Akron/Family’s Woody Project

Psych-folk trio Akron/Family is going straight communal these days. Case in point, their recent Woody Project where they have asked their fans and friends alike to contribute their own version of an unreleased Akron/Family song “Woody Guthrie’s America” that has been their favorite set closer as of late (see a video of them playing it live below).

All you have to do is send your version of the song, a picture of yourself, and where you’re from to akronfamilywoodyproject@gmail.com and follow Akron/Family’s instructions that the song is “to be sung in any style, key, tempo, and arrangement, on any instrument and from any location of your choice, so long as you have fun”.

The collection of “Woody Guthrie’s America” covers can be found at their Woody Project site (broken down into geographical regions), in addition to the chords and lyrics for the song. The likes of Megafaun, Charlene Yi, Slaraffenland, and Akron/Family themselves (individually and collectively) have already contributed their versions and yours could be up there too! Hell, I even sent them a cover myself today.

Once they receive your version they will post it as soon as they can, and as a bonus they’ll put you on the guest list for the next show they play in your area if you’d like. Nice guys. Great idea.

Remaining Akron/Family Tour Dates:

02-26 Memphis, TN – Hi Tone
02-27 Nashville, TN – Exit In
02-28 Knoxville, TN – Pilot Light
03-01 Harrisonburg, VA – Clementine Cafe
03-03 Brooklyn, NY – Williamsburg Music Hall

Broken Bells = The Shins’ James Mercer + Danger Mouse

In case you haven’t heard about it yet, Broken Bells is the new collaborative group between The Shins frontman James Mercer and multi producer Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse. Broken Bells will be releasing their debut self titled album on March 9, 2010 via Columbia Records. However, if you look in the right places you can already find the album on the infamous world wide web (but I didn’t tell you that).

In the relatively short lifespan of his regular band The Shins, Mercer has already crafted a few of the most successful indie albums in the past decade with Oh Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow (not to say that Wincing the Night Away was bad by any means). And while James and the Shins gang were enjoying their Garden State fueled commercial bump, Danger Mouse was getting his big break with his internet sensation Jay-Z/Beatles mash-up The Grey Album, only later to ride his success into producing the likes of notable acts such as Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz, Dangerdoom, Beck, The Rapture, and The Black Keys.

Given the talent and accomplishments of both of these musicians it is hard not to have lofty expectations (especially after hearing that they played and recorded nearly every instrument on the record); nonetheless, you must remember that each has built their name on their own unique brand of sound and trying to fuse the two can be a little like a tricky experiment. I think most would blindly (and deafly) agree that Broken Bells is not going to fail in the way some other big name collaborations have in the past; however, whether the combined duo exceeds the popularity of either artist’s respective music is another thing entirely. But if you ask me, I’d say it’s a pretty solid effort that’s worth investigating for yourself.

In related news, Broken Bells just played their first live show ever (in Los Angeles at The Bootleg Theater) and closed out their set with a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” (which was recorded on video by a lucky concertgoer). Unfortunately, the video was removed within hours “due to a copyright claim” which is quite unfortunate and lame. Especially because I was really looking forward to seeing that.

For now, you’ll have to make due with two new songs (“The High Road” and “Vaporize”) and a two part interview (courtesy of NME) explaining how Mercer and Burton met and came to work together. Oh, and they mentioned that they already have plans for a second album. Interesting.

Animal Collective and Danny Perez ready ODDSAC and Transverse Temporal Gyrus

After a few years of rabid anticipation and rumors, the members of Animal Collective and director Danny Perez are finally ready to unleash their collaborative “visual album” film that we now know as ODDSAC (and just in time to be invited to the Sundance film festival this past January). The film will be released in digital/DVD format in June and is being screened in select cities (as of now NY, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, and Portland) in the mean time. Check out the official ODDSAC website for updated dates and ticket info for all of the screenings.

ODDSAC is being touted as an experimental masterpiece that is a film experience unlike any other. With no perceivable plot interwoven into the connected array of short films and an appropriately matching bizarre/hypnotic pop soundtrack to match, the film is sure to be unique, to say the least. As you can see from the trailer below, it’s very hard to get any sense of what you’ll be seeing by the short twenty some seconds sample. Most of the reviews I’ve read seem to be positive but the recurring theme seems to be that ODDSAC is so different/strange that it is sure to be a subjective experience. So basically, check it out for yourself and make your own opinion. I will be at the San Francisco screening to make mine.

And if that’s not enough, Animal Collective and visual mastermind Danny Perez are back at it again with a performance piece called Transverse Temporal Gyrus. AC and Perez have been given the privilege to transform New York’s Guggenheim museum on March 4th, 2010 into a kinetic, psychedelic environment filled with various visuals elements, costumes, video projections, props, and original Animal Collective music created for the event. Unfortunately the tickets have already sold out, but this is one event that’s probably worth getting gouged on scalped tickets for. And if you still aren’t convinced of how awesome Transverse Temporal Gyrus is going to be, check out Animal Collective’s statement regarding their inspiration for the event:

One of the things that you notice almost immediately in the jungle are the birds; so many different sounds coming from so many different directions. Are they communicating to each other? What are they saying? Does each variation serve a purpose? Why are there repetitions? Is there a pattern or is that just your imagination? If you don’t know the first thing about bird songs, these questions can rack a brain for days. The jungle seems louder than most New York apartments but its symbiosis makes it subtler if not more pleasing to foreign ears. The longer you sit awake in bed listening at night, the more you hear. It brings to mind Jane Goodall hanging out with chimpanzees in Tanzania and how she noticed them reacting to distant or inaudible sounds that at first she couldn’t hear, but as her ears adapted to the environment after months she began to hear them too.

But as the environments around us change quickly, as people encroach more and more on land where only select symbioses occur, we wonder how this will change the sounds around us and how this alters the way we hear things and react to them. As New Yorkers we are all familiar with the everyday noise around us—the car alarms, the subway trains braking, the music in bars—so familiar that sometimes we drown them out. But then do we not realize how these sounds are affecting us? How they make us feel or act? With this in mind we wanted to create an environment where people could take some time to listen to other kinds of sounds and get away from those familiar sounds of the city. Keeping in mind the birds of the jungle, we’ve created an array of sounds with Animal Collective’s music that is seemingly random…or is it? We invite you to come take some time out and sit with us. As time passes it is our hope that you will wonder if you are hearing songs or patterns or maybe simply hearing more. The visual work of Danny Perez has been incorporated to turn the environment of an empty museum into a more mysterious hideaway. The core elements and colors are worked into the piece in order to unite this room of sound with the inside of your brain. We hope you enjoy.

Thank you for joining us.

-Animal Collective”

Prefuse 73 Live @ Slims (02/02/10)

Prefuse 73 aka Guillermo Scott Herren played a concert not too long ago on February 2, 2010 at Slims in San Francisco, CA. The Gaslamp Killer opened the show with a high energy DJ set that sprawled through a multitude of music spanning all sorts of genres new and old (which definitely exceeded my expectations). Be sure to check Gaslamp out if he comes through your area.

Prefuse 73 performed live manning a microphone, a guitar, a laptop, and a variety of electronic equipment (samplers, mixers, effects processors, etc). He was also joined on stage by two touring band mates, with one handling synthesizer/keyboard duties and another playing along to some of Prefuse’s skiddish beats (or, at least trying to) on a drum set.

Seeing Prefuse live reminded me how much his style has changed since his first Prefuse 73 album Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives as most of his newer songs no longer bare much resemblance to his initial glitch hip hop sound; but hey, with all the side projects and collaborations Herren has going on it’s no surprise that his own sound was bound to evolve along the way.

Check out the videos below of Prefuse 73 playing a song of his own (whose title I can’t remember) and a video of his set closing encore where Gaslamp Killer came back on stage to handle drumming duties in an impromptu jam session, which sounded exactly as described.

Flying Lotus readies Cosmogramma

Los Angeles’ woozy beat maker supreme Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus is readying his third full length album, Cosmogramma (see album art above) which will be released on May 4, 2010 on Warp Records (pushed back from an originally fitting planned 4/20/10 release date).

In a fairly recent interview with Pitchfork, FlyLo explained in his own words that, “Cosmogramma is basically the studies that map out the universe and the relations of heaven and hell” and that he was turned on to the word when he heard it used in one of his aunt’s (Alice Coltrane) discourses. FlyLo has also gone on to say that, “I know without a doubt that this album (Cosmogramma) IS my best creative work thus far”. And if that’s not enough to get you excited, the 17 tracked album (check out the tracklist below) also features a guest appearance by none other than Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

So, while we are all salivating to hear some of these new tunes (especially the Yorke collab), you can pacify yourself by checking out some new unreleased non-Cosmogramma tunes on Flying Lotus’ myspace.

In addition, Flying Lotus’ label Brainfeeder has released “A Decade of Flying Lotus” mixed by The Gaslamp Killer, which includes a bunch of unreleased tracks spanning FlyLo’s ten years of making beats and heads knock. It’s a quality mix that is definitely worth your ear’s time and it’s FREE! So go and get your download on already.

A Decade of Flying Lotus (mixed by The Gaslamp Killer) Download

Cosmogramma

01 Clock Catcher
02 Pickled!
03 Nose Art
04 Intro//A Cosmic Drama
05 Zodiac Shit
06 Computer Face//Pure Being
07 …And the World Laughs With You [ft. Thom Yorke]
08 Arkestry
09 Mmmhmm [ft.Thundercat]
10 Do the Astral Plane
11 Satelllliiiiiteee
12 German Haircut
13 Recoiled
14 Dance Of the Pseudo Nymph
15 Drips//Auntie’s Harp
16 Table Tennis [ft. Laura Darlington]
17 Galaxy in Janaki

New Madvillain Song at Madlib DJ Set (1/29/10)

Madlib played a DJ Set to a hyped crowd at The Mighty in San Francisco, CA this past Friday, January 29, 2010. Given the billion or so projects the man has going on at any given time it was no surprise that Madlib aka The Beat Konducta spun a pretty healthy variety of music. The only seemingly concurrent theme I could pick out in his set was that he had a hand in either sampling or producing each song himself (and believe me, there is a lot of music that falls into that category).

In other exciting news, the MC during Madlib’s set confirmed that a new Madvillain record is coming out this year (as we previously discussed here), in addition to the fact that 2010 will also see release of a new Quasimoto album!

During the DJ set Madlib played plenty of “exclusive” tracks; for example, he played a new song from Madvillain 2 (check out most of it in the video below). The (as of now) untitled song reminds us of Madlib and (formerly MF) DOOM‘s  initial masterpiece Madvillainy as it also encompasses the winning formula of solid drum beats, dramatic interludes, startling horns, DOOM unveiling his best/wittiest saved up lyrics (“Guess you had to be there…there was free beer!”), and appropriately funky samples that only Madlib could ever dig up in his 4 ton (!!!) collection of vinyl. And do I here a Tom Jones sample in there?