VIDEO: Jess Harlen’s “Watch The Water”

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Jess Harlen is a new artist who calls Melbourne, Australia home. Her brand of soul/reggae will appeal to fans of Katchafire, Jack Johnson, Donavon Frankenreiter, and Camile Velasco. She is signed to a new subsidary of Obese Records called Plethora, where Harlen will be releasing her Neon Heartache album in February 2010 (just in time to make an impact before Valentine’s Day.)

If you like her and the sound of her music, you should also be introduced to producer Plutonic Lab, who was involved in the entire project. Take a look at some of his credits on his MySpace, and you’ll want to start exploring his work (which you should).

This is the first single from the album, called “Watch The Water”. Then watch out for Harlen in the new year.

SOME STUFFS: Lymbyc Systym gyt rrn trr fr 2010

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If you can’t figure that out, I’ll be like butter and clarify. The group is called Lymbyc Systym and they are about to go (gyt) on (rrn) tour (trr) for (fr) the new year.

Brothers Jared and Michael Bell are going to tour in support of their new album, Shutter Release on Mush (to be reviewed here very soon). Here are the confirmed tour dates:

01/07 Seattle, WA High Dive *
01/09 San Francisco, CA Cafe Du Nord *
01/10 Los Angeles, CA Bootleg Theater *#
01/11 San Diego, CA Che Cafe *
01/12 Tucson, AZ Plush *
01/13 Scottsdale, AZ Chyro Arts *
01/15 Austin, TX Emo’s $

* = w/ Helios
# = w/ The One AM Radio
$ = w/ This Will Destroy You

Lymbyc Systym will also be touring Canada, Japan, and Europe in the new year.

Bedroom Anthem” (6.39mb)

SOME STUFFS: MFSL release new remaster of Rickie Lee Jones’ classic 1981 album

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Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab are now shipping their new vinyl remaster of Rickie Lee JonesPirates. This one is a part of MFSL’s GAIN 2™ Ultra Analog LP 180g Series, and was mastered from the original 1/4″ analog master tapes, insuring incredible quality. You can order your copy by clicking here.

VIDEO: No Bird Sing’s “Devil Trombones”

No Bird Sing are a hip-hop crew out of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and have already performed shows with Saul Williams, Eyedea & Abilities, and P.O.S.. The video is a song taken from their self-titled debut, and after hearing it and seeing the visual accompaniment (created by 14-year old Malone Mischke), you’ll no doubt realize that these guys are ready to make an impact outside of the midwest. They’re more than willing to work outside of the box, the real question is: are you?

Here’s a recent No Bird Sing radio live performance, captured on video.

SOME STUFFS: Franz Nicolay tours Germany/Austria in support of new EP

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Franz Nicolay has just come out with a 10″ EP called St. Sebastian Of The Short Stage (Team Science. Nicolay describes his music as “punk/rock/cabaret”, or at least that’s how his website describes him, and apart from music as a solo artist, he’s also a part of a group called Guginol, and a book of short stories called Complicated Gardening Techniques (to be published in January by Julius Singer Press.)

Here are the confirmed tour dates, which has Nicolay touring with Anders Wendin as Moneybrother
DEC 01 – Dresden, Germany @ Beatpol
DEC 02 – Essen, Germany @ Zeche Carl
DEC 03 – Bielefeld, Germany @ Kamp
DEC 05 – Berlin, Germany @ Postbahnhof
DEC 06 – Hamburg, Germany @ Grunspan
DEC 07 – Koln, Germany @ Stollwerck
DEC 08 – Munchen, Germany @ Backstagehall
DEC 10 – Karlsruhe, Germany @ Substage
DEC 11 – Innsbruck, Austria @ Weekender
DEC 12 – Ebensee, Austria @ Kino
DEC 13 – Vienna, Austria @ Wuk

REVIEW: Mic King & Chum’s “Flavor Ade”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Icon The Mic King is someone who I’ve been following for a long time, and now as he simplifies his name to be the appropriate Mic King (his real name is Michael King, so maybe this was meant to be). With slight moniker modification, it definitely does not signify simplicity in his writing, style, and execution of his rhymes. He teams up with producer Chum (known to some as The Skrilla Guerilla) for a great album called Flavor Ade, and this is an example of someone who is showing how confident he is in his own shoes.

Some rappers will choose to rap two ways: have a cocky attitude that is meant to represent fake gangsterism, and then a mock romantic attitude that is nothing more than a lure to bring ladies into their realm. Maybe it’s a facade that some people enjoy, but Mic King plays a different role in “Gimme Some Sugar”, or at least, his swagger here is mixed in with a bit of humor that isn’t often heard in other rappers who talk the talk, but little else is happening. “I’m The Best Mayne” has him trying to talk about his chain dangling in a Lil’ Wayne manner, but the singer (a self-proclaimed “Robot Boy”) that does his thing with Auto-Tune sounds like what would happen if you got someone who was not only off-key, but off-tempo, and turned him into a star. It could be parody or mockery, but it works, with the power of Greyskull.

Throughout the album, Mic King and Chum go from modern hip-hop tomfoolery to early 90’s new jack celebration, to exploring some of the more appreciated hip-hop sounds of the last decade. This makes sense since that’s what he was raised on, but then get into the album’s last track, “Kind Of Woman”. He does a few lines and verses in double time, and it’s as if he knows he can do other styles with his eyes closed, and this is on the next level shit. Not only that, but his speedy delivery here not only sounds good, but he’s making sense, it’s not the hip-hop equivalent of Al Jarreau or Bobby McFerrin where all he’s doing is saying “I got the business, doopidi doopii, doo, dearrwww dearrwww.” Mic King is a no-bullshit rapper who isn’t afraid to shine the spotlight on the bullshit in the music, as if to say “this is what you’re loving, I got something a lot more satisfying.” With Elzhi of Slum Village helping out in the string-ridden “Wordperfect”, and Slug of Atmosphere dropping an inspiring verse in “Snake Oil”, Mic King shows he is nothing more than a missionary on a mission who is in a position to go deep, while looking at you directly in the eye. He’s not a doggie style rapper, and Chum is not a doggie style producer, his samples and basslines are appropriate, the transitions in “Wordperfect” are award-worthy and I hope he gets recognized for that alone.

REVIEW: Curse Ov Dialect’s “Crisis Tales”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Curse Ov Dialect could mean “cursive dialect” or “curse of dialect”. If it’s the former, one can say that their ways of speaking has a lot more character and flow than whatever a “standard dialect” may be. If it’s the latter, maybe it suggests that if you are a fan of hip-hop but do not sound like what hip-hop is meant to sound like, which is that of an African-American, it may be difficult to impossible to break through. Fortunately, Curse Ov Dialect have been doing this for awhile and rather than try to conquer, they deliberately go out of their way to go their own way.

Crisis Tales (Staubgold) is the follow up to their great album, and as before, the production and sample manipulation is part of their appeal, because they’re twisting things up that I wish others would make their own. Lyrically and vocally, they are proud to be Australian and show this by rapping with a specific accent in mind. To my ears, some of the tracks sound like old Hollywood, old cartoon, or old vaudevillian voices where it’s bigger, bolder, and louder than life, as if they are used car salesman, latex loving farmers, or puppy professors. That in itself may cause people to want to turn this off, because it’s not in a “standard hip-hop dialect”. It’s also not an Australian hip-hop dialect either, or at least not a specific one, because throughout Australia (and New Zealand) you have rappers who have one voice and keep it that way. Curse Ov Dialect will rap under four voices or more. But give this a chance and a serious listen, because tracks like “Honesty In Monasteries”, “85 Percent”, and “Media Moguls” are some of the more interesting hip-hop songs you will have heard in some time, of any style, of any territory or country.

You hear voices that are rushing into the mix, and to have that backed by equally manic instrumentals? It is a hyperactive listen that you’ll either find incredible or blasphemy, but hip-hop at its best is about being blasphemous. Put down your rosaries.


REVIEW: The J. Davis Trio’s “These Things Happen”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The J. Davis Trio offer their brand of Chicago hip-hop with a bit of jazz and funk, with their formula being an MC rhyming with the assistance of three musicians. These Things Happen (Yo Yo Smuggler) has a similar feel of hip-hop albums from the early 90’s, somewhat dark and grimy (and that’s more to method of recording and production) but not dull. Julio Davis is the MC and to me sounds like a mixture of Gift Of Gab and a more laid back Shock G.. It’s the kind of hip-hop you might expect at a coffee shop or intimate club, and you can hear how these guys may interact with each other in a live setting. A track like “Do You Mind if We Dance Wif You Dates?” (the title inspired from a line in the film Animal House has a creepy gangsta vibe that one could see in a Cypress Hill track if they brought Q-Tip or Common in the mix.

With real instrumentation, one might expect the obvious comparisons to The Roots, but I hear the J. Davis Trio as a band who sound as if they came before and after The Roots, as if they never crossed paths. That’s a good thing, because a lot of times, you have hip-hop bands who try bring in instruments and they either sound like copycats or a coffee left in the pot for a day or two. These guys aren’t weak, and could easily rank themselves alongside Brand New Heavies, Breakestra, and Crown City Rockers.

The dark and grimy feel also makes some of the tracks sound like demos, I would have preferred a more lively mix with a bit of brightness. At a time when every other person in music tries to use some kind of effect for their voice so that the special effect overshadows everything, you’re pretty much hearing Davis’ voice with minimal treatment, or at least “there’s absolutely no Auto-Tune.” These Things Happen may be nothing more than low-brow casualness, but it’s a way for them to also say “we have the goods, and we can prove it. Listen.” As you should.

(These Things Happen was originally released in 2007, but is being re-released on December 9, 2009. However, you can still purchase it through CDBaby by clicking on the appropriate icons below.)


REVIEW: Tama Sumo’s “Panorama Bar 02”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Tama Sumo is not a Japanese/German wunderkind, but rather a DJ/tastemaker who knows how to find the right music for the right time, place, and opportunity. His opportunistic ways are explored on a compilation called Panorama Bar 02 (Ostgun Ton), and the songs featured here are a mere hint of what it would be like to be in the middle of a Tama Sumo vibe.

He knows what he’s doing by combining songs like Steffi‘s “24 Hours”, John Daly‘s “Birds”, Basic Soul Unit‘s “Things Pass”, and Ost & Kjex‘s “Continental Lover” across this 21-track mix, and while I would have loved to have heard more, the reason behind this is to discover and have a desire to get more into the Tama Sumo experience, because listening to this is an experience. The CD has a number of unreleased tracks and exclusives, so you’ll want to get this for that alone.