Hipsters, ganstas, nerds, and late-afternoon TBS watchers can finally put down their weapons of cultural warfare and be at peace under the banner of one well-made mixtape. Wale (pronounced wah-lay) recently dropped his Mixtape About Nothing, borrowing from Seinfeld's concept of "a show about nothing." Fittingly, the mixtape begins with the signature bass notes we all identify with Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer. It also includes memorable clips from the show scattered throughout as well as a guest "appearance" by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (the real-life Elaine). Her stint is not-so-made-for-TV as she drops an F-bomb. Though the concept is loosely dedicated to Wale's love for Seinfeld, the mixtape is heavy and substantive and amounts to much more than "nothing." Pitchfork's Jayson Greene says, "His 'mixtape about nothing' is really a mixtape about almost everything, and with it Wale has produced one of the year's most improbable and inspiring successes." I agree. Wale tackles a broad range of issues far beyond the scope of drugs, sex, and violence with a grounded objectivity rarely found in the rap game today. Though Wale has been tagged the next Lupe Fiasco, I find him to be much less "preachy" and hyperbolic than Lupe. He spits his lines with much more reason, as if he chooses to interact with everyday people over stepping onto the soapbox.
How much will you have to pay for a Mixtape About Nothing? Nothing, of course. It can be downloaded for free here. Enjoy.
My friend Ben Rector is staying with me here in Dallas right now. He's a musician and he's recording his next album. This post, however, is about his current album, which can finally be purchased on iTunes. It took nearly a year from it's original release date, but Twenty Tomorrow, Ben's debut album, is finally available on iTunes. Here is one of the many reasons to purchase this album; Ben is probably going to be relatively well known in the years to come. You'll want to be able to say, "I bought Ben's first record before anyone really knew about him." You can have that on all of your friends for the rest of your life. Maybe you're a little hesitant to buy the entire album. That's fine. Just get the song "Disarm." Once you listen to that song, it will make you want to buy the whole thing. Check it out. If nothing else, your purchase will be helping an emerging musician. Plus, he's really cool and he's my friend.
Pitchfork Media (www.pitchforkmedia.com) has begun to hold an annual indie hipster mega-music fest every summer in Chicago. If you like indie music, you would most likely enjoy the festival - that is, if you can stand being surrounded by lots of skinny, and most likely smelly, swaying in the heat of July. Here are a few performance from this year's festival. Check out pitchfork.tv for even more performances.
I've never been a huge Gnarls Barkley fan. Outside of "Crazy," I couldn't name you one of their songs. It's not that I dislike their music, I just have never really listened to much of it. They made a pretty strange video for their song "Who's Gonna Save My Soul?". The song isn't bad either. Check it out.
A fresh mixtape dropped last week. KiD CuDi is a rapper from Cleveland and the tape is called A KiD Named CuDi. This mixtape has a fresh sound. A lot of the beats I would classify as "galactic." Lots of low-key synths with understated bass hitting in the background. It's worth checking out, especially since you can download it for free from KiD CuDi's blog (link below). I haven't quite made it through the entire mixtape yet, but the highlight for me is "Cleveland Is The Reason." I also really like "Is There Any Love?" and "Day N Night" (the first single available on iTunes). Also, CuDi raps over Band of Horses "Funeral" on the track "The Prayer." I don't know if he'll blow up on the radio, but CuDi is bound to be an underground sensation.
What do you get when you combine a golden one-piece from China, spray-painted angel's wings, and electronic beats? Fun new dance music. This kid in the picture above, a student at Belmont University makes pretty fly music under the moniker Fly Golden Eagle. The song "Orangitango" could be a club banger in my opinion. Put it on really loud with everyone semi-inebriated and it could blow up. But it needs no assistance from alcohol to be a fun song. I also love "Shiny Golden Pinky Ring." Check out Fly Golden Eagle's myspace below. If you like what you hear, buy the album, State of the Industry, on iTunes.
One more from the ReUp Gang. Here's a new video from their upcoming album Clipse Presents ReUp Gang. Pusha's Playcloths shirt is hot. Honestly, the beat is not up to Hell Hath No Fury par, but I'm guessing they'll save most of the best beats for the pure Clipse album (without Liva and Sandman) coming out later this year. The ReUp album drops August 5.
I really like the picture above. It was taken by Allison V. Smith. In my opinion, it would work well as an album cover. Below are two other pictures from Allison Smith. You can find more like these on her blog: superficialsnapshots.blogspot.com.
The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City has a few photographs from Todd Hido in its permanent collection. Hido, a native of Ohio, takes some very eerie pictures of homes at night. I also love his landscape photography. Below are the two photographs on display at the Kemper Museum. Also, check out his website (link below) for great photography. If you do go to his website, you may want to steer clear of the "Portraits" section, however. Many of the photos in that section contain strange, naked women. Still, Hido's website is worth browsing, because the "Homes at Night" and "Landscapes" sections are amazing. Check out his exhibition Roaming at the Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco here.
I'm really enjoying photography right now. For the first time, I can recognize different styles between photographers. Now granted, I'm still in the kindergarten stage of my art education, but, at the very least, I know what I is visually pleasing to me. Photography catches my eye.
Beate Gutschow is a contemporary photographer. Gutshow assembles panoramic montages consisting of a multitude of images pieced together to form a new whole. She is the Girl Talk of photography, a visual mashup artist. Her finished products often include up to a hundred different images. Check out her photography below.
Here are two more photographers I really like. Fans of Band of Horses may recognize Christopher Wilson. He took the photographs which accompany both Horses albums. I really enjoy his landscape photography. Thomas Bangsted, a Danish photographer, is a contemporary of many of the photographers on display in the Nelson-Atkins Museum's Human/Nature: Recent European Landscape Photography.
The free download on iTunes this week is from a really good band - Blind Pilot. Their newest album, 3 Rounds and a Sound, sounds like a less-indie version of The Dodos. The duo from Portland, OR consists of an acoustic guitar and light drum set. Their sound is light and catchy and the music and vocals are very accessible. It's worth looking into. If nothing else, download their song "Go On, Say It" for free. I would recommend the entire album. After two listens, my favorite song on the album is "The Story I Heard". You can get the "pre-released" album (whatever that means) on iTunes for $6. One more note about Blind Pilot - they go on tour by bike. They've made custom trailers for their instruments and have been touring the West Coast by bike to be environmentally conscious. Interesting.
Tony Gonzalez saves lives. Literally. Recently, while dining at Capone's in San Diego, Gonzalez performed the Heimlich maneuver, saving a man choking on a piece of meat. In true Kansas City Chief fashion, Gonzalez came to the man's rescue. Recalling the event, he said, "The whole restaurant was quiet. No one was doing anything." Fortunately for the man, Tony G acts while others stand still. Now the man, a San Diego Chargers fan, is alive. Further proof that the Chiefs hire quality guys. Two things I like: Tony Gonzalez and the Kansas City Chiefs. If only Tony could save the life of the Chiefs this season...
This past week I heard about an artist from New York named Joseph La Piana. I went to his website and really loved his work. He's a painter, sculptor, photographer, and 3D artist (he makes mobiles). Most of his work is abstract but still really cool. I love the way he uses color in his work. A lot of his photography focuses on reflections off of water. He calls his style of painting "kinetic blow painting." It is similar to Jackson Pollock's action painting in that the emphasis is putting paint on the canvas in an unorthodox manner. La Piana uses his own breath to manipulate the paint. Take a look below. As I'm typing this, I'm realizing how difficult it is for me to speak about art with intelligence. I guess all I really know to say is, "Hey look at this. It's really cool." Oh well.
I was on vacation. Here is something I discovered. Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman, a piano player from New York covered the entire soundtrack to Footloose. A lot of the tracks are really good. As with most indie covers, the new versions are really mellow. But the concept is cool, because the whole idea behind the album is this: Footloose was an expression of youth in the 80's and this new version is that same expression of youth from a modern perspective. The idea began when a friend of Bartlett lost his sister and, while going through her things, found an old tape of the Footloose soundtrack. You can read the story and download the album from Doveman's website here. It's definitely worth it.