We Gon’ Ride For The Town, ‘Cuz The Town Raised Us

KZUU’s favorite Sam Lachow joined the station last week for his third interview in the last year. Last fall we chopped it up about his debut album Brand New Bike, then in the spring Brittany Ward had Sammy on for his Avenue Music EP while cracking jokes and catching some good laughs. So this time around when Sam was accompanied by Raz and Gift uh Gab for the release of his and Raz’s 5 Good Reasons EP, we knew it was going to be nothing but a blast. This was the first project between Sam &  the fellow Seattle native Raz, who has also hopped on past tracks from Sam such as “The Best Part” and “Liquor Store”. 5 Good Reasons EP shows the chemistry between the two artists as they go back and forth on verses, heavily feeding off each other. The first single from the EP and instant classic, “Nothing’s Gonna Change” produces one of the dopest choruses I’ve heard in a long time. However, the lyrics needed to be “gangster-tized” as Sam put it and brought in the homie B-Skeez to kill it. Raz and Sam bring some real insightful lyrics building off the flawless production that Lachow (and co-producer Maggie Brown) always bring.

Lachow and Raz demonstrate what making real music should look and sound like. A bunch of talented homies having a blast, making some damn good tunes and music videos that all listeners are envious of the fun they’re having haha. Check out the interview and make sure to cop 5 Good Reasons for FREE! Even though this just came out and it’s been on constant rotation, I already can’t wait for what’s droppin’ next for Sammy Huckleberry Lachow, Raz and Black Umbrella. TOWN BIZ.

DOWNLOAD 5 GOOD REASONS EP

Newest Video “Coyotes” from Sam Lachow & Raz

 

-Bryce P.

 

YUS – Favorites Remixed II

I have just recently stumbled upon YUS, also known as Youseff Kabal, and now I want other folks to know about him too! He is an electro-pop, DIY “outta the bedroom” musician from Phoenix, Arizona. He has a lot of great original work, but the most recent stuff he’s put out is a really impressive compilation of remixes of some of his favorite songs called Favorites Remixed II. It includes four tracks, all of them being equally intriguing.

In this song, YUS remixes The Do’s song “Bohemian Dances”. He adds a catchy, rhythmic drum beat and layers the song in synth. He also changes the vocal’s to be much dreamier sounding than the original giving the song a completely new feel.

This next track is a remix he did of one of Bogan Via’s songs, whom are also from Arizona. “Purple Catacomb’s” is originally a folk pop song, but YUS takes it and transforms it into something completely his own. By slowing it down a bit, giving it dreamier vocals, and a booming base with clapping noises in the background, the song becomes something quite different than what it was before.

He offers Favorites Remixed II for free on his bandcamp page here, so don’t hesitate and pick it up now!

-Erin

Tracks We’re Diggin’: Blue Boats

There’s nothing like glossy bedroom pop to cap off the last heat wave of the year. If your looking for something to compliment the scorching 90 degree temperature, Britain’s Blue Boats serves as your best bet. This project was crafted in UK student Oliver Gale’s dorm room, but don’t be fooled, because from such a confined area he sure builds a spacious wall of sound.

His tracks are drenched in reverb, colored in synth, and effortlessly catchy. Each track has a glimpse of sunshine captured within the layers of choppy guitars and a pulsing drum-kits. “Summers Down,” is built on a echoing vocals that trail behind glossy guitar rifts, while “Sun Burns” relies on a more downbeat tempo masked with shimmering synth and gorgeous vocals. Each track brings a different flavor to the table but still reinforces the mentality that summer isn’t just a season, it’s a feeling.

Official Single Released September 24th 2012

– Brennan

Review: JJ DOOM’s “Key to the Kuffs”

If  anything, DOOM’s new project Key to the Kuffs with partner in crime Jneiro Jarel will likely lead to even stronger calls for a Madvillain follow-up, rather than subdue the muffled cries for a sequel project. Still, it’s DOOM and it’s a full-length and while Key to the Kuffs might not be as essential as say Born Like This or Vaudevile Villain, it does feature six or seven tracks that evoke memories of why we fell in love with the Villain in the first place.

The fact that “Guv’nor” was released as a lead single certainly doesn’t help distance JJ from Madlib, but the comparisons should cease after track two. The production paints emotions of an electronic boom-bap wall of sound, and things hiss and thump along nicely especially when DOOM feels like tapping his talents. JJ offers serviceable production that sounds even better with beyond-serviceable rhymes.

Things pick up nicely and swiftly with “Banished”. Metal Face sounds young again and his rapid-fire delivery packs plenty of the clever punchlines and mountains of vocabulary that were used to (“Macro — micro thin, itch your skin, Villain strikes again, equivalent a hundred thousand milligram Vicodin”).

“Rhymin Slang” keeps the fire alive, and DOOM proves he still can’t be touched in terms of wordplay (“Rarely, scarcely, scary glaring stare. Let’s be very clear MCs is derrière. As well as aware, wearily, just don’t be nearly near, you hear me? Yeah”). This is DOOM’s niche and he wears it on tracks like this.

Still, to put it bluntly tracks like “Borin’ Convo” sound pretty boring. DOOM is older and his voice is more gruff these days. Parts of Key to the Kuffs really demonstrate this unfortunately, and if Metal Face’s voice isn’t his strength in 2012 then neither is his work ethic. The entire LP feature nine tracks with actual DOOM verses and a few of these let the beat ride out for a minute or so. It’s disappointing in a lot of ways and it also sheds light on a growing trend amongst hip-hop journey-men like DOOM (i’m pointing at you Wu-Tang! Cuban Linx two was three years ago!). The Damon Alborn and Beth Gibbons (Portishead) features really flew over my head and overall the instrumental tracks don’t offer much after a minute or so.

However the JJ DOOM project does gift us gems like “Retarded Fren”. DOOM is on point and JJ sets up a perfect loop and even changes things up with some electro-funk towards the end. JJ DOOM doesn’t offer a full solution for our withdrawals, but it does warrant a listen and Jneiro Jarel deserves some future attention.

The Villain may rise again and I believe he might need some motivation from his other half Madlib. Allegedly DOOM has been tied up in Europe with visa issues for the past year or two, so maybe a return to the states will give us something in the near future. Key to the Kuffs certainly isn’t Madvillainy 2, but some tracks represent hope that in the future DOOM might still have it in him.

-Daniel

Indie/Rock MP3s – Jenny O, Northern Youth, Lord Huron

Jenny O‘s new album Automechanic won’t be out till February 2013 but luckily she’s offering up the title track for free! Automechanic was produced by Jonathan Wilson, who lent his guitar skills to a cast that included Jake Blanton (The Killers, Sia) and drummer James Gadson (Bill Withers). And if you’re lookin’ to make the 5 hour drive to Seattle, Jenny O is playing with Father John Misty at Neumos this Friday, the 21st.

You’re not an indie-rock band unless you reference California in at least one song. Or at least that’s how it seems to me. Northern Youth has wasted no time doing so with his track Los Angeles, which he’s offering up on Bandcamp. According to his Facebook page, after the demise of his LA-based band Mississippi Man in late 2010, Southern California native Luke Messimer packed his things and travelled North for Seattle. After a short stint as a keyboardist for a promising local singer/songwriter and a falling out between bandmates, he headed for a family cabin the woods of Northern Arizona where he began to write and record his own music for the first time in over a year. Knowing that he wanted to stay solo, Luke decided to not use other musicians on the record and play everything himself in order to keep it as honest and true as possible. When searching for a name, the phrase “Northern Youth” constantly flashed in his mind when he was living in Seattle. It was a feeling of creativity and childlike freedom. It only seemed right to name his new project after that feeling. Now, back in LA, Northern Youth has a backing band of 6 incredible musicians, a debut album out Fall 2012, promising local shows, and an extensive West Coast tour planned for January, 2013.

Finally, let’s talk about a band whose debut album I am really (like really, really) looking forward to, Lord HuronLonesome Dreams won’t be out till October 9th but the band has been offering up a number of free MP3s, as well as a kick ass video (see below). If you’re not familiar, this L.A. indie-rock band began as the solo venture of Michigan native Ben Schneider but has come to include Mark Barry (percussion, vocals), Miguel Briseno (bass, percussion), Brett Farkas (guitar, vocals) and Tom Renaud (guitar, vocals). But beware: listening to these expansive, cinematic Americana tracks might really make you want to watch an old John Wayne spaghetti Western. Or just eat spaghetti. Either/or.

– Jasmine

The Malleability of Microgenres & YYU’s TIMETIMETIME&TIME

Part of the frustration (and fun) of keeping up with the incredibly fast-moving world of underground music is keeping track of the ridiculous number of subgenres and microgenres that bloom essentially everyday. It’s a topic that’s been touched on before, but to briefly summarize: the internet allows the invention of new music so quickly that a handful of likeminded musicians can coin a term and apply it to their music and form a scene in a staggeringly short amount of time. There are the well-known ones like Chillwave and Post-Dubstep that have birthed extremely popular musicians and bands like Neon Indian and Washed Out in the case of the former, and James Blake and Mount Kimbie for the latter. Witch House outdated itself very quickly with acts like Salem, but even with such a short time in the limelight, produced some quality records; Balam Acab’s Wander/Wonder was our 2nd favorite album of 2011, and Holy Other’s With U EP and recently released debut Held are both records that could stand the test of time outside of the associated stereotypes of its genre. Post-dirty south is a hip-hop subgenre that popped up recently to categorize artists like Lil Ugly Mane, Amber London, and Spaceghostpurrp. It’s probably a joke, but it still provides an example of just how easy it is to create a label and watch it turn into something legitimate overnight.

The new buzzworthy microgenre of 2012 is something called Vaporwave. The name is most likely meaningless, but the artists that carry the tag all share a very realized and similar aesthetic: Obsession with late 80s-early 90s VHS tapes, fascination with the early days of 3D computer graphics, and the usage of cryptic, nonsensical computer jargon or Japanese Katakana characters. Tiny Mix Tapes, a well-known music blog and website, has taken a particular liking to the warped sounds of vaporwave, which philosophically shares much in common with the Pop Art movement of the 1960s; tongue-in-cheek criticism of capitalist consumerism by re-imagining “not art” into “art.” One of the more notable vaporwave releases of 2012 is  情報デスクVIRTUAL’s 幌コンテンポラリー . Like Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans幌コンテンポラリー repurposes content that was never intended to be viewed critically — elevator muzak, shopping mall music, corporate telephone hold music — and contorting it with elements of southern hip-hop and ambient noise to develop an unsettling new sound.

It’s almost Dadaist in it’s approach, if Duchamp could turn a urinal upside down and call it art in 1917, can someone in 2012 slow down and add reverb to smooth jazz and call it profound? Maybe by just placing this music in a new context, it becomes something else? 幌コンテンポラリー probably won’t stand to be the timeless work I’m making it sound like, but it’s an important point in the development of a microgenre that could possibly spawn something classic.

If Wander/Wonder was the culmination of the witch house bubble in 2011, 2012’s vaporwave equivalent might be YYU’s TIMETIMETIME&TIME. YYU is the moniker of an experimental musician named Ben Straus from Petaluma, CA. His latest release on Beer on the Rug Records, which has become the forerunner for 2012’s best new label, condenses some of the vaporwave themes into just under 30 minutes of experimentation with styles of some of the more innovative records of the last few years from artists like Oneohtrix Point Never, Mount Kimbie, and DJ Rashad. TIMETIMETIME&TIME bounces between chopped & screwed vocals (supposedly sung by the artist himself), freak folk acoustic guitar interludes glitched to oblivion, and juke and deep house bangers. Album opener “your hands/ moo .3” establishes the titular common theme by repeating the word “time” over and over in a rhythmic chant. That same word reappears throughout the album in many different vocal forms, and that repetition is what ties the whole record together so beautifully.

By the time the one minute long guitar interlude “um (don’t be)” (which sounds uncannily like something ex-Pullman local David Plell would make) ends, it seems like eons have passed in the best way possible. Album highlight “yyyy” contains the closest thing to a beat drop here, but the execution and placement of said drop never feels calculated or forced. In fact, what makes TIMETIMETIME&TIME so fantastic is how natural YYU makes all of these unnatural pieces sound as a cohesive entity. The album begins dancing back and forth between electronic and acoustic, and as you progress through it, the blurred line between analog and digital becomes less pronounced. When the titular phrase repeats yet again on “&time” accompanied by more choppy guitar, it doesn’t as seem out of place as it would on any other record.

I’ve been fascinated this year with albums that explore the relationship between humans and technology: Laurel Halo’s Quarantine, Hundred Waters’ self-titled record, and to some extent Animal Collective’s Centipede Hz. Vaporwave tries to touch on some of these themes in a lofty, heavy-handed sort of way, but the approach that YYU takes on TIMETIMETIME&TIME feels effortlessly gorgeous. It’s one of the year’s most unexpectedly endearing underground records.

– Adam