Sebastien Grainger knows the language of rock music very well, and that's not just because of his speaker-shredding work with the now-defunct DFA 1979. Like any good boy with a guitar, he shrieks and riffs his way through Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains, his first solo full-length, set for release October 21, and it's refreshing to know an artist can easily switch from angry dance-punker to heartfelt songwriter. It really does feel like Grainger means every single word he sings and note he plays, as evidenced by this track, which Saddle Creek was kind of enough to leak before the full album drops in a few days. Jennifer Marston. Photo by Eva Michon.
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Brothers and sisters! Oakland-based duo Zion I (DJ Amplive and MC Zumbi) have got a genuine old-school mixtape (as in an actual cassette), The Search and Seizure, on the table while we wait for their January release, The Takeover. This fresh offering is loaded with re-envisioned versions of hip-hop classics (side A) and electro and indie-rock tracks (side B). “The Rebel” is a cut off the former, pairing glitchy soul and other glimpses of the original, Public Enemy’s “Rebel Without a Pause,” against Zumbi’s cutting lyrics and crystal delivery. Synth horns, Wurlitzer, and a frayed electronic underbelly combine the best of now and then. Lulu McAllister
Who says techno can't have soul? If Dinky had her way, the whole genre would probably be populated with tracks like this one, which manages to sound emotional while still maintaining a minimal format. The key lies in the way she subtly sneaks in a synth line here, a minor chord there, and an understated loop of bleeps and blips that give "Mind" a rather hypnotic feel. No doubt the meticulous arrangements can be attributed to both Dinky's musical upbringing, as well as her stint with the famed Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, where every little move counts. Maverick Newberry
Here comes another remix courtesy of Amplive. This year alone, the Oakland, CA-based producer has dropped a Radiohead remix record, mashed up MGMT and Of Montreal, and turned over remixes of The Jealous Girlfriends and Tokyo Police Club. The latter featured a guest appearance by Aesop Rock, and Amplive had pulled a similar tactic with this reworking of Jamie Lidell's "Out of My System." Zion I–whose new album, The Takeover is slated for a January release–was kind enough to spare group member MC Zumbi for the remix. Zumbi threw some raps over Lidell's crooning, and the resulting product is a funky, danceable number that's brimming with soul. Photo by Paul O'Valle.
Hot Chip continues its ongoing, deep-seeded love affair with synthesizers and highly danceable beat structures on this remix of Big Dada rude boy, MC Roots Manuva's track "Let the Spirit." In this glorious amalgamation of dance-rock-meets-dancehall-meets-hip-hop, the boys from Hot Chip bring an onslaught of booming synths and unyielding beats featuring a gospel-esque chorus and quick-witted, cunning rhymes to craft an upbeat, head-bobbing, body-shaking banger. The Let the Spirit EP drops digitally on October 28th. Justin Maxson
Adrian Michna refuses to stay in one place on his debut album. The recent Ghostly signee and former Secret Frequency Crew member jumps from symphonic jazz notes to distressed drum programming to ambient synths on Magic Monday, and let's not forget his abilities as a skilled trombonist, which are also put to good use on the album. This track wanders somewhere between the musical realms of Flying Lotus and perhaps Air, with heavy synths, a rhythm that's as erratic as the musical styles on Magic Monday, and the aforementioned trombone opening the song.
Having honed his skill for crafting solid beats as a producer during the last 10 years, Seattle-based Jake One has finally put out his own debut full-length album, White Van Music. The album features an impressive blend of up-and-coming artists, such as Freeway and Brother Ali, and well-known figures like Mary J. Blige. On “Trap Door,” the apt producer encases rapper MF DOOM’s gruff, deadpan vocals in a low-key, surf rock-tinged backdrop that rolls lazily past like a wave on a calm Hawaiian beach. Lulu McAllister
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