Pryor Stroud: “Dawn in Luxor” is the introductory track from Shabazz Palaces’ second and last proper LP Lese Majesty. The track doesn’t pop into view, it fades in, a slow-moving agglomeration of spaceship wreckage and nebula dust drifting through an atmosphere-plane so cold that all life shrivels within it. But then the verse begins, and your perspective is thrown for a loop: where are we? Are we looking down from space or on earth gazing up? Unfortunately, the lyric doesn’t have any answers; it speaks in tongues, cryptic hip-hop codices and avant-rap tangents, conjuring-up more mystery and intrigue than authentic actuality. However, if you pay attention to the words, there seems to an inter-dimensional mythology growing here. “From out the water’s wall / From Luxor to heavens in the sprawl”, Ishmael Butler drones, but, between his lips, “Luxor” doesn’t seem like an ancient Egyptian city or even a Vegas casino, it seems like an Afro-futurist ether-world, a place where oppressed populations can congregate and, if necessary, escape to. [8/10]
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Texas singer-songwriters Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen have achieved a great deal of solo success over their long careers, but they’ve really found their voices by working together. For years they’ve toured together and only last year released their debut album, Hold My Beer, which received high marks in the music press. Given that their best work together has been their live performances, the duo is about to release Watch This on June 3rd via their label Lil’ Buddy Toons.
Pryor Stroud: Glutted with lithe polyrhythms, house drums, and a sashaying vocal sample lifted from some ‘70s Brazilian pop track, “Lite Spots” is full of miniature sonic breakdowns, moments when Kaytranada abruptly switches directions and seems to stumble into an entirely different song. Yet, despite these unpredictable aesthetic decisions, there is an overarching sense of levity and celebration to “Lite Spots”. There’s a feeling to it—call it a groove, call it a beat, whatever—that unifies the track into one propulsive, hip-shaking mass of sinuous syllables and uncontrollable funked-out movement. It’s a testament to Kaytranada’s skill as a songsmith that a cut this jumbled and frenetic, this high-on-something, sounds so totally pure. [8/10]
Electronic duo Filastine is comprised of composer/director Grey Filastine and vocalist/designer Nova Ruth. On his many travels, Grey met Nova in Indonesia where she had been performing with a hip-hop group. Joining forces and basing themselves in Barcelona, Filastine specializes in a cinematic brand of electronic music that utilizes many global influences alongside found sounds, percussion, vocals, and acoustic instruments. The result is an irresistibly warm blend of the digital and the analogue that renders their music as meant for the mind as much as the feet. This year Filastine has been working on a series of four video singles, Abandon, representing dances of liberation and today we bring you the second video of the series, “The Cleaner”.
As someone who suffered terrible verbal abuse at the hands of a family member for much of my childhood and teenage years, I can deeply relate with what New York singer-songwriter Rachael Sage is looking to achieve with her new single, “I Don’t Believe It”. Sage has created an uplifting and powerful piece of music that speaks to the pain caused to her from a young life filled with bullying. The song picks you up, dusts you off and tells you that the bullies were wrong and aims to show one how much self-worth they have and how much they have to offer the world. “I Don’t Believe It” is an affecting pat on the back, encouraging one to pursue one’s dreams, put the negativity behind them and find success however that may be defined.
// Notes from the Road
"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.READ the article