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cd review: health: get color
21 September, 2009, 1:00 PM
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Reviewed on Monday, September 14, 2009 by Areti Sakellaris
Published on URB.com; Summer 2009 URB
Lovepump United
4.5 Stars

Fresh from touring with Nine Inch Nails, Crystal Antlers, and Of Montreal, HEALTH set about producing their sophomore album, Get Color, straight onto 2 inch tape to amp up their already magnificent auditory experience. Citing a rich array of artists from the post-punk, new wave and early indie eras as influences, HEALTH layers richly constructed noise in a brazen explosion of talent and distortion to offer an exquisite and weird sophomore album.

One-two-punch album opener “In Heat” kicks off a collection of tracks featuring killer harmonizing and a riveting juxtaposition of otherworldly vocals and hypnotizing instrumentation. If their self-titled album was a colossal wall of sound, Get Color is an ocean with increased depth, variety, and ambition. Each song boasts enhanced cohesion, achieved mostly by strengthening their repetitions and loops, while the bombardment of drums and distortion is more powerful than ever before.

The four-piece continue their fierce DIY aesthetic, working without a producer for the second time around. And if their self-titled debut sometimes sounded like a learning experience, this time around, the sound is more assured, even if the vocals are softer, more ethereal.

Also newly added is the band’s own version of the ballad, two of which “We Are Water” and “In Violet” delicately close Get Color. For some, HEALTH will still be written off as noise, but for fans, it sounds like the quartet tapped into its groove.

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x games 3d movie premiere + the crystal method
21 September, 2009, 12:59 PM
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Posted Friday, July 31, 2009 @ 12:33 in Culture by Areti Sakellaris
Published on URB.com

Sal Maselaka from E! warmed the audience up, making some awkward insinuations about a particular Heroes starlet and an athlete, but gossip aside, he got back to MCing and presented X Games founder Ron Semiao with a plaque acknowledging the fifteen anniversary of the games. Semiao was beaming and with Steve Lawrence, the movie’s director, they introduced the show and we were underway. BTW, they both came out wearing their 3D glasses; the event was laid back and full of hollers from the audience–not your everyday premiere.

Kevin Loza gets things going as he’s revving up his dirt bike, making jumps, and landing in the foam pits. He said he doesn’t like dirt bikes, they’re “scary” but the adrenaline high seems beyond worth it for these athletes. Not gonna lie, it was pretty hot.

The film is more of a documentary than a movie, and it shines a spotlight on Loza, Danny Way, Shaun White, Travis Pastrana, Ricky “The Goat” Carmichael, and Bob Burnquis. It intersperses the slams, drama, and joy of last year’s X Games with behind the scenes footage of practice sessions and, in the case of Way and Burnquis, jamming in the band they share.

Disney teamed up with ESPN to produce the movie, which will only run for one week, beginning August 21st, and the attention to production details resulted in this superb visual ecstasy. When White is snowboarding, snow flakes seem to fall on your shoulders, and your stomach drops when Way keeps attempting to hit his run (or break every single bone in his body, your choice) on the Big Air ramp–Disney makes things unbelievable.

The soundtrack was sick, featuring the lush tones of L.A.’s own The Crystal Method. Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland were spinning on the decks during the Red Carpet festivities, and the Nokia Plaza was crawling with skaters of all ages, shaggy hair, Supras, and all. Personally, I cannot listen to “Drown in the Now (feat. Matisyahu)” without starting to dance, which I did in my seat (confession!). Crystal Method tracks, expansive as they are, just lend themselves to the majesty of these guys flying through the air or Pastrama racing his Rally car at breakneck speeds in a cloud of dirt. Peter Gabriel and Lord Jamar sing the opening with a performance of “X Games Without Borders,” a remake of sorts of an older Gabriel number. Tobias Enhus loans his expertise on original tracks… and an X Games movie wouldn’t be complete without Green Day’s “Restless Heart Syndrome” and “See the Light.”

Inside, there was a surprising number of little tykes with their parents, the ones in front of me were swooning over Tony Hawk, who was a few rows behind. The glimmer in their eyes was really touching, and they were completely into it, which made the event more fun. Plus, with each athlete came a tale of sacrifice, and confessions about their goals, drive to succeed, and practicing hard until they nailed a trick. Very inspirational and, even if some of the tricks are downright insane, the creativity required to imagine soaring through the air, 70 feet above the ground, turn this way and that, then land backwards is enough to make your head spin.







cd review: richard hawley: truelove’s gutter
21 September, 2009, 12:52 PM
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Reviewed on Thursday, September 17, 2009 by Areti Sakellaris
Published on URB.com
Mute
4 Stars

Some folks take the dark and melancholy route so literally that the listener is expired by the final track, but not so for Richard Hawley on Truelove’s Gutter. While this is the time to defend the album and say that it’s not about being down in the dumps, it definitely spends time there, but the title is an actual forgotten swab of land in his hometown of Sheffield, England. It seems like the perfect setting for Hawley’s sixth studio album.

What immediately comes across is a reflective record draped in subtle tones and minimal ornamentation. “You’re the thorn/You’re the crown/Baby, don’t get hung up in your soul/Don’t let them make your heart cold,” Hawley offers on “Don’t Get Hung Up on Your Soul.” Tugging at the sadness living within, “Soldier On” with its majestic culmination enveloping the words he has “longed to say” as a testament to his love, is the album’s centerpiece and encapsulates the scope of Gutter.

“Don’t You Cry” shakes the album with its eerie opening measures and a tragic sense of beauty and decay, it might as well be a Poe poem dreamed to life. The antique instruments Hawley and his band used imbue an element of whimsy and character that slick production or modern-day instruments cannot compete with.

Hawley wanted to take a new direction with this album and his label offered him the go-ahead to cultivate the album he always wanted. Challenging himself to be more revealing in his writing, seems to have increased his confidence as a musician, recording his guitar solo on “Remorse Code” in one take makes the case. Truelove’s Gutter collects real and raw emotions and transforms them into a delicate symphony.

Hawley’s albums have been lauded in the international press, by the likes of R.E.M. and Radiohead, and he’s recorded with Elbow and Arctic Monkeys—the young lads admitted Hawley was “robbed” when they won the 2006 Mercury Prize instead. Still, that doesn’t matter because Truelove’s Gutter is a winner for his fans.



cd review: zizek: zzk sound vol. 2
21 September, 2009, 12:45 PM
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Reviewed on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 by Areti Sakellaris
Published on URB.com
Nacional Records
5 Stars

International dignitaries pose as trendsetters on ZZK Sound Vol. 2, delivering a kaleidoscopic array of electronica, dancehall, and cumbia. Come prepared.

After a dismal 2004 club fire, officials in Buenos Aires all but squeezed the life out of the once flourishing underground music scene. “No Dancing” signs haunted the city’s revelers, and Zizek’s founders El G and Nim would be the answer to the plague. Under the guiding light of resident DJ Villa Diamante, Zizek became the place for restless musical imaginations to wander into and dance their way to nirvana.

The compilation is a party favor with something for everyone with its range of nationalities and styles represented. “Brooklyn Cumbia” seems like an innocent enough opener beckoning a listen; then “Piolaboy (featuring Fauna)” launches into a tropitronica cocktail; and Frikstailers mash it up on “Cumbia Kamisama.” Changing gears is Chancha via Circuito’s “Prima,” which is an ambient electronic track with a runaway crescendo. Things get sensual with floorboard busting track “Soloina (Pastnerak Remix),” and if that was for the ladies, Axel Krygier’s “Cumbia Tucumana” wraps hip-hop over cumbia and dancehall for the chicos.

It’s nothing short of ironic that this collective of DJs and producers is making a global splash because this crew decidedly lives in their own world without rules and categories. Soak in the hues and tints of Vol. 2, subtle as it is audacious, breathy as it is aggressive; it’s a wicked trip to another place.



cd review: sally shapiro: my guilty pleasure
21 September, 2009, 12:42 PM
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Reviewed on Wednesday, September 09, 2009 by Areti Sakellaris
Published on URB.com
Paper Bag Records
2.5 Stars

My Guilty Pleasure doesn’t live up to its alluring title. With a handful of good moments, and one standout track, this sophomore effort by one Sally Shapiro and her producer Johan Agebjörn, is mediocre.

The Swedish duo’s follow-up to 2007’s Disco Romance, which garnered a nod as one of Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of the year, lacks the drunken dance grooves and blissed-out sonic booms crossing the Atlantic to our shores. My Guilty Pleasure struggles with lyrics and sounds particularly bland.

The blogs fueled the initial round of success and supported two remix albums with the Junior Boys and the Juan MacLean lending a hand, plus scoring a song on Felix da Housecat’s 2008 mix. But My Guilty Pleasure can’t push the envelope and it sounds like it holds back; whereas, some other albums transform that tension into excitement, My Guilty Pleasure falls short. With all it’s dreamy packaging and song titles like “Miracle” and “Moonlight Dance,” it’s really more like a bleary-eyed Sunday morning album that fades into the background.

“Looking at the Stars” can’t hold up the entire album, though it makes a bold attempt. Following that track is “Love in July, which is more of the same easy, romantic lyrics but with so much stellar music coming from Nordic land, Sally’s nine flimsy tracks can’t catch a break.



cd review: bomba estereo: blow up
21 September, 2009, 12:38 PM
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Reviewed on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 by Areti Sakellaris
Published on URB.com
Nacional Records
4 Stars

Bomba Estéreo is a funky underground talent revealing a genre-busting, linguistics-defying release with Blow Up. The Colombian group rolls out an original mix of electronica, dub, hip-hop, champeta and cumbia for the Nacional label, which has been recently garnering extra attention for their pan-Latino sound.

Lead vocalist Liliana Saumet’s wildly playful lyrics explode when in contact with Simon Mejia’s guitar and synths. Saumet’s sultry style is a hybridization of Nelly Furtado with the precision and attitude of M.I.A. “Fuego introduced the world to Bomba’s Technicolor world. “La Nina Rica is as mind-blowing as it is steamy. Dedicated to the “people dancing in the street” is the anthemic party track “Feelin,”” which weaves English and Spanish with Diego Cadavid’s percussion and Kike Egurrola’s drums. “Raza wraps the album and includes a shout-out to Saumet’s hometown of Santa Marta. This is a group comfortable with their heritage and eager to share it with fans the world over.

Mejia started in 2005 and released an album of instrumental work, and hooking up with Saumet brought out the fire and organic influences of Colombia’s colorful coast and musical traditions. Together, they produced an inclusive record, managing to get the non-Spanish speakers in the crowd up on their feet.

With Saumet’s thrilling voice, Mejia’s brilliant feel for the music, and their wanton exuberance, keep a jug of water handy.



cd review: juice aleem: juresalaam come
21 September, 2009, 12:34 PM
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Reviewed on Monday, August 17, 2009 by Areti Sakellaris
Published on URB.com
Big Dada Recordings
4 Stars

He came, he saw, and Juice Aleem conquers with his solo debt Jerusalaam Come. Combining the other major UK export, dubstep, Juice assumes a stance few achieve with success in the hip-hop community. Say hello to an accredited MC with as much spitfire as sophistication.
Longtime player in the hip-hop community, the Birmingham native holds rank with New Flesh and Gamma, and worked with Coldcut, Hextstatic, Evil 9, just to do some name-dropping. With Gamma/Shadowless producer Blackitude producing the majority of the cuts, Juice shines at sharing the world through his eyes after decades of traveling and performing, and his lyrical prowess is unshakeable.

His songs don’t leave anyone unscathed, and he makes no pains to sugarcoat it for his audience, like on “The Fallen (Gen. 15. 13)”: Those from the most highest now to the lowest of the low, few question why, but, there you go… angels fell upon the floor from no need to eat to eating the meat raw, greatest of richest minerals and pure ores, now strippers addicted to fingers remain poor… the language we use now proves fatal…

Packing a punch, “Higher Higher” is a classic battle track complete with a bell to signal the end of each round. Juice continues to throw down the gauntlet with “You Shut the ____ Up” for all those other sorry MCs to rise to the occasion and earn props for their skills, not for packing. This album has a range of influences, and “Sang Real,” French for “real blood,” leaves no doubt Juice is proud of his background and how he’s carried himself as a performer.

“Somebody better be running and telling them brothers that they can’t flow…” begins Jerusalaam Come, and Juice dominates in putting people in their place. In his wake, he leaves them a primer on how to be an excellent and engaging MC.