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Fink's Ninja Tune

ZEN146.jpgA 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.

Major Lazer

n1156860120_30056067_542.jpgWe 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.

Orba Squara

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Nice site (and great music to boot) by Orba Squara. Their website is a place to explore their new music (folksy and fun) and a documentation of their journey around the country playing shows, meeting people, etc. Scroll to the right, and keep going, and going, and going, and going. Well done.

DJ Shadow: The 4-Track Era Bundle

24ebz9h.jpgTo 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!

Diane Birch: Bible Belt

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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.

America's Best DJ

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The closest many of us will ever get to putting our hands on the wheels of steel is when they release a DJ game a la Rock Band. In the meantime, we can participate in DJ Times Magazine’s America’s Best DJ competition and summer tour. The editors of the magazine hand picked a list of 100 American-born DJ’s that they felt were at the pinnacle of their careers and were the best representatives of their respective music genre’s. Despite sharing a love for spinning, most fans rarely venture outside of their favorite styles. The 20 city tour, which kicked off May 2, aims to expose those fans to music they may not have listened to before. Fans are encouraged to vote online for their favorite DJ’s and they’ll have a chance to wine prize packages that include a trip for two to the closing party/award ceremony September 12 in Las Vegas.

Django Reinhardt: Airwaves

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 of 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: Divided By Night

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.

DJ Hero

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With the smashing success of music based video games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero, many people are looking for the next logical step in instrumental gaming. Though we’ve been holding out hope for “Marching Band” and some sort of woodwind musical adventure , preferably “Oboe Master”; we think the folks at Activision have probably taken the more advisable route with their plan to focus on club music via DJ Hero. Come Fall ’09 you’ll be able to bring the dance party to your living room, whilst spinning some hype beats from the comfort of your own couch. So forget those pumped up cover charges and invest in some serious surround sound, because you’re going to have a big beat blowout and we presume everyone’s invited as long as they don’t block the TV. Fricka, fricka, fricka fresh.

Via Uncrate

Double Dagger: More

61c8gLv1H6L._SL500_AA240_.jpg With an aggressive yet upbeat sound, Baltimore’s Double Dagger assaulted our ears with unhinged drive through two albums and a slew of EP releases since the band’s formation in 2002. A sound labeled ‘post-punk’ could mean almost anything, so rather than obsessing over the fashionability of the genre, listen to More with an open mind. You’re bound to see beauty between the drums and the reverberating basslines. Simply constructed and intelligently delivered, the trio’s newest album conveys what could only have been concieved in a trashed B-more warehouse packed with thrashing scenesters.

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