Jan 31 2016

Cougar Microbes Writers Picks 2015: T.R. Wicks

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1. Leon Bridges – Coming Home

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2. Ibeyi – Ibeyi

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3. The Weeknd -Beauty Behind The Madness

Full review here

4. Bjork – Vulnicura

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5. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

Full review here

6. Jamie xx – In Colour

Full review here

7. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

Full review here

8. Mark Ronson – Uptown Special

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9. Gabriel Rios – This Marauders Midnight

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10. Lana del Rey – Honeymoon

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TRACKS:


Jan 31 2016

Cougar Microbes Writer Picks: Valya

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1. Mac Miller- GO:OD AM

Mac‘s third studio album marks the roundabout of him coming full circle as an artist. Released under Warner Brothers Records, this is Mac’s first major label album. When you listen you can feel the full emotional toll that life has taken on the rapper and the versatility of his music. He spits about overcoming his drug addiction which is covered intensely on the track “Gods Speed“, but brings it back to a trap party with When in Rome, and even makes our eyes water singing about his girl in ROS. More impressively than Mac himself are the artists featured on the album. Mac hand picked artists whose style is entirely different than his own, yet they collaborated on a sound that fit Mac’s album like a glove. Check out Chief Keef on the track Cut the Check rapping probably the best verse of his career. It is irrefutable that Mac has matured in his music career since his goofy party raps of the Blue Slide Park album, or bumping drug induced hype songs off Watching Movies With The Sound Off. I don’t see him leaving the spotlight any time soon, and he doesn’t either as he raps in 100 Grand “we ain’t going nowhere, we can’t be stopped now, this rap shits for life.”

2.Twenty One Pilots- Blurryface

The album is based on a fictional character by the name of ‘Blurryface‘ that “represents all the things that I as an individual, but also everyone around, is insecure about says frontman Tyler Joseph. Sounds like a setup for the most angst filled album of the year, right? Wrong. Surprisingly these guys have wrapped together a package of incredible stand out sound, each song being so individual from the rest yet coming together in an album with one definite purpose. The angst is there as expected, but it is so creatively delivered that you cannot help but compliment these guys on their immense achievement. It takes real talent to create such individualistic sounds. The break out track Stressed Out has reached the #1 spot on Billboard lists. Every one of us in the adult world can relate to the chorus of “wish we could turn back time to the good old days when our mommas sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out”. Their outro of “wake up you need the money” is now forever the alarm tone of choice because no words could ever be truer. Don’t forget to check out The Judge for some ukulele, or Lane Boy for an electro drum rap cyclone.

3. Fall Out Boy – American Beauty/ American Psycho

Premiering #1 on Billboard’s Hot 200 album chart you would think that as Fall Out Boy’s 6th studio album they would have lost some steam by now. Yet there is no end in sight for the band which aims to bring back rock and roll into the spotlight. As they sing in their 4x platinum track Centuries “We’ll go down in history”

4. Drake- If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Full Review Here

5. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

If there’s anything to be said about Earl is that his raps are clean. Many rappers let the beat take the wheel, but Earl Sweatshirt raps clean over the beat and leaves the rest in the background behind his verses. This album goes deep for all those that say that real rap is dead make sure to check out Grief. Trust us when we say that the music video will leave you shaking in your shoes if the track alone is not enough! The entire album is honest and claustrophobic, with raw lyrics that trap us inside our own head. A lyrical acrobat, were doing flips over Earl‘s newest work.

6.Imagine Dragons- Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors‘ is best described as that type of pop rock album that made it. The catchy dreamy tunes are easy to get stuck on repeat in your head which is why this album has captured the hearts of many. Set with a rock background, grooves and pop beats speculate through their sound. It’s hard to picture the band ever surpassing their greatest creation “Radioactive“, but “I’m So Sorry” is comparable to it as the songs gentler brother. I have to admit that sometimes a little pop rock is cleansing to our souls, and that we’ve spent some time practicing our air guitar to the chorus of “I’m so Sorry” and you probably will too.

7. CHVRCHES- Every Open Eye

Full review here

8. Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment- Surf

‘Surf’ is the debut album of The Social Experiment, members which include Donnie Trumpet, Chance the Rapper, Peter Cottontale, Greg Landfair Jr, and Nate Fox. Although Chance’s heavy involvement has boosted the group to almost instant fame, the production alone is a music work of genius the likes of which are hard to find today. The production is groovy and reminiscent of African american church hymns, riddles with rhythm and blues and gospel twangs. The album also welcomes features from J Cole and Big Sean which step out of their comfort zone to take us away in Warm Enough and Wanna Be Cool respectively. The album’s crown jewel is a track by the name of Sunday Candy which left our mouths with such a sweet taste that I spent the better half of a week singing on repeat. When it comes to this album “take it in your body like it’s holy”.

9. Jack U – Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack U

Jack U is the brainchild of edm stars Skrillex and Diplo. There is nothing to be said about this album other than it is an edm production made in heaven with hard hitting beats and catchy drops. Skrillex and Diplo’s styles balance one another perfectly. Star tracks include “Take U There”, which without a doubt takes us there…wherever there may be. Their breakout track Where Are U Now featuring Justin Bieber almost single handedly turned every Bieber hater into a closet “Belieber”. No wonder this album won two Grammys! If this is their debut album, I can’t wait to hear what else they have in store.

10. Grimes- Art Angels

In this album Grimes takes us away to a pixie dreamscape full of intricately constructed melodies. Grimes is a cannon in the female pop genera, setting the bar high for all those below her. This album is only the latest in her series of masterpieces that can best be described as end-of-the-night jams. She pushes boundaries, mixing darkness with light. Listen to Flesh Without Blood to catch Grimes take us away with a dark dance floor classic. The entire album keeps us buoyant with dance-able tracks, yet the lyrics threaten to sink us into emotional depths down below. Grimes transcends in her album the emotions of everyone in the music world, singing in California “this music makes me cry, it sounds just like my soul”.

TRACKS:

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Jan 31 2016

Cougar Microbes Writer Picks: Ledewitt

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1. Sufjan Stevens – ‘Carrie & Lowell’

Full review here

2. Father John Misty – ‘I Love You, Honeybear’

Lyrical panache and musicality

3. Jamie xx – ‘In Colour’

Full review here

4. Here We Go Magic – ‘Be Small’

Light, lifting, and catchy (ordinary feeling is SO good)

5. Amason – ‘Sky City’

Ultimate nostalgic grooviness been a favorite since they began

6. Andrew Bird – ‘Echolocations: Canyon’

Always a pleasure

7.Nils Frahm – Late Night Tales

Excellent compilation for us deep thinkers

8. Howling – ‘Sacred Ground’

Simply sexy

9. Alabama Shakes – ‘Sound & Color’

Full review here

10. Patrick Watson – ‘Love Songs for Robots’

Never fails to deliver thoughtful and inspiring tunes

TRACKS:

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Jan 31 2016

CM Top Albums of 2015: Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Drake - If You're Reading This It's Too Late

Drake isn’t afraid of pop hooks, and it has to be said, one of his most defined talents is creating them to outstanding effect amongst the hypnotic and dark scenery of ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late‘. Released without warning at the beginning of 2015, the moody, sleek designs are on a technical level superb but wouldn’t be half as brilliant without Drake‘s theatrical interpretations. “I got this shit mapped out strong“, he quips on the larger than life opener ‘Legend‘ and I tend to agree with him. If you haven’t heard of this album did you even inhabit Earth during 2015?

Valya discussed how this was “perhaps the most successful Drake album to date featuring hits that made me want to go “running through the six with our woes“. The album takes a step back from Drake‘s previous attempts at melodious track raps and goes straight for the hood feel, yet somehow manages to keep it clean in true Drake fashion. As much as Drake himself doesn’t embody the things he raps about, the album is a hit I can’t seem to get away from. Lyrically, I can’t seem to find a flaw.

Drake uber fan Robin was quick to add that he “was easily the most influential person on 2015 popular culture. With each release he provided the world with a new hashtag and two of his biggest hits this year were actually one-offs including the first diss track to ever be nominated for a grammy. Papi you won 2015. Can’t wait for 2016″.

TRACKS:


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Jan 31 2016

CM Top Albums of 2015: Torres – Sprinter

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Torres, aka Mackenzie Scott, self titled debut was all hushed tones and measured sounds. You would have been forgiven for expecting more of the same on ‘Sprinter‘ but while Scott still sings straight from the heart she has employed a new dynamic range to showcase her amazing .

Yifat recalled that “listening to this album for the first time made me cry. It feels like Torres is playing right next to you in the bedroom, fearlessly exposing her guts and her inner thoughts and conflicts without any filters.Her voice is haunting and howling at times, making the listener hypnotized. And of course, her naming Kendrick‘s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly‘ one of her best albums of the year, made me fall in love even more.

TRACKS:

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Nov 7 2015

Conor Oberst cancels Desaparecidos tour

Desaparecidos-106-web1After being a longtime fan of Desaparecidos, the punk rock project of heart-on-his-sleeve afficionado Conor Oberst,  I was really looking forward to catching the band live later this month at New York’s Webster Hall. Unfortunately the band released the following statement:

Conor Oberst fell ill while on tour in Jacksonville, Florida and was briefly hospitalized due to laryngitis, anxiety, and exhaustion. In consultation with his doctors, the band has reluctantly agreed to cancel all scheduled live dates. Conor will be heading home to Omaha to recuperate. We wish him a speedy recovery. 

Following a near 13 year absence the band surprised us this summer with new album ‘Payola‘.  A lot has happened since the brilliant debut ‘Read Music/Speak Spanish‘, including several releases from Oberst himself,  but in today’s political climate this comeback couldn’t have been more appropriate.

Whereas his “day job” often involves introspection and delicacy Desaparecidos showcases his angry and cynical side. With a lot of the material on this  release has already been aired either live or in single format the album still the tracks stand proud as a body of work even a few months after the album was released. I was looking forward to seeing it delivered live but will have to wait for the next opportunity.

We wish Conor Oberst a speedy recovery!

TRACKS:

doublecougar


Sep 11 2015

Noa May Interview

Noa May by Salit Krac

Noa May‘s music has a way of crawling into the back of your mind and staying there for months at a time. While her first single “Play Me” was a gloriously tense and moody affair it’s follow up “The War Is Over” represents the flipside of her talents; deceptively upbeat while discussing an issue that is clearly important to her. Both tracks were taken from her excellent debut album “New Born Beast” which was one of my biggest surprises in the past year.

While she is working on her follow up release we caught up with Noa to discuss PJ Harvey, her passion for Arak and bringing back Nina Simone:

Cougar Microbes: What time did you wake up today? Was it out of choice or necessity?

Noa May: I’m ashamed to say I woke up at 4pm today because I am still a little

jet lagged

CM: Describe your music to the uninitiated?

NM: I’m both passionate and neurotic with a dark sense of humour and I think this is reflected in my music. I guess the over all sound would be loosely named alternative but I’m not sure that label applies to everything I do.

CM: How have you been killing time on the road when on the, hobbies?

NM: On the road I seem to be unable to leave the “real” world behind and I binge on political commentators and economy sections. I do have a passion for Arak, an unsweetened anise-flavoured distilled alcoholic drink that is popular in the middle east.

CM: What have been your favourite venues to play? Any Venues you hated?

NM: I loved playing at the Radio EPGB in Tel Aviv, it has the perfect balance between chaos and intimacy and I can’t wait to return there later this year. Thankfully I haven’t had any bad experiences with venues yet, hopefully that won’t change.

CM: Is there a song you are simply sick of playing?

NM: Some of my older materials have gone through a ton of modifications for precisely this reason. I just think it’s a natural process every musician goes through, a certain point you just have to let go and move forward

CM: What is the songwriting process like for you. Are you able to write on the road or do you do this in your off time?

NM: Inspiration comes at very random times: in the shower or at dinner with my parents, just before falling asleep I’m often hit with a blast of ideas and I have to force myself to get up and write them down or they will be lost forever. Often these are my best materials so I don’t want to lose them

CM: Favourite track of yours and why?

NM: I have a special connection with my first single “Play Me” because it always brings me back to the first time I wrote it and also the first time I played it in front of an audience.

Noa May by Salit Krac

CM: If you could record any cover what would it be?

NM: I have already recorded a few covers including the Pixies and Gil Scott-Heron , I love paying tribute. Next, I would love to do a PJ Harvey track because I love and respect her so much but at the same time, now that I think of it, that may be really daunting! I adore her never ending creativity and would want to do it justice

CM: Do your songs go through many revisions via demo recordings?

NM: There isn’t too much tinkering once the track has a shape, even my vocal take are often the first ones. I love that initial rush and am wary of overdoing it so these early deliveries always strike me as the strongest

CM: What came first, the lyrics or the melody?What are your views on auto tune?

NM: Good question, its probably 50/50 for me. Recently i’ve been working with other musicians and I had the pleasure of focussing on the impact of my words much more.

CM: Any other band/bands from your local scene we really should know about?

NM: I recently heard a musician called Noga Erez and I find her so refreshing. She has some amazing songs

CM: Most flattering thing you’ve read about yourself?

NM: I loved getting featured by Tom Robinson of BBC 6 in his Fresh Faves batch. They said I write ” prettily-accented ditties, this one in particular hits the spot” which was very flattering.

CM: What was the first record/tape/cd you ever bought?

NM: It was ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana. I was on vacation with my parents and we bought some cassette tapes for the journey. Instead we ended up listening to ‘Nevermind‘ on repeat.

CM: What was the last song that got stuck in your head?

NM: While answering these questions Alicia Keys’ New York track came on the radio and it’s been stuck in my head for the last hour, good timing.

CM: What was the last show you paid and queued up for?

NM: I saw both Julian Casablancas and Son Lux recently and both were inspiring in different ways. I wish I could have seen The Strokes in their prime but this was a decent replacement

CM: If you had to bring on artist back from the dead in exchange for sending a living artist down ,which artists would it be and why?

NM: I would definitely bring Nina Simone back in a blink, she still had so much to give and her presence in todays musical landscape is really missed. If you had to twist my arm I would take away Bieber, nothing against the kid but I’m sure even he would agree Nina‘s contribution is far more essential

TRACKS:

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Apr 28 2015

Introducing Charisma.com

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By day, the ladies of Charisma.com are holding down days jobs like any ordinary people however during the night, these women are breaking new grounds in the music world. Ever heard of electro-rap? Probably not, because up until two years ago, no one ever thought that it was possible to combine rapping with electronic music. Truthfully, the EDM scene in Japan is still in its infancy, so the majority of artists are just pigeonholed under the EDM banner.

Although EDM has been slowly seeping into Japanese culture, hardly anyone knew about the genre outside of JPOP songs with influences from Zedd’s sonic elements. With JPOP taking Japan by storm, Japanese EDM artists went under the radar for years, though that isn’t to say that they were lacking talent compared to international DJs.

In other parts of the world, electronic DJs became household names in casino nightclubs that were filled with a mix of excitable tourists. Nightclubs in casinos are the perfect platform for worldwide recognition – which Japanese DJs lack access to due to government regulations on gambling. Although all this could change given the potential to improve the economy it is a long way off yet. Even the Japanese civilians have demonstrated their interest in online gambling, giving reason for the world’s first casino InterCasino to penetrate the Japanese market if the opportunity were to arise. The loose regulations on online gambling, along with the prospective for integrated resorts to boost the economy and tourism for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, could mean that casino legalization may be well on its way.

But for now, Japanese DJs will have to find other ways to make a name for themselves, and truthfully, a number of them have done a remarkable job despite the missing presence of casino nightclubs, including the aforementioned Charisma.com. What started as merely an outlet for the built up rage from work and daily life turned into a new genre of music that captured the souls of fans all over the world, performing in the annual Baycamp and Rock in Japan Festivals and the Japan Expo in Bangkok just last year. And hopefully, it won’t be long before they embark on their first global tour.

If you’re curious and want to listen to their music, check out the video below.

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