Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unknown Mortal Orchestra should be known

One of my favorite pop songs to come out this summer is by a vintage lofi psych-rock trio from Portland. The song is called Ffunny Ffriends and the band is Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

While their recent debut album is generously peppered with catchy psychedelic hooks that harken back to the 60s, the melodies in Ffunny Ffriends are the grand daddys of them all.  Add this to a nodding hip hop beat and a fat round bass line and you have an infectious earworm that grabs a hold and stays with you as you go on about your day.  And not in an annoying way.  More in a way that will most definitely draw you back for more.

I recently picked up tickets to go see these guys perform with Toro Y Moi in Toronto in a couple weeks. I can't say I'm not looking forward to it.

Definitely check out the whole album when you get a chance.  In the mean time, here's Ffunny Ffriends.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

James Blake performs at Mercury Awards show

While I'm more of a fan of James Blake's earlier work (CMYK,  I Only Know (What I know), Klavierwerke), I actually didn't mind his recent critically acclaimed vocal-centric self-titled LP.   Fans who are familiar with his older stuff know that Blake made a stylistic shift with this album, reaching out to new audiences and in some cases alienating old ones.

One of my favorite tracks off self-titled is the sparse and soulful The Wilhelm Scream. While the song may be one of Blake's more accessible tracks, it still hangs a bit out in left field with its repetitive pensive lyrics and noisy claustrophobic build up.  Unsuprisingly, Blake chose this one to perform at the Mercury Awards show last night and at first take I wasn't too thrilled by the performance.   But upon watching it again, I realized that it is more a case of bad mixing.  The arpeggiated guitar is way too much out in front and the keys/synths are too soft.   Some of the effects triggered by the drummer seem to overwhelm the song at parts.

Check it out for yourself below:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dell blatantly rips off Broken Bells

A friend of mine recently asked for my advice on a laptop he is considering buying.  It's the new super-sleek and ultra-modern Dell XPS 15z laptop that apparently has "less mass and more appeal".  So I went to the Dell website and looked at the specs.   I checked out some pictures and then decided to watch one of the promo videos.  As I watched, I realized that the song in the video was strikingly similar to something I've heard before.  I couldn't quite put my indie finger on it at first and I had to rewatch and stomach the video a couple times. But it finally came to me. It was the The Ghost Inside by Broken Bells.

Check out the video below and listen carefully:

For those not familiar with the original or need a refresher, listen to the The Ghost Inside by Broken Bells.

Yes, it's a blatant and cheapened rip off!  Sure they use a different tempo and key. But everything else is carbon copy - the 1/8 note keys, the bass line, the synth lead, the double claps, back-up harmony vocals and even falsetto voice at the end.

Now I've seen this done before. Not too long ago, Microsoft launched an advertisement with a song that sounded a lot like Arcade Fire's Wake Up but was different enough to not be deemed copyright infringement.  Don't these big high-tech multi-million dollar companies have the coin to license the real thing? Or perhaps they know people like me will write a blog post about it, giving their product free (yet limited in my case) publicity?

While I'm not going to lose sleep over this, I just think credit should be given where credit is due and artists should be fairly compensated for use of their intellectual property.   But the more I think about it, if anyone should be upset it should really be Damon Albarn of Gorillaz :) .  Or maybe he should be simply flattered.