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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.

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.

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:

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.

YDP Goes To Russia to Interview Xuman Records

17 Dec

Tomorrow Xuman Records drops the labels first album. Their compilation CD, Tales, is a showcase of eleven of the top acts on Xuman Records, a new label and musical family based outside of Moscow. Started by Alexander Xuman, a popular Russian DJ, as an electronic music project, it grew with the mission to make “listener friendly music” for the masses.

From what I’ve heard, the music is really excellent. Essentially this label is an entire parties worth of music where every song, someone comes up to you and asks “where did you find this song?” The variety and consistent high quality of great music blows me away. Of particular note are Xuman, Upstation, and S T I. The studio time together has clearly made the sum of the work better than the parts because honestly I have never heard so many excellent bands without individual albums out.

YDP had the chance to catch up with some of the guys before their album release to find out where they came from, what its like living in their studio and if they plan on being the Russian Wu Tang Clan. Keep an eye on Xuman Records as they plan their takeover of the US.

The English was sometimes broken (tense issues) but we found that it doesn’t take away from the explanations of their music so left it as is.

Here is there first single Panic and be sure to check out their music.

Interview on the next page Continue reading

YDP In the Know: Hey Champ

10 Dec

YDP’s In the Know feature is rapidly evolving.  In our quest to be the best, we search high and low for good groups.  For those of you new to the blog, from time to time you may see us using this feature to perform a bit of shameless promotion of groups we love.  Hey Champ, a group out of Chicago, falls into this category – but for good reason.  Primarily a live band with roots in rock/indie/electronic, the group displays serious range by becoming involved in producing and remixing, along with creating their own blend of indie/dance/electronic music.  The lid’s been blown off this secret though – Lupe Fiasco actually picked up the group and put them on his label, First and Fifteenth.  They’ve most recently been on tour with him.  For a real good look at what they’re all about, check out this fantastic interview they did with Asian Dan, one of YDP’s favorite blogs, and what they had to say about making it big:

The shows are incredible. We went from a local Chicago band to playing for thousands of people. Each night we learn so much from [Lupe] and his band, and each night we leave the venue a better band. In case anyone was wondering, being a rock star is awesome…..

I highly recommend you take the short trip over to Hey Champ’s blog, where they’re offering a FREE download of their mixtape.  The choicest jams are Neverest (Raw Man Remix), Beaches & Friends (Hey Champ Remix) and (We Are) Champions, a Cool Kids x Hey Champ collab.  Tell ’em YDP sent ya!

Go download the

But enough talk!  Now, to the music.

Cold Dust Girl:

French Horn Rebellion [Vid by Dance Floor Kids]: Beaches and Friends (Hey Champ Remix)

YDP In the Know: Ducksauce

8 Dec

Ducksauce can do it aNYway that you want to

Ducksauce is the much hyped collaboration between A-Trak and Armand Van Helden. Their mission is to bring back 90’s Disco House tweaked with the sounds of the 2000’s. They have been generating huge industry buzz as most DJ’s think that Disco and French house was the pinnacle of house music.

Check out the comments from other DJ’s in this teaser video. This type of buzz from a collaboration is unusual from DJ’s of totally different styles and eras. Even the guy giving me a haircut a month ago was talking about it.

Their first single “aNYway” has deep roots in the Disco and Soul songs of the 70’s and they pay tribute to that with this awesome musice video:

A-Trak and Armand Van Helden decided to put together a video to talk about the collaboration and their roots as Hip Hop DJ’s that moved to House Music. It is really interesting to hear them talk about the production process for house music and how difficult it can be.

I think this is a phenomenal collaboration: Armand Van Helden brings 15 years of experience making house music and A-Trak is one of the hottest up and coming hip hop DJ’s out there who seems to be transitioning to House and has greatly improved his production skills the past two years.

Since A-Trak brought up Stardust, I wanted to relive this great moment in house history when Thomas Bangalter, Alan Braxe and Benjamin Diamond churned out “Music Sounds Better With You” after they essentially improvised it during a live show. The song only took one day in the studio to make. They never collaborated again with Bangalter focusing his efforts on Daft Punk. Now I don’t think Ducksauce’s first song is at that level but I hope that they continue to find time to get to the studio together. I can only imagine their “collabos” as Van Helden would say will get better in the future. And now you know…

More on Stardust and the music video for Music Sounds Better with You after the jump… Continue reading

Max Martin is god…Part 1: The 90’s

16 Nov
Remember Boy Bands? Britney in a Catholic School Girl Outfit? Ace of Base? The 90’s Synth Pop sound? What if I told you all of the good songs of that ilk from that era were came from a small studio in Kungsholmen, Sweden?
Chieron Studio’s first hit that you would recognize is “All That She Wants” by Ace of Base. To really get them rolling though Max Karl Sandberg left his crappy band “It’s Alive” to become Max Martin. Martin knocked out “Beautiful Life” and Co-Produced the album “The Bridge” for Ace of Base. From there, he went on the most dominant pop song writing run since Michael Jackson/Quincy Jones.
Max Martin har blivit en legend
With the Cheiron team. Martin went on to produce for the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and Britney among others. Yes you probably made fun of these songs when they came out because you were a 7th grade dude and definitely wanted to protect your 7th grade masculinity by listening to Limp Bizkit and Korn…
Max Martin and Cheiron would write and record the entire song in their studios in Kungsholmen. Then the final stage was the “artist” would fly to Kungsholmen and record the vocals that had been written for them. Britney laid down the vocals for “Oops!…I did it again”  in just von one week in Kungsholmen (I like saying Kungsholmen.)
That wasn’t always simple process either though. Listen to “…Baby One More Time.” Hear the three Britney’s singing backup vocals? Thats because the song was originally written (gender adjusted I’m assuming but Swedes are weird) for the Backstreet Boys.
One element that was certain was Max Martin was involved in everything. In an interview years ago he said:
I want to be part of every note, every single moment going on in the studio. I want nothing forgotten, I want nothing missed. I’m a perfectionist. The producer should decide what kind of music is being made, what it’s going to sound like–all of it, the why, when and how.
So yes there is something cynical and corporate about pop stars not writing their own songs: See Miley Cyrus. At the same time, great pop music is great pop music and when you re listen to the 90’s Martin and Cherion sound, it is timeless with undeniable catchy and tight pop sounds.
Coming soon: Max Martin redefines himself in the 2000’s…is still a songwriting god.

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It still amazes me he wrote all these songs

YDP In The Know: Sleigh Bells

4 Nov
YDP brings you Sleigh Bells, the unsigned fast growing sensation out of Brooklyn is playing at Andrew W.K.’s Santos Party House tonight with The Very Best. Kindof like a rock and roll Crystal Castles but instead of video game sounds they stick some intense guitar grooves and fuzz.

Not quite the Sleigh Bells you grew up with

Basically Crystal Castles and The Prodigy had a baby that was raised by Beck. Based on my experience watching Crystal Castles live I imagine that Sleigh Bells puts on an impressive show.
This can second as your weekly shot of energy.

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More after the jump…

Continue reading

YDP In the Know: Mike Posner

25 Oct

No longer looks like he's in a frat...

White rappers, black presidents – until Eminem and Obama arrived, nobody believed either was possible in any meaningful way.  While we have to wait at least a presidential term to see if Barack’s broken the ice, Mike Posner might be making it clear that the racial barriers are crumbling across music far more quickly than they are in politics.

A senior at Duke University, Posner is a Michigan native who’s been making beats since his early teens.  He’s living the dream; a student by day, he tours on the weekends.  When his music was brought to my attention, the first thing I did was look to see which college campus I could see him at this weekend – but recently he’s been back in the midwest and upstate New York hitting up colleges like Syracuse, with bigtime ACC spots like Maryland on his upcoming schedule.

At any rate, the guy definitely deserves a listen.

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Here’s the Mixtape that was available for download on iTunes until recently – now that he’s been signed and has an album coming out, look for something more refined to hit the streets.

Head of the Class

Head of the Class

Mike Posner Mixtape – “A Matter of Time

[props to Harris for fuxing wit’ this]

Check out our Mike Posner Concert review here

YDP In The Know: Classixx

16 Oct

Let me introduce you to Classixx. A powerhouse synth house group that has been nailing remixes and developing a cult following the past year. A great place to start is to listen to “I’ll Get You.”

If it doesn’t get you singing “Do You Like Bass, Do you Do you Like Bass” You are guaranteed your money back. By money back I mean absolutely nothing. Anyways you were probably wasting your employers money by reading and listening so lets just call it even.

The groups wheelhouse is pretty evident: Fun awesome synth pop!

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Speech Debelle: Mercury Prize Winner 2009

23 Sep

I’ve been meaning to write this post for about 2 weeks now, but I’ll be honest.  When I saw who won the Barclaycard Mercury

This Was Me

This Was Me

Prize, I was completely floored.

If I was a betting man, I’d have lost money on Speech Debelle’s win.  In fact, oddsmakers (people will bet on anything) had Florence + The Machine as the favorite (so did I, personally).  But unlike our 43rd president, I don’t jump to conclusions.  Instead, I decided to study the selction in a truly fair and balanced manner.  I sat down, and listened to Debelle’s whole album.

What I discovered were the tunes were reminiscent of Floetry’s gritty brit street rap, while at the same time evoking the lyrical complexity of Lauryn Hill.  In short-while I would’ve enjoyed seeing Florence + the Machine take home some evocative Yuppie hardware-I respect and applaud the harder decision the panel made.  Mining the depths of this backlog of music to get us In the Knowthat’s what we live for here at YDP.  For that, I salute you.

But I won’t let it happen again.

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YDP in the know: YACHT, not Yacht

26 Aug

Do you know who Jona Bechtolt is? I do. Sucker.

I first learned about him back in 2006 when he was all up in The Blow, a stripped down electro pop duo with Mikhaela Yvonne Maricich. She still uses the moniker. I actually copped their gangsta tunes back in 2007 on ‘Paper Television,’ no joke, it’s a fantastic album. Back in the day I tried to get my hands on a their 7″ single Parentheses but I still don’t own it. Sad Face.

I’m just kidding you silly goose, I own it. It’s on my shelf next to my Jason Webley EPs. Lots of happiness in that section, I sometimes move an Elliot Smith LP over there just to bring it down a few notches. But seriously, wonderful minimal pop qualities album..but that’s not what this post is about.

So monsiuer Bechtolt moved on from The Blow in 2007 and decided to crank out an EP last year (Summer Song EP) and finally a full length album this year. Sweet mother thank you. See Mystery Lights is pure electronic music hotness. This was released on DFA records and as you would expect it’s very upbeat. Much like the rest of the DFA lineup, this is pure funky electro pop with a hint of disco fun. It’s fresh, it’s retro and the LCD System/Murphy influence is completely obvious from the first few tracks (most notably on Summer Song but that was intentional according to a Pitchfork review). But that’s not the whole picture. Reviews have seemingly breezed right past one of the most obvious influences, ska. I’ve seen mentions of the island sound reggae organ and beats, but I can’t help but see the distinct 60’s ska influence on this record, seriously Desmond Dekker is oozing out of this album. Quite an enjoyable listen if I do say so myself.

My favorite song on the record, “Psychic City,” sounds like the perfect blend of his work with The Blow and the LCD Soundsystem influence. Ah, happy heaven 2009. You’ll like this if you like: LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, …and all other releases on DFA.

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