Her debut album isn't even out yet, but Lana Del Ray has been the talk of the town ever since her debut single "Video Games" came out back in August. She's been building hype with a steady flow of videos, all released in anticipation of her upcoming album at the end of January. Something about her sultry voice and aura of detachment can be both gorgeous and tragic.

Her songs capture that pivotal, fine line between desperation and ambivalence. Listening to her is like walking a tight rope between moments of terrible insight and utter immobilization. She's like a lost little lamb off to the slaughter, and she sings each song like it might be her last.
Thankfully, it's not.

"Born to Die" is my favorite and it opens with her sitting in all of her splendor in a magnificent church, with 2 pet tigers by her side, and ends with her being carried out of a fiery explosion in the tattooed arms of her bad boy. Check out the hotness here:
For a peak at what started it all, check out this romantic, river of tears: "Video Games"
Here is a catchier, more upbeat one of her tunes:
"Blue Jeans" is a walk on the wild side and we can see why Lana describes herself as the "Gangsta version of Nancy Sinatra".
And here is her latest release, "Off To The Races"
It's incredible how quickly she shot to the mainstream. Her debut album's not out yet, and I'm feeling like I've known her since always and forever.
 
 
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After 3 years in the making, Johnny Jewel's side project 'Symmetry' has released a 2 hour instrumental album this month on the sweet label, "Italians Do It Better'.

The abstract project between Glass Candy, Chromatics, Mirage, & Desire is aptly called Themes For An Imaginary Film and is described as a compilation for "Painters, Writers, Photographers, Designers, Cruisers, Night Walkers, & Dreamers".

The album is understated in the sense that it isn't pop, and it doesn't have much going on lyrically. But there is plenty of synth and bass and treble and Minimalist influences when it comes to ambiance. So it really is meant to be the soundtrack to the imaginary film that is your life.

You can check out the entire album here, or buy it on iTunes.


 
 
"Echoes of Silence" was released last night just before midnight, and Abel Tesfaye's 'The Weeknd' website crashed from all of the traffic. No surprise.

The final tape in the trilogy, opens with a cover of MJ's "Dirty Diana" and I think it's unreal. Tesfaye does a great job of bringing MJ back, and the song pulses with sex and longing, especially with the gaspy moans in the production. It's a brilliant cover no matter what anybody else says. Here it is.
Another highlight on the album is "Initiation". The vocal distortion and the tighter drums adds a sense of urgency that I can really appreciate amid all of the slow churning R&B of the trilogy. Hard to believe these aren't full blown albums, but digitally released free downloads. I feel guilty just listening, and isn't that just what the Weeknd is going for?
This 'Florence and the Machine' remix of "Shake it Out" by the Weeknd feels really good when you get to the distortions in the chorus. I loved this song when it was originally released by Florence partly for the really compelling lyrics about wanting to keep some things to herself. She sings :

"And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I'm always dragging that horse around
...
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it's always darkest before the dawn"
To bring you back to where it all began, I'll fill you in on the first release, "House of Balloons". It featured 9 tracks that instantly commanded attention for it's moody, dirty, R&B quality. A stand out on the mixtape was "High for This" which was pretty much Tesfaye singing to a girl that she was gona need to stay high to endure the sexual acts between them. This ish is pretty disturbing, but that's the point. The song aired on the trailer for HBO's Entourage.
 
 
I've been intrigued by Sleigh Bells ever since I first heard their name, Sleigh bells. The soft jingle of a sleigh with bells, or the piercing noise of bells slaying your eardrums? I think they know how to do both, which is what makes them so rad.
Sleigh Bells have a new album due out on Valentine's Day. "Born to Lose" leaked a few days ago and it has some of the noise from "Infinity Guitars" and some of the melody of "Rill Rill" (For more on these songs from their 2010 album "Treats" see below the clip.) The band's publicist said that the new album "is the sonic equivalent of a beautiful shotgun to the head." Check ittt.
In 2010 the song "Rill Rill" could be heard playing in almost every car crossing the Brooklyn bridge and on everybody's Coachella '10 drive mix from Silver Lake to Palm Dessert.

Alexis Krauss has the kind of kick-ass confidence that makes you want to ditch class and take names, and I wanted a piece of it. From the opening lines that swell you with mean girl pride:

"We are the river flow
And you can never know
You're just a weatherman
We make the wind blow"


to the nostalgic memories of school, like wanting to feel good about your braces or cutting up drugs in the bathroom, there was something in it for everyone.

The video turned out to be everything I wanted it to be, the perfect amount of sentimentality,  escapism and rebel without a cause type of shit we always hunger for. On the real, who doesn't cherish the sight of high school lockers and sharpened #2 pencils?
"Infinity Guitars" also from 2010 album "Treats" is a hot mess of noise and bells and school yard whistles. Accompanied by another awesome video.
 
 
'How to Destroy Angels' appears on the newly released soundtrack for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. That should come as no surprise since the band is a collaboration between the co-composers of the film's soundtrack, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and Trent's wife, Mariqueen Maandig.

The album's grand debut will be in the early part of next year and Reznor says the experimentation with the band's identity of sound has him pretty excited about his self-proclaimed, much needed reinvention. He told Rolling Stone that every few weeks of working on the score of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo:

"We would need a break from the heaviness and ugliness and switch over to How To Destroy Angels. That became much more rhythmic and not any happier, but it really started to take on its own identity. We were influenced by early Cabaret Voltaire – it’s very deconstructed rhythmically and more textural. Mariqueen found her place; we used her in a quite interesting way, I think."

Below find the track 'Is Your Love Strong Enough' which they chose for the film. You can hear the gritty texture and rythmic deconstruction Reznor talks about. The song is as much about the negative space that it fills with irregular pauses and shifts as it is about the relief you feel when the rhythm hits.
The track "Fur lined" which is available for free download here is one of those songs that I have been blasting in my car regularly at deafeningly high volumes ever since I first heard it this summer. It just keeps getting betterrr every time.
The full length record needs to get here already. I need to know How to Destroy Angels right away.
 
 
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Honestly, 'Undun' is a musical and lyrical work of genius. It's thoughtful and intelligent. A concept album that deals with deep philosophical and existential issues, and riddled with so many musical references and literary allusions that my ears perk up.

It's pretty sweet when rappers draw from a larger cultural vocabulary and are able to make that connection with listeners. One of my favorite songs "Make My" is a great example.

Gotta love this line that recognizes C.R.E.A.M by Wu-Tang:


"They hollerin' cash rules everything
just call it cream, cause when it rises to the top
you get the finer things"

And the obvious "Fade to Black" Metallica reference or the Led Zeppelin tribute in the final line:

                                            "If there's a heaven, I can't find the stairway"
 
Here it is with the lyrics for you:
There's a slight chance that you haven't heard some of these songs, so here are a couple.

'Sleep' is another one of my favorites and lyrically beautiful. The first line alone references Alfred Hitchcock's 'To Catch a Thief'. Check ittt.
And before 'Undun' came the soulful 'How I Got Over'
One more, and it's all about grabbing that fresh, new day.
 
 
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image via consequenceofsound.com
Their debut album 'Eat Their Own' was never intended for commercial release. Recorded with Vincent Cacchione's home recording equipment, this Brooklyn band experimented with beats and sounds in their downtime. Cacchione, who wrote the music, was dealing with some pretty heavy personal shit at the time, and used these sessions to work through his complicated emotions.

Probably because of this, the album sounds unfinished as a whole. But the song 'Piles of $$$' has a dope R&B influence, and takes these cats out of their cage and onto my radar.
The first track on their album, 'Teenagers in a Heat' is a sexy little ballad about feeling nostalgic for those blissful teenage love affairs.
This next video will give you an idea of their range. 'Teflon Heart' is more of a pop song and you can watch them perform it live at this intimate NY venue.
 
 
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Jay-Z and Kanye have been sending fans into wild stupors of hip-hop induced frenzies, bringing about highly contagious rhythmic head shaking, shoulder popping and infectious gangsta lean foot work.

Playing another show at Staples tonight, it looks like another flock of lucky ducks will migrate downtown tonight to fly their hands in the sky for the concert experience of a lifetime.


Expect video screen cubes playing visuals of bloodthirsty dogs and sharks to levitate this pair of Rap Royalty midway above the arena, and take in the intricate show of lasers and fireballs that bounce off of every wall. HOVA!

Check out this live footage of Jay Z and Kanye performing 'Otis' from opening night in ATL and throw up the ROC, or hold up your celly, it's all good either way, nahmean?

And for those of you who didn't get to see Ghost Face Killah's hilarious review of Jay Z and Kanye's album, Watch the Throne, you should really check out this link, nahmsayin?

http://bigghostnahmean.blogspot.com/2011/08/ayo-this-p-tones-review-for-watch.html

 
 
'Poolside' are like so many of us who grew up here in LA. They like to hang out in the pool house and make a little magic happen. Filip Nikolic and Jeffrey Paradise (founder of multi-genre San Fran dance party, Frisco Disco) make what they like to call "daytime disco" in their pool-house-turned-recording-studio.

You may have seen them touring with The Rapture, which is where they recorded the footage for this music video "Take Me Home" which will also appear on their debut album out sometime in 2012. This was shot in Sedona, Arizona on the first day of the tour.
But these guys first came to my attention with their finger snapping, disco cover of Neil Young's 1992 release "Harvest Moon". The song never gets old. Here is what they said about it:

"This is a Neil Young cover we did a few days ago. We felt like we needed to give people some new music they could listen to while we are finishing up our album. We thought a cover would be a good idea and since we both love Harvest Moon we decided to give it a try. It's super intimidating to cover Neil Young so we tried to make it a lot different, just so we didn't have to "compete" with the master...."
They have put together some mix tapes for us, as well!
Here is a link to their DAY MIX TAPE:
http://soundcloud.com/poolside_music/day-mixtape

And here is the link to their NIGHT MIX TAPE :
http://soundcloud.com/poolside_music/night-mixtape
 
 
I'm not suggesting a day on Biscayne Bay aboard the family yacht, or an evening of elegant banter regarding the fantastic Rubell or De La Cruz collections visited during Art Basel.
I'm talking about disco electro-funk band YACHT.

The Portland duo did a live set in Miami at the Electric Pickle on Thursday night. These guys know how to bring the good times and energy. Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans have awesome, unique style, and a sense of humor that really shines through as you watch them dancing on stage or in one of their trippy music videos. Bechtolt really impresses with vocals, programming, guitar, drums, bass, percussion, claps, synths, keyboards, and piano effects.

Here is the sweet, newly released music video off of their latest album 'Shangri La' directed by teenage youtube celebrity Mitchell Davis:

On the band's webpage, teamyacht.com you can get a feeling of what the band stands for. They are more than just a band, they are a belief system:

"Like the circles the camera etches across the landscape, like the Ouroboros forever eating its own tail, we no longer know where YACHT ends and its percievers begin... YACHT is a 21st-century community, a larger experience that evolves along with the people it calls to action."

This next song is a hilarious sketch that showcases their comedic side, as well.
Finally, the first YACHT song I ever heard was 'Voodoo City' off of their 2009 album 'See Mystery Lights'. It really captures the feeling of letting go and being swept away by a tide of love and serenity. I just love these simple, feel-good lyrics and groovy, hippie beats:
"Come on over, come on over, we are having a party for you
Hang around baby, baby, we'll be baking a cake for you
Where you been, darling, darling, we been holding this moment for you"