Legend has it Vex Ruffin is the only artist Peanut Butter Wolf signed to his Stones Throw label on the merits of an unsolicited demo tape. PBW apparently liked the drawing on the cover and decided to check it out. The untrained punk musician and UPS driver thought his friends were goofin’ on him when he got the phone call.
With that kind of an origin story, you owe it to yourself to give Vex Ruffin a listen. What you’ll hear is really hard to pin down. Vex’s detached vocals recall Beck’s early years. Those wicked minimalist basslines could be outtakes from a previously unreleased Can (or Stones Roses?) record. The eerie, reverb-drenched synths and sounds smack of Cabaret Voltaire’s industrial funk. And that’s just side one of his latest album, Conveyor.
All told, Vex Ruffin is fun to listen to and hard to label. What do you expect from someone who says his favorite artists in high school were The Cure and DMX?
24-year-old New Zealander Amelia Murray writes, produces, and sings as Fazerdaze. Her debut full-length Morningside is an impressive collection of spunky, sun-drenched jams and soaring dream pop. Her songs are tight and her vocals outta sight, with lyrics that get right at it (“I’m trying not to try so hard for you”). Soak it in and make your summer more summer-y.
Fuzzed out head-bobbing bassline. Yes.
Thumping floor tom. You betcha.
Falsetto harmonies. How could it not?
8-bit video game sounds, ’cause the song is actually a video game. Duh.
Catchy as all get out. Yep.
Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo and James Higgins of Elf Power/Of Montreal. Ah yeah.
With cover art like this*, who cares what Jakuzi sounds like? But I’ll give it shot anyway… Imagine Sisters of Mercy’s Andrew Eldritch singing Bryan Ferry covers in Turkish, with Future Islands as the backing band. Or Ian Curtis doing drunk karaoke. Or “The Love Boat” captained by Tim & Eric. Or maybe I should just let their ridiculous(ly awesome) music videos do the talking…
* If you want to see the sexy luchador in 12-inch glory, buy Fantezi Müzik on vinyl at the 3hive Co-op Shop.
One of my biggest bummers about not going to SXSW this year was missing the Discotexas showcase featuring Moullinex, Bufi, Da Chick and my favorite artist on the Portuguese label, Xinobi.
Xinobi is nom de plume of Bruno Cardoso, who co-founded Discotexas and puts out genre-omnivorous dance music such as you’ll find on his latest, On the Quiet. One moment you’ll hear Ian MacKaye extolling the virtues of skateboarding over delicate synths and a shuffling beat, the very next you’ll hear a club friendly slice of emo house.
As eclectic as it is, On the Quiet is a digestible delight to the ears, a funhouse labyrinth of minimalist beats, warm synths, and organic samples with an array of human voices to guide you through. And, if you opt for the physical format, you’ll be treated to ‘zine-style liner notes. So why not indulge?
[Buy On the Quiet as it was meant to be heard – on luxurious, imported vinyl – in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]
John Dwyer might be the busiest guy in indie rock; releasing an album almost every six months with his band Thee Oh Sees while maintaining a yearly release as Damaged Bug – his weirdo, space-pop solo project.
For those familiar with Dwyer’s Damaged Bug project; his latest album, Bunker Funk, isn’t much of a departure from previous DB releases. For the uninitiated, Bunker Funk is a beat driven, otherworldly, bizarro noise-pop record that will thrill you and weird you out at the same time. Enjoy.
[We have Bunker Funk (2 x LP with etched bug on side 4) on beautiful black vinyl – in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]
It all started with hearing Thundercat’s ‘Friend Zone’ for the first time. I immediately started thinking about what other songs would go with it in a mix – and it grew from there – 25 tracks of toe tapping groove. Thanks for inspiring this mix, Thundercat!
1. Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground (London, 1974)
2. Thundercat – Friend Zone
3. Al Green – Because
4. Natural Child – Benny’s Here
5. Once And Future Band – Rolando
6. BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah – Ray Gun (feat. DOOM)
7. Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings – Tell Me
8. Carla Thomas – Let Me Be Good To You
9. Lazy Salon – Sea Isle Ice
10. RUMTUM – Lost Ark
11. Gap Dream – Shine Your Light
12. Lazy Knuckles – Polygot
13. Gonjasufi – Ancestors
14. Adrian Younge – La Ballade
15. Blood Orange – Best To You
16. Bad Juju – Up In The Lab
17. Flying Lotus – Zodiac Shit
18. The Meters – You’ve Got To Change (You Got To Reform)
19. Booker T. & The M.G.’s – Chicken Pox
20. The Mar-Keys – Last Night
21. The Courtneys – Mars Attacks (Bobby Draino Remix)
22. Moderat – Reminder
23. Lasso – FkdLtd
24. Madvillain – Heat Niner
25. Dibia$e – Just The Way
Lazy Salon (the solo project of Twin Atlas member Sean Byrne) is a post I’ve been meaning to get on 3hive since 2015 when his EP, LZY_SLN-003, arrived in my inbox. His clever usage of organic and electronic beats and instrumentation really hit the spot for me. As inbox’s go (at least for me) Sean’s email was lost, or buried in the shuffle and LZY_SLN-003 never made it onto the site.
Today I right the ship, as Sean is about to release his debut LP (as Lazy Salon) Invisible Like Peace. Like his 3 EP’s before, Byrne is still creating his musical landscapes with live and electronic instruments. Invisible Like Peace is rich in texture and melody as can be heard on album track, “Ong’s Hat” below.
I highly recommend giving Lazy Salon’s stuff a spin and picking up Invisible Like Peace from Byrne’s Bandcamp page as soon as it releases – Friday, March 10.
Modesto’s finest are back! I don’t know what it says about me or, more to the point, the times we are living in but I’ve been waiting for this album like my sanity depended on it. And now I know why…
As Last Place opens, you hear Jason Lytle warming up the beloved analog Grandaddy machine – analog hum, sample burps and all – and then things kick into the single “Way We Won’t”. Everything sounds so perfect and familiar that I almost can’t remember when they hung it up (okay, it’s been 10 year and 10 months, but whatever).
For as Grandaddy as they sound, this album clearly belongs in the present day. Lytle’s nasal falsetto, scuzzy guitar, and soaring vintage synths – layered with slacker harmonies and carefully included “mistakes” – remind me of everything I love about these guys. But I don’t feel nostalgic because there’s nothing less relevant about Lytle’s love/hate relationship with the connected age, suburban bubbles, worldly vices – and the distance they place between humans and themselves/nature.
As satisfying as those tracks are, Grandaddy’s most beautiful moments have always been the love songs. My favorite line from “This Is the Part” – “where there was love, now there’s some other stuff” – rings so true it makes me want to cry. Lytle is an everyman poet whose slacker persona (dude was wearing a beard and trucker hat before most scenesters were even born) belies his earnest and complex songwriting. Don’t be fooled – Grandaddy are a national treasure.
It’s been reported that Danger Mouse coaxed the band out of retirement by both producing and releasing Last Place on his 30th Century Records imprint. While that’s been in the back of my head as I listen, I can’t make out his fingerprints. DM’s a Grandaddy fanboy, so perhaps he took a step back and cheered them on as the band picked up from their highest pre-hiatus point. Or maybe the collaboration was so seamless that it sounds too natural to notice. To be honest – I just care that this record exists.
[We have some Grandaddy vinyl – including Last Place on brown vinyl – in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]
If you happened to catch Tim Gane’s Tim Gane’s two-hour takeover of the Solid Steel podcast, you know he digs deep. His set was a mesmerizing tour of rare birds in the vinyl collecting kingdom, including a sinister track by Detroit electro pioneer Shifted Phases that will run you $200 for a decent copy. Gane covers a musical spectrum so wide that his SS mix broke into Mixcloud’s Electronic, House, Jazz, and Techno charts when it dropped last spring.
All this to say, Tim Gane is gonna bring some pretty esoteric reference points to whatever he does – as proven by Stereolab’s history of puzzling the critics – and his Cavern of Anti-Matter project is no exception. The debut, blood-drums is a love letter to kosmische musik, leaning toward the all-analog synth sounds of Tangerine Dream and skittering beats of Kraftwerk, but also borrows from psych rock, improvisational jazz, and early industrial at times. The result is a thrill ride for your ears, best enjoyed with a fat pair of headphones or over a club PA.
Fitting of its crate-digging founder, copies of blood-drums had been selling for $150+ as it was pressed in a limited run on German label Grautag. Now it has been reissued as a 6-sided LP on Stereolab’s house label, Duophonic, which also released the equally compelling follow-up, void beats/invocation trex.
[Psst, you can buy a copy of Cavern of Anti-Matter’s blood-drums reissue at the 3hive Co-op Shop.]