Pants… James Pants

KZUU blog content is like Gucci Mane mixtapes of late: can’t stop, won’t stop.

The Inland Norwest’s high priest of DIY oddball electro rompers is back, back, back on the scene, fresh off the heels of his satanic “cult soundtrack” Seven Seals. The ex-Spokanite recently relocated to Denver for reasons that I presume begin and end with the Mile High City’s legal-weed-up-to-an-ounce policy and the opportunity to frequent Carmelo Anthony’s Studio 15 Barbershop.

Stones Throw podcasts remain winning; “New Pants” is a diverse half-hour of  trance-y electro, lo-fi rock, thrift-store break beats, and overall goofing.  It’s hard to dislike a remix of Three Six Mafia’s “Stay Fly” that sounds like soundtrack music to Kirby’s Dream Land… “purple p-purple p-purple.”

James Pants – New Pants free podcast mp3

Track List:
01. Drug Rooom
02. Three-6 Mafia – Stay Fly (JP Remix)
03. Clouds Over The Pacific
04. Too Much Time
05. The Eyes of The Lord
06. She Out Of My Life (dub)
07. Strange Girl
08. This Crazy Sound
09. Not Me
10. Prologue To a Ritual
11. Driftwood
12. Radio Love Me
13. A Special Kiss
14. Space Date



KZUU Top 30 — 4/26

That’s the Caribou bro outdoors somewhere. Yes, the new Dan Snaith album is quite good, in fact good enough to be this week’s #1, but I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on some other chart goings-on that I have noticed. First of all, Yesayer is #7, which raises the following question: “those guys  are still alive?” Good god it seems like that album came out (for Emma) forever ago. Same with Phantogram at #6. Glad to see Hot Chip is finally out of the Top 30 though. Those guys need to give it a rest. It’s also really cool that Free Energy is in the Top 10. I love this band, and yes I realize they are just a glorified OK Go, but whatevs, I love their energy (who knew?).

We’ll only do charts once more this semester, so please enjoy my sardonic commentary while it lasts.

  1. CARIBOU — Swim
  2. DR. DOG — Shame, Shame
  3. SHE AND HIM — Volume Two
  4. HORSE FEATHERS — Thistled Spring
  5. JOSIAH WOLF — Jet Lag
  6. PHANTOGRAM — Eyelid Movies
  7. YEASAYER — Odd Blood
  8. SURFER BLOOD — Astro Coast
  9. FREE ENERGY — Stuck on Nothing
  10. AVI BUFFALO — Avi Buffalo
  11. THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH — The Wild Hunt
  12. DUM DUM GIRLS — I Will Be
  13. HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Happy Birthday
  14. BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB — Beat the Devil’s Tattoo
  15. JOEY RYAN AND THE INKS — Well, Here We Are Then
  17. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS — The Big To-Do
  18. BLACK TAMBOURINE — Black Tambourine
  19. HARLEM — Hippies
  20. MUMFORD AND SONS — Sigh No More
  21. ROGUE WAVE — Permalight
  22. THE STRANGE BOYS — Be Brave
  23. YUKON BLONDE — Yukon Blonde
  24. FANG ISLAND — Fang Island
  25. THE BESNARD LAKES — Are the Roaring Night
  26. GOLDFRAPP — Head First
  27. MARK SULTAN — $
  28. COCK AND SWAN — Unrecognized
  29. SHEARWATER — The Golden Archipelago
  30. FREELANCE WHALES — Weathervanes


Album Review: Dosh, Tommy, a KZUU “MUST PLAY”

Apparently this is Martin Dosh’s 5th album for Anticon. Who knew? Not KZUU, not yet.

Dosh has been collaborating, recording and touring with the great Andrew Bird since 2005. Word on the street is Bird used one of Dosh’s earlier albums as a rhythmic backbone for 2009’s Noble Beast. This album is heavy on both drums and vocals, but avoids leaving you confused. Tommy jumps right into noise with the opening track “Subtractions”, but slows down with the next–just follow that trippy pattern for the rest of the album. The album is dedicated to his deceased friend, Tommy, but Dosh doesn’t let that bring him down. Dosh even gets a little funky on “Town Mouse”.

The guy is talented and does well at showing it with Tommy. It is expansive, rhythmic and full of vibrant sound. People are tagging this album as electronic while I would just say it is beautiful.

Check out the songs “Airlift”, “Country Road X”, “Never Met” ft Andrew Bird and “Number 41” ft Andrew Bird.

Not only are you absolutely required to listen to this album, but you also must watch the video for Airlift.



KZUU Top 30 — 4/19

It’s the Phillie Phanatic! That’s Dr. Dog, this week’s #1, with the mascot for Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies, who won the World Series in 2008 and lost the World Series in 2009. Are Dr. Dog authentic Phillies fans who suffered through the early Scott Rolen years in the late 90s, or are they just riding the bandwagon of success led by Ryan Howard and Chase Utley? Can hipsters even truly be sports fans?

  1. DR. DOG — Shame, Shame
  2. DUM DUM GIRLS — I Will Be
  4. SHE & HIM — Volume Two
  5. JÓNSI — Go
  6. HARLEM — Hippies
  7. HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Happy Birthday
  8. THE RADIO DEPT. — Clinging to a Scheme
  9. FRIGHTENED RABBIT — The Winter of Mixed Drinks
  10. FREE ENERGY — Stuck on Nothing
  11. SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS — I Learned the Hard Way
  12. CULTS — Cults 7″
  13. JJ — No. 3
  14. THE APPLES IN STEREO — Travellers in Space and Time
  15. THE STRANGE BOYS — Be Brave
  16. LOVE IS ALL — Two Thousand and Ten Injuries
  17. MARK SULTAN — $
  18. PHANTOGRAM — Eyelid Movies
  19. YUKON BLONDE — Yukon Blonde
  20. FANG ISLAND — Fang Island
  21. SHEARWATER — The Golden Archipelago
  22. HOT CHIP — One Life Stand
  23. THE RUBY SUNS — Fight Softly
  24. BEACH HOUSE — Teen Dream
  25. LAURA MARLING — I Speak Because I Can
  26. THE BESNARD LAKES — Are the Roaring Night
  27. SURFER BLOOD — Astro Coast
  28. COCK AND SWAN — Unrecognize
  30. GOLDFRAPP — Head First

Review: Horse Feathers, Thistled Spring

The notion that Spring is a time of rebirth often disregards things have died–Thistled Spring can’t forget this though. “Damned the winter…waiting for softer times”. The new album by Horse Feathers starts off quietly and makes your heart swell. Does anyone else feel like frontman Justin Ringle’s voice puts you at peace? It seems Ringle is inspired by the seasons, the last Horse Feathers album A House with No Home being a colder, winter album.

The album gets progressively warmer from the opening track “Thistled Spring” to “Veronica Blues”, something distinctly more Americana. Thistled Spring won’t be a surprise–it’s still beautiful, full of strings and arranged perfectly. Ringle’s voice still compels you to think about your last love with a new set of spectacles.

My favorites are “Cascades” and “Heaven’s No Place”. Maybe it is because I like the sad/pretty Horse Feathers songs. “Kiss on the mouth with hearts that will bend and cave/the noose was broke, the witness was the cascade” (Note: 89% sure the lyrics aren’t quite right here. On the 1,000,000th listen I’ll come back and change these). The percussion gradually grows on “Cascades”; it pulls my heart strings every time.

Please don’t glance over this one; I wouldn’t want you to miss the point. Spring doesn’t take a few minutes to understand, neither does heartbreak.

See Horse Feathers in Spokane this Saturday, April 17th. Only $9.

Hear it first on the KZUU airwaves and pre-order the album online here.

**Author’s note: Justin Ringle is from Idaho.

Your Idahoan reviewer,

KZUU Top 30 — 4/12

That there picture is Dr. Dog playing in the streets of Philadelphia. The building looks like something you’d see on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It should be obvious why. This week’s charts aren’t too memorable. Nothing out of the ordinary, except maybe a slight surprise that Cults made it to #3 despite their only preview rack entry being a 3-track single. KZUU has good taste this week.

  1. DR. DOG — Shame, Shame
  2. SHE AND HIM — Volume Two
  3. CULTS — Cults 7″
  4. HARLEM — Hippies
  5. SURFER BLOOD — Astro Coast
  6. FRIGHTENED RABBIT — The Winter of Mixed Drinks
  7. THE RUBY SUNS — Fight Softly
  8. PAVEMENT — Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement
  10. YEASAYER — Odd Blood
  11. THE RADIO DEPT. — Clinging to a Scheme
  12. HOT CHIP — One Life Stand
  14. GOLDFRAPP — Head First
  15. MARK SULTAN — $
  16. SHEARWATER — The Golden Archipelago
  17. FREE ENERGY — Stuck on Nothing
  18. TITUS ANDRONICUS — The Monitor
  19. HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Happy Birthday
  20. LOVE IS ALL — Two Thousand and Ten Injuries
  21. GIRLFRIENDS — Girlfriends
  22. LA STRADA — New Home
  23. BLACK TAMBOURINE — Black Tambourine
  24. BONOBO — Black Sands
  25. YUKON BLONDE — Yukon Blonde
  26. ELECTRIC PRESIDENT — The Violent Blue
  27. TORO Y MOI — Causers of This
  28. JONSI — Go
  29. REAL ESTATE — Reality EP
  30. FANG ISLAND — Fang Island

Shadowboxin’ All Nite: 20 questions with Zilla Rocca and Douglas Martin

Here’s an example of when the internet improves music (and my life): when a rapper from Philly and a musician from Seattle email each other beats and rhymes until a free-spirited, highly creative batch of hip-hop tracks that sound like early ’90s RZA sampled from indie music, spaghetti western soundtracks, and Fela Kuti emerge. That was a long sentence.

5 O’Clock Shadowboxers are rapper Zilla Rocca and folk musician/beat maker Douglas Martin aka Blurry Drones. The wholly internet duo put out an excellent full-length last year called The Slow Twilight and on March 30th released Broken Clocks EP. Now before my hip-hop heads suspect gimmicky mixtape shenanigans and before all my indie readers pawn this off as another one of Curt’s long-winded, overly gushy hip-hop pieces give the new EP a listen below, and hell, stream The Slow Twilight while your at it, I suspect you’ll like what you hear.

Now I could listen to Zilla Rocca all day and be able to quote 3-4 rhymes per song (like this one off ‘No Resolution’: “pullin’ threads off my sweater/ they try to unravel me like Weezer/ but hipsters can’t battle me,” LOL) but this post is already borderline way-too-long so lets get to my interview with both gentlemen, 10 questions with Zilla and 10 with Douglas Martin. Go ahead, cozy up to the blog for some thoughtful, insightful nuggets of musical wisdom.

Also: If anyone’s going to LA tonight, a solid mom’s weekend event could be The Knux, The Holloys, Nocando and Shadowboxers live. Just sayin’

Read Zilla Rocca @ Clap Cowards

I want to get into the new 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers EP but first why don’t you tell us how long you’ve been rapping?

I’ve been rhyming for about 13-14 years.  It doesn’t feel like I’ve been at it for over a decade now.  Weird!

You’re from Philadelphia. How does that influence your music?

It’s influenced my life a lot more than I thought.  When I was living in nicer areas, my music was more carefree, imaginative, fun.  There wasn’t much thought to it.  When I’ve lived in, shall I say, cruddier areas, my output has been more angst-y, aggressive, and dark.  It felt like I had to work harder to have fun with music in those surroundings.  I’ve been in every part of Philly for work, school, hanging out, shows, etc.  There’s no surprises left to the town.  Now it comes down to the people around me and the actual living situation I’m in rather than the seasons outside or if the damn Phillies win another title or if Jay-Z decides to bankroll every rapper in the city again.

Who are the rappers, producers, musicians, or otherwise, that made you want to make music?

Ghostface made me want to do hip hop, point blank.  The first time I heard Ironman, it was such a rush.  I’ve been trying to recapture that moment.  It’s a great album still, but it’s my favorite piece of recorded music for that singular experience back in ’96.   The older I got and the more musicians I fell in love with and studied, it became a matter of “Who should I rip off this week?  Inspectah Deck?  John Lennon?  Tom Waits?  Dose One?”  Right now, what makes me WANT to make music is to challenge myself to do things I’ve never done on record before, so this week Amp Live, Why?, Mos Def, are my main inspiration.  But it changes bi-weekly.

You and Douglas Martin aka Blurry Drones collaborated exclusively over the Internet, right? How did you two meet and to what degree has the Internet influenced/affected the music of 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers? Do you see the Internet-age of music as a positive or a negative to artistry?

The internet is like the third member of Shadowboxers.  Without out, our existences remain isolated.  He heard my stuff at The Passion of the Weiss a couple years ago and tossed me some beats and it’s been organic and natural ever since.  I genuinely spazzed out on them, and the internet is to thank for that.  It’s helped all of us live easier, but not everyone uses it to their advantage.  It’s full of answers and people and cool shit, but it’s also made people lazier.  There are no guardians or censors or filters.  Sometimes that hurts, but there’s more GREAT music being made and, more importantly, heard now because of the internet.  I’m okay with that trade off.

What is the recording process like? Did Douglas Martin send you his beats and then you rapped over them, or vice-versa?

Douglas sent me all of the beats with weird ass titles to them like “Weak Stomach” and “Dead Queen”.  I handled the rest–the writing, the recording, the mixing, the final edits, etc.  So in a sense, it’s collaborative in that he provides a rough blueprint with each beat via the title, the arrangement, the melody, the mood, and I put all the finishing touches on it.  It’s great because there’s no deadlines or ego’s getting in the way of making something dope.  I hate when music is forced and with our working arrangement, that’s never been the case.

I love the humor and pop-culture elements in your rhymes, especially when you poke fun at bloggers and general Internet tomfoolery—which is found quite often found in 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers songs. What is your writing process like? Is it very “written” or more of a freestyle, one take kind of thing?

I talk shit about high volume internetians because I am one of them!  I have a blog.  And a facebook.  And a myspace.  And twitter.  And a Bandcamp.  And a CD Baby.  And 59 other things I forgot the log-ins too.  It’s all lighthearted stuff.  My writing process is never the same though.  Sometimes I do everything in 1 sitting or 1 day.  Sometimes I’ll piece together little phrases and words I’ve been jotting down here and there and it turns into a concept or a hook or something.  It’s highly thought out, planned and edited though.  I almost treat it like a damn book report or college essay.  The spontaneous things happen in the studio or on stage, which is often the best part.  If it’s really good, I’ll go back and add it to a finished song.  It’s kinda stressful at times, but it’s how I operate.  Us Virgos love methodical approaches, lists, and organization.

Let’s talk about Broken Clocks, the new EP. Like last year’s full-length, The Slow Twilight, there are quite a bit of indie-rock samples. The first two tracks sample The Black Keys and Dungen respectively, what was the inspiration behind sampling non-traditional music?

Its more daring and challenging to put rhymes and “hip hop” over non-traditional “hip hop” samples.  I’m drawn to music like that naturally.  I mean I love Freeway and Missy Elliot and Puffy because they’ve mastered the basics, but personally I like digging and scratching and clawing away at something new and unexpected.  I get bored with the same ol’ same ol’.  I picked out the Black Keys sample for “No Fury Remix” way before Blakroc and all that because I just always thought their music was hip hop minus the emcee.  The Dungen track, I made sure Douglas chopped that up for “Dirt Naps” because the mood of the original song.  It was very etheral and pretty and gritty and wide, like the ultimate paradox.  I just had to spit bars on it.

I’m interested what your take on “indie-rap” is in 2010. Genre’s have blurred, Def Jux is gone, the Internet, with distribution channels like Bandcamp have made it easy for anyone to get there music out there. What’s it like being a rapper today, and what constitutes “indie”?

Being a rapper today, largely, effing SUCKS!  Because everyone can do it, and there’s a million ways to go about it, it’s became devauled and lessened as an artform and as a viable piece of commerce.  Rapper Stock is falling fast.  If you are a rapper today, and an indie rapper on top of that, you have to really really love it.  No one is tossing out $500,000 advances anymore, and all your fans are now your competition.  I do like how we can put out anything we want at any given time–the immediacy of releasing music in 2010 is intoxicating.  But not everyone SHOULD be releasing music unchecked, much less making hip hop at the drop of a hat.  When Def Jux folded, it hurt because they were one of the few labels who embraced the internet, who respected their fans, and who did everything with class, precision, and quality.  It’s easier and cheaper to not do all of those things, so that’s where we are today with “indie rap”.

Tell us about Beat Garden Entertainment, the hip-hop company you found with fellow Philly rapper Nico The Beast. I love the motto, “Many styles. Many styles.” What’s the new style for Zilla Rocca?

This is a great question.  The first style or what you is, to quote Bob Dylan, “Don’t look back”.  So with that in mind, Beat Garden is no longer operating.  On to the next one.  I did that.  It was fun and a valuable learning experience for 4 years, but now I’m striking out on my own.  Me, Nico and Big O all had great individual opportunities pop up that didn’t necessarily intersect nor could fit under the Beat Garden brand.  Like I said, I hate forcing things, so I’d rather walk away from something than be forced to bastardize it (remember Rawkus’ later years?)  I want to experience my career from this new point of view, namely focusing solely on my songs, my projects, my shows and not having to answer to anyone or any old expectation.  My new style/label/imprint is Three Dollar Pistol Music–it’s just a name for all of my new junk, whether it be remixes or LPs or EPs or what have you.  I’m seeking new people, new sounds, new surroundings, new business models, new crowds, new food, EVERYTHING!  And it feels absolutely fantastic to do whatever the hell want.  I can go to a movie on a school night *snaps fingers* LIKE THAT!

What are you listening to right now?

Ghostface’s Fishcale, Freeway & Jake One’s The Stimulus Package, beats from Egon Brainparts and Small Professor, Why?’s Alopecia, Four Tet’s Rounds, the new Wu-Massacre (don’t get me started on this “album” *shudder*) and random cuts from Shawn Lee, Bonobo and Sean Price.

As Bunk from the The Wire once said, “A man must have a code.” What is Zilla Rocca’s code?

To paraphrase a quote I have hanging up in my office, you should only be doing something right now that someone else in the world would rather you NOT be doing.

Read Douglas Martin @ Budget Fashionistas and Passion of the Weiss

You put out two solo, art-folk releases called Fresh Cherries From Yakima and have recently been focusing on hip-hop beats as Blurry Drones. Are there more styles and pseudonyms to come?

Absolutely. I’ve been focusing primarily on Blurry Drones right now, and I’m currently working on mixtapes, more beats for my talented rapper friends, an instrumental record that I want to have out by the end of the year. But there are so many more things I want to do musically. I want to make another Fresh Cherries from Yakima record. I want to make a drone record. I want to make an auto-tuned noise-pop record.

Also I’ve gotten to the point where I want to be in a band. I’ve been playing music for almost seven years, and I’ve spent that entire time in bedroom sitting in front of a computer or in my garage kneeled over a four-track. That’s the one thing I haven’t done yet as a musician that I would be extremely interested in.

Listening to Zilla Rocca rhyme over Elliott Smith and Dungen samples is super fun for me. As a fellow indie/rock music fan and rap music fan, did you always want to hear something like this?

It’s not even the indie-rock thing that excites me. It’s being a fan of music and listening to something really dope that you can hear being spun a different way. The first beat I ever made had an Al Green sample. I was always that kid who would listen to songs on the radio or in my friends’ cars and think aloud, “This would make a dope sample!” I just didn’t know how. Now I do.

Why do you make music and what excites you about either making it or listening to it?

This is probably the hardest question I’ve ever been asked. I don’t really know why I make music. I was never really interested in music when I was younger; I wanted to be a writer. I was in my school band throughout middle and high school and never practiced my instrument. Some time after high school, I decided that I was going to make music. And I’ve been addicted ever since. Making music is something that drives me. It’s just something I… HAVE to do.

I get really stoked about making music when I’m alone in my room and listening to the complete song. Whether it’s something I recorded every instrument for or an attachment in an e-mail from Zilla, the first five listens of a new song is when I’m most excited.

When listening to music, there’s absolutely nothing like hearing a beat that makes you beat your head all over the place or a guitar riff that makes you bust out the air guitar or drum along. Those moments are as euphoric and intimate as kissing, you know?

The Internet makes awesome collaborations like 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers possible, but is there one thing you hate about the Internet’s role in music today?

I loathe the fact that the internet makes the listening experience so disposable. Most people will listen to a record once and if it doesn’t grab them immediately, they’ll take the songs they don’t like and click-and-drag it straight to the recycle bin. The vast majority of my favorite records– probably even all of them– are ones I didn’t particularly care for at first.

In hip-hop particularly, I’m not a fan of the type of artist that puts out 25 new songs every month for a year straight. There is a such thing as “quality control” and sometimes I think even a record a year is a little too much sometimes. I’d rather an artist put out one album every eighteen months and most of them be classics, but everyone’s struggling so hard to be relevant in the Nah Right/Stereogum era that they’re too afraid to fall back for a minute.

What is your favorite beat that you’ve made and what is your favorite Zilla Rocca line?

My favorite beat will definitely have to be “No Resolution”. I felt UNTOUCHABLE when I listened to the playback on that beat for the first time. Like, I literally felt like Kanye must have felt when he made “The Takeover”. It was such a gratifying moment.

My favorite Zilla Rocca line, from “High Noon”: “Foolish, fing-fang-foom-shit/You think-tank clueless, big bang boom stick.” You know when you put food in your mouth and it’s too hot? Upon hearing that line, I did that until the air was completely sucked out of my lungs. I’m a big sucker for things like wordplay and cadence, and he hit the mark with both on that one. “High Noon” was made very early on in our collaborative relationship, and it’s the moment I knew I wanted to work with Zilla for keeps.

There is a very cool, creative hip-hop scene stirring in Seattle. Could you see yourself collaborating with any rappers in the area?

OH MY GOD YES. Seattle’s hip-hop scene is so vibrant and diverse right now, it would be an honor. Particularly, I’d want to work with the dudes in the Sportn’ Life crew: Fatal Lucciauno is incredible, my favorite rapper in the city. Spaceman is nuts; that dude has so much charisma. D. Black is so thoughtful and poignant. I don’t know what I’d do if one of them asked me to work with them. Also, I really like Mash Hall. They’re doing their thing.

You’re an active blogger and stay pretty up-to-date with new music. Does this inspire you to make you own music, to write about music, or to chill out and browse blogs?

It does all three. I go through cycles where my inspiration takes me down a different road, but the latter is the most important. Sometimes it’s best to sit back and just be a fan of music. We artists get caught up a lot of the time, and it burns us out. Leading up to the release of Broken Clocks, I just laid low and listened to stuff.

What is your favorite musical instrument that you own?

Guitar. Without question. There’s so much I have to learn.

Your old blog recently expired. Will it be brought back to life?

I think it was just time to cut the cord for a lot of reasons, both professional and personal. I’ve always wanted to be a more active contributor to Passion of the Weiss, and running my own blog slowed my output for a blog that I genuinely believe hosts the best tandem of music writers on the internet.

Also, I think I grew weary of the nature of promoting my own music. With 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers it’s different, because Zilla does a lot of the promotional legwork and, although I do as much as I can to promote our product, I can mostly sit back and just be an artist. It’s different when you’re recording, producing, AND promoting everything by yourself.

Chillwave. Yay or nay?

A few of those chillwave dudes are very talented at what they do. I really enjoy Washed Out. Neon Indian is growing on me. Matthew Mondanile of Ducktails is one of the most gifted guitarists of the past couple of years. Although the guy from Toro y Moi is a very limited singer, I think he has brilliant compositional skills.

The rest of the chillwave guys I can take or leave. It just seems like a fad, like blog-house was in 2006 or whatever. But I think the aforementioned artists have enough talent to continue being relevant when chillwave goes the way of electroclash.