The world of electronic music gets noisier and more crowded by the minute, with few artists truly standing out. Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus is busy creating his own universe, one that refuses to be defined by a category or genre, mixing jazz, hip hop, R&B, and experimental electronic music to make something new entirely. His fifth proper album, You’re Dead, pushes his metaphysical sound with a 19-song concept album, centered around Ellison considering his own mortality and mourning those he has lost.
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With November and December usually being a dead period for new music releases, fall is really the last part of the year for big music releases, and it looks like there will be plenty worth talking about this fall. So as a quick look at some of the best stuff to come out thus far this fall and yet to come, here are five hand-selected songs for your cool and colorful fall.
Continue reading “LxListening: Fall’s Finest ’14”
Last week brought about one of the more peculiar, but interesting pairings I have heard in terms of artist sampling. 12 year old Willow Smith (famous for her 2010 single “Whip My Hair” and also for being the daughter of the GREATEST actor alive, Will Smith) dropped her new single which samples Radiohead’s bleak but beautiful tune “Codex”, from their King of Limbs album. That’s right; Willow shocked everyone, from her tween fans to Radiohead geeks far and wide, with her song, “Sugar and Spice”. The kicker is, it is actually not a bad song! Musically, it is just “Codex” in its entirety. Lyrically, it’s a surprisingly long and very emotional song written by a 12 year old. Willow went from having one of the biggest pop singles in the world, drawing in a fan base of millions of tweens by being bouncy, loud, and hilarious, to dropping a melancholic introspective of an emotionally wrecked teenager set to the music of a band unknown to most kids her age. This is not only an incredibly ballsy move, but at its core value, a brilliant song for a young girl to put together.
Despite what the trolls of YouTube may say, this is not a “travesty” or a “misuse of Radiohead”; rather a young girl who was inspired by a great band and released a raw and poignant song about her struggles. You may not agree with this statement, but if more people in the music industry took chances like Willow has, the industry might be worth a bit more of a damn these days. But I digress; I was inspired to listen to many other Radiohead samples this week, in search of what makes these samples more socially acceptable than Willow’s. The answer? Nothing, really. It’s merely the fact that she is only 12, which apparently makes her inexperienced and unqualified to turn an existing song into her own original piece of art, which everyone else is doing these days. I could talk about this forever, but I will just list what I have been listening to lately … a bunch of songs that sample Radiohead, including Willow’s.
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2012 turned out to be a pretty great year in music. I think all three of us would agree the offerings in 2012 were deep in really good albums, without many albums rising to the level of true greatness. That being said, I think I would rather have a pool of 60-80 really good albums come out in a year than 9-10 great albums. Around here, we like variety, and we certainly got it this year. There was a surprisingly surge of good hip-hop released in the second half of the year (Killer Mike, Nas, Meek Mill). There was the long-awaited return of all-timer female singer songwriter types (Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Regina Spektor). And there were also several much-anticipated sophomore wide releases (Sleigh Bells, Tame Impala, Beach House, Twin Shadow). All in all, there may not have been a lot of perfect albums this year, but it was still a great year in music. Enjoy the top 20.
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Until the Quiet Comes
If you missed our top ten list last week, we focused on our favorite descendants of musicians. Had we optioned all family members and not only on direct descendants, Flying Lotus would have neared the top of our list. The great-nephew of the late John and Alice Coltrane, Flying Lotus has seemed to have pulled heavily from his great aunt and uncles jazzy gene pool. Combining old styles of free form jazz with a new electronic sound may not be completely originally attributed to Flying Lotus, but he has certainly mastered and popularized it. One reason I love jazz is because of its ambiguity. It has so much room for imagination and interpretation. It doesn’t force you to think any one certain way, it allows you to feel and create your own use for the music. There are moments in this album that feel so tense and claustrophobic that it makes me feel so anxious I need a cigarette (and I don’t smoke), but by the next song I am relaxing on a beach with a Corona in hand. Seamlessly fusing an album of this nature together is an accomplishment all on its own. The fun that comes with it is just the icing on the cake.
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