Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood
With Sasquatch looming on the horizon, i’ve been getting all misty-eyed on the past. I can’t help but feel like Sasquatch is the culmination of years of musical fandom, but where did it all start? Was it back in 1994 when I got my first CD (Weezer - Blue Album) from my cousin? Maybe it was a summer morning in 1997 when I heard Collective Soul in the backseat on the radio?
A definitive moment, I remember, came on a late July afternoon sometime in the early 2000’s. I sat on my computer, contemplating the brilliance of the Gorillaz “Clint Eastwood” when it dawned on me that I never actually heard any other songs by the Gorillaz. That was my big bang. It only took a few short months and my library expanded beyond recognition. From the Gorillaz I found Dan the Automator, from Dan the Automator I found Kid Koala, from the two of them I found Deltron 3030 and Dr. Octagon, which opened up a world of Kool Keith records (Mr. Nogatco, Project Polaroid, and years later a front-row live performance). From the Gorillaz I found Damon Albarn and Blur, and I learned a world about the battle of Britpop and the 90’s. Through Dan the Automator I (re)discovered Mike Patton and Faith No More, along with all of his side-projects (Lovage, notably). I learned about the Red Hot Chilli Peppers feud, and I learned that not all musical acts got along.
All of this came from one single moment of curiosity. I heard something I liked, and I wanted more. That feeling when you discover a band has more to offer than their biggest song; a universe of music and history begins to unfold, song by song. That day, something ignited, and I haven’t looked back.
If you took the time to read this, I appreciate it. And if you’d like, I’d love to hear your stories. Tell me about a song you loved as a child, a song that opened your mind, or maybe one that just means a lot to you. This month i’ll be looking back at the music that inspired me to become an avid fan and a passionate blogger.
12 playsArtist: gorillaz Album: gorillaz Track: clint eastwood
Smith Westerns - Varsity
Another beautiful day and another beautiful tune. This summer jam comes from the Chicago trio of Smith Westerns off their latest album “Soft Will”, set to hit the charts this coming June. These guys are masters of happy-go-lucky pop-rock, and when I first heard their track “All Die Young” they swept me off my feet. The riffs were somewhere between classic britpop and Free Bird, and judging by the pure teenage promenade bliss of their single “Varsity” they’re going to pick up right where they left off back in 2011.
Mark your calenders for June 11
83 playsArtist: Smith Westerns Track: Varsity
Beacon - Drive
The Beachfuzz is back!
It’s been a lengthy vacation from the music scene, which seems like hardly a vacation at all and more of a punishment. Three weeks of personal mumbo-jumbo highlighted by moving in to a new condo and ironing out the first A+ of my university career have finally come to an end. And as the birds chirp in the budding trees and the sun beams high in the sky, my focus turns once again back to music.
Beacon bounces between the dark lo-fi beats and the breathy vocals of this dynamic Brooklyn-based duo. Their full-length album “The Ways We Seperate” hit the shelves at the tail-end of April, and they’re worth keeping your eyes peeled.
57 playsArtist: Beacon Track: Drive
Daft Punk - Get Lucky
I first heard Daft Punk a shave or two past midnight in front of the glow of my box-tv. On weekends when I was very young, I would often watch music videos until dawn (or as long as I could keep my eyes open). I remember being mesmerized by the their eclectic music video “Da Funk”, which chronicled the late-night adventures of an anthropomorphic bloodhound. The video, undoubtedly one of the best and most ridiculous the 90’s had to offer, was only a fraction responsible for my awe. At the time, I had never heard anything like Da Funk, and when music was dominated by college-rock and boy-band pop a whole new genre materialized for me.
I followed Daft Punk through the years as they slowly faded in to obscurity. The last I heard from them they had produced the soundtrack to Tron. I thought i’d never hear from them again..
But the blogosphere has been a-whir the past month, as a new album is on the horizon. Their single “Get Lucky” is a throwback to the Discovery era, when Daft Punk was at their peak. Bottom line, the track is funky. It makes me dance. And that’s what Daft Punk did the best. Every big-name electronic artist from Skrillex to Deadmau5 owes everything to Daft Punk. They invented the genre, the concept of a DJ (or two) on stage as the centerpiece of an enigmatic light show, and they are legends.
Get down with Daft Punk one more time
486 playsArtist: Daft Punk Album: Get Lucky Track: Get Lucky (Radio Edit)
Ben Howard - Old Pine
I stood, stoic, in the thrush. Blinking through the fog I could make out the shine of headlights, and I immediately pounced on to the dirt and weeds at my feet. Frozen I lay as the enemy passed by without notice, and spryly I sprang up to watch their departure. My knees were muddy, but I took no notice, as I began wandering further in to the grasslands. Hockey stick in hand, I waged war on oversized weeds and the Styrofoam containers that had blown across the fields from nearby construction sites. My rubber boots had crossed many creeks and were weathered, yet resilient. I was a warrior of the wild, or so I imagined, and at the age of eleven I felt more in touch with the universe than I do twelve years later.
Ben Howard’s opening track to his 2011 EP takes me back to that endless expanse of square mileage that sat vacant for years, only a rock’s throw from my backyard.
39 playsArtist: Ben Howard Album: Old Pine Track: Old Pine
NONONO - Pumpin Blood
Sweden: Known for more than berries, meatballs and crappy furniture. Last month we took a peek at Junip’s ‘Line of Fire’, and this month we’ve got the pop-smash ‘Pumpin Blood’ by the Swede-trio NONONO. This absolutely infectious beat is spreading across the mysterious series of tubes known as the internet faster than you can say “ABBA”.
So cut off the corners and pump up the jam my little PB&J’s, this track is best served fresh.
The snow is still falling up here in the great white north, and the winter blues are always a bit longer than expected. If I could take a picture that could capture the sheer magnitude of snow that is falling, I assure you that you would be shocked. However, I don’t have such a camera capable of capturing snowfall, and I am also a lazy fuck
BUT I DIGRESS
Unknown Mortal Orchestra! Who are they? They’re three dudes that make lo-fi psychedelia. Their music is heavy on the fuzz, and not as heavy on the beach, so it only seems appropriate that I love them. Their latest album came out in February, appropriately titled “II” (it’s their second album). And the best part about the album is that there is a (mostly) naked woman on the cover. This means that i’ll surely get an exorbitant amount of reblogs and likes (one of my previous posts accompanied with a set of breasts got 2,100 listens and counting).
FORGET ABOUT THE TITS FOR A SECOND AND ENJOY THE MUSIC TUMBLR.
94 playsArtist: Unknown Mortal Orchestra Album: II Track: So Good At Being In Trouble
Different Sleep - Get Ahead
I can’t say enough about this song, it’s absolutely gorgeous. The dreamy intro, the baseline as it slowly fades in, how it sounds almost completely submerged. Rafa Alvarez absolutely kills this one. This is chillwave at its best.
Keep your bananas peeled for Different Sleep this year
30 playsArtist: Different Sleep Track: Get Ahead
1. Washed Out - Soft (52 plays)
Floating in at my number one for last year, the fourth track of Ernest Greene’s 2011 release Within and Without, it’s Soft.
Perhaps one of the most relaxing tracks i’ve ever heard from arguably the best album of pure chillwave ever made, ‘Soft’ is a warm summer breeze. Washed Out was met with praise after his huge EP Life of Leisure, but there was some skepticism that he’d never recapture that brilliance he found with “Feel it All Around”. And although I personally don’t think he’s ever made a better song, the album as a whole far surpasses anything like it.
2013 is shaping up to be one of the best years in music, and maybe we’ll hear some new material from one of my favorite bands, Washed Out, in the very near future.
221 playsArtist: Washed Out Album: Within and Without Track: Soft
2. Oliver Tank - Up All Night (51 plays)
I got a lot of mileage out of Oliver Tank last summer. Nothing quite beat having the windows rolled down on a warm July night, and letting the bass roll out like thunder. I might of woke a few neighbors, if the song wasn’t so dreamy, and I might have put a few of those neighbors who weren’t yet snoozing into a deep slumber.
Tank joins the Australian invasion of music, with his Boards Of Canada meets James Blake take on music. His first album, aptly named “Dreams” was released late November 2011, and we can surely expect some new material from the Aussie in the coming season.
Clocking it at number two on my favorite songs of last year; Oliver Tank with Up All Night.
46 playsArtist: Oliver Tank Album: Dreams Track: Up All Night
Fryars - On your own
In lieu of the continuing my year end countdown (A Beach Fuzz year starts on April 1), we’re gonna take a side-street and slip down the alleyway of loneliness for a moment.
I went to senior prom alone. Well, two of my friends and I all went as a gaggle of virgins, and it one of the more terrible nights of my life. An awkward buffet with terrible food, bad conversation and my mom beaming at me from across the table. Eventually everybody got on the dance floor, some drunk, most sober, and the “celebration” truly began. The cool kids were ready for this moment, and rightly so, the majority of them never topped it. i looked on in horror at the amalgamous mass of teenager bodies, rhythmically bouncing and generally “whooping it up”. I immediately became depressed.
I found my parents, told them I wanted to leave, and skipped out on any of the after-party shenanigans and drunken tomfoolery. On the drive home I cried silently in my tuxedo, and I thought i’d never be happy.
This is a song for that moment. Music for loneliness, so you don’t feel so alone.
3. Duster - Constellations (48 plays)
I furrowed my brow at the thirteen year old kid in front of me; I could hardly recognize him. It had been four years, and somewhere in those years he got about two feet taller and about ten times as ignorant. I knew he was just trying to be cool, saying words like “gay” and calling me a “hippie”. He called Tyler, The Creator “wigger shit”, and after sternly telling him to watch his mouth I heaved a sigh.
What an angry age, I thought. Thirteen years old, wielding hatred like a weapon, desperate to prove he was a young man and prove he was strong. He asked me to arm wrestle and I had a hard time holding back my laughter. The poor kid never grew up with a father, and after the first half-hour of insults I became quite aware that he didn’t know how to react around a man.
Nothing was cool when I was thirteen, and maybe that’s because I wasn’t. I had no girlfriend and my face looked like a pizza. No wonder I was angry, no wonder he was too.
On an unrelated note, here’s some music.
Duster was a space rock band in the late 90’s that sort of drifted away in to obscurity. But their song ‘Constellations’ was my third most played song last year. Surely it could lull even the angriest of adolescents to sleep..
9 playsArtist: Duster Track: Constellations
4. Washed Out - Feel it All Around (47 plays)
The summer of ‘09 was a big year for me. I was 19, I had moved out of my grandma’s house and I first discovered music.
Way back on the 65th page of my “loved songs” list; I first heard ‘Feel it All Around’ on July 23rd. It was also the first time I heard anything considered chillwave, and it completely redefined tastes in music. Everything about the song was perfect; the bass line was awesome, the vocals with ethereal and hypnotizing, and the song whisked you away on some late-night urban adventure. It was sexy, it was new, it felt important.
Four years later and it still sounds brand new. If I had to name any one song I love the most, this would be it. Pump up the volume and give a listen
63 playsArtist: Washed Out Album: 2009 Track: Feel It All Around
5. Xavier Rudd - Messages (45 plays)
Every year on April first I reset my iTunes played list. Sometimes when i’m alone I like to pretend that i’m a radio DJ, and I run through my top ten songs. This isn’t a recent phenomenon; when I was 8 years old I had a copy of Big Shiny Tunes 3 (an annual mixtape released by our Canadian music channel, MuchMusic) and I would rearrange the songs every week in a faux broadcast to myself and the imaginary listeners.
This is just one of many occurrences throughout my childhood, and admittedly my adult life, where I would speak to a pretend audience of millions. From age five to ten pretending my action figures were a part of a weekly adventure squad ala Beast Wars, to my weekends spent inside a self-made pillow fort narrating my own Pokemon adventure. This sort of thing went on for a very long time, and in fact, still does. I’ve never let anyone catch me; sometimes whispering to myself out fear of discovery. And although i’ve been doing this since I was old enough to speak, i’m still incredibly embarrassed about it.
When my girlfriend is out and my roommate isn’t home, I talk to myself. I play NHL and announce the games, or I tell ancient tales of the fabled Dragonborn by imaginary fireside. And only because I am a faceless figure on the internet am I able to admit this. Some people I know in the real world do tend to read these little blurbs, and I implore them to please avoid catching me in the act. It would be a great embarrassment.
However, since I started the Beach Fuzz I no longer have to fantasize that i’m broadcasting over the airwaves, I sort of am. And even if the listenership isn’t in the millions, I still get the same warm feeling.
Most blogs flood the internet with their Top 100 albums and songs of the year somewhere around Decemeber, but I’ve decided to do it a little differently. First of all, these songs are not limited by the caveat of being released within the last year. Second, i’ll only be blogging the top five, in descending order, instead of some outrageous number. And lastly… um. Well I guess I only had two things to say sorry..
This is Xavier Rudd - Messages, which I coincidentally snagged off thenewlofi some lengthy amount of time ago. He’s a pretty radical guy who sings about not giving too much of a fuck and presumably drinking green tea in hemp drawstring pants. Also, according to my coworker, he is incredibly hot. I listened to Messages for 45 times the past year, and it rang in at my number five.
Relax and enjoy!
1 playArtist: xavier rudd Album: www.thenewlofi.com Track: messages
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - If you didn’t see me (Then you weren’t on the dance floor)
I’m surprised more people don’t talk about the 16-bit influence on popular music. Every time I hear a great new track, it just sounds like a level of Sonic the Hedgehog with vocals laid overtop. The striking resemblance to SEGA and SNES games is surely no accident, and considering that those who create this music are in their mid-twenties, the nostalgic influence is probably a strong pull.
We are a generation addicted to nostalgia. Vintage 90’s t-shirts of the Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles walk the streets of every major metropolis in North America. We’re SO addicted to nostalgia that we are even obsessed with nostalgic homages from generations BEFORE us. You need not look any further than men’s fashion and the heavy late 50’s influence.
To be honest, i’m surprised I haven’t seen anyone on transit with a gramophone.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. seems to finally be coming in to his own. The motor-city based duo’s first full length album, in my opinion, crashed and burned. But emerging from the wreckage, they finally seem to have brought their sound up to speed. Their new track is exploding all over the interwebs..
Bad taste? Perhaps. Pump up the speakers and try to picture Sonic and Tails flying through coin-infused loops in Casino Zone