A Frenzy of Pretty Good EPs, Courtesy of Kenyon

Posted July 29, 2011 by Dan Kipp
Categories: Albums, Personal Soundtracks, Uncategorized

What’s wobbly, world? The words of this post are comin at ya from the bootiful Peaks Island, ME, but the bootiful musica this post contains is courtesy of Kenyon musicians. The bands are: Pinegrove, The Young Crooks, and Kid Winter. This’ll be along one. Here goes.

First off is Pinegrove, comprised of Evan Hall on guitar and Nandi Plunkett on percussion. Both croon. Both, sadly for me and other Ohio fans, just graduated; hopefully they’ll go on to ¡make mas musica! The former, generally, has some form of head ware — my favorite being the headband. I picture tabs of acid inside its folds. The latter dons stylish black glasses and bangs on her drums cooly, mysteriously. I can only assume their band spirit animal is the mantis shrimp (pictured above).

Their four songs — On Jet Lag, DAYS, Metronome, and Recyling —  are emotional, marching, surprising. Their Mixtape One is soothing, stirring, and triumphant. Listen to it, HEREtop-to-bottom, with the pauses, as the artists intended. Tell me what ya think. There’s also one song, My Reckless Parts, a bucking piece of primevality, seemingly by Evan himself?, on their facebook page. Shit’s somehow mesmerizing.

The highest and flyest band with a cool low-fi flow, The Young Crooks, were formed in 2010 and have been playing together for a year now; Win Dunham and Mikey Bullister freshmen, Edik Sher a sophomore. Their first gig at Kenyon College was an impromptu unveiling… in a laundry room. Needless to say, shit was hot. (Rocking out atop those washers and dryers, keyboarding and beat-boxing like the funky fiends they are, I’da paid an admission fee of so much more than the $3.50 it costs to do a load of laundry.) That was back in their early days, when weekends we would wear our “Snow Coat,” watch the world, just smoke dope — and it was oh-oh, so, beautiful. (Rocking out atop those washers and dryers, keyboarding and beat-boxing like the funky fiends they are, I’da paid an admission fee of so much more than the $3.50 it costs to do a load of laundry.) Since, they have put out a five-song EP entitled PHONE.

The Young Crooks list a myriad of influences, from The Notorious B.I.G. (big pop-pa) to The Velvet Underground, Arctic Monkeys to MIA, The Radio Dept. (dream-pop) to Jamie T (dude’s awesome; bass-driven free verse brit-blues), Vampire Weekend to Jimmy Cliff, The Cool Kids (low-fi hip-hop) to Outkast. And that’s the abridged version.

They describe themselves as “Dream pop, plus reggae and hip-hop,” and Win calls it “slacker pop.” Adding, “It’s pretty hard to stick in one genre.” Luckily, there are ways other than genre to characterize a band. Win provides what might serve as a key insight: “Our band spirit animal is a penguin smoking a j. Seriously. It has to be smoking a j otherwise we don’t fucks wit it. Pothead penguins only.”

PHONE is the fruit of all three band members’ labors. Edek laid the foundational beats, Mikey played the gui-tar, Win wrote and spat the words while tickling the keys. The EP is decidedly low-fi, optimistic but by no means antiseptic. “Lyrics about love, drugs, and kids these days,” it boasts. Listen here, I think you’ll find it hard to disagree.

Moreover: listen, hear— the abandon. Whether it’s of the heart, utter and complete, as in Sucka Stand Up (Intro). Of all responsibility, listen to it dissipate in Today, because “It’s all okay / We’re just dumb kids anyway.” Or abandon of all sobriety, between “dropping acid like an Aztec” and “40s from Catherine” and “30 milligrams of Ritalin in the minivan;” and of all mortality, “I want to be kid man I won’t never be killed,” in Young Sons.

In Wasting Time, we eventually get the feeling that the gig is up for The Young Crooks. With their hands raised and a smile on their face, there’s an abandon of the chase: “I think I’m giving up and I’m giving in, too.” But they assure, “I’ll get the money, you’ll see, not gonna fall through.” Then, in these final, sage moments of PHONE, steam rising from the piano-and-snare pounded pavement like after a sunrain, not an abandonment of childhood, but a slight turning, and acknowledging, of what’s to come: “And we’re all growing older, but dear, we’re growing up, too.” But it’s all okay – not because we’re just dumb kids anyway – but because of the addendum, “And I don’t mind wasting my time when it’s with you.”

Infuckingdeed.

This year, or at least the first half of it, The Young Crooks will be touring the mid-west, based outta Texas. Unfortunately it’ll just be Mikey and Win, losing Edek’s beat-dropping abilities, but hopefully employing Mikey’s beat-boxing. As Win described it, “We’re gonna do a two-person show with Mikey playing guitar and fucking with a laptop and I’ll be playing keys or maybe even a keytar.” I’ve seen hip-hop artists Blueprint and Budo successfully utilize these toy-looking lightweight keyboard-guitar instruments; Win could kick some serious ass with one. “It’s gonna be pretty crazy. Were trying to get some shows together in Austin, plus we’ve got some gigs in Fayetteville, Memphis, LA”— and hopefully to Kenyon again.

We welcome you back, with hearts as open and warm as dryer-doors.

Finally, I bring you Kid Winter. There’re some (now-)familiar names in this band: Win (drums), Edek (bass), and Mikey (guitar and vocals). Joining them, most crucially, is Rhodes Sabangan on guitar and Lily Zwaan on trumpet. They both sing, and they both have a special way of greeting you from afar, and of saying dude like it’s spelled with five o’s, and Rhodes wears red pants and looks like Scar and Lily’s just the jolliest and–  They’re just really great people.

And, not so coincidentally, they just make really great music. Their Bus EP contains four tunes full of sincerity and fun and energy. Mikey said each song was spearheaded by a different member of the band, accounting for the different sounds in the tracks. One of my favorites, Sunnyside Up, is especially gleeful. You can hear it when Lily says “I’m so readyy” at the start of the track, or as she growls the chorus, or in the growling guitar grooving along or when the acoustic kicks right into the trumpet blaring through it’s just so bloody good! It’s also, I think, the most professional sounding track on Bus.

Kid Winter plays catchy music. Ringing, swinging the rifts so that they reside so easily in your ear; easy enough for even the haziest memories. Big City Strut’s whu-o! whu-0! whu-o! whu-o! w-a! triggers something in the gut, something that you can’t and don’t want to get out. Rhodes trounces this song on the vocals, too.

I happen to like the title track, as well, but I may be slightly biased. Yes, there’s the opening lyrics, so sultry in their lament, and perfectly paired with the guitar picking and electric licks. But, for me, there’s something else. Y’see, I may or may not be in the song’s chorus — the yelling of the “Hey!” — I took part… I’m just not sure if they used the take I helped out on. I’d like to think they did.

For whatever reason you have, and you will have one, I know you will enjoy la musica de Kid Winter. Once you figure out what reason that is, share it with them. They’re good people, and would probably love to hear what you have to say.

The breathless End.

My Setup, pt. 1: Spotify

Posted July 26, 2011 by James McManus
Categories: Features, Uncategorized

Welcome back to PTC everybody!
As you hopefullly know, most of our staff has turned their attentions to Turntablr.com to write about our favorite songs, but theres more to life and music than individual tracks so PTC lives on. With this series of posts I’m going to sort through all the music software and services that I’ve been using recently. Listening to music has gotten even more advanced and complicated in the digital age, especially with the recent developments of cloud storage, subscription streaming and the like. I’ve been using a lot if it, and I want to share my experiences and opinions.

The first service that I’m going to review is Spotify, the European music solution that has been hailed as “the future of the music business.” As soon as it was introduced here in the states I signed up for an Unlimited account, setting me back $5 a month in return for unlimited, ad-free streaming of Spotify’s entire catalog. Also by signing up for a paid subscription I didn’t have to wait for an invitation, and I was excited. I haven’t decided if i’m going to keep paying for my subscription or downgrade to a free account, but I’m probably going to keep it because even though 10 hours is probably enough and I don’t mind ads, I’ve heard reports that it will also limit you to 5 plays of any individual song every month, and I tend to get addicted to tracks and listen to them on repeat so 5 plays a month doesn’t sit well. 5 bucks a month isn’t terrible either. I’ve lightly considered bumping up to the Premium plan, which would unlock the Spotify app on my Droid X (running Android 2.3), but thats a bit pricry for me. Especially for the way I use the service.

After playing around with it for a few weeks, I think Spotify definitely fills a nice in my music listening life but I don’t think its going to totally revolutionize it. For one, I’m the kind of person that likes to own my music. I like that my hard drive is full of songs that I can do whatever I want with. I can put my songs on my iPod and phone, burn them to CDs for the car, and listen to them without any restrictions. I can even toss them into Audacity and manipulate them if I want. Even if I don’t have internet access, even if I don’t have the money to pay a monthly bill, I have my music. If I decided to sail to a deserted island tomorrow I could bring my music. Yes, I would need electricity to power my laptop or music player, but electricity is often easier to find than internet or money. With Spotify your music is never 100% yours. There are major upsides to it though.

I have a lot of music, and I buy a lot of music, but there’s always more. That’s where Spotify comes in. I’ve been using Spotify to listen to albums that I really like but haven’t committed to puchasing yet. For example, last year I discovered the amazing NJ rock band Titus Andronicus and immediately purchased their most recent album The Monitor. After listening to and loving The Monitor Ifound a vinyl copy of their debut,  The Airing of Grievances, but I never got a digital copy. I liked the album, just not quite enough to pay for it a second time. So, when I got Spotify, I added The Airing of Grievances to my library. I’m also a big fan of The Hold Steady but I’ve never committed to purchasing their first album in its entirety, so I’ve been listening to that on Spotify too. Another purpose it to sample new stuff without having to invest ten bucks in an album you might not like.  An example of this is how I’ve never gotten into Radiohead. I’ve always wanted to sit down with their albums and see what I’m missing, but I didn;t want to illegally download them and also didn;t really want to spend a ton of cash on a band I might not like. So with Spotify, I don’t have to.  I just have everything already.

Will I keep buying albums? Yes, because I like shopping for and owning music.  Will I continue to use iTunes? Yes, because it has a solid built-in store and I prefer its interface for playing my local files to Spotify’s. Do I like Spotify enough to pay for it? Yes. Having a huge library at your fingertips is amazingly useful. I definitely recommend it.

Baths… guaranteed to get you wet.

Posted June 12, 2011 by Dan Kipp
Categories: Uncategorized

Hey world, I’m here to tell you about some exciting new music. I don’t know much more about the guy than what I’ve gleaned from his Wikipedia page, but to start with his stage name is Baths.

Before he was where he is now, he was “a classically trained musician and began learning the piano at the age of four,” which is very palpable in his control of the tension-and-release dynamic and the pretty licks of piano that lace many of his songs.

He’s an electronic musician from Cali who seems to specialize in what one could call glitch-hop. Where Baths really gets me, though, is in how smoove his electronics are — the fact of which is due to its deep roots in the chillwave movement.

I tend to find electronica jarring, grating, and impersonal; it rattles around my ears like trashcans in a metallic alley. But Baths strikes somewhere I never thought sounds made from a computer could. I’ve thought, and indeed to a large extent still do, music made with real instruments and musicians (and live, especially) is the stuff of the most soul. Soul, however, is not something his album Cerulean lacks.

The 12 track album was purportedly recorded in two months in his bedroom. It’s a beauty. Baths drops astronomical bass lines like they were too hot to handle, and yet they hum comfortably in and around the glitchy electrics. Accompanied by crooning falsettos singing catchyass melodies, Baths tends to layer in sound samples that some have called “unorthodox,” such as “clicking pens, vocal samples, rustling blankets and scissor snaps.” A perfect example is “Aminals” — note the purposeful misspelling — one of my favorite songs in which bits of dialogue from school children talking about animals are spliced up. (Listen around 2:02 into the video linked above for supercute kids mimicking aminals, and then 2:31 in for an expert, first-hand account of the relationship between elephants and giraffes.)

My roommate this year was a DJ, and he imparted upon me the importance of “the drop” — where it comes, and in what form. I am inclined to dub Baths the king of drops. Listen to “Indoorsy,” and experience the musical climax around 2:02 in. “Lovely Bloodflow,” too, has a bass that kicks just as much ass, with more grace. (Check out the cool visuals that accompany the above video.)

I just bought Baths’ second album, Pop Music/False B-Sides. I’m going to listen to it now. Until next time, World, pop on over to http://turntablr.com/, Pie Tonight Cheese’s new sister site where we post singular songs — as opposed to album reviews and other ramblings — for the general public’s perusing pleasure!

At the Newport, Part II: Papadosio

Posted June 2, 2011 by Dan Kipp
Categories: Uncategorized

What is gOoOd, world?

I’m back, and glad to have you here as well for the second installment of At the Newport, Part II: Papadosio! (Man, gotta love proper nouns and exclamation points.)

Just two nights after seeing Atmosphere, Grieves & Budo, and Blueprint for the beginning of The Family Tour, I stole/borrowed another friend’s car and sojourned back to Columbus’s Newport Music Hall to see Papadosio.

Papadosio is an electronic-infused jam-band  that’s been up-and-coming for a while now. The band is based out of Ohio, originally formed in Athens, and was ecstatic to be back in Columbus. The crowd was equally enthused — I went to the show solo, but met a nice hippy couple and had a beer with them before the music started.

Papadosio started with a local cult following, of which my new friends were an avid part of. “Five years ago,” Jerry-with-the-headband told me, gesturing towards the warm-up band Jahman Brahman, “Papadosio would be up there, opening instead of headlining. Now they’re playing festivals all over.” Jerry and his wife were from Ohio; they almost seemed like sad parents, reminiscing about Papadosio like they were their children sent off into the real world. “We see them whenever we can,” Marie said with a smile.

Indeed, Papadosio’s roots are strong, but its fan base extends far beyond Ohio’s borders — and for good reason. Now nearing the forefront of the electronica genre, Papadosio refuses to be confined to a singular definition. As the electronic music site TheUntz.com details, “Papadosio’s music is all about unexpected combinations. From Rock/House to Jazz/Hop to Dub/Breaks and so on, every song has a unique approach to attaining originality. Long improvisational interludes and vocal harmonies quickly set this group in a new category.” In fact, the closest I can come to pinning down Papadosio is provided by their 2008 EP (and my favorite album), By The Light of the Stars, which when it downloads to iTunes simply says “Psychedelic” under genre.

The band is currently comprised of Anthony on guitar, keys, vocals; Billy on keys and vocals; Mike on drums; Rob on bass, vocals; and Sam on keys and vocals. At the Newport, the band was joined for one jam — because somewhere around the fifteen-minute mark, it stops being a song — by a spritely “[hula] hoop dance artist” named Lindsay Nova, another Ohio resident. She, along with Jerry and Marie, is a perfect example of the wide swath of people Papadosio appeals to.

A friend and fellow music enthusiast, Chad Weisman, has seen Papadosio before. He distills them down to a “funk/improv feel of jam bands like Phish with a newer techno/electronic feel. This combination of past and present is where they get a lot of their strength from and where they resonate.” The band can fit many moods, from relaxed ‘n reclining jams to up ‘n at ‘em raves. As put most eloquently by Mr. Weisman, Papadosio is “funky as fuck.”

At the Newport, Papadosio played longer than I could stay… and boy did they play! I took some video of the concert, linked below, but unfortunately something went wrong: what are supposed to be double-digit length videos came out to be mere minutes. (My only guess is that somehow Macs can shrink time… damn you Steve Jobs!)

Once again, proseful words, no matter how purposefully written, can hardly handle what music holds. Nor does the video record what really went down. The lights, the sounds, the smells, the love… Papadosio continually transcends description. Feel it for yourself: http://eventful.com/performers/papadosio-/P0-001-000112513-8.

My Favorite Album of 2011 Thus Far – “Helplessness Blues”

Posted May 17, 2011 by Zach
Categories: Albums, Cultural Commentary, Personal Soundtracks, Reviews

Tags: ,

Hello PTC, it’s been quite a while. How are you? How have you been? You don’t seem to have changed too much. I’ve been absent from the site for nearly 2 months because the end of the school year was awful work-wise. Therefore, forgive me for the fact that this review is coming nearly two weeks after the official release date of the album in question. The tardiness of this review is even more egregious considering that the album leaked in February and I’ve been listening to a torrented copy that my friend gave me for months. Right around this time last year, I made a prediction for what my favorite album of the year would be, Janelle Monae’s The Archandroid, and by the time December rolled around, my prediction was proven true. I’m wondering if the same will be true for this album (maybe I just have a thing for albums released in May). Simply put, Fleet Foxes’ sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, is one of the most moving collections of songs I’ve heard in a long time, both musically and thematically. Most music people recognized their talent in 2008 when they released their self-titled breakthrough, but it took me a little longer to catch up here. It’s been quite a while since I was truly excited about a band, and this album has made Fleet Foxes one of my new favorites.

Musically, the band, led by the golden-voiced Robin Pecknold, takes its inspiration from folk rock groups of the 1960s/1970s such as CSNY and contemporary peers such as Grizzly Bear. By far one of the most distinctive elements of the band is their gorgeous vocal harmonies, giving songs such as the opener “Montezuma” an epic musical scope. It’s pure ear candy, and the band’s best instrument is by far the voice of Robin Pecknold. In the age of auto-tune and studio magic, Pecknold’s voice is a true gem. It has such a natural, pure tone, but never clouds the emotion behind the lyrics in overly pretty delivery. For the perfect contrast, listen to the tender crooning of the lovelorn “Someone You’d Admire” and then hear the angry crack of Pecknold’s voice as he belts during the climax of the 8-minute epic “The Shrine/An Argument” (a rare moment in which his voice becomes strikingly raw).  Read the rest of this post »

At the Newport, Part I: The Family Tour

Posted May 15, 2011 by Dan Kipp
Categories: Concerts, Reviews, Uncategorized

World, it’s been a while.

For this, I apologize. I’ve been distant, and I want to soothe the emotional scars with some minty-fresh reportage — it’s the balm, yo.

Recently, I saw two shows at Columbus’s Newport Music Hall. Similarly arranged to Boston’s House of Blues, but on a smaller-scale. The speakers were stacked and the ceiling’s gothic engravings spun with the shows.

The first show was a Rhymesayers fiesta, a tour called The Family Tour: Minnesota-based Atmosphere headlined; Budo and Grieves opened, along with Blueprint (who also opened for Macklemore at Kenyon College a month before). Oh, and on top of all this goodness, it just so happened to be on April 20th, a very special day… because my sister Zoe flew to Ohio to see the show with me! What’s more, m’dude Scotty came along, and we met two more Kenyonites there… yay friends!

Budo and Grieves were the first on stage. The duo are long time friends, not to mention amazing artists. Grieves raps and croons while Budo lays down the beats and plays the trumpet, guitar, and keyboard.

Grieves’s lyrics are typically atypical, as Rhymesayers rappers tend to be. In the song “Scar Gardens,” Grieves laments over lost love, singing, “Purple hearted scar garden harvesting my thoughts song / and, with the chalk gone, / the problem still exists. / At least the outline of its death prevents another fatal kiss.” He’s one of the best I know at rapping about the opposite sex since Snoop sang “We don’t love dem hoes.” Grieves’s best known song is “I Ate Your Soul,” and he TORE IT UP at the show. The song also provided Budo a chance to display his skills as an DJ. Listen to the song, but key-in on 2:54 … that is Budo.

Budo was actually the most impressive performer of the whole night, in my opinion. His unrestrained passion was violently refreshing. In the song “Gwenevieve,” he alternately tore electric licks into the guitar and screamed the refrain “Burn it down!” in an unbridled cry. Powerful stuff. I may or may not have teared up a little.

Blueprint was on next. I already talked about him in an article linked above, but I’ll add some brief commentary. Both when I saw him at Kenyon and at the Newport, Blueprint was the most down to Earth artist I’ve ever seen. Before and after shows, he is so personal with and receptive to his fans. Zoe got a picture with his ugly/goofy mug. On top of this, he gives every performance his all — visceral, full of grit and experimentation.

Finally, we got atmospheric. At the first show of their tour, promoting their new album The Family Sign, Atmosphere delivered a stirring performance through the smoke-clouded room to a weed-addled crowd.

The relentless rage; the unfeeling feeling; a cigarette burn scarring skin… Elation in relating over resentment; angry at ourselves and society; an empty glass just grinning to be filled… I know it’s cliche, but words really can’t capture the energy and emotions that Atmosphere draws from and injects doubly back into their music. Hearts swelled with the throbbing bass in “You,” limbs lurched with each line in “Puppets,” smiles widened with the landscape laid out in “Sunshine.” And those were just the old standbys.

Atmosphere played songs off of The Family Sign, as well. The album is darker than some of their others have been. Here’s some other commentary on the album as a whole:

The Family Sign is Atmosphere’s most personal and intimate album yet; it involves and engages the listener like never before.

[It] comes from a place well refined and firmly planted, from a universal perspective.

[It] is a tribute to their true extended family: their fans, their loved ones, and each other.

– http://www.rhymesayers.com/atmosphere/releases/

The concert was amazing. My sister had a good time. I bought a t-shirt. Couldn’t get any better.

I realize this blog doesn’t exactly specialize in rap or hip-hop; I also realize that all of my posts, even covering the band Why?, have been at least semi-hip-hop oriented. Which is why I’m happy to say that my next post, the second installment of At the Newport, will feature an electronic-infused jam-band called Papadosio that’s been up-and-coming for a while now. Look out for it, here, on PTC!

Macklemore at Kenyon

Posted May 7, 2011 by Dan Kipp
Categories: Concerts, Reviews

Tags: , ,

What it do, world?

What follows is a review I wrote for the Kenyon Collegian of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s party… I mean performance at The Horn on March 23rd. (All photos by Jake Wayler)

Dust particles, caught in a spotlight momentarily, drifted hesitantly down from The Horn’s rafters this past Wednesday, as if questioning gravity. They never got a chance to settle on the floor: the combination of heat and hardwood bending under feet-bouncing beats stirred the status quo, leaving everyone elated and aloft.

In their first concert in a tour of the Midwest, Seattle-based hip-hop group Macklemore & Ryan Lewis took Kenyon by storm and soul this past Wednesday.

Opening for the headliners was Ohio-based rapper Blueprint. Signed to the Rhymesayers label, Blueprint is part of a faction in the hip-hop industry stressing lyrical consciousness and experimental instrumentals, alongside contemporaries such as Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Grieves, and P.O.S.

Blueprint’s performance was raw, in a style similar to Tyler the Creator, especially when he threw down “The Clouds.” Most of the songs were from his recent album, Adventures in Counter-Culture. His lyricism was witty and cocksure like Childish Gambino, but ranged to the the political in songs like “Hand-Me-Downs,” where Blueprint passionately lamented society’s general apathy: “Used to give us world news – now it’s all videos, / replaced Tavis Smiley with reality shows.” In the chorus, he cynically evokes James Brown’s black power anthem: “Come on say it loud / Look what we handed down / Don’t it make you proud? / Look what we handed down.”

Towards the end of his set, Blueprint released his inner rock star, breaking out the handheld keyboard and hammering out some hammer-ons. Said Leland Holcomb ’14, “Blueprint’s intensity fired me up for the wildness of Macklemore.”

And the rest is modern history. Read the rest of this post »


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