Thursday, December 27, 2007
Just Jack is a moody story teller who vaults from one emotional extreme to another, with a disco-pop trip-hop sound that makes his new release, Overtones, swell with glee, disappointment, and bliss from the lovely and shocking surprises of everyday life. Overtones, Just Jack's second full-length album, is a collection of short stories sung to a soundtrack of underground British trip-hop, dub, disco, and folksy acoustic pop.
North London singer-songwriter Jack Allsopp is Just Jack. Taking root in hip-hop and house, Jack DJ'd for many years until he took his writing passion into his own hand, creating a sound that features his hip-hop DJ skills, English crooning, and acoustic guitars, among other live instruments. Two albums later, RGRecords (of Britain) has incubated Just Jack from house DJ to dance-hall storyteller. Now, his style can be heard here in the U.S. thanks to TVT records.
Overtones' tracks could very well be anecdotes from our own lives. We can dance or lounge to all of them and find inspiration and lessons in the lyrics. The tracks listen well as singles, depending on your mood, but fit together extremely well as an album.
On "Glory Days," Jack introduces his life philosophy on downtempo and fun-loving funk. The lyrics compare Jack's bliss to that of a dog digging up dinosaur bones. The music is inspirational, like many of Overtones's tracks, and might be too strong of an attempt to ride Cloud 9 for some. But, you can't help but grin at Jack's stories and proclamations: "I'm feelin groovy/ Kicking down the cobble stones / And there is music in every sight and every sound/ No need for headphones/ I'll tip my cap to the world/ Even though I don't wear one."
This "no worries" vibe is juxtaposed with wandering Alice in Wonderland jangles and horns on "Lost." This tune tells the story of a lost yuppie who stumbled into a superficial labyrinth. The track is reminiscent of a down-on-his-luck piano man, belting his story in a seedy jazz club with a cigarette burning his lips and a stained collar turned up underneath unshaven jowls. A sad upright bass and electric guitar provide slow jam riffs underneath his woeful tale. His eyes glaze over and we hear "It's been ages since he slept/ Properly, his sleeps now broken by these dreams of extra-marital activity/ Trying to recapture the rapture that he used to get from his material possessions/ And endless retail therapy sessions."
"Symphony of Sirens" and "Disco Friends" are other care-free tracks about people loving, bickering, and enjoying life one song at a time. "No Time" and the underground hit "Starz in their Eyes" remind us of exes and pop-culture misfits whose dreams are crushed by the same Hollywood moguls who made the Beckhams and exploit the Britneys. And "Life Stories" is an ode to YOU – "Forget me, this is all about you/ we're just a siphon the sounds come through."
Throughout the album, the music perfectly matches the mood and tone of the lyrics. Overtones is equal parts "Glory Days" and "Lost." Each song is a keenly observant tale of the mysterious mix of life's challenges and joys. If you are willing to ebb and flow with the emotions and melodies, you'll get a fantastic mix of beautiful, chilled trip-hop and dance-hall disco-pop.
~ Erik Dawson
[On the enhanced CD version you'll find videos for "Starz in Their Eyes", "Writer's Block" and "Glory Days"]
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! In the spirit of giving, this posting lists my favorite sites to get free downloads or stream excellent beats...here goes!!
www.properlychilled.com/music/downloads - free downloads of entire albums and songs
www.quaketrap.com/downloads - song downloads of experimental, trip-hop tunes
www.quango.com/promo/victoriassecret - download Bitter:Sweet's "Dirty Laundry"
www.idyllicmusic.com/music - Idyllic downloads from Idyllic albums
www.emusic.com - subscription service that offers free trial period
www.download.com - search for favorite artists, many of them offer one or two free downloads
www.slacklineradio.com - excellent mix of chill, dub, trip-hop - balance to relax or move to, your choice
www.buzzoutroom.com - ambient tracks galore
www.lounge-radio.com - veeeery loungy, focused chill
www.betalounge.com - another great mix of chill, acid jazz, trip-hop, reggae
www.properlychilled.com/music/sessions/pcast (The Propercast - see right sidebar)
*Podcast list from Calmscape (www.calmscape.com) - visit Calmscape to view descriptions of each podcast.
I thought of doing this post after reading a notice in Properly Chilled's most recent newsletter. They are doing somethin new and cool, pairing a drink recipe with a free downloard. Pretty cool, check out the notice:
Debuting in January is a new feature called the Drink Special. Each month Properly Chilled will feature a new drink recipe and pair it with a complementary, free song download. Keep looking out for the next newsletter for more about this new feature. Tune in to Propercast 8 for a sneak preview of the recipe. If you'd like to get involved with the Drink Special as a music or drink sponsor, or just want to help spread word, get in touch.
New: Monthly Drink Special
Sunday, December 23, 2007
- Nightmares on Wax (probably my favorite for ambient)
- Alex Cortiz
- Divasonic (new one for me - just reviewed at ProperlyChilled)
- AIR (earlier albums)
- Alif Tree
- Jazzanova (a bit more, uh, jazzy)
- Boards of Canada
- Gotan Project
This is a short list, I know i left off artists that do belong - which ones would you add?
ADDED by Chris at Slackline Radio:
-- Global Communication (Tom Middleton project)
-- Bullitnuts (maybe too far over the edge of Ambient, but damn good nonetheless)
-- Jens Buchert (A definite YEAH!)
Even if "over the edge," I'll trust "damn good"!! Gotta check these additions out. Thanks Chris!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Ok, so I don't mind deep house, but I love the ridiculous videos...
Remember the video for Benni Benassi's "Satisfaction" - that deep house track with dirty (but mad hot) porn star chicks operating power tools?
I just found the sequel.
Sit down, get ready to laugh your ass off and love every gottdamn sexy moment of Alex Gaudino's "Destination Calabria" video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVi-KtBCes0
Here's the video: saxophone funk over deep house bass, and a crazy hot band in black and green outfits, um, enjoying their saxophones.
And if you like either of these songs or videos, check out Ultra Records, www.ultrarecords.com. This label produces both artists, and as far as I can tell (but can't confirm), they also make the videos.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Tom recently release Lifetracks, his most recent (of only a few) full length albums. He's been all over the place though, composing tracks for commercials, TV, and for many compilation albums and singles.
After a few listens, I really like the second half of Lifetracks. It's very relaxed, quintessential lounge music. Its perfect for a lazy day or ambient party tracks - hence "Lifetracks." The first tracks on the album -- Prana, Beginning of the Middle, Shinkansen -- are more electronic driven, with deeper bass, bleeps and cosmic sounds that resontate from ear to ear, but are fun to listen to. Prana particularly has a very cool, dramatic undertone of moody strings. After these first few tracks, the tunes become slightly more organic, pushing forward pianos and string instruments, and even (what I think are) wind instruments. I particularly like Seredipity and Sea of Glass, two songs that (as the titles suggest) have fantastic flowing melodies that soothe and relax.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
November 20, 2007 was the day Daft Punk blew us away with Alive 2007 - the most amazing Daft Punk album I've listened to yet. And its LIVE! I don't immediately think a live electronica album will be good, but this completely shut me up.
Daft Punk mashes up its biggest hits, mixes them while keeping true to original form, and loops other hits on top of it! (Think "Around the World" mashed with "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger") Screaming fans are not overwhelming on this live album, they make you wish you were there but help you appreciate that Daft Punk recorded this truly amazing set.
Recorded live at Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, an 18,000-capacity sports arena in Paris, on June 14th, 2007, Daft Punk "redefines" the live electronica experience. I dont know for sure if they did, but I damn well believe it listening to this album.
You can listen to the entire album (every track is full length) at Download.com.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Go to YouTube. Click this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K72tfYdYROo Watch Just Jacks' "Starz in their Eyes" Think about all the wannabes and one hit wonders this song applies to. Think about how Just Jack can't just have one hit - he's too good. The song is too good...and its going to be playing on my iPod for many many moons.
Stay tuned for more about Just Jack. A review of his newest album, "Overtones," will be posted to ProperlyChilled.com in late December/early January, written by yours truly - my next foray into the music I love.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Downbeatscape will continue to peruse the world sounds of downtempo, but I'm also going to write about dancehall, funk and tunes that just generally make me move! Close your eyes and think about your favorite summer soundtrack, the one you put on before going for martinis and tequila shots - yeah, i'm going to write about that groove too.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
I'm still kickin on RJD2's Deadringer. I can't stop plugging for it. I also just downloaded two singles, both from "The Third Hand", RJD2's fourth full-length album. I posted about this album about a month ago (See the "Works of RJD2 on Nov. 1) - its very alt-rock and emo-artistic, a departure from RJD2's trip-hop roots.
I like RJD2's older stuff more, but the remix of Have Mercy (featuring Lyrics Born) is an improvement over the original track on "The Third Hand." Lyrics Born really livens up the track with his deeper voice and hip-hop style. His tone contrasts RJD2's vocals and balances the track more - it makes it interesting. I won't listen to the original, but this version with Lyrics Born is a significant improvement.
The other single, You Never Had It So Good, is probably the only track I like off of "The Third Hand." Similar to Have Mercy with Lyrics Born, I like this track b/c it doesn't sound like the rest of RJD2's new stuff. However, it doesn't sound like his old style either. You Never Had It So Good is a slower alt-rock track that is like Ben Folds mashed with Radiohead. The track is very simple, employing soft, basic power cords strummed staccato like and layered under a Ben Fold's like piano riff. RJD2 even sounds like Ben Folds on this track. Its not new, its not old - just different, and its a funky sunny day track that will make you smile. Thank goodness I can be a little bit positive about "The Third Hand" !!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I wish I could blog from a plane. I'm in the air, somewhere over Buffalo, NY on my way to Boston, reading the latest issue of Esquire. Chuck Klosterman's America piece is always fascinating, and this issue's topic is: "True or false: The music a person listens to reveals many truths about that person." I think it does, but the question is always HOW? If I like heavy metal and chillout tunes, does that make me balanced or does that mean I like extremes, and then deeper, why do I like these types of music. Is it the melodies, the instruments themselves, the different vocal styles, how popular they are with others? Who knows except for you? I've always been fascinated by this question, and I wonder how attuned people are to their musical preferences. So lets all think deeper about why we truly love the tunes we do - and as Chuck might suggest, now you'll be able to truly answer that tough question: "What's your favorite music?"
(Photo from www.esquire.com)
Thursday, November 22, 2007
1. Seeing my family since last December
2. Visiting my grandma and grandpa for the first time since last December
3. Having the means to buy new snowboard stuff
4. Great friends who force me to see them even when i'm exhausted (visiting home isn't always restful!)
5. Having the opportunity to write for Properly Chilled
6. This blog - for the determination to take my passion to a whole 'nother level
7. For the desire to be close to family, even when so far away
8. For my youth - so many opportunities await
9. For the anticipation of the new Bran Van 3000 album
10. Coworkers who give me ultimatum's because they care and force me to be better
11. A bad-ass Holiday party coming up at Top of the Hub at the Pru (in Boston)
And i'm thankful for so much more, and for the ability to see what means most to me and my loved ones.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
My favorite place to go in all of Boston areas is the Enormous Room in Cambridge on Mass Ave. Unassumingly painted on a glass door, an elephant outlined in a red circle tells you where to go, but you have to be looking for it. Up the stairs, past the elephant, opens a relaxed room with reggae downbeats pressing you onto cushions thrown against the walls and on wooden platforms. Yellow light is cast around the room, from iron lamps hanging in the corners and nailed to walls. The cushions and chairs look like the ones we grew up with, earthly patterns of greens and browns with Indian inspiration - it feels like we're in someone's apartment (thanks for the description, Karyn ;). A sole emo-dude shuffles across the floor alone, dancing. My date and I just smile - what a nice evening. On the other end of the room, opposite the stairs is a brick wall, with a section hammered out showing a single DJ controlling the room. He spins Reggae, downbeat dance hall, chillout, trip-hop. And everyone is lovin' it.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Walking home from the gym, strolling the Beacon St sidewalk in Boston, totally lost in RJD2's Deadringer album. "The Horror" tunes in on my iPod, an eerie track that instantly gets me thinking about the barbaric cannibalism and craziness of Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now. Soon I'm smiling because this song completely sent my mind in a different direction, though its kind of messed up - the Power of Sound...and then BAM! this crazy cat hurtles itself at me from a bush on my right, just as the track screams "The Horror The Horror!!!" AHHH!! The beast slams into my leg and rebounds to the curb, poised right in front of me in attack pose, hissing. And I think it has rabies. I really do. So I inch to my right along an invisible wall, curving past the feline - always keeping my eyes on it. And then I'm past it, I'm alive, it didn't claw my eyes out. And the Horror ends. Just like that.
I hope someone saw this spectacle, because I've never been so afraid of a damn cat.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Slow Train...souuuuul. You know those ricer car shows people go to to show off neon lights and flashy engines? My buddy Kevin and I went to a show years ago and they were playing Slow Train Soul - a muddy, Southern-inspired groove that chugs along with heavy downbeats and this afro-american soul voice. Listened to their recent album tonight in my office - "Santimanity" and was at peace. Though my office was bright and I was on point, the mellow and deep bass that plugged away slowed my body down - I felt slower, and it sure as hell connected with my soul.
Slow Train Soul - think Kanye West meets James Brown meets Massive Attack, and slowed to a crawl, nearly as peaceful and powerful as AIR's latest (Pocket Symphony).
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
So i'm thinking about movies and shows and TV and where you hear ambient music. I feel like its mostly in situations with an aspirational element. People want that Lexus LS that parks itself, they want to be like Christian in Nip/Tuck, they want to kick back and have an expensive martini on some lush pillows. Anyone remember the Dramboui and Cola commercial where the bartender licks the ice cube as she pours a dramboui for a customer. THe downtempo tunes in the background set the scene.
And now off to Atlanta, i'm going to try to hit up a good chillout scene while i'm there for a few days, anyone have suggestions?
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Marley slides into Ashtech's "Beat da Drum Gringo" which you can imagine from the name, is about relaxin', beatin da drum and enjoying life. The reggae-fest continues with a silly song "Pork Eater" from Ticklah. If this song wasn't so chill, i'd bust out laughing - its really just about eating pork.
After these first three songs, the tempo picks up and the vibe distinctly travels across the Atlantic - the guitar picks up and feels distinctly Spanish or Portuguese. Tracks from Deela and Romanowski, though not from Spain, takes us there and drops up in a spanish villa with not a care in the world.
This vibe continues as new tracks from Federico Aubele's Panamericana intro and conclude his interview.
I love the flow of this Propercast. They slowly awaken us from slumber with downtempo reggae, rays of sun on our face and as we rise from our pillows, they engage us with guitars and then electronic beats and organic world music.
If you check out any tracks from this Propercast, I recommend the first three reggae tunes and then "Yes Mr. B" by Lodekka. Rise and shine.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
I cured my friend! She was sick so I sent her some Welder to listen to - and yup, she got better. I suspect its because I selected the best songs for her ailment. Welder is the downtempo alter-ego of Eskmo, known for his house tunes. But Welder gives us a much mellower, experimental sound. Welder's 2006 "Vines and Streams." The whole album is electronic, sounds like it was mixed on a computer and then shoved through some psychadelic fog. Very chill and melodic middle eastern infused downtempo. I served up a dose of these four songs to my friend: "Rain," "Valeez," "In the Park," and "Isle of Sky." These are my favorites off "Vines and Streams." The rest have a hint of house that mixes well with the downtempo, but these four songs just get in my blood and slow me down, in a very chill way.
Oh, and Julie says Hi.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
I hadn't yet heard of Slackline, so I checked it out- and I was pleased. I stream BuzzOut Room often, but I'm definitely going to be a frequent listener to Slackline now too.
What I like about Slackline: It's downtempo everything - not just ambient. It flows through dub, trip-hop, acid jazz, experimental downbeat stuff. It doesn't lose your attention. You can sit and listen, or get up and move to everything they play - its strikes a nice balance. BuzzOut Room is great for strict ambient music - spacy and very atmospheric. Slackline fills the rest - it has great variety and is very engaging.
Check it out at www.slacklineradio.com The site also features many reviews of well-known downtempo artists such as Boards of Canada, Thievery Corporation, Alif Tree, and I was sooo happy to see Baseheadz reviewed. If you're not familiar with Baseheadz, i'll blog about em soon ( think chilled trip-hop inspired by DJ Shadow and the Roots)
Thursday, November 1, 2007
I just thought of RJD2 tonight - my very first MP3 player, this shitty Sony that held 80 songs on it, had RJD2, and then it got stolen. RJD2 debuted in 2002 with Deadringer, an album that combines hip-hop, trip-hop and jazz. He takes a lot of inspiration from producing local hip-hop records in Ohio. Deadringer is the album where every song has staying power on its own, and together they are unbelievable. Its the album you can put on at a party and let it play over and over and nobody would notice, they'd just know they were listening to something really cool. I really recommend Deadringer...all of it...
and then RJD2 wants to groove a bit more...
you've got his second album, Since We Last Spoke, which has a much more dubbed dance feel. Still trip-hop but with some faster beats that are more danceable. Still a good album but not as chill or as eclectic as Deadringer.
RJD2 needs Prozac, he's a bit darker now, and pretty manic...
Magnificent City Instrumentals is that - instrumental. And still with a dance hall vibe, but on the verge of deep house...sometimes, but too often for me. only alright if i'm in the mood.
And out of nowhere he goes POP! back to his trip-hop roots, but forgot how to make anything engaging. he's got some trip-hop ambient stuff...I'm listening, hoping it gets more interesting...but...it just stays boring. Hm. I'll tell ya what - skip RJD2's The Third Hand, recently released. Its just boring.
Get Deadringer! And lets hope RJD2 remembers how to make albums like that again.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
His spin-alias, Djini, drinks Dark & Stormy's, smokes cloves and sometimes mimics Aladdin. Check out his site, www.djini.net and download some great mixes. I'll just let him explain some of his sounds...
Monday, October 29, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
There's a great Nip/Tuck discussion board (www.niptuckforum.com) that actually has the songs listed from every episode of every season. Its how I first heard Layo & Bushwacka.
Nip/Tuck Season 5 premeire's this week Oct. 30 on FX at 10 PM. They moved the setting to LA, I hope it doesn't affect the music too much. I'm curious to see if they will change the sound of the show to reflect LA's entertainment scene.
Ambient music is a perfect setup man in pop culture b/c it provides that background mood. Movies and TV just wouldn't be the same, and its probably underappreciated by most. But that's cool, as long as I enjoy it!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
1) Host: "What is music to you?" Jazzanova: "It's just a feeling, that's it."
The band listens to their tracks and detaches from their instruments- just listening and feeling. This sentiment is echoed by many ambient fans - that's what chillout is, its mood music, something you can immerse yourself in, or background that sets a personal tone.
2) Host: "How has the internet affected your relationship with listeners?" Jazzanova: "Its connected our music to so many people, but disconnected us as artists from our fans."
Never thought of the internet's effect this way. When Jazzanova started in the mid-90's they got faxes, phone calls, authentic personal correspondence. Fans engaged directly with Jazzanova. They got feedback - people that took this time were passionate. Now, people listen on the internet, seek artists on MySpace, and though music is heard through more channels, FANS don't reach out, except to maybe be a Facebook friend.
I see what Jazzanova means - it's easy to have a surface relationship with an artist, and even easier to be satisfied with that end. That said, fans and Jazzanova can take it up a notch. They can use tools of the internet to connect. We can email, post blogs, comment on playlists, send photos, music. Ever think of emailing your favorite artist once in a while? Would they get annoyed? or appreciate your thoughts? You'd have to be genuine and chill, nobody likes a rabid fan...
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
I want to go to Brazil and see Bebel Gilberto's inspiration. I want to meet "The Girl from Ipanema." I want to visit the Seinne in France and thank the discos that brought us Daft Punk. But I can't do allll that right now. So i'll be an active "couch surfer" - to borrow from Bran Van - and use the internet, my friends, other sites, the BBC, streams, podcasts, to find anything I can.
Where in the world will my next favorite tune come from?
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Listening to ambient - it can be dub, downbeat, sitars behind violins and electronica, chants with a beat. It is the music that makes you feel connected with the ground you stand on, the people you are with, the air that pushes through your lungs.
Ambient music makes me groove, makes me slow down - like tai-chi or tantric sex or deja vu. So how does it make you feel?
- ► 2016 (19)
- ► 2015 (48)
- ► 2014 (12)
- ► 2013 (32)
- ► 2012 (79)
- ► 2011 (45)
- ► 2010 (63)
- ► 2009 (19)
- ► 2008 (35)
- ► 11/04 - 11/11 (3)
- ► 10/28 - 11/04 (5)
- ► 10/21 - 10/28 (5)