Jazz+Hip Hop=Good Stuff

I recently received a submission from an LA based Hip Hop Outfit Substance Abuse . I’m not the biggest Hip Hop fan, but this really fits into a niche that I’m a fan of. Clearly bringing inspiration from A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, the duo combine jazz-inspired beats with quality lyrics.

This niche also contains the deeply political Hip Hop of the Blue Scholars – I’m a big fan of their debut EP from 2006, The Long March. Listen to this as soon as you get the opportunity (I especially recommend Proletariat Blues).

Finally, another similar outfit I think you’ll love:

40 years of Unknown Pleasures and a Bandcamp trawl

This day marks 40 years since Joy Division released Unknown Pleasures. Even if you haven’t heard it, you’ll recognise the cover that’s used on posters, T-shirts and even for mapping America. The cover, if you didn’t know, was made from the data from a pulsar.

But enough about the cover. Let’s go inside. Joy Division brought a new emotions and instruments to punk. Not only did the break ground in their use of synthesise, they somehow managed to take punk, with it’s anarchic anger, and turn it into something beautifully melancholic.

40 years ago, 10 flawless songs combined to make just shy of 40 minutes of some of the best music ever made. But at what cost? In May 1980, vocalist Ian Curtis ended his life. The band went on to become New Order, but it was not the same. For a too short period of time were we blessed with Joy Division. Who knows what would have happened had Ian not died, and the band lived on? What is this universe missing out on?

A Bandcamp trawl

I love Bandcamp, not only because I release my music on it (available here), but because it allows anyone to listen to music by anyone in the world. It helps people to discover new artists and suits everyone from artists with just one download to Radiohead.

Without further ado, here are my top recommendations of things I’ve discovered this week:

Languisher are a Californian duo combining hundreds of sub-genres from black metal and prog rock to ambient electronica. I’d especially recommend the last track on the album, but the whole thing is worth a listen (and a download, or – if you’re feeling generous – a purchase)

Released just last week, this insanely beautiful electronic album is well worth a listen.

This is darksynth as creepy as it gets. Do not listen to it alone at night.

If you enjoyed the other album recommendations, I’m sure you’ll like my album, which is also available on Bandcamp.

Do you want your music featured on this blog? Click here, then scroll to the bottom of the page and fill out the submissions form.

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StarSytems’ new album, 20 years of Napster and more

The beautiful new album of Scotsman Joseph Stevenson was released on May 11th, but I only found out about it this week. He combines jazz, djent and electronic influences to produce an amazing 50 minutes of music you MUST listen to. Whether you’ve listened to his previous work (which I also suggest checking out) or not, you’ll love this album.

20 years ago last Monday was the launch of Napster. Whatever your opinions on it, you’ll know it disrupted the music industry enough to leave a major footprint. It paved the way for modern streaming services and told people that you shouldn’t have to be able to afford music to enjoy it. Streaming has democratised music and made it much easier to listen to an album just to try it out. Streaming (along with the rise of algorithms) has allowed services like Spotify to work out what you like, and help you discover new music.

The music industry has still got a long way to go, but the best thing for both the artists and the consumers will be when streaming services skip out the middleman. Spotify has already started doing this, as have YouTube and Soundcloud from their beginnings. We need to get to the point where any artist can upload their music and be judged entirely on it’s quality, not the power of their record label and marketing team. We need to get rid of advertisements for specific music, and instead have advertisements for music services. And we need to find away to make radio as fair as streaming should be, so that all artists get a chance at airplay, not just those with the best pluggers.

Napster showed us all this, and we should be greatful for that.

This week also marked thirty years since the release of The Cure’s Disintegration album.

Thirty years ago, this magnum opus hit the shelves. It’s probably best known for Lovesong, which is an amazingly beautiful, well, love song. But that’s not all there is to it. The entirety of the album has a desperately melancholic sound, but this doesn’t stop it from sounding great. Why does all the best music have to be sad?

Don’t forget to check out my music on Bandcamp, and follow me on twitter @redswanA:

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