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SKRILLEX - RECESS 2014

       After having a rather platonic affair with some eerie witch house-sprinkled minimal electronic bass music, Sonny kept his word as he was indeed leaving. He didn’t necessarily meant leaving his sonic army of scary monsters but rather pointing out his  fierce infidelity regarding pretty much any sonic spectrum that he’d conquer. So he ditched in a predictably unpredictable way even the newer more pretentious and calm  tunes that worried some of the filth lovers. 

The striking fact is that he won’t even respect his “leaving” habit. If the collaboration with Boys Noize  only came to reinforce a sense that more “less than EDM accessibility” was what he is aiming for , here he presents a record full of the Moombahton that he mixed during his more recent live sets.

This is truly his first EDM release as he really goes more in the Aokified sense of partying rather than sticking to his bangers where people would also stagedive and mosh. He goes over the top along Diplo and goes on mixing tons of reggae and stupid-simple dance synth lines just to make irresistible booty shakers.

His subs still jump out of the speakers but the brostep is indeed brostep this time around, as a true watered down version of his old filth aggression. Tracks like “Fuck That” still keep the eerie sensations and ambiance that was delicious on “Leaving” while bringing forth a wild combination of atmospherics and crazy heavy oldschool bass wobbling. The scary monsters are still here but they are more disguised in a clever way. If you turn “Fuck That” way up, it will not only blow your walls off with the massive lurking subs but it will also open a newer, ever-widening horizon of dark classy electronic ambiance.

Score: 9/10

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DUSTIN PRINZ - ELEVEN 2014

       You probably know him since he has a pretty big Youtube following. Dustin Prinz is the typical guy that others call indie singer/songwriter , who spreads his charms mainly on Youtube. Well the indie term would only describe functionality and logistics here since it should not be confused with real indie music, no not the Interpol joke but the 80s alternative scene. Dustin has that typical Youtube star sound on this new record, which is not so typical of his style. If you’re diggin’ around for your music on Youtube you probably know him for some time now and you think of him as that virtuoso guitar player dude. 

      Indeed Dustin, born in Nebraska is a guitar whiz kid that can easily impress anyone with his guitar idiosyncrasies. He always pulls cool stuff out of the hat like hybrid picking and percussive acoustic guitar tricks, stuff that he would put the “para-picking” trademark on.

       On this CD however you don’t get to hear that side of him, so newbies beware, he’s more than just a pop singer. Here he tries to appeal to a wider audience with some rather formulaic acoustic pop songs about heart ache and everyday problems that the simple man would relate to. The music is calm but it often seem to push some dynamics and alternate rhythmic/tonal patterns just to make stuff more interesting. There are some technical eccentric takes and intelligent twists to make you know that Dustin’s vision can go way more complex than the easy listening music theme that he’s trying on this time around.

If you love your music pretty and calm then you’ll totally dig Dustin’s embrace of this style as he presents it as sincere as he can be. His voice is warm and really complements his gentle guitar sweeping. This is sunday afternoon music for rest. It should do no harm to anyone.

Score: 8/10

Buy this record from here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/eleven/id776674604

http://www.dustinprinz.com/store/eleven-coming-soon

http://www.reverbnation.com/dustinprinz/album/56151-eleven

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Back then, when hyperbolic tongue in cheek music was fairly unheard of , Reh Dogg was probably the one who pioneered the latter awkward aesthetic that would eventually culminate with success acts that stretch even to Nicki Minaj or that lurks to some degree inside the skeleton of more respected ladies that cover their pop artificialism with classic trademarks by Queen. Even though he’s not so out there in the spotlight right now, Reh was hitting hard well before Die Antwoord or Lil B. Who can forget the massive viral breakthrough from years ago that was “Why Must I Cry” ? He’s not just one of the first in the game. He owns all others with his ability to confuse the listener. No one knew if he is for real or if his attitude was a brilliant comic act. It had you watch all of his videos to figure that out. You don’t really have that curiosity with The Based God, let’s say.

So Reh has a record out and he’s really serious about it. In the age of singles and digital downloads, Reh proves that he has class, he stands out. Mixtapes aren’t his deal also. He delivers pure classic album format with a well thought tracklist dynamic. He introduces the Calypso style. He’s always on the run, alway trying  not only to reinvent himself but to also educate the crowd with this unique style.

Reh’s flow is cool on this record, his rapping style is somehow different as he embraces a very cool homegrown blend of semi-descifrable reggae style rappin’. He also feeds his fans with some tunes that feature his signature ballad style aching-swan singing reminiscent of “Why Must I Cry”.

What really stands out on this record is the production. No matter how serious is your take on Reh Dogg, you can’t deny the cool dynamic sound on this. His production is sleek , clean and boomy without being over-the-top. You won’t hear this level of production in the more mainstream acts from this genre that sound cool (Die Antwoord ) .

With track titles like “American Gals Stay Away From Me” or the provoking “Reverse Racism” , this record will obviously shake your booty ! Respect! Reh Dogg is your friend!

Score: Rating is futile !

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GARY SCHWARTZ - LETTINGO LIVE THE MUSIC AND INFLUENCE OF ORNETTE COLEMAN 2013

Sharing the same elegance and refinement as in the original recordings and compositions of the great modern jazz pioneer , Gary Schwartz expands his jazz guitar territory to a full ensemble that tries and succeeds to deconstruct and rearrange . It may indeed sound cold and lifeless as far as a description goes but Gary and the ensemble present these brilliant old songs with a new beautiful wrapping that also has functional values with deep roots into the product itself, as his reinterpretations are truly - to a certain extent - subtle re-compositions that remain under the same original stylistic paradigm of fine balance between the beauty of harmonic disharmonies and crushing sacred melody.

This exercise is fluently intertwined with Gary’s original compositions that live up to their main function of completing this album as a fluent one , both on a stylistic level and on quality level . The quality is without doubt here since we’re not talking about a studio record. It takes lots of care to satisfy a jazz audience.

As mentioned before, one of the things that make this recording shine is the fact that it is captured as a live performance in Montreal. This way the dynamics are blooming and seem more obvious. Each instrument shines in great resolution as it is required for a Coleman thematic concert.

This rendition of Lonely Woman could be one of the most unique and creative . This will be a big surprise to any Coleman admirer. It starts with a slow build of delicate guitar parts that could induce a misconception to the listener that a guitar performance would never do any justice to this piece. When the main theme creeps in though, the guitar fades in the mix under the bludgeoning lenghty brass notes as it is desired, the guitar only creeping in slightly with a lingering tone similar to a sustained amp feedback over different notes. Quite interesting sound. The altered tempo and the disjunction between the slowed down horn melody and the paroxistic high speed drums give birth to one of the most original and interesting takes on this song.

However a very strong  and catchy piece on here is Gary’s composition “Between The Lines” . It is a great closer and it blends very well with the overall sound and style while leaning more towards conventional harmony assuring a gradual ending of the adventurous modern listening experience.

An original and mindblowing starter and a beautiful and entertaining ending is a wonderful formula that can easily assure  an overall excellent record. All of Gary’s composition are more than relevant in this context and they wonderfully break and prevent any underlying form of eventual stylistic monotony.

The recording quality is top notch and it is a bliss to give this one a spin even just for the fantastic brass textures and for those intricate idiosyncrasies in the drum section.

Highly recommended for Ornette Coleman admirers and general modern jazz fans alike.

Score: 10/10

You can buy the album from here:

https://itunes.apple.com/ro/album/lettingo-live-music-influence/id701070353

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/garyschwartz1

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Michel Héroux is a veteran of the Canadian jazz scene often fusing and blending his jazzy skills with  other different styles along the years. He was involved in many projects but now we’re gonna focus on his third solo album.

Michel’s latest solo effort is a  very comfortable and fluid stream of sound both for the listener as it is for the artist himself. The record is not a full blown jazz record and it is not a fierce onslaught of jazz shred technical frenzy either - as some would expect from a jazz guitar album. It seems like the artist is recording a session of a handful of songs that he’d usually like to play when he’s just chilling and wants to relax on a lazy pleasant evening.

So the material is indeed a collage of various sountracks for calm and cool moods. Perfect to listen to on a special night. The songs swing with different stylistic backbones and draw sonic sketches ranging from bossa nova to minimalist ambiental interludes. This is a guitar only record, mostly acoustic. Michel plays everything and does duets with himself. The most striking thing about his technique here is the jazz double bass line emulation of his rhythm guitar part. That’s a really unique and fun approach. He also tries some trios and quartets with himself.Different types of acoustic guitars are played, and besides the songs that range from mellow to some quite technical parts, the different guitar sounds and production type provide a treat and a true delight for those with a trained ear that can appreciate the production and the pure texture of  sound. There may be just different miking techniques but some songs sound huge. If you like the detailed sound of the vibrating strings and the slight plucking of strings on the wood surface, then you should definitely check this record for some of the production here.

Ennio (prelude) is a breath of fresh air . It is the most different track on here and it sure does stand out. Oddly enough it can really be a favorite for lots of listeners. The few chords that are played can make one remember the fresh flower filled landscape that would only be tailored by some piano chords played by Claude Debussy. This interlude has that delicacy and is filled with charm and musical intelligence.

By the second half of the record we get some electric guitar on few songs. These songs rather feel as being composed on acoustic and played on electric. They are not the typical electric jazz guitar tunes you’d normally hear. It’s very clear that the electric guitar doesnt fit that well with the musical idea underneath. It’s not really that important since most jazz guitarist in the world bury musical ideas by playing the wrong electric guitars just for the sake of tradition. I guess we’ll have to wait some more till jazzmans will drop Gibson guitars and humbucker pickups. So many jazz guitar  players that would have sounded 10 times better if they just picked up any guitar with single coils. A strat should be the easy way out of the mud cause we really don’t want jazz artists to lose their focus from their greater art just to learn how to turn up a treble knob on the amp. Jazzmans will never be tech geeks.

So grab a glass of wine and unwind or be patient till you get to those song sections where you’d feel like you should find Michel and beg him to teach you guitar lessons. The record has it all, virtuosity, musical delicacy, lounge seduction, you name it… it is the good light jazz sound you want to hear.

Score: 9/10

Check Michel’s website and buy the album from here:

http://www.michelheroux.net

https://itunes.apple.com/fr/artist/michel-heroux/id275913828

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/michelheroux2

http://michelheroux.bandcamp.com

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1. NINE INCH NAILS - HESITATION MARKS

2. KORN - THE PARADIGM SHIFT

3. LOVE AND DEATH - BETWEEN HERE AND LOST 

4. BLACK SABBATH - 13

5. MARNIE STERN - THE CHRONICLES OF MARNIA

HONORABLE MENTION:

BIG DEAL - JUNE GLOOM

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FERAL CONSERVATIVES - BREAKS AND MENDS

    Jump on this record ! It has crazy good drumming and this is not a metal band. Finally a great drummer that didn’t went on into obscurity doing the same old crappy metal or punk stuff all over again. Maybe it’s the hot chick? Whatever his reason for playing in this formula is, pop music needed him and he’s a modern hero. What’s the last good pop record with interesting drumming you heard? It’s been at least a decade since something like that surfaced.

     Yeah, this group is just starting but damn, their debut recordings are almost flawless. They really took their time not only to shape their style and trim all the fat, but they manage to have a pretty outstanding sound as well. Remember all the jangle pop bands from the 90s that they borrow from, those guys sounded weak before the big-ass producer showed up to nurse them. Kids nowadays are much more clever and they start out by setting the bar really high ( without advance checks ) . This being said, it is enough to have huge respect and to spark some interest. There really is no need to describe and go into the music details. They’re just good and young and innocent and fuckin raw.

      If we’re going to describe songs, well if you dig R.E.M you should check this. This is that new obscure band you’ve been waiting for. Well this reference doesn’t really do them justice cause they just play jangle chords rock with a brutal funky-ass explorer mandolin. They just do few bad solos on guitar and some weird noises on ” Golden Coast ” . That’s the coolest track by far. Not because the rest of the release is shit but because the track has that uniqueness that can make them explode. 

     All songs are cool but “Can’t do this” and “Golden Coast” should be their ground to build upon in the future… that is if they care about taking it to the next level which is not a must. They already sound exciting enough to make it big. It’s just a matter of doing infinite touring and meeting a hot shot dude from the industry. If they were popping up in the 90s they would have been recording for a major label right now.

      This is clearly our new favorite band and we post their tracks like crazy to our friends. You should too if you like them. They deserve every bit of exposure.

      Check the links below to buy this and to get familiar with this awesome Virginia duo. They have cool merch also!

http://www.feralconservatives.com/

http://feralconservatives.bandcamp.com/merch

http://feralconservatives.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/FeralConservatives

Score: 9/10

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M.I.A. - MATANGI 2013

We can understand her frustration with the delay of this album now. Any delay is annoying but when you have something this good under your belt, the excitement of sharing the marvel with the world is so burning that it certifies you - as an artist - to rebel against the  fat guys in the business that only see true art in proper marketing. She’s good on rebelling of any kind anyway. But the album is not so predictably rebellious neither in message , theme or musical approach. It is a true embrace of all her previous states that were incarnated in records.

More or less as in Hinduism , her musical personalities and influences reincarnate into one supreme Matangi that rises and matchces the masculin and seminal strenght that was only achieved and celebrated on Arular, the best of all her past works.

Matangi stands up to Arular without being an emulating experiment. Matangi is the feminine strenght that mirrors the masculin Arular. It is everyting  that M.I.A.  advertised for Kala , and is what Kala couldn’t truly accomplish.

Grade: 9/10

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MYPET - REFLEX EP 2013

In London on a one week trip. What to see live? There’s so much shit going on in that town that it makes you curse your existence as not being able to divide yourself. Mypet or a night of 2 hyped noise pop bands? Went to the noise pop gig and failed. Mypet is better both musically and probably as far as show goes also. At least the noise pop bands were british. Imagine going to London to see an LA band. Well…..USA wins again, sorry hipster land!

Score: 10/10

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ALICE IN CHAINS - THE DEVIL PUT DINOSAURS HERE 2013

First listen spawns huge amount of nasty feelings. Boring and uninspired , this shocks after the marvel that was Black Gives Way To Blue. Who would have thought that they can put out something like that after it seemed that they have lost everything? After more than 10 years of absence they just made a heartbreaking album that is as revolutionary and wonderful as the Staley stuff from back in the day. Curious how there is nothing to talk about the 2013 effort here , but let’s at least praise that album and forgive them for this slip. It’s not that bad, but being unpredictably good at one point trains your audience to be a bit pretentious. No hard feelings guys, you still rock.

Score: 7/10