Archive for the ‘DJ On A Dime’ Category

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DJ On A Dime: The Day The Future Met The Past

January 3, 2011

Image from Gilderic @ Flickr

All right! First off, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I hope everyone’s 2011 has been off to a fabulous start! We may have fish and birds dying en masse in Arkansas as well a bunch of angry legislators who are resolved to damage the common citizenry, but hey, it’s not all bad. First, if you’re awaiting the apocalypse, you can read about how social networking will carry over into the times when we’re all forcibly LARPing Fallout. I for one am not counting on the end times. It wasn’t after the first millennium, it wasn’t Y2K, and it won’t be now. Why worry when you can kick back and rock out to some past greats and some stars I hope to hear more from this year. It’s all good, it’s all free: this is DJ On A Dime.

On the past side, Fluxblog has the Janet Jackson classic “Escapade.” The song is Janet at her pop star best, and the theme of the getting away with your love on the weekend may provide some consolation to those of us heading back to work or class this week. Matthew Perpetua also sheds some light into the song by comparing it to the Michael Jackson hit “The Way You Make Me Feel” and couching both songs in the context of the Jacksons’ upbringing. Even if you’re not into the Jacksons’ oeuvre, the post is just really good music writing.

Going further back in time, Disco Workout digs into the origins of Detroit techno with the obscure dance cut “Sharevari” or “Shari Vari” (the song has had different spellings over time) by A Number Of Names. I don’t know much about classic techno outside of Cybotron, but I thought this song, both its original and the more current-sounding remix from techno stars Vitalic and The Hacker, holds up pretty well. The original has this dusty exoticism to it and the remix pounds on like an army of robots who figured out the loophole in Asimov’s Three Laws. As a bonus, the post also includes Detroit garage rock icons The Dirtbombs covering the tune and making it into some old school disco funk. Gotta love that singer’s affected accent!

Now let’s look ahead to two artists from whom I hope to hear more in 2011. First off is New Yorker Chris Glover and his band Penguin Prison. On paper, PP come off like Mike Posner with all of the different genre influences, artistic growth in college, and high-range singing voices. Where Posner fits in the radio sounds of today, Glover and co seem to taking the slightly corny electro dance blueprint drafted by bands like Chromeo into more melancholy territory. Still, when this guy belts it’s like “what if Phil Collins fronted Depeche Mode?” I can’t wait to hear this band’s album! Right now you can boogie over RCRD LBL to download the Penguin Prison song “Something I’m Not” along with a boatload of kickass remixes (check out the Royal Palms take on “Golden Train”).

Finally, I really got into the up and coming North Carolina rapper and recent Roc Nation signee J. Cole. Cole has a very effortless but incredibly on beat flow, similar to Will Smith in the late 90s or when Kanye West was considered a new talent and kicked ass in rap battles. The production that’s been attached to some of the free stuff that has come out, especially his Friday Night Lights mixtape (which you can get from Cole’s site), is very laid back and really classes up all the action that’s going on. That doesn’t mean Cole is all chillout though. Go to RCRD LBL for a bass-heavy banger called “Who Dat.”

Again, everyone have a happy 2011! Good luck and take time to indulge a little and love a lot.

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DJ On A Dime: Michigan Talent Showcase

July 24, 2010

Image from Voxphoto @ Flickr

As my home state of Michigan struggles with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and the restructuring of its biggest city, let it be known that the state’s pedigree of top musical talent shows no signs of slowing down.

Like many Michigan natives in a troublesome economy (including myself), Rai Knight had to leave home and work on the West Coast and Scotland before she could come back and be a dope hot R&B singer on Detroit’s own FrontStreet records. Knight cites Gwen Stefani as an influence and it shows. Imagine if Stefani took a time machine back to 1961 and signed to Motown. Like a true D-Town resident, Knight comes on with the bite of a Cass Corridor buzz band. You can catch her single “Pivotal” for free on On Fire Music.

Staying in Detroit, we have Black Milk, an MC/Producer who has put in some time on the mixtape circuit, worked with the legendary Jay Dee/J Dilla (rest in peace) as well as some Rawkus and G-Unit alumni, has five albums under his belt and a new one, Album of the Year, due in September. Black Milk’s style is pure G-Funk: trippy keyboards and hard-ass drums. Check out a preview track, “Welcome (Gotta Go),” on RCRD LBL.

Finally, let’s head to one of Michigan’s fine cultural capitals, Ann Arbor. This college town produced Bob Seger, and now a new band is bringing the night moves. I first caught My Dear Disco in a dive bar in Birmingham, Alabama on a “Michigan Bailout Tour” with garage superstars The Hard Lessons. MDD’s electronica antics got me hooked! Unlike a lot of the dance-rock bands that are making waves, MDD’s members come from music school backgrounds, plus they are total hippies (they tour in a modified biofuel-burning bus), so their off-kilter rave music really stands out above the pack, plus their singer Michelle Chamuel sings with a richness that you don’t hear much anymore. Their website has some of their bootleg remixes and a mixtape from their DJ Body Rock up for grabs, and you can direct-buy their records from their Bandcamp page.

As a bonus hit, one of the top 5 contestants in MTV’s Twitter Jockey competition is a native Detroiter. Gabi Fresh is the founder of Young, Fat, and Fabulous, and she’s in the running to be MTV’s first jock on Twitter. Head to her page on MTV to get more info, or what the heck, just follow her on Twitter. Support Midwest talent. Support diverse talent. Hell, support TALENT.

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DJ On A Dime: Promises, Promises

June 25, 2010

Image from dr. motte @ Flickr

So 911 may still be a joke, some federal judge makes a ruling that seems as in poor taste as those pro-BP remarks made by Joe Barton, and there’s some nasty sentiment against feeding the homeless afoot in San Diego, but it’s not all craptacular. U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton ups her game campaigning for civil rights abroad while extending benefits for same-sex partners of State Department employees and making the whole passport deal more accessible for transgender people. She seems committed to expanding civil and economic protections and rights to those who don’t have them and she backs up her commitments, which I can’t say for every person in power. I just hope that others will follow her example, because it’s pretty cool.

You know what else is pretty cool? Free music! This is DJ on a Dime.

Fluxblog is another of the mp3 blog old guard. Matt Perpetua (who also writes reviews for Pitchfork) has been running it since 2002, and he’s posted a pretty wide range of material over the years, though lately he seems to lean towards the whole 90% indie rock/10% mainstream pop. I give him props for occasionally posting songs he doesn’t like and offering the download as a chance for his readers to see if they might disagree. He has the new Chemical Brothers song “Snow” up for download, and I’m not sure of his opinion on it. He characterizes the track as “gently levitating through dark clouds of pollution on your way to a cleaner, brighter place in the sky,” which sounds positive, but then I demoed the track for Kathy after reading the review and this was her reaction:

“Is something wrong with your fax machine? How long is this going to go on?”

I tend to be a Chemical Bros. apologist, but that’s due to the goodwill that came from the hard synth lines and awesome rock drumming of their singles. This track is beatless, and while I understand its point, I find its execution wanting. Try it for yourself and see how you’re feeling after a listen.

On the flipside of the indie/mainstream balance we have Pigeons and Planes. P&P is relatively new to the mp3 blog scene, having been in operation for only about 2-3 years, but its posts are prolific, it covers a big chunk of mainstream hip hop and big indie rock, and the guy who runs it just turned 25. It can seem a little shady at times with its leaked tracks and multitude of file hosting sites, but if you want the goods, this is the place to go. One coup of a hookup that’s come through recently is DJ Mick Boogie’s pairing of Rick Ross and Big Boi for a mixtape where they jump on each other’s songs. It’s free and it looks to be a neat blend of southern hip hop. A visit to Boogie’s site shows a fairly eclectic taste from his past mixes. It might a keeper.

That’s all well and good, but what if you want to listen to something new? There’s some hot 80s-flavored dance music over at DISCODUST from the Los Angeles duo Jump Jump Dance Dance, which is both an incredibly inane band name and an incredibly awesome band name. The remixes of the single “Modern Eyes” from Beni and Bit Funk have some pop to them, though I prefer the airiness of the Beni mix – it keeps things carefree. Fun fact: one of the guys in Jump Jump Dance Dance was formerly known as DJ Groove Terminator, whose “How Life Should Be,” because forever linked with Progressive Insurance before they adopted Flo as their spokeswoman. Eh, dude probably made a lot of royalties from those commercials.

Meanwhile, the hits keep on coming from Electrorash. They have this neat dance-rock remix by indie darlings The XX remixed by one of Australia’s up-and-coming DJs Andy Murphy. There’s some great contour in this track – the beats are driving but I still feel as though there’s enough of the original track to make it a highlight. Good use of breakdowns too!

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DJ On A Dime: Down With The Slickness

June 16, 2010

The oil spill along the gulf coast continues to go on unabated and the Prez seems paralyzed and saying the wrong things to please the wrong people, but at the same time he’s loaded with additional baggage none of his predecessors have had to carryRemember: this problem is British Petroleum’s fault. And I really feel bad for a lot of the BP employees because those gas station associates, truck drivers and middle managers are probably standing in for all of that anger and confusion that a lot of people have been feeling and have taken a lot of heat that they probably don’t deserve just because they took a job when it was available and stuff hit the fan.

I apologize for the rant.

Still, despite this craptacular environmental situation there’s free music out there, dammit, and you should check it out! This is DJ on a Dime.

Let’s kick things off with some chilled out alternative hip-hop. Amazon has a free b-side from Phashara, who hails from the Lake View area of Chicago. “Sunshine” has Phashara waxing contemplative over some rich, psyched out beats. The song feels really down to Earth and is great for when you’re feeling introspective or just want to kick back.

Keeping going on the hip-hop tip, Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes has a solo record out now. The single “Billionaire” is making waves on the radio, and Nappy Boy’s remix of the track takes it into a mellow reggae territory. Plus it features Bruno Mars on the chorus, and his soulful turn on B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ On You” was just beautiful! Some Kind of Awesome has the Travie song up for grabs. Check out the original for a more bouncy party rock take.

Some Kind of Awesome also has the new track “Tiger” from TV On The Radio alum Dave Sitek’s new project Maximum Ballon. I just found out about Some Kind of Awesome on the blogosphere. According to the site bio, the people who run it met on Kenna message boards, so there’s a great mix of rock, hip-hop and electronic posts and news. Anyways, “Tiger” is very tight in its production, the guitars have this fast-strum quality that reminds me of a 70s cop show, and vocalist Aku fronts very nicely with some old-school metallic crooning.

Finally, for some harder action, check out the Tobacco remix of HEALTH’s “Die Slowly.” Pick it up at XLR8R, one of the last remaining hip-hop/electronic music magazines to run in the U.S.! The remix sounds like some alternative rock song from 1993 thrown into a blender with “Safety Dance” and some chunks of titanium. The end result is almost hip-hop with the crunchy beats and spaced-out synthesizers. Bang your head to this one!

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The Free and the Festivals

June 2, 2010

 

With the New Depression, the failure of Top Kill and that people like Rand Paul can espouse beliefs like they do and still have careers, you need to get music with minimal stress, especially dance music! This is part of our DJ On A Dime Series, where we tell you where to find free music until things turn around.

When it gets to it, Silence Is a Rhythm Too has the eclectic taste that most mp3 blogs don’t cover. The guy who runs it doesn’t update as much as he did a few years back, but his Funky Friday posts really do bring together a wide range of music to download. My favorite songs from his most recent post are the new songs from Parisians The Gotan Project and Kansas City’s Janelle Monae. The Gotan song “Panamericana” takes their modern tango template and melds it with a steady stomp and a sleek bassline which make for excellent lounge music. Meanwhile, the Monae song “Tightrope” has her partnering with her friend and mentor Big Boi for a driving R&B song that features Monae doing a very cool half-sing/half-rap much like Andre 3000 used to do. I miss Outkast.

In the hot promo action department, the hits keep coming from the big indie electronic labels Ninja Tune and Warp. Ninja Tune heads Coldcut their buddies continue their weekly giveaways leading up to the big release of their 20-year anniversary box set. Past free downloads have included songs from the labels very first releases, DJ mixes, and rare songs that haven’t been released on CD or vinyl. Each download is available for one week only, so if the Kid Koala rarities have dropped off, it’s time for some new action! Get crackin’! On the Warp side, their music marketplace Bleep has been ramping up for Barcelona’s Sonar festival later this month by offering pairs of free downloads from participating UK acts. I can never make it to any of these festivals, so its neat to grab these tracks and rock out vicariously. The downloads rotate every 1-2 weeks, so stay sharp.

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DJ On A Dime

May 25, 2010

 

With all the messy business about the poverty line and student loans, people need their money. But there is this music out there and sometimes you want it! Save a little money for hot tracks by getting your dance fix below!

First David Guetta along with his main man on the mic Chris Willis teams up with Fergie and LMFAO for the remix of the single “Gettin’ Over.” While “Sexy Chick” seems to get all of the radio airplay, at least here in Denver, “Gettin’ Over” is a damn catchy single. The always-solid RCRD LBL has a few free remixes of the single from Thomas Gold and Sidney Sampson.

Next, Electrorash has some hot underground dance from the brand new record label Ghetto Division straight out of Chicago. The free tracks from Rob Threezy and Louie Cue are more solid grooves than peaktime scorchers, but sometimes its good to have substance over style. Play these songs against the Guetta tracks from the previous paragraph and see what I mean.

Finally, for something a little different, Dave Nada has a free EP called Punk Rock Latino. Dave Nada takes slowed-down house music and matches Spanish-language acapellas into a style he calls “Moombahton.” I haven’t heard bootlegs like this in a long time.

Keep those mixes coming!

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All Over The Dancefloor

May 17, 2010

Oh man! So much going on

As usual, RCRD LBL comes through with the dancefloor fire. The Scissor Sisters have generously leaked a preview track for their forthcoming album Night Work due out next month. “Invisible Light” is like a trip to some 80’s dystopian pleasure dome, which is a lot like the Sisters’ first album. Could this be a return to form for the band? I’m just happy to see that they keep making music.

Meanwhile, XXXChange, the producer from Spank Rock, goes to work on Kele Okereke. Kele is fresh out of Bloc Party with some new solo material, and XXXChange’s remix of “Tenderoni” takes the song into pounding, pounding techno territory.

By the way, if you dug the Kele/XXXChange song, XXXChange switches up the game with a more disco-fied mix of Cee-Lo’s hot “Hello Miss,” which is a totally free download on the ATL RMX compilation. The mix also features tracks and remixes from Young Jeezy, Flying Lotus, B.o.B., Prefuse 73 and more. Adult Swim has pulled together a cool fusion of southern hip hop and electronic music. Personally I feel that the compilation is crazy uneven, but free is free.

I would like to get more into this later, but Ninja Tune, one of my favorite record labels, is counting down to its 20th Anniversary. Not many labels outside of the majors last 10 years, let alone 20 in these turbulent times. They’ve set up a Ninja Tune XX site with a 20 week countdown to the big Two Oh. Get to it!

Rest In Peace, Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010).