Wrapped in Piano Strings
Radical Face - Wrapped In Piano Strings
One song I know I will never tire of hearing is this one. Ben Cooper uses accordion, strings, guitar and yes, piano strings to pull at your heartstrings. Gothic subject matter is in its abundance on Radical Face’s debut concept album where narratives are told from the perspective of a ghost.
The 2006 album Ghost is not short of its fair share of classic songs. Welcome Home and Glory are just two other highlights worthy of a listen if this type of chill is up your alley.
Emancipator - Minor Cause
Elegance and exotic soundscapes lather Emancipator’s new album Dusk to Dawn.
Nowhere is this more true than on the stunning opener Minor Cause. The music begins slowly and builds before blossoming into a fully recognised orchestral, electronic masterpiece. The strings alone make this song worthy of a listen, but Emancipator’s technological prowess transforms Minor Cause into a piece to be reckoned with. Highly recommended.
Download - Minor Cause
A Beautiful Mine (With RJD2)
Aceyalone with RJD2 - A Beautiful Mine
Picture this - the crisp silhouette of a gentleman in his 30’s, dressed in a sharp business suit, falling gracefully into oblivion between the towering high-rises of Madison Avenue.
Fans of AMC’s Mad Men should have little trouble conjuring up such imagery, which goes hand-in-hand with this string-sampling composition by Eddie Hayes and Ramble John Krohn (Aceyalone and RJD2 to you and I).
Hailing from opposite sides of the States (California and Ohio, respectively), the artists collaborated and released Magnificent City in 2006, of which this is the closing track.
The piece is built on a bed of drums and crashing cymbals, but who can forget that hook? For those of you who enjoy following a tune down the rabbit-hole, Enoch Light’s rendition of Autumn Leaves is responsible for those delightful strings. Light himself was also born in Ohio, which nicely brings A Beautiful Mine’s tale full-circle.
This is a wonderful track to wrap yourself in. Do as Don Draper would, and fix yourself a Manhattan while you’re at it.
Frank Ocean - Pink Matter Remix (Featuring OutKast)
Okay, okay, okay. This feature spot on Frank Ocean’s Pink Matter probably isn’t the type of collaboration most OutKast fans are looking for. It’s not upbeat, it’s not radio friendly or crunk and it is emotionally heavy. But that won’t stop me getting excited.
Frank Ocean’s signature melancholic crooning is dark. At times it is detached, at times it is despairing and vacant and all of these textures are observations made without really trying to decipher the ambiguous intelligent lyrics. Big Boi’s verse is straightforward, vividly depicting voyeuristic perversion and André 3000’s is somewhere in between the other two artists.
For the moment, this track is still available for free download by following the link below and navigating the (downward arrow) link.
Download - Pink Matter Remix
Night Beds - Even If We Try
Falsetto vocals, violins and a lush melody makes this Colorado band’s music worthy of a feature.
Admittingly, I haven’t checked out the group in much detail, but according to their feature on Indie Shuffle, we should be able to expect a debut album from Night Beds around February
2012 (whoops, 2013).
Alt-J (∆) - Taro
I had no idea how big Alt-J (∆) were as I was a little late to discover the band. The British quartet have received rave reviews since releasing their debut album An Awesome Wave in May this year. Needless to say, I came to discover that An Awesome Wave is indeed, awesome.
For those of you who have not already bought the album and begun worshipping the band, you should have a close listen of the album closer, Taro. The track is brimming with innovative production, middle eastern influences, a strings section and one of the most distinctive male vocalists to emerge from Britain this year (Joe Newman). The five minute slow burner has no dull moments with a sprawling, unpredictable melody and vocals that are hushed one moment and harsh the next.
I am genuinely mesmerised every time I listen to Taro. In this instance, you should definitely believe the hype when it comes to Alt-J (∆).
Download - Taro
Rhye - Open
The members of Rhye are keeping their identities secret. Apparently, both members live in L.A. and have European backgrounds. They both also are members of well-known bands.
Regardless of their previous musical endeavors, both members of Rhye have a musical chemistry and their debut single Open shows this. Open features strings, harps and etherial falsetto. These elements may have easily have let Open succumb to overproduction, but it maintains a simple structure and organic sound.
Share this track with a loved one or just keep it all to yourself.
Download - Open
Shredding The Balloon
Hilltop Hoods - Shredding the Balloon
Hilltop Hoods are arguably Australia’s most commercially successful hip hop group. On their sixth and latest album Drinking From The Sun, Suffa continues to push his role as producer to incorporate rock, funk, boom-bap and orchestral arrangements.
Shredding The Balloon is a personal favourite of mine as the melody is fixating and Suffa references everything from De La Soul’s Buhloone Mindstate, ”it might blow up but it won’t go pop,” to J.R.R. Tolkein’s Return of The King.
The references are dispersed amongst clever metaphors and anecdotes to tell a personal story. The Adelaide emcee still manages to appeal to a widespread Australian audience and attract attention internationally despite being one of the most consistently innovative acts in hip hop today. These qualities are all assets to fans of their music.
I could have picked out a few memorable lines from Shredding The Balloon, but there are too many so you can check out the lyrics below. Enjoy.
Like we always do about this time, ink lines for the sick rhymes inclined, It’s grimy shit but naughty that can’t be fixed with a little bit of spitshine, Big time like Frankie in Vages, inspiring like Ali and Frazier, Spit it out till we spilling out to the street start a party up with our neighbours, I’d rather be part of your playlist, than ever be part of your A-list, Harness the energy, heart of a pedigree with the scars of a sadist, I go so hard on the pavement; I go so far with my statements, That i don’t know where they end and where i start it’s all part of game it’s, The farthest I’ve came since I started to play it, I spar with these artists, the heartless and brainless, We’re harnessed by chains that are hard to escape and you change then they label us bastards and traitors, They’re charlatans, they’re haters, they start on us but they’re fake as, Our parliament, but don’t be disheartened by them pardon their failures, If we don’t forgive our enemies, we’ll crawl the walls like centipedes, Burn our energy like fossil fuels and fuel our own damn effigy, And we’ll all burn like Hennessey, so keep on then and step with me, John Lennon let it be, dead the beef like abattors, before these scavengers tear at me:
I’ve been waiting to come back, Like where the hell is the show?, Like a balloon on a thumbtack, Getting ready to blow, I’ve been waiting to come back, Like where the hell is the show?, Like a balloon on a thumbtack, Getting ready to blow,
And it might blow up but i won’t go pop, And it might blow up but it won’t burst, She said she might grow old but she won’t grow up, Well she might, but only if I go first, She wears her heart on her sleeve like; she’s wearing a patch on her shoulder, It’s not a matter of whether i can catch her, more a matter of whether i can hold her, She thinks out loud she’s got me; she laughs with her whole body, I think about how she got it all figured out and wonder why she’d even want me, Each night i find it’s the same ole, when i crawl inside in the evening, I lie down next to an angel; fall asleep and fly with me demons, They say don’t live in the past and live each day like it was your last but, I’d rather live each moment like it was my first, take it slow and sip from the glass, Savour the moment, spit vicious bars then pray for opponents, Sounds so serious don’t it? But I’m not concerned with a thing, This is book three, Tolkien, Return of the King, The Kings have arrived; we drink from the sky, We fall from all ‘cause we think we can fly, But our wings have been tied, and the winging and lies, Have me I’m wishing that i could bridge the divide, You living the life? In the blink of an eye, The shine of the bling and the rims that your ride, Can all disappear so live for the rhyme, Not material things your gifts can provide
I’ve been waiting to come back, Like where the hell is the show? Like a balloon on a thumbtack, We’re getting ready to blow, I’ve been waiting to come back, Like we’re the hell is the show?, Like a balloon on a thumbtack, I’m getting ready right now I’m getting ready,
Since ‘State of the Art’ we’ve stayed in the yard just waiting to start this shit all over, Laying in bars for a day and a half, had to switch from gin to soda, And by like mid October, record was six month over, Due, and I’m like dude what you expect? I’m only three month sober, Coming up turning tree trunks over, running up burning divas, posers, Run amok till the sun is up or till one of us live la vidaloca, I’m going ta roll until i fold, like I got a hold of Propafol, So beautiful to know you all but for now I’m over an out.