Till it Runneth Over, Holy Grail

Holy

When it comes to eclecticism in sound and sampling, Jay Z has always provided a wide range of musical variety. Just in case you were wondering the origin of the sounds from Magna Carta the list is as below. Try deciphering the samples and which parts were used.

Sample List

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (Holy Grail)
Adrian Younge – Sirens (Picasso Baby)
Johnny Guitar Watson – Gangster of Love (Somewhereinamerica)
Sizzla – Solid as a Rock (Crown)
R.E.M. – Losing My Religion (Heaven)
Adrian Younge – Reverie (Heaven)
A Tribe Called Quest – Sucka Nigga (Versus)
One Way – Believe in Me (Part II On the Run)
Mase – Feel So Good (BBC)
Notorious B.I.G – My Downfall (Jay Z Blue)
Gonjasufi – Nickels and Dimes (Nikels and Dimes)
MIA – Bad Girls (Tom Ford)

A Look Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis

The phrase “struggling artist” is all too common and we have encountered this idea depicted in various ways throughout movies, tv shows, to stories told by relatives and friends. The picture that plays in our heads is often a couch surfer, low income individual literally struggling to stay alive on minimal fruition of their art form. Inside Llewyn Davis, directed by the Coen brothers is no exception.

Taking place in old Greenwhich Village around 1961, young folk singer Llewyn Davis navigates the survivalist nature of the music scene. The audience takes a journey through a week of Llewyn’s apparently hopeless endeavors as he searches for success in his music. Through the narrative we find out that he was part of a duo which unfortunately is broken, referenced in the movie through dialogue, due to unfortunate circumstances. The grim comedic nature of the the film makes it fun to watch but the sheer truth behind the circumstances makes it slightly difficult to digest.

One of the standout factors about the movie is it’s honesty and satirical play on the acceptance of “pop” music. Although it is not immediately embedded as the primary focus of the movie, the Coen brothers manage to seamlessly project the idea that sometimes the mundane and untalented acts somehow find success over true talent. This was hilariously illustrated when the main character Llewyn Davis is called up as a back up guitarist and helps record Please Mr. Kennedy , a song written by one of his “friends”. Later on the song is alluded to as being a possible hit (puh-puh-please!).

Throughout the movie, beyond it’s bleak outlook on the music business and unforgiving circumstances of life, an idea that is latently seen is the fact that music and creativity is accessible and limited by your projected audience. Davis delivers what movie viewer would consider an outstanding performance of the song Hang Me, Oh Hang Me , however this and various other performances are not as well received as expected (his father literally shat himself…yeah). The idea that music popularity is directly congruent to it’s acceptance from a wider audience, regardless of talent and skill, is an extremely daunting idea for any artist.

The Coen brothers masterfully present these themes in a smack-of-reality-to-the-face-with-a-cactus appeal. It is a hopeless illustration for struggling artists that will have you singing “hang me, oh hang me”. Overall the movie features a great soundtrack and wonderful performances. Maybe you will be inspired to change your careers… or take it as a challenge. The music has changed but the struggle has not; what’s inside you?

Soundtrack

VINYL SIDE A

HANG ME, OH HANG ME
(TRADITIONAL; ARRANGED BY OSCAR ISAAC & T BONE BURNETT)
OSCAR ISAAC
3:26
FARE THEE WELL (DINK’S SONG)
(TRADITIONAL; ARRANGED BY MARCUS MUMFORD, OSCAR ISAAC, T BONE BURNETT)
MARCUS MUMFORD & OSCAR ISAAC
3:01
THE LAST THING ON MY MIND
(TOM PAXTON)
STARK SANDS WITH PUNCH BROTHERS
3:35
FIVE HUNDRED MILES
(HEDY WEST)
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, CAREY MULLIGAN, STARK SANDS
3:27
PLEASE MR. KENNEDY
(ED RUSH, GEORGE CROMARTY, T BONE BURNETT, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, JOEL COEN, ETHAN COEN)
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, OSCAR ISAAC, ADAM DRIVER
1:59
GREEN, GREEN ROCKY ROAD
(LEN CHANDLER & ROBERT KAUFMAN)
OSCAR ISAAC
3:18

VINYL SIDE B

THE DEATH OF QUEEN JANE
(MUSIC BY DÁITHÍ SPROULE; LYRICS: TRADITIONAL)
OSCAR ISAAC
3:58
THE STORMS ARE ON THE OCEAN
(A.P. CARTER)
NANCY BLAKE
3:16
THE SHOALS OF HERRING
(EWAN MACCOLL)
OSCAR ISAAC WITH PUNCH BROTHERS
1:41
THE AULD TRIANGLE
(BRENDAN BEHAN)
CHRIS THILE, CHRIS ELDRIDGE, MARCUS MUMFORD, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, GABE WITCHER
2:42
FARE THEE WELL (DINK’S SONG)
(TRADITIONAL; ARRANGED BY OSCAR ISAAC)
OSCAR ISAAC
2:46
FAREWELL
(BOB DYLAN)
BOB DYLAN
2:07
GREEN, GREEN ROCKY ROAD
(LEN CHANDLER & ROBERT KAUFMAN)
DAVE VAN RONK
3:45

Mira lo que tiene La Descarga

The translation for the title is “Look what La Descarga has” in case you were wondering.

Literally a hole in the wall spot which can easily be missed due to a lack of a line and under the radar advertisement.

Literally a hole in the wall spot which can easily be missed due to a lack of a line and under the radar advertisement.

La Descarga is an epic place to visit if you are into authentic burlesque and brilliant saxophone renditions. Reservations have to be made in advance in order to enter this bar on the side of the road and true to it’s namesake as a speakeasy, you enter through an unassuming old 60’s apartment. After walking up the stairs in what appears to be a relic of the past and through the curtain made of laundry on a clothesline, you enter this enchanting dimly lit rum bar with brilliant live burlesque shows accompanied by an amazing saxophone player.

The atmosphere is authentic and a perfect venue for intimate burlesque and saxophone performances in which they both make their way down the balcony several times to interact with audiences.

The atmosphere is authentic and a perfect venue for intimate burlesque and saxophone performances in which they both make their way down the balcony several times to interact with audiences.

La Descarga’s atmosphere is hassle free and enjoyable and the hourly burlesque shows radiate with excitement and authenticity. The best part of coming to La Descarga is that everyone comes with the same purpose, which is enjoying music and dancing. It’s like stepping into the movie set of Burlesque (without Christina Aguilera), or more accurately, like stepping into Cabaret . The burlesque performer’s coordination with the saxophonist is extremely tight and well danced with energy.

Aside from the enchanting burlesque performances, La Descarga’s playlist consists of an excellent salsa selection of music which can get anybody’s hips moving, apart from Shakira’s hips who do not lie (at the end of the night your hips will not lie either). Whether they are playing original songs orchestrated by the band or deliciously composed pieces of popular songs you may have heard, the raw energy delivered in these demonstrations will have your eyes glued to the beautiful burlesque performer and ears attached to the musical ensembles. It also helps they are not stingy with their alcohol and make excellent heavy handed cocktails. La Descarga is mainly a rum bar but they feature delicious complex drinks as well. Can’t go wrong with good alcohol and great music.

Both deliver energetic and fun performances with raw energy.

Both deliver energetic and fun performances with raw energy.

It has rekindled my desire to discover more hidden gems and speakeasies, ideally in NYC. The most satisfying aspect of this venue was the previously mentioned appreciation for music and lack of purpose in picking someone up to get laid. People come to these places to enjoy what is most important, and that is the atmosphere and music. I have given myself a mission to find more venues with intimate settings, and I have been given a place to start here . Check out Thrillist for yourself and go on an adventure of slightly alcoholic discovery!

Kraak & Smaak! Westbeech Weekend

Chrome Waves

Kraak and Smaak is a production trio that consists of Oscar de Jong, Mark Kneppers and Wim Plug whom are native to Leiden, Netherlands. I happened to stumble on them during my quick shop through American Rag . I was entranced by this song’s funky vocals and electric instrumentals. I was just a SoundHound away from discovering a new artist and some new music. Fortunately  SoundHound had assisted my discovery  of this tantalizing song which eventually revealed itself as “Squeeze Me” on my phone screen.

Squeeze Me featuring Ben Westbeech is an electric song driven by funky vocals. This one song however is hardly representative of their music as a whole. By taking a gander through Kraak & Smaak’s SoundCloud you can find their latest album titled Chrome Waves as well as bonus content and other featured songs. One of the most notable singles featured in the album are The Future is Yours with it’s trance and disco rhythm and groovy vocal line. This song itself embodies their album as a whole as to what to expect, which is an understatement in itself. They feature enjoyable synths and deep vocals reverberated in in their trance-house instrumentals.

Individually, Ben Westbeech is also worth listening to. Westbeech, an english DJ and producer finds influences in house music as well as jazz and hip hop.

His songs feature scintillating bass lines and percussive energy which compliment his voice very well. ‘Something for the Weekend’ (shown above) is an excellent introduction to his music but the journey commences once you really explore his music. Westbeech has a distinct style within his production as he tells a melodic story in his instrumentals, each with rising actions and climax with satisfying drops in beats. Overall he delivers tight and smooth tracks perfect for meditative relaxation where you can find melodic tranquility. Inflections , is the best representation of the type of power his music can achieve. His latest album There’s More to Life Than This is exciting and eclectic but the beauty in experiencing music as diverse as his really comes through random selection through links found on youtube. None of his songs disappoint.

Overall Both Kraak & Smaak and Ben Westbeech compliment each other’s sounds nicely but they are forces to be reckoned with individually due to their distinctions in their styles. Both are worth experiencing.

Well… Here’s Willy Moon

I haven’t been excited to discover a new artist since Blakroc (an awesome collaboration with The Black Keys and several hip hop and r&b artists overseen by Damon Dash, co-founder of Def Jam Records) and so I am enthused to show you a new artist well worth noticing.  Well, here in fact is Willy Moon. Check out his website and give his self introductory album a listen, “Here’s Willy Moon”. I’m sure you guys won’t be disappointed.

Moon is a New Zealand native who left at 18 and migrated to Berlin and eventually embraced his settlement in London. Moon achieves a sound which encompasses both a fusion of modern production techniques in hip hop within his instrumental sound, combined with the raw energy of rock and roll infused with some slightly blues inspired vocals. His most notable singles include Yeah Yeah {seen below},


I’d like to point out the enjoyable choreography in the video as well as it’s addictive and energetic sound.

and Railroad Track,  which sounds similar-ish to Kanye’s ‘Jesus Walks’  on it’s instrumental. It  inspires an attribute of deliciously bluesy hip hop to the beat. His tone is raw and vibrant, equivalent to a shot of red bull to the face. The album consists of 12 songs (track list below), and most of the songs are just below 3 minutes. Despite their length they all deliver an amazing energy and will probably conjure up some dancing spirits in your soul. Overall the most interesting quality about the album and his music is the type of sound that he is able to produce which seem to use the same production process for hip hop sampling.

His songs have been featured on commercials and soundtracks such as ‘Yeah Yeah’ in Apple commercials and ‘Railroad Track’ both in Grand Theft Auto V’s sound track as well as the trailer for Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. He’s difficult to miss out on and even more so given the fact that the dude literally looks like a Vogue  model. He was also featured in the New Yorker’s top 10 pop albums of the year, which happens to be my source of discovery. I can barely call his album “pop” although his sound is very easy to listen to. I’d gladly listen to him on the radio over Nicki Minaj any day. Try him out for yourself, he is definitely worth a shot.

Tracklist

1. Get Up

2. Railroad Track

3. Yeah Yeah

4. What I Want

5. Fire

6. I Wanna Be Your Man

7. Working For the Company

8. Shakin’

9. She Loves Me

10. I Put a Spell On You

11. My Girl

12. Murder Ballad

Source:  http://willymoon.com/

‘Tis the Season for the Christmas Spirit

Quick, what are the first 5 Christmas songs that pop in to your head?

Yeah bet it wasn’t that one… unless you’re jewish. Anyways, X-Mas is approaching and Santa is probably drinking eggnog with rum grudgingly preparing everyone’s presents, the elves are singing bloody murder and they have yet to call PETA on reindeer abuse, especially for Rudolph and his radioactive red nose due to a “lava lamp” accident.

You’re either in the christmas spirit in your santa hat and boots, probably hungover from Santacon. OR you’re the poor sap who is getting pissed off at everyone in a merry mood ready to throw coal at the next bastard who says “Happy Holidays” Whoever you are, I have composed a list of Christmas songs for all to enjoy. I mean come on, get the stick out your ass and give it to the snowman who needs it. We’ll give you something else for the holiday, Santa has the list for naughty boys too.

1.

It isn’t your fault that you’re not in a Christmas spirit and you’re girlfriend (or boyfriend) broke up with you. Or that you got fired from you job. Or that you ran over the neighbor’s dog (maybe it was your fault actually). Ok so this isn’t a christmas song but it looks like one and that kind of matters.

2.

We just have to appreciate Lindsay Lohan here before she got hooked on drugs and before she ordered her pal to beat up Paris Hilton’s brother. Who doesn’t like this song anyway, especially in slutty santa outfits?

3.

This pick speaks for itself. If you don’t like this song you are probably satan in red satin panties who in fact has his panties up in a bunch. Merry Christmas, we probably don’t want you specifically anyway.

4.

Because how can you not appreciate DMX singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. You don’t even have to like christmas to like this.

5.

Sometimes Santa doesn’t always come for everyone but they probably did in Neverland ranch.

Happy Holidays!!!

Beyonce’s Secret Surprise Album

B A '13

We were all caught off guard when news circulated that Beyonce dropped an album OUT OF NOWHERE. In this day and age it is unprecedented for an album not to be leaked prior to it’s release date which makes this album somewhat amazing in itself. The modern diva’s album consists of 14 songs each with a music video. It is a tremendous effort to feature a full visual component for each one of her songs while most artists only feature videos for their singles. The album was said to have been in the production process for over about a year and a half in which it began from a retreat in the Hamptons in the summer of 2012. She really kept this one under wraps.

It is an ingenious idea to release an album without any prior press, advertisement or campaigning. It delivers an experience of anticipation to hear her music without any previous exposure or expectations. This is difficult to come by now in this day and age when we encounter leaks months before an album release and in some cases we even get to hear the whole album for free. It is both an intimate gift to her audiences as well as macro-managing her own business. For this reason alone I won’t be able to release content and connect others to her new album (which is a good thing) so I won’t be dealing the juice on this and just feeding you the scoop. If you are a fan be sure to look for her self titled album on itunes for $15.99.

Tracklist

1. Pretty Hurts
2. Haunted
3. Drunk in Love (Featuring JAY Z)
4. Blow/Cherry
5. Angel
6. Yoncé/Partition
7. Jealous
8. Rocket
9. Mine (Featuring Drake)
10. XO
11. Flawless (Featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
12. Superpower (Featuring Frank Ocean)
13. Heaven
14. Blue (Featuring Blue Ivy)

Videos

1. Pretty Hurts – directed by Melina Matsoukas
2. Ghost – directed by Pierre Debusschere
3. Haunted – directed by Jonas Åkerlund
4. Drunk in Love – directed by Hype Williams
5. Blow – directed by Hype Williams
6. Angel – directed by @lilinternet
7. Yoncé – directed by Ricky Saiz
8. Partition – directed by Jake Nava
9. Jealous – directed by Beyoncé, Francesco Carrozzini & Todd Tourso
10. Rocket – directed by Beyoncé, Ed Burke & Bill Kirstein
11 .Mine – directed by Pierre Debusschere
12. XO – directed by Terry Richardson
13. ***Flawless – directed by Jake Nava
14. Superpower – directed by Jonas Åkerlund
15. Heaven -directed by Beyoncé & Todd Tourso
16. Blue – directed by Beyoncé, Ed Burke & Bill Kirstein
17. **BONUS VIDEO – Grown Woman – directed by Jake Nava

“I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it,” she continued. “I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.” – Beyonce