Author Archives: nickstropko

Crispy Chris’s Top 10 Electronic Chart

By Chris Burrell

Guys, I’ve never done a chart before, so consider this my chart cherry! These are 10 tracks that have frequently found their way into my recent mixes and general listening. Some of these tracks are built squarely for the club, some are more for headphones, some are new, and some have been out there a while, but all are good. No particular order.

Canblaster – I Think About U (Marble)

A flat out just good song – I wish it were longer! Brodinski said it was his favorite song of 2013. The song opens up with a looping, “I don’t know what I was thinking about most of the time…” while a heavenly beat builds. Can you guess what they were thinking about?

Jamie Lidell – You Naked (Crackboy Remix) (Warp)

I picked up this track from a pink 12” of remixes at Princeton Record Exchange and was hype to see that the seldom releasing Crackboy was one of the remixers on it. The elusive French producer tweaks Lidell’s amazing voice around one hook, and builds a monstrous swinging beat for a slamming good time. What’s even cooler is that I can’t find this track anywhere digitally (this video has like 500 views) – viva vinyl.

Moderat – Bad Kingdom (Head High Remix) (50Weapons)

I had no clue who Head High is (later figured out that it’s one of the many aliases of German producer Shed), but I trust Modeselektor & their 50Weapons imprint, so no surprise that this is a damn good remix. The vocals haunt throughout the chugging drum-heavy track: “This is not what you wanted, nor what you had in mind…”

Four Tet – Buchla (Text)

I love the new Four Tet album, and this is definitely a standout track from it for me. The beat is super raw and bumps, but then it gets all soft and melodic before going back in. Four Tet’s always been the king of samples and interesting music; this one makes me dance more than chin scratch.

Paul Johnson – Let Me See You Butterfly (DJ Deeon Remix) (Mr Kim’s Records)

I’ve definitely fallen victim to the recent resurgence in legendary Chicago house label Dance Mania (a retrospective compilation on the label just came out), and that victimization led me to this amazing track. Take everything that’s great about ghetto house: fast paced beating drums and bass, dirty vocals, raw energy, and then add in a super melodic beat flip, and BOOM – you have this track. DJ Deeon definitely shows his depth as a producer on this remix, I play it both faster and slower in mixes – really whenever I can.

Duck Sauce – Party In Me (Fool’s Gold)

Duck Sauce’s funky, fresh, and simple songs tend to come out as the weather gets warm, and give me all kinds of reasons to smile. This track was released for free as part of the duo’s “Duck Droppings” EP, preceding their first album “Quack”, out on April 15th. All of the tracks are great, and lean wonderfully on samples (look them up), but this track is so damn catchy, and I find myself playing it on loop all the time.

Sammy Bananas – Flexin (Fool’s Gold)

Once you listen to this track, the cover for this very solid EP (Mr. Flex: a banana with a mustache, sunglasses, and biceps) makes total sense. Long time label affiliate Sammy Bananas melds dance-y futuristic and vintage sounds for a party starting results. This track hits with just the right amount of horns, blips, and sleaze.

Jessie Rose – Love the Feeling High (feat. Ed Weathers) (Play It Down)

A great recent example of using speeches/dialogue/spoken word over a house beat. The beat is funky and simple, and then a male storyteller is added over top, hilariously recounting a crazy trip at a warehouse party with “kids that are way more turnt up than me.” Play It Down, the label Jessie Rose runs, has had a string of great releases, and his new album “The Whole Twelve Inches” (which this track is a part of) and all of its remixes, definitely should continue the label’s strong momentum well into 2014.

Aden – Whip (Jimmy Edgar Remix) (Ultramajic)

I was in a hotel room in India listening to Claude VonStroke’s Essential Mix, and he started his mix off with this track. I had only heard the original up until that point (which is a bomb), and I could have picked almost any of the tracks from the young Ultramajic label for this list, but this remix from label boss Jimmy Edgar is particularly doing it for me and has a poignant memory attached to it. Edgar has been on fire lately, turning everything he touches into drummed out techno bliss; I definitely look forward to more from him and his label this year.

Jeremih – F U All The Time (Akito’s Clap Trap Ice Rink Bootleg) (Bootleg)

I love the original of this song, but was looking for just the right remix of it to use in mixes. A little SoundCloud digging later, I came across this free download, whose genre is listed as “Porn Groove”. The original of this is super hypnotic and weird, and this bootleg cleverly blends the instrumental of UK Grime artist Wiley’s “Ice Rink”, making it more of a DJ tool, and still keeping the weird of the original.

 

Peep some of these tracks on the Halfway House, Thursdays 10pm-12, and tweet @ me, bro @CrispyChrisX

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Preview: Jack Deezl and Aaron Ruxbin Live @ WKDU (2/20/14)

Jack Deezl &Aaron Ruxbin

Jack Deezl & Aaron Ruxbin

By Chris Burrell

Drexel Alumni Jack Deezl and Aaron Ruxbin approach the craft of DJing from two extremely different angles, but both coalesce at the intersection of passion and obstinacy. Refusing to succumb to the pressures of conformity both within the stigma and equipment typically associated with being a popular disc jockey, these men find themselves on the polar opposite spectrum of what defines DJing: one playing only vinyl records, the other [mostly] originals. One pure analog preservation, the other digitally manipulated live. The unifying factor being an emphasis on challenging the listeners expectations, advancing an amalgamation of sounds new and old, and digging for the deepest cuts; whether unearthed from years ago or synthesized earlier today. You won’t hear any top 40 in these sets, but you will hear something brand new, every time, guaranteed. Two special live in-studio sets from across the sonic spectrum. Put on your thinking caps and lay out your disco pants, Jack Deezl and Aaron Ruxbin are going VAHN DEEEEPEEERRRR!

Jack Deezl and Aaron Ruxbin will be performing with RJD2 at Union Transfer on February 21. Tune in to The Halfway House on February 20th to catch their Live @ WKDU session.

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Review: Neutral Milk Hotel @ The Tower Theater (1/29/14)

Photo courtesy of peterhutchins.tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of peterhutchins.tumblr.com

By Nick Stropko

So, it has happened. Years of anticipation, speculation, and blind hope have culminated, and the day has gone and passed. I have seen Neutral Milk Hotel.

Naturally, I have rapturous praise for the concert. Of course Jeff Magnum’s voice has retained it’s power, its winding intensity, its ability to reach just a little higher than it probably should and sell it regardless (he did have the slightest of problems during “Two-Headed Boy, Pt. 1,” but it really just served to humanize what has become a deified figure). Of course it was gratifying in a way Jeff’s solo shows were not to see the whole band together–Julian Koster rotating in place with his bass and playing the singing saw, Scott Spillane working an array of brass instruments, and Jeremy Barnes frantically keeping everything together. They really nailed the eclectic instrumentation present in NMH records, with the singing saw, zanzithophone, and electronic bagpipe, among many more, making appearances. Of course standing in a room full of people singing along to “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” with Jeff Magnum is going to send chills down your spine. Of course, of course, of course.

However, rapturous praise is kind of boring. Pretty much every account of the show I have gotten has been overwhelmingly positive. Instead, I’d like to offer an array of stray thoughts I had during the show.

  • While Magnum’s voice has certainly not lessened in intensity, it seems like his range has become ever so slightly more limited. I think a few of the songs were played a few steps down, and he reaalllyyy had to strain to hit that note in “Two Headed Boy, Pt. 1.”
  • I can’t really tell if I like Jeremy Barnes’s drumming or not. Maybe I’m just being silly, but it seems like he has trouble maintaining the beat during fills. Is it possible that Jeremy Barnes is actually not a very good drummer at all? Is this just a weird stylistic thing that I’m not grasping? THIS IS OF GRAVE CONCERN.
  • I really enjoy the stage dynamic of Neutral Milk Hotel. Jeff was pretty much unrecognizable–he received no applause when he walked onstage, his mess of hair making him look like a roadie in a fantastic sweater. He spoke little but seemed gracious, maintaining his weird indie god aura while not coming off as too stuck-up.
  • Isn’t this whole tour kind of remarkable? Maybe this is well-tread ground, but I think it’s worth restating every now and again that a band can sell out major venues across the country largely based on the strength of a record they put out on an indie label in 1998.
  • The “Ghost”–>”[untitled]“–>”Two Headed Boy, Pt. 2″ combo during the encore was phenomenal. Phenomenal. When I saw them break out the electronic bagpipe, I kind of freaked out and definitely sang along to a bagpipe part. No shame.
  • Fuck it, I can’t think of anything else that’s negative. It was a really great show, and I’m thankful I got to see it.

If you missed out on Jeff and co. last week, fear not! They’re playing at The Mann on July 21st. I highly recommend you attend.

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Top 50 Albums of 2013 (according to Liquid Courage Media)

Our lovely Assistant Editor-in-Chief, Shannen Gaffney, also writes for Liquid Courage Media. This is their list of the top albums of 2013, co-written with Isabel Imperatore (in alphabetical order).

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Allison Weiss - Say What You Mean
Allison Weiss’ No Sleep Records release, Say What You Mean, was an uplifting take on the more depressing moments of being a teenager-to-twenty-something. The first track, “Making It Up,” outlined the uncertainties of defining a relationship. Our favorite is the breakup pop tune “How to Be Alone”.

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Beyoncé - BEYONCÉ
BEYONCE released a self-titled “exclusive visual album” on iTunes in the middle of the night without any previous announcement or promotion. Do I need to say anything else? Videos/tracks to check out: ”XO” and “Blue” (and the entire album).

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Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe
If we can use the word ‘groovy,’ Blood Orange released one of the grooviest records this year. “You’re Not Good Enough” encompasses everything you’ve ever wanted to say to your ex, and has been stuck in our heads ever since its recent release.

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Brick + Mortar – Bangs
It’s hard to categorize and describe Brick + Mortar, which is a duo comprised of Brandon Asraf and John Tacon. They combine elements of alternative, electronic, indie, drum and bass, noise-pop, hip-hop, and punk. It’s aggressive, anthemic and catchy. The intense drum and bass parts are overlapped with Brandon’s distinct vocals and instrumentation like synths and guitar.  Listen to “Bangs” and “Locked In A Cage” and you’ll understand.

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Charli XCX - True Romance
Charli XCX was definitely a breakout artist of 2013, and True Romance was one of the best dance pop albums of the year. Her obvious best track was “You – Ha Ha Ha,” but “Take My Hand” and “What I Like” were also equally addictive pop gems.

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Claude VonStroke talks Dirtybird, Diplo, and Playing Shows Sans Bass

Courtesy of Sumi Management

Courtesy of Sumi Management

By Chris Burrell

Amidst a crazy tour schedule, I was able to get some time on the phone with one of my DJ / producer idols: Dirtybird label boss, Barclay Crenshaw, better known as Claude VonStroke.

CB: Mr. Crenshaw, I’m a huge fan, spin your stuff all the time on air, and I know you’re busy – thanks for you taking the time out to do this call.

CVS: Thank you, no problem.

CB: So you’re on tour now, but you have the night off tonight, is that correct?

CVS: I do, yes, kind of (chuckles).

CB: So you have the night off doing phone interviews and stuff like that, are you on a tour bus in the middle of nowhere?

CVS: No, I’m at home.

CB: Oh okay, and where is home for you these days? LA or San Francisco?

CVS: I’m in LA right now.

CB: OK cool, well how’s the tour been so far?

CVS: It’s been really great.

CB: I follow you on Twitter, and I’ve seen that perhaps you and J Phlip are doing T 25 to stay active on the tour bus?

CVS: (laughs) I am, she’s not!

CB: She’s a sick DJ, how’s she been received as the opening act?

CVS: Great, I think she’s done really well on this tour. Trying to get her on the Europe tour.

CB: I read somewhere that you don’t have a tour manager per se.

CVS: No we don’t, we don’t have a tour manager. I haven’t had one for 10 years.

CB: Have you had any interesting situations on this tour so far?

CVS: Yeah, there was like no bass for like 30 minutes in Denver.

CB: Oh shit! How does the Dirtybird sound go without the bass?

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Dance Sounds From The Underground – Part 1

By Chris Burrell

Untz, untz, untz, untz…

It’s been nearly impossible to ignore the proliferation of dance music in America over the past few years.

For better or worse, the massive commercial success of EDM has elevated the DJ to rock star status and spawned quite a polarizing dialogue about the state of dance music in the US. While some of this success has given America a bad rap in the dance community (re: Paris Hilton, Pauly D, Molly), let us not forget that before EDM was a ubiquitous acronym, Chicago and Detroit birthed house and techno music respectively.

Regardless of your stance on the uptick of neon-clad sunglasses at night fist pumpers, it’s hard to argue that the bright spotlight on dance music has afforded some highly talented artists an avenue to reach a much wider audience than ever before. With now household names such as Fool’s Gold, Mad Decent, Brainfeeder, DFA, and Ghostly having been major innovators in a variety of dance scenes for years, this blog-o-series serves to give a little shine to some lesser-known ‘Merican labels that are seriously holding it down.

From Brooklyn to LA and Detroit to Miami, stay tuned to this space for the 411 on the American dance music underground through the lens of its most excellent labels. The first post in this series highlights two fantastic and extremely diverse vinyl focused labels from the left and right coasts.

Also, check out the Rhythm Method on Thursday nights from 9-11 PM EST to hear some of these releases being spun on the airwaves by yours truly, @CrispyChrisX.

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Concert Review: Godspeed You! Black Emperor (October 16, 2013)

Courtesy of Flickr user Kmeron

Courtesy of Flickr user Kmeron

By Jonathan Plotkin

Let’s just get this out of the way now: I don’t listen to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. My friends have told me all about them and I’ve seen that scene in 28 Days Later that uses one of their songs to show the utter hopelessness of waking up in a post-apocalyptic world. But save for the one time I heard Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven while driving my friend back from New York, I’ve heard more about them then I’ve actually heard them. So when  I saw them on on Wednesday I really had no idea what to expect.

Post rock, much like prog rock, is a genre I’ve always wanted to get into but never got around to doing so, mainly because the songs are so long and dense. That doesn’t stop me from reading about post rock while I should be doing homework though so I have a good idea about what the genre means. I always hear it described as “music for the Apocalypse” or “the soundtrack to the end of the world.” This has colored my opinion of the genre, but it’s more like looking through a foggy window instead of just walking outside and climbing some trees.

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