Archive for the 'culture' Category

Brand New at the Regency Grand Ballroom in San Francisco

On September 10th I went and saw Brand New perform at the Regency Grand Ballroom in San Francisco. This was an evening of firsts – it was the first time Brand New had been in San Francisco since 2009, the first time they had toured in a year, and my first time seeing them live.

Walking into the room, we all knew we were there for the same reason – the music we loved and an experience we would never forget. Each fan expected something different – for those seeing the band for the first time, they had no idea what to expect but knew it would be something they would remember; for those seeing Brand New for their fourth or fifth time, they knew the energy the band would bring but waited in anticipation for the songs the band would showcase. Everyone went straight to the front of the ballroom as soon as the doors opened, squishing up towards the barricade as close as they could in hopes that they would be able to catch something at the end of the show.

The show began and Robbers stepped onto the stage. They brought an easy indie vibe to the crowd that encouraged some bobbing heads and slow movement. After they closed their set, Sainthood Reps took the stage and brought a faster alternative vibe to the crowd causing them to jump and begin to push up closer to the stage. As I listened to both of these bands for the first time, I could tell that they were inspired by Brand New in some sort of way and pulled two different aspects from their music. Robbers was pulling from their slower, more melodic songs like “Jesus Christ” and “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot.” Sainthood Reps were getting their inspiration from songs like “Seventy Times Seven” and “Vices.” With both of these bands opening, they exposed the audience to different musical aspects that Brand New would tie together as soon as they took the stage.

It was at 10 o’clock that Brand New finally ascended the stage, opening with “Sowing Season (Yeah).” The crowd surged and went insane as soon as the first “Yeah!” was sung; while there was no mosh pit, the amount of movement occurring throughout the crowd never stopped. Halfway through their set they played “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad“, off of their first album Your Favorite Weapon, followed by “Seventy Time Seven”, a fan-favorite and my favorite song by them. The crowd went supremely crazy during these two songs because they are very fast paced and come from their early days.

Brand New continued to intertwine songs from different albums and made their encore “At the Bottom,” “Jesus Christ”, and “Soco Amaretto Lime. The last song was played just by Jesse Lacey, the lead singer, as the rest of the band members walked off stage. All the fans were singing and many had tears in their eyes due to the lyrics that Jesse changed from “you’re just jealous cause we’re young and in love,” to “I’m just jealous cause you’re young and in love.” The tears also stemmed from not knowing when Brand New would be back and playing shows, or when they would release their next album.

This was one of the best concerts I have ever been to hands down. While Brand New did not talk a lot in between their songs, make jokes with the crowd or involve them too much with the live show, they delivered a set list and performance that they knew their fans wanted to see. The unique thing about Brand New fans is that they don’t just know “the popular songs” or the newest album, but they love each album and know the majority or all of the songs they played. Simply put, they’re dedicated – I met people who had seen them the night before in Chico and drove down to San Francisco to see them again, and one person who drove sixteen hours to see the band. This made for the entire crowd singing each song, sometimes even louder than the microphone was.

While no one knows when the next Brand New album will come out, or how much longer they will be around, the performances they give are not going downhill or lacking in any aspect. The next time they come around I know I will be there no matter how much tickets are or how far I have to drive.

Album Review: 22º Beatitude (Tarun Nayar)

Vancouver-based DJ/producer Tarun Nayar is a member and producer of Delhi 2 Dublin, which we wrote about a couple years ago. While D2D gives us a unique brand of Indian and Celtic fusion, Tarun’s musical endeavors reach far beyond welding together two rich genres.

His creative outpourings are driven by a humanitarian need to cross cultural boundaries and bring people together. As a founding member of Beats Without Borders, it’s no surprise that his music ranges from Angolan Kuduro to Punjabi Bhangra to Jamaican Dancehall to UK bass music.

On March 1, 2011 Tarun released his first solo album, 22º Beatitude, which is comprised of 10 years worth of material collected from travels and recordings around the world. On the album, which he describes as his most personal work, Tarun eschews the use of sample libraries and instead includes a plethora of live sounds (ocean, voices, etc) blended in with traditional indian and other asian instruments and upbeat dance beats.

One of the more intriguing aspects of the album is that each song is based on a chapter of his life. The listener is not simply left to use their imagination, however, as the album comes with archival photos and videos providing them with a dynamic audiovisual experience.

World music inhabits an interesting part of the musical spectrum, especially those subgenres that combine traditional cultural sounds with more contemporary electronic beats. The results are not always as seamless and complementary as they were perhaps intended to be. However, when done well these kinds of songs can be incredibly powerful.

On 22º Beatitude, a few of the songs pass through your ears without leaving much of an impression.  The majority of the songs, however, manage to find that sweet spot. Beats, bass, and culture come together to create something that both pleases the ears and stirs the heart.

Songs not to miss: “Rising Up,” “Turkish Spice,” “Mamaji,” and “Water.” Definitely check those out. Overall, the live samples of sounds like cars honking, people talking and kids laughing give the album a very human and very global feel.

Tarun Nayar seems to be accomplishing what he’s setting out to do and will certainly continue to be a force to be reckoned with on the global fusion scene.

Camp Bisco Announces Remix Contest Winners and Launches iPhone App for Camp Bisco 9!

Since the Camp Bisco Remix Contest, powered by MixMatchMusic and, launched over a month ago in anticipation of the 9th annual Camp Bisco music festival in New York, over 130 amazing remixes have been submitted by aspiring DJs and musicians, and shared and voted on by fans. This was a contest of epic proportions that saw more entrants than previous Camp Bisco remix contests, all delivering wildly varied styles from nearly every continent. Today, we to bring you the winners!

The coveted grand prize goes to DJ Geoffro aka Topshotta of Harrisburg, PA for his dubbed out remix of the Black Seeds‘ “Slingshot”! Among other things, Topshotta will be receiving a free iPhone app, powered by MobBase, and will get to perform at Camp Bisco in front of thousands of festival-goers. Congratulations!

Black Seeds “Slingshot” Topshotta Redub by Topshotta

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to play a set at the massive Camp Bisco festival,” said Geoff Altoff, aka DJ Geoffro aka Topshotta. “The lineup this year is ridiculous. Thanks to everyone who took a moment to listen and vote on my remix, I appreciate it. There are a lot of great elements to that Black Seeds tune that I felt would translate well to a dub, so I tried to keep the feel and movement of the original, but put my spin on it and dub it out.”

Congratulations to the amazing runners-up:

Bassnectar “Cozza Frenzy” McArthur Bass Mix by Hubsmoke, Faccio & Reza
King Britt “The Intricate Beauty” Technobears Redux by Ed Haskins
Disco Biscuits “On Time” Full Static Mix by Aman Ellis

Today also marks the release of the official Camp Bisco iPhone app, powered by MobBase! Access artist bios, videos, photos, this year’s site map and schedule, a kickass photo gallery by veteran rock photographer Dave Cann, the facebook page, and of course the Camp Bisco twitter stream, all from the comfort of your own pocket. Be among those in the know, navigate your way around the festival with ease and be sure not to miss any of your favorite acts. Get this free app here.

We’re two weeks away from Camp Bisco 9 (you can still buy tickets) and the official Camp Bisco iPhone app is the best way to stay connected during this summer’s premier 3-day music festival (July 15-17). The ridiculous line-up includes everybody from LCD Soundsystem and Thievery Corporation to Girl Talk, Diplo, Bassnectar, Caribou, Gift of Gab and more! Be sure to visit the Camp Bisco website for all the details!

Music in the 2010 Academy Awards

“Movies without music are just snapshots”
~ Stephen Whitty

With the Academy Awards just a few days away, the exciting is growing. The heavy red carpet gets rolled out, Hollywood celebrities grin (hard under the influence of botox!) and bear it during their grueling last minute nips and tucks, starstruck fans buzz with anticipation, and talented artists from all facets of the film-making world hope and dream that this might be their year…

Let’s – just for a moment – bypass all the rest of the ruckus, though, and focus on the music. Though not a central theme, music plays an undeniable role in the biggest night of the year for film. In fact, though it rarely gets the attention it should, the music often makes the movie.

Naturally, we’ve got the four award categories that are music-related, which is all about the behind-the-scenes artists. These are the guys and gals who slave away composing, editing, and mixing and hardly get any recognition for their hard work. Unless, of course, they win an Oscar. Here is a breakdown of those categories and their nominees.

Music (Original Score): Avatar (James Harner), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Alexandre Desplat), The Hurt Locker (Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders), Sherlock Holmes (Hans Zimmer), Up (Michael Giacchino)

Music (Original Song): The Princess and the Frog for “Almost There” and “Down in New Orleans” (Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman), Paris 36 for “Loin de Paname” (Music by Reinhardt Wagner and Lyrics by Frank Thomas), Nine for “Take it All” (Music and Lyrics by Maury Yeston), Crazy Heart for “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” (Music and Lyrics by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett)

Sound Editing: Avatar (Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle), The Hurt Locker (Paul N.J. Ottosson), Inglorious Basterds (Wylie Stateman), Star Trek (Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin), Up (Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin)

Sound Mixing: Avatar (Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson), The Hurt Locker (Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett), Inglorious Basterds (Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano), Star Trek (Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin), Transformers (Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson)

Beyond the music-related categories, there are the movies about music, like Crazy Heart. Apparently, public opinion has Jeff Bridges taking home the Oscar for Best Actor. It’s his fifth nomination and this time, say fans, it’s his time. Over here at Evolving Music, we say movies about music and the profound role it plays in people’s lives should win more often! Actually, there should be more movies about music (and musicians) period. Interestingly, this year it seems the music stars themselves did not come out on top. Idolator points out that Leona Lewis’ Avatar theme “I See You” didn’t even get nominated (although it did get nominated for a Golden Globe.)

Whatever your predictions and sentiments are for the event his year, don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the music because, as the wise Stephen Whitty said, “Movies without music are just snapshots!” Speaking of shots, here are some drinking games for Oscar night in case you’re interested.

Souls of Mischief – Montezuma’s Revenge Review

Montezuma's Revenge, Steven Lopez

When you approach a decade between albums, especially in a genre as fluid and fickle as Hip-Hop, you run the risk of falling into irrelevance. Hieroglyphics Imperium’s Souls of Mischief, however, isn’t worried about perception. They’re worried about putting out what they consider quality music on their time schedule.

This isn’t to say that the past nine years have been absent of new music for the crew. Opio and A-Plus have both released solo albums and Tajai has remained consistently busy with solo and collaboration projects. After the 2003 release of Hieroglyphic’s sophomore album, Full Circle, the rumors of a new Souls of Mischief album kept building, but nothing seemed to surface. Even after an early 2009 interview where Opio and Tajai mentioned plans for a new song for download every week from Hiero Imperium, the only news of new Souls was more rumor. After such a long hiatus, it wasn’t surprising to see the release date for the long-awaited album pushed from November 10th to December 2nd.

It’s worth the wait.

Sporting cover art from renowned artist Steven Lopez, Montezuma’s Revenge drops today and should provide a healthy reminder of why this crew has retained credibility and a solid fan base despite the lack of regular releases in the flavor of the month hip-hop industry. Cover art isn’t the only place they brought in talent though, and the results are fantastic.

You only need a minimum of knowledge of Hip-Hop to have heard the name Prince Paul. Over the past 20 years, he has carved out a spot as one of the innovators, creators and most well-known producers in the industry. He has participated in groups from the ’80s pioneer Stetsasonic to the horrorcore originators, the Gravediggaz. With Paul announced as the primary producer for the album, it was anyone’s guess what direction the sound might head towards.

Prince Paul has chosen to take the backbone of the Souls of Mischief sound and amplify it with his personal flourish. The heavy basslines, creeping melodies, kicked back beats and slick guitar and string loops the Hiero crew members favor are all here, combined with catchy hooks, clever samples and seamless production in vintage Paul fashion. The resulting tracks are audio canvases that provide Tajai, Opio, Phesto, and A-Plus room to roam lyrically while sounding completely at home. Under Paul’s production, the group finds a consistency and energy missing from their solo efforts and reminiscent of the debut album.

“Postal” offers a lush string background and uptempo beat as the group raps about heartbreak and break-up, effortlessly making a down topic into a head-nodder. “Proper Aim”‘s addictive and naked bass line follows the one rapper at a time format and makes a good introductory track to new listeners still attempting to attach voice to group member. “Dead Man Walking” utilizes the constant keys and scales of West Coast rap to back lyrics dealing with vengeance and the street.

“Home Game” is an old-school cruising track with music, weed, driving and women as focus, lyrics finding the blend of relaxed flow and taut tempo. The album closer “LaLaLa” features quick back and forth between the group members over a drum and guitar sample combination and interspersed tambourines. The quick jigsaw exposes the chemistry of these four, never missing a beat or word between complex rhyme schemes and multiple voices.

And in between all of these songs? Tracks that show Prince Paul boosting the rich history of sound and style native to Souls of Mischief while letting Souls of Mischief effortlessly demonstrate the tenacity, chemistry and complexity of lyricism that has been their calling card since ’93. This one could be around for a while too.