Amerigo Gazaway - "Rosebud"

Adept and politically charged hip-hop artist Amerigo Gazaway has a frank, honest and direct way with his lyrics. I brought you his anthem for the Occupy movement in this space a few months ago, and now he has tackled a far more delicate, far more divisive (sadly) issue. Gazaway offers up this tribute to Trayvon Martin. It's title is "Rosebud." Despite the sadness and really unbelievable mindfuckery attached to the incidents in Florida, this track serves up the same honesty and clarity. Sure, there's anger there. With due cause. And there's a lot of sadness there too. But most of all, Gazaway's incorporation of Sharon Van Etten, and his powerful reference, comparing Martin's young death to the life he could have lived through Orson Welles'  "Citizen Kane" is impeccable. It's a sad song, an angry one, and a good one. Watch the video.

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New Hands - "Tulips"

Hamilton, Ontario's New Hands is a band to watch. Their new track "Tulips," currently available for a listen through their bandcamp site, is a delightfully glitchy, charm fest blending some of the ornate character of Beirut with the full sound of better known electronic bands like Crystal Castles and Caribou. The wistful, dark, but never depressing track expresses itself through stout, aggressive beats, atmospheric cymbals and brilliant echoes. And above all else the track has that strong catchiness that allows any band to catch fire. Take a listen below, then visit their various points of web presence below.

Be sure to check out "This I've Heard," below in the SoundCloud box, and then check out the rest of their channel.

This I've Heard by New Hands

New Hands on Twitter, on the Facebook, on SoundCloud.
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Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again

The time that has passed since the last post in this space is utterly, terrifyingly, digustingly lamentable. There's a crazy pile of excuses I can validly make, including blogging actively for the Beanstalk Foundation and moving. Still, it's time we get back to it.

So, in returning to GLMedia, let's talk about a piece of modern day nostalgia. In the school of Raphael Saadiq, Jamie Lidell and Mayer Hawthorne, a school predicated by musical appreciation of the past. This movement, I call it that because it extends across generations, is unique in that it changes incredibly every day while remaining the same. Lidell's soul crooning takes on a campy, sweet, but realistic vibe. Hawthorne injects a certain world-weary brutality into his aspect of this new-retro-rock-soul. Saadiq maintains the poppy fun of the style while bringing listeners to tears with stories of epic betrayal. And now, Michael Kiwanuka arrives on the scene with his debut album Home Again. Kiwanuka actually came to my ears via my pal Max during the end of last summer, when the artist had only a handful of EPs and sundry tracks and covers. And although this album is now two months old, it's definitely to be considered one of the MUST LISTEN albums of 2012.

See, Kiwanuka's approach to the new nostalgia is folksy, intricate, elaborate and lush. He is Bill Withers and Otis Redding gifted with incredible production and access to what feels at times like an infinite selection of backing players. Horns, strings, keys, guitar, drums... name an instrument and Kiwanuka puts it to exceptional use. There are waves of sound, giant Perfect Storm-style walls that roll and crash and splash over each and every track. And all the while, Kiwanuka's voice beautifully rolls out lines and phrases, like velvet wrapped in silk over a seal. (No, not Seal. A seal.) If you miss this album, you'll kick yourself. And it's on Spotify, so, c'mon. 

Key Tracks:

  • "I'm Getting Ready"
  • "Home Again"
  • "I Won't Lie"
  • "I'll Get Along"
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Beach House - Bloom

Even, if you're not familiar with Beach House, Baltimore's dream-pop super duo, there's a good chance you actually are. The band, whose incredible 2010 album Teen Dream, demonstrated the full realization of their carefully crafted, catchy melodies, and whispering, hazy style, caught light fire, meaning you probably heard it somewhere. Teen Dream was an album securely focused on the experiences of youth, whether love, joy, lust, passion, exclusion, depression, doubt or fear. The key with that album lay in the lyrics, dancing around specificity with elegant metaphors and carefully concocted moments of symmetry to entangled love and loss, friendship and ostracization in the ways they really exist. We seldom feel clearly in youth, as teens, and we rarely feel clearly in dreams. It's muddled, muddy, complex and confusing. And when I heard that album, as a 28 year-old, I was blown away.

Two years later, we receive, like some bountiful gift from the maritime home our National Aquarium, Beach House's newest, Bloom. The emphasis here is on growth and realization. The songs are lush and full, vibrant, growing into exploding poppies of color amid a stand of green bulbous soon-to-bes. The band's signature sound hasn't changed much, and that's a very, very good thing. Beach House manages to do what you want, what you expect, and thrill with every riff and progression. I couldn't have told you, when reading the announcement for this album a month ago, what I WANTED Bloom to sound like, but they delivered it. Perhaps it's a lucky commentary on the nature of music, that when we expect great things we are likely disappointed, but when we have a certain unconditional love for the artists, they deliver sans pressure. This Bloom far exceeds any version I could have imagined. It infuses, like a fine vodka, some more obvious tones of the 1980s, as so much of music does as we march toward the center of this new decade. But it's the mood that carries it, like with Teen Dream, which excelled at making you feel whether you broke down the lyrical poetry within or not, Bloom uses the vocals as an instrument not just a conveyance for cliches.

Bloom addresses love and loss, the drifting apart of friendships and more. But even as a few of the tracks near the end of the album mesh together and stand alone less, it's definitive Beach House. The sound can be very homogenous at times, but it's more about a mood than about separate tracks. It's a journey within the dreamy cloud of unclear, but entirely intense and wonderful feeling.

You can listen to Bloom through NPR's First Listen for a limited time. I suggest you do it.
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The Beastie Boys' Adam "MCA" Yauch passed away today. It's a sad day, capping a sad week, with Junior Seau's death earlier. A moment of silence for a great musician and a contemporary genius of hip hop. I can't eulogize him properly... but Paste does a great job. (http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2012/05/adam-mca-yauch-1964-2012.html)

And now, my two favorite Beastie Boys' songs, and favorite tracks of my youth:

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