Incredible song and visuals from Sampha. Taken from his forthcoming album, Process. Watching and listening this, it feels like he should be more well know than he is but I guess it's nice to know everyone is building towards something. The number of subscribers or followers you have doesn't always dictate how good you are. Press play and enjoy.
It's been a minute (three months) since I dropped off Five Tracks for your audio visual pleasure. So in the midst of organising myself for a trip to Barcelona at the weekend, I thought now would be a good time to resurrect the feature. I'm a sucker for a good music video and this selection brings a mixed bag of execution from hip hop and funk to soul and rock and roll. All bases are covered with some live performance and animation. Read on and press play.
Possibly one of the most underrated musicians in recent times, Sampha, made his return after a year or so of radio silence with Timmy's Prayer. Now he's linked up with the FADER performing a live debut, piano rendition of his new track, Plastic 100°C. Press play below and check out his new feature interview for FADER, available here.
Thundercat and Adult swim make that sweet connection again to produce the video for "Song For The Dead". The animated clip, comes courtesy of Ryan McShane aka RY NO who had this to say about his professional experience and relationship with Thundercat,
Pretty awesome. press play and enjoy below.
It's been a few years since The Strokes released some music and even longer since they've served up a visual. So when the "Future Present Past" EP landed on my streaming service a few weeks ago, I was surprised and intrigued to check out the project. It's pretty safe to say the band haven't deviated terribly in their approach (a good thing) but I did enjoy OBLIVIUS especially.
The narrative for the clip below springs from the idea that some cronies have taken the footage from that video shoot and we are left with a video for the decidedly more average track, "Threat of Joy." That being said, I do enjoy the bizarre little story they've concocted for the visual treatment and it's good to see these gents back with some music out there. Check it out below.
Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange is releasing his new project, Freetown Sound in a few days. He's come a long way since his Lightspeed Champion days. Of course if you've followed his path, you'll know he's switched lanes with the Blood Orange alias, focussing more so on R&B and electronica. This track has a kind of 80's vibe, plumped up with the styling from the crop tops to the high waisted washed out jeans and dad hats.
Don't be fooled by the restrictive use of musical elements as they create a pretty expansive sound and scale. If you delve into the lyricism you'll find a story that deals with faith, existence and vulnerability. Press play and enjoy "Augustine" below. Side note, Julian Casablancas features.
Last but not least, we have producer Clams Casino with All Nite, featuring Vince Staples. The rapper's flow, delivery and lyricism is very much on point across the beat. And Clams does his part of course, creating a rich sound using some bird singing samples juxtaposing a heavy wad of bass and synth patterns. The video editing is quality as well. Cheers for reading!
Things are looking promising thus far, with features from Anderson .Paak, Vince Staples, Miguel and TDE labelmates SZA and Kendrick Lamar. The narrative for this visual takes us back just over a decade to Q's Hoover St. gang banging days. From rolling dice to smoking weed and cruising around in one of the homie's cars, the clip depicts an authentic day to day for the artist with the final scene setting up part 2 for a pawn shop robbery.
Kendrick is on the hook delivering his signature melodic inflections across the minimal beat. If you want to skip to the track, head to 5.44. The director uses some colour manipulation, washing the scene with black and grey, I suppose, suggesting the ill will and negative connotations that envelop the crippin' lifestyle. Hopefully the album serves up more of this kind of story telling from Q. It already seems that there's less of a focus on having some sort of crossover, mainstream single which is only a good thing. Press play and enjoy the short film and stay tuned for the release come July 8.
If you've been an avid visitor of the site since we first started publishing content, you might remember the inaugural music post, "The Power of Animation". Click through for a read if not. That tenuous link is just showing the appreciation for a good animated music video. When I saw this Ruff Mercy clip for Samiyam and Earl Sweatshirt's cut, Mirror, I felt obliged to post it.
The track was originally destined for Earl's superb album, I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside, but for whatever reason didn't make the final tracklisting. Alas the producer took it for his own project Animals Have Feelings, and now, several months later we've been blessed with a quality visual. Ruff Mercy, seemingly the go-to guy for a lot of hip hop animated productions is on duty once again. Press play and enjoy below.
James Blake returned with new album "The Colour In Anything" last week. Now, much to my delight, being a heavily visual sort of chap, the video has arrived for the fantastic collaborative effort with Bon Iver, "I Need A Forest Fire". Justin Vernon recently stated the pairings work "...came from wonderful accidents and good friendship." The piece is handled by a couple of gentlemen from United Visual Artists, who will be responsible for Blake's upcoming tour visuals as well. The cinematography is exceptional, making use of the art gallery setting, playing with lighting, shadows and abstract art pieces to create something that'll make you want to press play again.
I'd love to throw up a full album review for Blake's latest work but rather unfortunately I haven't even had the time to play the full length in all it's glory. The several tracks I've listened to (couple down below) have given me enough desire though to make time for it this weekend. The cut down below, "My Willing Heart", co- written by Frank Ocean channels that special feeling both artists evoke so poignantly. A sort of indescribable melancholy. I rather like the 90's R&B vibe going on with the vocal dancing across the jazz piano keys, grumbly bass and string section.
"Radio Silence" is just spectacular. The lament in the lyricism is juxtaposed superbly with the syncopated drums, building synths, layered howling and drone like bass. The intro/outro vocal looping is especially beautiful. It's definitely getting the forseeable overplay treatment as of now. Anyway, check out all the audio visual above and below and be sure to pick up the album if it sounds like your bag.
So. Radiohead are back. The hype is real. Many fans will have noticed their disappearance from the internet altogether in the past week, sparking rumours of a new album release. They actually totally fell off the radar for me in the interim but my buddy Emic is a huge fan and alerted me to the goings on. After a couple of teasers on their Instagram page earlier in the day of their new track, “Burn The Witch”, you can now catch the whole thing by pressing play below.
I’ve probably looped the track as many times as possible now since it went live and I’d say it’s definitely a grower. The way they rolled it out and the accompanying video make for a solid return after five years as well. The little birdsong sample either side of the cut harks back to their last release “The King of Limbs” and again, rhythm is paramount here. However, the electronic sound is ditched in favour of some rich live instrumentation. The string arrangement a top the drone like bass builds up nicely with Thom Yorke’s falsetto vocal into a climatic ending. The video rules, simply put. Chris Hopewell is on directing duties for this paradoxically humble yet sinister looking claymation epic that makes reference to The Wicker Man. Looking forward to the imminent LP release. Enjoy!
I've been rather pre-occupied with a mix of illustration and logo design work recently so the posts have taken a back seat but this collaboration is a heavy hitter from all angles so be sure to check it out. A few weeks ago, the late J Dilla's album, "The Diary" was posthumously released. That was seemingly made possible by Nas, a publishing platform he's heavily invested in, Mass Appeal and Dilla's family estate. So it'd seem fitting that the first visual impression from the project links them all together. "The Sickness" is a bonus cut produced my Madlib and sees the two lyricists go bar for bar, flexin' over the driving beat.
The video, directed by Ruffmercy fits the tracks nicely. You can find more of his animation on Run The Jewels, Schoolboy Q and Disclosure cuts by clicking through. Interestingly the Disclosure piece was made in collaboration with Kate Moross who I've sadly been a big fan of for around a decade. Making myself feel old. Sigh. Anyway, press play and enjoy below.
Kaytranada's studio album “99.9%” is on it’s way and as such, promotion is in full swing. He’s tacked a pretty cool game onto his website and that’s what we’re talking about. Procrastination at it’s finest. The game is a nicely hand drawn, illustrated side scroller, similar to something like iCopter for mobile devices years and years ago. Although I’m sure the concept for the game is a couple decades old, it’s a cool way to promote a new album release.
It’s supremely addictive and the beat on loop, soundtracking it is great. The reward for completion is a bonus cut off 99.9% entitled "Nobody Beats The Kay”. There's even a leaderboard if you're the competitive type. Click through here and check it out. If you head on through to his site you’ll find some more awesome illustration as well. In the piece I did for this little article, I tried layering shapes and messing with colour a bit more. Hoping to do more of this style, time abiding. Cheers for reading.
It's pretty rare that I'll post a single track on here as generally I'd imagine it getting swallowed into the ether of the internet much quicker for some reason. But when I came across this process video and resulting cut from legendary producer Mike Dean, I felt compelled to broaden it's reach. You can check the caption for the video for the details behind "Grande Faucon", but know that this glistening, textured production was synthesized in just 48 hours.
I'd urge you to use some decent headphones so you don't miss the finer details of this mix which really goes off for me at the 3.20 mark. The sound is just so huge and Mike creates a vibe that encapsulates many spheres of influence. The obvious being some old school video games fused with his aural language as a hip hop/ rap producer. The general badassery has some Travis Scott mixtape vibes for me or maybe sounds like a roided Drive Soundtrack. Press play on the process and find the final track below. Enjoy.
Although the next week will most likely be consumed with playing the new Deftones record, Gore until I make myself violently ill of it, I was always going to do a "Five Tracks" for the past week. So press play on these new tracks below and read some words about why you should so. First up, we have the latest visual for a free single Chance The Rapper dropped last year, Angels. There's something undeniably feel good about this record, even with the bubblegum dance routine video. Chance's flow, ad libs, the soulful instrumentation and the catchy hook with help from Saba make for a record you could easily stick on repeat. If you want to check out the first, very energetic live performance on the Stephen Colbert Report, click through here.
Next up, Schoolboy Q's latest effort, Groovy Tony, presumably off his next full length album due this year. This video is crazy good, nightmarish and gritty. The beat, progressive, sort of roughed up and dark which is where I think Q flourishes. True fans will most likely want a lot more of this with the new LP. Personally, I think it's a good time for another album from Q, who seemed pretty beaten down by the process of making Oxymoron, referring to this period. In light of what Kendrick's done recently, particularly with the Untitled Unmastered album, perhaps there's more of a sense of freedom there for the other TDE guys to truly do what they do best.
The next couple of spots here are reserved for some Deftones record cuts. My two favourite tracks are currently, "Doomed User" and "Hearts/Wires". This is their 8th LP and once again, they've released a remarkable project. "Doomed User" kicks off with a beefy bass line that envelops into a nice heavy metal, feedback laced riff that marries so well with Moreno's singing. No visuals, but press play below for the official audio.
"Hearts/Wires" might be my current favourite as the track soars with a great vocal performance once again from Moreno. The guitars are melodic and just heavy enough to compliment and enhance his falsetto.
The final track worth your time is Aesop Rock's "Blood Sandwich". You'll find him watching some old footage whilst reminiscing about his relationships with his brothers in this visual. The instrumental is sort of split in two in this track, as Aesop gets into his story telling mode right off the bat with humility and honesty. "The Impossible Kid" drops at the end of the month on Rhymesayer and I'm pretty sure it'll be one of the best hip hip albums of the year. On a sidenote, Rock's cadence and flow reminds me of Busdriver a little on this one. Definitely check out his last project on Soundcloud if you haven't yet. Cheers for checking out Five Tracks this week.
Check out the latest two part visual from Big Grams with a little help from Run The Jewels. If you aren't familiar with Big grams, they are comprised of New York electronic rock outfit, Phantogram and Outkast's Big Boi. They released a self titled album last year which went down pretty well supposedly, though I'm not going to lie, I haven't given it the time yet. These are the only two tracks I'd heard until now. Awesome Inc. are at the helm, collaborating with Adult Swim to bring the visual to life and it doesn't disappoint. Here we see Mike Netland's illustration and character design take centre stage as this trip unfolds. Press play and enjoy.
Admittedly, I've been rather shite with the whole Things That Are Well Good series but I decided to resurrect the Five Tracks off shoot this week after finding a few nice clips. These videos represent about a tenth of what I've actually been listening to which is Kendrick's surprise drop off, "Untitled Unmastered" and Snarky Puppy's Grammy winning "Sylva".
However, they provide some nice visual respite when the overplay treatment gets to you. The first clip I recommend checking out comes courtesy of the ever soulful Mayer Hawthorne. If you don't know his music already, get your hands on a copy of his '09 debut, A Strange Arrangement. Still my favourite work from him but this track, "Love Like That" has that signature style. His new project, "Man About Town" is due to release, April 8th.
Next up, a track from LA indie pop, 3 piece band, Sir Sly. They haven't graced earbuds with new music for a few years now but this tune doesn't disappoint by any means. They're channeling Radiohead vibes on "Expectations". Check it out below.
The Flatbush Zombies finally dropped their album 3001 : A Laced Odyssey after a lengthy promotional run. The prolific Madbury Club are responsible for the creative direction with this visual piece, as we see the trio rhyme off "This Is It" with finesse. The stripped back monochrome look compliments the Erick the Architect beat well. Serious replay value with this one.
This JMSN track is somewhat of a guilty pleasure. The video for Cruel Intentions/ Good Ol' Case of the Blues is an intimate affair. There's something proper old school about this. Like D'Angelo a couple generations removed or maybe some early early Justin Timberlake. The dude writes, produces and mixes pretty much everything he does so I can respect the complete control he has. He's also produced for some pretty massive artists. I'd imagine he could sell out whenever he wants so fairplay for sticking to his own lane. Enjoy in secret for now.
The last track is from Detroit artist and friend of Big Sean, Earlly Mac. It's a pretty laid back cut, produced by Key-Wane. Andy Miller and Ryan Lightbourn helm the visual which is somewhat of an ode to his hometown mixed in with some performance clips, money, of course and girls. Check it out below and let us know what you're listening to. Cheers for reading.
There isn't much to say, other than press play on this mix from DJ/producers duo, Chi Duly and MICK so I'll keep it short. New era heavyweight Metro Boomin's trap infused beats get laced with some Biggie Smalls vocals in this surprisingly good mash up. The mix arrived 19 years to the day that B.I.G. passed away. Again, late to the party. The gents behind it even pay homage to the old school album art, adding Metro's hairstyle and MICK's son's face to the original baby's body from the Ready To Die cover. (See below) Although skeptical at first, given a metric shit tonne of mash ups are god awful, I had the 30 minute mix on repeat yesterday morning whilst I worked away in Established. Biggie's delivery and lyrical content actually sits really well against Metro's indelible style. So yeah, press play and enjoy. Cheers for reading.
Peter Sumadh is writer, poet and musician, "The Mad Dalton”. He released his eponymous EP, “The Little Belfry” in November last year. I caught the video for the title track and we connected with the view towards working on an interview. It only took a few months but here it is. Peter was born in Dundee, Scotland to an English Mother and Trinidadian Father. He moved to Canada at the age of seven with his first guitar that had been given to him by a neighbour. When he left home in his early teens, he had already begun writing poems, songs and short stories, returning first to England, then his native Scotland, and now, Belfast.
This interview was recorded at The Black Box in the Green Room, during a busy Wednesday lunchtime. We sat down with a few beers, notably the Magic Rock IPA on tap and a White Hag oatmeal chocolate stout. Tasty stuff. We talked inspiration, new music, Belfast, future ambitions and absinthe. Enjoy.
DB: So we’re presenting a track “En Cavale” or “On the Lam”. A previously unheard, as of yet unmastered english version of the track (below) for our readers with the french version above. Given the direct translation, who is the character on the run and what’s the story behind the track?
MD: Well, like a lot of the songs I’d write, there wasn’t necessarily a premeditated story. It’s a track that sort of came into it’s own through gestation and continuing to develop that character. Although, it may have started out as something that was sort of autobiographical, I think that it turned into something very different. In this case, it isn’t so much what the character is running away from, but what they are running towards. The song is a journey from a certain point of isolation, maybe, to a place where there’s a relative safety. The track itself was started, believe or not in the wake of the 911 tragedy.
DB: So it’s actually been around for a while and just never got recorded?
MD: Yeah, I mean lines appear in my notebooks and will get used a lot later on. That’s the great value in gestation. I don’t really think too much when I’m writing my songs to be honest with you. Songs themselves, drive that process and I believe too much thought can encumber a song. This, for me, is an example of something that started off with a random line. Ultimately the track will have many interpretations. That’s the great thing about the way people hear and see things. How the song starts and ends, I guess there’s a bit of a twist without giving too much away. I hope people get that.
DB: Obviously you recorded in French. Where did that come from? Why’d you want to do that?
MD: This being one of my early songs and with it being a story, you know it’s not a top ten single. Let’s face it. (Laughing) I’m pretty clear that that’s not my audience you know? So with it being a story and having a kind of literary aspect. That’s where my background lies. I thought, because I speak French fluently I wanted to explore where a song could go. You know, I’m under no illusion that I’m going to make any money off selling music at this stage in a way that’s going to support me. As part of my creative journey, getting it into French was a really cool thing to do. I really admire a lot of French writers, part of my creative exercise was still remaining true to that side of things.
If you look at French chanson, for example, I think there’s this great story about Mick Jagger talking about the French. And him saying, “You guys just stick to making wine, and we’ll stick to making rock ’n’ roll.” So, Petula Clark, Serge Gainsbourg, Johnny Hallyday are examples of great French musicians. Obviously Petula Clark was English but what I’m trying to say is French chanson has a great tradition of lyricism, whereas maybe the music is secondary. I sort of thought, I’d try to have those words that access the chanson tradition but maybe have some music that’s kind of different, and edgy. It has this sort of distorted accordion in it.
DB: And that’s Scruffy?
MD: Yeah, That’s Ciarán “Scruffy” Gallagher. That’s my accordion he’s playing by the way. (Laughing) Well, because we’ve got that accordion on there, people hear it and they think France. The boulevards and all that sort of stuff. So all those sort of things made me want to push this out as a French version and see where that could go.
DB: You recently took a trip to France, what went down?
MD: Well it all started pretty innocently. I wanted to go out there because initially because in this sort of age of emails and things like that, I really wanted to get some feedback on the song itself, in person. My idea was just to go out there, armed only with my song, en français, and make sure some francophones would have the opportunity to hear this. So I thought it’d be cool to go out and meet some people. Another reason is that there was an exhibit in a gallery in Belgium that I really wanted to see. I also felt fairly shocked, as I’m sure many others were about the attacks that took place in Paris. There was and is still a state of emergency and partly just wanted to say, “Fuck You” to those DAESH, ISIL murderers, just showing some solidarity. I was really fortunate to be invited to stay as a guest in Charleville for a few nights. I got a chance to visit the Bataclan in Paris afterwards which was really fucked up & incredibly emotional.
DB: What was the exhibition you went to see?
MD: The exhibition was a one off that ran from a very short period, November to January. It was an exhibition on the life of the French poet, Paul Verlaine, who died in the late 1890’s. The central point of that show was a gun that he had used, bought in Brussels, to shoot the French poet, Arthur Rimbaud. It had never been out on display before, so it was kind of cool. I’m a fan of Rimbaud and that story in particular so I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it.
DB: Rimbaud has been a great source of inspiration for your writing. You’ve spoken about him before in your own blog. His work has inspired both visual artists and musicians for over a century now. What drew you to his creative output?
MD: I think in a lot of ways, I’m attracted to anybody who’s a sort of, rebel or somebody who’s trying to do things differently. I happened upon Rimbaud but I’d say I was more attracted to the person rather than the work. As much as he and many other poets are an influence, I admire more how they got to the point that they were able to create the work that they did. I think that’s more important to me in some ways. His story is quite extraordinary. We’re all attracted to those stories. I haven’t written a song about him, you know? I was writing poetry when I came upon him and I actually discovered him through poets like Ginsberg and reading William Burroughs, because he influenced them. As one of the first poets to write prose petty he was certainly very influential but I think he stands alone and always will stands alone. He’s influenced a lot of different musicians…
DB: After doing some swotting up, it seems he battled with his self-expression, choosing to ‘settle’ as opposed to pursuing his writing after a short period. What do you make of those challenges in society today and have you struggled with that? The idea that you can’t do what you want to all the time, having a regular job or maybe that your creative passion is the side car to the motorcycle?
MD: I think creativity, if you nurture it properly and you feed it, just like plants, it’ll grow. I guess if you take it for granted, it’ll leave you too. So, it’s about finding a balance for sure. I’m fortunate to work in several mediums. I like to write short stories, poetry and music is my main focus at the moment, but I’d say that my job is a sidecar to it. My creative existence, is of paramount importance. How do I find a way to do that? I suppose there’s a lot of tricks that you have to play on finding a way to get that fit. It’d a discipline but I’ve also been nurturing it for a long time to get to this point. It’s getting into good habits. I’ve only released one EP. Before that, I had a lot, a lot of poetry that I was just content to write for the sake of writing, which a lot of people think is crazy.
DB: You have to do those things for yourself sometimes…
MD: Yeah, I mean it all comes down to why are you creative? Is it self preservation, do you want to create to get yourself out there, do you want your face on the cover of a magazine or do you want the other trappings that come with that in this day and age? Those aren’t really the things that interest me. I think being able to have a creative existence is important but I’ve come to the realisation in recent years that you have to get it out there. That’s why I’m actually releasing stuff now. The vehicle of music comes with a much quicker gratification than writing a novel. I don’t know too many people who read books now man, I know you do but with music, people can hear it and say, this made me feel like that…
DB: Yeah I think Steven Butler spoke about that in his chat. It’s interesting to think about the immediacy in response that you have with listening to music…
MD: People can make their mind up pretty quickly, whether they like something or not, whereas writing a book is like taking a giant slab of marble and chipping away at it. For me though, it’s all about writing and playing at the moment. A song to me is different from poem. They’re distinct mediums. We’ll see how these things develop. It’s an exciting journey. The reality for artists now is that it doesn’t pay the bills. If you want to go mainstream , you’re compromising your creative integrity in a lot of instances so each artist has to ask themselves those questions.
DB: As a response to the work you’ve put out there and as a result of those influences and inspirations, you’ve been asked to perform for the Rimbaud & Verlaine Foundation in London alongside Preston Reed and Diana Jones. How does that feel?
MD: I don’t think it’s really sunk in to be honest. To be asked is a huge honour just as it was off the back of the relationship with that foundation to be able to stay in Rimbaud’s old home when I went out to France. It’s all pretty surreal and an extreme honour. I better not get drunk for it ey? (Laughing) I’ve never played a gig in London. So it’s a notch on my bedpost man. It’s funny because all of this is under the guise of the Rimbaud & Verlaine Foundation.
As far as I’m aware the only invite that Rimbaud ever got in his short life as a poet was to this famous French poet’s dinner in Paris. He basically showed up with all of these dominant poets of the time. These guys who clearly fancied themselves. Rimbaud was 16 at the time and his reaction to attending this night, “Les Vilains Bonhommes” or “The Evil Gentlemen” was to say “merde” after everything they said. Just saying “You’re shit.” “Shit”. (Laughing) So he ended up stealing a sword cane from one of the poets who was there. He actually ended up attacking one of them with a sword. It’s like the Rolling Stones or The Beatles having a party and The Sex Pistols being invited, just attacking them with fucking broken bottles or something. So this was the impact he was trying to have. Obviously, I’ll be treating my invitation with much more respect than that. (Laughing)
DB: You’ve previously drawn some parallels to the place where you lived most of your life, Toronto, Canada in writing before and Belfast. Having been here for over a decade now, do you feel more at home here or what is the concept of “home” to you? What do you think about when you think about Belfast?
MD: Well, Belfast is home to me because home is just where you’re at. For me, it’s just wherever you’re living. I feel more at home here than I probably ever did in North America. In terms of why that is, in many ways I do feel like I’ve spent a lot of my life in a state of culture shock and with moving around a lot when I was younger it’s made it quite hard to latch on. I’ve always been pretty transient, but I’ve never lived anywhere as long as I have Belfast. 13 years now. I think most people I’ve met feel a love hate relationship with their hometown and that’s a pretty normal thing. I can’t really say I have a hometown. I just never really felt that I could fit there. I always felt that there was some sort of arcane pressure to try and have to aspire to be something that I didn’t want to even come close to.
It’s hard to feel comfortable or "at home" in a place that has no qualms in exploiting you for every pound of flesh it can get it’s hands on. If to achieve the dream of the New World…Canada, America means you have to be exploited then I don’t know how much I can fit into that type of society where information is constantly geared towards getting you to think that way -there’s something way too sinister & unsettling about it all. Of course it’s inevitable wherever you are these days but I guess I feel exploited to a lesser extent on this side of the pond & definitely less bombarded by these capitalist & corporate values. Belfast is built on blunt truths. I think that’s a useful place to work from, where you know exactly where you stand. I guess I’ll stay here for as long as that remains the case.
It’s kinda cool to just be able to fuck off to France for a weekend too. If you live in Canada the only place you can fuck off too for a weekend is Canada. Belfast is an exciting city though. There’s a lot happening here, I’m really proud to be able to put out my first record here. I’m hoping to put out more and I like writing here. The future is bright here.
DB: How do you see the way music is here in Belfast? I mean, there are gigs on every week but they’re not necessarily well attended…
MD: Yeah, it’s a small city but it’s a good base for a lot of things. In terms of how it’s consumed. I’d be lying if I said I spent a huge amount of time listening to and checking out every band from here. I check out what I can but I’m not really watching to see what other people are doing. That’s probably because I’m not from here and I don’t feel “at home” in that sense. If there’s a scene in Belfast then I’m probably not the best person to comment on it, however, as somebody who makes music without worrying too much what other people are doing, it’s vibrant. There’s some great talent here yet at the same time people struggle to do what they do here. Many have been doing it a lot longer than I have and in that time, things have changed. The playing field is much different.
Some people buy EPs, some people will listen Spotify, some people will just pirate shit regardless, but that’s the same everywhere. People like Ciaran Lavery, Michael Mormecha and Loris, Duke Special and many others getting out there is great to see. It’s great to have Neil Young coming to town and playing his first show here. I’d love to open up for him, it’s never gunna happen but you know.
DB: Well I guess that bleeds into the next question about your musical influences. Do you want to talk about that a little? You’ve been compared to Tom Waits before.
MD: Yeah that’s crazy.
DB: What kind of music do you listen to as well?
MD: Yeah, that’s a good question. I really really like the new The Cult album and people are going to think I’m a dick for saying that but I got tickets for their next gig. They were one of the first bands I ever saw in Toronto in the late 80’s. I don’t listen to a lot of old bands that put out new albums, that’s a bit kitsch but their new album is a good rock album. My favourite band of all time is a psychobilly group from Canada called The Sadies. They’re kind of a crazy mix of country, surf and psychedelia. Love them. They do A new Year’s gig in Toronto every year and it’s one of the biggest things I miss about there, other than the Ethiopian food. (Laughing) The other band who’s way way up there and that I first got into really heavy was the Roger Waters Floyd. You know Roger Waters has a dark, sardonic wit and I really respect him as a writer and for his outspokenness politically, especially. So Floyd would have been a real big influence.
Certainly, recently, the back catalogue of the band Sparklehorse. Mark Linkous died about five years ago and I’d missed all the shows he did in Toronto. In about 2006, they were releasing the last album and I bought tickets for their 3 shows in Dublin, 1 show in Belfast and their show in Glasgow. I wouldn’t even be able to afford a ticket to their show in Canada and that’s another reason I love living here. Because you go to those shows in Toronto and it’s full of fucking hipsters and you go here and people just dig the music. The people who should be at the shows are at the shows.
I met Mark Linkous and I was really really lucky to do that. I actually became friends with his mum after he died because I wrote a little article and shot a video about my experience meeting Mark and she read it and got in touch with me. So that was incredible. Sparklehorse are great because they’re not so genre specific. That’s what’s great about writing music. It’s not pre meditated. The absence of thought in that process is so important.
DB: Yeah you don’t want to box yourself in…
MD: Well I’m not going to do it..
DB: People like that familiarity. It’s human nature to compare I think or make reference but you don’t want to stifle what you’re doing by saying you’re just going to make this type of music. Other than your London show you’ve got to plans to play in Canada soon, right?
MD: Yeah, the plan is that myself and Scruffy are gunna go to Canada and play some more low-key gigs. It’ll be a little more stripped down. We’ll be playing a few clubs and cafes in Toronto, Hamilton and we’re hoping to play Peterborough maybe Montreal. Just to launch the EP a little out there as a taster for the second EP which we’re hoping to release later this year. For me, it’s a bit of a homecoming gig in a weird sense just playing Toronto, seeing a few of my old buddies. We’ll see. (Laughing)
DB: What other future plans are there then?
Well we’ve got a gig in The Empire on April 7th. We’ve got the gig in London the week after. Before all that happens though we had a band rehearsal last night and we’ve got about 8 new songs that we’re working on. We’ll be going into the studio mid-March.
DB: And the sound? Has it changed?
Yeah, I’d say it’s more acoustic. More stripped back. There’s no trombones, no brass. It’s gunna be a bit more raw. We’re also kind of waiting the weeds a little bit ‘cause we have more than half of the LP recorded which won’t be released until 2017. The EP will hopefully released in September and from there recording final songs for the album. We’ve got a few video projects in and around the songs for the LP that we’d like to get out there. Hopefully, there’ll be some festival dates in there as well.
Obviously I’ve got a day job so if I had more time I’d definitely like to get out some self published poetry at some point. That’s really important to me so that people understand I come from a literary background. Before the EP I had the third draft of a novel written and that’s not going to go away so I want to get that out there. I don’t want people to think oh he’s a rock guy and now he’s trying to do a fucking book. I don’t want to be that schlep. Other than all that, I’ve got an absinthe collection that’s been going since it was illegal in Canada. There’s around 45 bottles now.
DB: Jesus. And what’s the plan with that?
Well, there’s somebody who wants to shoot a documentary where I go to France and try it for the first time ‘cause I still haven’t ever tried it.
DB: Another future escapade…
MD: It’s all about the escapades. The escapades make it all worth while.
DB: Well if you find a good absinthe let me know. Back in the university days, we used to have a game playing pool in Lavery’s. This was when it was like a dungeon. forfeits were shots of absinthe and it was horrible.
MD: I think there’s a lot of stuff that looks good to drink but it’s not. Another interesting thing about absinthe is that for years, before they were really able to start synthesising DNA, they thought the reason absinthe fucked so many people up was because of it’s relation to THC. They thought it was the combination of the anise that in high proportions can supposedly become hallucinogenic. So I’ve studied it but never tried it. Thujone is the active ingredient in wormwood which is the active ingredient in absinthe and they thought thujone was a cannabinoid but it’s not. It’s not. You’re just gunna get fucking hammered. Thujone is a step away from going completely fucking nuts. It’d be a good name for a band, The Thujones.
DB: Haha okay, well I’ve just realised we’ve been talking about absinthe here, so thanks Peter.
MD: Yes, thank you buddy.
Here’s a couple of upcoming dates where you can catch The Mad Dalton performing. April - Thurs 7th Empire Music Hall // Monday 18th London - Kings Place. Click through here to pick up the EP. Cheers for reading.
Four Tet’s latest Boiler Room set at the Roundhouse London landed in my inbox this evening much to my delight. After a day of running around, I finally sat down at my desk to pick up the pen, feeling rather uninspired I thought I’d throw it on. If you can, get your split view on the go and enjoy the light show in this one. Whilst you could just listen to the ambient instrumental vibes, the visuals here are spectacular.
Squid Soup provide “The Ocean of Light” rig as a backdrop. The lighting project aims to “explore the creative potential of large 3D arrays of controllable LEDs.” If you click through to the their blog, they speak on the idea in more depth. A metric shit tonne of LEDs (that’s about 5,000 to the layman) are programmed and controlled real time using custom built software to produce stunning results. They chat pretty honestly about not really knowing the ropes initially when it came to stage lighting, used to showcasing their work in art galleries and public spaces. Extensive years experimenting with the rig makes for a masterful, immersive and mesmeric performance in collaboration with the artist here.
If you want to see more of this kind of thing, click through here for a Purity Ring performance where the band manipulate the lighting on stage in conjunction with the rig. It looks amazing. Even if you can’t dedicate over an hour to watching it, throwing the stream on available here, in the background while you work or chill will cap off your day nicely. Cheers for reading.
Last night’s 58th Grammy awards saw perhaps one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time from Compton rapper, Kendrick Lamar. Obviously, you can find this footage anywhere online and whilst the quality isn’t that great here, I felt it important enough to post for those who might stumble upon the site to check out. It also gave me an excuse to draw Kendrick.
I’m not going to lie and say I’d been on his work since the mixtape days but with his debut album, I knew he was paving the way for new ground. Section.80 is one of my favourite hip hop albums and probably always will be. Conceptually driven, as with all of his projects, Kendrick melds true artistry (talking about his skillset) with socio-political commentary. GKMC arguably elevated the status of his body of work by changing up aural accessibility.
His latest project took a more Section.80-esque approach, returning to the jazz , funk and soul roots. He creates music that really matters and speaks with purpose. This is distilled neatly in the way Don Cheadle introduces him (unfortunately not in the clip fully) and the way the crowd look upon him post performance. It’s inevitable that what he’s doing and will undoubtably continue to do, will be remembered. Taking home 5 gongs from 11 nominations this year is just the beginning.
Here, Kendrick performs a little medley with two cuts from “To Pimp A Butterfly” and capped off by a new track “Untitled 3”. The past few new tracks he’s performed live are from a body of work that couldn’t make it out for a plethora of reasons such as sample clearances. The staging is fantastic. Shuffling out, shackled in chains and prison attire, he creates an overtly provocative image, both challenging and celebrating his and thousands of other’s cultural heritage while performing "Blacker The Berry".
“Alright” see perhaps a more celebratory outing this time, infused with African themed glow in the dark dancing, compared to the controversial BET performance from last year. The new track ends with some poignant words and imagery. The final line, “Conversation for the entire nation this is bigger than us”. An outline of the African continent emblazoned with the word “COMPTON” brings home the message. Pent up frustration, injustice, disenchantment and painting institutional racism as a new form slavery. This is an important performance for so many reasons and well worth hitting play. Cheers for reading.
This is a pretty cool documentary for any budding beat makers out there. Ableton presents a new documentary entitled “Strength In Numbers”. Team Supreme is one of the most prolific beat making teams there are with a roster that includes Mr Carmack, Penthouse Penthouse, Djemba Djemba and AWE to name a few. Click through to there site for the full line up. If you haven’t heard of the collective, the best recommendation I can make is to click through to their page and throw on one of their beat cyphers. There’s fucking hours worth of material on their Soundcloud so get dug in. It’s the kind of stuff that’s immense to work to. Not too distracting, diverse and drives along with awesome synths, break beats and rich textures and melodies.
Back to the documentary though. This piece was a nice watch from the jump. You get a pretty transparent look at how the collective formed in the “post-music industry”, Soundcloud generation. Members from the team talk about their humble beginnings at college, creating their first mixtape, post college, with a Biggie sample, to then making weekly beat cyphers. This cut is all about process, learning, inspiration and collaboration. There’s some great tips for creatives in general in here and it really speaks for being open to working together, sharing knowledge, experience and aiding progression through open mindedness. Press play and check it out. Cheers!
Anderson .Paak hit my radar with the arrival of “Compton”, album come soundtrack from none other than Dr. Dre, end of summer last year. I had no fucking clue who the dude was but I soon got to know given he featured on about a third of the album. His contributions were commanding, intriguing and his raspy tone was a joy to listen to. As I was telling one of my friends about this Malibu album, he enlightened me to one of his recent favourite tracks courtesy of Busdriver, featuring .Paak called “Worlds To Ruin”. It’s getting to overplay treatment currently as a result. So basically the dude has his fingers in pies, big and small at the the minute.
This formidable debut, 16 tracks, an hour worth of material, shows .Paak’s diverse skill set. The album fuses funk, soul, hip hop, rap and pop with pretty great results. Of course, there are some standout features, most likely as a result of that Dre relationship, coming in the form of ScHoolboy Q, The Game, BJ The Chicago Kid and Taleb Kweli. .Paak’s vocal performance throughout is pretty astounding, genre hopping yet maintaining a classical soul feel. When he dips into his rap persona, specifically over the 9th Wonder beat on “Without You”, it’s terribly enjoyable and reminds you that the boy can do just about anything on the track. It’s that whole polymathic shit that gets you angry sometimes when you remember you just alright at a bunch of shit and there’s dudes out there like him nailing it.
Thankfully, Anderson doesn’t stick to the tried and tested R&B formula when it comes to lyricism as he branches out a little going into his past, going up and struggling to make it as an artist. I know other artist’s are doing this but it doesn’t seem to hold the same weight when the week after they drop their album they’re plugging songs about getting faded in the club, fucking bitches and doing drugs. My favourite track on the project changes everyday ‘cause I keep looping it so much but currently it’s “Come Down”. The bassline is stellar with some steady hi hat rattling to boot. Before this, “Put Me Thru” was top of the pile. It’s aural gold. Click on the track title to transport your earholes there.
Of course, it can’t be perfection. Well, perhaps it is for some but there’s that track I always skip on here and that’s “Your Prime”. The production across the record is so tight, almost too tight at times that it could have done with some more live instrumentation. Perhaps if those couple of weaker tracks were left out it’d be top banana. It’s also worthwhile noting that the visual accompaniments to the album are fanatic. The album cover is beautiful. A sort of surreal amalgamation of references in ode to California, music and culture. His Instagram is pretty awesome too, click here for that. In summation, I reckon this album will be floating in and around my top ten for the year. Yes. It may only be a few weeks in to 2016 but this record is that fantastic. Go get it and cheers for reading. Thanks.
Things That Are Well Good returns. This time, throwing together some musical choices from the past week or so after a period of solely listening to The Neighbourhood and Tame Impala. Read on for a couple videos and some new releases. Isaiah Rashad returns with audio visual offering, “Smile”. The TDE signee continues to do his thing with this suitably seedy visual, directed by PANAMÆRA, compliments the harsh words he’s got for that baby momma back home. Follow up to Cilvia Demo presumably on the way? Well Good.
"No More Parties In L.A." sees Kanye West return to that old school flow, letting us know “The writer’s block is over, MC’s cancel your plans.” There’s a quintessential flagrance to his bars, which go on for around 4 minutes solid. It’s impressive, nostalgic, braggadocious and ig’nant in the best kind of way. The Madlib production is superb. A fine sample, twanging bassline and nice drums that compliment Kendrick’s cadence superbly. On a sidenote, the vocal mixing after K.dot’s verse seems a bit off to me but I don’t claim to be a sound engineer by any means. Maybe I’ve just been blasting shit for too long. Highly likely.
“Real Friends” came out over a week ago. I know, I know, more Kanye? Yes. It’s good. The Ty Dolla $ign vocal sounds so nice with this production. It sounds like a My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy beat which is probably why I like it so much. There’s a soothing, melancholic quality to the record. The vulnerability and subject matter at hand only enhances that sentiment. I think when people say, old Kanye is back, it’s probably because we’re getting that quality production and honest lyricism again. Perhaps there is more of a focussed desire to do what he does best and that’s why it works.
Anderson Paak released his debut album last week off the back of an immense year that saw him make a massive contribution to the legendary Dr, Dre’s last ever album “Compton”. ‘Come Down” by Paak will perhaps draw comparisons to Kendrick’s latest cuts with the funky bassline and clipping hi hats. The Hi-Tek production is quality and the whole album will most definitely be getting the overplay treatment whilst I work this week.
Last up, we have the visual for one of my favourite tracks from Mac Miller’s major label debut, GO:OD AM. The track it probably the most “main-stream” you’ll see here, but it’s definitely got the replay factor and it’s fun. We hear Mac talk about the temptations that come with fame, the drugs and alcohol, too much money and simply saying, “fuck it”. Let me know what you’re listening to in the comments below and enjoy these when you can. Thanks!
Allan Kingdom hit my radar, as will be the case for most last year, largely in part to his appearance on Kanye West's track, "All Day". Kingdom’s “Future Memoirs” got the over play treatment in the studio for me thereafter. One of my favourite tracks from last year was on there. “Wavey” (video below) featuring fellow Minnesotan rapper, Spooky Black is Kingdom at his best. The raspy tone to his singing voice is really nice over the bassline. Whilst rapping, he is reminiscent of Chance The Rapper with his vocal inflection at times. No bad thing. Check out Spooky’s breakout, “Without You” by clicking through as well if you aren’t au fait. Questionable durag and Fubu aside, the track is super chill, upper echelon R&B no doubt.
On his 22nd birthday, Kingdom dropped his new project, "Northern Lights", executive produced by himself, Plain Pat, and Jonathan Kaslow, and includes feature appearances from D.R.A.M., Gloss Gang, and Chronixx. Additional production comes from Jared Evan, Swizzy Mack, and more. Stream the project below.
“The Ride”, with punchy kicks and nice wordplay dropping into some falsetto and nice vocal breaks is a great start. He loves meandering awkwardly across a beat. It works. “The Forest” beat is dark and ambient, setting the tone for “Fables” featuring Chronixx. Layered up vocals, staccato drums and clean mixing make for a quality tune.
“Monkey See” makes reference to the plethora of copycat artists out there at the minute. Kingdom knows himself and he’s not shy about it. Ironically, it’s not particularly anything new but certainly better than most filler tracks out there. “Hypocrite” picks the baton up again though. The vocals remind me of something off For Emma, Forever Ago (Bon Iver) I think he’s really honed in on his sound, perfecting it since his last project and the production lifts it to the next level.
Title track, “Northern Lights” is alright. I can’t see myself returning to it too often but I did find myself head bobbing to it. Here Kingdom expresses that he’s “…been on a mission lately…and it’s fun to me.” You can tell as we proceed to D.R.A.M. featured track “Renovate”. For me, it’s nothing special but I did enjoy the feature. “Believe” has some old school Kid Cudi vibes. The minimal guitar licks, bouncy synths, spacey vocals and muted kick drum make for an extremely enjoyable, melodic track that picks up excellently in the latter half.
“Disconnect” didn’t do it for me. I actually can’t form a sentence about it. It just seemed a little repetitive, inoffensive but ultimately forgettable. Not for me, but hardly shit. I really liked the autotuned vocal over the fuzzy bassline in “I Feel Ya”, breaking down into a pretty eerie, string infused, intense instrumental towards the end before coming back to it’s roots.
“Interruption” has that signature sound once again before “Go Fish’ deviates a little bit to give off some braggadocious vibes through some clever metaphors. “Outta Pocket” featuring Gloss Gang carries on with that tone but I’m not entirely sure it’s the best way to close out the album as it seems Kingdom gave a little too much shine to his contributors. Selfless for sure, a song with replay value, yes, but I can’t help wanting more of that unfettered Kingdom sounds.
On the whole, the new project shows his range of talents superbly, bolstered by some crazy good production. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got a massive radio smash in his back pocket for an official debut, but I can’t see that being his modus operandi. Finally, check out this nicely filmed short by The Fader if you want to find out a little more about the artist. If you have any new album suggestions, throw them in the comments below. Cheers for reading and be sure to press play.