Oct 15 2010

Currently Digging: The Corin Tucker Band

Corin Tucker, formerly of Sleater-Kinney fame, has released her first solo album with her new backing group, and while the results arguably aren’t as revolutionary as the work she put in with her seminal 90’s band, the music is still memorable.

The title track, in particular, shows 1000 Years as an album revealing a revered musician trying brave new things.  The screech of the riot grrl sound is minimal here, as the disc opens with a soft, acoustic-led song and moves to the poppy, jumpy “Half a World Away.”  Still, Tucker’s earnest vocals remain the same, even if she’s well out of her comfort zone.

Her past certainly is utilized, however, but only to further her progression – we can hear the loud punk attitude bleed through this mostly soft, introspective effort, as in tracks “Doubt” and “Riley.”  The ending product, however, is kin of maturation and experimentation rather than merely resembling a strong Kinney B-side.  The ending track, “Miles Away,” is a soulful piano number with a bright Tori Amos quality.

The slower, softer approach may be jarring for some SK purists, but she has certainly come a long way with her sound, and there are still some loud moments that give us an idea of where Corin Tucker has been and, something more exciting, where she’s headed.

The Corin Tucker Band – 1,000 Years

The Corin Tucker Band – Half A World Away

The Corin Tucker Band – Doubt

Oct 5 2010

Currently Digging: Superchunk – Majesty Shredding

The now-elder-statesmen of the Chapel Hill music scene (and the currently immensely popular indie rock machine), Superchunk have been off the radar for a while now.  Majesty Shredding is the group’s ninth album and their first in nine years.  While the band didn’t break up, they certainly have been busy with other projects (namely the cash cow Merge Records, which was founded by a portion of the group).  But while the terms previously used to describe the band’s sound -“indie,” “emo,” “power pop”- have changed since their 90’s heyday, they certainly haven’t.

And so we could surmise that time apart is, indeed, healthy – Majesty Shredding is one of the sharpest-sounding and hook-laden CDs of this year, and probably the strongest of Superchunk’s career.  It’s more energetic than anything most of Merge’s current roster could muster up, and it shows a mature, seminal 90’s band injecting a little perspective into today’s musical state.  The sound, for the most part, hasn’t changed, so how do they make it sound so fresh?  The answer is the same as it was then – no one does it like Superchunk.

Superchunk – Digging For Something

Superchunk – My Gap Feels Weird

Superchunk – Rosemarie

Sep 24 2010

Currently Digging: Toadies – Feeler

When Interscope turned down Feeler, the sophomore effort from Dallas natives the Toadies, back in 1997, they probably had no idea what they were hearing – an alt-rock sound slightly more progressive and ahead of its time than what was filling up the airwaves at the moment.  The late 90’s were a transforming period for most of popular music; we had yet to see the short-lived Latin craze, the boy band saga, or the nu-metal movement take full swing.  The execs at the major label quickly tossed this promising album aside because they simply didn’t hear another “Possum Kingdom,” the track that helped the band’s debut Rubberneck go multi-platinum.

After the promising second album Hell Below Stars Above, the band called it quits for a while, then returned with the hit-or-miss comeback album No Deliverance.  But this retooling of that lost album is a shining point in the band’s catalog, no doubt.  The crew went into the studio this summer and re-recorded a portion of the tracks from Feeler, giving them a fresher, edgier, and louder touch.  Frontman Vaden Todd Lewis’ now-raspy Texan wail provides a more aggressive approach to the already-pristine material.  The new album reveals a refreshed band playing previously shelved masterpieces from the era of their creative peak.  An essential listen for all Toadies and Texas music fans.

Toadies – Dead Boy

Toadies – Waterfall

Toadies – Suck Magic

Sep 14 2010

Currently Digging: Kelis – Flesh Tone

We all know Kelis as the girl that brought all the boys to the yard via her milkshake, but you wouldn’t correlate her past with her present after hearing her latest effort Flesh Tone.  Most critics have mentioned, when reviewing this new album, that Kelis recently went through a bitter divorce and had a child.  She has been branded as a new woman, with a renewed purpose and a complete musical makeover.

And that’s all pretty much true.  While we certainly can’t predict the future sounds this starlet will bring us (whose musical tendencies are sporadic, unpredictable, and always exciting), this time around she has traded in the slick post-R&B style for a Euro-pop, space-age approach.  And because the songwriting is pristine and the hooks are focused, it totally works.  The lyrics are poignant, emotional, and obviously dedicated to her new love – her child.  And while the words are sentimental, the beats are overpowering.  Never has a sweet dedication to one’s baby been so damn danceable.

Kelis – Home

Kelis – Acapella

Kelis – Song For the Baby

Sep 2 2010

Currently Digging: Star Slinger

Pitchfork has called him “Dilla-esque,” and that certainly is apt, but UK beat-maker Darren aka Star Slinger has more in his repertoire than just hip-hop. The influences of shoegaze, soul, funk, 80’s dream pop, and occasionally chillwave creep up in his beat-skipping tracks.  All in all, it’s hard to describe the sound of this Manchester resident, who began making music at the age of 14 after building his own computer specifically to produce beats.

Released in June, Volume 1, his first compilation, is a mix-and-match of all of the aforementioned styles – a wide, diverse serving of clipped, familiar samples, infectious melodies, and overpowering bass.  You can grab it at his Bandcamp site for free, as well as other mashups, remixes, and singles he has incessantly churned out this summer, all of which are highly recommended and pretty phenomenal.

Listen to a sampling below for a taste.  These are a few of my favorite Star Slinger tracks thus far.

Star Slinger – Minted

Star Slinger – Mornin’

Star Slinger – Longtime

Star Slinger – May I Walk With You

Coolrunnings – I Am You (Star Slinger Remix)

Jun 14 2010

Currently Digging: Dominique Young Unique

Discovered by FADER, praised by Pitchfork, and Buzzworthy’d by MTV, 18-year old Tampa native Dominique Young Unique is a wild hip-hop upstart with a flow that venomously deceives.  She may look and act sweet in interviews, but the quick and wit of this new female lyricist is intimidating.  My good friend Eric opened my eyes to DYU, whose new amazing mixtape Domination just hit the Internet this week (download it for free here – HIGHLY recommended); throughout, the girl’s got a flow that would stop peers Kid Sister and Rye Rye in their tracks.  Check a sampling of swagger below.

Dominique Young Unique – Blaster

Dominque Young Unique – War Talk

Dominique Young Unique – Show My Ass

May 28 2010

Currently Digging: A-Trak – Dirty South Dance 2

A-Trak is back with the amped-up sequel to his acclaimed mashup collection of 2007 that mixed the swagger of Southern-fried rap with dance-club ready beats.  Listen to the entire album below and download the whole thing for free at his website.  Be warned: this is perfect for this Memorial Day weekend, be it a BBQ, driving to a party, or a banging party at home.

Apr 28 2010

Currently Digging: Sleigh Bells

I know at this point I’m not educating anyone about this group, but I’ve been rocking them too much lately for me not to post about them.  Above is the cover art for Treats, the debut from Sleigh Bells, a Brooklyn duo consisting of a former hardcore rocker and a (supposedly former) elementary school teacher.  Treats drops on May 11 on Mom+Pop and MIA’s N.E.E.T. Recordings.

If you’ve never heard Sleigh Bells, and you’re at work or in a public setting, turn your speakers down NOW.  Shit is loud.  Basically they record sweet-as-candy singalong pop and record it on in-the-red settings so it’s blaring at a sometimes-unbearable level….on second thought, crank that shit.

All of the songs below will be on the new album.

Sleigh Bells – Crown On The Ground

Sleigh Bells – Infinity Guitars

Sleigh Bells – A_B Machines

Sleigh Bells – Tell ‘Em

Mar 24 2010

Currently Digging: Free Energy

Free Energy are a five-piece band from Philadelphia, PA, who specialize in kicking your ass with feel-good 70’s-lifted rock and roll.  Their new album, Stuck On Nothing, is ten tracks of pure easy-going fun.  If you don’t like having fun, you won’t like Free Energy.

I first saw the band live in New York during my CMJ escapades back in October 2009, and I saw them again last week at SXSW 2010.  Needless to say, they put on a hell of a good show.  The lead singer has a Julian Casablancas-like swagger, while the backing band delivers punchy, catchy bass lines and squealing guitar solos the Knack wish they wrote.

A sampling of rocking tunes from the group can be found after the jump.  Crank ’em up, pump your fist, and shake your ass.

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Mar 9 2010

Currently Digging: Tanlines

I saw these guys open for Ted Leo at CMJ in October, and it was a pretty enjoyable show overall.  I remember thinking that there are a lot of bands that are trying this indie-electro/tribal music in the vein of MIA, et al, but few manage to deliver with such irresistible swagger and inescapable melody.

Today the duo releases a new EP titled Settings (pictured above) and they have a slew of SXSW dates planned, so I definitely plan on seeing them again to observe their progression.  In the meantime, I’m jamming this track, “Real Life,” featuring a dominant drum beat that feels like it’s about to collapse but keeps coming back on rhythm, speeding up to catch up with the rest of the song.  And it succeeds, everytime.