Review of Caracal and Art in General


7gyolqc8

Before I write a review of a new album, I sit down and read a few other reviews to check to see if there was anything I missed.

I did that in preparation to write my thought on Disclosure’s most recent release, Caracal. What I found was several reviews expressing that Caracal is more of the same from the electro-pop bothers, but I spun this record again this week and realized that music critics don’t cut artists any slack.

For the record, I wouldn’t classify myself as a critic, just a musician sharing his humble thoughts.

This record was incredibly well crafted. Disclosure is consistent and leaves no stone unturned in their production. It’s ultra-clean and brutally crisp. The way they produced this record is what they know. It’s what they do best. So why criticize them for not pioneering a completely new sound? Their subdued beats and subtle bass allows for the intensity to build to an intense degree without getting exceedingly loud or obnoxious like dubstep. Another thing I admire is the limited amount of sounds they employ. At any one time I can only identify up to five or six different sounds. And yet, they are able to paint an incredibly intricate soundscape. Who cares if their record sounds similar to the last one? Does that even count as a bad thing? Settle changed pop music forever – and for the better. Bob Dylan released five records before he went electric.

Similar to settle, Disclosure recruits a cast of A-list artists as features on their tunes; among them Sam Smith, Lorde, and Gregory Porter. Sam Smith comes back with the track, Omen, a seemingly somber and equally as groovy sequel to Latch. Lorde’s track Magnets straight swings, man. How Disclosure achieved such a laid-back groove with computers is beyond my knowledge. Gregory Porter’s appearance on this record makes me intensely happy. Porter is a contemporary jazz singer fairly popular on the jazz circuit. For a musician in the jazz world, this is an incredibly huge break for him. The optimist in me would like to think that people would hear the track, research the singer, listen to some of his music, and become an everlasting jazz nerd. A boy can dream. Overall, is seems as though this record was made to be a catalyst of dancing. Nothing is too fast and the average song length is just under five minutes. But nothing ever gets boring, the brothers seem very careful about adding and subtracting textures when needed to catch the ear and keep the crowd interested.

Speaking of catchy, every track has a great thematic melody that has its own hook. Sometimes it sounds like they borrow ideas but, hey, what is art but the synthesis of preexisting ideas? Everybody has their own musical vocabulary.

As for me, it is clear that Disclosure knows what they are doing and do it well. Sounding like yourself is not a crime. The real offense is when you do not.

Devan is a dj with KSSU

Sylvan Esso – A Concert Experience


sylvan

Just a couple weeks ago I went to a concert I think you guys should know about. And I’d like you to know that I will check my jazz snobbery at the door. The group is called Sylvan Esso, an indie pop duo from Durham, North Carolina composed of Amelia Meath on the mic and Nick Sanborn producing, and they are currently blowing the socks off of the indie AND dance scene. Their eponymous record has been out for a year and it is easily my favorite record of 2014. It’s unique beats, harmonic complexity and utter danceable nature made me watering at the mouth to see these two at the Fillmore Theater in the city.

For starters, the Fillmore is an awesome venue. It fits about 1,200 underneath the many chandeliers in a mostly standing room space so no spot is a bad spot. However, my lady and I got there early and snagged an excellent piece of front row real estate.

The opener was a group from Oakland called Naytronix. They were a quirky duo sporting jump suits and playing spacey, trance, yet oddly danceable electro-pop perfect for your music loving buddy. Being right in front, this means you bear the full the brunt of the speakers so if you don’t want your ears to sound like there’s a mosquito stuck in them, bring a pair of earplugs along to dampen the noise – or stuff paper towel in them like yours truly.

Then Sylvan Esso came on and absolutely nailed it. Their tunes were even cooler with all their improvised sections and additional layers that made the air wet with sound. It was especially neat to see the two of them look up and smile at each other when they did something the other hadn’t heard before. It gave the music a fresh quality. I walked away with a whole new appreciation for their music. At the end, everyone in the place was dripping with sweat because they left you with no choice but to get down.

But let’s not forget Amelia’s stellar dance moves. Damn, that girl can work it.

Devan is a dj with KSSU

Album Review: “The Mindsweep” (Enter Shikari)


enter-shikari-the-mindsweep

Enter Shikari is a four man band from England with music that dabbles in multiple genres including, hardcore, alternative rock, and even electronica. Known mostly for songs such as “Arguing With Thermometers” and “Sssnakepit”, Enter Shikari focuses their music on problems within the environment, the government, and social norms that should be exposed as evils to the planet and even humanity. With three albums and four EP’s, Enter Shikari has got quite a lot of experience in what they do. Signed on with Hopeless Records and winners of several awards including “Best Band in the U.K.” and “Best Album”, Enter Shikari did not hold back at all when writing their newest album, “The Mindsweep”.

Enter Shikari really experimented around with this album. One song sounds really fast and punk-ish, while another is slowed down and sounds like a theatre musical accompanied by electric guitars. Regardless on how far left or right they go with their music, it stays consistently good; not just in a technical sense, but also an emotional and philosophical way. My two favorites off this album would have to be “The Appeal & The Mindsweep I” and “The Aenesthatist”which are two of the first three songs on the album, but are the best in my opinion.

“The Appeal & The Mindsweep” kicks off the album just right. It talks about treating humans as humans, not a means to an end such as pleasure and profit. It calls to the listener to rise up above everyday occurrences, to get rid of hate, and to figuratively re-wire your mind hence the line repeated in the song”I am a Mindsweeper. Focus on me.” With a slow beginning of some electro and a spoken word dialogue that gets people’s’ minds thinking that then escalates into a faster beat with faster techno, this song is perfect to start the album with. It later goes into some hardcore beats with harmonized vocals that everyone can sing too. One thing that went right through my head when listening to this song was, “I have to see them play this live before I die.”

“The Anaesthetist” is the first music video from the album. In the video, it shows a man who is ill and coughing up blood, presumably walking to a hospital. At the hospital, there is a waiting room full of sick and angry people. I am kind of biased, because  il ike heavier music. This song includes along of hardcore beats, yelling, but also some rap-rock parts that emphasize the meaning behind the song. “The Anaesthetist” talks about how people in England are denied healthcare due to lack of means or those who do have money are just used for profit and are prescribed medications without an actual doctors treatment lest that doctor be the Anaesthetist to put you to rest. With powerful instrumentals and a powerful message, this song is, well, powerful.

The rest of the album is great as well, but for Americans, Enter Shikari may be an acquired taste. Enter Shikari is one fo the biggest bands in the U.K., but are not quite popular in the United States. However, that all may change with this new album.

Thanks for reading! To hear music like Enter Shikari and listen to more of my rambling, listen to my show “Shred the Gnar” Tuesdays at 8am on http://www.kssu.com

Much love, DJGingerbeard

Album Review: “Ethnotronica” by Ireesh Lal


EthnotronicaThe turn of the millennium introduced the rise and eventual dominance of electronica in the U.S.  Sure it has existed before and there was a niche who followed it.  But its mass consumability was born post 2000.  Ethnotronica by Ireesh Lal is an interesting addition in the electronica world that may go sadly unnoticed because it isn’t “main stage”-esque, or dubstep, trap, deep house, etc.  What is it?  It is art.  It is music that paints a picture.  It is music that sets various tones, moods, and feelings depending on the track you hear.

The lead off track for the album is “ElectroLounge”.   [Read more…]

The Electric Run – Sacramento 2014


electric run

On May 30th 2014 The Electric Run makes its return to Sacramento. Its a 5k run that will let you express yourself in any and every way. This year’s event will be held at Cal Expo and will start around 8:45 PM. What can you expect from the event? It will include glowing trees that will change color to match the beat of the music playing during the run. All tunnels will have dancing figures and patterns that will cover the walls from top to bottom. There will be color,  psychedelic cacti, and a cliff that will be in each area that will be lit up with a spectacular display of dancing lights.

[Read more…]

Favorite Albums of All Time: Kanye West, Kaskade, Settle, and Last Dinosaur


kanye

My favorite album of all time is a hard question to necessarily answer. I actually have four different ones, one each representing my favorite album for that particular genre.

[Read more…]

EDM and Pop Culture


EDM-green-e1384408197206

Tiesto, Afrojack and Calvin Harris are very well known EDM (electronic dance music) DJs that are going to be headlining this years Electric Bounce House in San Jose California. If you are an EDM fanatic, you really do not wanna miss this event. These three DJs/producers are only a few of the most popular DJs out there at the moment, alongside David Guetta and Avicii, just to name a couple more. The real question is, how many of you would have known any of these DJs if it wasn’t for our current popular culture? How many people would know that some of these “DJs” are behind some of the most popular tracks performed by Rihanna or Chris Brown?

[Read more…]

Concert Review: Caked Up at District 30 – January 16th, 2014


D30 Caked UpDuring the week/weekend of January 16th to January 18th, District 30, a nightclub in Sacramento, has been celebrating its three year anniversary.  District 30 is located on K Street in the heart of much of the action downtown sees.  Somehow, some way I have missed this place even though I have had lunch or dinner at over half of the restaurants on K Street.  But I found it and went because I was super excited to hear Caked Up would be coming to town!

This being my first time at District 30, I feel compelled to write just a bit about it, for those of you who still haven’t made your way out to it yet.  Clubs struggle with space management.  You have to find a good place for the dance floor, plus speakers, and the DJ.  Then you add seating areas, a bar, and VIP booths.  The issue comes in how you floor plan it all to be most ideal for as many as possible.  District 30 does its best with its given space.  When you walk in the bar is on the right with booths on the left.  Once you are past that, you are left with a huge, expansive dance floor area and a spot for the performer.  In the far back is a larger, VIP booth area. [Read more…]

Lady Gaga: “Artpop” Review


Artpop_cover

Never in my life have I heard an entire album that had to grow on me, but Lady Gaga managed o make this happen with Artpop. If cookie-cutter radio pop and experimental electronica had a lovechild, it would be this album. Maybe I just never expected EDM giant Zedd to produce on the same album as pop icon Will.I.Am, or that these superstars don’t mix easily with the production team from her debut album “Fame” as much as she’d hoped.  But somehow it comes together, if not slightly dysfunctionally.

[Read more…]

Aerrow Shapiro’s Record Club – May 2013 – Free the Universe by Major Lazer (2013)


Show:    Aerrow Shapiro’s Hour of Power (Wednesdays @ 2 PM PT)
Website:    http://www.facebook.com/HourOfPowerKSSU
Twitter:    @KSSUShapiro

Major_Lazer_-_Free_the_Universe

About four years after the release of their debut full-length album, Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do, Major Lazer (a project from DJ and producer Diplo) released the sophomore album called Free the Universe.  Although house DJ Switch worked on the previous album, he left in 2011, leaving Diplo in charge of the second album.

[Read more…]