David Bowie enjoys giving presents on his birthday. Today he turns 69, and much like his 66th birthday, he’s released a new album titled Blackstar. Overall I enjoyed the album, especially stand outs like self-titled first track and the album closers “Dollar Days” and “I Can’t Give Everything Away”. You can listen to the full album in the player below.
Radiohead dropped a mighty Christmas present on the world yesterday, an unused song from the most recent James Bond film, Spectre. I think it’s crazy that they would have used a Sam Smith track over Radiohead though I’m a bit biased. Here’s the official message from the band:
Last year we were asked to write a theme tune for the Bond movie Spectre.
Yes we were. It didn’t work out, but became something of our own, which we love very much.
As the year closes we thought you might like to hear it.
Merry Christmas. May the force be with you.
Below I’ve posted a Soundcloud version of the track (which also allows you to download the song for free) as well as a mashup of the song with the title sequence of Spectre which it was intended for.
With my crazy work schedule I don’t tend to find new music, but thankfully I have Kyle to introduce me to the best that’s out there. Recently he turned me on to Saffron, a New York based musician who has a couple of great EPs out, both of which you can listen to on Soundcloud. I’m pretty horrible at describing music so here’s how his label 1080p describes his sound.
Saffron’s hybridized genre builds include trip-hop, moody downtempo, sturdy walking-paced house and crunchy IDM with low key cinematics drifting throughout. A multitude of textures protrude from a general coating of slick motion and moods that hover above meticulous bass grooves and piano lines, blending an undisguised sense of proficiency and surface-obsessed sensibilities with sincere and overtly “soulful” tones.
In layperson terms it means he blends quite a lot of genres into one experimental, electronic sound. I find his music amazing to work to, it keeps my mind active and creative. Of all the tracks on this EP my personal favorite is “Rampwalk” which I’ve been playing on repeat a lot.
Apple Music so far seems to run hot and cold for me. Some days it’s spot on, some days it wants to me to listen to “Deep Cuts: The Decembrists”… yeah, no thanks. My luck seemed to change earlier today when they offered a great collection of DJ Koze remixes, one of them being “Elementary Lover” by Matthew Dear. It’s a perfect combination of Koze’s electronic beats and Dear’s iconic vocals, and a great track for some late night listening.
I’ve never personally played Minecraft before but I can certainly appreciate it’s universal appeal. Who doesn’t want to create their own world? The one aspect that I had never really considered though was the music. Daniel Rosenfeld, who goes by the name C418, created music for Minecraft which has been lauded for defying the visual look of the game, being so much more than expected. To this end, record and lifestyle company Ghostly is bringing this beautiful soundtrack to vinyl and CD.
As any cursory listen of the touching sounds will reveal, this isn’t a record meant solely for lifelong gamers and MineCon diehards; anyone in love with ambient, neo-classical, or minimal music needs to hear Volume Alpha.
When I read the quote above on the Ghostly product page I didn’t quite believe it, but I decided to listen to the 4 song sampler which I’ve placed below. All I can say is that I’d listen to this on repeat all the time. If I hadn’t known that these songs were created for a “kids video game” I would guess they were a score for a Miyazaki film, or something of the sort. You have to give this a try, I swear you won’t regret it.
Sam Valenti, founder of Ghostly Records, wrote a piece on Medium that echoes my thoughts on curation, specifically how important it is to music. Services like Rdio or Beats rely too heavily on algorithms to make your experience “customized.” Unfortunately, you end up being bucketed with everyone else who may have listened to a similar set of albums or artists. Curation offers a point of view, a variety of options which can even contradict each other and surprise you.
If you’re a music nerd you might remember a guy named Jimmy Tamborello. He was one half of your favorite early 2000’s band, The Postal Service, the guy who made all the beats for Ben Gibbard to sing with. The Postal Service was but a brief moment in the life of Tamborello, who also records under many monikers like Dntel and James Figurine (you must listen to his older albums) and is a fantastic electronic musician.
Several years back he put out a record of remixes, but not remixes of any usual pop group. He made a remix of Enya songs. Tamborello was a big fan of Enya’s music in his teenage years, and as an homage decided to interpret some of his favorite tracks with his own musical language. The result is a quirkier, pop-inspired Enya album that’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Kyle plays the album on repeat quite often and I’m a huge fan of it.
This tribute is free to download, simply click here.
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Sufjan Stevens has a new album called Carrie & Lowell which comes out March 30/31. Now he’s released a new single called “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” which I’d describe as a return to the old Sufjan. More traditional in sound, it combines Sufjan’s voice with a steady plucking guitar and the slightest trace of river flowing in the background. It doesn’t get more calm and lovely than this.
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Incredibly it’s been five years since the last album from Sufjan Stevens came out, the challenging, sprawling Age of Adz. That album to me is his pinnacle, a masterpiece that he may not be able to trump. This statement will be tested soon enough as his new album Carrie & Lowell is being released on March 31.
The preview below sounds like a return to his older work, with sort of an Illinois or Seven Swans sound to it. It’s quite lovely though I hope he still plays with the experimental side of music making as well, like the fantastic “Impossible Soul” from Adz. Clocking in at over 25 minutes and it’s an incredible song hat hits about every high and low you can imagine.