Artist: Hippo Campus
Album: Bashful Creatures – EP
Release Date: 18 November 2014
Reviewer: Mitch Kampf
Review Date: 14 November 2014
The first release from Minneapolis indie band Hippo Campus is truly a remarkable first effort for the group of young musicians. Having played together for only a year, the Bashful Creatures EP features five new tracks in addition to their single “Little Grace” which has been gracing the airwaves the past few months. The most drawing aspect of Hippo Campus’ music, however, is how comfortable it feels. The music and lyricism is light and welcoming. All six tracks off of Bashful Creatures are fresh, while also giving off a sense of fond familiarity. Every melody is clear and crisp, especially the light and succinct plucking style of lead guitarist Nathan Stocker combined with the talents of lead singer Jake Luppen who performs such satisfying voice acrobatics in tracks like “Sophie So” and “Bashful Creatures” that you crave to see what limits the band can stretch themselves to in future releases.
Starting out at the University of Minnesota, the group has built up a following within the Twin Cities community playing shows at the 7th Street Entry and various other venues. Each of the six tracks off of Bashful Creatures could be considered singles in their own right, a testament to the time the group has devoted to writing and producing their music–fine tuning a clear, crisp sound that both fulfills and leaves you asking for more at the end of the six tracks.
After listening to Bashful Creatures, it’s no wonder why City Pages named Hippo Campus one of their best new bands in 2014. The group’s musical talent is mature beyond their years for the amount of time they have been playing together. If Bashful Creatures is any indication of what to expect in the future from Hippo Campus, we can all look forward to the wonderful, playful music the group will bring in future releases. The Bashful Creatures EP will be released on Nov. 18 and Hippo Campus will be playing a sold out release show at 7th Street Entry on Saturday Nov. 29.
Artist: Flying Lotus
Album: You’re Dead
Release Date: 5 October 2014
Reviewer: Peter Sheehy
Review Date: 7 October 2014
“You’re Dead!” is the newest and most highly anticipated musical and artistic project from L.A. based producer Flying Lotus. “You’re Dead!” has had intense media focus from hip-hop fanatics due to the large dedicated fan base of genre bending beat master Flying Lotus, as well as the incredible Psychedelic hype inducing trailer put out when the album was announced. In interviews, Flying Lotus said that “You’re Dead!” is supposed to be an attack on your senses “OK, you’re dead. Now what?”
Every Track on “You’re Dead!” oozes color, The album is distinctly jazz influenced, songs are kept in check by Flying Lotus’ frantic and organic drums, while melodies and bass lines wander with incredible musicality. the album maintains a frenzied yet purposeful feel and is the perfect example of organized chaos. as well as being invigorating and symphonic, “You’re Dead!” has an impressive lineup of rappers and guest musicians. the album has appearances by Kendrick Lamar, as well as iconic rapper Snoop Dogg, and much of the piano on the album was done by none other than jazz great Herbie Hancock.
“You’re Dead!” makes for incredible background music, but active listening can add a very intellectual experience to the album. “You’re Dead!” Starts fast, the first half of the album being a musical slap to the face with rapidly changing rhythms and fluctuating instruments. many of the songs are less than three minutes, and most are less than two minutes, keeping the your focus. I thoroughly enjoyed “You’re Dead!” the album was original and was substantially different from many of Flying Lotus’ other albums, while maintaining the rough and metallic aspects of his L.A. album and combining them with the more melody oriented jazz and disco rhythms of Cosmogramma. Long term Flying Lotus fans will not be disappointed, and new listeners will find “You’re Dead!” to be a wonderfully confusing introduction to the L.A. beat scene.
(Notable songs: Never Catch me, Dead Man’s Tetris, Coronus the terminator)
Album: Cassette on Vinyl
Release Date: July 22nd 2014
Reviewer: Peter Sheehy
Review Date: September 16th 2014
Jonwayne is one of the up and coming names in the L.A. beat scene, in 2011 the producer and rapper debuted on Alpha Pup Records, a label notorious for its original artists, and big names, Such as: Bassnectar, Boreta, and The Glitch Mob. “Cassette on Vinyl” is an collection of tracks from three of Jonwayne’s mixtapes, remastered and sold only on vinyl.
Jonwayne’s talent as a producer is immediately evident; Each beat is well thought out, with crisp and original drum patterns, and a recognizable jazz influence. Jonwayne’s signature style is sprinkled all over the album. Vintage samples and soft crackling vinyl bring forth a pleasant warmth, while Jonwayne’s gruff voice hovers over the tracks with an air of poetic intensity. many of the tracks on the song feature other notable producers and rappers from the current L.A. hip-hop revival, such as Jeremiah Jae, and Oliver the 2nd.
All in all, “Cassette on Vinyl” makes for a fantastic ‘Best of’ for Jonwayne. the album is coherent and does a wonderful job of showcasing Jonwayne’s skills as a producer and as a rapper. If your hip-hop tastes gravitate towards the old school artful samples of J-Dilla, or the phrasing and vocal profile of MF DOOM, you’re sure to find familiarity with “Cassette on Vinyl”. (Notable tracks include: “Gross”, and “Passing Fancies”)
Release Date: 17 June 2014
Reviewer: Drew Dittmann – Director of Hip-Hop/RPM/Electronica
Review Date: 18 July 2014
Deadmau5’s seventh studio album, while (1<2) proves he is a continuing pioneer in the electronic music community. This album is a two-disc, 25 track departure from his previous sound. Starting out in the Vancouver electronic scene in the middle 2000’s, Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) made a name for himself with his eclectic and melodic, genre-mashing progressive, electro, and tech house sound, achieving mainstream success in 2007 (Link).
while (1<2) once again demonstrates Zimmerman’s inability to stagnate. Songs on the album such as “Silent Picture” and “Invidia” are downtempo and instrumental, featuring acoustic guitar and piano, respectively, whereas “Infra Turbo Pigcart Racer” and “Phantoms Can’t Hang” seem reminiscent of Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy soundtrack with their vivid, shimmering, and fast-paced beats. And Deadmau5 even forays into the IDM scene with tracks like “Creep” and “Errors In My Bread” reminding listeners of the genre-defining Autechre.
In a recent interview Zimmerman stated that the departure was made possible in large part because his contract with Ultra Records expired (Deadmau5 has since signed a contract with Astralwerks and continues to release material on his own label mau5trap records). “Ultra Records was more interested in Ultra Records being the f***ing rockstar,” he said. “Now, I feel like I can do what I want, and not like I’m a factory worker making parts of a car I don’t get to drive,” (Link). I must say that what’s good for the Mau5 is good for his fans too, because the continuing development of Deadmau5’s sound is exciting to hear. If you’re interested in witnessing progress and change as it occurs, tune into Deadmau5’s live streams and listen to him on SoundCloud, where he open posts works-in-progress.
Artist: Benjamin Booker
Album: Benjamin Booker
Release Date: 19 August 2014
Reviewer: Mitch Kampf – Station Manager
Review Date: 17 September 2014
Raw and full of soul, singer-songwriter Benjamin Booker’s first album release comes highly anticipated after performances at the Newport Folk Festival and Lollapalooza, as well as touring with Jack White this year. Despite his young age of 22, Booker’s music pays homage to artists like Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry, and even modern artists like The Black Keys. The beauty of this album, however, lies in its simplicity. The tracks are not clean, but hold a quality of raw distortion that envelops you like a live performance would.
Booker’s self-titled album is everything a true blues rock album should be, mixing intimate moments of vulnerability with unrestrained, high speed jams. The New Orleans native re-envisions blues rock for the modern era through soulful lyricism and boogie rhythms mixed with the raw guitar distortion. Booker’s fast paced guitar strumming becomes his signature throughout the album starting at full speed in “Violent Shiver” with guitar licks reminiscent of the 1950s. However, slower tracks like “Slow Coming” and “Spoon Out My Eyeballs” show Booker’s full range of talent and musical expertise. Not only can Booker provide us with a fast paced blues boogie, but he skillfully slows down for a more intimate blues performance.
While “Violent Shiver” has already received great radio play as a single, we can expect to see and hear more from Benjamin Booker following the release of his debut self-titled album on August 19, 2014. Leaping into the new music spotlight, Booker’s broad range of talent deserves the praise he is receiving.
Artist: Porter Robinson
Release Date: August 12th, 2014
Reviewer: Drew Dittmann, Director of Hip-Hop/RPM/Electronica
Review Date: August 19th, 2014
Porter Robinson, one of the child prodigies of the new wave of EDM, released his debut studio album Worlds last week and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Robinson, who made it big at the age of 17, has been consistently producing chart-topping singles for the past four years (one even caused Beatport’s servers to crash). He first became known not only for his big-bass remixes of electronica juggernauts but also for his originals of varying genretic
Worlds marks an important shift in Robinson’s sound. This album came as a surprise for many electroheads, who looked at hallmark Robinson releases such as his Spitfire EP and saw an upcoming big-room house and edgy electro superstar. However the indie synthpop and complextro Worlds didn’t come out of nowhere, as others have suggested (Link). Looking at the progression of Robinson’s releases, “Language,” released in 2012, is a glittering and evocative trance-inspired single that clearly marks a turning point in his evolution as an artist. And his collaboration with Mat Zo on the dance track “Easy” is a natural to Worlds.
That is not to say Worlds is only a synthpop, four-on-the-floor, album without integrity to Porter Robinson as a whole. The album features heavy bangers such as the first track “Divinity” which lays down a hard beat. What’s particularly compelling about the album is that it simultaneously shows Robinson’s vulnerability and confidence, and in that way it contradicts the now industry-standard commercialized EDM DJs who are no more than “glorified iPods,” (Link). Perhaps Worlds is exactly what the expanding EDM culture needs to remind it what dance music is all about: expressing the exhilarating emotions that music makes us all feel.
KSTO has just announced a fall concert to take place on Sunday, Oct. 5 at 7PM in the Lion’s Pause. S. Carey (of Bon Iver) will be performing with Aero Flynn to close out the Homecoming weekend festivities. KSTO will be selling tickets for $1 beforehand and at the door.
Artist: Trampled by Turtles
Album: Wild Animals
Release Date: 15 July 2014
Reviewer: Mitch Kampf – Station Manager
Review Date: 7 July 2014
Trampled by Turtles’ latest release Wild Animals continues the transition away from the group’s signature frantic bluegrass sound that started with their previous Stars and Satellites album. With less of the furious picking that traditionally characterizes Trampled By Turtle’s early work and live performances, Wild Animals listens at a slower pace. However, tracks like “Wild Animals” and “Hollow” have an ethereal beauty to their echoed harmonies that come alive in a softer setting.
Despite the steady introduction to the album, Wild Animals works in progressions and regressions in speed around the tracks “Come Back Home” and “Western World” where Trampled by Turtles’ signature quick picking bluegrass makes its appearances in the album. As the band has grown and matured speed and aggression have become a tool saved for extra power in tracks, rather than being the focal point of the track. It will be exciting to see how Trampled by Turtles change their live performances in the future, as their recent albums have featured softer, gentler sounds.
All in all, Wild Animals has a steady and fluid pace that reveals the band’s continued growth. They have shown that they can both blast listeners with high energy and quick tempo, and check themselves by reining in their sound to produce a subtle, emotional quality. Wild Animals will be released on July 15. Trampled by Turtles is currently touring, but will return to Minnesota to perform at their first annual Festival Palomino in Shakopee on 9/20/14.
Release Date: 24 June 2014
Reviewer: Mitch Kampf – Station Manager
Review Date: 16 June 2014
Following their ‘Confetti’ EP, the Wisconsin folk-pop band PHOX is set to release their self-titled debut album. With their indie folk-pop sound, PHOX masterfully draws listeners into tracks that are both mellow and unforgettable. The band moves seamlessly between the intimate crooning of singer Monica Martin, and lively instrumental bridges in tracks like “Noble Heart”.
PHOX’s music reveals a level of self-awareness many artists still strive for in their sound. Listeners can easily gravitate towards the horn riffs or smooth melodies of the band, while not feeling overwhelmed. Instead, PHOX creates a mellow, steady pulse through tracks like “Slow Motion” that not only hold a listener’s attention, but allows them to sink into the music in a way that feels both natural and satisfying.
Utilizing a dynamic range of sound and the various musical talents of the seven member group, PHOX has created a folk-pop album with soul roots that emphasizes fluidity. PHOX transitions masterfully between soft verses and dynamic instrumental breaks. The debut album by PHOX is sure to be the first in a line of many great future albums, as the Wisconsinites continue to create smooth and engaging tracks. PHOX will be performing in Minneapolis on August 4, 2014 at the 7th Street Entry. Tickets are still available.
Artist: First Aid Kit
Album: Stay Gold
Release Date: 10 June 2014
Reviewer: Mitch Kampf – Station Manager
Review Date: 2 June 2014
Swedish sister act First Aid Kit releases their third album, Stay Gold, next week. The duo’s crisp harmonies and country influenced sounds have already taken U.S. airwaves by storm, but Stay Gold represents the maturity and growth of First Aid Kit as artists. Beginning with YouTube covers of Fleet Foxes songs, Johanna and Klara Söderberg have exploded onto the country folk scene recording for Jack White’s Third Man Records, collaborating with Connor Oberst of Bright Eyes and Monsters of Folk, and touring worldwide.
Stay Gold is a continuation of the Söderberg sisters’ growing presence in the country folk scene worldwide. The tracks on Stay Gold represent the personal journey First Aid Kit has taken as the duo tries to make sense of their growing fame. Tracks like “Cedar Lane” especially capture this feeling as the sisters sing, “Coast after coast, cities and states/ My world’s an empty map where nothing remains/ The place we belong is quietly gone/ While we were making plans, it drifted away” Stay Gold focuses on themes of loneliness and confusion, as the Söderberg’s describe their experience with the abrupt changes to their life. Unlike their previous albums, Johanna and Klara Söderberg have begun to write from their own experiences and struggles, and it pays off magnificently in some powerful tracks like “My Silver Lining” and “Cedar Lane” the latter ending with the cry, “How could I break away from you?” a call out to the life the two have left behind.
Yet, amidst the somber theme of Stay Gold First Aid Kit effectively lightens the heavier moments with the bright country sounds and harmonies the duo have become known for. What makes Stay Gold remarkable, however, is that it reveals the growth and maturation of First Aid Kit, as the duo delves into their own lives for inspiration and finds common struggles used to relate their music to an audience in a genuine way that feels true to the artists personalities. First Aid Kit has once again delivered a phenomenal album featuring the harmonies and country sounds that have made the group famous, but Stay Gold also provides a glimpse into the future. Stay Gold reveals what lies ahead for First Aid Kit musically, as the duo’s songwriting matures and begins to take on deeper themes.