Category: New Music

New music this week: Die Antwoord, Santigold and Miike Snow

New music this week: Die Antwoord, Santigold and Miike Snow

  Die Antwoord "I Fink U Freeky" by Press Here

When Die Antwoord played Coachella in 2010, the South African duo of Ninja and Yo-landi Vi$$er -- a gyrating, potty-mouthed sprite -- shocked, confused and delighted the crowd, already hyped to their tricks via a rabid Internet following. Nearly two years later, they've built on -- or exhausted -- their project, which is somewhere between performance art, hip-hop worship and massive cultural joke. Their second album, "Ten$ion" is due Feb. 7; "I Fink U Freeky" is the record's first single, which kicks off with Yo-landi's warm feelings about playboys, bad boys, et al. It's got some appealing synth grinds -- the digital equivalent of vocal fry -- from DJ Hi-Tek but the biggest problem with this song is that there's not nearly enough talk about ninjas. "I think you're freaky and I like you a lot?" OK, but you still haven't mentioned ninjas. Moving on...

In 2008, after various stints in the music industry as a songwriter and fronting her inventive rock band Stiffed, Santigold released a self-titled debut album that slowly but surely turned into a sleeper hit, fusing together dancehall, punk and new wave. She now returns with her first single from her forthcoming "Master of My Make Believe," recorded partially in Jamaica and due out this spring. Over a clattering stomp from Portugal's Buraka Som Sistema (co-producing with frequent M.I.A. collaborator Switch), "Big Mouth" is a high-energy diss -- and if the video's animation by Cody Critcheloe is any indication, at least a little bit of its ire is directed at starlets Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Some have complained that this sounds too much like M.I.A., which is a fair critique, though hopefully the rest of "Make Believe" takes its own tack.

Paddling Out by miikesnow

Despite the name, Miike Snow is not one man with a fondness for vowels but a trio from Sweden that made its official debut in 2009. The synth group is anchored by the producing team of Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, also known as Bloodshy and Avant, who made their names long before being a performing group; they have worked with Madonna, Kelis, Kylie Minogue and on one of the best Britney tracks from her pre-breakdown years, the elegantly menacing "Toxic." With the fantastic "Paddling Out," one of the singles released Thursday from their follow-up "Happy to You" due in late March, Miike Snow has taken the same "Toxic" qualities and injected it with a happy house racing pulse, giddy but still polished. Picture Grace Kelly losing control at a glittering Euro rave and you're somewhere close to the smart charms of this addictive song.

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First take: Bruce Springsteen's patriotic 'We Take Care of Our Own'

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo: Die Antwoord posing on the streets of Los Angeles. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Pop & Hiss premiere: Big Gigantic's 'Nocturnal'

Pop & Hiss Premiere: Big Gigantic's 'Nocturnal'

Some would say a band name like Big Gigantic comes with some oversized expectations. But with their latest record, the high-altitude club bangers from Boulder, Colo., are proving worthy of the moniker. Forged from a partnership between saxophonist/producer Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken, Big Gigantic’s combination of dub, jazz and glossy club jams gives a refreshing face to the improv style of electro known as "jamtronica" that's been roaming the outdoor festival circuit.

Over the past year, Lalli and Salken’s live beats and squealing, melodic brass have earned them a year’s worth of tours and crazy festival gigs, including their recent U.S. run with Bassnectar and Pretty Lights.

Just two days after finishing its sophomore full-length "Nocturnal" (out Jan. 11), the duo premieres the album’s soulful, bass-rattling title track on Pop & Hiss.

The sound and the style of "Nocturnal" is emblematic of the group’s focus on heavy-handed, low-end, epic hip-hop production and horn work inspired by Herbie Hancock.

"This album, and this song in particular, is definitely an attempt to capture how we’ve evolved as a live act over the last year," said Lalli, who records and produces all of the music. Onstage, you can typically find Lalli perched over a laptop with saxophone in hand as he fuses his studio made beats with the visceral pounding of Salken’s live drums.

"Jeremy and my tastes are similar in a lot of different ways, and a lot of the drums I make on the computer are really inspired by his drumming,” said Lalli, former member of Colorado jam band the Motet. "I think a lot about how we play live, and then I come in the studio and try to transfer that over all those emotions when I  get ready to record."

Though past releases like their 2010 album "A Place Behind the Moon" favored drum-heavy hip-hop, their latest work allows additional synth and string arrangements, which flesh out their sound. As for “Nocturnal,” Lalli says he was inspired by those who take the concept of night-life revelry seriously.

“I feel like it’s just about a group of people just going out together and just live it up. Any club you go to, you can always spot that group of people in the room just living for the moment and going crazy.”

Big Gigantic, "Nocturnal"

BG-NOC by kwall

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Pop & Hiss premiere: Umphrey's McGee's new song 'Booth Love'

-- Nate Jackson

Photo: Big Gigantic is Dominic Lalli, left, and Jeremy Salken. Credti: Steve Conry

 

Pop & Hiss Exclusive: DJ Cam's 'Fall Forward Mix'

Pop & Hiss Exclusive: DJ Cam's 'Fall Forward Mix'

Times are changing for DJ Cam. The artist, who has recently relocated from Paris to Los Angeles, released his new record "Seven" on Oct. 24 via Inflammable/K7 Records. Add in the fall time change we're all adopting this Sunday at 2 a.m., and there's plenty of inspiration behind his latest "Fall Forward Mix."

Released exclusively to Pop & Hiss, the 15-track offering is a hand picked set of songs from his new album, as well as cobbling of exclusive remixes from friends and longtime collaborators like Massive Attack, Mount Kimbie and Julio Bashmore. 

The overall mood of the mix is an extension of the full-length "Seven" -- a wandering, atmospheric journey through smooth, beat-driven soundscapes with a few haunting jazz detours. The end result combines the contemplative candor of a headphone record with the nightlife pulse of the decadent, Parisian dance floor. It's a little hard to pin down. Kind of like the guy who made it.

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Pop & Hiss premiere: Umphrey's McGee's new song 'Booth Love'

Pop & Hiss premiere: Umphrey's McGee's "Booth Love"

Though they’ve built much of their reputation on being a freewheeling pack of multidisciplined jam artists, the Chicago-based six-piece Umphrey’s McGee delivered a deft change of pace this week, days before the release of their forthcoming album, “Death by Stereo.” There are a lot of ways to describe  their new song  “Booth Love” in the context of their recent funk-driven bent. A mélange of thick bass, ghostly synth and succinct soul vocals recalls a bit of disco-era Marvin Gaye, a hint of Radiohead and what keyboardist Joel Cummins calls “Hall and Oates for the 21st century.”

The album, slated for a Sept. 13 release on Dave Matthews' ATO records, is an exercise in rhythm that embraces a harder, experimental rock edge with some fat-bottom funk.

“There’s a dance element and a really progressive element. The idea is that you’re never quite sure what’s gonna happen next," Cummins said. "There’s a deep pocket funk side and a jam band side.”

The idea for the song, Cummins said, came from guitarist-vocalist Jake Cinninger and sees Cummins employing a lot more Rhodes and Mini Moog organs, a slightly different flavor for someone who has depended on his trusty Hammond B3 on past albums. He didn't turn it on once for "Death by Stereo."

“For this album, I’ve been using a lot more Wurlitzer and '80s polysynth sounds to capture dancier feels on some of our songs,” Cummins explained.  Below is the premiere of “Booth Love.”  

UM-BL by kwall

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Live review: Phish at Hollywood Bowl

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-- Nate Jackson 

Photo: Umphrey's McGee members, left to right, Andy Farag, Jake Cinninger, Joel Cummins, Brendan Bayliss, Kris Myers and Ryan Stasik

Credit: Chad Smith

Paul McCartney, Lou Reed, She & Him and more offer a fresh spin on Buddy Holly

Top artists like Paul McCartney, Lou Reed and Florence + the Machine pay tribute to the rock ’n’ roll legend on new album ‘Rave On Buddy Holly.’

Buddy holly live

The pop music world has no shortage of Buddy Holly fans, a fact that’s evident from the roster of artists on a new star-studded tribute album being released Tuesday, “Rave On Buddy Holly.” Leading the list is Paul McCartney, the ex-Beatle who’s joined on the collection by a cross-generational group of musicians including Cee Lo Green, Nick Lowe, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, She & Him, the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, the Black Keys, Florence + the Machine and several more.

Veteran British rocker Lowe thinks the very notion of fandom figures strongly into Holly’s original appeal as well as to the ongoing popularity of the music he left behind, from his first hit in 1957, “Peggy Sue,” until his death at 22 in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959 — an event Don McLean called “the day the music died” in his 1972 hit “American Pie.”

“In my mind, he was the first fan of rock ’n’ roll to make it big,” said Lowe, who chose one of Holly’s more obscure tunes, “Changing All Those Changes,” for the album that is being released in anticipation of what would have been Holly’s 75th birthday on Sept. 7.

“There’s that famous picture of him standing in a record shop to get an autograph of Elvis Presley,” Lowe said, noting that he and his peers could more easily identify with Holly than with larger-than-life figures such as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. “Even though he was hot on the heels of those first people like Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, he was a fan, and that’s why I dug him as well.”

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New Eminem/Royce song; Detox 'almost finished'

Dre News trickles out of Dr. Dre's Aftermath compound in sporadic, unreliable bursts, but Friday yielded a rare little dispatch. To refresh your memory, "Detox" has been "almost done" for a decade, and half of its original collaborators are probably planning their IRA's, and yet no release date been set. That's right, no release date. Still. You see where I'm going with this.

Just last week, Snoop Dogg sniped at Dr. Dre for forgoing loose studio exuberance for tightly controlled perfectionism. But Friday, Kendrick Lamar, who many assume will be filling Snoop's role on the original "Chronic" (i.e., fiery young upstart with star potential) has confirmed that he has been confirmed on several songs on Dre's long-delayed third solo record. That is, if the album ever sees the light of day.

So as if to allay the massive skepticism that Dre's "Chinese Detoxcracy" has accrued over the last three presidencies, DJ Khalil announced that "Dre's in the final stretch of recording the LP."

"Dre's album is definitely the most important thing right now, because he is definitely in the final stretch," Khalil told Billboard. "He has the record going, but I'm sure he thinks there are pieces missing still. Until he finds those pieces, maybe he's not comfortable putting it out yet... It's definitely a West Coast sound -- more futuristic West Coast sound -- at least from what I've turned in," he says. "I don't know what he's keeping, though."

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Charlie Sheen's 'Winning' single

Charlie sheen rap If Charlie Sheen's omnipresent catch word, "Winning," hasn't already reached pop culture overkill (repeated endlessly during TV interviews, radio spots, emblazoned on T-shirts, tweeted, Facebooked and becoming the basis for a multistate tour), he's got one more for you.

"Winning" (the song) hits the airwaves Tuesday. And while you'd be forgiven a reflex eye roll, the tune, penned and performed by Snoop Dogg with music by former Korn guitarist Rob Patterson, is no joke.

"Look, it's a good song," Patterson said, hours after wrapping up his final My Violent Torpedo of Truth tour performance alongside his longtime pal Sheen. "But I honestly don't want people to take it seriously. It's meant to be fun and entertaining."

Sheen put it a little more bluntly on his Twitter page.

"Get ready to rock the Sheenius," he said of the song.

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Hey, Chop Shop, you can thank us later: Laura Jansen's 'Single Girls'

Hey, music supervisors, here's the track for you to prominently place in the next wistful goodbye scene for a winsome teen drama -- the kind where all the girls have shiny hair and all the dudes stutter charmingly when they tell one of the shiny-haired girls that they are, like, in total love with her. For a while, they date in cute montage form but eventually, they get ripped apart because her Dad is an evil capitalist (or some other variation from the disastrous teen love handbook, well-mined by John Hughes and the WB). Then the stuttering guy goes off and dates another girl in an attempt to forget about his one true love -- and the shiny-haired girl gets angry and tries to move on too. Cue Laura Jansen's "Single Girls" -- as well as four more seasons of them circling each other like lover sharks.

Anchored by little more than piano and Jansen's nimble slip of a voice, "Single Girls" evocatively captures the first delicate steps into the unknown of singlehood, the time when getting a drink with the guy down the hall feels thrilling and illicit and getting flowered girlie sheets for your bed feels like a defiant victory.... yet a certain someone keeps returning to mind.

The Hotel Cafe regular and Dutch native will be releasing her debut, "Bells," in the U.S. on March 22, but it's already scored plenty of cold nights in the Netherlands, where "Bells" has gone platinum, aided in part by her cover of Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody." Much of the album was inspired by the end of a rocky relationship, go figure, as well as Jansen's peripatetic teenage years moving around Europe and the U.S.

The video, posted above, features Jansen in a succession of lovely dresses as she works her way through the highs and lows, the concessions and confessions of "Single Girls." It's not as sassy as Beyonce's "Single Ladies" but it's getting there, one considered step at a time.

--Margaret Wappler

The Civil Wars: Marching into the unknown

 

Civilwars
When John Paul White and Joy Williams perform one of the gentle, yearning songs they’ve recorded as the Civil Wars, they lean in toward each other, as if to get the weave of their harmonies just right. Williams might lift a hand to push back a strand of White’s shoulder-length hair. Their musical connection is seriously joyful; it carries them out of themselves and into a space that glows.

White and Williams are a couple onstage only; in conversation, they’re more like teasing siblings than sweethearts, giving each other witty little verbal pinches as they discuss their mounting success. "Barton Hollow," the duo’s debut album on its own Sensibility Music label, has topped the iTunes charts for the last three weeks, and its physical release debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard Top 200.

An appearance on  "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and a coveted closing-montage spot on an episode of  "Grey’s Anatomy" have helped this unknown act vault to national attention. Yet no one, least of all the sparkly, serious Williams and the graceful, amiable White, expected the Civil Wars to start out this strong.

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Hymn for Her duo relies on cigar box guitars, Airstream trailer and vintage slides

Hymn For Her-Jeff Fusco 
There’s a raw, almost primitive electricity that sizzles off “Lucy & Wayne and the Amairican Stream,” the new album from Philadelphia duo Hymn for Her.  The husband-wife team, who use the stage names Wayne Waxing and Lucy Tight, have drawn comparisons to the White Stripes for their powerfully stripped-down sound, but there’s a more rural, old-school feeling to the music they create together.

A big part of their sound comes from the three-string cigar-box guitar that Lucy plays, a throwback to the kind of instrument many old blues players built for themselves because they couldn’t afford a bona fide guitar.

Hymn for Her will have it along when the duo reach Southern California on their current tour for stops Friday at Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles and the Viento y Agua coffeehouse in Long Beach.  Tight explained by phone on the way to a show earlier this week in Lubbock, Texas, that the instrument she’s come to adore came to her through a chain of events worthy of a “Twilight Zone”-meets-“Jackass” episode.

Previously, she and Waxing played in a trio called the MPE band with a third musician known as EJ. While staying in Memphis with their friend, cigar box guitar make Johnny Lowe, EJ was helping clean up his property after a big storm ripped through the area when a chainsaw he was using to clear some downed trees bucked and struck him in the head. Lowe gave the group one of his Lowebow guitars as an apology gift. After leaving it in a closet for several months, unsure what to do with it, she and Waxing decided it was worth exploring.

(For the Record: An earlier version of this post stated that the chainsaw accident put EJ out of commission as a musician. He suffered minor injuries but remains active in his music career.)

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