Friday, April 26, 2013

RA Real Scenes - New York

A few months ago I watched and reviewed a short documentary by Resident Advisor that was about the Detroit music scene, part of their 'Real Scenes' series.

Earlier today RA released another short documentary that focuses on the music of a city, and this one's about NYC. I thought this latest effort by them was quite revealing in many ways. First, what I liked most was the beginning where subjects are talking about how hard it is to make it in New York; how hard it is to get by and make ends meet while still trying to find time to be creative and make things. I can relate to this 1000%, as that's my life. I've been in NY for nearly 4.5 years now and I'm still struggling just to survive here, while also trying somehow to be creative and make films and things. Being a creative person and trying to make films/music/art is hard enough, add on top of that struggles to pay rent and bills and spending most of your hours at a job instead of on what you really want to do, makes it all immensely more difficult. This RA video is one of the few things I've seen where people really discuss these things in-depth.

Another aspect I liked about the video is that it discusses gentrification a bit. I'm not a clubber and party-goer (for all sorts of reasons) but I've been to some clubs and parties out in Williamsburg, which is kind of where the latest club scene has been for the last few years. The film talks about how lots of places got shut down in Manhattan due to extremely expensive and ever-increasing rents. An article I happened to also come across today (which for some reason is in the NY Post), talks about this, in which I learned venues like the Bowery Poetry Club are now shut down. I've been there a couple times, and I just think, what's gonna replace these places, and where are people going to go now? At the end of the RA film the subjects are optimistic about cycles of change and how there's always new things. However, Dope Jams shut down at the end of January, and I of course had just learned about it a couple weeks beforehand but wasn't able to get to it before its doors closed. I was so excited to learn about a record shop selling loads of house but now its gone, and as these spaces disappear, its a huge loss to the city and to communities. But I guess the folks in the RA video are right, there is always something new around the corner.

One thing that did bug me about RA Real Scenes: New York is that almost all the subjects were white males, save for a couple of brown men. I think we all know that NYC and the house scene is certainly more diverse than that. I guess this oversight by the filmmakers however is also reflective perhaps of how the scene is seen.

Well, here's the video, and the original link.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I was in Michigan this past weekend and stopped by one of my favourite haunts from the old days, Dearborn Music.  It's one of the few independent record stores left in the area and even then it's about a 20 minute drive from my parents' house.  Went a bit nuts after having ample time to look around and bought way too much stuff, some of which is bound to be disappointing when I finally get around to listening to it (already put 'Jazzmatazz Vol. 1' and Motor City Drum Ensemble's DJ Kicks mix on my imaginary For Sale list).  If I remember to I'll update the blog when I listen to some of these new buys, starting now.

First record I listened to after my spree is the debut EP by TNGHT -- a duo I put on the blog not too long ago.  The EP was available and pretty cheap so I got it and it's pretty good.  Bugg'n is still a standout, as is the following track, which will sound crap unless you have good speakers or headphones:

I went to a concert a couple of weeks ago that I never got around to reviewing.  It was Bonobo with support from Shigeto at the Black Cat, and it was a great show.  I like live electronic music, especially when it's not just someone hitting play on a laptop.  A previous high had been seeing Four Tet live at U street music hall, and this show was almost as good.  The Black Cat is a decent venue in my opinion, even though it's pretty basic.  The nice thing is that the shows are cheap, and while this one was sold out I managed to buy tickets for slightly under face value just by showing up on the night and waiting for people who had spares.  That despite the fact that fools were trying to sell tix for $100 on Craigslist!  I'm still confused as to how Bonobo got so popular but apparently his last album, Black Sands, did very well in the States, so there you go.

Shigeto started up in a very discreet way -- I wasn't the only one to wonder when he'd come on stage and started playing as he just seemed to appear out of the haze, looking as if he'd been there the whole time, playing, while we thought we were just listening to pre-show music.  He's out of Ann Arbor, MI, and he's on the Ghostly label, and I like him already.  At first it seemed like he might just play from a laptop but he had more equipment up there and really got into what he was doing; after a couple of tracks he jumped onto a drum-set and accompanied the machines himself:

Bonobo were excellent.  They came with a full live band, played a lengthy set, and the crowd was really into it to boot.  Things slowed down a bit in the middle of the set but soon picked up again.  The show overall just had a really fun, energetic vibe to it, and I also felt quite cool being there -- like I was in a really good soulful loungey venue and not just at the Black Cat!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Every Tuesday Morning Comes...

Until it doesn't.

Was listening to 6 Music a little earlier while cleaning some teeth and heard a nice interview with an artist who goes by the name Bibio.  The interview itself was pretty interesting and was a good reminder of why I listen to 6 Music on the web and not some local DC station.  On 6 Music I get to hear new and different artists and when they're interviewed I get to learn more about them, their music, and the process and thoughts that go into making it.  You can't get that on normal DC commercial radio, or probably most radio in the US.  The closest widely-available avenue that compares is probably NPR, but of course that is not a station that's dedicated solely to music.

Anyway, Bibio mentioned being a one-man-band of sorts -- he plays all his own instruments, recording and layering them to come up with tracks.  He uses a lot of analogue equipment and instruments as well as a drum-machine, which I think gives his music a nice organic-electronic feel.  I came across this track while reading about him and really like it -- it's got a very pleasant guitar riff:

During the interview Bibio chose a song he'd like to hear on the radio, and it was this, which features a great organ loop:

Beach House are from Baltimore and get me thinking about my lack of engagement with local music scenes.  Beach House are big now, their shows get sold out in DC easily, but when I lived in Baltimore they were around and easy to see.  I never seem to check out bands without hearing about them in some way -- there seems to be some additional attraction to seeing a band that's been hyped up a bit.  My loss really.

Last up, these are Darkstar.  They were supposed to come here to play live and I was quite looking forward to checking them out, but then they cancelled the show.  Shame really, I'd gotten into their tunes -- hopefully they'll come at a later time.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Boogie Nights

Just links to dancey music, just because.  Turn it on and turn it up!  Yes, that was quite cheesy.

Also, here's a funny article on the upcoming re-death of house that I just read on Vice UK:

What's Going to Kill the House Revival?

Also read another interesting dance-related article on Shuffle.  Doesn't look like anything new to me, pretty sure Leeroy from the Prodge was doing this stuff in the early 90's.  Still, I like it, shame there's a movement against it really.  Check the article for more, and check out the videos too!

This Vice reading's got me looking forward to the Vice TV show on HBO coming up this Friday, I must say.

Lastly, continuing with my obsession on things UK, there's a good radio show on BBC Radio 2 right now that's going through the history of Britain via fifty records.  Newest one up is on Asian immigration.  Check out the whole series here.