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Hundred Waters are patiently becoming pop stars

Hundred Waters started making waves in the music industry two years ago when a self-titled album they recorded for a small independent label in their hometown of Gainesville, Florida, ended up getting them spots on tours with the xx, Skrillex, and Alt-J and a deal with Skrillex’s then-new OWSLA label. It was a remarkably successful record for one the band hadn’t even set out to make.

“We didn’t really know we were doing an album until we were a bunch of songs in,” says multi-instrumentalist Trayer Tryon. “We didn’t know what it was going to be. We were just making songs. After the 11 songs on the album were done, that was the album.”

The band–Tryon, keyboardist-vocalist Nicole Miglis, multi-instrumentalist Paul Giese, and drummer Zach Tetreault–ended up staying on the road after Hundred Waters was released, touring and hanging out in different cities across the country. That included a stint at the live-in studio Skrillex built in downtown L.A., where they’ve since relocated. Despite the peripatetic circumstances, the album they wrote and recorded in this period, The Moon Rang Like a Bell, feels incredibly grounded, blending pop hooks, glitchy electronics, and indie earnestness into a coherent whole that could justifiably be compared to everything from Kate Bush to Massive Attack to FKA Twigs.

“This time around we knew who we were more, and what we were after a little more,” Tryon says. “That made it a lot harder to get to the final thing, but it also made the final thing more of a full piece of work rather than kind of stumbling into it.”

With its muted tones and dreamy vocals, Moon is a deeply mellow record that unfolds patiently rather than hurrying to impress an audience right out of the gates. Fittingly, it’s been building a fan base slowly but steadily. “We wanna say something as precisely as we can,” says Giese, “and hope as many people understand it as they can instead of saying something that can reach as many people as possible.”

Still, their momentum continues to grow: They recently played the Pitchfork Music Festival, and they’ll spend November on the road with a newly reanimated Interpol. If things keep progressing at the same rate, breaking out with a mainstream pop audience isn’t out of the question. Hundred Waters aren’t rushing to fame, but they seem to be headed there all the same.

Macy Gray kills in music video for (another song called) 'Bang Bang'

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The scene in Macy Gray’s latest music video for “Bang Bang” starts out innocent enough: There’s drinking, some dancing, poker. Then things quickly escalate until two people are dead. Oops?

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T-Boz and Kimbra Skype in for Janelle Monae's 'Electric Lady' music video

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Getting your friends together in one place can be hard, so Janelle Monáe took the easy route and had her famous friends—Kimbra, Esperanza Spalding, Monica, Estelle, and TLC’s T-Boz—video chat in to her latest music video to join the party.

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Lana Del Rey sends more mixed messages with 'Ultraviolence' video

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Lana Del Rey’s debut album, Born to Die, proved to be something of a feminist ink blot: To some observers, the aspects of traditional American ideals of feminine subservience she’d woven deeply into her personal aesthetic, as well as her frequent use of Kennedy-era cultural signifiers, were a postmodern statement about her independence as an artist and a person. Others took it all at face value and simply saw a woman embracing dangerously retrograde ideas about how a woman should act, appear, and express herself.

If nothing else, Ultraviolence has doubled down on this ambiguity with its running theme of submissive relationships with men, and nowhere else on the album does that come through as strongly as on the title song, with its lyrical juxtaposition of a woman who’s “blessed with beauty and rage” and a lover who she calls her “cult leader,” not to mention its prominent but ambiguous reference to the Crystal’s “He Hit Me and It Felt Like a Kiss.”

Its video pushes things even further, with Super 8 footage of Del Rey in a postwar wedding dress sucking on the cameraman’s thumb and kneeling at the altar of a seemingly abandoned chapel. Is it a commentary on outdated gender roles? Is she just playing nuptial dress-up? Is she maybe just trolling us at this point?

Sony releases surprise NSync album; NSync is surprised

NSync is back! Kind of.

The group’s label, Sony Legacy Records, released The Essential *NSYNC, a double album featuring NSync’s hits as well as some rarer songs, Tuesday—and the band, evidently, had no idea.

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Kiesza does 'Hideaway' (and its outdoor dance sequence) live on Kimmel

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“Hideaway,” by Calgary, Alberta’s leading house music diva Kiesza, has grown into a breakout hit slowly and organically, entering the Hot 100 last week nearly half a year after its video was released. The video, with its impressive one-take dance sequence on the streets of Williamsburg, deserves a lot of the credit for the song’s success, but after racking up over 60 million views on YouTube it’s now paradoxically both a hot new viral hit and (for her house-music-loving base who latched onto it months ago) old news.

Kiesza and her camp have figured out a clever way to put “Hideaway” in front of a whole new audience while freshening it up for its pre-existing audience, and that’s by repeating the video’s choreography, this time in LA, in a single shot for Jimmy Kimmel Live. Impressively, she, her dancers, and the camera crew made it down a stretch of the most tourist-packed sidewalks in the city without any of them ruining the shot—which is almost as impressive as the dancing.

That rapper vocabulary chart is getting its own poster

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Remember the guy who did a data analysis on a bunch of rappers’ lyrics to figure out which one’s work uses the largest vocabulary? The one that drew about equal amounts of respect and ire from rap fans, inspiring some of the geekier ones to debate anew whether the size of an MC’s vocabulary necessarily has any bearing on how good a rapper they are?

That guy, a coder and designer named Matt Daniels, has teamed up with another bunch of data-loving designers at Pop Chart Lab, which in the past has made gorgeous infographics about everything from superpowers to fictional beers. Together they’ve assembled the Hip-Hop Flow Chart, which arranges the information in a visually pleasing way with illustrated portraits of each rapper in the survey. They’ve also color-coded the artists by where they hail from, giving the rap geeks who argued over the original chart a bonus subject to fight about. (Click the image above to preview the whole thing.)

The poster’s officially being released August 5, but it’s available for pre-order now.

The 5 very best things about DMX's amusement park video

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Being a DMX fan has been kind of tough for the past, oh, 13 years or so, what with his arrests, lawsuits, and assorted personal issues overshadowing (often by quite a bit) his musical accomplishments since approximately “Who We Be.” If you have any genuine love for the man, just seeing his name pop up in the news can be distressing, especially if there’s video involved.

Occasionally, though, X will still prove himself capable of bringing pure joy, untainted by gross schadenfreude, into the world. And this video of him riding an amusement park ride that shoots people almost 400 feet into the air at high speed is one of those moments.


Nearly every second of the video offers another reason why it’s the best thing in the world. Here are the top five highlights:

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Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett announce their album release, debut a duet

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Usually it’s Lady Gaga’s modernist tendencies that grab headlines, but the pop singer is back in the news today thanks to a studio recording of “Anything Goes” with Grammy-winning jazz singer Tony Bennett.

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This 10-year-old girl is the future of guitar shredding

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During the peak of Guitar Hero and Rock Band’s popularity it was common to read worried articles in online magazines about the threat these sorts of games supposedly posed to young people’s musical education. Many people were concerned that an entire generation of potential musicians would be so satisfied whacking away on a plastic simulacrum of an instrument that they’d never actually learn how to play a real one.

Instead, the opposite seems to be true. There are loads of guitar instructors who swear Guitar Hero was the best thing that ever happened to their business, and the obsession-building gamification of learning how to play one seems to have driven a lot of young players to level up their skills and learn how to shred for real.

Take Audrey, a 10-year-old girl who lays waste to Slayer’s “War Ensemble” on Ubisoft’s Rocksmith game, which lets players play on an actual electric guitar. Not only has gaming apparently taught her how to wail hard enough to keep up with Kerry King, but she also seems to have picked up two other skills that are crucial to a future as a rock guitarist: making your hair look cool as it’s blown around by a fan and not letting an attention-starved lead singer distract you from what you’re doing. Children are not only our future, but metal’s too.

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