Thursday, November 19, 2009


A few weeks ago I went to an event at the American Indian Community House, which is a really nice educational space in Lower Manhattan. Members of Audiopharmacy were present and played a few low-key tunes. Let's just say, I was impressed.
The band is actually a sort of collective, and are from the Bay area. Here's their bio:

"For those who don't know, the group started back in '94. Teao and Zygoat made music under the name II Sense (two sense). In '97, they combined with Defiance and Laxman to form Kaotic Souls, one of the only experimental and conscious hip hop acts in San Jose, Ca. The group eventually grew to the supa huge size of about 30 members... all spirtually connected artists. Finally in 2002, they created the name Audiopharmacy Prescriptions. Now, Kaotic Souls is broken down to subgroups, all of which are in the Audiopharmacy family. Audiopharmacy Prescriptions then became the San Francisco indi label which supports and signs unknown kin met along the path of consciousness and community. respect people's planets."

I think its great that they have their own label.

Check them out for yourself, here's "Honward" from their latest album U Forgot About Us.

Find more of their songs on their myspace. I especially like "Jah I Way" - a lot.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The XX at DC9

We saw current It band the XX at DC9 the other night for a sold out show. First time I've been to DC9 (which is tiny) and it's been so packed, but that wasn't surprising given the amount of hype the XX have been getting. Happily it didn't look like a bunch of hipsters, though plenty of people took pictures and iphones were on hand. I felt quite clever for buying tickets early, and we spotted one of the singers being very nondescript beforehand. Though some of their songs are a little too low-key, for the most part the XX's sparse dancey sound is cool and I like the beats, the very low bass notes, and the fact that they use drum machines instead of boring Apple laptops. Me and Lubna were quite excited about seeing our favourite possibly-Muslim musician, Baria Qureshi, who plays bass and keyboards for the band. Make that played because, sadly, she officially left the band about a week ago, which we didn't know til she didn't get on stage. Typical! We were excited to see a cool brown person and give her some support, but it wasn't to be.

We missed most of the opener, Jon Hopkins, and regretted it cos the one track we heard was great--sounded like the Aphex Twin, and he was playing his stuff live on some sort of music box. The XX had to walk through the crowd to get to the little stage in the corner, before starting off with "Intro", which had me thinking that maybe they'd play their whole record, in order. They did still play pretty much every song they've recorded, but that's what I expected given they've only got one album out and I don't think people really do B-sides any more. The songs actually seemed to be at a slower tempo when played live, which was a bit off-putting. But after a couple of tracks in the changes sounded cool; the songs came out very dubby, with an early dance vibe, more bass, and guitars that sounded like they were coming from underwater.

For the concert their beats were tapped out live rather than being pre-programmed, and the beats boy Jamie Smith got down on actual drums as well -- he def seemed to be doing the most work. He's filling in most now that the XX are a three-piece instead of a four, cos as well as beats he was adding in bass notes and keyboard live too -- what a hard-working young man! The other members also hit a few knobs at the back here and there, but Qureshi's absence was still felt as the overall sound wasn't as full, despite the effort. As the bass got heavier and the effects more prominent I started thinking that maybe they'd go all out ravey at the end, or go all dub-step on us, but that didn't happen. It's a shame more bands don't take chances when playing live, cos if you can't have fun then, when can you? Personally I'd like to see more live shows end in loopy techno with more cool covers thrown in (the XX performed covers that can be found on the interweb already: Womack and Womack's "Teardrops" and the other one by Kyla).

On the way home we pondered how far a band like the XX might go. Sadly, I don't think they'll go very far at all, at least not in terms of maintaining the buzz in the long-term. The emphasis these days seems to always be on the next big thing, and there are so many bands, all of them putting out great first albums to loads of hype. After the first rush of buzz, the first record, the first tour, it seems hard to stay important as there's some other, newer, band with a cool sound to hype instead. Things seem to become old news very quickly and I'd be surprised if bands like the XX, Vampire Weekend, or the Very Best have long careers. I think it's more likely that members will keep doing different projects with different people and stay musical that way, or just fade away. It's quite hard to keep up with everything that's supposed to be good nowadays as there's almost no such thing as obscurity any more -- the XX may never have a top ten single, but in their own way they're massive and can't be missed. Having said all that, at least their hype is worth it, and even if it all doesn't last long I'm sure they're having a lot of fun. I just hope they took their A-levels as a back-up plan.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Big Jay-Zed

Jay-Z. What can you say about Jay-Z that hasn't been said before. Not a whole lot I would reckon - you can probably find what I'm about to write already written some place before. I've had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Jay-Z and rap music in general. I have my moments where I might buy a record or listen to a track repeatedly. This happened in 1998 when I bought Jay-Z's single, "Hard Knock Life." It's usually just a passing fad though, and then I go back to listening to Oasis or Blur, or something more white.

But back to Jay-Z. You can't help but admire this guy man. I saw him on Later with Jools Holland last week and he was absolutely phenomenal. Later's a live weekly TV show in the UK with musical acts. Check out Jay-Z performing "Empire State of Mind" below. I know it sounds cheesy, but Jay-Z's passion and love for his art is staring you in the face as you watch this clip. I'm not gonna fall in love with rap music overnight, but watching Jay-Z on Jools has definitely given me a deeper appreciation for his music. Nice one son.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Massive Attack - Man Next Door

Listen to this track by Massive Attack, one of my fave groups of all time. The albums Blue Lines, Protection, and Mezzanine are not to be under-appreciated. What I love so much about the group is how versatile their sound is.

Let the sound envelope you when you listen to this. And listen to the lyrics - do you interpret them literally or metaphorically? I take the metaphor - I think the "man next door" could actually be me or you, instead.

Anyway I'm sure a lot of music geeks have heard of Massive Attack, but the masses aren't very familiar with them.

This is another version of the song with the same singer Horace Andy (and others)