Jan 9 2014

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: David Bowie – ‘The Next Day’

David Bowie The Next Day Albums of 2013 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: David Bowie   The Next Day

The fact that ‘The Next Day‘ was released with no warning at all was remarkable enough in it’s own right but even the biggest David Bowie fan could not have expected such a consistently brilliant album.

David Bowie returned unexpectedly after nearly 10 years of silence upon which much speculation was had (depression, lack of inspiration, fear of the illness had in ‘last tour?). The lineup is the same as on his last releases ‘Hours‘, ‘Heathen and ‘Reality‘, and the trusty Tony Visconti is confirmed again on production duties.  ’The Next Day’ turns out to be a gem of absolute value, with a handful of superb songs, like the nostalgic and hopeful “Where Are We Now” or the already classic “The Stars Are Out Tonight” – Mario

I loved this album after probably the third listen, but as a Bowie devotee for years, there was never really any chance that I wouldn’t. I have tried and failed to put my finger on where ‘The Next Day‘ fits in amongst his past albums and various reincarnations, but the closest I can come is that it reminds me of everything I love about weird but amazing songs like “Life on Mars,” but with a steady, rocking groove that extends through each track. It is deliciously melodramatic and yet feels subdued and mature, like Ziggy Stardust growing older and wiser.

Best track: “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” – Emily

20140107 034257 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: David Bowie   The Next Day

TRACKS:

doublecougar Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: David Bowie   The Next Day


Jan 9 2014

2013: The Year in Music

20140107 034257 2013: The Year in Music

2013 was a great year for music marked by phenomenal comebacks from some of the biggest bona fide superstars as well as remarkable debuts and sophomore albums from a hungry crop of up and coming artists. It was also a year where we had to bid farewell to Lou ReedRay Manzarek and Benjamin Curtis to name a few who will be sorely missed.

Over the past 12 months we attended SXSW in Austin, The Great Escape in Brighton, Culture Collide in LA and CMJ in New York as well as catching breakout performances by the likes of Arctic Monkeys, The xx, Drake and Alt-J

With so much good music coming out in 2013 choosing which records stood out amongst the rest was a fairly easy task, the hardest part was keeping this year’s list to a respectable number (and all the while one of the debuts we were most excited over was bumped to 2014).

Without further ado here is the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013

TRACKS:

doublecougar 2013: The Year in Music

 


Dec 19 2013

CYMBALS gear up for release of ‘The Age Of Fracture’

cymbals bw CYMBALS gear up for release of The Age Of Fracture

For those of you that remain nostalgic of the sounds of the 80s I highly recommend ’Erosion‘, by my favourite London synth­pop fourpiece CYMBALS.

Think The Cure meets New Order  and you get this, the first track from their upcoming album ‘The Age Of Fracture‘ which is schedule for release on the 27th of January .

I’ve been following these Dalstonites for a while now as they caught my ear back in 2012 with their hit song “Like An Animal“. Seeing them live this summer definitely strengthened my opinion of them as one of the most promising london based bands around right now.

A striking bass, a funky guitar and frontman Jack Cleverly‘s strong, raspy voice are all that is needed for CYMBALS to make a great and naturally catchy synthpop tune with deliberate new wave echoes.

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Post by Olivia

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TRACKS:

doublecougar CYMBALS gear up for release of The Age Of Fracture


Dec 8 2013

Weekend Videos: Roo Panes – Home From Home

Last week we featured the video “Open Road by the poetic dreamer Roo Panes, this week we will be going to see his EP launch in Bush Hall, London. Cougar Microbes have been eagerly awaiting more of the guitar work tightly bound around much-thought-over lyrics and we got a glimpse of his new work when he release the video for “Home From Home” which is included in the new ‘Land of the Living’ EP.

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Post by Sam
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TRACKS:

doublecougar Weekend Videos: Roo Panes   Home From Home


Dec 3 2013

CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

cmj music marathon banner CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

Now into its 3rd decade of existence CMJ Music Marathon has earned a reputation for picking largely unknown acts and ushering them towards imminent success. With 1400 acts playing across 80+ venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn there really is something for everybody.

Here are our personal highlights:

Ben Caplan | Arlene’s Grocery
Ben Caplan live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

Ben Caplan is a man equipped with a striking appearance and a voice to boot. His massive beard is potentially only outdone by his huge charisma and today at Arlene’s Grocery this is no different. The canadian troubadour commanded the room ranting and raving between songs before breaking into his passionate mini folk epics. Short of his usual backing band theses songs took on new meanings with their lyrical wisdom resonating particularly well thanks in large part to Ben‘s unique booming voice. This man was born to perform.

In The Valley Below | Pianos Upstairs
in the valley below live cmj CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

Los Angeles based In The Valley Below‘s civil war evoking outfits are stylistically eye-catching but their music is no less imposing. The meeting of Michigan born Angela Gail and Memphis raised Jeffrey Jacob has produced an elegant mix of organic sounds and just the right amount of electronic influences. Their unique vocal stylings complement each other wonderfully and the on stage chemistry is evident as glances and knowing smiles are frequently shared. At one point Gail produces a chain which she uses as an added percussive sound; the result manages to be both haunting and beautiful.

Dorine Levy | Fat Baby
Dorine Levy live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

We head on over to the Tune-In Tel Aviv showcase at Fat Baby to see what is the best Israel has to offer. The last time we caught Dorine Levy live was at this year’s SXSW where she debuted her new touring lineup (essentially consisting of Dorine and her talented jack-of-all-trades husband Eitan). A few months have passed since then and the Israeli will soon be releasing her debut LP  ’Diver‘ (review coming soon) meaning this set is a superb indicator of the progress she has made so far this year. It’s immediately evident that the entire live experiences has been sharpened over this time as newer songs have become fixtures in her set and there is a sense of momentum throughout. Notably Dorine has toned down her personal interaction with keyboard, laptops and other gizmos leaving much of this to Eitan. This new found freedom results in more audience participation and eye contact and allows the songstress to fully launch into each performance. Her next stop is Nouvelle Prague festival in the Czech Republic and after that the world.

Adi Ulmansky  | Fat Baby
Adi Ulmansky live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

Adi Ulmansky is a veritable burst of color on stage at Fat Baby tonight. This is Adi‘s North American debut and after playing a triumphant set at Filter’s Culture Collide festival in LA she’s ready to take over NYC as well. Rocking her newly braided (but always multi-colored) hair and a scanty outfit her allure offers a false sense of security much like a praying mantis. Once she starts performing the transformation is evident and it feels she could literally bite your head off. Over a backdrop of self produced kaleidoscopic 8-bit epic beats Adi raps and croons with the best of them switching from being extremely menacing one moment to highly vulnerable the next. The aforementioned ‘Hurricane Girl‘ EP was one of the great suppress of this year and we expect great things from this girl in 2014.

ASTR | Pianos
ASTR live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

After ASTR‘s lead singer Zoe, announced that it was her birthday, it was apparent that the people who managed to get into the backroom of Pianos were in for a great show. Singing her heart out and whipping her long red haired ponytail around the stage, Zoe‘s energetic performance echoed throughout the packed room. Her partner in crime, Adam – a fluffy haired dude with Buddy Holly glasses – handled the high powered beats by banging on drum pads (strongly resembling the set from the game Rock Band) with effervescence. Their electro-pop track “Razor” had the crowd dancing and sweating along with them, though ASTR still displayed their range of abilities with a cover of Drake‘s “Hold On We’re Going Home.” The overall great performance left the crowd wanting more, and I’m excited to see what other dance tracks are to come from this group.

Mean Creek |Pianos Upstairs
Mean Creek CMJ 2013 CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

Last for the night was Massachusetts garage rockers Mean Creek who were basically the antithesis of much of what we had seen so far solely on the premise of having a real live drummer. There is a really endearing underdog quality to this Boston gang’s repertoire that translates instantly and makes you want to root for them. The band are gearing up for the release of their 4th LP ‘Local Losers‘, the first for Old Flame Records,  in early 2014 with a set that incorporated material from that upcoming release. The sense of excitement at airing these tracks is palpable as the four piece launch into each new song with extra enthusiasm. There is also time for a particularly spot on cover of The DescendentsSilly Girl‘ which leaves those in the know particularly pleased. ‘Local Losers‘ can’t come any sooner.

TRACKS:

doublecougar CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

 


Oct 28 2013

Weekend Videos: Klingande – “Jubel”

As leaves begin falling off trees and collecting underneath feet, there will be many people reluctantly accepting the declining temperature whilst longing for ‘just one more festival’. Klingande, 2 French students, responsible for the dance anthem which permeated my whole summer have recently released a video to accompany it.

The beauty of “Jubel” is in the continual nods towards feathers, which aptly symbolise the aesthetic fragility of the last days of summer. Making the most of the chance to explore, the friends adventure around fields, woodland and coast with such infectious, youthful optimism that it’s clear the changing of the seasons may take the long summer nights but won’t take their memories.

It is impossible not to smile when watching this video, if not by it prompting reminiscing of the summer just passed, then by the invoking pre-emptive nostalgia for next summer. So kick through the leaves on the pavement, and take one step closer to next summer, which will be full of new friends, places and memories. And the best thing: it’s only 8 months away and that will fly by, right?

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Post by Sam
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TRACKS:

doublecougar Weekend Videos: Klingande – Jubel


Jul 3 2013

“Let ‘Em Eat Croissants” A Yeezus review by Robin Petering

kanye west yeezus Let ‘Em Eat Croissants A Yeezus review by Robin Petering

As a preface, the following review comes from a serious Kanye West fan. If this review seems bias in any way, it’s because it is. ‘Yeezus‘, Kanye’s sixth solo album, is a fantastic album. The beats are complex, the samples are unexpected, the production is immaculate and the lyrical content is histrionic. At first listen, ‘Yeezus‘ feels like the angst-ridden teenage spawn of ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘ and ‘808s and Heartbreak‘ except there aren’t any superstar guest verses (No Jay, no Nicki, and no Rozay) or upbeat radio hits (No Ri-Ri hooks) and only minimal autotune. For long-texrm fans, ‘Yeezus‘ is another piece in West’s epic career trajectory and it delivers. Complete with cryptic guerilla marketing and inescapable internet hype, this album represents Kanye’s continued exploration in melodies, emotion, distortion and genre-crossover.

Yeezus‘ opens with “On sight”. Daft Punk or not, Ye’s MC’ing on this track is the most reminiscent of the early 2000’s. He’s fast paced with goofy lines like “No sports bra let’s keep em bouncin’.” He brings you in quick to “Black Skinhead” which is the album’s standout track. Despite his performance on SNL and the Governor’s Ball, I don’t think anyone was expecting this track to go as hard as it does. Kanye goes off about modern race relations with a goth-drill team and a dirty bass line to support him. The energy of this track is toxic and I’m curious to see if “Black Skin Heads” will take off this summer as a club hit. It may be the needed relief for a scene that is currently being drowned in repetitive trap beats. The album continues at pace and Ye offers meme worthy quips (“Hurry up with my damn croissants!”) and a sense of self-awareness about the role he plays in modern culture. Kanye states that he isn’t interested in ‘turning shit up’. He’d prefer to make his statement about racism, about his chick (and ex-chick), and about his croissants.

Hold My Liquor” is very reminiscent of MBDTF that may be the result of the presence of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon distorted intro. Unfortunately the rhyming found on this track is the type of Kanye rapping that fuels his disbelievers (“Slightly scratch your corolla/Okay I smashed your corolla”). Something new on this album, that we got a taste of with last summer’s “Mercy” (off G.O.O.D. Music collaboration album Cruel Summer), is a blatant reggae influence. I’m a sucker for reggae and hip hop crossover, so the use of reggae samples and artists across multiple tracks got me extra enthusiastic. Although there aren’t any huge names as features, Ye shows Chi-town love for up-and-comers Chief Keef and King L. He also calls up his lackluster progeny Kid Cudi to close out “Guilt Trip”. This track I could live without. Cudi maybe Kanye’s biggest flop yet. I’m not sure why he keeps trying to make that happen. Kanye’s not known for his loyalty (see Damon Dash).

Ye also provides a range of samples. “Blood on the Leaves” opens with a melancholic clip of Nina Simone then sharply drops in with a piece from electronic act TNGHT’s “R U Ready?” with Kanye reinvigorating the aformentioned Trap scene. ‘Yeezus‘ closes out with “Bound 2” which has that high-pitched soul sampling that Kanye is known for. The beat is nostalgic and the track appears to be his shout-out to his baby mama, Kim Kardashian. What ensues is a ‘love song’ that is probably as deep as what Kanye and Kim deserve (“Hey you remember how we first met?/Okay, I don’t remember how we first met.”). He’s a keeper!

All in all, for Kanye fans he delivers on the things we love about him the most: the narcissism, the vulnerability, and the manic episodes. Those same beloved traits also deliver fuel for devoted Kayne-haters and amateur music critics. MBDTF might be better overall (it might be perfect?) but that is not what is important. Kanye West is a trajectory. ‘Yeezus‘ is only one step along a path. In the short term, he gave us a major summer album with some serious bangers. Is Kanye West a god? In the world of hip-hop, probably. Does it matter if people disagree? No, but people will continue to talk, tweet, post their opinions through the summer and then some (which only further perpetuate ‘Yeezus’ godliness).

What I love the most about Kanye and his last four albums, including ‘Yeezus‘, is that he has changed the culture of mainstream hip-hop. No one before him has done what he’s done but many will emulate him. For me personally, Kanye’s ability to successfully release ‘non-traditional’ hip-hop albums pushes the genre in invigorating new directions. Being able to experience ‘Yeezus’ makes me so thankful to be a hip-hop fan living in what could be the golden era of the genre.

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Welcome on board Robin Petering / twitter: @monstertrvcks

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TRACKS:

badge itunes lrg Let ‘Em Eat Croissants A Yeezus review by Robin Petering

doublecougar Let ‘Em Eat Croissants A Yeezus review by Robin Petering


Jun 29 2013

Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories reviewed

daft punk random access memories cover Daft Punks Random Access Memories reviewed
If anyone caught that BBC documentary on Nile Rodgers a month or so back that you’ll have an inkling to what his involvement to Daft Punk’s latest effort; ‘Random Access Memories‘ would entail.

It would be nearly impossible to have avoided hearing the disco stylings of ‘Get Lucky‘. It will probably go down as the summer track of 2013. And rightly so. Pharrell Williams has been a busy boy performing vocal duties and seemingly in the same week fondling around with nude ladies on ‘Blurred Lines‘ by Robin Thicke (Another impossible track to have both avoided and not been enticed by.)

Random Access Memories was slightly slated at first for not delivering the same blend of anthemic dance of previous albums. Apart from the fact that that’s a big bunch of bullshit, the point that’s been missed is the idea of the album as a whole. Even though ‘Get Lucky‘ should be viewed as an anthem in it’s own right, when listened to as a whole body of work, RAM segues beautifully between 70′s and 80′s dance, the experimental and the avant-garde.

A track such as ‘Giorgio By Moroder‘ has been labelled a track that ‘shouldn’t work‘. It features a monologue by Giorgio Moroder on his beginnings as a musician and philosophies on songwriting. This is all to a fantastically creative use of synthesizers and modern beats. Of course it works. Especially when backed up by Moroder’s point on how there is not a definitive way of writing a song.

Lose Yourself To Dance‘, once again featuring Pharrell is an instant classic whilst ‘Doing It Right’ is measured and cool. Perhaps the best example and perfect introduction to this classic is it’s opening track ‘Give Life Back To Music‘ enveloping everything that’s great about Daft Punk, and perhaps as a title serves as the point for such a shift in dynamic.

Trust me, ‘Random Access Memories‘ is a killer.

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Post by TR Wicks

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TRACKS:

badge itunes lrg Daft Punks Random Access Memories revieweddoublecougar Daft Punks Random Access Memories reviewed