It’s a nice day for an elevated stroll. Open today is the first section of High Line, a park built on out of commission elevated rail that JoshSpear.com has been following since the earliest stages its conception. Running from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 20thth Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues. Upon completion it will stretch all the way out to 34th, making it a mile and a half long. The design by James Corner Field Operations, with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro will include some interesting seating, lighting, and other fixtures. Details of the design are on the High Line website, along with a schedule of events including the benefit going on there on June 15th. Getting a table will help fund the maintennance and overall upkeep of this ridiculously awesome urban park. It’s just $15k per table, who is in with me?
Philadelphia often spits out something unconventional and intriguing. Bahamadia the whispering lady rapper, G-Love the hipster-ahead-of-his-time, and a band like no other called Black Landlord. I started hearing their name around town a few months back from a few heads gushing about their killer live shows and now there’s a full album to be had. The nine-piece band includes everything but the didgeridoo and gives an instrumental style like a funked out Soil & Pimp, with vocals laid down by founder Maxx Stoyaoff-Williams. Clever, funny, and inherently heavy, Addicted to Distraction kills it in every respect. In regard to album cover, I preferred the pimped out Redd Foxx on their myspace page, but I can see why they went another way with it.
Before the melding of organic hip hop with glitchy processing in Prefuse 73, Guillermo Scott Herren messed with ambient jazz and the chillest nooks of latin music. Many forget that Savath and Savalas brought Herren to Warp Records, leaving many of his records under this alias overlooked. Well, if you haven’t heard it before, now is the time to warm up to it, as we find ourselves smack in the middle of two releases. Stones Throw put out La Llama two weeks ago, living up to the expectations with an array of soundscapes and vocalists. Out in exactly two weeks is Golden Pollen, coming out on Anti, will showcase Herren’s own voice and instrument talents.
Still not convinced? Listen to a track on YouTube.
A lone singer/songwriter on a label that prides itself on producers, Fink landed with Ninja Tune in the late nineties with a pair of EPs, followed by 2001′s downtempo mix Fresh Produce. It wasn’t until five years later that he showed his melodic side on Biscuits for Breakfast, the first record that defines his current style. Since then, he seems to be back on track with his releases. Distance and Time dropped in 2007, and now we’ve got another mellow collection entitled Sort of Revolution. The LP features John Legend on a couple of tracks, as well as a cover of ‘Walking in the Sun’. Another solid Ninja Tune release.
We can thank Diplo and Switch for boldly auto tuning Andy Milonakis toasting, but there’s a lot more to Major Lazer than a comedy gimmick. The tracks heard so far are killer, notably the collaboration with Santogold. This summer their tweaked out brand of dancefloor crack is on the road and there are free and discounted tickets up for grabs (I know the Philadelphia show at Electric Factory is free). Hit ‘tour dates’ on the Bacardi Live website and pick your city. Depending on which show you catch, you might see A-Trak as well.
Amidst the dead-til-friday strip of bars in Philadelphia’s Old City, one store front boosts its allure with searing pink. Smak Parlour is the brainchild of Abby and Katie, two Philly girls whose aptitude for design brought to life their vision of girliness. The duo claims they found inspiration from the old school Barbie wardrobe; not hard to believe when you walk into Smak Parlour. In a domain of pink, a pallet of gaudy flare is harnessed to create designs that embody the Abby and Katie’s expertise, self-professed as all things vintage-inspired, girly, fun and flirty. Smak Parlour is at 2nd and Market Streets in Philly.
To most of us, DJ Shadow is a mind without a past. Everything he touched became a timeless piece, the demonstration of his powers beginning with 1996′s Endtroducing, an album that quickly became the soundtrack to the lives of many. While we often consider it his first full excursion into sampling production (in fact, it was the world’s first album composed entirely of samples), there was once a young Shadow; one who idolized influences and struggled with his own expressions just like any other artist. Over the past couple of years, we’ve had glimpses into this tape-deck past through The 4-Track Era series of radio mixes. Today we get the entire musical youth of DJ Shadow packaged in box-set entitled The 4-Track Era Bundle, featuring early noise through a now defunct medium that we all still love deep down. Pre-order now!
Anyone who can turn that crappy dance jam ‘What is Love’ into an alluring tune of just voice and Wurlitzer is onto something. Diane Birch, an American singer/songwriter whose preacher dad led her around the world during her childhood, has collected enough insight from her travels to make her expressions all the more interesting. It’s not the ethnic influence that shines through, but rather a maturity that is rare to find in a young artist. Her debut Bible Belt is out today.
Often while I’m scouring various lists for new releases, I pass over a whole lot of reissues. Sometimes you can get excited about some previously unreleased studio sessions, but it’s almost never the case. However, today there’s an exception: Django Reinhardt, a musician who died over half a century ago, has a handful of recordings up his white-lapelled suit sleeve. Airwaves is one of dozens ofÂ compilations that have been released over the past few decades, but this one has several gems that haven’t gone through the whitewashing of modern remastery. The warmth is still there, the clips and pops left on the tracks like little scars, reviving the character that good music in Django’s era carried without question.
The Crystal Method were one of the most ostensible bands of the 90s producer boom. They made densely layered electronic music palatable to the masses, so much so that their old songs are seen today as caricatures of the genre. If that’s what Grammy nominations get musicians, then it’s worth waiting five years to hear a new record from them; one that proves modern sugary production to be over-simple. Everything on Divided By Night is miles away from ‘Trip Like I Do’, and it never dispenses with the big beat rhythms that drove the band’s lesser known contemporaries like Meat Beat Manifesto.