April 1, 2014
by Olivia Lima
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Circa Waves

Circa Waves is a new, energetic four-piece band. They’ve been playing together for less than a year, but the few songs posted on their SoundCloud page show great promise. Their sound is fast, rocking and fun. If you would like to see me spontaneously burst out dancing, play any of their songs and I’ll be on my feet. Some commenting critics claim that their songs sound like The Strokes during their Is This It era. I hear the similarities, but I’m not complaining. The Strokes don’t even sound like The Strokes anymore, so maybe I need someone to fill that void. In any case, the lead singer Kieran Shundall sounds like he’s in a better mood than Julian Casablancas ever was, and I’m a fan of joyful jams. In short, the members of Circa Waves are fresh-faced and excited, and it comes across in their music. It’s got a bounce that many bands grow out of, and I love it.

Check out their track Stuck In My Teeth or this live version of Young Chasers.

 

March 17, 2014
by Charles Gaillard
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KOOL & KASS / COKE BOYS 5

One of my favorite moments on Coke Boys 5, the latest collaborative project from KOOL A.D. and Kassa Overall, comes on their “U.O.E.N.O.” remix.  “Feel like all the Michaels/Take your pick, Jackson, Jordan, Tyson,” KOOL A.D. raps (quoting, of course, Jay-Z’s famous line from Watch The Throne) before adding, almost as an afterthought, “…Myers.”  Which Michael Myers, the listener might wonder, is he referring to?  The goofy satirist behind Austin Powers,  or the knife-wielding killer from the Halloween franchise?  I think it’s both.  Coke Boys 5 a lighthearted project, but the humor goes hand in hand with razor-sharp lyricism.

There’s a heavy element of satire in Coke Boys 5: the tape plays off of a number of hip-hop tropes, turning them against themselves.  DJ tags pepper the tracks with absurd frequency; contradictory exhortations of “D-D-D-DJ Khaled,” “Trap-a-holics,” “Maybach music,” and “Damn, son, where’d you find this?” are chopped up and pitted against one another, reduced (or elevated?) to compositional elements, before being dismissed with a laugh as a verse begins.  More endearing is the offhandedness with which KOOL A.D. boasts of being “the best rapper in the world,” his casual delivery either subverting or underscoring (I’m not sure which) the grandiosity of his claim.

I’m less familiar with Kassa Overall than I am with KOOL A.D. (I know the former only through his collaborations with the latter) but both deliver strong performances on Coke Boys 5. I can’t get enough of KOOL A.D.’s style: he has a chilled-out, freewheeling, hyphy-tinged flow that slides in and out of regular speech (sometimes it’s hard to tell when pre-verse banter ends and the real verse begins).   But the hyper-associativity and lyrical astuteness present on KOOL A.D.’s solo efforts is here in full force.  Listening to the beginning of his verse on “Started from the Bottom” is like watching a car auto-shift into high gear: he starts off slow (“Flying around in an airplane, drinking a drink in an airplane/Watching TV in an airplane/Taking a nap in an airplane…”) but zooms off as soon as he gets traction, and pretty soon he’s leaving us with passages like “Playing a game of Tetris/It’s effortless, every clever little effervescent treasure that I bless you with.”  For his part, Kassa’s sedate delivery tempers KOOL A.D.’s elastic energy with more conventional, but nonetheless proficient, rhyming.

If you couldn’t tell, I find Kassa to be the less impressive of the two; his verses are the one of the weaker points of the tape.  And the overuse of DJ tags can be jarring.  But the lively irreverence and creativity on display here make Coke Boys 5 well worth the listen.

You can download the mixtape for free at the KOOL & KASS bandcamp; check out their “U.O.E.N.O” remix below.

March 9, 2014
by Charles Gaillard
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Magic Man / Paris

The sun is shining, the snow is melting: could spring finally be on its way?  Here’s hoping!  In any case, it’s a good day to stroll around listening to this catchy tune by Magic Man.  I just found out about these guys, but they came out with an EP called “You Are Here” towards the end of last year and their full-length debut is (apparently) forthcoming.

March 1, 2014
by Olivia Lima
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Ignition (Remix) Remix

There’s something about R. Kelly’s Ignition Remix that makes it a great song to remix. Maybe upon seeing the name, people just want to remix the song. Maybe it’s the song’s slow pace that just begs to be sped up. In any case, I know four versions of Ignition Remix, and I enjoy them all. So, here is my ranking of Ignition Remix remixes.

4. The Hood Internet remix with Major Lazer. This is the last version of the song I heard, and it inspired me to write this article. However, it is not my favorite. It’s a good remix, but having heard what The Hood Internet can do (see #1), I just wasn’t hooked.

3. The original song. It’s a smooth, chill jam. The first time I heard this song, I watched my friend make a horn beeping motion, but R. Kelly never said beep beep. I still tell that story to some people.

2. Jimmy Fallon barbershop quartet. The Ragtime Gals do wonders for this song. I didn’t know I wanted to hear Ignition remix in four-part harmony, but then I did, and there’s no going back.

1. The Hood Internet remix with Phoenix. I never really liked remixes until I heard this song. It’s a genius combination and a great jam to dance to. I want this song to play whenever I walk into a room full of people.

February 21, 2014
by Rahul Nath
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New Artist: Pegase

Short post this week: Check out Pegase, a French indie group with mellow hits in the making. Here’s a track off of their self-titled debut album, Pegase, called “Out Of Range.”

February 16, 2014
by Rahul Nath
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Brooding

It’s 12:51am on a Saturday night (Sunday morning?) and I’m brooding. Here I lay, trapped in the confines of the cold, cadaverous cavern commonly called the computer science lab (thank you thesaurus.com), and without new music. It’s been at least three hours since I gave up on work – so at least three and a half since I got here. Snapchatting has gotten old, selling my Flappy Bird-enabled iPhone has reached a dead end, and my job outlook is looking even bleaker than it was 3.5 hours ago. And so I turn to my extracurricular duties.

You see, one of my charges as a dude on WCFM is reviewing CDs of up-and-coming artists; more often than not, I end up drawing the short-straws. But by divine intervention or something I was granted salvation from my brooding – an artist that I actually kind-of like: BROODS, the hottest thing to come out of New Zealand since “The Lord of the Rings” Movie Trilogy (sorry, Lorde, but you’re underage and I’m already head-over-heels with my current Linux distribution, Ubuntu 13.10).

What's a BROODS you ask? An electro-pop duo straight outta Auckland packing a serious vocal punch, sort of like London Grammar but with a soothing soprano lead like Imogen Heap and a CHVRCHES-esque electronic feel. Their producer, Joel Little, is responsible for another New Zealand-based hit song and with an ear like his, I don’t think you’ll be straining yours any time soon. Check out their single, “Bridges” below and a few other songs off of their EP. Soon enough, you’ll stop brooding and get out of the CS lab too.

(Okay, so I know this link doesn’t work. But it looks cool, AMIRITE? If you’re really interested, check this out.)