A theatrical extravaganza takes place as we delve into the inner working's of Layne's mind. Watch as she goes through her literal and metaphorical baggage with the help of her Insecurities. This show is not for the faint of heart.
The hip-hop trio Artifacts, comprised of MCs El da Sensai (William Elliot Williams), DJ Kaos (Virgshawn Perry), and Tame One (Rahem Brown), were described by Vibe's Christian Ex as, "decidedly geared toward the elusive chimera that is Hip-Hop Purist." Based in Newark, NJ, the trio is noted for verbal stamina, memorable rhymes, and eschewing traditional gangsta rap. The Source's Durwin Chow described the group's music as, "antagonistic freestyle barrages centered around infectiously simple yet assuaging choruses." In an interview with Rigoberto Morales of The Source, El da Sensai described why the band was content being labeled "underground" in the realm of hip-hop. He said, "If it wasn't for groups like us, Beatnuts, Common, Organized, or the Roots..There wouldn't be any underground, nothing secondary to run to..where else would you go? It's also a place where you start and start over."
El da Sensai and Tame One earned a reputation as outstanding graffiti artists in the 1980s by "bombing," which is replacing blighted walls with smooth graffiti murals. Starting in 1980, they "bombed" walls throughout Essex County, which encompasses Newark, Irvington, and East Orange, NJ. They called themselves the Boom Skwad, and later Da Bomb Squad, and attracted an avid group of graffiti-loving fans. Both El da Sensai and Tame One were raised in Newark, where Tame One's cousin, Redman, also enjoyed acclaim as a rap artist. They attended Arts High in Newark, and often spent weekend days there honing their artistic skills, playing sports, enjoying field trips, and learning to emcee, deejay, and to break-dance.
The Artifacts are one of the few hip-hop/rap groups who pay tribute to the mostly bygone era of graffiti art, along with rappers Masta Ace, Rakim, and KRS-One. Their debut album, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, was released in 1994 and featured numerous references to graffiti, particularly in the singles "Wrong Side of Da Tracks" and "Come On Wit Da Git Down". DJ Kaos joined the Artifacts shortly before the release of the band's second album.
The Artifacts typify the thoughtful, party-style hip-hop which was prevalent in the early 1990s, evoking the type of music found among groups like Brand Nubian, Pete Rock & C.L., Main Source, and Organized Confusion, Thrasher Magazine's Chris Nieratko wrote, "Between A Rock and a Hard Place broke all boundaries by delivering honest, accessible lyrics." Although the Artifacts didn't break into mainstream success with a radiofriendly hit, their debut release was generally considered by critics to be substantial, and woefully overlooked. The album's first single, "The Ultimate," was featured on the gold-selling High School High soundtrack. The Source called Between A Rock and a Hard Place, "the purest hip-hop album this year... the Artifacts are a refreshing blast of the lifeblood of hip-hop...." Between A Rock and a Hard Place fared well enough to allow the Artifacts to create their own sound and retain their artistic freedom, and when label mate Lil' Kim reached gold status, the Artifacts were roundly encouraged to release more material.
Ott has been messing about with sound boxes every day for as long as he can remember. Having spent the '90s flitting between his day-job as a freelance tudio engineer and long weekends under the stars at psychedelic trance parties, the obvious next step, as the millennium turned, was to create music of his own from the jumble of sounds which filled his head. After teaming up with Twisted Records, 2002 saw the release of the acclaimed Hallucinogen In Dub album, followed in short order by his first solo effort, Blumenkraft in 2003. 2008 saw the release of Skylon and in 2011 the album MIir was born.
A pattern has formed: every four years or so an album coalesces from the chaos, heads out into the world and takes on a life of its own. 2015 was one of those years. Financed by a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, Ott built a new studio, filled it with vintage sound-creation toys and locked the door, vowing not to emerge until a new record was born. The original 6 month deadline came and went but, a year after he started, the thing is finished.
August 11th, 2015 saw the release of Ott's latest studio album Fairchild.
Blasted grassland, the thin ribbon line of the freeway unspooling beneath wheels, skies stretched wide between mountaintop. It is dream music, foggy, atmospheric, the melodies you hear while you gazing out through fingerprint smeared windows into a constantly moving, metamorphing - landscape....
It makes sense then, that BRONCHO, born out of out a film project, its initial incarnation sparked when founder Ryan Lindsey was asked to create music, "to set to an early 80s punk film." "That's all I knew about it," he remembers, "they were looking for songs that touched this era. And songs kept coming to me and turned something on inside of me artistically." Lindsey found himself in the midst of prolific run of songs and he liked the idea "of starting out there and seeing where it could go."
What's evolved from those first tracks there has been a steady run of success, critical accolades and two full-length albums; 2011's Can't Get Past the Lips, 2014's Just Enough Hip to Be Woman. And beneath it all - the music has been constantly mutating and ceaselessly experimental. From that first inception as a soundtrack in 2010, BRONCHO has taken on a life of its' own - initial inspiration still there, but now pushing far beyond the stiff confines of score. And what began as an ode to ramshackle, high-energy early punk has become something deeper, weirder, and much more nuanced. The undercurrent of early 1980 punk is still there, but The Ramones pogo has been replaced more often by a kind of Love and Rockets inspired, honeyed, cotton-mouthed drift.
Double Vanity is Lindsey and band mates Ben King, Nathan Price and Penny Pitchlynn steadily moving ahead, transforming the raw angst of the first record into a sound decidedly more layered and complex. Tracks like "New Karma" or "Two Step" riff off the later explorations of punk, culling up refracted images of John Hughes prom nights, love songs echoing from a boom box held high. "Jenny Loves Jenae" and "Speed Demon" strut with an when 80s met 50s swagger, discord transformed into a jagged, frenetic pop. "Señora Borealis" is all bad boy sneer - sensual, moody, with a sly and predatory swagger. "I Know You" is simultaneously infectious and brooding, somehow both exalting and heartsick.
The result is a record that veers gleefully from BRONCHO's roots, moving from graffiti spray backrooms into a sleeker, plusher sound, a place bright with the polished gleam of chrome and bleached white sunlight. Close your eyes and what you feel is the raw wound pulse of adolescence, what you see behind your lids is suburban shopping mall wastelands, glazed eyes, dead grass, lips glossed in bubblegum pink. There is the burst chest thump of teenage longing, the smell of hairspray and cigarette. There is glow of neon and the glint of streetlight rolling across hood.
Double Vanity evokes a shared nostalgia, for the past and for the unknown future, as BRONCHO takes a turn off the wide freeways and into a world of intimate, intricate - but always universal - emotion.
Hailing from Manchester in the UK, acoustic-electronica trio GoGo Penguin are pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner. Drawing on a heady brew of influences from Brian Eno, John Cage, Massive Attack and Aphex Twin to Manchester’s grey rain-streaked urban streets, they create a brave new sound that is wholly their own.
Defined by skittering break-beats, powerful sub-bass, telepathicinterplay and a penchant for anthemic melody they create an emotionally rich palate for the listener that has seen them hailed as the most exciting new band to emerge from the UK in years.
Their album v2.0 (Gondwana Records) was named a Mercury Prize Album of the Year in 2014, alongside albums from Damon Albarn, Young Fathers and Jungle and has won them a legion of fans across the world.
In April 2015 they announced signing a three album deal with Blue Note Records and their Blue Note debut album Man Made Object which was released worldwide on 5th February 2016.
Proving that soul music can be exponentially greater than the sum of its parts, The Nth Power is on a mission to share the light. Formed during an impromptu late-night jam at Jazz Fest 2012 in New Orleans, the relentlessly funky and soulful band believes in music as a higher power -- tapping into an energy that is simultaneously sexy and spiritual, with songs that will inspire audiences to dance, groove, make love or just stand there with goose bumps.
The quintet hails from diverse musical backgrounds, races and creeds. Female powerhouse Nikki Glaspie was Beyonce's world-touring drummer for five years before she joined Ivan Neville's New Orleans funk outfit, Dumpstaphunk. Bassist Nate Edgar of Groovechild and John Brown's Body perfectly compliments Singer and Guitarist Nick Cassarino who came from the Jennifer Hartswick Band and toured with Big Daddy Kane. Next add West African Master-Percussionist, Weedie Braimah to the mix with his insurmountable world beat rhythms. Finally rounding off the ensemble is the newest and youngest member, Courtney J'Mell Smith who brings his soulful vocals and keyboard abilities to the table.
"Just know that when you hear this music, you're going to feel something -- you're going to connect with something higher than yourself," explains Braimah.
The Nth Power's 2013 independent EP, Basic Minimum Skills Test, showcases a first glimpse of the spark shared among the group, delivering gospel-style vocals with soul, jazz, funk and world-beat riffs in nearly mathematical fashion.
"It's my dream team," said Glaspie. "Each one of us is a songwriter, so when we get together, everything becomes that much stronger." Beyond raw skill, however, Glaspie cites a deep spiritual connection as the glue that binds them together. "Music is what brought us together, but it's the spiritual bond that makes us play so in touch with each other," she explained.
And at the core of their vibe is a deviously simple concept -- the healing power of love.
Following The Nth Power's 2013 debut, their inspirational sets floored audiences at music festivals like Electric Forest, Bear Creek, Catskill Chill and North Coast Music Festival. In just the last six months, the group has performed more than 50 shows in 21 states across the US, and made their second international appearance at Australia's Caloundra Music Festival on their 2014 "Fall In Love Tour."
Although the band members are based across the East Coast, they maintain New Orleans as their "spiritual home," and the celebratory essence of that city's music culture is audible in each performance.
Simply put, there is something pretty magical happening in this band, and they're only just getting started. "We're going as far as you can go on the planet Earth and playing music," explains Glaspie. "I don't know how many times we've said it -- we are so blessed."
Hidden Driver, the opening track of LVL UP ' s third album and Sub Pop debut Return to Love, never stops moving. What starts with unassuming guitars and vocals adds new lines, depths, and intensity, until its unrestrained, triumphant finish. God is peeking, softly speaking, repeats the chorus, working through the relationship between spirituality and creative inspiration, and introducing a band that is always pus hing further. LVL UP -- guitarists Mike Caridi and Dave Benton, bassist Nick Corbo, and drummer Greg Rutkin -- is a true collaboration, a band that takes the stylistically distinct ideas of four members and brings them together into something new.
Caridi, Benton, and Corbo write and sing equally, bringing their work to the group to be fully realized, resulting in an album built on different perspectives but a common drive. We have very different inspirations across the board, says Benton, noting his own admiration for the writer and documentarian Astra Taylor, Corbo ' s interest in the mystical and the occult, and Caridi's attention to personal storytelling. The music itself grows from a shared melodic and experimental sensibility, as well as a nod to iconic influences like Neutral Milk Hotel and Mount Eerie. But each songwriter has a different vision every step of the way, and there isn't always alignment -- it shouldn't make sense, but in the end it does. LVL UP was formed in 2011 at SUNY Purchase as a recording project between Caridi, Benton, and their friend Ben Smith, with the original intention of releasing a split cassette with Corbo's then-solo material.
They instead released that album, Space Brothers , as one band, and Rutkin joined shortly afterwards for the group ' s first show. Smith left the band for personal reasons just before the release of second album Hoodwink'd , a joint release on Caridi and Benton's label Double Double Whammy and Exploding in Sound. DDW also put out records from other artists in the tight-knit community that launched the band. There's not really a town associated with the school, so there's no bar or club that you could go play in easily, says Corbo. But there was a student center on campus that was all student run. That was a gr eat place to play, and also take care of a lot of practical issues like a place to put your stuff and a place to practice weekly. It was almost like an incubator situation for us and a lot of other bands -- it gave us a little bit of experience and confidence, so it wasn't as scary when we decided to go on tour for the first time.
Also part of that university community was Return to Love's producer Mike Ditrio, who mixed LVL UP 's previous records and was basically a fifth member of the band, says Corbo. He played a huge role in developing the sound, without butting in too much. He also navigated our personal dynamic really nicely. That sound is marked by reverb, harmony and tape distortion, with a keen balance of pop and experimentation. From the fast yet flowing lines of Blur to the all-consuming wall of guitar in The Closing Door, each song pushes and pulls in compelling, unexpected ways. There's deliberation as well as spontaneity -- the latter developed with the help of a song-a-day project, which pushed Caridi and Corbo to write and record full songs in a single day.
Giuda is a five-piece band from Rome, Italy. Their mix of anthemic '70s glam hooks and the punchy delivery of early UK punk, has stunned listeners all across the globe.
Specifically the early 70's pre-punk, glitter days when music was all about monstrous riffs, bousterous attitudes, high energy experimentation and fun. Giuda take that same glammy, proto-punk foundation and fuse it with the grimy, tattered muck of bands like Third World War, Eddie And The Hot Rods and Cock Sparrer to create a timeless arsenal of glam injected, pub rock classics.
At one point during the making of our new record I said to my bandmates, "hey, you only get one chance to make a first Dream Syndicate album in 30 years once in your life." It's a strange statement but one that's hard to refute (unless we end up making one at some point in our late 80's--which, well, you never know).
But that was the attitude we brought to the project. Either the record was going to be great, everything we hoped it would be, or we would just shelve and write it off, both financially and publicly, as a bold experiment that didn't work out.
We felt the odds were in our favor. The 50+ shows we'd played since we reunited back in 2012 had been among the best the band ever played, the perfect mix of agile improvisation, wild abandon and rock solid grooves that had always been the band's hallmark. The only 21st century addition to the band, guitarist Jason Victor who had played with me for years as a member of my solo backing band the Miracle 3, silenced any doubters within minutes of every show. He was the perfect and undisputed heir to the Syndicate axe-slingers who had come before--raw, mercurial, knowing and skilled.
And I wrote a bunch of songs to take down to Montrose Studios in Richmond, Virginia, a place I had worked often in recent years and felt was the perfect immersive retreat where we could conduct our laboratory of past, present and future. It's the kind of studio where you can grab a guitar, sandwich, cup of coffee or beer from your temporary home and stroll just a handful of steps to the studio, ready to work at almost any hour of the day. The Dream Syndicate, after all, was never really about a ticking clock, never a slave to time or space.
The magic? It was there. It was there with almost as much ease and grace as the first rehearsal we had three years before in Madrid despite Mark Walton, Dennis Duck and I having not played together for several decades. In a little less than a week we recorded much more than we needed, guided as co-producer and joined on keyboards by our old pal Chris Cacavas (who was on hand as full-time chef as well--love that guy!)
It was obvious that this would become a record, would not be tucked away as a curio to ooze out over the decades as a bootleg or maybe even forgotten. This was for real. This was going to be the fifth album by the Dream Syndicate, albeit with a long gap since the fourth.
What was started in Richmond, ably recorded by Adrian Olsen (with assistance from his dad, Montrose Studio founder Bruce Olsen) was moved back north to be mixed at Water Music in Hoboken, New Jersey by the legendary John Agnello, who has produced, engineered and/or mixed six of my previous albums. He was the perfect choice, a kindred soul in history, savvy, humor and boundless enthusiasm. The cherry on top was the peerless mastering skills of Greg Calbi, another legend and another regular collaborator of mine.