Archive for the 'dance' Category



Judson Laipply’s Evolution of Dance 2

Almost a year ago we wrote about Judson Laipply’s “Evolution of Dance” video, which famously became the #1 most viewed video on YouTube. Well, now he has returned with the sequel. As is always the case when it comes to sequels, there is the risk that the follow-up effort will seem contrived (e.g. Get Shorty , which was amazing, followed by Be Cool, which was embarrassing). Did Jud pull it off this time or not? You be the judge.

The Whiskey Thieves: Stealing Hearts in San Francisco

Local favorites, The Whiskey Thieves, played a show at Pier 23 last night and completely rocked it. The Sonoma-born band is comprised of singer Codi Binkley, guitarist Gabe Brueske, bassist Zakk Murphy and drummer Thomas Bottar. For four such musically different dudes (each brings a totally different style and background to the table, according to Zakk), their collective sound is pretty damn hot. Listen here.

Hearing them live for the first time I see what he means. Trying to classify their sound is hard. I heard everything from hard rock and heavy smoky blues to funky, reggae-infused jams. Each member of the band has a maestro-like command of his instrument and the singer’s voice is mesmerizing. Codi’s vocals are, depending on the song and genre, reminiscent of many other greats. At our table we decided he was channeling each of the following at some point: Anthony Kiedis, Eddie Vedder, Jack Johnson, Jimi Hendrix (listen to #5 and you’ll see what I mean), and Brad Nowell. Oh, and even Matisyahu (check out #9, my favorite)!

The show consisted of both songs off their new album, Almost Time, and covers from the likes of Johnny Cash and Joe Cocker among others. A consistently high energy show kept the audience dancing and drinking. Their great stage presence plus their charming and self-deprecating vibe make The Whiskey Thieves both entertaining and approachable. Not surprisingly, the tagline on their MySpace page is “We’re like an alcoholic boy band that doesn’t suck”.

What I’m Hearing, Vol. 6

For a taste of what I was hearing last month, click here.

September’s iPod update featured some fantastic new music from the month, including a number of debut albums from upcoming artists. R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop, Rock, Electronica and Pop music all make their appearances over 91 new tracks ushering us into Fall.

eLZhi, The Preface: Most rappers who have been recording material since 1997 have a large body of work to show for it. While this is the case for eLZhi, the majority of this work is unreleased or in featuring format on other artists’ work over the past 7 years or so. 2008 marks the debut full length album from this Detroit native, and while quite a few hip-hop fans may not have heard of eLZhi yet, the strength of this album should help make his second effort eagerly awaited. With production from fellow up and comer Black Milk, eLZhi uses a mixture of darker beats and old-school sounding fresh production to leave himself with a diverse group of songs which he raps over with ease. Whether he’s rapping about love, poverty and socioeconomic divisions or his experiences growing up in the streets, elZHi’s lyrics are complex yet effortless, coming out the polished product of a rapper with an extreme amount of comfort in his delivery. With a fantastic string and vocal sample and his laidback flow, “Transitional Joint” is the kind of song that’s an instant classic on the first listen. Don’t Sleep On: “The Science,” “Transitional Joint,” and “Save Ya.”

Lykke Li, Youth Novels: I covered Lykke Li’s US EP release here back in June. The full album finally made its way stateside, and the result of Li’s command over an entire album is impressive. While most songs retain the soft-spoken and delicate feeling of the EP, Li uses the full album to spread her wings into esoteric melody pieces (“This Trumpet In My Head”) as well as emotionally semi-detached pieces with simple backings (“Hanging High”). However, what is more enjoyable is when the album delves further into the dance and pop ideals that her voice and musical judgments help to raise above the standard radio fare. Even while being forceful, Li’s voice manages to be light and airy without disappearing against the background of the heavier songs. With guest remixes by The Black Kids (WIH,V.5) CSS and DiskJokke, a few of the EP songs get a new feeling. The range of tracks on this album speaks of a promising and diverse future body of work from this young singer out of Sweden. Don’t Sleep On: “Breaking It Up,” “Complaint Department,” and “I’m Good, I’m Gone (Black Kids Remix)”

Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It: When I picked up this album, I had to make sure that the published date of it was correct. Saadiq, formerly of Tony! Toni! Toné!, has reinvented his music on this album that feels at times like it could have and should have been released in various portions of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Soul, R&B, Funk and sounds of Doo-Wop all permeate this album, and some of the production makes you think you’re listening to an old classic that you’ve never heard before…It feels like a vintage Sunday afternoon. The musicianship behind him allows Saadiq’s voice to soar through tracks both melancholy and joyful. Fans of The Four Tops, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder (who makes an appearance on the album), Dusty Springfield and their contemporaries will all find reason to smile here. “Just One Kiss” features Joss Stone, and the remix of another album song “Oh Girl” features Jay-Z. Don’t Sleep On: “Love That Girl,” “Big Easy (feat. The Infamous Young Spodie & The Rebirth Brass Band)” and “Kelly Ray.

Rumble Strips, Girls and Weather: In case you weren’t aware, the perforations on the freeway shoulders that rattle you if you stray too far outside the lines are called rumble strips. I certainly didn’t know that before sitting down to review the band I’ve been listening to for two weeks. While most bands hopping the pond are taking up the power punk and alt-rock sounds of Bloc Party and the Young Knives (WIH, V.3), the Rumble Strips infuse it with at times Bosstones-like frenetic horns and ska sensibilities on their debut album, without losing a strong rock value. The arrangements are tight and Charlie Waller on lead vocals, while sometimes a bit reckless in his reach, provides the emotion necessary to keep up with the pace and energy of the sound. While they made their breakthrough with the rollicking and enormously fun “Motorcycle,” there are a variety of enjoyable sounds to be found on Girls and Weather. Don’t Sleep On: “Cowboy,” “Time,” and my personal favorite, “Girls and Boys in Love.”

Stacy Epps, The Awakening: Multi-faceted (I’ve been told she attended law school at USC) Stacy Epps brings her life experiences and spiritual vision to the table in an album that exudes passion that is sometimes overwhelming and unreachable in its scope. Using trip-hop beats and spacey melodies with jazz influences Epps at various times flows, speaks, sings and fades away on an album that exhibits a vocal talent sometimes lost in the more convoluted soundscapes. If there’s a drawback to this album, it’s that a few too many songs have “The Awakening, 2008, Stacy Epps” or some combination of these in the background, almost in an attempt to subconsciously advertise in the aural space of the listener. It gets frustrating at times, like endless self-promotion polluting the music. Fans of Bjork and Alice Coltrane will have a field-day here, but it might be too dense for casual listeners. Don’t Sleep On: “Floatin’,” “Heaven” feat. Bilal Salaam, and “Who Knows.”

Throw Me the Statue, Purpleface EP: One of the most promising signs of a relatively young band is the sign of continual tinkering with the sound and style, and a refusal to be tied too tightly to any one genre, while making music that all sounds somehow, on a fundamental level, right for them. This four track EP that fell in my hands last week courtesy of Gavroche exhibits this growth while retaining the emotional ambiguity and lyrical earnestness necessary to make them work. One of the original Moonbeams tracks, “Written in Heart Signs, Faintly” gets a studio makeover of its concert alter-ego here. “Honeybee” is a simple and direct piano backed and reverb laced track with glimpses of clarinet. “That’s How You Win” uses plaintive guitars and a kick and run drum roll to back Reitherman’s echo-like and airy vocals. “Ship,” however, is the standout track of this set both musically and lyrically. The drums combine with a drum machine to back a building piano that crashes into the main melody of the song, an incredibly beautiful piece of music that contentedly fades out at the end, free to repeat in the space between your ears. Don’t Sleep On: It’s a 4 track EP people, what’s to sleep on?

Tough Alliance, The New School: Taking pop and electronic music and blending it is the outcome of this album from the duo of Henning Fürst and Eric Berglund. At times repetitive and even slightly annoying, at its best, The New School offers video game blip electronic music that is mindlessly catchy. Not my normal cup of tea in its entirety, but Don’t Sleep On: “Take No Heroes,” “Tough II,” and “Koka-Kola Veins.”

Delhi 2 Dublin: Indian and Irish Fusion

This past weekend while at NonStop Banghra, a monthly dance party in San Francisco, I was introduced to a fusion of genres that left me positively breathless. I’ve always enjoyed various kinds of Indian dance music – everything from the cheesy but catchy sound of Bollywood musicals and the traditional cultural tunes to the more beat-driven hip hop and dub influenced club songs, and I was pretty sure I’d be a big fan of Banghra. And that I was. But, the highlight of the night was a performance by a group called Delhi 2 Dublin.

D2D “fuses the traditional sounds of tabla, dhol, fiddle, and sitar with cutting edge DJ aesthetics, to create a highly charged multi-cultural dance celebration.” Imagine the energy and cultural fervor of a huge Indian wedding party colliding with a bunch of drunken Irishmen dancing on a wooden table with fiddles! For a good overview of their sound and feel, check out their promo video below:

The most notable band member has to be Kytami. The little firecracker of a violinist not only fiddles faster than hell, but practically performs her own one-woman Stomp-esque sideshow. She is all over the place and her edgy vibe adds an interesting dimension to the makeup of the group.

I spoke to the band leader, Tarun, briefly at the end of the night. He was wearing a lion bandana and beaming with exhilaration. This guy really lives his life out loud. Tarun was born to a Punjabi father and a mother of Irish descent – hence, his fascination with fusing Irish and Indian sounds. He is a classically trained tabla player, a DJ, and a producer, and handles the tabla and electronics on stage.

Delhi 2 Dublin has created their own niche at the intersection of gritty hip hop and electronic beats, traditional Indian influences, and that raw Celtic sound that packs a punch – all of which make you want to get up and dance.

International Music Spotlight: Japanese Reggae

The first entry in our international music spotlight series focused on Ugandan hip hop. Today we head east to explore Japanese reggae. Numerous sub-genres of reggae have a presence is Japan, though dancehall is arguable the most popular – perhaps due to the erotic nature of the accompanying dance moves? Try googling “Japanese dancehall”. Woah. Anyway. The focus here will simply be on reggae in Japan.

Here’s a little taste: Pang. (Now there’s a girl that looks good with a shaved head.)

Many are surprised to learn that there is a reggae scene in Japan at all. From what I’ve found, the big names seem to include the following: Rankin Taxi, Ackee & Saltfish, Pushim, Ryo The Skywalker, Mighty Crown, Megaryu, Lecca, and DJ Tokiyas.

Megaryu is one of my favorites. Check out this song. There’s something about it that reminds me of a Los Pericos song, Pupilas Lejanas…perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of a sad, sort of soaring melody filled with melancholy (at least that’s the emotion that I get from it without actually understanding the words) against a light, simple reggae beat.

According to the Rastafari Wikipedia page: “A small but devoted Rasta community developed in Japan in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Rasta shops selling natural foods, Reggae recordings, and other Rasta-related items sprang up in Tokyo, Osaka, and other cities. For several years, “Japan Splashes” or open-air Reggae concerts were held in various locations throughout Japan.”

In recent years, dancehall reggae has emerged as the dominant form of reggae in Japan. One might wonder why that particular subgenre has risen to the top. What is it about dancehall that appeals to its fans in Japan? Do the faster-paced, more flashy, less political/religious facets of dancehall resonate more closely with Japanese culture? Or just with a subset of energetic Japanese youth?

Perhaps Blake More can shed some light on these questions with his unique dissection of the culture, Jamming in Jah Pan.

What I’m Hearing, Vol. 3

For last month’s “What I’m Hearing,” click here.

The June iPod update around here has 97 tracks, not including the IndieFeed Hip-Hop tracks, and there is some most excellent music on it. I continued to collect some Indie and Alt-Rock sounds, while also traveling overseas to get some new pixie pop. Let’s see what we’ve got in the June iPod update.

Young Knives, Superabundance: This is a younger band out of Britain that has been releasing music since 2005, but have only recently begun to garner the type of attention and press that would keep their feet dry in a hop across the pond. This album is only their second full length and brings to the table the geek style sound of Say Hi To Your Mom while infusing it with the energy of The Fashion or Tokyo Police Club. Their choruses are catchy without being disgustingly unforgettable. Solid bass work over rollicking drums tie together the British accent on the vocals and the melody guitar parts sometimes accented by string work. This group continues the wave of impressive Brit Rock Pop/Alternative music that has been landing on our shores recently. Don’t Sleep On: “Up All Night,” “Turn Tail,” “Swimming with the Fishes.”

Lykke Li, Little Bit – EP: When I read that this was just a small release, backed by the production assistance of Bjorn Yettling of Peter Bjorn and John, I got pretty excited. The basement pop, lo-fi sounds brought out on Writer’s Block left me wanting more, and they showed excellent judgment and intelligence in crafting a pop-sensible album without turning the hooks into radio refrains that would lead someone to suicide when they couldn’t forget them in morning traffic. Swedish singer Lykke Li has a gentle and soft style, reminiscent recently of pop darlings Feist and Sia. The pixie voice, simple backings and airy production produce four excellent tracks here. The full album came out last month stateside…now I can only hope that they release it on iTunes soon. Don’t Sleep On: The entire EP…it’s only 4 tracks, and they’re all beautiful.

Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes: The self-titled debut from this Seattle based band brings together a number of sounds that fit perfectly in landscape. At various times Simon & Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Beach Boys and chamber music, Fleet Foxes bring together a disparate grouping of sounds that they weave together to create an almost pop-folk album that sounds at various times like classical baroque, and at others like the pastoral longings of 60s singer/songwriters. The acoustic guitars and mellow, drifting vocals call to mind a deserted summer road or quiet walk through a forest. Finely crafted with an extreme attention to detail, I can’t foresee this being the last we hear of the Foxes. Don’t Sleep On: “Blue Ridge Mountains,” “Quiet Houses,” and “White Winter Hymnal.”

Tilly and the Wall, 0: This is the third album released by this 5-piece, Omaha, Nebraska based band. The raw energy and simple production on this album separate it from the legions of power punk pop and other radio driven rock sounds currently. Their distinct Indie Pop sound comes from raw instruments accentuated by a drummer that plays through tap dance. Interesting, exciting and eclectic. Don’t Sleep On: “Pot Kettle Black,” “Poor Man’s Ice Cream,” and “Falling Without Knowing.”

Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III: Not usually a fan of Hip-Pop, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this album. After hearing “Lollipop” on repeat in an Iowa club, I’ve been interested to see how Lil Wayne would come out on this album, and amazingly, he incorporates a wide variety of styles, both musically and lyrically. True, the music, in production value, can’t touch Sabzi’s beats from Blue Scholars, and lyrically, Wayne is no Immortal Technique, but the album is a fun study in Summer music that brings in rock sounds at time, and goes from a more soulful R&B take on rap to the radio ready “Got Money” with ubiquitous pop chart mainstay T-Pain. While not incredibly amazing, this album is quite a bit of fun, especially when Wayne works in humorous quotes that wouldn’t work for any other rapper in the game like, “I’m not kinda hot/I’m sauna/I sweat money and the bank is my shower.” Don’t Sleep On: “Mr. Carter,” “Shoot Me Down,” and “Let the Beat Build.”

RZA as Bobby Digital, Digi Snacks: RZA has had a tough go of it lately, and it’s not all that surprising. Given fame from his work with the Wu-Tang Clan, yet experimental enough to do some out there cuts for the Kill Bill soundtrack, RZA caught a ton of flak from other members of the Wu over what they considered a musical hijacking on their latest release, 8 Diagrams. Some reviews found RZA’s production on the album to be a great step forward, and one that actually salvaged the CD that was devoid of excellent lyrical material. Others, however, and most notably Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, slammed the production for being soft, hippy and a bastardization of the Wu-Tang sound. Those debates, however, aren’t the topic here, as Digi Snacks finds RZA courting outside help in pursuit of an album that’s perhaps a bit more fun and lighthearted than the Wu material allows for. Slower songs, as well as upbeat and peppy ones pepper a number of tracks that fall somewhere in between on the Wu spectrum. What I enjoy about the album is that RZA’s willingness to take unconventional risks, while they sometimes don’t always pan out, give more of an impression of true artistic exploration than most artists will permit themselves on an album these days. Some work on songs that have a signature sound, release those, and explore between albums. Here, for better or worse, RZA is willing to let it all hang out as Bobby Digital to sometimes poor, and sometimes very great effect. Don’t Sleep On: “Booby Trap,” “Creep,” and “You Can’t Stop Me Now.”

Immortal Technique, The 3rd World: Considering that around 4,000 people have come to Evolving Music to read about the release and review of this album, it’d be a bit repetitive to put anything here. That being said, here is the link to the full album review, and a link to my exclusive interview with Immortal Technique.

Big Boi Does Ballet

Imagine the well-heeled, tuxedoed crowd of ballet sharing a sip of champagne with a group of hoodied hip-hop heads ready to crunk. This could very well be the scene in Atlanta, GA tonight at the Fox Theater as Big Boi of the Outkast launches his first attempt at a ballet show.

That’s right, you read me…Big Boi of OutKast has teamed with a ballet troupe in Atlanta headed by Lauri Stallings to bring together a fantastic mixmatch idea in the form of bringing Big Boi’s hip-hop music into ballet with a show called “big.” Fresh off his musical turn in Idlewild, Big Boi was approached by the ballet, and the show that will combine hip-hop and ballet, dancers and audience, is set to kick off tonight with the encore being Boi’s new single “Sir Lucious Leftfoot Saves the Day.”

The idea is not just to bring a new media look to classical ballet, but to help cross-pollinate the fans of the two, introducing hip-hop to classical ballet lovers and introducing those dance watchers to the vibrant world of hip-hop. The dancers are calling it different from anything they’ve done before, which I can only imagine is incredibly true. How many ballet dancers have you seen leaping off the stage to crank it in the audience? Whatever the outcome, the fact that Big Boi is willing to branch out into ballet, and Ms. Stallings is brave enough to attempt to choreograph it makes this an endeavor worthy of some attention in a MixMatch world.


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