Sunday 29 May 2011


Gil Scott-Heron is no longer with us. But what a tribute that had been prepared in his last months: the talents of a new star in production to take his voice, his words, and put them in a sanctuary of beats and synth. Jamie xx has immortalised the godfather of hip-hop, the grandfather of rap, the forward-thinking beat poet of years ago, in his own future sound of music. Let's take a look back at this amazing music, or if you're new to it, welcome to these sonic works of art. This is beautiful stuff, people - beautiful.

This is the star track from the album, first released as a single in late 2010. Its dubstep rhythm with a core essence of something like UK garage is very telling of Jamie xx's style. I love this sound, all of it: from the ghostly samples of Scott-Heron's voice to the bouncing kick that rises and falls throughout the song. Jamie sums it up himself:

I wanted it to sound like everything I had been listening to in London. I wanted it to sound like something you’d hear on pirate radio.
Jamie xx

This one has much more of a drum & bass feel to it, though the chopped up beats are something more akin to breakbeats. Jamie xx is another one of those producers who, like I mentioned about Clams Casino yesterday, knows how to utilise space to enhance its dynamic strengths of creating breathing space and tiny blips of quiet in which your ears naturally anticipate the sound carrying on. Much of this tempo of music is populated with guys who fill it all with tinny cymbals, giving the listener no rest or respite.

What a song. That piano chord progression gives it a sound like early house. The beat is much less ambitious in this song as the other two above, but it still packs a punch and means just as much as the complications between the kick and snare in 'The Crutch'. This one really shows off how well Jamie has treated Gil Scott-Heron's voice. It sounds absolutely perfect. I don't know what else to say. I cannot wait for Jamie xx to come up with something else, I suppose. I feel like I'm addicted to it all over again.

All of these songs are on 'We're New Here' - the Jamie xx remix album of the late, great Gil Scott-Heron's 2010 'I'm New Here'.

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April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011

Releasing his final studio album in 2010, the first in 16 years, Gil Scott-Heron will be remembered as one of the greatest influencers of hip-hop, exerting an avid, angry energy for poetry that he used against the racial and political turmoil of the early 1970s, he has become immortalised through his own poignant words through his years of activity in music. Most recently, he allowed - along with his producer Richard Russell - his last album, 'I'm New Here' to be remixed in its entirety (bar 2 songs) by Jamie xx as 'We're New Here'.

The decision to get it remixed by Jamie xx is telling of Gil Scott-Heron's character as one who likes to push things forward into new territories; it's generally unusual to get a whole album remixed by just one person, let alone a not-that-well-known, English producer. The original album itself marks a change, being more electronically-driven trip-hop or dubstepped-ambience than the soul/funk of his previous outings. Producer Russell even claimed some influence from The xx - hence the reason for Jamie's remix. But I'm digressing.

An absolute legend has passed away, and I'd like to remind you of or introduce you to 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' - a beautifully angry ancestor to modern hip-hop and the godfather of rap's most famous piece. The poem in full is below. Rest in Peace Gil Scott-Heron.

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
and skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
in 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, the revolution will not be televised, brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.

The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers on the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so God-damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally screwed Jane
on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.

The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock
news and no pictures of hairy-armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb, or
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, or Englebert Humperdink.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
bbout a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

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Saturday 28 May 2011


Two absolute gems from Clams Casino today. Clams casino is a dish originating from Rhode Island, US, consisting of clams served on the halfshell with breadcrumbs and bacon (thanks Wikipedia), an example of which can be seen to the right.

Clams Casino, aka Mike Volpe, is also a producer from the US. Just 23, and still a student, he's been making beats for over a decade - and doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. He has made beats for Lil B and Soulja Boy, to name a few, but I wouldn't peg him just yet, not until you've listened to couple of the instrumentals he's crafted. And hearing that he makes these unearthly beats from his mother's attic, whilst sending them to artists via MySpace (he said in an interview) based on nothing but who might be interested, well, he sounds a lot more interesting.

An instrumental used as a backing track by Lil B, 'I'm God' works absolutely perfectly on its own. The weird video above (taken from footage of 'Lost in New York', by Jean Rollin) suits the ambient vibes of the song totally. The sample in the song is Imogen Heap's 'Just For Now' and is used with such skill and genius that it turns into a different song. It's why this song just doesn't fit the moniker of remix, it's completely different. Everything that's done in this song is perfection. And the hard slap of the snare and that almost empty kick give it attitude enough to make it seem attractive to rappers, but minus Lil B, this track is a masterpiece.

What's interesting to note is the amount of space. As with a lot of modern hip-hop, where every space is occupied by a trembling electronic note or some ever-expanding synth, Clams Casino seems to worship the space he is given, making sure that what he builds over the top is well-thought out. After all, we need space to breathe. The minimalist speaks again with 'Motivation', another Lil B backer - and much better effort from B than his vocals on 'I'm God' if you ask me.

Clams Casino really utilises space in this song for some awesome dynamism; even the smallest things give the track a huge push towards perfection - for example, a tiny spot of clever production lies in the song at 1:59. Just a millisecond of nothing before those crashing cymbals and determined drums come back in. It's a gorgeous song overall, helped very much by the slow tempo sample. Where's it from?

"Well, the sample in "Motivation" is based on a 30-second clip of a voice and some noise in the background that I found online. I just search for free sounds-- that's how I get all my drum sounds," he said in an interview for Pitchfork. Everything about his songs is chopped up, he says. He makes anything, from Adele's 'Hometown Glory' (used on 'Realist Alive') to Imogen Heap, sound like his and his alone. And in all the chopped up, cut up, sampled slow downs and quick snap drums, there's nothing like that sounds like anything I've ever heard.

And this is handy, as now Clams (@clammyclams on Twitter) wants to focus on putting out instrumentals and instrumentals only, thinking that rappers ask for tracks they don't use. He's put out his mixtape for all to hear - download that here. Failing that, enjoy these two songs and have a look for more on YouTube. He is active on the site (see his comment above), which means that we might start to see his account putting out a ton of new stuff soon. For now, you can revel in what he has put out already and enjoy the ambient hip-hop of a truly 21st Century producer.

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Wednesday 25 May 2011


...Basic bitches wear that shit so I don't even bother...

This is a surprise gem in a sea of mediocre hip-hop. Kreayshawn is insane. I started following her on Twitter (@KREAYSHAWN) for whatever reason, something to do with Andy Milonakis I think, and one day she posts this video and, well - she's the real deal.

Though she didn't compose the beats (which feature some pretty grimey bass wows), she certainly composed the bars. The whole of 'Gucci Gucci' is dedicated to pretty much slagging off girls who pretend to be IT, with their Gucci, Fendi, Prada accessories etc. - but who are in fact, by Kreayshawn's reckoning, "basic bitches". I know, it's great, right? So much attitude.

It's funny stuff, clever and contemporary, and moreover, relentless. It nearly doesn't stop throughout. With such a vent in just one song, I hope she will be able to come up with something just as cool after this. Judging from her Twitter stream, it's a certainty that there's going to be a lot more coming from this girl in the future.

As you can tell from this tweet on the left, she's very responsive to her followers/following. Not only is she pretty much always tweeting, but she's always replying to tweets as well - perfect to engage potential listeners of your music, don't you think? But despite this, she doesn't seem to be everyone's cup of tea.

Why? Because people have already put her in the 'hipster hip-hop' (hipster-hop?) category. One commenter on YouTube coined it wonderfully as "tumblr hipster-hop", part of "the faggot generation", based on this interview - another claimed she was "fuckin up the rap game".

I'm not sure how far I agree with this, or even if I agree with it whatsoever, but it just goes to show that people don't like things shaken up, and it's exactly what Kreayshawn is doing. Hipster or not, who cares. She's doing something different (American version of Lady Sovereign, anyone?) and she's doing it well. Just shut up, sit back, and listen to the swaggg.

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Tuesday 24 May 2011


This is Battles new single 'Ice Cream' from their forthcoming album, Gloss Drop. Released yesterday, the track has already been performed live by the band, in addition to the video already receiving nearly 300,000 views on YouTube.

As you could expect from Battles, this is not your run-of-the-mill rock. It's not your standard formula get in get out with your balls out and whatever rock. Any Battles fan can tell you that, you don't need me to tell you. Beginning with a dreamy little riff that gradually speeds up and up, accompanied by grunts (ugh...ugh...ugh..ugh-ugh-ugh; something sex-related, I'm sure), into a fast frenzy, the song then starts in full. There's definitely a summer feel around this song, helped by the strange distorted staccato organ riff that runs throughout.

High-pitched guitars squeal throughout, backed up with tight drumming from John Stanier, topped with crazy vocals: yells, yelps, and a catchy, if slightly incomprehensible, chorus - if a chorus it is. Nothing wrong with that though. In fact, often when the music is as good as this, the lyrics play second fiddle to the awesome and pretty crazy Paganini-type first fiddle.

Coming from their upcoming album, Gloss Drop (out 6th June), it's an exciting piece featuring Chilean experimental musical artist, Matias Aguayo. There's certainly a Latin feel to this song - whether it's down to Aguayo's input, or the collaboration of the band as a whole for a slightly skewed direction as compared to their debut album, will have to wait until we hear their new effort in full.

For now, I think we're all pretty safe in the knowledge that Battles haven't changed too much. If anything, it's a lighter sound, more structured, less mathsy in its composition, than previous songs. It is completely different to something like Tonto, for example.

You can get the wonderful new single in vinyl form, as you can see on the left here, with some pretty nice pastel colours decorating the covers and records themselves. The pictures are of ice cream, believe it or not.

If you fancy one of these limited edition 12" (if you have a record player), head on over to Amazon or Norman Records. But it's good to download, if you prefer living in your era.

The album Gloss Drop is out 6th June. Have a little gander at the video below. It's a strange one, featuring everything from a naked girl eating ice cream in a bath (?), some beachside calisthenics, and a lot of colours. If you don't like seeing nakedness, don't watch for the first... 30 seconds or so. 

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Friday 20 May 2011



Checking music blogs yesterday. Wow. This was top post of every single one. Rightly so. She's huge. If you didn't know (how could you not?), this is Beyoncé's new single, 'Run The World (Girls)'.

But is this song huge? It's a completely different question. No doubt the video is fucking cool - pseudo-Bollywood choreography, some crazy costume changes, Beyoncé with some hyenas in front of what looks like a roadsign to Tbilisi (the capital of Georgia, of course), and a load of effects - but is the song cool? It's pretty much a split opinion, as you can see here.

Quite a few thumbs down. As for me, I love the dirty dubstep sound of about the first 50 seconds; after that I feel it descends into something that is a little jarring. Don't get me wrong, she's wicked, but I just feel the Major Lazer sample was Major Lazy. If used in conjunction with that introductory beat, this could've been an awesome song. When I first listened I thought I was in for an absolute treat, and I was for a bit. I kind of just sat through the rest. Not terrible, but really not amazing either.

Certainly an interesting go at using a sick song as a sample, but that interest peaks after a while and gradually flatlines. Definitely thumbs up for that bassy dancehall-esque kick that comes in and out. Either way, I'll be looking forward to the show she puts on at Glastonbury - I'd definitely like to have a look.

Was worried about posting this. All those girls look pretty angry.

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Wednesday 18 May 2011


Not a funeral's song, a FUNERALS song.


A great little tune. Ambient but persuasive, like something that gets you dancing before you've even realised that you're moving.

These guys are two producers, Casey Immel-Brown and Mollie Wells, a married couple from Ohio, and it must be a great marriage because there's nothing out of place here. Everything about this is well-polished, without it sounding well-polished, if you know what I mean. It sounds dirgey, whilst at the same time sounding pretty disco, dark and light, both at the same time. It's wonderful - from the high, hollow flute to the unrelenting house beat.

On a sidenote, they've also remixed some pretty good artists on their SoundCloud, including the wonderful Ritualz. God I love Ritualz.

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Tuesday 17 May 2011


There's a bit of a ghostly theme going on here...

Killer hip-hop influenced beats from the delight that is Ghost Eyes in their single released yesterday, 'Phantom Mountain'. The buzzsaw bass cuts deep and works with the mildly distorted drums to contrast the soft, anxious and unassuming vocals. There's definitely an Eastern influence in this particular song, and the overall tone - especially the vocals - reminds me of These New Puritans (if you don't know them, get to know them).

The video is pretty cool too, featuring some weird dancing. If you like their lightly layered samples, dirty electronica and totally heavy beats, check out Ghost Eyes on their SoundCloud or Myspace.

And if you really like them, go see them at these places:

17 May The Social, London
19 May The Queen Of Hoxton, London
21 May The Arches, Glasgow
22 May The Deaf Institute, Manchester
05 Aug Underage Festival, London

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Monday 16 May 2011


This is Ghosting Season's video for 'Far End of the Graveyard' - the lead track to be taken from upcoming EP of the same name.

It's a mix of dreamy, euphoric synths and dark, rumbling bass that is an undercurrent throughout the song. It's nearly like Witch House, a really interesting genre of music - the band name definitely fits the bill (former name, worriedaboutsatan, even more so). They're new to 2011 in this format, but have been touring for half a decade under their previous, more anxious moniker.

Check their SoundCloud if you'd like to listen to this song over and over again:

The duo, Gavin Miller and Thomas Ragsdale, will be playing a number of dates over the next couple of months:

May 18th The Star and Garter, Manchester w/ Cloud Boat (more TBA)
May 19th Liverpool Sound City Festival @ The Kazimier, Liverpool w/ The Whip, Yuck, Chad Valley, and others
May 20th Ice Father Nation, London w/ Teeth!!
June 17th The Lexington, London w/ Demdike Stare and others
August 12th Beacons Festival @ Heslaker Farm, Skipton w/ Jamie XX, Mount Kimbie, Factory Floor, and others

Ghosting Season's 'Far End of the Graveyard' EP is out Monday 30th May
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