Category Archives: Music

Super Mash Bros. : All About the Scrillions

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Sophomore expectations suck. While the freshman album is a clean slate with little to no hype, the sophomore effort is all about how the new work matches up with that of the previous effort. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the biggest enemy of the young mash-up duo, Super Mash Bros., is none other than themselves. It’s been a year since Dick Fink and Nicholas Fenmore hit up the DIY LA music scene with their debut album Fuck Bitches, Get Euros. A healthy mix of 90s hits and MTV rap staples, Fuck Bitches, Get Euros was an accessible record with eclectic mash-ups of recognizable tunes and non-stop genre crossovers (e.g. Blink 182 to Lil Wayne). Case in point, Super Mash Bros. proved their worth and the ability to be placed in the same category as Girl Talk.       

 A year later, after selling out The Roxy, Super Mash Bros. are back at it with All About the Scrillions. On first listen, the album doesn’t seem quite as enthralling as last year’s surprise hit. Whether it be the samples or the over-use of dirty rap over guilty pleasure pop hits, the album just doesn’t seem to stick right away. On tracks, such as “Adler Girl Pt. 2,” the formula of mashing pop and rap seems to become redundant to the point that the album as a whole may be a failure. Though I really dug and respected Fuck Bitches, Get Euros, so I decided to give the new album another listen.

With less of the mind set of a critic and more of that of a fan, I sat back and listened to the album straight through. From the opening track, “Boom Boom Pau,” which samples the intro of Van Halen’s “Right Now” to the concluding tune, which features the victorious stadium chants of “Zombie Nation,” Super Mash Bros. easily deliver the epic set ups needed for a successful dance party. Between this epic backdrop, the Bros. succeed in what they do best: pleasing the audience. With the Super Mash Bros.’ mash-ups, it doesn’t matter when the song came out and whether it was approved by Pitchfork or not, because in the end it’s all about how the songs can be reformatted to get the listener to dance their ass off. Take “Livin’ the Dream (I’m on a Float)” for example. The first half of this deep cut consists of a simple blend of Twista’s “Overnight Celebrity” and the intro to Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida;” both being songs you wouldn’t expect to be played in the midst of a wild dance mix. Though put together, the Super Mash Bros. use their magic to create a track that showcases these two tunes as perfect matches for each other. I hate to use another Girl Talk reference, but I feel I must. While Greg Gillis uses bits and bits of individual songs to create his own work, Super Mash Bros. seem to work more with their chosen material to find elaborate, yet appropriate ways to mash the tracks; a true testament to the DJ duo. Hence, while All About the Scrillions may not necessarily have the same lasting power as Fuck Bitches, Get Euros, it’s still a fun and wild album that will leave you with many “Oh no they didn’t moments!”      

Download the Album here: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?mwxzbjv2imj

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Remembering Michael Jackson

michael jackson

It’s sad to see a legend, like MJ, unexpectantly leave us at such a young age. Say what you will about his personal life, but don’t diss his ability as a pop star. MJ is up there as one of the biggest stars to ever grace the face of the Earth; up there with Elvis and The Beatles. Whether it be his dancing or memorbale music videos, MJ left his mark on music. He will be missed.

I want a YouTube video of MJ and James Brown dancing together in heaven!

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Book Review: Illmatic by Matthew Gasteier

nas-illmatic

In an age where music journalism has come down to 140-word tweets and abbreviated blog posts, it’s refreshing to see someone take the time to write a complex literary analysis of a great work of hip-hop. Such is the case with Matthew Gasteier’s latest addition to the 33 1/3 book series: a collection of books focusing on one great album per book. Gasteier uses his contribution to the series to focus on Nas’ 1994 debut album Illmatic. Widely considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, Illmatic is an album that both took account of where hip-hop was and where it was heading. A product of the Queensbridge housing projects in New York City , Nas raps of the pressure and stress that comes with living in the inner-city. His lyrics are a startling portrayal of a lifestyle previously ignored by the popular American media. Gasteier spends a great deal of time praising and evaluating Nas’ poetic talent and the message of his music. Additionally, Gasteier traces the development of Illmatic and the impact it has made; using excerpts from previous reviews and new conversations with those involved with the production of the album. Whether you are a fan of Nas or not, Matthew Gasteier’s Illmatic is a complex ode to a classic album that helped hip-hop transcend gangster stereotypes and juvenile lyrics, and be appreciated as an intellectual art form.  

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Friday Night Plans: $2 Show

$2 show

Looking for something to do tonight? Couldn’t get tickets for Passion Pit tonight at the Echo? Well then, you should definatey head out to Encino and check out the $2 Show tonight at 7! 

The $2 show series is a nonprofit organization that is set on supporting community arts and local organization by throwing awesome shows consisting of independent bands and artists in a suburban backyard. Basically, it’s DIY at its finest. 

For only the mere cost of $2, you are donating money to PepLA (a local charity) and are being treated to a handful of good music in an intimate environment. Can’t go wrong with that!

For more info, check out the official website: http://web.me.com/e.dawes/$2_Show/Welcome.html

or the Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/event.php?eid=96815494864

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Some Good New CDs

I got a lot of free CDs during my internship these past two weeks. However, I haven’t been able to give all of the albums equal listenings yet, due to the fact that I can’t stop listening to these two CDs during my commutes and time at home.

Passion Pit – Manners

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So by now, it’s become pretty well known how Passion Pit got their start. Michael Angelakos originally created the Chunk of Change EP as a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend, which then somehow spread throughout his college campus (that being Emerson College in Boston), and next thing you know, Manners (Passion Pit’s first full-length) is one of the most anticipated releases of 2009. You could say Passion Pit is this year’s MGMT, except for the fact that they have more than a few catchy singles to match their hype. With a high falsetto that makes high voices almost as cool as Barry White’s low tenor, Angelakos leads his fellow Boston-buddies in a debut album that definitely meets the hype. Thanks to a brilliant composition of electropop beats and colorful synth lines, Manners is not an album that preview’s a hip new band’s potential, it’s the glorious feature length. Even with the appearance of a few lackluster tracks, Manners is still a consistently entertaining album that has kept me engaged through multiple listens; whether it be due to the appearance of a children’s choir or just Michael Angelakos distinct voice: the new voice of rock.

 Other Lives – Other Lives

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After seeing this upcoming band nail their opening performance for The Decemberists last week at the Palladium, I had to check out their CD. Sounding somewhere in between the likes of Radiohead and The Decemberists, Other Lives could best be classified as indie-folk rock with a classical influence. Additionally, coming from Oklahoma, there is also a Midwestern edge to the band’s music that gives it that extra spin. Amid the beautiful orchestrations and lead singer Jesse Tabish’s expressive vocals, Other Lives’ debut album is able to convey both heartbreaking and uplifting emotions throughout the course of the tunes. The final result is one of the most eloquent album I’ve heard in a while and a shoe-in for my “Best of 2009” list.

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Asher Roth Boom Boom Pow’s

I have a bit more respect for Asher Roth after watching this.

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Coachella 2009: Sunday Review

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After my hectic endeavors in the Sahara Tent the night before, I planned to start my Sunday off at a calm pace: laying down on the grass and soaking in some good music being played in the tents. Following Vivian Girls’ performance (which like their music, was good, but not great), I quickly changed my game plan. With a cool piñata on stage and there being a relatively easy push to the front, I decided to join the masses for No Age’s Mojave performance. Opening up with “Teen Creeps,” Dean Spunt and Randy Randall played a tour-de-force of music that perfectly illustrates a young Angelino’s urban anxiety. Mixing up popular singles, like “Eraser,” with some lesser-known tunes, the LA duo incited quite a mosh pit, despite the brutal heat outside. In true fashion of The Smell, Randy Randall even stood on top of the divider between the fans and stage, grazing his guitar across the sea of sweaty hands in appropriate communal fashion. For the local DIY poster boys, it really didn’t matter the size of the venue because they still connected with the audience.

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Immediately following No Age, we rushed over to the Gobi Tent to catch the second half of English buzz-band, Friendly Fires. Despite the tight packing of the crowd in the small tent, the group still got the crowd going by playing dance-punk heavy tunes, like “Paris.” It was a shame that I was only able to catch half the set.

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As the heat starting to reach the 100s, the music only got better. After resting under a tent in the food court area, we made our way over the main stage to catch Lupe Fiasco in order to add some more hip-hop to our weekend. Backed by a superb live band and Matthew Santos (for a few songs), Lupe rolled through an energetic set inciting a wave of hands being thrown in the air. Only familiar with a few singles before the set, I left a fan; convinced that he carries an artistic foray superior to many of his fellow hip-hop peers.

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For the next couple of hours, my friends and I remained glued to the Main Stage Area (minus the occasional water or bathroom break). One of my biggest surprises of the festival came in the form of Peter Bjorn & John’s brilliant performance late in the afternoon. Only familiar with the group’s hit single from a few summers ago, “Young Folks,” I was originally tempted to go check out Antony & The Johnsons, but decided to just stick with my group of friends at the Main Stage and hope for the best. Good call. The Swedish trio focused primarily on songs from their latest release Living Things, but still found room for some older tracks. While the group did not quite win over the entire crowd, they still played with a sense of confidence and found ways to spice up their set; with the highlight being when fellow Swedes Lykke Li and Robyn joined the group on stage for “Nothing to Worry About” and “Young Folks.”

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Next on the main stage was the highly-anticipated performance from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, hot off the release of their synth-dance rock album Its Blitz. After their triumphant set on the same stage in 2006, it came as no surprise that the band garnered one of the largest audiences of the day. Playing behind a giant inflatable eye-ball reflected by the setting sun, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s opened up with their new ballad “Runaway” with smiles all over the bands’ faces (I think I even saw Nick Zinner pop a little grin). With the two male members wearing all black, Karen O especially stood out in her dress of gold sequins and turquoise tights. If she wasn’t already considered an alt-rock goddess, Karen O definitely cemented herself with the status once she struck some epic poses and belted out classics, like “Gold Lion” and “Maps.” Though maybe most memorable from the performance was when the trio broke out into their latest single “Zero,” a tune that perfectly blends the groups recognizable sound with their current synth endeavors. As mini inflatable eye-balls floated throughout the crowd and Nick Zinner totally killed the break down, it seemed as if the YYY’s had reached the peak of rock stardom.   

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With the sun finally set and ear-plugs distributed throughout the festival grounds, it was clear that it was time for My Bloody Valentine’s debut performance in the desert. Pioneers of the shoegaze rock genre, MBV fit into the stereotypical mold of a Coachella sub-headliner: a late 80s/early 90s alt-rock band that recently reunited. Though that didn’t mean the group’s performance wasn’t one of a kind. With the amps turned up all the way and psychedelic lights bathing the group, Kevin Shields and co. rolled through tunes that find the beauty in distortion and reverb, such as “Soon” and “Only Shallow.” As Kevin Shields harmonized with Bilinda Butcher, the whole crowd seemed to be set still and mesmerized by what was occurring in front of them. However, once MBV transitioned into a 15 minute drowning pitfall of noise, I must admit I became quite uncomfortable and rather bored. Yes, there may be some beauty in the sound of distortion, I just don’t need 15 minutes to show me. That nearly killed their victorious set for me.

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To close out the night on the Main Stage, was none other than The Cure and their insistent need to play for at least 3 hours. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Cure. I think Robert Smith is a genius front man and has quite a knack for crafting a tune. The band is also just as good live. My one problem is that if you are going to headline the final day of a major festival, shouldn’t you try to make your show more accessible to people other than the die-hard Cure fan? I mean, come on Robert! I go to the first half-hour of your set and leave only recognizing one of the songs I’ve heard (“Lovesong”). You have numerous hits from your “heyday” available to play, why do I have to wait 3 hours to hear all of them? Whatever…

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 My friends and I all opted to end our Coachella experience on a more upbeat note by heading across the polo grounds to the Sahara Tent and partying to Etienne de Crecy and his giant light cube. Even though many had already left the festival in hopes of making it back home at a decent hour, there still was enough of a crowd in the tent to provide the celebratory vibe that surrounded the tent all weekend long. Playing a rather cookie-cutter style of house music, Etienne de Crecy still delivered a triumphant performance thanks to his mind-blowing stage set-up. No Daft Punk, but still fun.

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As I finally left the festival for the last time, feet killing and The Cure still playing, it was a bittersweet moment. While Sunday night did not live up to be the epic finale that I hoped for, Coachella was still a fulfilling weekend of music and partying that left a lasting impression on me and gave me more confidence in the current state of music. All other festivals now must stand the test of matching my experience at Coachella 2009: a weekend like none other.              

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