A Quick Fix To A Problem

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“Jazz has been so dead for so long in so many different respects,” remarks David Slitzky, the drummer and producer of Skidmore-based Jazz trio Quick Fix, “that I think we can fill a certain void, and be labeled Jazz.”

       That’s the plan: to refresh Jazz in a modern, innovative, and progressive way, breaking away from the stubborn, decade-strong Jazz tradition that has been ingrained into the minds and fingers of these classically-trained musicians. Dave, Will, and Andrew are Jazz kids, wholeheartedly part of a sect of their generation that fawns over Thelonious Monk melodies and Jaco Pastorius bass lines; these are passionate kids, well-versed in an art that flourished before their time, an art that few their age know anything about. What makes Quick Fix and their contemporaries such dynamic Jazz artists are their far-reaching influences, with the ability to pull from and comfortably balance Hip Hop drum parts, psychedelic Rock synth work, electronic sampling, and Funk-induced bass lines. They’re not tied down by the parameters of their classic genre, but rather, they embrace the ability to meld modern technology and music theory with that of the Jazz greats.

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Things That Don’t Get Lost


This was written as a part of an English class called Writing Rock. 

Working in the radio business for over 40 years, my dad has lived around music and music culture for much of his life. Folk rock, blues-rock, psychedelic, whatever; he grew up through the 60s and 70s, listening obsessively as music matured and stretched across decades. His record collection is rich and extensive, rivaling that of any self-respecting, music-loving baby boomer; a music library that I never connected to, that I never valued—at least not as much as my older brother did.

Zach marveled. He scavenged through every appealing piece of wax, devouring one after the other. While I frequented blogs, searching for free downloads of music by young, struggling rappers nobody had ever heard of, he absorbed weathered classics like Abbey Road and Tommy. I cut through Nas verses and tried to learn every word from Outkast tracks while he grappled with Hot Rats, doggedly trying to understand the obscure oddity that is Frank Zappa. Zach knew these were treasures, and more importantly, he had the patience and wonder to dig them out.

I shrugged off those classics for hip hop. It set me apart. It gave me a whole new history from that of my dad’s records or my brother’s interests. It was a body of music that went untouched in my household until I brought it in. I took pride in that. But when you’re surrounded by such a wide set of music and a deep history in torn record sleeves, it’s hard to ignore.

 

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[primer] Sigur Rós

Why should you, the English speaker, care about a lethargic Icelandic band? Jón (Jónsi) Þór Birgisson (that little “Þ” norse doodad is pronounced “th” as in “think”) sings in Icelandic, and sometimes in a gibberish language he called Volenska. Most of the longs are 6+ minutes long and rarely top 100 beats per minute. Their newest record sounds like if Trent Reznor took downers and uppers simultaneously and headed into the studio for completely reasonable-length recording sessions.

You should care because among the confusion, therein lies beauty. The key to unlocking Sigur Rós’ music is processing the vocals as another instrument. With a four (now three) person band, Sigur Rós take advantage of scene-building beyond your typical guitar-bass-percussion-vocal arrangement.

Critics have dubbed Sigur Rós sound as “post-rock,” but their music isn’t post-anything. It’s both un-graspable and so very present. The unjust label – wholly lumping a casual fan’s listening experience on a tendency to enjoy classical meets rock ‘n’ roll – might turn a new listener away before he or she even starts. I want to dissect a few of Sigur Rós’ albums in the order that might appeal to a Stars of the Lid fan and/or a Slint fan. If you don’t know who either of those bands are, then just assume you’ve been transported to a rocket ship whose engines are ready to ignite at a snail’s pace – you’ll go somewhere, but not fast and very deliberately. Continue reading

St. Vincent: St. Vincent

UPDATE: Listen here

Annie, you slay me.

Seriously, after three albums of fantastical art-pop from Annie Clark’s demonstrative St. Vincent moniker and a collaboration with Talking Head David Byrne, St. Vincent roars back with a fourth and self-titled effort.

Annie has always had a penchant for guitar sound as a backdrop to her idiosyncratic lyrical patterns; it’s never been clearer than on “St. Vincent.” From opener, “Rattlesnake,” to closer, “Severed Crossed Fingers,” Annie weaves her bucket-to-the-face honesty as a sword cuts through chain mail: sharp, swift and unforgiving. The lyric that might catch your ear comes in the second track, “Birth In Reverse:”

oh what an ordinary day / take out the garbage, masturbate

Annie Clark does not care what you think of her morning. It might be bleak to some, but to her, this kind of morning captures her views on what it means to be regressing. To me, “Birth In Reverse” is her commentary on how we all seems so sophisticated as we get older, but really we’re getting more and more child-like.

Incredibly, this album gets denser and prettier at the same time. “Huey Lewis” and “I Prefer Your Love” are gritty love songs and “Digital Witness” and “Psychopath” are funk ballads about some seriously dark topics. I guess we can thank Mr. Byrne for some inspiration on those, but really this music is from the mind of a woman, whose music continues to blossom. For a fourth album to have this many new ideas while still capitulating Annie Clark’s sound is astonishing and an absolute delight.

Small concerns that bothered by on her previous releases, specifically on “Strange Mercy” are gone here: these songs don’t meld like those on the former. Instead, they complement and supplement each other perfectly. It’s obvious that this album has been mixed and sequenced with purpose and with gusto.

I only worry that this album will be lost in the year’s releases as “do you remember February, when this gem was released,” but this worry is minimal. Brava, Annie, you’ve slayed me.

St. Vincent is out 2/25 on Loma Vista/Republic Records. It can be preordered here and here and should be up on Spotify soon after its release.

A Ringer Rung Rhapsodic – Snowmine’s “Dialects”

Oh, I loved “Beast in Air, Beast in Water,” from Brooklyn-based Snowmine’s Laminate Pet Animal.

Two-thousand eleven was just such a tough year; halfway done with chillwave and mostly stifled under Bon Iver’s massive second record, lots of this brand of indie poppers (that are distinguishable through use of a drum pad in addition to a full or half drum kit) fell by the wayside.

Not this record. Snowmine’s resurgence comes at an important crossroads of consistent songwriting, sanctimonious harmonies and a burst of fun that I haven’t heard in a handful of years.

Have a listen or three.

Machinedrum – Vapor NYC

Ok so Machinedrum’s high-concept for his 2013 album Vapor City can be mostly goofy lots of times, but there’s a nestled inherent truth that tends to show itself about halfway through your fifth listening. It is, as he intended, a soundtrack for the city, a soundtrack’s soundtrack that crosses neighborhoods as it changes moods.

Moodiness isn’t something we look for in our electronic music – or in our cities for that matter – but it is something that often finds us, Gen Y, millennial, sadsacked and confused as we walk from one part of the city to another. With that in mind, I thought I’d try an experiment – where does each track fit in NYC and in Boston? (The cities I know). Stewart has said that his landscape for Vapor City is an ephemeral fiction, but fiction is based in fact. As fleeting as are our city’s demons, as go these.

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Leikeli47: Masked and Mysterious

With a DOOM-like veil over her face, a Beyonce-esque nerve in her voice, the evasiveness of MIA, and the hungry urgency of New York’s longstanding hip hop scene, Leikeli47 is an explosive young rapper to watch for in 2014. Her latest mixtape, Lk-47 pt. II, released January 9th on her Soundcloud, introduces a poised and impassioned artist, dynamic enough to reimagine Drake’s hit crooner “Hold On We’re Going Home,” feature snippets of Big Freedia’s “Y’all Get Back Now” and Mystikal’s “Shake Ya Ass” on an interlude called “Cus I Feel Like It,” and bounce effortlessly from gritty gun-totting lyricism to pointed criticism of American gender roles. Download Lk-47 pt. II here.