’s exciting to listen to.


The Killers - Sam's Town
The Killers – Sam’s Town

I recently remembered how much I love this album. I got it for Christmas in 2006, I think. From start to finish it sounds like an album. There’s nothing I want to skip. There’s nothing that distinguishes itself as something that may have been done purely as a single. It’s all continuous greatness. I love Brandon Flowers lyrics and I love the shakiness in his voice as it gives it power; I like the way it’s louder and rawer than Hot Fuss. In fact I hadn’t listened to Hot Fuss until after I had heard Sam’s Town and it was the latter album that got me into the first one. I especially like the second half of Sam’s Town for the great song writing. The songs are a bit slower and you can really hear how good a writer he is – on songs like My List and Why Do I Keep Counting the writing opens up a bit. In the first half there are things that hit you but  a lot of the emotional close to the chest song writing comes in the second half which is annoying as I’ve never met  anyone who knows My List. Like when you mention the album they say, ‘Oh yeah, When You Were Young”. Listen to it all!

George Barnett’s latest release, the Animal Keeper EP, is out now.

 

Video Premiere: Jared Bartman – “The Cool Of Your Temple” + On Deck

By Joshua Pickard; November 7, 2013 at 9:01 AM 

Jared Bartman

Illinois musician Jared Bartman is a songwriter in every sense of the word.  His music creates connections — the listener with music, memories with consequence, and rhythm with detailed composition.  His songs draw on the traditions of American folk and blues, afro-Cuban culture, and the often intricate tendencies of orchestral shorthand, which is to say that his music sounds timeless and untraceable and seems to have been waiting for just the right time to show itself.  Known for his often disparately staged live shows — he may swing from an acoustic solo performance one night to a stage full of strings, bass, and percussive accompaniment the next — Bartman never lingers too long on any one set of aesthetics before jumping to whatever next catches his attention.  On his upcoming record, Misery Makes Strange Bedfellows (out November 19th), the versatile singer, who has shared the stage with artists like John Vanderslice and Richard Buckner, is set to cast an ever wider net documenting his love of bucolic lyricism and a roughspun sense of storytelling.

We recently sat down to talk with Bartman about some of the records which have had a large influence on his growth as a musician and lover of music.  Albums like The Beatles’ Revolver and John Vanderslice’s Cellar Door seem like fairly obvious (though quite appropriate) indicators for how he approaches his own time in the studio.  Other choices such as Arular by MIA and Bitte Orca from Dirty Projectors show the extent to which his widely varying influences push him to experiment with every day sounds and rhythms.  To further highlight his chameleonic nature, he also brought along a new video for his song “The Cool Of Your Temple,” which shows the singer backed by a trio of female singers, winding his way through an all-too-brief live version of the song.  Shot in stark black and white by Devin Vaughn, the video highlights the rustic nature of Bartman’s voice and the accompanying harmonies act as melodic anchors to his soaring voice.  There is a curiously familial nature to the track which displays an innate understanding of how music can bridge age, time, and broken ties to bring people together.  Check out the video for “The Cool Of Your Temple” below, as well as his choices for our latest On Deck feature even further down.

 


MIA – Arular
MIA – Arular

MIA dramatically shifted the world’s paradigm of a multi-cultural globalized modern music. Though the record came out in 2005, I still listen to “Galang” and “Bingo” close to once a day, and it certainly affected my writing on Misery Makes Strange Bedfellows.


Revolver
The Beatles – Revolver

It’s hard to fathom the extent of influence that this record has had on literally millions of people. On a personal level, the music of the Beatles directly shaped me as a songwriter more than any other music. The variety between and quality of tracks like “Taxman”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “For No One”, and “Tomorrow Never Knows” will dictate the way I write records for the rest of my creative career.


40 - Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

This record profoundly changed my perception of how a band could find a converging point between rock n’ roll, African music traditions, and 20th century classical sensibilities. There has a never been a band like this before, and there never will be again.


John Vanderslice – Cellar Door
John Vanderslice – Cellar Door

I bought this record on a complete whim when it came out in 2004 and I was 16 years old. I dropped the needle on “Pale Horse” and the course of my musical life was dramatically changed. It’s one of the first records where the conceptual thread of the songwriting and production felt completely consistent to me. This record has been described by John as a love letter to classic film.


Jens Lekman – Night Fall Over Kortedala
Jens Lekman – Night Fall Over Kortedala

Lekman is a consummate songwriter, storyteller, and orchestrator. Listen to “It Was a Strange Time In My Life” and remember your adolescence.


The Mountain Goats – Get Lonely
The Mountain Goats – Get Lonely

Producer Scott Solter, who engineered this record, Cellar Door, and my new record Misery Makes Strange Bedfellows, aptly described Get Lonely as a “root fire” of an album, burning quietly beneath the surface. Dedicated Mountain Goats fans are divided on either hating or loving the album, and I’m a fervent member of the latter camp. Get Lonely is a masterpiece.

Jared Bartman’s latest album, Misery Makes Strange Bedfellows, is due out on November 19th.

On Deck: Audacity

By Joshua Pickard; November 6, 2013 at 4:13 PM 

Audacity

Fullerton, CA punks Audacity enjoy the simple things. A couple of guitars, a bass, a set of drums — honestly, that’s all you really need. Even when the band cranks up the amps and tosses in an extra track or two, there is still an economy of instrumentation that lends the music a bare bones garage rock attitude. That being said, they can still sound like a stampeding group of caffeinated toneheads hopped up on records by The Sonics and The Monks when they want. And like those proto-garage rock bands, Audacity meld catchy choruses to spitfire riffs and clanging percussion — all wrapped up in a cocoon of fuzz and punk grit. On their latest release, Butter Knife (out now), for seminal Seattle label Suicide Squeeze, the band trace pop-punk’s lineage back to its roots and then back-pedal until they reach Fullerton, CA in 2013. It’s a psychotropic-fueled trip of sugary melodies, jackknife fretwork, and thudding beats — one that’s unlikely to leave your brain any time in the near future.

Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with singer/guitarist Kyle Gibson from the band about some of the records which helped to influence the recording of Butter Knife — and which also happen to be some of his favorite albums. He discusses the impact of Television’s legendary record, Marquee Moon, as well as the influence of artists like The Meat Puppets and The Replacements on the band’s development. Check out his full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.


Television - Marquee Moon
Television – Marquee Moon

This is another album that we used to listen to on repeat. We were also listening to other punk music from that era in NYC, but Television was different. Long instrumental sections and immaculate guitar work on that record make it a favorite. We used to try to play through the songs, some were just too hard! The way Tom Verlaine spoke through his guitar didn’t require much vocals, however the unique sound of Tom’s voice also contributes to the greatness of Marquee Moon.


White Night
White Night – Prophets Of Templum Of 420

These are our homies from Fullerton. Every song is so heartfelt and hits close to home for us, and it makes us want to give our heart o Jon. “Alone” is the best song in da world.


Todd Rundgren – A Wizard, a True Star
Todd Rundgren – A Wizard, A True Star

A Wizard, A True Star by Todd Rundgren is a big album for me and has always influenced our ideas for the band, cause it’s so nuts and all over the place. Me and Matt used to ride our bikes listening to it on our discmen and meet up and discuss our favorite weird parts or new things we had noticed . It’s also a hilarious album with a very warped sense of humor that we totally identified with , and we would sit around listening to it and laughing and laughing .


The Replacements - Let It Be
The Replacements – Let It Be

This record is inspirational and every song is such a masterpiece. Kyle showed me the replacements in jr high and I remember listening to let it be over and over and trying to play like tommy Stinson. The diversity of the songs and the way Paul westerburg sang makes the record a favorite.


Redd Kross - Born Innocent
Redd Kross – Born Innocent

We listened to this record constantly during our formative years in high school. The local record store in Fullerton sold a bootleg cd with all their early material and that was also a favorite . When Thomas joined the band on drums we gave him this cd and sorry ma forgot to take out the trash by the replacements . We also covered kill someone you hate on our very first ten inch.


The Meat Puppets - Up On The Sun
The Meat Puppets – Up On The Sun

This is a more recent favorite of ours. We always loved the first and second records but recently got really into this one. It’s great driving music and swimming music. It’s also a sometimes funny record like a wizards a true star,some guitar parts are so over the top technical and the vocals are really bizarre but beautiful at the same time

Audacity’s latest record, Butter Knife, is out now on Suicide Squeeze Records.

On Deck: His Clancyness

By Joshua Pickard; November 1, 2013 at 10:36 AM 

rsz_his_clancyness

There is a sense of restless creativity and rhythmic movement that spreads itself out across the tracks of murky psych-pop outfit His Clancyness’ latest record, Vicious.  This seems particularly appropriate as Ottawa-born founder John Clancy spent most of childhood commuting between Italy and Canada, and this idea of spatial displacement is littered throughout the record.  That’s not to say that Vicious isn’t a cohesive set of songs; it certainly is – the majority of which inhabit a foggy, bedroom psych-pop pastiche environment.  A self-described rock and pop culture obsessive, Clancy draws from a laundry list of influences which include Can, David Bowie, The Gun Club, and Stevie Nicks (among dozens of others) — and it’s at this intersection of rough-hewn rock and melodic pop that His Clancyness finds its muse.

Produced by Chris Koltay (Liars, Atlas Sound, Akron Family), Vicious is His Clancyness’ first album for Fat Cat Records, though he has had previous releases under various smaller labels.  When describing the inspiration and execution behind Vicious, Clancy says, “Vicious is how I overcome distance. I want to be vicious. I can’t be vicious. I can be vicious on an album made up of songs. Songs are marked by violence, general wrongdoing and finally peace. You can beat loss, escape territories and find new lands in a heartbeat. Those are songs I like to write. In a new city you can wear a mask, develop a new persona, change path. I’ve lived in twelve different cities. This is sort of what this album deals with for me. It’s the harshest things I’ve ever written, I wanted to go to places that are as far as possible from me.”

Recently, we asked Clancy to talk a bit about some of his favorite records, as well as those that had a large impact of the recording ofVicious.  Some of his choices are more obvious (Lindsey Buckingham) than others (U.S. Maple), but all of them have a strong melodic backbone and a sense of rhythmic momentum that feels intrinsically drawn from each artist or band’s own experiences.  These are records that only these particular musicians could have made and the insular atmospheres that they perpetuate seem like the perfect fit for Clancy’s own monologuing pop tendencies.  Check out his full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.


Lindsey Buckingham - Under The Skin
Lindsey Buckingham – Under The Skin

This is a record we listened to quite a lot when recording Vicious. It’s a weird one I still can’t quite grasp. It really feels like Buckingham trying to stay pop while experimenting in this cheesy way that just works. It seems like he went out of his way to use the long reverbs and sort of funny delays, but somehow it flows. He’s not shy at all to sing out of tune, whisper, breathe and give an amazing rendition of a Stones jam.


U.S. Maple - Long Hair In Three Stages
U.S. Maple – Long Hair In Three Stages

I was 15, I heard this and thought it was terrible, how could you play guitars that way, howl, spit, moan and have a rhythm section that collapsed on every verse. Just awful. Then I saw them live, everything locked, it’s like seeing primitive blues played by Black Flag with a one man verbal assault a la Nick Cave. For a few years Skin Graft the label that put this out was really a place where weirdos, freaks could feel at home.


The Babies - Our House On The Hill
The Babies – Our House On The Hill

We’ve done a split 7″ in the early days, so I’ve always been fond of them. But I always argue with people that this is a modern rocknroll classic. No flaws, 12 killer songs you can dance, drive and cry too. It’s easy and sinks under your skin. I wish they would get so much more praise. It’s not as easy as you might think to have tunes like this. Modern Lovers classic style nuggets.


U.S. Girls - GEM
U.S. Girls – GEM

Nothing can describe this record more than the word GEM. It’s probably my fav record on my label FatCat. I just think everything from the artwork to the lyrics to the tunes is perfection taken to another level. It’s mystery, dancing, good times, sadness, sweat, yet eerie and descriptive.


Dirty Beaches - Drifters-Love Is The Devil
Dirty Beaches – Drifters/Love Is The Devil

Another current lone wolf. Such a consistent writer, changing, evolving LP to LP, tape to tape, 7″ to 7″ and hard to pin down. This album is really rewarding after many listens, it’s sometimes scary and dark and the only LP I happened to listen this year completely in the dark of my living room and felt at unease. Second side is just plain beautiful.

The Fat Cat Records debut from His Clancyness, Vicious, is out now. 

On Deck: Black Orange Juice

By Joshua Pickard; October 28, 2013 at 2:05 PM 

A006_C004_0510TM

For UK dance trio Black Orange Juice’s debut EP, 3 Started Alone (out now on True Panther Sounds), rising producer Ossie (Hyperdub, 20/20 Vision) called on two of his East London friends – singers Paul Black and Tilz – to help create music which pays homage to Chicago house and classic disco rhythms, while also shaping the group’s own vision of twisted contemporary R&B and soul aesthetics.  Building tracks from propulsive beats and wobbly synths, they mesh brain-etching hooks and brash, though occasionally minimal, instrumentation with a surprising emotional honesty and manage to come away with music that knows exactly where its roots lay but is also very aware of where it wants to go.  It also helps that the guys have a bond that extends into their East Ham childhood; so their understanding of each other tints the music to a large degree.  This is music that breathes with the familiarity of friends and a communal collection of like-minded influences.  

Black Orange Juice mines the no man’s land between the ecstaticism of club ready hip-movers and the cerebral tendencies of headphone junkies.  You may well end up dancing, but 3 Started Alone isn’t simply a collection of murky dance tracks (well, it is and it isn’t).  The trio know that sometimes it isn’t enough just to get people dancing – though that is a noble enough goal at times – but they want that connection between thought and action, between stimulation and response, to become permanently part of our collective musical consciousness.  It’s rational dance music, and it never tries to blind us with sentimental rhythms or bombastic percussion.  Ossie, Paul Black, and Tilz are looking back to a time when the thought behind music was enough to get your hips moving.  Nothing else was needed.

Recently, we sat down with Paul Black to talk about a few of the artists and songs which helped to shape his own approach to Black Orange Juice’s music.  From DJ Jazzy Jeff to D’Angelo, and on to Frank Ocean, Black lays out a wide net of influences and inspirations.  It’s becomes obvious after reading what he has to say about these particular artists that the constantly shifting cadences and genre hopping inherent to their work was a big factor in the development of BOJ’s own sound.  Check out his full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck Series


Hi it’s Paul Black of Black Orange Juice, and this is a little rundown of 5 snippets of huge musical importance to us as a music collective….

to business……

DJ Jazzy Jeff ft. Erro - Roc Wit You
1. DJ Jazzy Jeff ft. Erro – “Roc Wit U”

What a place to start, this is one of my all time favorite NEO soul songs! Eric Robertson has a voice that we have long admired, his smooth tone filled with emotion that he aptly utilizes to convey that most intimate of moments. Production, theme, lyrics, vocals added to a priceless delivery. This is one of my all time favourite songs and will always have a huge place in my heart.


Biggie Smalls
2. Biggie Smalls – “Kick In The Door”

In terms of rappers I think what sets Biggie apart is his whit and swagger personified by his word play. He conveyed an image of the Western world that was much less glamorous, rather it was the concrete jungle that gave birth to desperate killers…The way he paints images is one that resonates with me still today.


Frank Ocean - Pink Matter
3. Frank Ocean – “Pink Matter”

Off of one of the most compelling R&B artists to come out for years. The very talented Mr. Ocean delivers his poetry with such intent that whatever he speaks about sounds so epic yet believable at the same time. The cameo from Sir Benjamin 3000 rounds off the artistic ambience, his delivery plucking at ones mind further setting the mode with deep sorrow.


D'Angelo - Voodoo
4. D’Angelo – Voodoo: The Whole Album !!!

What an album…… D’angelo – Untitled is filled with warm harmonies that flow in and out of the track with an effortless calm that simply amount to an eargasm. The album as a whole just hits a chord with us all the whole group.


Donnie
5. Donnie – “Cloud 9” (Quentin Harris Remix)…

That smoothly brings me on to this classic house masterpiece. This song with its continuous rhythmic drums, warm synths, string samples and piano solos is a lesson in how block build a track to perfection bringing the listener on a journey whilst the music takes control of their movements……


The Brand New Heavies
6. The Brand New Heavies – “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” (Kenny Dope Remix)….

This beat has had all of us dancing well into the wee hours gesticulating and cut shapes as if we were doing a sun-dance… anything that can make you feel so over joyed and happy can’t be bad its an anthem for true lovers of good music..

In short these songs all share in having a purity of emotion conveyed in them that is emotive and captivating, this is professionally something that in our opinion is vital to making good music….. this has been just a slice of our Orange.

Black Orange Juice’s new EP, 3 Started Alone, is out now via True Panther Sounds.

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