Coming Up: Toro Y Moi – What For? (Album Preview)

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Earlier today, Toro Y Moi surprised us all with a track we never expected! “Buffalo” (available on SoundCloud below) premiered on The Fader this morning along with a few insights into TYM’s creative process:

When I started writing this song I was experiencing a bit of writer’s block and this song was what pulled me out. As soon as I wrote it, I knew it would set the tone for the entire album.

And so it did. Comparing this track with TYM’s last release from this album, we can hear similar vibes of snares and solidarity. Both “Buffalo” and “Empty Nesters” rely on a driving rhythm beneath insightful lyrics. ‘Cause you love it all / ‘Cause you’ll find a way / To keep on… Check out the video from the January release below:

Stay tuned (on Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for more coverage of Toro Y Moi’s latest endeavor! I am excited to see what other singles are planned for release before the album (tracklist below) drops in April!

What For? (Expected Release Date: April 7, 2015)
01 What You Want
02 Buffalo
03 The Flight
04 Empty Nesters
05 Ratcliff
06 Lilly
07 Spell It Out
08 Half Dome
09 Run Baby Run
10 Yeah Right

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DJ Desman

birthday shoutout: Jermaine Lamarr Cole

it’s January 28th, so you know what that means.

and if you don’t know what that means, it’s rapper J. Cole’s birthday!

i’ve been following J. Cole since he released Friday Night Lights in 2010, so when he dropped 2014 Forest Hills Drive, i was ecstatic (probably an understatement).

and, with good reason. the album grew on me a lot, and i still listen to it pretty religiously, though it’s been out for over a month now.  i’ve gotta hand it to J. Cole, this album is, in my mind, a classic. i’m a sucker for clever wordplay, catchy beats, and Cole-style oversharing, so i guess it’s no surprise i feel this way.

since the album came out, i’ve been trying to write a “review” of sorts. i’ve jotted thoughts on each song, analyzed lyrics, yadda yadda yadda. and i have GIVEN UP. i can’t do it. it’s so hard to review something that you feel like no matter how many times you listen to it, you learn more about it and recognize new things, because whenever you start to review, you feel like you’re shortchanging the artist (i promise this is not just me).

so i’ve decided to “review” the album in a different way that speaks to its strengths: i’ve chosen my favorite* lyrics from each song. and i’m gonna share them. i’m doing this because if you haven’t listened to the album, you will definitely want to after catching this quick peek into the songs.

*my favorite for now, that is

here goes:

1. “Intro” 
“do you wanna be, free / Free from pain, free from scars / Free to sing, free from bars”

2. “January 28th”
“What’s the price for a black man life? / I check the toe tag, not one zero in sight”

3. "Wet Dreamz" 
“I’m thinking how that body look naked when you laying on the bed / Teacher, please don’t make me stand up”

4. "03’ Adolescence”  
“I got food for your thoughts to soothe your soul / If you see my tears fall just let me be /Move along, nothing to see”

5. "A Tale of 2 Citiez"  
“Anybody is a killer, all you gotta do is push ‘em to the limits / Fuck being timid in the Civic politicin’ with the pushers and the pimps”

6. "Fire Squad”
“While silly niggas argue over who gon’ snatch the crown / Look around, my nigga, white people have snatched the sound”

7. "St. Tropez" 
“Lately / It’s been hard for me to smile”

8. "G.O.M.D.“ 
"Why every rich black nigga gotta be famous / Why every broke black nigga gotta be brainless”

9. "No Role Modelz"  
“But then I thought back, back to a better me / Before I was a B-list celebrity / Before I started callin’ bitches "bitches” so heavily / Back when you could get a platinum plaque without no melody"

10. “Hello”  
“Reflection bring regrets don’t it / Rejection makes you defensive / So you protect your pride with your reflexes”

11. “Apparently" 
"Keep up, never sure where the words would take me / Niggas eat em up, and regurgitate me”

12.“Love Yourz" 
"It’s beauty in the struggle, ugliness in the success / Hear my words or listen to my signal of distress”

13. “Note to Self" *** 
“I don’t mind cuz I don’t matter”

*** side note: this is the, as Cole calls it, role credits. so it ends in a long monologue and he references Jonah Hill & Dale Earnhardt Jr. as playing a part in the album, and right after says:  "I’m just fuckin’ playin’, I don’t know either one of those two dudes. I don’t know either one of them niggas, I was in the moment. I just lied, I don’t give a fuck.“ that’s my favorite part of the whole album because he is so damn goofy, even after how awesomely deep and real the other songs were, and it’s just cool to see his personality displayed through talking, not even rapping. <3

hopefully this makes you want to listen to the album, or if you already have, maybe you like it more now. 😉 

happy january 28th! 

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xoxo, gnovs

Weekly Digs: Ernie Graham – Artist Profile

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It’s easy to feel like you’ve gotten to know an artist just by listening to their music, and sometimes I feel weirdly betrayed if it turns out someone who’s music I really like is a bit of an asshole. With the music of Ernie Graham and a few odd photographs, comes a strange confidence that he was a genuinely good dude. Just look at that smile:

imageIn the end though I suppose it’s probably just the music that matters, not the person who created it. Ernie Graham was a man, and he created some excellent music. Starting out as a rhythm guitarist for Tony & The Telstars in his home of Belfast, Ireland, Graham soon split for England where he met Henry McCullough. The two headed back for Belfast and formed The People, later called Eire Apparent. Eire Apparent is mostly known for recording an album produced by Jimi Hendrix, with a couple songs featuring his guitar work. These are gems for any Jimi fans, but Eire Apparent’s stuff was seriously excellent, and should stand on it’s own merit. Here’s an pretty raw 1968 single of theirs:

Here I Go Again

The band broke up in 1970 and Ernie decided to go solo, releasing the eponymous LP Ernie Graham in 1970. This album is an absolute stunner, and if you’ve got a record player I can’t recommend it enough. On it, Graham takes a new direction with his sound resulting in what most would define as “pub-rock”, a musical movement aimed at bringing music back to it’s basics from the glam rock that was emerging around the same time. Some parts folk, some parts roots; good vibes abound and Ernie Graham captures the soul of the genre perfectly. Here are a couple standouts from the album which was reissued by 4 Men With Beards this year and can also be found on CD:

So Lonely

The Girl That Turned The Lever

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The album was praised by critics but sold poorly, and in 1971 Graham joined the band Help Yourself, appearing on their 1972 album Strange Affair. Ernie would go on to form the band Clancy, releasing two albums with them and later going solo again. In the 80s after another failed attempt at success with a new band, Ernie Graham called it quits on his music career and took a job on the railroads. In 2001 he died due to complications with his alcoholism. Perhaps a sad ending for a man who never received a fraction of the recognition he deserved, but I think he must have died proud of the music he helped create. Here’s a song from Strange Affair to send you off:

Brown Lady

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Jamie Coughlin

Weekly Digs: Ted Lucas: The Om Album

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Ted Lucas got his start as a studio musician and member of various folk/rock bands around the Midwest. A classically trained guitar player, Lucas also studied blues, country, jazz, and contemporary music and drew inspiration from the likes of Ravi Shankar to develop a beautiful sound of his own. In 1974 he released his only album, a self titled effort recorded largely in his attic studio that has come to be known as “The Om Album”.

The two sides of the album are quite distinct from each other. Side A consists of a gorgeous medley of six folk songs, while Side B contains three longer, more instrumental jams. In the first six tracks, Lucas develops beautiful and familiar melodies with his perfectly soft guitar playing and warm, open voice. In a way that makes you think Bon Iver must be a fan, Lucas crafts intricate harmonies with himself that settle themselves in your head all day but never wear on you; his music is comfortable.

Get a taste of the music by listening to a track from Lucas’ self-titled album:

The lyrics of his songs are simple and direct, smiling out of the songs at you. In the album’s opener he sings “It’s a plain and sane and simple melody/brings a song to you, brings some joy to me”, setting the tone for the album as a whole. The next three tracks, “It’s So Easy”, “Now That I Know”, and “I’ll Find A Way” are all intricate and touching in their own way and as you’re listening you keep expecting a let down, like how can it stay this good??

Then Lucas comes at you with “Baby Where You Are” and “It’s So Nice To Get Stoned”, tracks that are irresistibly excellent. Side B showcases Lucas’ guitar talent, especially on “Sonny Boy Blues”, a seven minute long rail against over drinking, and the closer “Love & Peace Raga”. The raga is played in a traditional Indian style; intricately picking it’s way along for nearly eight minutes, weaving together melodies, and creating a gorgeous tapestry of sound.

This album is an absolute gem from start to finish, and while it sadly never got the attention it deserved, I get the sense that Ted Lucas was not a man concerned with material gains. So take a few minutes and give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed. Yoga Records put out a reissue in 2010 which can be found on iTunes or Amazon.

Here’s another track from the reissue to keep you company:

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Jamie Coughlin