Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oh, we suck again!

Back on that mashup ish...

The White Panda: "Oh What Money to Blow" (Billy Joel v. Drake)



These Kanye collabos have been pretty mind blowing and this one doesn't disappoint. The remix has Justin Beiber's "Runaway Love" pitted against Wu Tang's "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit" in a fight to prepubescent death. Wu Tang wins but this is one hell of a juxtaposition--I'm with ya Yeezy.

Justin Bieber feat. Kanye West and Raekwon: "Runaway Love" Remix


MuzjiksRx (8.31): Second Hit

Disclaimer: Muzjiks neither condones nor partakes in the consumption of illegal substances. However, Muzjiks also wishes to cater to the widest spectrum of music listeners possible, and it's undeniable that marijuana culture is a sizable part of genres spanning from hip hop to reggae to psychedelic rock and beyond. Enjoy the following tunes responsibly.

Monday, August 30, 2010

MuzjiksRx (8.30): First Hit

Disclaimer: Muzjiks neither condones nor partakes in the consumption of illegal substances. However, Muzjiks also wishes to cater to the widest spectrum of music listeners possible, and it's undeniable that marijuana culture is a sizable part of genres spanning from hip hop to psychedelic rock to reggae and beyond. Enjoy the following tunes responsibly.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What the game's been missing

I was having a conversation with an old friend of Muzjiks, the Color Commentator, about how unbelievable it is that Lil Wayne was able to do what he did with The Carter III. Despite the pirating of the internet leak, the general migration away from physical formats toward digital, the proliferation of music blogs that provide easy access to mp3s for even the most computer illiterate, and all the other socioeconomic factors contributing to the death of the CD, Mr. Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. sold one million copies in the first week. That's simply unheard of nowadays. Could you imagine if—all other things being equal in terms of public music taste—Weezy dropped C3 in the '90s? There's no doubt in my mind that we'd be talking about it in the same context as Thriller and Dark Side of the Moon in terms of album sales.

Even so, like any album with that kind of sales success, C3 was timely, full of genius singles, but ultimately just a downright solid album from start to finish. Case and point: play just about any song off of that release at a party—even non-singles like "3 Peat," "Phone Home," or "Let the Beat Build"—and I promise you that over 95% of people will know the lyrics. That's why you don't see artists like Soulja Boy or Jay Sean selling records like Wayne. Sure, they'll go platinum, but they won't reach the stratospheric heights that Wayne did because, when it comes down to it, the collective ears of the public still want an album.

Another illustrative example: If you had a pulse in 2004, you knew J-Kwon's "Tipsy." The song was massive—you'd hear it four times just flipping through radio stations on any given car ride. Now, just for shits and giggles, check out this tracklist to the album on which "Tipsy" appeared. I dare you to tell me truthfully that you've heard of any other song on there. Although J-Kwon has been relegated to the mashup treatment and one-hit-wonder status, in the summer of 2004, he was it. No one bigger in the music biz than this fake ID-toting rapper who experienced a meteoric rise to fame. How many albums did he sell, you ask? 1.6 million to date.

Arguably the crowning achievement of C3 is the unrelenting "A Milli." It's gotten remixed after mashuped after freestyled over the past two years, but few ever recapture the song's original charm. However, with the virtuosic Flying Lotus on the boards, a helium-saturated Weezy is introduced to a fumbling beat that's kept from collapsing on itself by spitfire rhymes alone. You almost think that if Wayne stops rapping, somehow the whole track will devolve into cacophony. And the best part? The masterful FlyLo tests it out, dissolving the beat entirely at the 1:31 mark. The listener wonders whether the Best Rapper Alive has failed, whether he was unable to keep all the instrumental plates spinning, but then, at 1:43, he cobbles the beat back together with a triumphant "You ain't got shit." Did you really think Dr. Carter was going to lose a patient?

Lil Wayne: A Milli (Flying Lotus Remix) [alt]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Van Dope

I know this has been out for a few days but oh-my-gosh...

MuzjiksRx (8.28): Second Dose

Side effects: Perspiration, restless leg syndrome, and increased heart rate.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Kanyeezy

The rapper everyone loves to hate (until he puts out yet another dope album) has dropped another track for everyone. Enjoy.

Monster (ft. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, & Bon Iver) [alt]

MuzjiksRx (8.27): First Dose

It's Friday. Here's a prescription to bring out the party animal/dancing machine in you. Fill at your local party.
–Dr. Muzjiks

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Mogwai has released a sprawling live DVD spanning a large portion of their enourmous catalog. The movie is now available on iTunes and is directed by Vincent Moon and Nathanaël Le Scouarnec.

Along with the DVD, Mogwai has released and accompanying live album entitled Special Moves. Lucky enough for me (and you) one of my favorite songs, "Friend of the Night" is included in the live compilation. The live version has some nice fuzzy moss that isn't included in the studio cut. Enjoy.

Mogwai: "Friend of the Night" (Live) [Buy]



(Louis + CK)

Living in the Sprawl

Unless you live under a rock, you're aware that Arcade Fire's latest effort, The Suburbs, has taken the music world by storm—and not just the indie scene. Topping the Billboard charts, the Canadian band outdid fellow indie favorites Grizzly Bear in outselling Veckatimest, which also made an impressive Billboard showing last year. Arguably the crowning achievement of Suburbs—or at least the most immediately rewarding—is the, well, sprawling Regine Chassagne-led "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)." That's all well and good, but I'd like to advantage of this particular alignment of the blogosphere to shed light on an outstanding band who happens to also have mountains in its name (sweet segue, eh?).

Moving Mountains hails from New York and blends punk, math rock, post-rock, alternative, and even a touch of impassioned screamo to create a fusion of styles that consequently attracts a wide spectrum of ears. Although their sophomore release, Foreword EP, was certainly a solid effort, their crowning achievement thus far is without a doubt their debut, Pneuma. With soaring (sprawling?) distorted guitars, dynamic drumming, powerful vocals delivered by Gregory Dunn, and a knack for melancholy, Moving Mountains creates an album about love, loss, and angst. Sure, I'll admit that some might consider these guys a guilty pleasure, what with their rather emo sound, but I'm of the mind that the excellent instrumentation and sense of energy and soul far outweigh any potential shortcomings.

Before I offer you a few samplings, I'd like to recommend these guys as accompaniments to your next late night drive. Rolled-down windows required. Enjoy.

Aphelion [alt]
Cover the Roots, Lower the Stems [alt]
It is recommended that the above two tracks are experienced back-to-back.

Sol Solis [alt]
The backup vocals beginning at 2:35 and the horns at 3:23 simply make the track.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Do do da do-do

If you're an avid reader of Muzjiks, you're already aware of my adoration for Menomena's Mines; indeed, I consider it the current frontrunner for album of the year. Like all great albums, it not only functions as a cohesive unit, but it also reveals itself gradually over time with repeated listens yielding continued rewards. The layering of melodies and timbres, the musicianship (see: drumming), the vocal harmonies (see: the climax of TAOS), the cryptically universal lyrics akin to the work of Thom Yorke—it's all bloody brilliant.

Now, what you may or may know about this Portland, Oregon, trio is that all three sing and all three are multi-instrumentalists. And an interesting tidbit: even though Menomena is the most well known musical act in which Knopf, Harris, and Seim are involved, it actually began as a side project of Danny Seim's solo moniker, Lackthereof. It is this subject of solo projects which I'm concerned with for today's post.

Between Seim's Lackthereof and Brent Knopf's Ramona Falls, two-thirds of Menomena's whole have established solo projects. And they're stellar. I must admit that I'm not as well-versed in Lackthereof's back catalog as I would like, though I did recently purchase his Your Anchor release on CD, so I will not make any blanket generalizations about his work quite yet. Ramona Falls, on the other hand, I've been digging since Intuit dropped in August of last year. Conceived in a three step process of Knopf creating rough demos of song ideas, he then traveled around the country visiting with friends of his who were also musicians, at which point they collaborated and jammed together. From here, Knopf went back to the studio to pick and choose elements that he liked in order to fashion the final product.

To help you get a better understanding of how Brent Knopf's songwriting process works, I've embedded a YouTube clip above. Using a looping program called Deeler (Digital Looper Recorder) that he coded himself, he comes up with small melodic ideas and treats them as self-proclaimed "puzzle pieces." Perhaps herein lies the draw of Menomena and Ramona Falls music: those aural puzzle pieces implore the listener to figure out how the entire structure from segment to segment and song to song fit together, which may explain the gratification of repeated listens.

As this post grows longer than I anticipated, I'm realizing just how much analysis this music demands. This is no throwaway YouTube mashup or dumbed down bubblegum pop; rather, this is complex, painstakingly conceived, and expertly executed experimental indie rock from three of the most brilliant musicians in the game today. So, if you're unfamiliar with Brent, Justin, and Danny, consider this the beginning of a process of discovery...

Ramona Falls: Going Once, Going Twice [alt]
The above track is actually the finished product of the song you watched come to life in the YouTube video above.

Lackthereof: Safety in Jail [alt]
I dare you to get this synth line out of your head. And not is it uber-catchy, but it also serves as a sort of stabilizer in an otherwise rather chaotic piece of music. This is the kind of painstakingly conceived songwriting—avant-garde, even—that I was referring to earlier.

Menomena: TAOS [alt]

A final word: if there's any one band that deserves your CD or vinyl purchase, it's Menomena. And I'm not saying this because I love their work; I'm saying it because there's simply too much going on and therefore too much lost when one listens to their music on mp3s. For instance, there's a soft piano melody in (I might be mistaken) "Lunchmeat" that's arranged really far back in the mix in the left channel that was completely nonexistent once the track has been compressed into mp3. Long story story, just buy the fucking CD, kapeesh?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

And the worms ate into his brain

I's got a business idea. What's is it? Well, I'll tell you what it is. It's a Shazam for the music playing inside your head. How does it work? That's where you lot come in... [/futile attempt at replicating Ali G humor]

What in the bloody hell hell am I talking about? Well, for the entire summer, I had this post-rock guitar melody in my head. Literally every single day, I would hear this melody—desolate, brooding, bleak—spinning on the turntable (yes, turntable—the stuff between my ears kicks it old school hi-fi) in my mind. Problem is, I couldn't for the life of me remember what piece the melody came from. I could come up with a more compelling, far less embarrassing, but there's no smoke and mirrors, no cover-ups here at Muzjiks, so I'll shoot you straight: I pulled an all-nighter recently, going through my entire 16,000+ iTunes library with the intention of figuring out what that damn melody was (along with fixing genre tags, weeding out less-than-desirable tracks, adding album art, and fine-tuning my playlists). You'll all be happy to know that I found it, and you'll surely be even happier to know that I'm about to share this tune with you.

The opening track from Belgian outfit Cecilia Eyes' latest release, Here Dead We Lie, "Like Wolves" proved to be the culprit of my season-long ohrwurm. And what does it say about me that I had a seventeen note riff by a Belgian post-rock bank on repeat in my skull for a solid three months? Let's not go there.

Cecilia Eyes: Like Wolves [alt]

Without cheating on Google, name the song from which this post's title comes! Leave your answers in the comments section.

Monday, August 23, 2010


In German, it's called an ohrwurm, but in English we call it an earworm—or the-fucking-song-that-won't-get-out-of-your-head. The earworm tends to be an infuriatingly annoying tune that you probably enjoyed at your six-year-old birthday party but after enough weddings and bar mitzvahs you've learned to despise: the YMCA, the electric slide, the Macarena, Barbie Girl, etc. Or, if you've ever been to Disney World, the granddaddy purp of aural STDs, It's a Small World. Now, here at Muzjiks, we like to pride ourselves in bringing the best music (and, we admit, the occasional gimmicky bullshit YouTube mashup just to boost traffic) to you, so we're offering you an earworm today, but it's not one that makes your cochlea cringe, but rather it's a song with an infectiously catchy melody.

Titled "Pumped Up Kicks," this song comes to us from the Australian band, Foster the People. Aside from its melody that proves to be one of the catchiest in recent memory, the song is also notable for another reason: [rant] it's the only fucking song the band has. Hear me out: I support the blogosphere as much as the next guy (I'm a part of it), but come on. Really?!? Isn't it a bit premature to hype up a band as "the next MGMT" after one four-minute ditty? Granted, the four-minute ditty happens to be more addictive than a cocaine-coated Peep, but still, it's ONE SONG.

So, listen to "Pumped Up Kicks," but can we pump the breaks on the MGMT (or other similarly popular, successful, and generally consistent artists) comparisons at least until they put out an EP? [/rant]

BUT, I must say that the way Foster the People slides that one note in the word "pumped" during the chorus is indicative of an understanding of melodic nuance that could bode well for their future.

Foster the People: Pumped Up Kicks [alt]

Sunday, August 22, 2010

MuzjiksRx (8.22)


Earl Sweatshirt's "EARL" music video (see: MuzjiksTV) views like a snuff film: raw footage of skateboarding injuries, self-administered dentistry, and smoothies done like you've never seen before. It's all rather phantasmagorical—like if Alex DeLarge directed a rap video. Sure, this could be dismissed as nothing more than gimmicky shock tactics, but if you came to that conclusion, you probably didn't listen because Sweatshirt can flat out spit. With a dizzying flow akin to early Eminem (before he became a parody of himself, mind you), there's plenty of "did he really just say that?" moments to go around. For instance...

I'm a hot and bothered astronaut
Crashin' while jackin' off
To bufferin' vids of Asher Roth eatin' applesauce

The best part? Not only is Earl Sweatshirt giving away his mixtape for free, but he's also part of the OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) crew, a collective of barely-legal emcees all putting out some of the most refreshing hip hop I've heard in quite some time. Also part of the collective is Tyler, the Creator (pictured above), whose Bastard mixtape is similarly off-kilter and deranged and likewise a very welcome breath of fresh air. Check out a sampling of what these two have to offer on the mic, and if you like what you hear, download their stuff here—fo' free.

Earl Sweatshirt: Earl [alt]
Tyler, the Creator: Seven [alt]

Saturday, August 21, 2010

MuzjiksRx (8.21)

In this new feature, Muzjiks will don its stethoscope and prescribe readers musical remedies. Trust us, it will make more sense once you see how it works...

Tweet to yo' mother

Is that a banana in your pants, or did you just find out that Muzjiks is now on Twitter? Follow me for the latest updates on all things Muzjiks: what I'm listening to, what concerts I'm attending, what posts are in the works or have been published, and everything else that's going on in the Muzjiksosphere.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Witch Heezy

Every summer seems to give rise to a new microgenre. Past years have brought us no-fi shitgaze and chillwave, and now we find ourselves in the midst of witch house/drag. Characterized by drum machines, fuzzy female shrieks, and a clusterfuck of noise, the genre is definitely an acquired taste. However, if one approaches it as the amalgam of other styles that came before it—industrial, goth, punk—then perhaps its challenging sound will be a bit more palatable. Just as Toro y Moi, Washed Out, and Neon Indian led the chillwave movement, so do Salem, oOoOO, ///▲▲▲\\\ (now Horse Macgyver), and a host of other unGoogleable, ALT-code-happy monikers (see: ℑ⊇≥◊≤⊆ℜ) lead this latest microgenre. Arguably unlike any other type of music before, though, witch house is something that you really just need to hear to understand. The best description of it really comes by way of this image: it's what you'd imagine the undead listening to at a rave (other than Thriller).

oOoOO: No Summr4U
One of my single favorite tracks of the year, this more accessible offering from the witch house world is chock-full of little melodic synth lines and vampire sexy female vocals. And bass—dear God the bass. That said, your woofers haven't seen anything compared to...

Salem: King Night [alt]
I'd like to hereby declare Salem founding the "doomstep" microgenre with this song. I swear that there are zombies somewhere getting crunk to this. If Joker died, went to hell, and rose from the crypt with new material, this would be it.

GR†LLGR†LL: ...sLOwLickiN... [alt]
Like jj before them,
GR†LLGR†LL flips the now-classic ascending melody that drives Lil Wayne's "Lollipop," but this time transforms it into a languid funeral procession. It gives a whole new meaning to hip hop honors.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

New MMJ on the Way

Press releases have indicated that My Morning Jacket will release their follow up to the largely disappointing Evil Urges in May of 2011. I am an avid listener of the band and maintain faith that Jim James will come back around--he's just too damn talented. Read the NME link for a more detailed description of the "wholesome" new album. In the meantime, these were the days...

My Morning Jacket: "The Way He Sings" [Buy]


Friday, August 13, 2010

Mandatory Reading: WTF

I don't know what's going in the world but I like it. From the Pitchfork interview with Justin Vernon..."just a bunch of über talented people and everyone was really nice and chill and just working on Kanye's record. I was literally in the back room rolling a spliff with Rick Ross talking about what to do on the next part of a song."

Can you make this shit up?


So I don't really like most post-rock. I get bored of the pattern that many past-rock bands fall into--a little too epic for my taste. There's something about this song though. Initially, I was attracted by the Moby-Dick inspired cover art I saw on Headphone Commute. I did some listening and something about "Supervulken" from Milhaven just grabbed me. Maybe its the minimalism, maybe I can envision Kanye West rapping over it on his next album--your guess is as good as mine.

Milhaven: "Supervulkan"



So Menomena made their TV debut a few nights ago on Fallon. They seemed to be a bit nervous but were great nonetheless. They performed the dramatic cut, "Killemall," from their new album Mines. Unfortunatley, NBC is a bunch of prudes with their video so I found a better version from KEXP. As a bonus, I have included a mp3 of Ramona Falls' (Brent Knopf's side project) "I Say Fever."

Ramona Falls: "I Say Fever" [Buy]


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Live in Cosmogramma

In the time I have spent not writing, my ears have taken me in many directions--many of them being diametrically opposed. This is one of those times. With my discovery, and more importantly exploration, of the Flying Lotus' music, I thought more and more of the lasting effect of John Coltrane and his music. If you weren't aware, Steven Ellison (FL) is the great nephew of John and Alice Coltrane and is part of the huge family of Coltrane music. Here are the two ends of the Coltrane sonic spectrum--the harsh, polyphonic textures of Flying Lotus and the Miles Davis-cum Revolver era Beatles music of Alice Coltrane. Have a bit of patience with these.

Flying Lotus: "Table Tennis" (feat. Laura Darlington) [Buy]

Alice Coltrane: "Something About John Coltrane"


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hey Andre 3K!

I haven't written in quite some time, so forgive the rust dripping from my blogging chops.

With the release of the much acclaimed solo album, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, Big Boi is again in the eyes and minds of the people. Though, it seems that the other half of the Atlanta duo is following closely behind. The track "I Do" comes ahead of some kind of album coming out at some point from Andre 3000-- sorry I had to be so specific. I hope you enjoy the music.

Andre 3000: "I Do"