[LP] FRANK OCEAN has mad SONGS FOR getting WOMEN to SWIM between your GOOD linens

and you could teach me to slow dance or something, and i can give you chills harmonizing to otis, isley, marvin

♫ Frank Ocean – Songs for Women

Brace yourself people, this one is so smooth you may find your feet lose traction and you just slip to the floor. Or if you are a lady, to the bed, where you will most likely be met by a swagged out Frank Ocean. The former Def Jam signee and current smooth operator just released his debut mixtape/album for free and I can’t stop getting down to these jams. “Songs For Women” is a delicately funked piece of introspective R&B that showcases the many talents of a young singer not afraid to show his human side. He gets ladies. He loses them. It hurts. That’s life, and that’s Ocean’s style on his tight debut, Nostalgia, Ultra. I recommend Pitchfork’s review for more on the album itself, and the talented dude behind it all. Also, in a stroke of simple genius, Ocean included all the lyrics in text form in the album zip for those of us that are into that.

But it’s not just Frank Ocean behind this music. You may have heard about LA’s Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All hip-hop collective. Them, their antics, and their ringleader Tyler, have been all over the internet/blogs/TV lately (even here). Ocean’s less aggressive music seems an unlikely member at first glance but looking closer at the groups “collective” vibe and outsider operation it does make sense. Young and talented people without an industry to support them turn to each other to get their music out to the world. And beautifully, it’s working.

♫ Frank Ocean – Swim Good

“Swim Good” is just another great example of Ocean’s talents in crafting catchy and tender jams that you can’t help but feel. With the backing of some major producers, Ocean also handles some left-field samples on Nostalgia, including “Hotel California,” “Electric Feel,” and Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swing.” They all get the big fat Ocean stamp, emerging as entirely unique pieces. It’s just icing on the cake that Ocean, like all the Odd Future crew, is also such an endearing character. He dropped his album with a simple play on words that rings even truer when you know the backstory Def Jam holding his music back. The guy just wants to make swagged out music. And eat swagged out brunch. I think we can all get down with that.

Bury your face in his Tumblr /// Amazon too

[LP] PAULA & KAROL play music that even BIRDS & BEES could love

standing on the corner and facing the wall, or under the bottle and under control

♫ Paula & Karol – Birds & Bees

The past 7 days have been an interesting time in the Warsaw music scene. Allow me to take you back to last Saturday, as a room full of people eagerly awaited Kamp’s performance at KaminioÅ‚omy. The Polish indie-electro rockers have been the focus of much hype and buzz since we covered them last summer. There is a palpable feeling that they might be the saviors of the scene, finally bringing Polish-made music across the borders. Although I should say there was a feeling. It may have died that Saturday night. Hours late to the stage and not a memorable moment in the set, I no longer hold the hope for them I once did. Cut Copy’s new album is already a poor man’s version of Cut Copy, the world doesn’t need another.

Fast forward exactly 5 nights to an equally packed room at Cafe Kulturalna where Warsaw duo Paula i Karol (“i” = “and”) are set to take the stage with their rotating crew of merry music makers. I’ve been sitting on the album for a few weeks now, letting it’s tender and sincere pop-folk sift through my wintery bones. Their debut album, Overshare, came out a few months ago and has been getting steady local buzz. With the upbeat xylophone, bouncy strumming, and elastic synth wobble of songs like “Birds & Bees” it’s easy to understand why. Boy/girl vocals about love, nostalgia, and keeping your chin up are all wrapped in deceptively simple production that gets your head bobbing without you even knowing it. Needless to say, standing in Cafe Kulturalna, I’m more than curious to see what will unfold on stage. About one hour later it’s clear that Read more

[EP] DREAM JEFFERSON are on about VAMPYROTEUTHIS and THE GHOSTS OF SAN SIMEON on their epic debut ep

cause we’re all dying at some point, i can’t afford to restart, i only got one coin

♫ Dream Jefferson – Vampyroteuthis

Dream Jefferson are a Toronto duo who deal in the illicit street art they call “Canadian-Electro-Party-Rap.” If that sounds like the worst ever then you need to slow your roll and take that one word at a time. Aw fuck it, no time for reading when jams like this are pumping through my headphones, making me want to mount this office desk and raise the damn roof! Producer and lyricist Corboe lays down the sick/slick beats while he and Owel Five spit hook-heavy rhymes about everything from “luminescence” to For Who The Bell Tolls. This is not your younger cousin’s party-rap, this is Dream Jefferson and as far as I am concerned they’ve wiped the slate clean, if only to rest their beers on it while they rock our business.

♫ Dream Jefferson – The Ghosts of San Simeon

Take these two tracks as a taste of their vibe and range and once you have acclimated to party-rap transcendance then take in the rest of their debut EP, Sasquatch Bury Their Dead. It is being offered a free download so don’t waste any time on that. All 7 tracks pop and swerve with the tightest hip-hop swagger I’ve heard all year. The opening tracks begins with a sample of some stuffy guy saying “you best put seat-belts on your ears, cause I’m gonna take them for the ride of their lives.” While that is certainly a bold statement, it’s not far from the truth.

Bury your face in MySpace /// Amazon too

[LP] JAMES BLAKE, you tested my LIMIT TO get into you but then YOUR album grew on me and now i might LOVE it

all that I know is i’m fallin, fallin, fallin, fallin, might as well fall in

♫ James Blake – Limit To Your Love (Feist cover) (album version)

If you are coincidentally named the same a tennis star then maybe just use a different moniker for your music? Ok, no. Fine. So 21 year old James Blake was all up in everyone’s grill over the past year with a few much-creamed-over EPs that I just could never get into. And I tried. I gave this guy more second chances than anyone else since I tried getting into Animal Collective 2 years ago (Failed). So then James Blake’s unimaginatively titled album, James Blake, came out and I figured I would give it a spin, you know, out of journalistic curiosity. That’s when the surprising part happened. I didn’t reach for the skip button, even once. I immediately played it a second time. I starred a few tracks. It was looking like I actually liked it. A few weeks later and the same result. Blake’s blog-dominating Feist cover “Limit To Your Love” finally seemed to make sense within the album. Sparse piano and vulnerable vocals giving way to just enough dubstep wobble to give the track ambience but without making me cringe.

James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream

The real gem, however, is second single “Wilhelm Scream.” (This guy is the hottest thing since sliced bread so I’m not tempting fate with a download, sorry) A simple beat, a simple refrain, but a not so simple result. This song has serious weight, captivating my ears every time I hear it. A lot of people seem to be up in arms over Blake and what he represents to music, dubstep, whatever, (Pitchfork’s review is an interesting read) but as a guy who was categorically NOT into him a month ago, I am well converted by this album, with “Lindisfarne II” and “Measurements” being my other favorites. I will still probably never appreciate his early EPs, but at least I’ll have this album. For those particular moods and moments, it’s as great a fit as any during these wintery days.

Bury your face in MySpace /// eMusic /// Amazon too

[EP] JACK LITTMAN has an ep that i GOT2HAVEU all get a copy off

wintertime will turn to spring, seasons change but don’t you change a thing

♫ Jack Littman – Got2HaveU

Since I posted on Jack Littman’s “Sinking Ship” 2 weeks ago, his total Last.fm listens has gone from 18 to 122. Relatively, that’s a pretty good increase but I know that half of those are mine. Not enough people are getting on this guy’s jams.

Right after posting “Sinking Ship” I picked up the rest of his very awesome and very free EP The Mixtape (not an actual mixtape, all original) and have been listening to it nonstop. I just had to post about it again on TBE. This is my favorite EP of the year so far and a shoe-in for the Top of 2011 list. On a more funky jam like “Got2HaveU” (unfortunate about the spelling) Jack’s earnest and hopeful vocals, along with the powerful beat, provide a nice uptick after the more brooding “Sinking Ship.” All 6 tracks tread the perfect balance between a sort of ominous darkness and an undeniable infectiousness.  They are love songs without the sugar. Dance songs without the club lights. Sex songs without the innuendo. Every track has something unique going on. There is the twinkling xylophone on “Little Pretty Thing,”  the astounding guitar work on “Waiting,” Jack’s lusty rapping on “Goochie Goo,” and the acoustic delicacy of “Undercover Lover.” The Mixtape‘s production is minimal, leaving each song plenty of breathing room. Never over-stuffed, I feel the power of each instrument as they assemble the unique final product. I would post every song here but that would be silly. I really cant recommend this EP enough. And it’s free. He’s on tour now so go see him before he blows up proper. Talent like this surely won’t stay relegated to this little blog forever.

Bury your face in MySpace /// Amazon too

[EP] THEOPHILUS LONDON makes me wonder WHY people would EVEN TRY not to get down to these jams

what if there’s not a simple way out, reception is bad and you’re calling me now

♫ Theophilus London – Why Even Try (Ft. Sara Quin)

Theophilus London is an interesting character. Not only does he have a unique personal style and some great music videos, but his music so far has varied from sublime to sub-par. After 3 mixtapes we are finally getting a proper release from the guy and while early sample “Flying Overseas” didn’t win me over like “Humdrum Town” (a high bar, I admit) it has grown on me and I’m feeling it much more on this funky little EP. Lovers Holiday starts off with “Why Even Try” and Sara Quin (of “Tegan &” fame) brings a nice vocal balance to London’s loose rhymes. It’s a solid funk jam, perfect for getting that head bobbin and awkwardly singing along to. “Strange Love” ups the ante a bit, adding a more ambitious rhythm while “Girls Girls $” is a bass thumping dance jam that makes me want to pop bottles of swagger from beat 1. “Wine and Chocolates” reigns things back in for a minute for some strangely Kudi-esque rhyming before closing things out with “Flying Overseas.”

My problem with London was always that his mixtapes were often meandering and seemed half baked. Tracks like “Humdrum Town” were instant classics while others made me reach for the skip button for their lack of polish or fresh ideas. Lover Holiday is definitely a more polished affair that one could argue betrays it’s major label heritage but to me that’s just fine. I’m a big fan of this EP and would definitely take 5 more tracks like these and call it a solid debut LP. None of these tracks may have the raw staying power of “Humdrum Town” but when the music’s this groove-able, why would anyone be arguing?

Bury your face in MySpace /// eMusic /// Amazon too

[LP] JHAMEEL takes BERNAL to new HEIGHTS, and HOW! MANY people will be LOVERS of this album.

if there were ever moments when i felt the rhythm of life it was as fleeting as i, plus i never look back

♫ Jhameel – Bernal Heights

Hopefully you all remember Jhameel from his solid debut I covered last year. An intriguing character with some unique musical stylings, he’s dropped another free album, The Human Condition, on us and I’m quite pleasantly impressed. His musicianship is tighter, his hooks catchier, and lyrics even sharper. “Bernal Heights” is an instant ear turner, with that swinging rhythm weaving between the creeping, stomping beat, while Jhameel’s perfectly punctuated vocals ground it all. Even though the song has an ominous vibe I still get the sense that Jhameel is having a lot a fun with his music. This feeling is never more prevalent than on the next track, the twangy, bouncy ode to herb, “THC.” Even makes a non smoker like me want to toke up, especially if it was with this guy.

♫ Jhameel – How Many Lovers

Jhameel’s good spirits continue even into unlikely territory. Singing as the hyper-paranoid new boyfriend in “How Many Lovers” he still sounds like he is having a blast and somehow knows that he is not only over-thinking things but that it will all probably work out.

♫ Jhameel – The Human Condition

Don’t let me fool you into thinking that The Human Condition is all fun and games, Jhameel tackles some heavy personal topics and handles them all with insight and openness. Other standout tracks are album opener “Until The Forrest Knows” and the title track, although the whole album is fantastic and it was not easy picking which ones I wanted to post here. Luckily Jhameel is offering The Human Condition as a free download so you can just dive right in. Rightfully so, he is also accepting donations so if you are loving this album as much as me then throw some change his way. Great art should be rewarded.

Bury your face in MySpace /// eMusic /// Amazon too

[EP] MITTEN are ALL kinds of good. THAT I’VE GOT their ep is a SIMILAR SENSE to eating great ice cream with your crush.

what if i was another me? hold on i’m on my way

Mitten – All That I’ve Got

The Brooklyn/Boston girl/girl duo of Mitten played their first show less than 5 months ago but have clearly not been slouching as they have more than that many solid gems on their debut EP, See You Bye. “All That I’ve Got” kicks off the set and immediately introduces us to their heart-on-sleeve brand of synthy groove-pop that has been infecting my ears these past few weeks. Bouncy, light, and highly danceable, it’s impossible not get into this twinkling star of a jam.

♫ Mitten – Similar Sense

The whole EP is impressive stuff, with “Cavalcade” and “742” slowing things down a bit for some beautifully delicate moments and “Similar Sense,” “Solitary Moves,” and “You’re The Runner” kicking the funk back in for more dizzying dance goodness. See You Bye is out now and a perfect addition to anyones “Bedroom Dance Party” playlist.

Fall into their Tumblr /// Bandcamp /// Amazon too