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YDP Concert Review: Penguin Prison

10 Apr
Penguin Prison
Last night I had a chance to watch Penguin Prison’s first live show before a sold out crowd of about 250 at Mercury Lounge. I was tipped off to them a couple days earlier by Lord B, and while excited to see them, given the high pop production and the fact that it was their first live show I had admittedly limited expectations for what I would see. There were only a couple of songs that I could find online and I felt “The Worse It Gets” stood out. It had One-Hit-Williamsburg-Indie-Wonder written all over it.
Watching the front man Chris Glover a.k.a. Penguin Prison who writes and records all the records was an interesting sight. He was clearly nervous, extremely serious and very intense. He had assembled a band for this show which constituted of a bass player, a drummer, a synth man, and Glover on guitar. They also backed themselves up with a laptop on Garage Band which had a nice effect of augmenting the sounds.
When he started playing, the nervousness seemed to fade and a highly talented, Type A musician began to kill it. Opening with “Animal Animal,” Penguin Prison brought a song that felt a little flat to me in the recording to life with excellent vocals and a great guitar solo (Why doesn’t anyone do guitar solos anymore?).
I have literally been driving myself crazy today trying to find the songs “Don’t Fuck with My Money” and “Multi-Millionaire,” which I had never heard before, and think might be better than “The Worse It Gets.” Penguin Prison, if you are reading this, please email us the MP3’s, we promise we won’t put them up or share them (unless you want us to)!
Penguin Prison, you have completely won us over, you killed it last night, please play NYC again soon and keep writing more songs.
Das Racist
As for the opener, Das Racist.  Where to begin?  It was like you took all the guys that lived in the house together in Knocked Up, gave them an eight-ball of heroin, took away their sense of humor and told them they should start a rap group. They were really sloppy and the performance was definitely not helped by whatever substance everyone was on. C’mon guys, think about the bands in the 70’s and 80’s that did drugs, they were still really good, you need all the help you can get so I recommend staying in reality next show.

Daamnn. That Don’t Sound Too Good Bill Murray

25 Mar

UPDATE: This is an update on a January 9 post. It seems appropriate as it turns out Bill Murray, the RZA and the GZA actually do hang out. Bill Murray brought the Wu Tang after party to a bar at SXSW and served everyone tequila shots no matter what they ordered. Of course the RZA and the GZA didn’t partake because alcohol causes “serious delirium.”

Original Post Below:

Once about every year or so, I become obsessed with the Wu Tang Clan, the 36 Chambers, The Killa Bees, Ghostface Killah, The GZA, THE RZA, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Method Man, ODB, Raekwon and Bill Murray. Bill Murray?  Thats right Bill Groundhog Day Ghostbusting Ass Murray.

Here is about an hour of Wu Tang Family and solo classics to chill out to this Saturday. Wu Tang Killa Bees we on a swarm!

Edit: Grooveshark Fail-It lists a couple songs twice for no reason. There are worse things than having to listen to Protect Ya Neck twice…

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YDP Exclusive: Hey Champ Signs With Townie Records

17 Mar

Hey Champ, the synth loving music nerds (two of its members attended NJ’s Princeton University) known best for their hits “Cold Dust Girl” and “Neverest,” have just announced that signing with Townie Records. Hey Champ is composed of singer and guitarist Saam Hagshenas, drummer Jon Marks, and synth/keyboard man Pete Dougherty and now plans to release their first album in the coming months.

Saam Hagshenas, Jon Marks, and Pete Dougherty

After several years of touring, and enough time and inspiration to record three albums worth of material, Hey Champ is excited to announce their plans to release the new album. Front man Hagshenas indicated that the band and Townie have been in talks since last August”s Lollapalooza.

Hagshenas cited the philosophical common ground they share with the label’s founder, Brent Stiefel, and the freedom he gave their band as key to their decision to go with Townie. “We have a lot of mutual respect for each other and this is a really good situation for us,” Hagshenas explained. “The best part about it though, is we get to get our album out which we are super excited about.”

Stiefel used to work at legendary record label Sub Pop, so the band was surprised when Townie Records initially approached them. “Sub Pop does much cooler stuff than us, like Wolf Parade, Iron and Wine, and the Shins” said Hagshenas, so the band was unsure where they fit in. After seeing Stiefel’s enthusiasm for their music and his vision to create “a different type of label” they bought in. The deal that Hey Champ and Townie signed is structured to give more profits to Hey Champ once certain costs of releasing their album are offset (unheard of at major labels). Stiefel also envisions Townie remaining small enough to give personal attention to the bands that they sign.

Asked about signing Hey Champ, Stiefel said, “I’m very excited to have Hey Champ as the first band signed to Townie Records. They represent exactly what I am looking for in a band – – outstanding music, stage presence, personalities, versatility and intelligence. I can’t think of a better group to be the label’s flagship band and I look forward to accomplishing great things with them.”

We’ll have more contact with the band and further interviews in the coming months as they gear up to release their first full length album!

Check out there Cold Dust Girl and Neverest and be sure to buy their music if you like it.

I Wonder What This Guy Did Wrong

3 Mar

It was probably pretty bad. I will say, it doesn’t really look like he was willing to put in the effort to make up for it…

Edit: Not a huge surprise but this was a promo for the single as its being released by Chicane. As a music video its still excellent.

Chilly Gonzales: Hip Hop gets a Canadian Makeover

1 Mar

When I wrote about Breakbot making piano cool again I omitted a far more committed, borderline manic black and white keyed warrior. Mr. Chilly Gonzales, previously written up on YDP for his world record for longest time playing piano (27 hrs) and his duel with Andrew W.K.

So what has Chilly Gonzales been up to recently recently? Thats easy, he finished a residency at Joe’s pub in New York and made a mixtape full of remixes by piano called Pianistenvy.

Hip hop gets a Canadian makeover:

Concert Review: Mike Posner at Gramercy Theatre, February 22

24 Feb

Hype can be a dangerous thing for artists. It can cause an artist to blow up way too fast and and create expectations that ultimately derail the bands creative spark. It can cause groups to be anointed the next big thing before they even have their first album. This brings me to the recent Mike Posner concert I had a chance to check out, when Asa180 got me tix!

YDP covered Mike Posner previously in an In the Know that showcases some great songs, mentions the fact he was still in college until December and essentially concludes that as an artist, he isn’t a finished product. After watching him last night, I agree with Lord_B’s assesment.

First with the highlights: I was nervous that like many people with heavily produced songs, Mike Posner’s voice would be lacking or not even sung. I have certainly seen my fair share of lip synching over recordings in concerts so I wasn’t sure what to expect. That was clearly not the case. His voice was even better live than on the recording and this was apparent from when he opened with “Drug Dealer Girl.” I was impressed and hope he shows his vocal range in future songs.

At least with his hits, he was committed to building on original recording of the song and this came through again especially with “Cooler Than Me,” and also “Evil Woman,” “You Don’t Have to Leave” and his cover of John Mayer’s “I Don’t Trust Myself.” His strongest songs performed live were his best songs (no surprise there), and his performance of them showed a lot of promise. I was also very impressed with his stage presence. Its very rare to see a one man show with pop music and Mike Posner clearly was up to the task. He seemed perfectly at ease to be up there alone with the crowd and that is quite a feat. He gets a free pass on playing songs on his Macbook since he single-handedly produced and mastered all of them. It’s not like there was a band he left at home to go on tour by himself, and there is way too much going on in his songs for him to be expected to play them live.

Now the criticism: By my estimation, Drug Dealer Girl and Cooler Than Me are his only two high quality songs that feel and sound original. The rest of his strong songs, like Evil Woman, You Don’t Have To Leave and I Don’t Trust Myself are more or less covers, and the other original songs were kinda weird breakup songs that weren’t particularly catchy or sounded like I’d heard them before on the radio or out in clubs. Cooler Than Me and Drug Dealer Girl, while not the most enlightening lyrics of all time are genuinely funny, tongue and cheek and paint a picture, especially of ‘those girls’ on a college campus! His other songs struggle to achieve that. Of course I will cut the man some slack because he only just stopped having to go to class, has a ridiculous tour schedule and hasn’t even released his first album. That said, with a live show I was surprised to see as many covers as I saw (with the term covers I include using the same exact melody and changing a couple words that rhyme with the original verse).

It reminds me of in Finding Forrester where Forrester teaches Jamal to write by telling him to starting typing someone else’s story and making them his own when he felt comfortable. In terms of his musical development, more often than not than not this seems to be the stage that Mike Posner is in. Even the songs I give him credit for being original in, I can’t help but wonder if I like it because I’ve heard the song somewhere before. Now I understand that every song copies other songs to some degree but when you open a song with “I Never Knew, I Never Knew” in the some notes as the Fray and continue this trick with the majority of your songs it gets a little old.

In this metaphor Jamal is Mike Posner and Forrester is...Jesus?

To me the point that really sums up my criticisms of Mike Posner are when he comes out for his encore. Shirtless he tells the crowd he doesn’t normally do this but he’s only gonna sing Acapella. He proceeded to sing Halo by Beyonce acapella even though his voice is certainly not up to that task (not that many people are) to an adoring drunk high school crowd that sang along with him. If that isn’t blowing the encore I don’t now what is.

None of these criticisms are the kiss of death for an artist at the beginning of his career. I wish the absolute best for Mike Posner and if his album blows me away I will stand corrected but I’m just not sure what direction he is headed right now. We shall see…

On that note, my encore, a review of the opening act: Chiddy Bang with his DJ, Xaphoon Jones opened and really put on an exceptional live show. Chiddy Bang has a great flow, hilarious lyrics and solid free styling skills. He even ran up and freestyled during Mike Posner’s performance. Xaphoon Jones clearly has some talent in the production department providing Chiddy some varied and really rich backgrounds the work perfectly with Chiddy’s rhymes. Also while “Opposite of Adults” their current hit was good, I thought just about everything else they performed was much better. These guys are going places.

Chiddy Bang and Xaphoon Jones

Song of The Day: Let Love Rule

13 Feb

Justice continues to surprise me with their under the radar remixes. This one came out a while ago remixing Lenny Kravitz. Sick sick song. Have a great Saturday!

Your Weekly Shot of Energy: Why Can’t I Have You-The Cars

8 Feb

This may seem like an odd choice to fire you up but once you just go with it. You’ll see…

Surrender yourself to singer Ric Ocasek, cool 80’s hair, weird dancing, and musicians in a giant squoval.

Breakbot Made Piano Cool Again

5 Feb

Breakbot's Many Faces

Lets be honest. The piano isn’t an exciting instrument to most. It’s the thing in your house that your parents made you practice for hours with no obvious reward in sight. They make you play boring music from hundreds of years ago that has no seeming connection to the music that you listen to today.

Breakbot, the new addition to the legendary Ed Banger label, seems hell bent on making Piano cool again. Naturally he’s French.

When you listen to his material, from his mixtapes to his remixes to his first single “Make You Mine,” you can clearly see the special place piano has in Breakbot’s heart. He lovingly layers piano chords with some high pitched vocals, some bow,wow base and, occasionally, even rap.

Do you like my Piano?

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Alex Metric Heroes Remix for BBC. Courtesy of Too Many Sebastians

So does this mean that Piano will be cool again? It hasn’t really been cool since well, Mozart, but things certainly seem to be looking up for Mr. Piano.

Disclaimer: Breakbot is only making Piano cool. In case you are wondering who is making Piano sexy please refer to Sebastian Tellier:

What is with all the long haired, bearded, hip Frenchmen?

For all people in the NYC area you can check Breakbot out with a large group of Ed Bangers at Webster Hall on Friday the 12th.

R. Kelly Will Do Freaky Things to You

26 Jan

In case you weren’t paying attention. The new R. Kelly album dropped so I thought I’d let you know how the man figured out his album with some good old fashioned market research. Oh yeah by market research I mean getting girls pregnant, banging the headboard, get your eyes rolling back fingernails in your spine etc…

"You Make Me Wanna Git You Pregnant"

Here is how R. Kelly got his album right:

“I did my homework on this album…for three months straight, I threw a party at my house every weekend. I can’t go to the clubs anymore because as soon as I walk in, I’m on YouTube. But I love to party… so I brought the party home… like 200 girls come over, and there’s some guys too, like four or five, but no pictures, so we can all be ourselves. Then I’d play the music and see how they would react… if they didn’t feel it, I’d go back downstairs and rework it…”

From Rollingstone

I included the entire new R. Kelly album in order below. Listen to it and see if man’s hard work paid off.

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By posting this I am going to assume that all the girls referenced in the songs and at his party were over 18. He was acquitted right?

How To Make An Electronic Song in 254 Simple Steps

6 Jan

Lord B tipped me off on this and it blew my mind. I always loved The Prodigy but reverse engineering all the different samples to show how “Smack My Bitch Up” was made really shows the musical talent involved in the top electronic music acts. Not just anyone can do this, you need some real technological skills and a great ear when it comes to creating a final product.

Using a variety of samples from Kool Keith, Kool and the Gang, RATM and others Liam Howlett constructs a song that is pure genius. Show this to anyone that tries to argue that the sampling in electronic music isn’t an instrument in its own. Thanks to Jim Pavloff for assembling this and now I want to see how Mindfields and Firestarter were made.

Making Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” in Ableton by Jim Pavloff:

Ke$ha, I’m Calling You Out

4 Jan

When I first heard the Ke$ha song “Tik Tok” I may have had a couple too many Whiskey Ginger Ales. The excellent combination of Canada Dry and Jim Beam made me certain that “Tik Tok” was a remix of “TTHHEE PPAARRTTY,” a cool song from Justice’s album Cross. The song features Uffie who sings in a very distinctive style. As a matter of fact I’d never heard someone sing quite like that.

That’s until Ke$ha took “TTHHEE PPAARRTTY,” used the same vocal style and the same ‘girl with swagger getting ready for a night out’ vocal set up. Then she simply added a standard dance bass hook for the chorus to turn it into a club track. Tik Tok should technically be called  TTHHEE PPAARRTTYY (Ke$ha club remix) by Uffie. Instead Ke$ha has the audacity to claim its her own song.

In case you don’t believe me listen to both Tik Tok and TTHHEE PPAARRTTYY.

Ke$ha I’m calling you out. Got anything to say for yourself? Are you even embarrassed?

Music that I hate: Nickelback

30 Dec

I have avoided writing this post for a while because well its too easy. I wondered if I hated them too much, that maybe they were ‘overhated.’

Well I’m past that.

What changed you ask?

Earlier this month Billboard unveiled the top selling artists and groups of the decade and at number 7 –first among rock bands– was Nickelback. I have been quietly steaming and rage has been building. In fact its continued building as I am writing this post. Whenever I write about an artist, I listen to their tracks to inspire me. I have already churned through “Never Gonna Be Alone” “Burn it to the Ground” and “If Today Was Your Last Day.” FML…

To demonstrate how personal this post is to me I have compiled a partial list of things that Nickelback has ruined for me.

  1. Nirvana
  2. Male rock singers with long hair
  3. Male rock singers that shout
  4. New rock music this decade
  5. Puppies

In case you were hoping for some music you are out of luck, Google it. You will find no such filth on our site. Sorry. (“Rockstar” is playing now and I am wondering how quickly I can wrap this stupid post up…AAAHHHHHH!!!!!!)

"Who Am I?"

Nickelback is like an evil Avatar of all things that have been positive in rock music. It sounds vaguely reminiscent, but somehow wrong and evil. Yes, Chad Kroeger shouts into the microphone, but he does it without any feeling, any angst or anything that would justify screaming into the microphone for every single song that you make. I know they say its bad to judge a book by its cover but I read all of the book Blink and know what it taught me?

That people can recognize tools instantly.

Just look at him, you can tell he sucks (if he looks like a cool guy to you, I recommend taking a good hard look in the mirror…)

I don’t listen to rock music that much anymore and I think its because I associate Nickelback with rock after 8 years of whenever the radio being turned on hearing another stupid Nickelback song. I don’t know anyone that likes Nickelback. I really don’t. Everyone knows who Nickelback is and everyone seems to hate them. Why does anyone buy their albums? Is it because they get a lot of radio play? Someone please…

One time I was in a car with my dad and out of nowhere he told me “I hate Nickelback.” A Nickelback song wasn’t even on the radio when he said that, its awfulness was just singed into his brain and was taking away from his enjoyment of a car ride.  That is how bad Nickelback is.