Music Pick: Nero

Nero – Welcome Reality

Nero - Welcome Reality

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

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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: 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


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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)

Raisin The Stakes

(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
Love Sweet Sound
The Girls Say
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)

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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

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

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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 – Apparat

Apparat – Walls

Music Pick of the Day - Apparat

You Don’t Know Me
Hailin’ From The Edge
Useless Information

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Very creative and clever electronica. Combining IDM with Post Rock with Ambient with Soul with a bit of Hip Hop and Jazz. Just a really imaginative sound that’s still accessible and sexy. Full of atmosphere, but still with a groove, and so much subtle brilliance. There really isn’t a clear genre that this falls under as it’s kind of all over the place, but overall it’s a solid consistent album without any tracks that need to be skipped. I almost smell a masterpiece.

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – Archive (part 4 of 4)

 Archive – Controlling Crowds I-IV

Music Pick of the Day - Archive: Controlling Crowds

The Empty Bottle
Quiet Time
Razed to the Ground

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You could say this is a worthy sequel to Archive’s masterpiece “You All Look The Same To Me”. It is a concept album, only it’s not a 70s progressive rock throwback, it’s modern and proud. And it’s far more ambitious. Consequently, it’s less accessible. Not perfect, it has its misses, but regardless, this is a monumental achievement.
A complex concept double album, it all mixes together and flows with purpose, an attempt of something like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” for this generation. Sometimes the material is Archive’s most accessible, sometimes their most ‘out there’. Controlling Crowds has many creative highs, and a few lows. Archive is pushing boundaries here, their own boundaries and the boundaries of music.
They did bring back their rapper… BUT, holy shit, it’s actually quite good this time. I’m not kidding! I don’t like rap at all, but the underlying song is creative and the vibe actually fits in well with the rest of the album (check out Quiet Time). On songs like Pills and The Empty Bottle they find a perfect mix of Electronica with Rock sensibility. Despite any flaws, this double album is amazing, and cements Archive as one of the most creative forces in music today.

My favorite Archive albums are still “Londinium” and “You All Look The Same To Me”

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – Archive (part 2 of 4)

Archive – You All Look the Same to Me

Music Pick of the Day - Archive: You All Look The Same To Me

Finding It So Hard

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Archive completely reinvented themselves with this album, you won’t believe this is from the same musicians as Londinium. Which would be really upsetting, because their Trip Hop sound was so well executed and influential; until… you hear this! Wow Wow. This album is even better. Genius. Beautiful. Mesmerizing.
The album begins with “Again”, one of the coolest songs ever recorded. Yeah it’s over 16 minutes, but it’s worth it. Listen to it in full and don’t skip through, you’ll ruin the deliberate buildup. Let yourself absorb it and follow the journey as it slowly develops. Everything about the song is stellar, except maybe the lyrics. But who cares? This is something special; starting off with organs, acoustic guitar and harmonica, the subtle textures, the progression, the production, even the singing.
This is electronic infused 70’s progressive guitar rock. Female lounge singer is out. Rapper is out [thank you god]. Male rock singer is in. If this album was simply released as Pink Floyd’s latest work in the new millennium it would received unlimited publicity heralding the return of the gods. Archive has mastered a totally different sound and has surpassed themselves here.
(btw, this is their third album, I skipped reviewing Archive’s second album “Take My Head” because… well, they lost their way there and it’s mostly painful and embarrassing, don’t bother with it.)

[Video after the break]

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