Jan 31 2016

CM Top Albums of 2015: Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

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Kendrick Lamar had a mountain to climb after 2013’s ‘Good Kid, MAAD City‘. It seemed the mountain was no obstacle; The long awaited sequel ‘To Pimp A Butterfly‘ was every bit the masterpiece it promised to be.

T.R. Wicks kicked off things saying “Kendrick Lamar is a solid example of a fearless artist. Having to follow up from the quite brilliant ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City‘, Lamar has created some unforgettable. Using a highly effective jazz backing band for many arrangements, his ideas are both relentless and uncompromising, barking like a cross between James Brown and Tupac Shakur. Lamar appears as many personas and has so many layers; musically, lyrically and spiritually. From themes of race, sex, spirituality and fame, Lamar is equal parts captivating and exhausting to take in. I’ve owned this album for nearly a year and I still have only touched the surface of this deeply moving and complicated soul. To Pimp A Butterfly is quite simply a masterpiece”.

“I’ve heard this album described as “the Great American Novel, in rap album format”, and it might even be greater than that, having spawned protest chants in the streets. By design it’s not an easy listen, but whenever I do revisit TPAB, I find new things to appreciate” added Roger Jao

Yifat perhaps summed it up best when she called it “A celebration of self-observation and social statements expressed by memorable beats and stuck-in-your-head melodies”

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Jan 31 2016

CM Top Albums of 2015: The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness

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On his 2015 effort The Weeknd provides a soundtrack for before the party, during the party and after party all in one epic brooding mix. Roger called it “A long overdue return to form for Abel Tesfaye. He hasn’t sounded this good since ‘House of Balloons‘. Sin hasn’t sounded this good since either”.

Jabes reflected that “cult fans of ‘House of Balloons‘, probably didn’t love how mainstream The Weeknd became this year, but it’s hard to deny the power of ‘Beauty Behind the Madness‘. Abel Tesfaye infused several other genres into this album, including New Orleans blues band vibes and dream pop – and paired up his gorgeous falsetto with the likes of Lana Del Ray and Ed Sheeran for a serious dive into the conventional. Tefaye‘s signature beautiful R&B production abilities still shine throughout the whole album, truly boasting how far his talent has come, and how much more we have to see from him”.

Emily carried on saying “I tried to resist the charms of The Weeknd, but it was a futile fight. If it’s not blasphemous to say, he has at least a measure of the magic that made Michael Jackson and Prince pop icons for the ages. I’ll admit that I could do without a few tracks that are more hip-hoppy R&B than my tastes typically run, but it’s clear that Tesfaye is hugely talented as a producer-songwriter, even before you consider that voice. Apart from the ubiquitous “I Can’t Feel My Face,” I’m constantly playing “In The Night,” which is pure dancefloor magic.

TRACKS:

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Jan 31 2016

CM Top Albums of 2015: Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

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Carrie & Lowell‘ wasn’t created to be boomed over loud speakers, it was a chance for us to feel something real and to be alone with these thoughts. sometimes “it is so revealing and delicate, it hurts.

Jabes framed it as “one of the most depressing but beautiful albums” while Ledewitt was left in awe of the “songwriting and narrative depth”.

T.R. Wicks mused that “remarkably, through all of Stevens‘ breathtaking creativity and work rate, this is probably the subtlest and low-key record, yet the hardest hitting other than maybe ‘Seven Swans‘. What sets this album apart is this achingly beautiful tribute to his childhood. It is sensitive, haunting and above all deep. There is nowhere Sufjan Stevens is afraid to go thematically, but where he has chosen to go this time around, he has approached with an intimacy and awareness that makes Carrie & Lowell both heartbreaking to listen to, and masterful in it’s execution”.

TRACKS:

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Jan 31 2016

CM Top Albums of 2015: Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

Alabama Shakes - Sound and color

Alabama Shakes went from being “ones to watch” to genuine stadium rock contenders with this ambitious and energetic offering which left Ledewitt dazzled with the “powerful voice and sentiment”

Roger got the final word when he said: “Blues rock and soul legends like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding and Syl Johnson helped lay down the foundation. The Alabama Shakes, I feel, are the first band of our generation to build a truly worthy temple upon it”.

TRACKS:

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Dec 24 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Cougar Microbes

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Each year we roundup the calendar year with a few “festive” tracks. In the past we have featured Run The Jewels, Cyndi Lauper with The Hives and Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler giving us their alternative takes on the holiday spirit.

This year we’ve had an unannounced contender for xmas anthem from Green Day, a seemingly tongue in cheek Wham! cover from Future Islands as well as a track that has haunting LCD Soundsystem‘s James Murphy for close to 8 years. Can someone please tell Mr Murphy that all we want for christmas is an LCD reunion.

We are off to struggle to reach a consensus on which albums topped our year end list.

Happy holidays and a Happy new year from everyone at CM Towers.

TRACKS:

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Dec 22 2015

CMJ Music Marathon 2015 Day 5 (Motion City Soundtrack, The Wonder Years, Avid Dancer, BORNS)

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Cougar Microbes returned to CMJ this year for another mind blowing five days of musical extravaganza. We braved the cold but otherwise perfect weather through the streets of New York to catch the shows of some of music’s rising stars from around the world.

MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK

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A name in music for over 9 years now, we headed to Webster Hall to check out Motion City Soundtrack at their 7pm show. The crowd was thick and the atmosphere light. Their sound reminded us of Jimmy Eats World, as they jumped around rocking it out on stage. The show wouldn’t have been complete without them playing their throw back “Everything is Alright”, which we sang along to.

THE WONDER YEARS

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If anything is to be said about Wonder Years is that they know how to work a crowd. Everyone, including us, was pulled in by their undeniable charisma. Thumping heavy alternative rock numbers, they left our necks sore from all the head swaying. Feeding off each others energy as we fed off theirs, they were by far our favorite rock based band performance of CMJ 2015.

AVID DANCER

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We headed to the Music Hall of Williamsburg to being the final hurrah of CMJ 2015. Avid Dancer hailing from California brought with them their cali indie vibes and mixed it with a little rock and roll and 60’s dance. They took us on musical roller coaster that made us want to the disco and grab a guitar at the same time. A little interactive with their stage jigging, these were some fun guys to watch.

BORNS

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BORNS  return to CMJ this year was like the return of a musical profit. Read our review of his CMJ 2014 performance if you have not yet! We simply could not have left CMJ without seeing how he’s progressed musically within the last year. Creatively stimulated is the best way to describe this man with long flowing hair and incredible vocals. BORNS performance was nothing short of spectacular, working the stage with grace and power that I am sure he picked up while on tour with Charlie XCX this summer. “Electric Love” is undoubtedly a hit and had the whole crowd swaying to the electro-pop funk and singing the hook in their head the whole ride home.

Thank you BORNS for closing out our CMJ experience, we hope to see you again next year!

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Post by Valya
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Dec 4 2015

CMJ Music Marathon 2015 Day 4 (Pom Poms, The Future Laureates, The Millenium, Marina City)

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Cougar Microbes returned to CMJ this year for another mind blowing five days of musical extravaganza. We braved the cold but otherwise perfect weather through the streets of New York to catch the shows of some of music’s rising stars from around the world.

POM POMS

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We kicked off Friday at Bowery Electric with the LA group the Pom Poms. Oozing sex appeal, they swayed before their mics as they strummed out their harmonious tunes. Their sound can only best be described at 60’s soda shop jams. Although lacking much original material for now, it is easy to see that there is more to come from this group.

THE FUTURE LAUREATES

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Feeling in the mood for a little alternative rock we headed to the Rock Shop to check out The Future Laureates. Not what we expected from a rock venue, but non the less an excellent act. The Laureates are a pop-folk-rock band featuring heartfelt music that makes you want to pull out your silver spoons and play along. They put a smile on our faces and were adored by the crowd.

THE MILLENIUM

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The Millenium (spelt with one n) followed the Laureates. A pop punk act, sounding eerily similar to young Panic at the Disco, they reminded us of our angst filled teenage years. Working the stage with childish glee, The Millenium was a pleasure to watch simply because they brought such simplicity to their performance.

MARINA CITY

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Chicago natives Marina City rocked the Rock Shop stage at around midnight to close out the night. We instantly vibed with these guys. Deep alternative rock almost like an old school Fall Out Boy, they really brought the head banging to the crowd. After a few days of lacking some rock we finally out our fill with these guys. A little unenthusiastic on stage, but still full of passion in their sound they closed out the night with a bang!
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Dec 3 2015

CMJ Music Marathon 2015 Day 3 (Glass Animals, Alex Vargas, Howqua, Ewert and the Two Dragons, Young Empires)

CMJ2015_Announce_29Cymbals_ElenaRuyter

Cougar Microbes returned to CMJ this year for another mind blowing five days of musical extravaganza. We braved the cold but otherwise perfect weather through the streets of New York to catch the shows of some of music’s rising stars from around the world.

GLASS ANIMALS

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We kicked off our Thursday late with Glass Animals at 8pm at Terminal 5. At this point we were well rested and ready to jam. Glass Animals was not a show to miss. This ensemble from England brought the heat combining instrumentals with dreamy soundscapes they transported us to a fantasy world where sound melted around us. Frontman Dave Bailey commanded the room with lazer focus on his sound which took the crowd with him to whatever twisted land his mind goes to when he performs. The whole group created an atmosphere of acid sound that was infectious and inescapable.

ALEX VARGAS

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Following Glass Animals we jetted across Manhattan to Rockwood Music Hall to catch Alex Vargas (who, thankfully for us, started late through no fault of his own). Alex and his support Tommy Sheen captured the crowd with their humble attitudes. If an angel had its heart broken and then wrote a song about it that was the only way to describe Alex‘s encore performance of his hit song “Solid Ground“. A tear jerker for the whole crowd, except Microbes because we’re a tough bunch. A future Sam Smith, we were all so glad we made it in time for his show.

HOWQUA

HOWQUA

The first solo performer we’ve seen since our arrival to CMJ, Howqua took the stage with just his guitar, his soul, and his voice. The purity of his sound bounded through the hall as we all refrained from our conversations to tune into his raw sound and many existing fans even sang along. He titled one of his songs “Fishing for Gold“, yet he is absolutely acoustic gold. This winter you will find us curled up with a cup of tea blasting Howqua on the stereo and reminiscing of our intimate night with him on the Rockwood stage.

EWERT AND THE TWO DRAGONS

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We mingled our way to stage 2 of the Rockwood to check out Ewert and the Two Dragons. A beautiful mix of country twang, folk, and acoustic pop harmony they kept our hands clapping. Their song “Circles” made our heads spin round from the beautiful execution and “Good Man Down” knocked us down. Their music tells a story, and when front-man and vocalist Ewert Sundja sings you can see him closing his eyes as if he’s replaying in his mind the events that inspired his music.

YOUNG EMPIRES

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To top off our night we stuck around the Rockwood to catch Young Empires who followed Ewert. Young Empires name sounds like the title a new school clothing line, and much like new clothes their sound is fresh and clean. Reminiscent of X Ambassadors and Imagine Dragons they bring a light and airy electric feel with lyrics that make u want to put your arms up and sing along, as we did for a few songs. Conquering the stage, the crowd cheered with glee as they strummed through their tunes. We had “Uncover Your Eyes” stuck in our head the rest of the night.

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Post by Valya
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TRACKS:

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