Category Archives: Uncategorized

Moscow Olympics

Courtesy of MySpace

fun MySpace

Little information can be found on the band Moscow Olympics online, with its minimalistic MySpace page and a bare minimum of information provided by its obscure American label company, Lavender Records. After scouring the Internet, I realized I knew but three facts about the band — Moscow Olympics is a four-man band from the Philippines, and the lack of U.S. buzz surrounding the band betrays its immense talent.

Their debut album, Cut the World, transports listeners into a drifting, and at times discordant, world of enchanting instrumentals and haunting vocals. The seven tracks carry an obvious influence from the ’80s music scene, to the point where an unknowing listener could easily mistake Moscow Olympics as one of the typical shoegaze, post-punk bands from the UK. One blogger, Alistair Fitchett of the blog Unpopular, aptly described the band as “Blueboy leaping from the clouds and snogging The Wake in the sunset whilst drifting down over the Oresund bridge.”

The band rises above your typical dream-pop fanfare, though, with its complex and always evolving instrumentalism. Within each song, layers of guitar, drums and distorted vocals progress at the hands of musically mature artists. In the opening track, “What if Left Unsaid,” a typical guitar melody snowballs into a flawlessly meshed progression of synths and riffs, which is then topped off by the subtle introduction of barely-there vocals. The rest of the tracks follow a similar pattern, although the base guide of the band in no way hinders their originality or musicality. Each song carries its own stylistic flair and unique progressions.

The best track of the album, the self-titled “Cut the World,” builds slowly but surely into a dreamy, effervescent amalgamation of clear, minimalistic guitar chords, heavy reverb, keyboard synths and tremolo vocals. The song never veers off into ambiguously messy sound but stays impressively on track by perfectly balancing instruments, vocals and effects.

Listeners may feel as if they are simply floating up and down through various layers of musicality, fully immersed within the soundscape Moscow Olympics creates so effortlessly.

— By Entertainment Editor
Ginny Chae

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fun.

Courtesy of MySpace

fun MySpace

Call them unoriginal, but the name of this three-man band describes their music perfectly: fun. Lead singer of the now defunct band The Format, Nate Ruess, paired up with instrumentalist Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff, ex-members of Anathallo and Steel Train, respectively, to create a whirlwind of an album that cooks together show-tunes, folk, indie pop and an impressively varied instrumentalism to create a perfect slice of feel-good pop.

On Aim and Ignite, Ruess’s distinct voice soars within each song, whether it be the gospel-chorus and voice-belting style of “Benson Hedges” or the lulling croons of “The Gambler.” Ruess’s vocal and range is well-sampled in the album’s opening song, “Be Calm,” which starts off with a somber, violin overture and tumbles into an back-and-forth pull between upbeat staccato beats and blooming instrumentals and rocker style rhythms.

Each song, even the ballads and folksy ones, are bursting with refreshing energy and joy for music. The very danceable “All the Pretty Girls” brings an updated, poppy version of 70s rock, with its synthesized voices and guitar chords. The call-and-response duet between Ruess and a female vocalist on “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)” is delightful with its cheeky lyrics and strange but catchy mix of sing-song children-like rhymes, an interlude of beach-like instrumentalism of xylophones and slowly belting trumpets and Broadway-like solo.

— By Entertainment Editor
Ginny Chae

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros MySpace

Edward Sharpe has never existed except in the pages of a story penned by former Ima Robot singer Alex Ebert. The musician created the messianic — though lustful — character while going through a break-up and a bout of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. After about a year of these dark days, Ebert met Jade Castrinos; the duo gathered 10 friends, formed Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and let their creative juices flow.

The result is its debut, Up From Below, destined to be the soundtrack to wanna-be hippie communes everywhere. The band used a 24-track tape machine from 1979 to record the album, adding a layer of authenticity that is unmatched, even by the members’ converted-school-bus-as-tour-bus driven by a guy named Cornfed.

The band demonstrates an impressive level of musical precision, especially given its double-digit number of free spirits. Up From Below is an album where songs with feathery flute solos (“Om Nashi Me”) or claps and snaps (“40 Day Dream”) fit seamlessly with tracks that have darker musical themes (“Simplest Love,” “Black Water”).

The masterpiece of the album, however, is “Home,” easily the most genuine, joyful love song to have been released in the past year. Ebert and Castrinos take turns singing verses but join together for the chorus: “Let me come home / Home is wherever I’m with you.” There’s whistling, there’s shouting, there’s a hint of a Southern drawl from Castrinos — and above all, there’s an unadultered sense of head-over-heels exuberance that many jaded modern groups fail to capture.

At the release party for Up From Below, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros raised money for the Gulu Widows Group of Uganda. After this kind gesture, many of the women who have lost family in Northern Uganda’s civil war and their children gathered be filmed while singing “Home.” In this recording, the song’s chorus becomes especially poignant, and shows that despite all of the psychedelic fun of Up From Below, Sharpe may be a bit of a savior after all.

— By Executive Editor
Ani Vrabel


Theophilus London

Theophilus London MySpace

I hate to say it, folks, but radio has officially hit rock-bottom. Case in point: Ke$ha’s nauseatingly unoriginal single, “Tik Tok,” insulted listeners’ intelligence a record 11,224 times last week. To put this travesty into perspective, consider the fact that not even a Lady Gaga song has been played that often in a seven-day period. For those of us who haven’t been brushing our teeth with a bottle of Jack, however, there’s hope on the hip-hop horizon and his name is Theophilus London.

The immensely talented — and uniquely named — only child of a struggling single mother, London is everything all the winners of those star-seeking reality shows should be. He grew up reading newspapers instead of video game pamphlets and counts Morrisey, The Beach Boys and ’80s electronica pioneers KraftWerk among his many musical influences. In 2008, London caused a ripple in the blogosphere with the mixtape JAM! and its 2009 follow-up, This Charming Mixtape. The collections featured remixes of everything from grungy punk-rock tracks to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”

Now, “Humdrum Town,” the assumed single off London’s yet-to-be-announced full-length debut, is making the Internet rounds, and it’s a stunning example of what popular hip-hop could sound like. With rapid-fire lyrics laid over a perfect instrumental mix of synth and swagger, “Humdrum Town” is a slick, focused piece of genre-bending gold. London raps, “I ain’t doin’ this for check or fame” and, unlike with many other rappers, it’s easy to believe him.

“Tik Tok” might be addicting, but so is “Jersey Shore” — and we all know where that little gem sits on the quality scale. This week, do your eardrums a favor and take a hit of Theophilus London instead.

— Entertainment Editor
Franchesca Winters

Tiger JK

Tiger’s Blog

South Korean rapper Tiger JK, aka Drunken Tiger, gave his first paidperformance for $500. The audience, outraged by a musical genre theyhad never heard before, threw fruit and shoes at him. The company took half the profit, and JK gave half of the remaining money to hisgirlfriend, now his wife. With only $125, JK began saving his cash in an envelope under his bed as he pursued his dream.

In Korea, hip-hop is still in its infancy. In mainstream music, the genre only caught on in the early 2000s, but now grows as an influential culture. The break-through is largely due to Tiger JK. At 35 years old, JK continues to prove both his pioneering talent and financial success, holding a Jay-Z-like iron grip on the title of hip-hop king amid a sea of teens and 20-something fame chasers.

Fans of JK have praised the genuine emotion of his music, the presentation and lyrics of which clashed loudly with the soft, pop-industry prepackaged music of the late 90s. His earliest album, deemed too explicit by the government and banned from public play, gained considerable underground respect.

 JK’s talent for rapping and musicality surges through in his best albums, most notably The Legend Of… and Sky Is the Limit. The single“8:45 Heaven” from the latter, a song written after JK lost his grandmother, proves his lyricism and emotionally raw flow.

 JK released his eighth album, Feel gHood Muzik, in 2009, on which hip-hop legend Rakim collaborated on the single “Monster,” reportedly only out of respect for JK’s work. The song blasts open with a heavy beat and rotates through collaborates Rakim, Rakka, Roscoe Umali and female Korean rapper Tasha a la Drake’s “Forever.” 

Despite the fact that Feel gHood Muzik has sold over 100,000 copies, JK doesn’t have much money in his bank account. JK explained that he keeps a significant amount of his savings in his house, citing an emotional attachment to his early days of saving cash in an envelope. He recalled the day he realized he had saved $5,000 after years of minimal success and cultural criticism, and the resulting pride that to this day keeps him holding cash under his bed.

By Asst. Entertainment Editor
Ginny Chae

Chromeo

Courtesy of Myspace

Chomeo’s Myspace

Chromeo is on a mission to fight bad music taste. This psychedelic electrofunk duo from Montreal dubs it “Hypo Auditory Aesthetic Aphasia,” also known as HAAA. “It’s a serious socio-psychological disease manifested by awful taste in music. And it’s scary,” says singer David Macklovitch in a YouTube video titled “Chromeo Fights Crappy Music.” As Macklovitch snaps on a white, medical glove, instrumentalist Patrick Gemayel nods sadly in agreement.

In that video, the band visits New York City to combat the outbreak of HAAA. The duo slaps a “I Beat HAAA” sticker onto a jazz fan and grow concerned over a yuppie who says “hip-hop didn’t do it for me.” While I thank Chromeo for the laughs, it should rest assured that its freakishly catchy, ’80s pop songs are enough to fight crappy music.

Its second album, Fancy Footwork, earned an A- from music critic Robert Christgau. Singles like “Bonafied Lovin’” and “Fancy Footwork,” with Macklovitch’s cheeky lyrics and synthesized funk, inject a dancing groove into your body. The type that makes listeners wish they knew how to moonwalk and pop-and-lock, even if it meant secretly practicing in front of your closet mirror as a kid.

Chromeo’s infectious vibe has boogied its way into 2009 with the release of single “Night by Night” by music label Green Label Sound.

Currently, the band is working to complete another studio album for a summer of 2010 release. So don’t worry— if the summer heat waves affect your judgment and you get a case of HAAA, then Chromeo will be there to fight it off.

— By Asst. Entertainment Editor
Ginny Chae

Plasticines

Courtsey of Myspace

Plasticines’ Myspace

Whether or not you’re addicted to the Upper East Side shenanigans of Blair, Chuck and the rest of the “Gossip Girl” gang, you’ve got to admit that the folks over at The CW have good taste in music. In its first season, the show featured every song from the debut EP of indie-rock gods The Virgins and a mesmerizing performance by folk-pop duo The Pierces. On Nov. 9, “Gossip Girl” was at it again, shining the limelight on the little-known Plastiscines.

Although the Plastiscines, a Parisian quartet comprised of four enviously gorgeous French girls, have made quite a name for themselves across the pond, their seductive sounds have yet to flirt with the eardrums of most American listeners. Throughout its ultra-brief discography, the Plastiscines leap from grungy, distorted ’70s post-punk (“No Way”) to rollicking garage rock (“Bicyclette”), but it’s ultimately the band’s saucy dance-pop tracks that capture what the Plastiscines are all about.

Although I, admittedly, have only a faint idea what feisty frontwoman Katty Besnard is singing about, the simple rock chords of “Loser,” the bouncy French-language single off the band’s 2007 debut, LP1, transcend any language barrier. Wonderfully upbeat, the song showcases the girls’ signature group shouting and toe-tapping bass. Likewise, “B—h,” an aptly-titled English track from the band’s sophomore effort About Love, which was released this summer, and one of the two sultry songs performed on “Gossip Girl,” revels in female unpredictability. Besnard sings, “I’m a b—h / When I fall in love / I’m a b—h / When I give a kiss / I’m a b—h / When I sing like this / I’m a b—h / In disguise.”

With simple yet addictive instrumentalism and wild live performances, the Plastiscines are anything but a cookie-cutter girl group. “Gossip Girl” might be losing the ratings game, but with bands as quirky and fun as the Plastiscines gracing the set, its soundtrack is hipper than ever.

— By Entertainment Editor
Franchesca Winters