Sylvan Esso – A Concert Experience


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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

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Flying Lotus Album Review: But Mostly a Rant Round 2!


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A couple of weeks ago you may recall my review of Spoon’s new record, but also my scathing opinion of the use of electronic techniques in popular music. You may have thought, “Man, why did they let this old guy write for KSSU?” But I have returned, and unlike any college student I know, I’ve done my homework. This includes the brand-new record from Flying Lotus entitled, You’re Dead. I’ve always liked FlyLo, but have thought his music is a little hard to access; and his latest is no exception. A lot of the tracks resemble a free-jazz-like sound scape meant for the more seasoned listener. In fact, a lot of the samples are of jazz solos. Very cool for a jazz snob like me. However, there are several tracks that will groove your socks off like Never Catch Me featuring the ever-effervescent Kendrick Lamar. Not only does this track evoke head bobbing, but it catches the ear with a dazzling harmony. The other groovy tune that caught my ear was Coronus, The Terminator for its cool gospel-like feel.

My point of reviewing this album (albeit not a complete review) is that I found electronic music with actual musical integrity. And what I mean by that is the musician or musicians have a respect for the craft of the actual music rather than based on an algorithm derived from song downloads. Also music that has feeling and emotion in it. You can tell by the way the groove is set and where the notes are placed. In that, music is mathematical at heart, but humans can defy that and move beyond it, creating something new. This is what we call swing or groove. It is why our ear is drawn to hip-hop when the snare hits just a little late. And a program cannot reliably produce sound like this. But there are artists who use electronic music for good.

A popular artist on the scene, Flume, much of the caliber of Flying Lotus, crafts crunchy, danceable beats paired with excellent harmonic choices that make music snobs like me happy. However, much of Flume’s music sounds the same. On his self-titled album in 2012, the songs were good but the whole thing seemed to blend together. His strong suit is remixes. I recommend his remix of Disclosure’s “You & Me.” Max crunch.

Another couple artists I found were off of Sound Cloud, an excellent resource for music streaming and discovery. What I especially like about the site is that it’s a public forum for sharing original music. So people can comment, follow, share, and post, in a way that can snowball into significant popularity for many artists. The first of my discoveries is a Canadian DJ by the name KAYTRANADA. His most popular mix “Leave Me Alone” features smooth vocals and a drop that I can only describe as subtle. The only texture that changes is a bass synth that is so bouncy you can help but move along with it. The track has over a million plays. My second and final discovery that I will discuss is the DJ KOAN Sound and their new release, Dynasty EP. It features four tracks of brilliantly crafted, fully electronic music. My favorite two tracks “7th Dimension” and “Infinite Funk” are full of musical integrity. “7th Dimension” has a feel that pulses and “Infinite Funk” has a drop that is disjointed but still perfectly defines the time.

So I have had a change of heart, but I still hold my ground that a majority of electronic techniques are used for the evil American pop machine, but everything’s a bell curve and not everything fits into my opinion. How I can admit that and simultaneously hold my opinion is beyond me. But for now,

Love,

Your ever grumpy jazz guy,

Devan

The Ghost Inside/ Attila/ Volumes Album Reviews.


I want to take a moment and talk about some news albums that came out recently, and by recently I mean within the last six months. The Ghost Inside, Attila, and Volumes all dropped some heavy stuff and I checked out all their new albums. Holy snap crackle and pop, they were extravagant. The Ghost Inside with some hardcore melodies, Attila with their IDGAF in-your-face attitude, ad Volumes with a melodic change for the better.

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Once again, the Ghost Inside have proven themselves to be one of the leading bands in the hardcore scene. To all those who say they went “mainstream” and are not underground anymore, I say to you, screw that. If a band can make it big and get paid more so they can actually afford nice things instead of sticking to the underground and getting paid diddly squat for a run down apartment, I say go for it and get big. The first song “Avalanche” straight up pumps up the mood for everybody with a nice build up in the beginning and gang vocals to breakdown as a finisher. The debut song “Dear Youth” covers all aspects of a great song; powerful riffs, relatable lyrics, empowering breakdowns, and a harmony that is off the chain. Well done The Ghost Inside.

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First off, Attila is not a band meant to be taken as “meaningful” or important to your life goals. They are a party hard, DGAF kind of band with a new album called “Guilty Pleasure”. With a mix between brutal exhales and rapping, Fronz (vocalist) has multiple virtuoso moments throughout the song. Some tracks make me shake my head and say “what the heck is this” but tracks like “Guilty Pleasure” and “Horse Pig” get me throwing chairs and flipping tables. Again, they are not very deep and philosophical, but they kill it live. I speak from past experiences when i say they put on a fantastic show with lights, and 8O8 drops. This new album will take their concerts to the next level. I saw an Instagram video of a huge wall of death to one of their new songs and that is enough to convince me that this new album is worth purchasing.

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Last but certainly not least, Volumes. Volumes is a Djent band well-known for their breakdowns, but their album “No Sleep” was not what fans expected this album had a lot of lighter, more melodic tracks on it. Don’t get me wrong, the tracks are amazing and I am happy to hear that Volume’s use of music theory and desire to do less heavy music in their future, but Volumes received a lot of fire. In their song “The Mixture”, the lyrics say “you can have metal back” and in an interview, the vocalists said they are dropping from their label to pursue music on their own path. The album “No Sleep” is the first step in Volumes new style and wave of music, and I love every bit of it.

Thanks for reading, I am DJGingerbeard and to hear music from The Ghost Inside and Volumes (Attila is too vulgar) tune into my show “Shred the Gnar” every Thursday at 9am on http://www.kssu.com.

Music Review: “Clppng” by Clipping.


clipping-clppng-2500pxLike many other genres, hip hop in its truest sense has been under a transformation over the last few years.  All genres are experiencing change.  Country has changed big time over the last five to ten years.  Indie music and culture has also changed.  It would also make sense that hip hop has changed.  But don’t get me wrong, you still have your good ole fashion hip hop out there to be had.  And much of it is still being produced, thankfully.

However, hip hop has seen a large infusion of EDM.  EDM being the flavor of the decade, it has seeped into pop music, a little bit of country, and now hip hop too. This isn’t to say that electronica just now got into hip hop, as we have always seen electronica of the old sense in hip hop.  However, if you were to listen to “Dip” by Danny Brown, or just anything referred to as trap music, you hear the new age electronica with its various elements of dubstep, house, and techno, with modern day samplings and synths all wrapped together. [Read more…]

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


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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.

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Zombie Patrol: The True Story


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Some of my earliest memories have involved listening to the radio, and I never really stopped. So when the opportunity to become a DJ at Sac State presented itself I jumped at the opportunity, and now I have my own radio show, “Zombie Patrol,” which airs every Friday at 1pm on kssu.com UTC -8 (the UTC bit stands for our time zone, in case you’re trying to figure out what time my show would air in your region).

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Secret Chiefs 3 – Homage to the Strange and Bizarre


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At long last – after years of waiting and several missed opportunities – I finally got to witness a Secret Chiefs 3 show at Harlow’s on February 10… and let’s just say that they put on a show to remember. I had a lot of expectations going in; hearing only rumors and vague fan tales, and yet they completely destroyed any previous preconceptions and reestablished themselves as true legends in the avant-garde music scene. Diabolical is one of the only words that came to mind immediately following the show. Attempting to classify this musical outfit would be preposterous, absurd, and fruitless. The compositions are diverse and delve into an array of different genres including surf rock, Middle Eastern ambiance, classical,  death metal, and electronic.

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True Wubwubwubwub, or How To Pick Up EDM Chicks


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Follow these tips, and possibly win the heart of the wubbly girl you like!

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Go With The Fro


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Hello, this is new member and DJ to the KSSU family. My name is Briana and I’ll be your the latest addition to your musical repertoire.

I know it’s late, but I wanted to formally introduce myself anyway.

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A Nightmare Everyone Can Enjoy


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As the music industry has grown to embrace the genre of electronica, Sacramento State will be hosting its first known genre specific dance event in the past recent years.

On November 1, Sac State’s student-run radio, KSSU – in association with Associated Students Inc. – will present “Nightmare on Bass Street” from 7-9 p.m. in the Redwood Room of the University Union.

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