I’ve spent the better half of the morning reading about The Roots’ 13th studio album Undun which has been made available to stream in full over at NPR. It is the first concept album for a band that remains consistent with an uncompromising approach to music.
The concept focusses around the life and death of fictional character Redford Stephens (1974-1999). Stephens is a man growing up in the ghettos of America, who unwittingly becomes a criminal and is murdered at the age of 25. The album starts with the death of Stephens and the listener is transported back through key turning points in his life with narration via Black Thought’s raps and an entourage of Philadelphian emcees and other guest vocalists.
The Roots' drummer, producer and occasional DJ ?uestlove (pictured) elaborates on the album:
"At this point in our career we’d like for our work to have a unifying theme, and an experiential quality. We’ve been intentionally making our albums shorter in length so that they can be experienced as a continuous work. The music is band-oriented with an eye on the moody cinematic. As a DJ, I am the King of playlists, but I don’t want our albums to feel like a playlist or a mixtape for that matter. We want to tell stories that work within the album format and we want the stories to be nuanced and useful to people. Undun is the story of this kid who becomes criminal, but he wasn’t born criminal. He’s not the nouveau exotic primitive bug-eyed gunrunner like Tupac’s character Bishop in Juice… he’s actually thoughtful and is neither victim nor hero. Just some kid who begins to order his world in a way that makes the most sense to him at a given moment… At the end of the day… isn’t that what we all do?”
This track will be on the new album that is being released December 6th. But for those unhappy with the wait, I found a poor quality mp3 of this track to tide you over until then. Follow the link here to navigate the download on a new page.
Clocking in at under 40 minutes, Undun counters the mixtape culture in hip hop at the moment and puts quality over quantity. There’s even an instrumental piano piece from Sufjan Stephens on the album too. Orchestration, blues, soul, funk, jazz, boom bap rap and classical music all feature on this introspective album. While drawing elements from all of these genres might spoil an album’s sonic cohesiveness, The Roots make it seem effortless as you hear about Redford Stephen’s life back to front (as the album is structured) or front to back.
Don’t let the owl’s burning stare scare you, the song itself is quite relaxing.
This track was featured on a free Adult Swim catalogue of unreleased electronic music (hence the picture). You can still download the mp3, along with 17 others here for free.
The bass in Ikopol penetrates your senses and the glitchy percussion and distorted vocal samples allow the music to take peripheral distractions away. Ideal song to listen to when studying… or driving, or reading, or doing whatever it is you Chillers like to do.
I’m in awe of his ability to make music ranging from disco to love ballads. He remixed Feist’s classic ‘Mushaboom’ back in ‘04 and for one reason or another, I’m always coming back to listen to this. Feist is no stranger to the ill chill pill either.
Whether you like the beatboxing or the swoon of Feist’s vocals, there is something for everyone on this track which was named after a province on the east coast of Canada.
I like to check out if bands I like are working on new material so I did a google on Pinback. Turns out that they released a new limited edition 2 track EP a day and a half ago on November 25th. The song is typical Pinback brilliance except that strings make a feature, adding a new element to the music.
Pinback make the kind of music that for one reason or another, makes me think of the ocean. Clearly this picture shows I’m not alone in my opinion.
Will Weisenfeld is a producer based out of California who made an entire album, Mend, in 5 days from December 26th - 30. The entire album is available for free here. The music is transfixing. A merger of mellow guitar tones blend together like a watercolour painting in this song. The album art is also pretty cool - it’s a photo of Weisenfeld’s left retina. Enjoy!
Also, just a heads up to the chillers, I’m going away for 2 weeks & I might not be able to post about any music during this time. Don’t feel like you’re being neglected because there’s plenty of good stuff in the archives!
What a song. Is it electronic? Is it acoustic? It’s the best of both worlds spliced together to make an irresistibly mellow track. If you enjoy what you hear you can buy the song here while checking out more of P.SUS’ music. Sorry no freebies today.
Nick Vorrath and the rest of the Custom Kings are skilled songwriters. Looking through the group’s catalogue will show the depth of their songwriting and the breadth of their musical ability. This track was taken from 2004’s Where Do They Go EP. The song captures the feeling of a Melbourne Summer. The members from CK are incredibly humble as I learned from meeting them after a free gig. I hope they continue to work together in future. Check out Joe Neptune for more of Nick’s music.
I came across this song about 15 minutes ago and I knew I had to share it with you.
Scott Hansen is the artist behind Tycho. Based out of San Francisco, he makes the kind of music that would fit a never ending sunset, or the sort of music you might listen to after accomplishing something you thought was impossible.
This song is a newbie, so feel free to claim the find as your own. Just make sure you pass on the love to others.
The Roots are a group who need no introduction. Here’s the first single from their upcoming 13th studio album on December 6th. I have this on repeat and cannot stop listening to this. Lead vocalist Black Thought has a flow and lyricism that is beyond your average MC. Perfection.
Opening with a vocal sample from the first mainstream hip hop hit Rapper’s Delight, MC Geo attempts to answer the question posed, discussing some of the things he might do on a regular day.
The song contains a sample from Bibio’s Lovers’ Carvingsgiving it a fresh new perspective while also maintaining the worry free vibe of the original. Sabzi from the Blue Scholars has an ear for catchy samples and the slight touches he adds to this track lift the impact of the lyrics. The song closes as it begins. But this time, it has an open ending as it’s the listeners’ turn to decide what they want to do next.
Long green grass, long sunny afternoons, cool drinks, a comfy pillow and a few hours to burn: that is what I envision whenever I hear this amazing song.
Regardless of your worries, Lovers’ Carvings gives you the ideal reason to smile. Bibio mostly specialises in making electronic music, but this is clearly an exception. At the 1:28 mark, the song transforms a lazy day into an upbeat and energized one with harmonised chords and a wandering gutitar riff.
I caught Gotye in concert when he played in Melbourne earlier this month and he did not disappoint. This song was one of the highlights to see live with his full band providing all the trimmings that make it instantly a feel good track. I’m glad that he is getting worldwide recognition with the release of his last album Making Mirrors, which is definitely one the best Australian albums of 2011. He is an amazing performer, talented singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist… and, he lives very close to where I used to. Awesome.