Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth

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Lupe throws a mother fucking strike with “Mural.”

Took a quick listen to Lupe Fiasco’s new LP, Tetsuo & Youth, and there is one clear single on the album called “Mural.” It starts off with an overture of the songs 1975 sample (Cortex’s “Chanson D’un Jour D’hiver“) and drops the beat shortly after with the line (and a tip of the nerd hat): “We’re all chemicals… vitamins and minerals.”

I’ve already heard things like “this is just a one track album” and that it’s not the “magnum opus that was expected” of Lupe’s latest release, but I disagree. The album is really good as a whole.

The only way I can explain it is using the New York Knicks team from the 80s and 90s as a metaphor. It wasn’t that the Knicks were a bad team; they were one of the best. They would have been the best if it weren’t for Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. But Jordan happened to be alive the same years that Ewing was and so the Knicks were denied their glory.

In the same vein, The LP is not a bad release, quite the opposite. The problem is that “Mural” is like the Micheal Jordan track on the album. You spend so much time rewinding and relistening to “Mural” that you barely remember that any of the other tracks exist. It’s an eight minute long lyrically rich onslaught with a sick sample and catchy-ass beat. There are so many nerdy cultural references that I’m still only just-the-tip into comprehending the whole track

“I prefer my pictures in word form.”
“Homie if she lonely she might end up in Macaulay’s claws.”
“I sit back and watch the world through the eye holes in my oil paintings”

and on and on and on.

Take a listen to “Mural” below and cop the full album is available off of Atlantic Records in the iTunes store.


Little Simz – Live at Shoreditch House London

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The library at Shoreditch House isn’t a venue you generally associate with gritty rap music. The warm, soft lighting, large comfy sofas and distressed copper bar (replete with Gin garnish station) is decidedly more bourgeoisie than Brooklyn, more Yuppie than Yeezy; Whilst waiting for a drink at the bar, the group of men next to me spent a good period of time discussing the erstwhile benefits of using whisky rocks rather than ice in their single malts. It’s approaching 9.30pm though, and the atmosphere is about to dramatically change.

The room begins to fill, Stüssy and bucket hats begin to outnumber waistcoats, and the murmer begins to grow as people begin jostling and hustling their way to the front of the crowd.

Little Simz introduces herself, cutting a diminutive figure in a flowing white top and drooping black hat. She wouldn’t have looked out of place at a cocktail party or the races, but make no mistake, she means business.

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She begins, and it’s immediately apparent that her speaking voice is the same as her rap voice: rushed and skippy, each word fiercely and confidently tumbling onto the next. Importantly, as a female voice, she is gruff enough – and cool enough – to command attention without losing any of the aforementioned characteristics. If this 20 year old sounds like she had been performing for decades, well, that’s because she has. She began writing and performing in 2003, aged 9, has 4 mix-tapes and en EP under her belt already She received industry recognition with her Blank Canvas mix-tape, and her latest EP, The Theory Of.., (27/1/15) looks set to propel her further into unchartered industry consciousness.

As if that wasn’t enough achievement for a 20-year-old, she was last year nominated in both the Best Newcomer and Best Hip Hop Act at this years’ Mobo awards.

Throughout her performance, she often rides a balance between spitting openly confessional, almost diary-entry personal bars and forcefully igniting her presence with an unmissable, ambitious intensity, engaging the crowd during carefully selected parts of the performance. For such a small figure, her command of the stage, and the space, was fascinating to watch.

“One to watch” gets banded around a lot these days; any artist with a Soundcloud account and a modicum of talent is flagged as the next big thing, the x of this or the y of that. Make no mistake, Little Simz is no finished article, but there is enough spark, enough belief, and enough raw talent there. What is also present in abundance is the hunger to go, and go, and keep going until she gets to where she wants to be. Where that is, only she will know, but I cant wait to find out.


Nick Leng: Inside Your Mind (feat. Carmody)

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The master of chill is at it again. Set to release his next EP in four days, Leng has teamed up with one of the industries leading ladies of daydream, Carmody. The result is an absolutely beautiful soundscape, practically overflowing with color and dripping with liquid bliss. Nick’s signature glass-tones and ambient drones meet a shuffling percussion kit, while Carmody’s heavenly voice hovers above like a crystalline cloud. After several highly successful singles, Leng is set to make his first substantial splash, and if this sneak-peak single is any indication, Leng’s EP is going to make some major waves.


Fuzzworthy Introduces: SineRider

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Music often triggers complex sets of emotions, and sometimes those emotions aren’t necessarily defined. Waves of nostalgia remain unclassified; are these simply the pathways of forgotten memories or perhaps something more? When ambient is done correctly, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate the sound from that of our dreams. Convoluted, schizophrenic, and incongruent with the spectrum of describable emotions. And yet, something simply feels right. And wrong. SineRider’s latest gem, “Dreaming in Footprints” is the culmination of everything beautiful in ambient music. Glassy and muted bass tones obscured by fuzzy and distorted keys, the whispers of of an uncertain memory drowned by color and contrast. Distinct sounds of nature overlayed with incomprehensible buzzes and clicks. The mild lunacy of the mind.

Simply beautiful, hauntingly honest, genuine pleasure.


It’s Prints!

One of the best things about the New York City subway is the music. From street performers you would expect like break-beats rappers and paint can drummers to crazy musicians you wouldn’t imagine like someone dressed up in a cookie monster outfit playing an upright bass (I actually did see that once), New York has a variety of music to discover underground.

It’s always nice to get on the subway after a long day of work and be surprised by what you might hear. Whether it a steel drum melody calling to you from somewhere deep in the tunnels or a classical piano player serenading you while you wait for your train, the Subway can offer an escape from the hustle that is New York.

The center of the musical revolution underground is Union Square (Bedford Ave. is a close second). Many of the interesting acts I’ve seen on the Subway while waiting for the L train have been in Union Square. The first time I came across David Aguilar (aka Prints) was no different. He was producing music on what looked like a tiny music stand attached to an iPad and an iPhone that pushed out to a tiny speaker. I was instantly captivated. Myself and a dozen other commuters where standing there, iPhone cameras in hand, recording the live performance.

Hailing from the Bronx, David aptly describes his sound as “music that makes you stop and miss your train.” In the past year he’s branched out from his live performances in the Subway to produce a few mini-mixes and reworks of popular songs. Check them out on the Print Soundcloud page. Hopefully this marks the first step to recording an EP or full length album.

Teen Daze – Late (touched by a Prints rework)


Chillwave Wednesday LIX

Chillwave Wednesday: a semi-weekly shortlist of chill music around the internet. This week we have a LoftyLows rethink of Oh Wonder’s “All We Do” followed by the official remix of Spoon’s “Inside Out” by Tycho. Also check out the chillwave debut from out very own Fresno with his track “Beach Fuzz.”


Favela – Gong

Another absolutely beautiful soundscape from 22-year-old Favela. It’s been nearly a year since he stole our hearts with “Easy Yoke”, and his latest effort is another classic. Toms clash with floral harps and synthetic waves while Favela’s signature melancholic drones and subtle falsettos wash away our worries. The production here is classic and poignantly orchestrated; there’s something effortlessly classy about Favela’s experimentation with 808’s and string instruments.

“Gong” is a brilliant track that I’ve had on repeat since December. Make sure you keep a lock on this gent in the new year.


The New Lo-Finds: Garage Surf

 

Welcome to an installment of The New New Lo-Finds, where clever wordplay meets fresh, and most of the time unknown, bands and artists.
I would like to quickly introduce myself as this is my birth post as part of The New Lo-Fi family. I am N., and I will be doing various nonsensical posts mostly dealing with unknown lo-fi bands that deserve that same respect you give your mother.  I’ll be varying formats for this column, it will either be focusing on one band’s release or many single tracks from various different artists, or whatever I feel like doing that doesn’t make me end up kicked out of this beautiful new family that has adopted me, or in jail. Now, let’s open our eyes and ears to obscure bands that float around the ether of the global internet and pinpoint why they are deserving of standing ovations —ok, maybe not standing ovations, but definitely deserving of an appearances in your cellphones (does anybody use standalone mp3 players anymore?). So, without further ado, we begin with a focus on a single band and their first release.

 

Band: Garage Surf
Album: Welcome Tomorrow
Sounds Like:
Lo-fi, Garage Rock, Yuck, Best Coast, Wavves, True Widow, a lo-fi Interpol

We keep this off with Garage Surf, a rock band from Slovakia. They definitely put their marketing skills to work here by naming the band with two of the rock genres where they dabble in: Garage Rock and Surf Rock, though it also contains hints of shoegaze and even some (almost inevitable) pop.

I have to say, I myself am a lo-fi music snob. Anything that makes you picture a bunch of kids (or adults too, I guess —hinting at Guided By Voices here) inside a small dormitory wearing torn jeans and band t-shirts trying to put on record those sonic ideas they’ve been working so hard on for the past months while juggling jobs, school, and maybe even some days tripping on certain substances, any music that creates that vision for me is very welcome in my music library and they become guests of honor in my lo-fi playlist.

Welcome Tomorrow opens up with “Beach,” a track filled with reverb drenched vocals reminding me of Wavves and some ad-lib screaming reminding me of Perfect Pussy. The fuzzy guitar lines do an excellent job tiptoeing between hard rock riffs and that surf ambient. “I’m running away, I’m running away,” sings Karolinka, the vocalist that plays the tambourine as well. You can feel that lackluster vibe with the vocals, the too-cool-to-be-cool feel, they pull off sounding like rockstars. I can picture them all in Ray-ban sunglasses in a very dim lit room staring down at the ground, shoe gazing the entire time with a heavy veil of cigarette smoke between them and the audience, being almost indifferent to everyone listening to them; who are now in utter ecstasy from just being close to these fellows. And every five minutes or so a different member of the band mutters, “thank you.” Nah, man, thank you.

Though “Beach” is a really catchy tune, the following track, “Sunny Town,” sounds almost like it’s just “Beach” playing over again but with a male vocalist, Majulo, in this case. “Hero” has a more noir feel to it which brings some Interpol to mind, as well as some Best Coast, good stuff.  “House of Moonsters” is one of my top picks off of Welcome Tomorrow. With that grave unintelligible mumbling over the vocal melody hinting at M.J’s Thriller, this song would be perfect as the credits roll at the end of A Cabin In The Woods, if you haven’t watched that movie, on your browser go to bookmarks>bookmark this page, click it, then get off your bee-hind, go to the nearest red box and rent it, watch it, write me a letter thanking me and then snail mail it with a bunch of candy in it to show your gratitude (bags must be unopened, I know what some of you weirdos do to candy in halloween, razorblades? Seriously?!). Now back to the stars of the show. “Shoes” is another track sung by the male vocalist, Majulo, but to be honest I think they should leave the vocal duties to Karolinka (the female vocalist, in case you didn’t pay attention at the beginning of my beloved article). His voice almost caresses the right notes but never quite grabs them, so a little hard on my ears, skip that track.

Now the LP is supposed to play through as all the tracks bleed into each other, but the drums counting in sometimes for eight bars or so breaks the flow, that should’ve been taken out in the production stage. In moments where all you need is ambient, you get the dry sticks smacking against each other (this article is rated PG, you sick-o’s), it keeps you grounded when the music is making you want to fly. “Tell Me Silently” sounds a lot like a Best Coast track again, but just like every pop song sounds like every other pop song, I guess a surf rock song reminding you of another surf rock song is almost inevitable.

I like this album a lot, it’s my kind of thing, and I sincerely think Garage Surf should be given a chance. I understand that lo-fi music fits a very specific niche, meaning it’s not music that anyone can ‘stumble upon’ and say, “wow, that song is really cool,” I think one has to be nurtured by their environment to love lo-fi music, one has to be excited and intrigued by that raw, underproduced sound. Listening to lo-fi music is an experience all on its own, it gives you a feeling of being there when they were just testing the track, making you feel closer to the artists as though they are confiding in you the early stages of their music, and it also gives you that feeling of being there when they played it live. It’s a bit strange to describe, but oh, how I love it. Garage Surf  embody these feelings I’m trying (and probably failing) to describe. They should be very popular, please support them, because I want to see them playing a live show and I don’t have a private jet to fly to Slovakia (I only fly in private jets, which is why I’ve never left this city. High standards, man, that’s what life is about). Also, It just came to me that this band is like a more pop, happy True Widow, which are also an awesome band, check ‘em, boys.