Archive for October, 2009

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Hakuna Matata

October 21, 2009

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The only thing that Disney and dance music have in common is their ability inject the strongest dose of pure, unadulterated joy into even the most cynical of people. That was their only similarity– until now. House/hip-hop extraordinaire Douster has chopped up the Lion King’s opening anthem, “Circle of Life”, and fitted it with some heavy bass and spiraling synths. Its lighthearted touch raises shouts of “Sim-Ba! Sim-Ba!” rather than the dark and brewing “Scar!” chant that so much dirty electro embraces nowadays. Equal parts nostalgic love and electro fury, “King of Africa” is the 21st century answer to an old school classic.

Douster – “King of Africa”

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Getting The Hang Of It

October 21, 2009

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Now that indie has undeniably broken through the mainstream walls, we can credit The Strokes for ushering in this newfound mass-appreciation. With their 2001 debut, Is This It, frontman Julian Casablancas told us what happened last night, and the world responded by launching this group of grungy lads through the hype machine and into inescapable popularity. Eight years later, and Casablancas’ spark is getting a new dose of fuel.

We all fell in love with immediately lovable “11th Dimension,” the first single from his forthcoming solo album, but the next track to enter the blogosphere does not have the same “you’ll like this song, or you have no soul” quality as its predecessor. “River of Brakelights” opens with dark and ominous sounds, and when Casablancas moans “we might be in for a late night, stuck in a lava flow of brakelights,” memories of the forgettable First Impressions of Earth haunt us. But have patience– the song turns a corner, picks up speed and intensity, and the guitar driven chorus reminds us why we fell in love with this guy in first place. The pleasing and bouncy synths on “11th Dimension” are missed, but it’s nice to know the man still knows how to play a riff.

Julian Casablancas – “River of Brakelights”

*****

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It’s Always Too Loud

October 19, 2009

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It’s not exactly fresh off the press, but every time I show this song to someone, they too are shocked at how this groovy, synth-laden track from Erlend Oye’s solo project, The Whitest Boy Alive, passed by the music-listening public without so much as a nod. It’s a cut above anything he’s produced under this moniker—better than “Golden Cage,” better than “Burning.” Yet, for some odd reason, “Courage” flew under the radar, entirely undeservedly. It bounces along a stinging guitar chord that would sound harsh and out of place in any other context, but The Whitest Boy Alive manages to keep the song afloat through the breezy, stuttering chorus. When you hear him yelp “courage” over and over, you CANNOT deny this track. Production layered with bells, guitars, synths, and topped with Oye’s sweet, sincere croon, “Courage” will be sitting high above my year-end list, and I can only hope others are sharing this love for such an irrefutably killer tune.

The Whitest Boy Alive – “Courage”

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In other Erlend Oye news, his main project of Kings of Convenience just dropped a metaphorical bomb all over us in the form of Declaration of Dependence, the newest LP featuring Oye and his Norwegian pal Eirik Glambeck Boe. These guys dropping a bomb on us is the audible equivalent of a mouse screaming, but these acoustic duets are so sweet, pleasant and tasteful that their gentle melodies occupy as much space as any anthem U2 or Muse would release, but without the overly-produced nonsense that’s intended to hit an arena from wall to wall. The Kings show us how far — and how impressionable — so little can take us.

Kings of Convenience – “Mrs. Cold”

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Dry Your Eyes, Mate

October 12, 2009

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Almost exclusively, The Night Bird highlights brand new music and emerging artists. However, occasionally a song from past eras will ignite such a swarm of emotions that I’m just subconsciously propelled into the act of writing about it. Such is the case with “Dry Your Eyes,” The Streets‘ message to love-torn and heartbroken youngsters. With such simplicity, Mike Skinner tells us:

“Dry your eyes mate, I know it’s hard to take but her mind it’s been made up. There’s plenty more fish in the sea. Dry your eyes mate, I know you want to make her see how much this pain hurts, but you’ve got to walk away now, it’s over.”

It’s both refreshing and therapeutic, and with Skinner’s genuine sincerity, clarity and understanding making him a real person– your friend, your brother, your wise uncle– it takes a second to realize he’s not talking directly to you.

Or is he?

The Streets – “Dry Your Eyes”

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I Can Do It Anyway That You Want It

October 10, 2009

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When two of the most on-fire DJs team up for an all-star collaboration, expectations are set abnormally high. A-Trak and Armand Van Helden are spinning together under the moniker Duck Sauce, and their first single, “aNYway,” is a funk/house gem that sounds like something that would’ve been released in the 60’s if electronic music had been invented. 50 years too late it may be, but we are all now thankful that it’s finally been brought to our ears. A heavy bass line bounces the funk along a slippery and groovy chorus, and not since Franki Valli and the Four Seasons’ “Beggin” has an old school song received a modern day treatment to light up dance floors so magically. Grab the song below, and check out this video for the song, which captures the aesthetic perfectly.

Duck Sauce – “aNYway”

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The Super Epic Mega-Post

October 8, 2009

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Well. This is what happens– I don’t post for like a few days, then a couple more go by, and by that point, I start to get overwhelmed. Then a week goes by— then another, and by this point, it hurts to even look at this here blog without feeling ashamed, like I’ve abandoned my dog and stopped feeding her (don’t worry Chappy I’ll never do that). But then a spark of inspiration ignites a creative surge, and I just start writing until the paint peels off my keypad. This is what we like to call a megapost– hope it makes up for all the times I wasn’t there to feed you, and to my loyal readers (anyone? anyone?), I’m here for you.

This is really what happened. I’m currently living in Madrid, but before I got here, I spent two weeks traveling Europe. Those two weeks consisted of virtually non-stop moralistic dilemmas as I was merciless, unforgiving, and unremorseful towards my body in the pursuit of partying in Mykonos and Ibiza. I’m still recovering. But those two weeks, and the month I’ve spent here in Madrid has been indescribably amazing. Honestly, I’m experiencing unprecedented fun. And of course, there’s the music accompanying my journeys.

I’m not sure how keen I am on the new AIR album. Sure, it’s great background music– that’s a given with anything those frenchmen put out. But what differentiates their great material from their weaker tunes is just that- tracks like “Sexy Boy” and “Universal Traveler” are bits of magic that silence even the loudest of rooms. “So Light is Her Footfall,” from Love 2 is the closest the duo comes to matching anything off of Moon Safari’s brilliant set of tunes. I can imagine some heroin induced sex scene with this perverted music blaring in the background. Yes please.

Air – “So Light is Her Footfall”

Neon Gold Records first introduced me to the guys behind the Disney inspired synth-rock band The Sound of Arrows, but it’s the Fear of Tigers remix that takes the song to new and unexpected power. It’s epic, it’s joyful, it’s inspirational, and it doesn’t let down for one second. They should have played this song in Peter Pan as Wendy and Co. jump out, sprinkled with fairy dust. I can’t listen to this song with wanting to jump out the window (to try to fly– not kill myself).

The Sound of Arrows – “Into the Clouds (Fear of Tigers Remix)”

Also, check out this spectacular video the guys themselves made. Have you ever seen such a perfect visual reference for a tune?

My time in Mykonos and Ibiza also relit my passion (didn’t actually ever go away though…) for all things house music, and I’ve returned with some thumping, hard-hitting jams that will slay even the most pretentious douchebag with his arms crossed in the corner. First up is Klaas’ remix of everyone’s favorite only Haddaway song, “What is Love.” Sure, you might’ve been able to drop the Night at the Roxbury theme-song and gotten some love for it, but with Klaas’ additional hemorrhaging of the tune, it’s a sure thing.

Klaas Meets Haddaway – “What is Love 2k9 (Bodybanger’s Remix)

The other name in electronic music who seems to be everywhere I turn is Herve. His remix of Kidda’s “Under the Sun” still goes down as one of my top 5 favorite electro tunes of all time, and his newest club hit filters in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” for what can be aptly described as “Cheap Thrills.” Cheap or not, it’s well worth your time. Laidback Luke does remix duties here.

Herve – “Cheap Thrills (Laidback Luke Remix)”

I’m still unsure how I feel about Thom Yorke’s new solo material. It’s fucking weird, even for him. But his cover of Mark Mulcahy’s “All for the Best” highlights everything great about the Radiohead frontman. With this cover, we for once don’t have the bizarre and senseless Radiohead lyrics, and instead a true pop song that glides along with Thom’s voice, umatched in beauty. (Ed note–If in anyway I have seemingly dissed Radiohead here, please, forgive me– I would never do such a thing).

Thom Yorke – “All for the Best”

Okay, that’s it for now. Hope I’ve satisfied the hunger. Expect updates soon and often. The nightbird calls again.