Bumper Music Blog!

The Ghost Inside by Broken Bells  
Download now or listen on posterous

04 The Ghost Inside.mp3 (7775 KB)

A passing addiction to streaming television and a tightening of download security has kept me out of commission for much of this year. The music, however, has not succumbed to the senioritis that has afflicted yours truly. Indeed, there have already been a number of quality releases from a variety of both established not so well known artists recently. I'm not sure that 2010 has revealed a particular thematic direction yet, but it is clear that the indie sound is gradually starting to shift from the retro-synth pop sounds that dominated 2009, while at the same time this sound is becoming more and more common in the mainstream music scene. Alright, enough of the vague pontifications of music trends and on to the actual music that has caught my ear recently.

Artist: Hot Chip Album: One Life Stand (2010)

My reaction to Hot Chip's first album (Made in The Dark- 2008) was mixed. I found the marriage of their synth driven dance pop and somber (often emoish) lyrical content and delivery to be fun and intriguing at first. Somehow it didn't stand the test of longevity. There was something strangely annoying about that album, almost as if they were trying too hard to blend all their influences together in a confused jumble of songs and sounds.

Nevertheless, they impressed me enough for me to check out One Life Stand, and I'm happy that I did. Their sophomore attempt is decidedly more thematically consistent, and offers a less frantic, moodier sound that is definitely more Junior Boys than Cut Copy. One Life Stand strikes me as more of an actual album rather than a collection of songs, and this definitely makes the listening experience more fulfilling. From a genre standpoint, Hot Chip remains an electro-pop outfit, but adopts a distinctly more melodic and vocal focus to the album. Overall, One Life Stand still lacks the consistency in quality that I would hope for, but it certainly reflects a step forward in terms of musical maturity. And you kind of have to love a band that is so shamelessly in love with some of the cheesiest shit from the 80's, right??

Top Songs: One Life Stand, Slush, Thieves In The Night

Artist: Broken Bells Album: Broken Bells (2010)

A collaboration between Shins frontman James Mercer and Joseph Burton (AKA Danger Mouse), Broken Bells will without a doubt be one of 2010's standout albums. The two create an immersing musical experience that melds an airy, psychedelic retro 60's sound that Mercer seems to love with Danger Mouse's contemporary production techniques. The result is a deeply textured and rich sound that manages to sound nostalgic without veering into something that sounds overly derivative of their influences from earlier generations. At the same time, while somewhat experimental, the duo do not sacrifice the melody and rhythm, making the music something you'd actually want to listen to more than once or twice. Broken Bells is late night, headphone music at its best.

Top Songs: The Ghost Inside (downloadable from this post), Sailing to Nowhere, The High Road

Artist: Gorillaz Album: Plastic Beach

Damon Alban has transformed himself from a Britpop flag bearer (Blur) to the darling of a host of different yet intersecting music scenes, ranging from Hip Hop, Dub/Electro, and straight up indie and alternative.

The new Gorillaz album reflects these varied influences, but retains the inherently upbeat sound and off kilter humor we have come to expect from a group that continues to blend fantasy, art, fiction, and music into a single package.

Plastic Beach is a 'concept album' whose motif has something to do with ecology and modern consumerism. I dunno…something like that. I'm not all that fussed with the theme, but I am digging the music. Gorillaz have once again engaged some superb collaborators, ranging from seasoned veterans Mick Jones (The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite) and Paul Simon to young Grime emcee's like Kano and Bashy, throwing in the likes of Gruff Rhys, De La Soul (in the same song!), Mos Def, and even Snoop Dizzle for measure.

As the aforementioned list suggests, Plastic Beach definitely has a hip hop flavour to it, but it blends hip hop with a the diversity in production that characterizes all Gorillaz music. The only downside to the album is that it all seems a bit too scattered. It's difficult to get your bearings when so much is going on. It is a fun ride though.

Top Songs

White Flag, Rhinestone Eyes

Artist: Blakroc Album: Blakroc

Blakroc is a project created by Dame Dash (founder of rocafella records), who decided to get the superb blues rock duo The Black Keys into a studio with some top hip hop and R&B artists and see what would happen. The result was a magnificently raw, spontaneous and just plain good album that was recorded in less than two weeks (11 days to be precise). Dash manages to corral some awesome hip hop talent ( Pharoahe Monch, Mos Def, Raekwon, Q-Tip just to name a few), and this really sound and feel like an artistic endeavour, divorced from the distractions of making record sales and getting on TRL (or whatever those damm kids watch these days!).

Top Songs: Ain't Nothing Like You (Black Keys, Mos Def, Jim Jones), What You Do To Me (Black Keys,Jim Jones, Billy Danze, Nicole Wray)

Some other stuff that I've been digging but can't be arsed to write a ton about
1) Artist: Fujiya & Miyagi Album: Lightbulbs

2) Artist: Boards Of Canada Albums: Geodaddi, Music Has the Right to Children



3 responses to “Bumper Music Blog!

  1. Sorry, but “One Life Stand” is Hot Chip’s seventh album. While “Made In The Dark” is their fifth. Nice try though.

    • It seems like they have actually made 4 full length studio albums. They did come out with some EP’s along the way though. Guess we were both wrong!

  2. Pingback: New Music (Part II) « Musical Musings

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