With hip-hop vocal samples and snare/hi-hat rolls aplenty, 20-year old Slam Skillet‘s “Rachis” EP seems to check all the pre-requisites of today’s electronic music production. Yet unlike most music by basement beatmakers, the first track, “Yukon,” begins with a bird-song sample that soon becomes a mainstay of this decidedly avian record. Olivier Messiaen he ain’t, but evolutionary biology major Slam Skillet – also known as Sam Stevens – has found unlikely Ableton inspiration in the outdoors.
“Yukon” continues with a filter sweep that brings in some rhythmic horn jabs and a heavily processed rap hook. With subtle but banging basslines and several funky synths used, the EP gives nod to Com Truise and the more dancefloor-ready sounds of Grenier. “Gemsbok/Chamois” stands out for its laidback Nujabes vibe, credited to the cabasa sound that keep the track shuffling along.
Stevens’ skill is in his ability to joyfully weave common and unexpected elements into a beat that makes you want to sit back, bob your head and watch the world go by. This is music made for headphones and spring days – so start vibing.
We’ve been away for a while lost in the dreamland of the real world. Apologies.
As I’ve been skating through life, one track that’s come across my radar has been a little offering from London’s Still Corners. Set to debut sophomore LP Strange Pleasures, the Sub Pop-signed project of Greg Hughes feeds off of 1980’s synth pop influences to produce gems like “Berlin Lovers.” With a video set to a retro roller rink, the teaser to the group’s second album is Grimes’ lovechild with Victoria Legrand, pumping a heavy synth over the wafting vocals of singer Tessa Murray. It’s dreamy–enough to take you away from the dullness of daily routine.
Tw0-and-a-half years ago when we first caught a whiff of Magic Man, the band was just a pair of college kids from starched-collar Northeastern universities jamming from their Macbooks. Today, the duo, formerly just elementary school buds Alex Caplow and Sam Lee, has grown to a quintet, fleshing out their sound and direction without losing any of the charm that made us fall in love with self-released debut, Real Life Color.
Magic Man as we know it now has relocated to (the musical mecca of?) Providence, Rhode Island and released new track “Paris” last week. When we last caught up, Caplow and Lee told us their debut LP was influenced by a trip to France. This time around, it looks like the pair are drawing from the same inspirations. Turning the City of Light into a metaphorical lover on “Paris”, Caplow develops an infectious hook that’s supplemented by synth blasts and a faded, but perfectly worked piano melody. Improving on production and recording quality since their last outing, Magic Man loses a bit of that novel DIY-quality felt on Real Life Color. But that’s not to say “Paris” is anything less genuine than older tracks like “Monster” and “Darling.” The energy and verve are still there, and keeping that in spite of change is a beautiful thing.
Wildcat! Wildcat! are slowly adding to their arsenal. With only a single 7″, The Chief, to their name, the LA-based trio have been quick to test and release new material before they arrive at the promise-band promise land that is SXSW. “Please And Thank You” comes just in time. A compliment to their highly energetic releases “Mr. Quiche” and “The Chief,” their latest song is subdued, though without sacrificing their signature falsetto duets. Sparked by pipe organ samples, “Please And Thank You” feeds off a church-going vibe, building toward soaring chorus that’s supplemented by rim taps and vibraphone. Powerful, it shows that Wildcat! Wildcat! is by no means a one-trick pony, or cat. Whatever.
Wildcat! Wildcat!- Please And Thank You (download)
Every so often, Popscene and its patron saint Aaron Axelsen manage to snag a diva in the making. In past years we’ve seen everyone from Amy Winehouse to Florence Welch grace the small stage on their way to superstardom. After last night’s show, Jessie Ware looked no different.
There’s a certain presence exhibited by Popscene’s queens-to-be. The small stage area from that of 330 Ritch to Rickshaw Stop has a way of magnifying the smiles, the stage banter and the evident vocal power of talents like Ware, who crushed a sold-out venue with cuteness and charisma on Thursday. It’s safe to say that if Ware follows her projected career trajectory, she will never play a stage like Popscene’s ever again in what is likely to be a long and popular career.
We know very little about Helsinki-based duo Phantom, other than that “Kisses” is an utterly beautiful second single from the pair. With just one EP under their belt, singer Hanna Toivonen and producer Tommi Koskinen found fans in the xx last year, who shared Phantom’s video on their tumblr. Like their British admirers, Phantom ooze whispered vocals over sparse accompaniments and ululating beats. “Kisses” is a promising track–if Phantom can manage to sample Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédie No. 1” without making a classical music fan cry, they’re onto a good thing.
There could not be a more promising start to 2013 than a collaboration between Glaswgow-based beatmaker Koreless and producer/singer Sampha. In 2012, Korelessreleased “Lost in Tokyo,” a track of beautifully minimal and melodic 2-step inflected electronica on Jacques Greene’s Vase label (he also guested on Greene’s Concealer EP.) Now he’s teamed up with SBTRKT-affiliate Sampha, forming Short Stories and releasing “On The Way,” a rippling, crooning tune that marks the perfect musical start to a new year–and to any DJ set. Short Stories’ debut two-track EP will be out on Jan. 28 via Young Turks.