Just as Brooklyn soul-revival impresarios Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings' live show has progressed from raw funk to Stax-style revue, their recordings have been a process of settling into the ensemble's talent. I Learned the Hard Way is easily the group's best effort yet, an album of classic songwriting and sharp musicianship belying its own complexity. From near-orchestral arrangements ("The Game Gets Old") to playful studio ease (recession anthem "Money"), this is a disc even Isaac Hayes would covet. Read more »
One of the most sadly overlooked labels in the world is Japan's Mule Musiq, for while DJ Sprinkles (a.k.a. Terre Thaemlitz) records almost exclusively for the label, many of its other artists are only known to tried-and-true techno and house fans. With the label's May release schedule, though, there's no reason to not dig Mule's vibes, because it spans some of the deepest of deep house. Read more »
A nu-Baltimore track is always going to be ripe for remixes from all sonic perspectives, and Diamond K and Al Ripken Jr.'s "Hands in the Air" is no exception. Here, XLR8R favorite Bok Bok turns some funky, tribal tricks, keeping the original's vocal stems while adding East Indian percussive elements, high-frequency whooshes, synth swells, and rimshots galore. Without a doubt, the London-based DJ/producer and Night Slugs label boss has created an ocean-jumping banger with this remix, proving again that he is one of the most forward-thinking minds in electronic music right now.
Although London producer Ramadanman has made a name for himself as one of the founders of the excellent Hessle Audio imprint, today he is releasing a single on another label, the similarly high-quality Aus Music. Read more »
UK producer and multi-instrumentalist Simon Green has been making tunes under the name Bonobo for about a decade now. In that time, he's been called everything from "downtempo" to "jazzy" to "trip-hop," but regardless of what title his music is given, Bonobo has remained a consistently interesting DJ/producer with a keen ear for smooth and soulful sonics. We got a hold of Green after the release of his latest Ninja Tune album, Black Sands, for this special Inbox Q&A. Read more »
John Somers, operating under the Do While moniker, has created a gorgeous soundtrack to a summer reverie, if these takes of "Balloon Clouds/Balloons" are any indication. These two tracks flow seamlessly into each other, moving from the soothing vocals and dense, brightly crackling haze of "Balloon Clouds" to the more loop-based "Balloons," which sounds like Stars of the Lid on anti-depressants. With his eponymous debut out soon on Baltimore's Wigflip label, Somers officially joins the ranks of elite producers making ambient music with subtlety and substance, two qualities that are often missing from more academic ambient works.
Cleveland native turned Berlin resident Dan Curtin shared this alternate mix of his soulful tech-house number "Other," the original of which can be found on his recently released Lifeblood album. The song wastes no time in establishing its bouncing backbone of a four-on-the-floor beat surrounded by delayed vocal samples and filtered percussive synths. Within the first minute we're shown what sounds like "Other"'s full deck, but throughout the remaining five minutes, it becomes apparent that Curtin still has plenty of cards up his sleeve.
With new album Pumps, Brooklyn-based avant-electronic outfit Growing is the closest it's ever been to making straight-ahead club tracks. Since their last record, 2008's All the Way, they've expanded to a trio with new member Sadie Laska, also of IUD and Extreme Violence, who lends samples, electronics, and chopped-up vocals to these celestial jammers. Read more »
Though Steve Reid may not be a household name, nearly anyone born before 1990 has heard the percussionist's recordings—from Martha & the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street" to James Brown's "The Popcorn" to Fela Kuti's Africa One album, Reid's intense, crisp drumming is present. Read more »
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