Music

Music Pick: Nero

 
Nero – Welcome Reality

Nero - Welcome Reality

Innocence
My Eyes
Guilt
Crush On You
Must Be The Feeling
Won’t You (Be There)

(Click image for Amazon.com)

 
Nero

I’m actually enjoying the rise of dubstep over the last couple years. I’m glad all our favorite drum and bass acts are now dubstep. There’s definitely some cool stuff coming out. But much like any other popular music trend ever, much of the scene is quickly growing stale. In my opinion, some of the best music in the dubstep scene aren’t the purists, but the artists willing to incorporates styles outside of dubstep and keeps pushing music further. At the top of my list is Nero and their debut album Welcome Reality.

This. Is. A. Fucking. Classic!

Nero is no secret. They’re widely acclaimed and loved. I’m just throwing my voice in the mix to say the hype is entirely justified. Though it’s funny to see many dubstep fans criticize this album for not really being dubstep. Welcome Reality makes no promise of being faithful to dubstep. It’s beyond dubstep. And thank god. It pushes further and breathes new life into the genre. There’s some progressive house here. NeroThere’s some drum and bass. There’s more pop sensibility here, some early 90s nostalgia, but it sounds so fresh and futuristic. The opening track is 2808, and I’d say it sounds like this album came from that year, 2808, humans are in some space cities with decadent parties themed to try to remember what life was like from our generation back on Earth.

Detailed atmospheric soundscapes, powerful energy, engaging beats. This album is brilliant and fun and totally addicting. Rated: Masterpiece! I’m in love with it. My favorite song is probably My Eyes, followed by Innocence. I’m very excited about the promise in Nero, and their albums yet to come. Eagerly looking forward to that journey.

[videos after the break]
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Music Pick: The Cinematic Orchestra – Ma Fleur

 
The Cinematic Orchestra – Ma Fleur

The Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur

To Build A Home
Into You
Breathe
Music Box
Familiar Ground

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cinematic orchestra - HustleBear.com
Ma Fleur is one of my favorite albums. God damn this is gorgeous! I was reading something when I first put it on in the background. I had to stop reading. I actually laid down in my bed and didn’t do anything until the album finished. Suddenly realizing I’m in the presence of greatness, I didn’t want to dilute my first experience.

I was a fan of Cinematic Orchestra’s earlier albums, because I like well executed jazzy electronic chillout, and I noticed their previous album went in more beautiful and sweeping directions, but it was never anything close to this album. Sounds like a completely different band. Surprised me that they had this within them. Ma Fleur is minimal. This music doesn’t sound like it’s created from nothing. The music here sounds like it’s what’s left after all the fluff has been carved away. Stripped down, raw, bare, honest, open, and so beautiful. Very gentle yet so intense, this is a gorgeous and carefully crafted piece of minimal jazz soul. Maybe this isn’t the aggressive masculine music you would expect from a blog about achievement and hustling called Hustle Bear, but yeah, this is a touching masterpiece of strong emotional impact, and I thought this should be shared.


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Music Pick: Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come

 
Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come

Music Pick - Refused - The Shape Of Punk To Come

New Noise
The Deadly Rhythm
Liberation Frequency
The Shape of Punk to Come

(Click image for Amazon.com)

 
Refused - Band - HustleBear.com

Look at that knob on your sound system. How high can the volume go? Put it there. My friends, it is TIME to turn up your speakers full blast and piss off your parents, that old lady who lives next door, and awaken all the spirits resting peacefully in the ground below over the last several centuries. Nothing less will do justice to some of the most badass music ever recorded.

Enough of this dance chillout I’ve been reviewing lately, let’s try something heavier. We’re going with something hardcore. I’m in the mood. With this Music Pick I’m gonna introduce you to some nostalgia from my teenage years, one of the most genius and carefully crafted bursts of dirty raw energy I’ve ever heard. Refused. The album liner notes showcase a brilliant quote I suggest you live your life by.

“If a band ever finds that it is not giving their best effort and playing at the edge of their abilities at all times, then they are not playing the kind of music that they should be playing.”

Refused - Band - HustleBear.comThe theme here is Break The Rules. This album is a protest. No. This is a premeditated ATTACK. Not against the mainstream. It’s an attack against punk. Yes the conservative hardline traditions and strict guidelines of what punk music is allowed to be.

“We made this album (The Shape of Punk to Come ) wanting to challenge people’s preconceptions of what a Punk band could be and what it could play, because Punk is the most conservative musical form there is. Even in Hardcore, there are so many rules about what is and what is not acceptable, and that completely negates the whole spirit of the original idea.” Dennis Lyxzén, Refused

Refused - Singer - Dennis Lyxzén - HustleBear.comBy definition I HATE screamo-hardcore, and I usually don’t like punk, but I love LOVE Refused. Indeed these guys are way too good to be playing to this crappy genre.

I will say it here right now: New Noise is one of the greatest songs ever recorded. I’m not going to even bother explaining its genius. Just play it LOUD, on repeat, study it, breathe it, and don’t stop until you start to realize how shallow your view of reality was before. Here’s a test for you: After you press play on New Noise, see if you can manage to stay still and not jump around wildly.

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Music Pick: Govinda – Resonance

 
Govinda – Resonance

Music Pick - Govinda - Resonance

Plant The Seed
Bad Girl
Sonic Muse
Another Night Gone

(Click image for bandcamp.com album page)

 
Govinda Resonance EP - Lightning in a Bottle

Oh hell yeah! Govinda is BACK!! It’s as if “Resonance” sounds like the Govinda I used to love, and yet at the same time it sounds nothing like Govinda. “Erotic Rhythms From Earth” is a classic that humanity should be remembered by (my previously review here). Shane Madden is Govinda, and I’ve always loved his creative dark erotic ethnic middle eastern ethereal chill vibes. But this new release is NOT CHILL. This is definitely the most aggressive edgy music I’ve ever heard from Govinda. And yet it is still very ethereal and atmospheric.

I have to say… I fucking like it! I’m so happy to feel that way, as I’ve kind of lost faith after the foray into bland pop (a la Sound Sutras). I do love it when an artist I love changes their sound and pulls off something amazing. Govinda has DELIVERED with a distinctive new sound. The old Govinda sound is gone, but the heart has returned and is again focused in the right place. Darker and grittier and keeping itself relevant in this age of dubstep; but this definitely ain’t dubstep, and thank god. There’s a lot of great dubstep out there, and I’m glad Govinda didn’t turn into another generic dubstep act with some ethnic elements added. This is definitely palatable to the dubstep crowd while remaining a distinctively different animal. The trademark violin and complex beats are still there in every track, just a lot more aggressive.

“Resonance” is only an EP, but it’s just skyrocketed to my 2nd favorite Govinda Release (maybe a notch higher than Worlds Within). “Erotic Rhythms From Earth” is known as one of the greatest sex albums of all time. I don’t yet know how “Resonance” holds up on that front, but I’ll report back on that soon… ;)

UPDATE: All good on that front, and more! This might now be a rival for my favorite Govinda release to listen to!

 

Music Pick: The xx – XX

 
The xx – XX

Music Pick - The xx - XX

Islands
Crystalised
Shelter
VCR
Infinity

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The XX
This is one of those albums you’ve got to let grow on you. When I first listened to it I remember thinking that I couldn’t believe I actually listened all the way through that boring piece of shit album. I couldn’t understand what the buzz was about, it didn’t click with me, and I never intended to listen to it again.

This music is sparse. Very minimal electronics over a minimal acoustic sound with a male/female duet that goes for personality over precision. I like simple soft minimal music, I just didn’t like this album.

Some day later I heard the song “Islands” come on the radio again. I was in jammed traffic and frustrated in a hurry. It kind of hit me, whoa, this is really pretty, and it’s so soothing right now. I was kind of pissed that the song ended so soon and some crappy My Chemical Romance song came on and totally ruined the vibe. I gave the album another chance and I couldn’t believe I didn’t first realize how awesome this is. Even almost 2 years later it’s still one of my favorite albums to play in my room while I do whatever various things I do. I literally could listen to this on repeat all day.

The Beatles wrote a lot of very simple and light hearted songs that were surprisingly epic and touching. That’s kind of how I approach XX. Everything is stripped away, the vibe is very easy going and playful, yet the undercurrent is deep and soulful. I love this album. Lower your guard, clear your head, enjoy.

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick – Groove Armada: Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub)

 
Groove Armada – Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub)

Music Pick - Groove Armada - Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub)

Suntoucher
Drifted
Raisin The Stakes
Fogma
Healing

(Click image for Amazon.com)

 
groove armada - andy cato - tom findlaySticking with Groove Armada, compare the sound of their later albums I’ve reviewed with their earlier sound here on “Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub)”. They used to have this more chilled jazzy house electro soul R&B vibe; yeah just check it out. A masterpiece in its own right, this album flows between intimate and increased energy, fantastic for playing during chill get togethers. I like how each song has a long intro to set the vibe and establish itself as it draws you in. As the band’s name suggest, their grooves always kick ass. For more of Groove Armada’s jazzy chilled house vibe check out their even earlier album that put them on the map: “Vertigo“.

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick – Groove Armada: Soundboy Rock

 
Groove Armada – Soundboy Rock

Music Pick - Groove Armada - Soundboy Rock

The Things That We Could Share
Paris
Love Sweet Sound
The Girls Say
Lightsonic
Drop That Thing

(Click image for Amazon.com)

 
I love this album, but I was really upset when I first heard it. That’s because I loved Groove Armada’s more intimate jazzy chilled house of their earlier albums, and this clearly was not that. But Soundboy Rock grew on me, to the point that it’s now my favorite Groove Armada album to listen to.
Soundboy Rock sounds like it was created by completely different musicians than their latest Black Light/White Light albums that I previously reviewed. This has an urban soul hip-hop electro beach dance party vibe. Yeah listen to it, you’ll see. Feels like I’m walking down the Venice Beach boardwalk in the 90s, but transported into the future. This is a perfect Summer album.
I immediately hated this album when I first heard the jarring opening song “Get Down”. My mouth dropped. What the fuck is this shit? Sounds like I’m being skinned alive in a Vietnamese prison camp. Fortunately that horror ends there, it’s consistently high quality for the rest of the album.

Groove Armada Soundboy RockHighlights:
I always skip that bastardized shit that precedes it and start this cd off with track 3 “The Things That We Could Share”. It’s got a cool urban groove, and sets a cool tone for a great LA pool party.
By far my favorite song here is “Paris”, even though it doesn’t quite fit in. Lush atmospheric electro soul. Holy shit, this is fucking gorgeous! I would love if they came out with a really chilled out album of songs of this type.
I’ve got a secret to tell you, I don’t like rap. Except for a few cases, like here. I just can’t deny that “The Girls Say” is actually a fun, clever, well constructed rap song. Check it out above.
“Love Sweet Sound” is 70s disco soul diva vocals meets electro-house dance party.
“Lightsonic” is reggae vocals meets electro-house dance party.
“Drop That Thing” is not the sort of song I’d normally like, it’s aggressive electro-hip hop about shaking your ass, but the music is really clever and captivating.
“Song For Mutya” is a totally respectable urban pop song with a nod to the early 90s, and probably would have been a massive hit back then.

Groove Armada keeps reinventing themselves while consistently showing us how creative and clever dance music can be. Soundboy Rock is a must have.

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick – Groove Armada: White Light

 
Groove Armada – White Light – Black Light

Music Pick of the Day - Groove Armada - White Light

Warsaw (White Light)
Time and Space (White Light)
History (White Light)
1980 (White Light)

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Music Pick of the Day - Groove Armada - Black Light

Paper Romance (Black Light)
Just For Tonight (Black Light)
Shameless (Black Light)

(Click image for Amazon.com)

 
If you feel like popular dance music has become a race to the bottom, I’d agree with you. Who can make stupider music than the rest? That race is raging full steam at the dance clubs. Ah, the Dance Club, a magical place where they not only are NOT embarrassed to play the dumbest music you’ve ever heard, but they make sure it’s so loud you can’t hear your friend screaming in your ear. Yeah, the dance floor isn’t a place to hold high level discussions; but when that “Like a G6” song comes on, does no one snap out of it to look around and wonder what they’re doing surrounded by all these monkeys?

Groove ArmadaThank god for Groove Armada. They make great dance music, the difference is it’s consistently interesting and brilliant.

Their new White Light album is incredible. It’s a companion to their Black Light album, but very different. The same songs are on both albums, just completely re-created and re-invented. Black Light is the dark version, White Light is the bright version. These albums have this surreal early 80s glam rock disco vibe, which totally caught me off guard; because it’s such a departure from their more accessible urban house past. This sounds like it’s from completely different musicians. In theory I’d usually be more interested in the darker version; however, except for a couple phenomenal songs, I’m just not so into Black Light, but I LOVE White Light. These songs are powerful, clever, unique, epic, and it’s still fun dance music. I already loved Groove Armada, but they have outdone themselves here.

To hear just how incredible they are at totally reinventing their songs into something else, check out this version of History and compare it against the one above.

[wpaudio url=”http://hustlebear.com/audio/groove_armada/white_light/09%20-%20Groove%20Armada%20-%20History%20(Love%20Mix).mp3″ text=”History (Love Mix)” dl=”0″]

 
[Videos from this album after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – Delerium: Karma

 
Delerium – Karma

Music Pick of the Day - Delerium - Karma

Silence
Enchanted
Duende
Euphoria (Firefly)
Til the End of Time
Heaven’s Earth

(Click image for Amazon.com)

 
This is a classic.
Taking cues from an erotic electronica genre pioneered by Enigma and Deep Forest in the early 90s, with their album “Karma” Delerium forged a darker ethnic tribal sound. This album kicked off the genre of electronic worldbeat. There are a million knock-offs now, but when this came out, there was nothing like it. Despite all the imitation, and years of advancing technology, this still holds up as a serious contender for best electronic worldbeat album ever. Dark, erotic, ethereal, atmospheric, with driving grooves that keep it all still accessible.

sarah mclachlan - fumbling towards ecstasy“Karma” spawned a sleeper megahit with Sarah McLachlan’s signing featured on “Silence”. I noticed that the track and consequently Delerium got massively recognized a few years and a couple albums later, when “Silence” remixes became club hits. I only picked this cd up in 1997 because I was into dark industrial at the time and this was one of the many side projects of the underground metal industrial band Front Line Assembly, which is the duo of Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber. This cd was a shock to the fans of their underground industrial side, way too poppy and commercial. Consequently, Delerium fans were in for a major shock if they looked for other work by this duo.

You’ll have to go back to 1997 to remember how exciting this new sound was, but the album hasn’t lost its awesomeness. This is a classic that will persist. You just can’t deny that this is a brilliant and beautiful album.

[Videos after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – Ours/Jimmy Gnecco (part 2 of 2) Mercy

 
Ours – Mercy

Music Pick of the Day - Ours

Mercy
The Worst Thing Beautiful
God Only Wants You
Live Again
Willing

(Click image for Amazon.com)

Tortured. Glorious. Sad. Aggressive. Beautiful. Powerful. Brilliant. Epic. Jimmy Gnecco’s music is intense. Jimmy Gnecco is Ours (essentially), and I’d say he’s the most talented vocalist in rock music today. His range is incredible and there’s so much feeling in his voice. It’s obvious the late Jeff Buckley is a massive influence, which is a good thing, because Jeff Buckley was the most talented vocalist in rock music ever.
Mercy, Ours’ 3rd album, is a continuation of their debut Distorted Lullabies, but everything is ratcheted up several notches, boundaries pushed and he went even darker; enough that Jimmy Gnecco is no longer a Jeff Buckley clone, but is unmistakably recognized for his own sound.
Jimmy Gnecco looking like Jeff BuckleyI waited 6 years for Mercy to finally come out 2008. It kept getting pushed back again and again. I had heard songs from it at live shows back in 2002. It was being recorded with Rick Rubin, a legendary producer; yet I was scared I’d be disappointed. Ours’ second album Precious WAS so disappointing. But Mercy shocked me and blew me away.
The album starts with the title track “Mercy” which is one of my favorite songs ever. Gorgeous, atmospheric, aggressive and intense.
The next song “The Worst Thing Beautiful” is fantastic. If it was recorded by U2 it would be their next big hit blowing up the airwaves. Except it’s a bit more edgy than U2. Still this is the album’s most accessible song, I don’t know why it wasn’t pushed hard enough and turned into a major hit.
“God Only Wants You” is truly haunting. It’s strange to hear the piano over the arpeggio guitar, I loved when he played this song acoustic live back in the day. Anyway whatever, this is such a beautiful song.
“Live Again” is intense! Whoa! Opens with a Marilyn Manson like edge. Gorgeous, deranged and heavy.
“Willing” is cool. Another U2 inspired song that’s accessible enough to have been a radio hit.
Muse is a cool band. Ours is better, and should have had that kind of success. Unfortunately this album didn’t get the backing it deserved. It’s true that this album isn’t 100% consistent. There are some low points that I skip past (Saint), but the high points are epic, original, and lay a path for others to follow.

[Video after the break]

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