At the start of 2013, I set a special goal for myself to listen to a new album every week. It didn’t have to be a brand new release, just something fresh and unfamiliar: a new artist, a new genre, anything as long as as it exposed me to something [new]. With 17 weeks of the year out of the way so far, I’ve come across 17 albums from some great artists. I put together a little playlist for you guys to check out with my favorite tracks from my [January-April] discoveries. You can find most of these on Spotify and the rest are available for free listens (and downloads) online. There’s a lot of good stuff included. Enjoy!
#.Track x Artist x Album
1. TipToe x Imagine Dragons x Night Visions
2. Trying to Be Cool x Phoenix x Bankrupt!
3. Elephant x Tame Impala x Lonerism
4. Apparition x Frank + Derol x Frank + Derol EP
5. When the Movie’s Over x Twin Shadow x Confess
6. Don’t Hold the Wall x Justin Timberlake x The 20/20 Experience
7. Take the Canyon x JoJo x Agapé*
8. So Many Details x Toro Y Moi x Anything in Return
9. If You’re Never Gonna Move x Jessie Ware x Devotion
10. Use Me x Miguel x Kaleidoscope Dream
11. Fashion Killa x A$AP Rocky x LONG.LIVE.A$AP
12. Hotel Miami x Phlo Finister x Poster Girl*
13. Crazy Driving (with JJ Johnson) x Kiya Lacey x Switchin’ Lanes EP*
14. Love Into the Light x Ke$ha x Warrior
15. Overgrown x James Blake x Overgrown
16. Closer Than This x St. Lucia x St. Lucia EP
17. Metropolis x Owl City x The Midsummer Station
*track is not available on Spotify
I get quite a few tweets and emails recommending that I check out “X”, “Y”, and “Z” artist and their latest song that’s so spectacular; but more often than not, I’m left a little underwhelmed. Not that the artist or their work isn’t good, but it’s usually an unmastered song with an average visual that sounds like both the video and track were created in iMovie… I don’t like that.
Last summer, I got an unexpected tweet with a link to a YouTube video from an artist I’d never come across before. I was in the gym when I got it, but for some reason, I stopped and played it while I was on one of the machines (dangerous, right?); and, for the first time in a while, I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard. The song was called Freeze Tag and it came from a young artist named Kiya Lacey.
Other than following her back on Twitter, I didn’t really know much about her, except for the fact that I liked her work, but I’ve since learned that this young Nashville singer was an alum of the 2012 GRAMMY Camp in Los Angeles and has been getting in the studio to build a repertoire of promising songs. Her SoundCloud has been loaded with 8 new songs over the past few months and I’ve listened to a couple. Good stuff. Her voice has a mature, soulful twang to it that validates her lyrics, despite her young age. And if her status with the GRAMMY Camp wasn’t enough to confirm that she’s a talented individual, just listen to her vocals once. It won’t be hard to tell.
Since I first heard Freeze Tag months ago, it’s stayed in rotation among a couple of my playlists and it’s still not played out to me. Check out the track below and visit her Soundcloud to hear more. As she matures in the industry, I’m sure there are going to be great things coming.
I’ve been waiting for the right time to talk about today’s artist, and I think [April Showers] is the perfect occasion. During my L.A. getaway last summer, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a studio session with Phlo Finister and it was definitely a memorable experience. The process of creating a record is so intricate and it takes dozens of pieces and layers packed on top of one another to find yourself with the perfect masterpiece. It’s pretty fascinating. Like the music, Phlo Finister seems to have quite a few layers too; and each one provides substance to her work, while painting an interesting story for her fans to enjoy.
Infused with an essence of the [mod era] and the realness of life in Los Angeles, her brand embodies her taste and experiences and pushes them out in an authentic form. Naturally, the music echoes these elements perfectly. Her take on modern rhythm & blues is colored with a “lady gangster” type of rawness that makes it clear that she’s not your typical R&B “diva” in the making. Her work is influenced by classical and rock elements and she has that artistic trait that suggests that it’s more than just about making money. It’s about life and telling her story.
[Blog to Blog]: Check out The Madbury Club’s 2012 interview with Phlo by clicking below.
Before actually meeting her, I never realized how many different moments she had already crossed my path. First, there was the whole buzz around the Aaliyah inspiration in her Shades video, then I came across her again when Kyrell used the single in our [Heat Advisory] summer mixtape. On top of that, I had no clue that a good friend of mine from college was a part of her creative team. It’s such a small world, right? I never would’ve guessed we’d all wind up in a club together in West Hollywood.
Her Poster Girl EP (the most recent, but definitely not her first) dropped at the end of 2012 and she’s well on the way to building a notable name for herself in the industry. If you don’t mind a throwback post, click on the image above. The Madbury Club did a great interview with the 21-year old singer last year titled Youthquake. Phlo Finister, which you should check out if you’re interested in more about this interesting young lady. She lays a lot of details on the line and you really get a feel for what she’s about as an artist and, more importantly, as a person.
You can check out Poster Girl below and listen to Shades on our [Heat Advisory] mixtape.
We’re well into the month of April, which means it’s time for my [April Showers] music series. For those of you who didn’t catch last year’s edition, it’s all about celebrating the freshness of spring by showering you with great music from rising talents. This year, I have a few more awesome, young artists that I can’t get enough of and I think I’ll start with Frank + Derol.
I actually discovered this duo just last week in Uniqlo as I was browsing the racks (if there’s one thing that I can always rely on Uniqlo and TopShop to deliver, it’s a decent soundtrack while I’m shopping). The song that stopped me in my tracks and made me pull up my Shazam app was [Barely Love You Too] from their 2012 self-titled EP. The 4-track mini-album is packed with “chill-ternative” vocals and good music that I plan on keeping in rotation.
I was totally surprised to find out that the duo included Codi Caraco and Brandi Cyrus, as in the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus/sister of Miley Cyrus. Coincidentally, I recently had a discussion with my friend about Miley’s career and how I can’t wait for her to get her life together and return to the game, so this little discovery just pushes me further toward Team Cyrus.
Getting back to the point, I really like the “musical aesthetic” that these two offer. The indie-pop feel of the music is comfortable and pleasing to the ears without crossing too far in either direction. It doesn’t look like confirmed details have dropped yet, but their debut album is set to release sometime this year and I look forward to seeing what’s next for these two. Check out their Frank + Derol EP below.
Over a decade ago, Justin Timberlake established a strong position for himself in the entertainment industry and he’s consistently held his own on both sides of the market, from the urban audiences to conventional pop fans; but after a 6 and a half year hiatus from the music biz, a new wife, and a new life, how did his rank change?
As I’m sure you’ve seen or heard over the past few weeks, Justin is back and it’s as if he never left. While his vocals haven’t changed from their flawless condition, his brand has undergone a total transformation. From wifebeaters, oversized, mismatching blazers and slacks, & 5′oclock shadows to clean shaves, Tom Ford suits, & Louboutin oxfords, he’s created this totally new image: one that compliments his new [mature and married] persona. The 20-something year old boy that my generation grew up with has definitely grown into a refined young man; and he’s clearly moving himself into a completely different category this go around: the category of the gentleman.
From the delivery of the content in his lyrics to his performance style, and even his choreography, there’s clearly a different idea being put into play. He’s not trying to push a sex-factor. There’s no need to be extra virile or cool. And he’s telling everyone that he doesn’t need to conform to what the music industry has transformed into over the past few years. In interviews and on-camera appearances, you see that same personality that fans have grown to love, it’s just refined. That everpresent confidence and his clear comfort with himself have both grown stronger and he’s fine with being himself and showing off the new person that he’s become.
A look at Justin over the years… This will definitely refresh your memory. #transformations
One of the best things about this [rebrand] is that he’s actually simplified things. Aside from assuring that everything remains consistent, this gentlemanly theme of his doesn’t require a ton of out-of-this-world concepting or brandstorming. By bringing a touch of class into the equation, he’s sort of taking things down a notch in a backwards kind of way (stepping up his image, but keeping it simple to maintain and consistently on point), which is proving to be super effective. I suppose a lot of people my age probably don’t fully appreciate the greatness that is [the gentleman]. I’m not sure why any guy would prefer to look up to rappers with sagging pants wearing Lebrons or rockers in t-shirts and vans. Of course, that’s just my [opinion]. I’m eager to see where he takes things as he moves forward with this 20/20 project. I just need two things now: a pair of tickets to the Legends of the Summer tour and a fresh, clean suit (no tie).
Niki & The Dove have been in constant rotation in my iTunes library lately and I finally took the time to check out some of their visuals. My friend turned me on to them a few months ago and their 2012 Instinct album has been a major piece of my daily soundtrack for the past few months. The video below is for The Fox, one of my favorite tracks on the album. Check it out. Cool graphics, dope music, and one of my favorite critters falling through the sky.
If you like this video, there’s more where that came from.
Click here to check out more of their videos now.
It’s March 19th, which means that Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience is finally in stores; and, I must say, I’ve been waiting for this day for a while now. From my perspective, 2013 has been proving itself to be the real [Year of the Gentleman] and this album, from the substance of the music to the branding of the project, couldn’t have come out at a better time.
This time around, Justin Timberlake is showing everyone exactly how [valuable] of an artist he is. From the first second of Pusher Love Girl to the fading out of Blue Ocean Floor, the album brings you in and satisfies. It’s clear that we’ve been missing out over the past 6 1/2 years since his last album, FutureSex/LoveSounds.
After I looked at the tracklist and the length of the album, I was surprised that it was a 10-track record that lasted 71 minutes (like the good albums from back in the day). I don’t see that very often in modern music. Most albums today seem to be 40 minutes of 12+ substance-less tracks loaded with computer-generated beats and vapid lyrics. Not with this album. After I pressed play, it all made perfect sense. You instantly realize the clear investment that he and his team put into the project.
The 20/20 Experience is loaded with lengthy tracks (the shortest song is 4:48) that are filled with real substance and art, both lyrically and musically. The longer play-times really get you invested in each track; and they don’t go downhill after the first five minutes. Just when you think it’s over, he switches up the energy of the song and gives even more.
One of the best things about the album is that you’re actually listening to quality music. You can tell there was an actual studio session with live instruments and talented musicians, not computers and sound machines. It could’ve just been my Marshall headphones that amplified the listening experience, but every track sounds was layered with a number of great elements. As if Justin’s amazing vocals weren’t already enough to keep you entertained, the editing was well-done (like during the harmonization in Don’t Hold The Wall). You could easily dissect each sound, but it all blends so perfectly together. Each track paints a beautiful picture that’s crystal clear.
Finally, the album was very tasteful; better yet, gentlemanly. He said it all without being pointlessly inappropriate in any type of way. He created a stellar piece of work with class, unlike most other male R&B artists that are popular right now. Also, he didn’t jump on the euro-technopop bandwagon and sacrifice his sound or art for dollar signs. It’s just authentic “rhythmopop” (my made-up term for music that fuses pop and R&B into one sound). Thankfully, this album didn’t disappoint me one bit. I’m excited to have a great new addition to my music library. Oh, and of course I’m looking forward to Volume II later this year… #spoiler [presses play]
Life in New York is amazing, but every now and then, you need to escape from all of the concrete and noise. I’m currently on a train headed to Jersey for the weekend and I already feel myself slowing down. I think [Toro y Moi] is partly to blame. He’s leaking through my headphones and his music is like the perfect remedy right about now.
26 year-old Chazwick Bundwick, commonly know as Toro y Moi, is an indie pop artist from South Carolina with an electronic/synthopop feel and a total [chillout] vibe, which happens to be my favorite type of music. His sound fits perfectly in my iTunes library. Ever since I discovered Chillout Sessions XII back in March 2011, my taste in music has completely shifted to the indie/alternative side. I feel like it has more of an artistic element to it; like there’s actually something to appreciate. Plus, the artists are so much cooler (aesthetically and musically); case in point: Toro y Moi.
It’s clear that he has a good idea of what he considers cool; and he sticks to that regardless of what others think. He seems pretty comfortable with himself, which is refreshing, and even inspiring. I’ve been listening to his latest album, Anything in Return, back to back–at work, on the train, at home, in the gym–and it gets better with each listen. Check out this video of him in the studio recording High Living and listen to his album in Spotify to get a taste of the Chillout genre and some all-in-all really good music.
Some people got chocolate for Valentine’s Day, others got roses. I got a double dose of new music videos from two of my favorite artists. Justin Timberlake‘s official video for Suit & Tie dropped and it’s flawless from start to finish. He’s totally become my “gentlemanly inspiration” for the year of 2013. Check it out above. Next, Lana Del Rey dropped the new video for her latest single, Burning Desire. No, there’s not another one of the epic tales that I’m used to seeing in her visuals, but she turned up the [product placement] game a few notches and partnered with Jaguar, featuring their fire-starting 2014 F-TYPE model.
I’m sitting in Starbucks right now in Midtown drinking my regular that has been my [keep me going] lately (Caramel Soy Macchiato) and felt like listening to some new music while I get some work done soooooo, I log onto soundcloud to see what some of my favorite artists that I follow suggest. I come across a name that caught my attention, clicked the thumbnail picture and pressed play to a song entitled “Close 2 Me” by Giraffage. At approximately 18 seconds in, the beat drops and just that quick, the search is over…
A few moments later I am on Google doing my research to find out more about who is responsible for the vibrations coming through my headphones. Giraffage is the name and is the creation of multi-instrumentalist and producer Charlie Yin of San Fran, California. Nostalgia is what I am feeling right now and although I can’t come up with the exact words to describe the many sounds he has created, I know I like it. It just so happened that he released his new mixtape “Needs” yesterday, which is downloading this very second. I’m going to finish this work, continue to drink this coffee and welcome these new soundwaves to my iTunes library. I felt it was worth sharing so below you can take a listen too. Oh yeah, Happy Valentines Day!
There really isn’t too much to say, so I will keep it brief. Long story short: we connected on set at a video shoot in Soho a few weeks ago, talked about music, exchanged emails and I received an alert with a song attachment within the following week. An attachment that soon became one of the most played songs in my iTunes library– no exaggeration. Until Valentines day, when Taahir drops his project that I am highly anticipating, I will continue to replay his insanely dope track entitled “Nefertiti” over and over and over and over again. Stay tuned in for more updates on [the no names] regarding Taahir and his upcoming project. For now, #pressPLAY.
Sometimes all you need for a great love story is a few monsters, a good song, and an electro-pop group from Madrid. This video from Klein’s Beat By Beat EP takes you on a galactic, creepy, and “romantic” ride with their [cone-headed] leading lady and her [furry] counterpart. Check it out.