He is a two-time Grammy award winner. He’s worked with legends like Smokey Robinson and has garnered praise from such musical luminaries as Public Enemy’s Chuck D. And still there are too many people who have yet to hear of him. Timothy Bloom has been diligently working the music circuit, writing and recording for the last six years or so. But he managed to turn some heads with his 2014 self-titled debut, an illustrious jewel of rousing blues and silky soul which featured his incredibly versatile singing.
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There are a few bars on “Kokopelli”, one of many tracks from Mild High Club’s Skiptracing that manages to occupy the middle ground between shadowy noir and neon psychedelic grooves (for a visual depiction of this look no further than the album cover), which perfectly sum up what motivates his craft. Artists may muse on a seemingly endless number of topics, but it isn’t that often that someone simply expresses a love for what they do so explicitly and broadly, free of genre signifiers, caveats, and the spoils that come with success.
“Music touches me / When you’re choosing / Keep shuffling / Because tuneage beats suffering,” Alex Brettin sings slyly, warbling ever so slightly on the vowels in “music” and “choosing.”
Skiptracing is a record that could only be made by someone with the kind of musical appreciation that Brettin demonstrates. The songs are lush and dreamy, with just a hint of the occult; the album could double as a fitting soundtrack for Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Inherent Vice. The songs are rich and diverse, a blend of Mac DeMarco style melodies and laggard hooks with the instrumental diversity of Andrew Bird. There’s an easygoing charm to much of the record, and a listener without a lot of formal knowledge might take Mild High Club’s latest project as a pleasant, vaguely surreal trip back in time. Those in the know, however, will find smart interpolations and riffs on jazz concepts that belie the pseudo-slacker reputation that comes with the DeMarco association and reveal Brettin’s extensive theory background and deep musical knowledge.
Anyone who saw The Devil Makes Three live knew what all the fuss was about: here is a group that infused Americana traditions with an unabashedly modern energy that caused any ears within a mile radius to buzz with excitement. Anyone who heard the early Devil Makes Three records heard something more: a solid group that showed promise but didn’t necessarily light the world on fire. For so long, the trio of guitarist Pete Bernhard, bassist Lucia Turino, and banjo-player extraordinaire Cooper McBean hadn’t figured out how to translate their live shows into the studio, at least not until 2011’s Stomp and Smash and their 2013 followup I’m a Stranger Here.
It all started with a mix. Well, more accurately, it started as a remix.
For both Richard Norris and Erol Alkan, these two young Londoners started out, by themselves, as Djs, Alkan focusing more on dance and electronic music, Norris befriend Joe Strummer and playing on some of the Clash maestro’s latter-day creations. It wasn’t until 2006 that, after having rejiggered some tracks under his own name, Alkan began using the Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve moniker. Norris had joined in, and the group, gaining notoriety for productions of artists of both the underground (Midlake) and the mainstream (Franz Ferdinand, The Chemical Brothers) variety, started making the name for themselves. EPs and singles would trickle out here and there, but outside of 2008 compilation of their earlier recordings, nothing concrete.
What a joy it is, then, that The Soft Bounce is here, and goodness is it a mishmash of so many varied things. From the hippie-friendly go-go bounce of “Creation” to the ‘80s synth homage “Diagram Girl” to the ambient instrumental “Tomorrow, Forever” to the string-driven mod number “Door to Tomorrow”, The Soft Bounce encompasses so much but still originates from the group’s clearly-defined psych-friendly aesthetic.
Thus, to help celebrate the occasion, the two Wizards themselves answered PopMatters 20 Questions, revealing a love of truffle oils, an affinity towards author John Higgs, and some remarkably practical advice for handling life’s problems.
“These were some of the best days of my life”, says Londoner Koray Fuat. “We had three music videos played on TV. We supported Montell Jordan, Lil Bow Wow and performed on the same stage as Kelle Le Roc and Roll Deep. These were interesting times.” Fuat refers to his days as a rapper in one of London’s few, if not only, Turkish-Brit hip-hop crews, Kontagious. The band’s one and only album The Epidemic failed to pave the way for further success, but it did make an admirable notch in the underground hip-hop/garage scene that had championed everyone from the Streets to Kano at the time.
// Notes from the Road
"Red Baraat's annual Festival of Colors show rocked a snow laden Hartford on a Saturday evening.READ the article