I’m not exactly sure if this makes him the best Tea Party Congressman ever, or the worst, but Florida’s Trey Radal has got some pretty good taste in music. From Eric B to Daft Punk and Public Enemy, the conservative lawmaker, and believer in Prosperity, Liberty, and Integrity, seems like the kind of chill bro you could kick back and burn with, as long as the discussion didn’t stray too far from music. His affinity for hip hop has been making the rounds lately, but Esquire obtained some of his original productions today, and, well, it could be a lot worse. He explains the inspiration behind his beats, like his remix of Public Enemy, which you can hear, along with a few others, here.
“I philosophically differ on a whole lot from Chuck D — and that would be an understatement — but there’s no question, I believe in absorbing as much culture as possible in life. “Bring the Noise” is one of the songs that just hopped out in the ’80s, and it just blew me away as a kid. It’s way faster than a typical 85 BPM, and it’s about the area where you can begin to evolve into a sound that is a much more up-tempo house sound, so I was able to start working in the beats, the synths, and samples into it. [The "I ain't waiting for shit" line at the end of the looped "They gonna have to wait" bridge] is just a sample from some TV show.”
All that said, keep in mind that just because someone has pretty good taste music does not mean they’re also not a deranged libertarian whacko. Not saying that necessarily applies to Radel, just pointing out the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Look, we’ve all been there, washing blood off of our hands in a creepy bathroom, only to be chased through the forest by an unseen menace. Classic coming of age story. It’s the predicament at the heart of this new video “Go Ask Your Mother” from the Oakland-based band Legs’ LP Pass the Ringo on Loglady Records. The band is led by Jeffrey Harland and New Zealand native Matt Bullimore, who, as you do, met while trading Weezer bootlegs in a Safeway parking lot. The creepy vibe of the clip is in stark contrast to the sunny, fuzz-wave pop of the track, which skips along on rush of organ and crunchy guitar exuberance.
We asked Harland to explain the concept behind the video
“The video stars Landon Bates, he’s a friend and plays in a rad local band called Disappearing People,” he explained. He also makes a really believable murderer, so, someone look into that.
“The concept was that Landon would play a character who is both the victim and the aggressor of some incident off screen, or perhaps just in his mind. Something like a psychological thriller where the killer turns out to be the last person you’d expect. Landon’s last name is Bates by the way.”
“The first line I wrote for that song was the last part ‘go ask your mother if she loves you now’, and it seemed like such a weird, mean, passive-agressive line to tell someone. Like, if you really hated someone, that would be a cruel thing to say.”
The thing about mothers though, is they tend to forgive you for anything you do, right? Almost anything.
“My lyrics are generally autobiographical but also stream of consciousness in that I’ll write everything down and keep what works for a particular song. So, if anything, the songs about taunting myself, dissing my shortcomings, and egging me on to ask a pretty scary question. In that way, the video works to conjure up the bedroom loneliness I felt of writing a song about whether or not my mom would still love me after I had done something awful.”
Katy Goodman, of the Vivian Girls and La Sera, did an internet, and we saw it, and under the terms of our content-creator contract and blog crush, we are legally compelled to share it with you here. Here it is. Good job everyone. Her friend did it too. That friend is Greta Morgan of the Hush Sound. Here’s what they wrote about it on their Bandy Camps (via COS):
While hiking past the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, friends Katy Goodman and Greta Morgan were struck with the idea to record a song together: A song about physics and love, science and romance, space and time. Have you ever felt the lovesick pain of falling for someone from a different dimension? We have too.
The next morning, the girls recorded “Space Time” in Greta’s tiny rehearsal space in Glassell Park. While “Space Time” may not be a hit in this dimension yet, the song is topping charts in many others. The girls have plans to tour the Andromeda Galaxy this summer, appear in Bode’s Galaxy this Fall, and make an appearance at the Omega-Palooza Festival to break up the 2.9 million light-year long trip home.
Until then, they will continue enjoying life in this space-time, where Katy is writing the next La Sera album and Greta is about to embark on a tour with The Hush Sound.
Wonder sometimes what that block of text says.
!!!, forerunners in both the electro-disco-punk and the SEO-band-name-bedeviling explosions of the turn of the millennium, are back with a new album, THR!!!ER, which, you will likely not be surprised to hear, is chock-full (chk-full more like) of funk grooves and throwback disco party jams, like this one “One Girl/One Boy”, which you can watch below.
The song features vocals from Sonia Moore, who will not be on tour with the band, sadly. But you know what they say: when god closes one guest vocalist tour spot in the van, he opens a guest vocalist fan contest in the venue. For real, you can apply to sing with the band on stage. Weird! They explain more:
Upload a youtube video of you singing along or send an mp3 to email@example.com. No big deal, just you in front of the mirror singing into the hairbrush style will do. We’ll sift through the entries and holler at you if you’ve got what it takes. You’ll of course be judged on your vocal ability, but dance moves and star quality definitely help. If anything, it’s a free ticket for you and your bff for the show. No flakes, no egos, no drug problems.
PRO CHOPS A MUST. Working van probably not necessary.
Anyway, music is lame, so let’s look at what really matters in the video, the fashion.
Pictured here is a pair of shoes. What kind of shoes? Hard to say.
Do you have nice legs? Too bad, put those stems away, fellas. No shorts on stage. Rock 101. Doesn’t matter if it’s 120 degrees in the club, you’re suffering for your fashion once again this year.
Scarves are a popular fashion accessory for the ladies this and the last few years. I do not care for this particular trend, but keep in mind I’m a pretty horrendously unfashionable old man.
Even the scarfiest ladies agree, wearing one while riding your novelty bicycle around town is dangerous. This is both a fashion and a health tip. Best life, best you.
People associate autumn with cozy feelings and fond memories of time gone by, such as youthful school exploits. Whenever possible try to project a water-color-like foliage onto your face so people will be tricked into liking you.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, the old expression goes—the old, weird, sexist expression. But that was coined way before pop music was invented, so they kind of jumped the gun there. Hell, which doesn’t exist, but for the purposes of this conceit we’ll allow it, actually hath no fury like a bandmate scorned. One of our favorites in the genre of fuck you band breakup tracks is John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep”, and since Destiny’s Child is the Beatles of the millennium, this new track “Dirty Laundry”, from Kelly Rowland, aka not-Beyonce, is angling for its place in the UMAD-wave pantheon.
“It was very emotional. It took me days to record,” Rowland tells Billboard. “I had to get past being so upset and actually sing the song, not sob through it. I always hope that my music can inspire someone, the same way other artists inspire me. [Producer] Dream said, ‘I want to write you a record so that people will know exactly who you are, underneath it all.’”
The track kicks off with some thoughts on the post-Destiny period in Rowland’s life. “When my sister was on stage killing it like a mother fucker I was in a rage feeling it like a motherfucker,” she sings. “Post ‘Survivor’, she on fire, who wanna hear my bullshit?”
Um, everyone probably? Let’s hear it right now, in fact. Let it all out. “Let’s do this dirty laundry,” she sings, over a sultry, slowed-down groove. Sounds like a chore, but, like most house-cleaning duties, we tend to feel a lot better once we get it out of the way. Except cleaning the toilet, that shit is gross.
Solange is our queen and she can do no wrong, except, it seems, line up guests verses from rappers on her remixes. This new take on “Looks Good With Trouble” from last year’s True taps Kendrick Lamar to spit a few bars over the light-as-air production and echoing submarine beats, and he mostly jars up against the song’s laid back romance vibe, although the lyrics are switched on right: “Miss Chatty, I’m like one message from calling a taxi. Exactly. I’ll catch a cold but long as you match me, it’s actually a troublesome world when you think about, but admit it, we both can look good with it as long as you’re the stylist.” Actually, in comparison, almost everyone looks bad next to Solange, so I guess we can’t really fault him here.
“Latch”, the breakthrough track from UK producer duo Disclosure wasn’t just one of 2012′s most hyped dance tracks, it was also one of the most romantic. Credit that to guest Sam Smith’s vocal, an alternatingly quivering falsetto and soulful, husky croon that sold the drama of the track’s electronic throb. Smith has released a stripped down acoustic version of the song, voice and piano, that repurposes the heartbreaking melody and lyrics for the morning after. “Now I’ve got you in my space, I won’t let go of you,” he sings. “Got you shackled in my embrace, I’m latching onto you.”
Next week, dance music maestros Daft Punk will release their terribly anticipated new album Random Access Memories [Ed. note. The album has appeared to leak early]. A series of videos preceding the album’s release highlighted the musicians they worked with on the project, from contemporaries like Chilly Gonzales to electronic music elder statespeople like Giorgio Moroder. Most notably, they’re working with Paul Williams, a songwriter who composed, among other things, “The Rainbow Connection,” and their first single (and the only music we’ve heard so far) “Get Lucky” used not only new vocals from Pharrell Williams but newly-recorded rhythm guitar from Chic guitarist Nile Rogers. Producing stuff from scratch like this would seem to be a break from their previous way of putting together songs, which relied heavily on samples. (A fantastically annotated list can be found at Spin.) If so, a strange thing is happening: Daft Punk is reenacting in 2013 the move from samples to new studio creations that happened in hip-hop after the legal crackdown on sample use.
Most early rap records were made by having DJs loop the instrumental sections from disco records and recording MCs’ vocals over them. Almost every instrumental element of “Rapper’s Delight,” for instance, is from Chic’s “Good Times.” Over the first decade of the genre’s existence, rap producers would use the newly available technologies of samplers and mixers to create masterpieces like Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet, weaving together laundry lists of samples into seamless new creations. What they usually wouldn’t do, though, is “clear” the samples, which is another way of saying that they would neither ask nor compensate the people who originally recorded the sounds. (Chic, for instance, had to sue to get credit on “Rapper’s Delight.”) Often this was done by “flipping” or manipulating the samples so that it was harder to tell where they came from, but this wasn’t always successful. Then a series of legal cases changed all that. Clearing samples became both necessary and very expensive.
But a loophole in the law provided a way around these issues for musicians with deep enough pockets. While copyright law allowed the people who owned the recordings of songs to charge whatever they wanted for a sample, there are set rates that the people who wrote the songs can charge. Thus, when making The Chronic, Dr. Dre would identify samples he wanted to use and then hire studio musicians to replay the section of music he needed; then, he could do whatever he wanted to that original recording and only have to pay the songwriters. In essence, he could sample Parliament Funkadelic without paying their full rates, by using live musicians.
Are Daft Punk doing a similar thing on Random Access Memories? Their landmark albums Homework and Discovery are built on samples, especially the big singles. The central loop on “One More Time,” for instance, is a few notes from Eddie Johns’ “More Spell on You” (check 2:23) repeated and rearranged — though the band still prefers not to admit Johns’ song as their source. But they did amazing things with these samples, even when the chunks they lifted were more sizable. The first four bars from Edwin Birdsong’s “Cola Bottle Baby” start off “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” and recur throughout the song, but that’s not what makes the song great. “Harder” is one of the greatest songs of the last twenty years because of the vocoder melody Daft Punk adds (that’s what Kanye sampled for “Stronger,” after all) and which eventually overtakes the Birdsong loop as the song develops. And even when the primary instrumental part of the song comes from a sample, Daft Punk often made them into entirely new things. “Digital Love” is essentially a series of layers on top of the beginning of George Duke’s “I Love You More” but the end result far surpasses the source.
They started to get into trouble, though, on 2005′s Human After All. The lead single “Robot Rock” didn’t just sample Shearwater’s “Release the Beast” — it did little other than loop it, with very minimal changes, for the length of a pop song. The album’s disappointing performance may have been a wake-up call that they had reached the productive limit of sampling as a creative strategy. Though none but the elect have heard the full album, Daft Punk’s move to collaborations with the people who made many of those samples in the first place, like Williams and Chic’s Rogers, signals that they’re trying something new.
It worked pretty well for rap. Though sampling is still used widely (especially once “unofficial” free mixtapes, which don’t need to clear their samples, became a major venue), and copyright law continues to be a contentious issue in music, producers like Timbaland have come up with some pretty incredible beats when starting from scratch. With Daft Punk, the switch didn’t come as a legal requirement or economic necessity, but as a restraint they may have imposed on themselves. If so, it’s another amazing demonstration of how creativity relies just on much on limitations as it does on freedom. Daft Punk have echoed rap’s history as a way of further developing their own.
Commander Chris Hadfield needs to check his space privilege, stat. Only a few people ever get to hang out in space, and he’s been using his time to gift the Internet with a few videos showing how absolutely cool it is. First, there was an explanation of how tears work in a zero gravity setting; now, he’s recorded a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in which he floats around the International Space Station, giving extra meaning to the 1969 classic because it’s a song about going to space, and he is hanging out in space, and isn’t that just cool?
My first instinct was “gee whiz, do those special effects look fake,” which is swiftly followed by “well, he is literally in space.” CGI has ruined so much. There’s tons of lens flare, though; maybe J.J. Abrams was right? The best moment is definitely when he sings “I’m floating in a most peculiar way” while literally floating; really, the entire thing is just a process of marveling at all the things he is literally doing. Space!
Silence Yourself, the excellent debut album from the UK post-punk band Savages, came out last week, and if you’re the kind of person who argues about music on the internet, you’ve either seen or fired off some bit of snark about them. They’re the perfect combination of highly praised, musically straightforward, and talkative, both attracting backlash and providing ammunition for it. Savages have a strong political point of view, with writings and interviews that endorse radical politics. It’s theoretically possible to listen to and enjoy Silence Yourself without getting the political stuff (especially if you don’t pay much attention to the lyrics), but right now it’s highly unlikely you’d hear about Savages without also hearing about their ideological stance, and as such is — for the moment, anyway — an inextricable part of the experience of the band and their work. But is that good?
It should be said that Silence Yourself is a total triumph, up there with Paramore’s self-titled comeback and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Mosquito as my favorite rock albums of 2013. It’s loud and shouty and noisy, with short songs and a lot of bass, all qualities that have been hard to find in rock lately. Each member brings particular and precisely executed sensibilities to their instrument, and as a group they produce an intense energy that carries over (one hears) into their live shows. The album is structured with two clear LP sides that give it a direction and focus often absent from the shuffle-friendly releases that come off bands’ laptops. There are 11 songs and metal breakdowns and they sound a little like Fugazi! What’s not to like?
Well, a few things, apparently. The most common charge lobbed is that Savages rip off other bands, from Patti Smith to Joy Division. Aside from just generally being a ridiculous thing to care about, it’s missing the mark here: while they may share a guitar tone or cadence with their predecessors, their essential drive is notably different — there’s not as much harshness as Wire, not as much floatiness as Patti Smith. In a way, though, this is a political critique: if they’re such a radical political band, why don’t they sound more revolutionary?
Thank the lord they don’t. (What would that even sound like? What haven’t we heard before? A black metal band covering Ne-Yo? That would be awful!) Along with The Knife, whose Shaking the Habitual is equally fantastic (if not as immediately accessible to rock fans), Savages have chosen to foreground the radical beliefs from which their music springs. What they haven’t done is used their music as a mere delivery system for those beliefs. Their politics are integral to their music, but so is Gemma Thompson’s guitar, Jehnny Beth’s voice, their stark appearance, and their band name. The politics works in service of the art. As such, it’s pointless to argue that their music is, or even is supposed to be, about their ideology (as some have about The Knife). Instead, think about Savages’ politics as being a major part of their style.
That’s the kind of thing that could be meant as a criticism: the band’s not living its politics, politics are just fashion for them. But style is an incredibly important part of how artists in abstract forms like music and dance create meaning. Fashion, after all, communicates political values as surely as a protest chant. Mumfords’ suspenders, Amy Lee’s dresses, Kid Rock’s hat, and Kurt Cobain’s flannel all convey very particular values. Listeners can choose to pick up that message or ignore it, if it’s only one part of the artist’s project.
As someone who basically agrees with Savages’ point of view, it’s heartening to hear them make the case for things I already believe in. It makes me like them more. It may make you like them less. That’s fine, too. You also might not like how their vocals sound, or how their songs are written. These things — their sounds, their personalities, their look, their politics — become elements of taste that play a part in your relationship with the band. But just as you wouldn’t ask Stevie Nicks to sing more like Joan Jett, asking Savages to leave out the politics is asking them to be a different band entirely. The music wouldn’t work without it — or, at least, without the politics it would be a different thing entirely.