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One of my email subscribers, Sandy, asked me recently, “What are your biggest influences? What are you currently listening to?” I hate to just give short answers to music related questions as personal as this one! Furthermore as I was looking at what I was listening to and matching it up with some of my favorite artists, I realized that a lot of music came out this year that I’ve enjoyed all year long. Let’s take a look in no particular order.
Wick-it the Instigator – The Brothers of Chico Dusty
Ok, there is a particular order. I mention this one first because it was actually released in December of 2010. But it’s so good. I listened to it a lot in 2011. Wick-it the Instigator‘s mashup album of Big Boi’s Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Sons of Chico Dusty & The Black Keys’ Brothers. Deservedly, it went viral on the internet. I hope you grab this one right away.
Emancipator – Remixes
This was the sleeper hit of the year. I was addicted to this album for several months. I already liked Emancipator. This remix album added a lot of punch to his more vibed out tracks. As I type this, I’m inspired to start listening to this AGAIN. haha. Emancipator has been one of my favorite discoveries from Pandora. I even tried to remix/mashup one of his songs by the way.
DJ Shadow – The Less You Know, The Better
This was Shadow’s first studio release in years! When I talk about DJ Shadow today, people are very quick to point out that he’ll never release another record like Endtroducing. Ok, fine. Then, they tell me that he’s lost it. But come on. He was way ahead of everyone when he released The Outsider in 2006. Admittedly, I didn’t get it at first when that album came out. But now I look around, there’s all this bass music. I keep thinking, oh I’ve heard this before! I digress. So, Shadow tried to go back to his “roots” with The Less You Know, The Better. Here’s a great interview about it. I liked this record a lot. It reminded me of the UNKLE – Psyence Fiction album because it was super diverse. I listened to this over and over. You should have, too.
Mutemath – Odd Soul
Some of you know that I’m a longtime die-hard Mutemath fan. (I even got to open for Mutemath back in the day.) This is Mutemath’s best record. Great songwriting in the lyrics, melodies, & rhythm. This actually came out on the same day as DJ Shadow record. Yet, I was more excited about this one! It’s the perfect record for them. I don’t know how they top it. it’s a great pure rock album without a lot of the electronic and sample elements that I’m used to hearing. Actually, you’d think I would like it less because of that. But I love what they did. They were all over the place with the styles. I hope that since now they’ve proven themselves musically (as if they needed to), they can bring back all the samples and electronic stuff and make something ridiculous. But enough speculation, Listen to Odd Soul. If you haven’t already, you should have. Oh by the way, I entered their Odd Soul remix contest. I didn’t win; but I liked what I did. Download Odd Soul (Quiet Entertainer Remix)
BSBD – Noir
This album deserves its own blog entry. The reason I don’t: I’m not a music reviewer and don’t want to be known as a music reviewer. I don’t want thousands of rappers and bands sending me their music. But let me tell you. In my opinion, this is the best record that came out in 2011. It’s definitely my favorite. I don’t know what kind of genre you’d tag for Blue Sky Black Death. I know they are hip hop producers. However, the Noir album is kind of a shoegaze electronica triphop soundtrack-esque record. I’ve listened to this record the most. Every time I listen to it, I have a new favorite track. Every time I re-listen to a track, I discover a new element that I hadn’t noticed. It’s like reading the Bible. Yes, it’s a religious experience when I listen to this record. Is it kind of silly to talk this way about music? It’s just a record, right? If you feel that way, you probably need to leave my site right now. And then you need to go listen to Noir. You should have been listening all year long.
Quiet Entertainer – Q-Gaze
Shameless plug! I did my first ever mixtape EP this year! It’s called Q-Gaze. I mixed together some of the artists I listed here and a few others. You definitely need to grab that. It’s a free download. Get it here.
Like I said, I’m not a music reviewer. I’m more of a sharer. I’m just sharing music that I like. Through that mixtape and through this blog. I hope you took some time to listen. What records would you have put on this list for 2011? Let me know in the comments.
My new mix EP is up! It’s called Q-Gaze. Q-Gaze basically is a collection of songs that I’ve found recently that I really enjoy. Songs that I’ve discovered from my Pandora Station, soundcloud, or from going out to shows. It’s my first mix of any kind; so, I’m really excited and proud of it! You can download Q-Gaze for free here!
If you can’t see that image, here’s the track listing.
Blue Sky Black Death – Farewell To the Former World
Saxon Shore – Silence Lends a Face to the Soul
Nordlight – Feel Yourself
Dead Prez – Hip Hop (Live Peripheral Remix)
DJ Shadow – Walkie Talkie (Irn Mnky Beat Down Mix)
RJD2 – One Day (Instrumental)
Lymbyc Systym – Pittsburgh Left (Eliot Lipp Remix)
Between The Buried And Me – Medicine Wheel (Instrumental)
Bassnectar – Dorfex Bos
Diplo – Big Lost
Charlie Blacksmoke and The Swamp Energy Mass Choir – Hippie Glue (Extreme Super Death Moon Mix)
Al B. Sure – Night and Day (Onra Mix)
Tallest Trees – We Were Just An Echo (Echo 2)
P-Love – Palisades (Extendomix)
Rae & Christian – Swimming Pool
Bonobo – Recurring
This Will Destroy You – Quiet
I sent this mix to my email list a few weeks ago, and the response has been very encouraging. Definitely have a listen and let me know what you think in the comments.
Don’t forget that you can download the entire mix for free here.
Editor’s note: I already told you about Blue Sky Black Death and their new record NOIR. So you’re no stranger to them. Well, this is probably a coincidence. But literally minutes after I tweeted Blue Sky Black Death about them touring, not only did they tweet me back but someone emailed me. Well, the tweet was about how they aren’t touring right now; and when they are touring, they won’t be anywhere near Nashville. I need to start a campaign to get Blue Sky Black Death & Quiet Entertainer on a show together. It worked for Betty White. However, the email was about a show they are doing in Seattle. I never have been to Seattle and I don’t know how many readers I have there. But if you’re a BSBD fan and you’re able, you should go see them. Looks like a free show, too. Maybe next time, they’ll fly me out to see them! (hint.)
Blue Sky Black Death, an accomplished West Coast production duo has mastered the art of collaboration. Their sound transforms the raw into the refined through technically building layers that exceed the boundaries of any one particular musical genre. Young God and Kingston make up the duo, and acquire additional people to help construct the synthesis of instrumental variety. Often a single track will involve a violin, cello, keyboard, and guitar mixed with live vocals and abstract samplings, so each song compiles and manipulates to make the music engage on several levels. Most of their reputation comes from their accomplishments with various hip hop collaborators (Jean Grae, Crooked-I, Hell Razah, the late Guru, Ill Bill, to name but a few). Each album surpasses the next in expectation thus creating surprise. BSBD has been recieved praise from such publications as Spin, URB, Rock Sound, XLR8R , Itunes, Imeem, ReUp magazine, Filter Magazine, Vapors Magazine, Remix Magazine, Pop Matters, amongst others, and their music has led them to receive world wide recognition. BSBD has redefined hip hop through their kaleidoscopic perception of music as a landscape; music as a dimension to construct and build upwards and out. Their name borrowed from the skydiving term, beauty before death, mirrors their longevity and ability to bring back to life, dead and forgotten dimensions.
I can’t take it any longer. I HAVE to tell you about these guys. My current musical crush Blue Sky Black Death are about to release their new record, NOIR. It will be available in April of this year. They’ve been dropping snippets of the new stuff in short videos. Here’s the latest one.
How strong is my love for their music? Let me give you the backstory. I was listening to my Pandora station. I bookmarked a bunch of artists and songs with which I was going to make a mixtape (I still haven’t done that. Doh!). One of them was a song by BSBD. I was blown away. Here’s what their indie label Fake Four Inc says about them.
The Seattle based production duo Blue Sky Black Death is back to what they do best: cinematic, epic, shoegaze influenced instrumental hip hop. Although Kingston and Young God have always strayed from the expected by doing everything from indie synth pop to hardcore boom bap (with the likes of Guru, Jean Grae, Hieroglyphics, Jedi Mind Tricks, etc) they have always maintained an unrivaled level of quality and consistency with all of their work. Their 2008 instrumental record Late Night Cinema is commonly thought of as their master work to date with critics such as XLR8R Magazine saying “Late Night Cinema may be categorized as “Hip Hop”, but it’s better suited for the opera hall than your trunk.”
I did a LOT of digging. Their web presence isn’t awesome, but they did have a myspace at the time I was looking. At one point, they kind of discreetly encouraged fans to find their downloads (they stopped doing this). So after a year or so, I THINK I have their entire known discography. I even found their Coup de grâce mix with tracks from both NOIR and their recent release Third Party. (Props to Lets Get Digital for the heads up).
Anyway, NOIR is coming soon. They’ve been releasing videos to preview and promote it. I posted the latest one at the top. Here are the rest. Don’t sleep!