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It’s Working Out: An Interview with Mayer Hawthorne

Reproduced from SF Station

For as many people that have called Mayer Hawthorne “retro,” he’s not. While his falsetto voice draws comparison to Smokey Robinson, and his Detroit upbringing is a reminder of Motown, “retro” is too restricting. Mayer Hawthorne, born Andrew Mayer Cohen, is as Smokey as he is James Dewitt Yancey (J Dilla). Call Mayer Hawthorne “fresh,” because he not only is soulful, he’s hip hop, he’s a skateboarder, and he’s surprising people with a voice he never knew he had. SF Station called Mayer up to say “what’s up,” before he embarked on his first US tour.

I noticed you are into skateboarding, when did you get into that?
I remember having a skateboard when I was a kid. I had a Variflex or something, one of those whale tail, one directional from way back in the day. I’m more a fan of a skateboarding than I am a dope skateboarder. I skate everyday, but I wish I had time to really be a great skateboarder.

Who introduced you to soul music?
That would be my pops. He played bass guitar, and still plays in a band, in the D (Detroit), to this day. He taught me to play bass guitar when I was six years old.

I read that you’re family is full of musicians.
Yeah, they’re all very musical. My mom plays piano, sings and dances. My dad has been playing in bands forever. I was very fortunate to grow up in a musical household. We were always listening to records.

My folks used to buy me records back in the day. That’s how I got my DJ name Haircut, because when they would take me to get my haircut, I would have a temper tantrum. The only way they could get me to shut up was by buying me records.

So at a young age you already wanted records?
Oh yeah, before I could even read the labels on them.

Was it the covers or the music?
It was the music. I didn’t have covers for most of them, they bought me 45s. I had my Fischer Price record player, and that’s what I’d do all day.

What are your alter egos and projects?
Mayer Hawthorne was really the alter ego. Mayer Hawthorne started out as a sort of experiment on the side. I had always been Haircut.

When you say you’ve always been Haircut, does that mean Andrew is Haircut, or that’s just your first project?
Haircut has been my nickname for a long time—for probably fifteen years. I’ve been DJing for most of my life, and collecting records—that was always a priority for me. Mayer Hawthorne just took off accidentally. Now I’ve shifted to where it’s my main focus.

Now that it’s your main focus, is your mindset different when you go in to the studio to work as Mayer Hawthorne versus Haircut?
Definitely, I had to switch gears when I signed to Stones Throw. I had to figure out what Mayer Hawthorne was all about. It’s definitely a very different process. The biggest shift for me is going from the DJ, the bass player, or the drummer who is in the background, to being the front man and center of attention, the lead singer and solo artist.

Can you tell me about the process about being Andrew figuring out Mayer Hawthorne?
Mayer Hawthorne is just an extension of me. It really is like an extreme side of me. It’s still me. I’m only one person, I’m not an actor.

Do you think people are surprised when they find out it’s you singing, and maybe not a black person or someone else?
Definitely that has been my experience so far. When I recorded the first Mayer Hawthorne songs, I went at it with the mindset, “I’m a hip hop producer, and clearing samples is getting really expensive, so why don’t I just create my own music to sample so I wouldn’t have to worry about it.” I never anticipated for the public to hear this music. I only shared it with my close friends and family. I never sent it to anyone. The image was not something I ever really thought about. A lot of people who hear my music, and then see what I look like are shocked. I got to be happy about that because that means I am getting it right.

When did you start singing?
Maybe two years ago.

Do you think Mayer Hawthorne could ever do a cover of R. Kelly’s “Bump ‘N Grind?”
Yeah, I think that’s not out of question. I try not to limit my music to anything. I’m working on a cover of “Blame It On The Alcohol” right now.

Someone recently asked me if Detroit or New York had better current hip hop artists, what’s your opinion?
Oh man. You know my answer to that.

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Interview with Rebelution

Featured Artist: Mayer Hawthorne

Listen to What You're Missin': Modest Mouse, 88-Keys, Speech Debelle, and Discovery


Preview for Outside Lands

The SFCritic will be jumping from stage to stage at Outside Lands, San Francisco's premier music festival. In its second year, Outside Lands will feature artists like Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, M.I.A., TV On The Radio, Incubus, Tom Jones, Bat For Lashes, Q-Tip, and much more. Above is a list of the lineup, check out the schedule and details here.

If you haven't noticed, SFCritic is now connected to Twitter, and you can follow SFCritic live, as he sends feedback from interviews and performances at Outside Lands. Check back next week for interviews and reviews.


Listen to What You're Missin': Modest Mouse, 88-Keys, Speech Debelle, and Discovery

"Listen to What You're Missin'" is a series of posts consisting of four tracks each week, giving you an updated look at new music. This week get ready for some fun, and exciting music from: Modest Mouse, 88-Keys, Speech Debelle, and Discovery.

Modest Mouse: King Rat"

From their new EP No One's First, And You're Next, comes the swashbuckling rag tag ditty "King Rat." The song begins with singer Isaac Brock singing "And you know know it was all wrong," as the song builds with blues horns. Modest Mouse is one of the few bands that have lasted a decade continuing to make original music.

Speech Debelle: "The Key"

Speech Debelle is nominated for the Mercury Award, and "The Key" is one example of why. On "The Key" Speech Debelle has a cool flow like Lady Mecca of Digable Planets. Known for her honest lyrics, on "The Key" she reaps, "For every Malcolm X, there is a George Bush / For every ambitious soul, there is a couch potato." Another song by her worth checking out is "Searching."

88-Keys: "Morning Wood"

"Morning Wood," is a morning song--cheerful, funny, and happy. That's how Adam feels on the first track of 88-Key's debut album The Death of Adam. This is a concept album revolving around the story of Adam--a guy who meets a girl, and then well his luck turns to sour shit. Another track of note, is recently released single featuring Kanye West titled "Stay Up (Viagra)." The Death of Adam is a solid debut from a talented producer and improving rapper.

Discovery: "LP"

Though I was critical of LP in my review, "Insane" was, is, and will be one of my favorite tracks from this summer. On "So Insane," Rostam Batmanglij (producer from Vampire Weekend) and Wes Miles (vocalist from Ra Ra Riot) seem to master the balance between digital effects and creativity. Here the beat moves like a roller coaster, dragging then chugging along, before picking up as the rhythm and effects change with Mile’s singing about being in love. It's like UB40 meets MGMT with auto-tune effects (this can be labeled as music nerd jargon).

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Interview With Rebelution

Featured Artist: Mayer Hawthorne


Featured Artist: S & M "Losing My Religion"

The curious group name, S & M, is a band and not a sex group. Comprised of emcee M.anifest and singer Sarah White, they have an EP set to be released soon. Despite the freaky name, their sound is anything but, as "Losing My Religion," is a jazzy and soulful track that ushers resemblance to Mos Def's new track, "Roses" (which is high praise for anyone unfamiliar with SFCritic). The loose drum pattern, and guitar sample highlight genre bending sounding that is typical of both artists. If the rest of the EP is anything like this track, than expect to get familiar with a new type of S & M.

S & M: "Losing My Religion"

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Featured Artist: Mayer Hawthorne

Day N Night, I Listen to Kid Cudi

Featured Artist: Damu the Fudgemunk


Live Review: Method Man and Redman How High Can They Go

All Photos by the wonderful Victoria Smith

With ten years separating the release of Redman and Method Man’s collaborative albums, The Blackout and The Blackout 2, and likely ten years separating them from the average age of their fans at Mezzanine, it’s reasonable to wonder “Can rap’s appointed Cheech and Chong not sound as dated as, ‘Cheech and Chong?’” The two rappers approaching their forties are still kicking the same rhymes about bitches, weed, and beer—and bitches, weed and beer. Since their last album a lot has changed. Jay-Z and Eminem both retired and have come back, many rappers have put their stamp on the bitches, weed, and beer antics (i.e. Afroman), and we’ve heard the birth and (hopefully) the death of auto-tune. The question remains: do Method Man and Redman have anything new to contribute? This is where reviewing their show is tricky, because in truth—they don’t. Before this is interpreted as negative, understand that many reviews of their new album Blackout 2 have made a similar critique. The album is solid because both emcees are veteran talents, but none of their new songs rise to the level of their earlier work.

Before the arrival of the How High duo, Ghostface Killa roused the crowd with classics like “Ice Cream,” and “Tommy Motola.” “Be Easy,” one of Ghostface Killa’s newer tracks from Fishscale was a highlight as Ghostface threw his arm back in forth to the beat as the crowd mimicked his motions. Ghostface Killa’s demeanor onstage is almost indifferent, but remains warm as he smiles while pacing back and forth across stage, spitting clearly lines like, “Got my D.D.L. on me, that’s my Dick ‘em Down License.”

Once the venue was filled with enough to get everyone high, it was time for the Redman and Method Man show. The duo is known for their stage presence as Method Man’s bullet flows complement Redman’s punctuated off color rhymes. Like old friends knowing each other’s ins and outs the two balance each other. Method Man is aloof but goofy, while Redman is loud, and seems to relish the attention. “All these rappers talk about their bling, their rings, and shit. This is what I got,” said Redman as he extended his bare hand to the crowd. With similar antics throughout the night, at one point resting for a “smoke break,” the duo cracked jokes, played pranks on the crowd (splashing fans with open bottles of water), creating an infectiously positive vibe.

While they promote The Blackout 2, it was their classic songs that fans remembered. “Y’all, have heard this track,” Method Man exclaimed before rapping to their new single, “A’yo.” Sure enough, those in the front row rapped along with the performers, but for many of the new songs (“Hey Zulu,” and “City Lights”) the rest of crowd seemed to bob their heads unknowingly. It was their classics, “Bring the Pain,” or “Pick It Up,” that got everyone dancing. After ten years of performing, maybe the expectations are too high, or maybe their fans’ short term memories are to blame.

Method Man and Redman have created enough hits over fifteen years that it’s easy for them to play an engaging show with just old material. Their sound is stagnant. While tracks like “City Lights,” have utilized newly popularized styles like chop ‘n screw and auto-tune, the duo’s rap shenanigans (note: bitches, weed, and beer) remain tirelessly the same. Does this mean you shouldn’t see them live? No. Method Man and Redman are one of the classic rap duos. At the end of the set, Method Man attempted to walk on the crowd, only to his dismay falling backwards and being caught in the arms of his fans. Maybe this is a sign. The two were at their highest with the “Rockwilder.” Now, only weed can get them higher.

Method Man and Redman: "Ayo"

If you enjoyed this post, check out these:

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Jay-Z "Run This Town" (Video) Ft. Kanye West and Rhiana

Just found the new video for Jay-Z's "Run This Town," off his new album The Blueprint 3. I prefer Kanye's verse to Jay's. The only thing real Jay states is that he's out of money, and is back to doing his "own thing," aka, making chedda!

On another note, who wants to run that town? The place looks like a scene from Black Hawk Down. "But if I know if I stay stunting, all these girls are going to only want one thing," raps Kayne. Yeah, your LV, and designer jeans. To all the paparazzi taking photos of Kanye at church, "get a life, get it right, get it tight."

If you enjoyed this clip, check out these:

K-Os' new video "4 3 2 1"

Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Drake "Warrior"

Creed "Were Gay Oh Yeah Assholio"


Featured Artist: Mayer Hawthorne

He's a white guy from Ann Arbor Michigan with a voice and style that comes together like Smokey Robinson meets J Dilla. His name is Mayer Hawthorne, and he's just another cat on board the retro soul train. Peanut Butter Wolf, the head of Stone Throws, stated that Mayer Hawthorne might have been the first person "I signed after hearing only two tracks." Besides singing, Hawthorne does all the musical arrangements as well. Talk about talent. I haven't been able to put my finger on it, but I swear "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out," is a cover--it's THAT retro. Meanwhile, tracks like "Maybe Yes Maybe No," have a soulful sound that is embedded with hip hop drum patterns. Mayer Hawthorne is currently on his first US tour, and is definitely worth a look. Enjoy:

Mayer Hawthorne: "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out"

Mayer Hawthorne: "Maybe Yes Maybe No

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Featured Artist: La Roux

Featured Artist: Jay Electronica

Featured Artist: Chip Tha Ripper


I have a virus that is eating my computer alive. So I'll be back to you with my zombie Windows XP once I've found a cure.

Sorry, and thanks for reading.



Gangs in Hip Hop Today

Gang violence in hip hop escalated in the 90s and ultimately lead to the tragic death of hip hop's two most respected artists, Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. After their deaths, gangster rap's popularity in mainstream culture diminished significantly as record labels encouraged artists to create dance friendly, content diluted hip hop music.

Until recently, gangster rap had become an underground genre listened to by gangsters and suburban white males with attitude problems. Now, there has been a resurgence in gang popularity with mainstream artists like Game, and Lil Wayne promoting their Blood affiliation.

Vlad TV, titled the "TMZ of Hip Hop," is a source for hip hop gossip, and particularly, hip hop beef. There have been several videos on Vlad TV, which have discussed the recent gang revival in mainstream hip hop. In a video with 40 Glocc, a rapper based in LA, Vlad TV followed 40 Glocc and his crew as they harassed Lil Wayne in his car. 40 Glocc is a member of the Crips, who are the long standing rivals of the Bloods. In the video found here, 40 Glocc asks Lil Wayne, "What's up with that Blood shit?"

In a separate interview with Jay Rock, Vlad TV asks Jay Rock about 40 Glocc and Lil Wayne's encounter, to which he responded he found it "funny." Jay Rock openly represents Bloods, having several videos with him throwing up signs and flashing red.

There is also a new video released with 40 Glocc claiming to have snagged Lil Wayne's chain. "We don't want to wear this, we want you to wear it, we just want you to come with it (money)," says 40 Glocc in the video. All this gossip has been swirling, with all of it focused on gang beef!

While Joe Budden's recent beef with Wu-Tang's Method Man and Raekwon isn't directly gang related, it has eventually lead to violence in a gangster fashion. In response to Vibe Magazine's recent article charting the The Best Rapper Alive, Joe Budden called Ed Lover on Power 105, and stated he was a better rapper than Method Man. The beef between the two was eventually squashed, but recently in Los Angeles, Raekwon and his crew attacked Joe Budden backstage of The Rock the Bells event. Last night, SFCritic spoke with Supreme, the manager for Raekwon, about the skirmish, to which he stated, "Joe Budden needs to respect his superiors, Method Man and Raekwon would never talk about Rakim that way."

What concerns me is the growing trend of violence in mainstream hip hop. As Lil Wayne states in an interview discussing Baron Davis' new film on gangs, gangs aren't going anywhere:

“When you sit down and watch this, you actually see it’s not ‘gangs,’ it’s deeper. What I take from it, I think, the gangs ain’t gon’ stop. They’re not gon’ stop period, but I think that they can become something different, because everything can evolve. I’ve evolved, we all evolved as humans as people period. The world evolved. I think that gangs can evolve into families, coalitions, committees, you know something like way more helpful to the world, way more helpful to the communities."

Lil Wayne is evolving without his chain, Joe Budden with his arm in a sling, and meanwhile, kids are growing to believe that gangs are cool, and people like Jay Rock think it's all just "funny."

Here is the video of 40 Glocc harassing Lil Wayne.

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John Hughes Remembered

This is an old remix by Diplo of "Twist and Shout" synced to the Ferris Bueller movie. Everyone seems to be putting this video up, so I won't be the one lone straggler. Enjoy:


K-Os New Video for "4 3 2 1"

The Canadian rapper continues to genre blend hip hop in hope of rediscovering a Golden Era of hip hop, and be crowned its "savior." Atlantis: Hymns for Disco was a experimental album for K-Os, drifting from his more hip hop roots of Joyful Rebellion.With "4 3 2 1" K-Os seems grounded, at times experimenting with his soloing his vocals, other times returning to hip hop with scratching and call in response.Check back for a review of his album soon.

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Jay Z, Drake, Lil Wayne and Gif Majorz together on 'Warrior'

Recently, Pigeon and Planes put up this new track "Warrior," from Dem Jointz's new project The League of Extraordinaire Gentlemen. Honestly, besides the star packed guest list, the track doesn't really hit. Dem Jointz's artist Gif Majorz sings the hook, which sounds like any auto-tune, over synthesized song these days. Really though, it's easier to blame Gif Majorz than any of the other three, though Jay-Z's verse begins like a regurgitated reassembly of his past lyrics. Decide for yourself:

Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Drake and Gif Majorz: "Warrior"

Download the track here

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Kid 606 "Mr. Wobble's Nightmare"


The Life of a Music Celebrity

You may have seen "True Hollywood Story" on E! TV, and thought you knew the life of a child prodigy musician, but you had no idea. The three videos below show the progress of a child pop musician from infancy to adult maturity. This is a story of passion, drugs, and sex appeal. This is a story of becoming a star!

Evian Commercial

Evian Roller Babies Interviews - Click here for more home videos
The dexterity of these dancers is incredible. While most babies pee on rugs, these babies were poised for success as soon as they tied up those roller skates. They even changed their own diapers while on the skates.

Stoned Again

(Thanks for finding this video, at My Crazy Music Blog)
After success propelled these stars into the limelight, they needed alternative methods to relax. With their superstar status, they met up with "Turtle's" hookup Saigon (Saigon Wiki), to get some of that good shit. As a result of too much medicine, they disappeared from the spotlight for several years, until they had a resurgence in confidence...

88 Keys ft. Kanye West: "Stay Up (Viagra)"

Lacking endorsements, the stars had to reach onto something tangibly appropriate and VOILA!, Viagra grew on them. "Stay up!" is no joke, "stay up--damnit" is what SHE SAID! Now they stay up past their bed time, eager to please for one more shot in the spotlight.

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Bay Area Slang

Creed "We're gay oh yeah Assholio"

Joaquin Phoenix Rapping


Mos Def, Erykah Badu and Jay Electronica Tour Dates

Following the release of his new album Ecstatic, Mos Def is touring alongside Erykah Badu and Jay Electronica (the ultimate hip hop married combo). I won't go into much detail, but as SFCritic, I fully endorse seeing this show. It appears that most of the venues are large, which I note with a grain of salt, because who really wants to pay $40 to see specks from across an amphitheater. Take a look at the dates below, and strongly consider what appears to be one of the best lineup of 2009.

Wed | 8/12 | Charlotte, NC | Amos’ Southend
Thu | 8/13 | Charleston, SC | Music Farm
Fri | 8/14 | Atlanta, GA | The Tabernacle
Sat | 8/15 | Miami, FL | Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
Mon | 8/17 | New Orleans, LA | House of Blues
Tue | 8/18 | Dallas, TX | House of Blues
Wed | 8/19 | Houston, TX | House of Blues
Mon | 8/24 | Edmonton, AB | Edmonton Events Center
Tue | 8/25 | Calgary, AB | Flames Central
Thu | 8/27 | Vancouver, BC | The Vogue Theatre
Sat | 8/29 | Portland, OR | Roseland Theatre
Thu | 9/3 | San Francisco, CA | Davies Symphony Hall
Sat | 9/5 | Los Angeles, CA | The Palladium
Wed | 9/16 | Boston, MA | House of Blues

Rock the Bells in San Francisco

Each year Rock the Bells assembles a sufficient lineup of current superstar hip hop performers, but this year the show felt dated. While the headliners Nas and Damian Marley provided a fresh look at the verging of hip hop and reggae, performances by Busta Rhymes, The Roots, and Reflection Eternal (Hi-Tek and Talib Kweli) seemed passe. With so much talk about, "Is hip hop dead?" it was bizarre that after what is one of hip hop's most high profile music festivals, I for the first time seriously contemplated hip hop's recent downfall.

During Busta Rhyme's set he continuously stopped mid verse in an attempt to get the crowd involved. His reasoning, "When you got hits," you can do what you want. Unfortunately, the last "hit" by Busta Rhyme was in 2002 with "Make it Clap." With "Make it Clap" as his finale, Busta Rhymes followed his pause of "when you got hits," to change songs and rap "Woo Hah! I Got You All in Check." Unfortunately, this track is so old that most of the teenagers attending the show were probably still in diapers during its release.

It was also strange to see the "legendary Roots crew," as Black Thought mechanically repeats whenever he's given the mic, play before Busta Rhymes. The legendary crew used to be a headliner wherever they performed. Like Busta Rhymes, their hits were from at least three years dated.

After the event, I considered how many contemporary hip hop artists have managed to produce consecutive mainstream albums that were successful in the last four years, and all I could come up with was Lil Wayne. Damn.


Lists: Top 5 Political Moments in Music in the 20th Century

There are strangely few lists chronicling the Top 5 political moments in music, and maybe because the task is so daunting and arbitrary. Nonetheless, I have tried to assemble some of the most important political moments, and not songs, which the differentiation should be noted, because it would be nearly impossible to make an argument for songs based on the many factors surrounding their importance. With no further ado, the list:

5. Kanye West's "George Bush doesn't care about black people"

During the peril of Katrina, our nation tuned into TV news stations anxious to learn about the damages, and ways in which they could help. During a Red Cross fundraiser telephone drive, hosted by Kanye West and Mike Myers, like many celebrities they spoke about the events, but nothing was more memorable than when Kanye broke from the script to state (Found at 1:35 in the clip), "George Bush doesn't care about black people." This type opposition to the President in such a direct and publicized manner was unprecedented.

4. 2 Live Crew and The Supreme Court

2 Live Crew: "Me So Horny"
This was a difficult choice, but its significance weighed heavily on the future of not only rap music, but all music. In 1990, the American Family Association took 2 Live Crew to court for their album Nasty As They Wanna Be, particularly the song "Me So Horny," because of violations of obscenity laws. In the Florida courts, the judge ruled against the album, temporarily removing the album from music shelves. The group appealed the ruling, and eventually, won the ruling by the Supreme Court. The ruling set a standard for censorship of music. Previously in the UK, the Sex Pistols song "God Save the Queen," was banned on the major radio stations at the time because it was thought to be anti-monarchy.

3. Madonna Rock The Vote Commercial 1990

To have Madonna campaign at the inception of Rock the Vote was a symbol of the significance of the burgeoning campaign. Today, Rock the Vote is synonymous with the efforts to involve youth to vote, and considered one of the key tools responsible in the growing percentages of youth voter turnout.

2. Woodstock 1969

One would be hard pressed to not include the first Woodstock as a major moment in the merging of politics in music history. During the three day performance artists like Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Creedance Clearwater Revival, and more all spread love, music, and their own political message. The major festival spurred many other festivals, including ones with apparent political messages such as the Tibetan Freedom Concerts.

1. Sorry, but there is no number one. I would prefer to get your opinion on what you find to be the most significant political moment in music.

Of honorable mention both in jest and sincerity.

Karl Rove, "I'm MC Rove"

As a politician he is ruthless, but as a rapper he's worse than Mark Madsen's dancing (found at :41).

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie: "We Are The World"

I excluded this because it's just a song, and as I stated previously, this would be an impossible list to construct. Nonetheless, this song as a fight against world famine was hugely significant at the time, and still, is relevant.

If you enjoyed this post, check out these:

It Began, the birth of SFCritic

She Got Her Own Thing, Ne-Yo and Independent Women in R&B and Hip Hop

Bored at Work: Top 5 Music Videos


Bibio's Ambivalence Avenue

Deep in the forest of Warp land, Bibio has created an alternatively fresh method to publicize his music. On Bibio's Warp homepage, there is a forest where you can walk and listen to his new album Ambivalence Avenue. The album was recently awarded by Pitchfork magazine as the "Best New Music."

What is intriguing about this forest, is a listener is able to leave his "mark." The interface gives your options beyond just writing your name on a tree, such as leaving a car hanging in a bush. This ability to translate space, identity, and music, whether simplistic and regimented by circumstances, reminds me of an article I wrote in the past discussing music and the moment. The natural, and moody sounds of Bibio's music feel fitting for the forest, as one wonders unknowing of who and what they'll discover. Take a look, leave your name, and become a fan.

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Featured Label: Warp Records

Music and the Moments

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Album Review: Deastro Finds Hope In Space with Moondagger

Deastro: Moondagger
Label: Ghostly International
Release Date: June 23rd, 2009
Rating: 4.5/5
By David Johnson-Igra

Maybe the answer can be found in the uncertainty surrounding our economy, the disillusionment facing recent graduates, or the intrinsic need for answers to all our questions. Any one of these would explain why Deastro’s Moondagger feels perfect. This is more than an album. Moondagger is the story of Deastro as he travels into outer space, highlighting the growth of Randolph Chabot who is searching for meaning or simply--a moon knife. At twenty two, Randolph Chabot, aka Deastro, is a part of the generation of youth uncertain about their futures, and while many struggle with questions, Deastro’s story provides some answers.

Moondagger is like a dream as songs move quickly with bubbling rhythms and thoughts consumed by waves of synthesizers. Deastro’s verses emerge as introspective struggles, interrupted by philosophical moments of clarity. On “Tone Adventure #3” he sings, “I have been here before / with the feather in my madness and fear at my door / I know all the answers the questions are keeping the storm / It determinates the fear of unknown.” And while this might seem pretentious for someone of his age, he is also humble in his understanding as he says, “Even the darkest sin has the taste of regret / we can’t be all be that bad if we wish we were different,” on “Toxic Crusader.” These are just a few of Deastro’s insights, as each track seems to provide the scattered thoughts of a young adult growing in wisdom.

Deastro: "Tone Adventure #3"

Originally a solo project, Moondagger is Deastro’s first album backed with a (tight) band. The undertones in his music range with poppy Beach Boy progressions or dark introspective tones a la Depeche Mode, but at core his sound is rooted in electronica. Like Animal Collective each song is rich with sounds, but where critics might cite Animal Collective as radio unfriendly, Randolph Chabot has a mastery of big hooks which can capture even the most distant of listeners. Even on the few instrumental tracks like “Pyramid Builders,” there is an levity which rises into electronic orchestras of uplifting keys dancing over omniscient synthesizer spurts.

Deastro:"Pyramid Builders"

While the elongated title of “Daniel Johnston Was Stabbed In The Heart With The Moondagger By The King Of Darkness And His Ghost Is Writing This Song As A Warning To All Of Us,” would suggest this is the centerpiece of the album, it is really just another hopeful reassurance. If Deastro can see from outer space that we need to start over as he sings, “We’re going to build this town / we’re going to build it right,” than when we awake from this dream, we are reminded that were not alone. Like Randolph Chabot’s future, life seems more hopeful with Moondagger.

Deastro: "Daniel Johnson Was Stabbed In The Heart With The Moondagger By The King of Darkness And His Ghost Is Writing This Song As A Warning To All of Us"

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Nine Korean Woman Cover Brandy

After listening to Korean's pop sensation Girl's Generation's "Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)," comprised of nine women with eighteen beautiful legs, and nine ridiculous skimpy marine costumes--I heard a deja-vu. This is odd, because I've never listened to Korean music and this single was released within the last month. So where did this deja-vu arise? So I looked into my crates, hoping to find an answer to this puzzlement. Then I found it.

Girl's Generation: "Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)"

Brandy, before becoming pregnant and retiring from the limelight, released "Full Moon" off her third album Full Moon. While the chorus structure is entirely different, the melody of the verses in "Full Moon," and "Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)" are similar. In both songs, the first lyric of the first and second bars are held longer with the lyrics in between at twice the speed. They both even begin with the "Boooyy," and then go off in different languages, what do you know. Tell me what you think:

Brandy: "Full Moon"

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