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Listening to Carolina Chocolate Drops is like taking a step into a time machine back into late 19th Century America. Featuring such instruments as the 5-string banjo, the 4-string banjo, the jug and various forms of bodily percussion, these three musicians show off their sheer ability in the twelve tracks on Genuine Negro Jig. Most of the tracks feature the quick picking/stomping beats and driving harmonies heard in bluegrass, but several others slow down this pace into soulful renditions of traditional African American music that is highlighted by powerful, female lead vocals. They even manage to slip in a cover of the R&B song “Hit ‘Em Up Style”, adding their own flair of course. Overall, Carolina Chocolate Drops is incredibly enjoyable. The band shows that modern artists are fully capable of embracing older styles of music and creating interesting and pleasing works for today’s listeners.
Check out the video for "Ain't No Grave":
From the Bears of Blue River MySpace: “the bears of blue river are friends with day jobs who began gathering in the evenings to make silly noises in a dilapidated old apartment with wooden floors. soon they found themselves playing folk diddies dressed up with some bop about them. their roots define them as hoosiers but currently they are split between chicago, indianapolis, and muncie."
Not to be confused with the 1984 book by Charles Major of the same name, The Bears Of Blue River will blindside even the most readied listeners with the sheer joy and fervor of The Killer Bee Scare. The EP may only house five songs, but each lends itself to the next, bearing (pun intended) repeated plays over and over again. The charm of “Crayola” recalls Paul Simon’s reassuring voice and the backing vocals of She & Him’s female half, complete with lush-yet-rigid instrumentation reminiscent of Fleet Foxes.
Check out "Crayola" below and don't miss out on the show tonight. It's free!
More than a whimsical performer, the mastermind behind Lightspeed Champion, 23 year old Devonté Hynes, is an accomplished composer. His work includes songs by The Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx and Solange Knowls. In 2009, Hynes was asked by the British Film Institute to rearrange and perform the full soundtrack of the cult classic Harold and Maude. As Lightspeed Champion, Devonté Hynes released his first full-length Falling off the Lavender Bridge in 2007. With the help of Mike Mogis, Lightspeed Champion fished the Omaha music scene and recruited a number of Saddle Creek Records fixtures for the unique recording. While Falling off the Lavender Bridge was not lauded as the introverted masterpiece it set out to be, Lightspeed Champion sparked a sincere curiosity among its listeners.
For his February 2010 LP release, Hynes relocated to another settlement not short on musicians, Brooklyn. By calling on producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarles Barkley, and Gringo Starr), Hynes suggested a newer, more exploratory sound for Life Is Sweet! Nice to Meet You.
The album’s lead single, "Marlene," presents swooping strings and a crunchy dance rhythm, capped off with a brittle guitar solo that sounds like the amorous calling of a Tyrannosaurs Rex.
At just 23 years old, Devonté Hynes has recorded an album that is as intimate as it is spacious and harmonious as it is brazen. From a vocal standpoint, Hynes still comes off as plaintive. That said, his ability to be assertive can be found in the adventurous arrangements that reveal his interestingly diverse background.
While Life Is Sweet! Nice to Meet You may not be Devonté Hynes’ opus, it does accurately tap exciting points on the timeline of music, leaving the curious listener to excitedly wonder, what will he do next?
Check out the video for "Marlene" by Lightspeed Champion:
The Heligoats is just something that came together one winter between Chris Otepka and the band Ulysses S. Grant from Chicago. These friends got together and recorded an album, Goodness Gracious, before Otepka was to leave Chicago and go west. Maybe the move was an important anticipation for him, whose lyrics reflect a change for the better. The title track, “Goodness Gracious,” expresses his life changing transformation, with the grateful and inspiring lyrics, “I went from having hope so low, to having a surplus/I went from burning my days by, to burning daylight with a purpose.” The whole album seems to express this sentiment. The lyrics are the driving force of this music with fun word play, full of water/ocean life metaphors, references to swimming and living life outside, communing with nature. The lyrics have a good mix of humor and hope with some shadows of darkness which is what he overcomes. The inspirational lyrics are backed by acoustic-driven folk-rock that and can be energetic and upbeat as well as slow and heartfelt.
Goodness Gracious is surprising.The lyrics are fun, inspiring, grateful and gracious and well thought out. It’s nice to hear about changing for the better sometimes. Otepka can finally say “goodnight for real this time.” It'll help you sleep at night knowing he meant it.
Check out "Fish Sticks" from the Heligoats' Daytrotter session:
Dan Black, an English electronica artist, began his career with alternative rock group Servant. When the group broke up in the 2007, he continued his music career, signing with Polydor Records. Black's sound is similar to Delphic, with synth loops and hip-hop beats and his vocal tonality is reminiscent of MGMT.
Check out the video for "Symphonies":