June 2010


Still Flyin is an indie pop band loosely based out of San Francisco, but as their Myspace page indicates, they are “scattered across the globe” and are more of a collective of artists than a defined band in practice.  The same holds true in spirit as well – their songs are fun, jovial, eclectic and dynamic, and sound more like a group of friends getting together to make music for fun rather than a professional band out to sell albums and conquer the blogosphere.

The band was recently re-brought to my attention through the release of “A Party in Motion”, their latest EP which features the song “Higher Than Five”, a slowish-moving, long crescendo of a song with a jubilant chorus and danceable grooves.  It is a great song, but my “Still Flyin'” allegiances still lie with the song that first kindled my interest in the band, “Good Thing It’s a Ghost Town Around Here”.  This song is, simply put, a 5-minute all-out party.  It gets your attention early with a fast-paced funky bassline and tumultuous vocals.  The melodies rely heavily on these vocals and have relatively little guitar presence – this creates a really interesting texture which is especially pronounced at the song’s apex where overlapping vocals create some rich harmony.  With the excitement and energy present in this song, it’s no surprise that by all accounts, their live shows are reported to be an unbelievably good time.  One thing is for certain – the dance floor will surely not be a ghost town whenever Still Flyin is playing.

[mp3] Still Flyin’ – Higher Than Five
[mp3] Still Flyin’ – Good Thing It’s A Ghost Town Around Here

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Just saw a fantastic cover of Kid Cudi‘s Pursuit of Happiness (posted earlier) by the fantastic Lissie.  It’s somewhat more common to see rock/pop/indie stuff sampled in hip hop, but it’s quite refreshing to hear a hip hop song re-done in another style, especially when it’s done as well as this one is.

The initial attraction to the song is roughly the same as any other cross-genre cover, primarily the ability to hear a familiar song with different instruments/vocals/style, but then this cover really starts to get going on its own merits, with Lissie bringing a really passionate take on the song with dramatic backing instrumentals.

I should also say that Lissie will soon be releasing her first full-length album, “Catching A Tiger”.  While I haven’t heard it in its entirety, it does feature a couple of songs from her debut “Why You Runnin'” EP released late last year which were favourites of mine, so I’m looking forward to checking out the remainder of the album.

[mp3] Lissie – Pursuit Of Happiness (Kid Cudi cover)

Brooklyn-based Suckers just released their first full-length album, entitled Wild Smile.  The title is incredibly fitting as a “wild smile” is probably the best way to describe the look on my face while listening to it.

My first encounter with the group’s music was late last year when I first heard the opening track from the album, “Save Your Love For Me” and was absolutely hooked.  It starts off with a slow, sweet melody to ease the listener into the album, but just when you think the rest of the album is going to sound like the last dance at a high school semi-formal, a reverse echo and a bass drum kick in, ushering you to a falsetto-driven trip into an epic rock ballad.

After that first taste, I didn’t really know what to expect.  I mean, I love a good old-fashioned rock ballad as much as the next Meat Loaf fan club member, but surely a full album of them would be a bit too much.  Luckily, the rest of the album, while equally awesome, is quite diverse and versatile.  In fact, a listen through indicated that there were really only three major things that were consistent across the album: 1) all of Suckers‘ songs refuse to stay still – in tone, in tempo, in style, in everything; 2) there is a consistent drive towards euphoria in the music – more often than not songs tend to end in a signature epic falsetto; 3) the lyrics are often absurd, but in a hilariously awful way (see: “This world’s a colonoscopy, Save your love for me” and “Your heart is like a crippled demon’s semen on your clothes”).

Anyways, at the end of the day, maybe all that has to be said is that this is a seriously amazing debut effort from Suckers, and that hopefully there is tons more to come.

[mp3] Suckers – Save Your Love For Me
[mp3] Suckers – A Mind I Knew

Dan Lissvik is one half of Swedish electronic band Studio.  His music is described as “music for the head” and I’d have to agree – the left side of the brain is sure to be enthralled by his well constructed and deliberate music, while the right side of the brain is immersed in the elaborate world created by his music.  It is this second aspect which I find most appealing.  In “Practice”, D. Lissvik‘s Eastern-themed instruments and calming melodies transports the listener to another world – one fraught with mystery, excitement, and intrigue.  With a bit of imagination, the listener is likely to find their living room metamorphosed  into a busting bazaar, their mundane commute now a fast-paced chase through winding alleyways in search of a fleeing cryptic figure.  So relax, press play, and let “Practice” guide your wandering mind.

[mp3] D. Lissvik – Practice

A bit of a departure from the usual today.  I’ve recently come across this very cool project called “The Johnny Cash Project” which fuses music with user-generated art.  The concept is fairly simple, but also unique and super well-done.  Basically, users are asked to illustrate a single frame of a video for Johnny Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave”.  The end result takes user-illustrated frames (that are drawn somewhat in line with the original) and combines them with their brethren to create a new, dynamic video for the song that is ever changing.  The end result is like ecletic, schizophrenic stop-motion art, which contrasts really interestingly with the moody and melodic music.  Very awesome.

[mp3] Johnny Cash – Ain’t No Grave

When I first read about the concept, I wasn’t sure what to expect – frankly I don’t really have a benchmark for what a good Disney cover sounds like.  However, after listening to The Morning Benders‘ cover of “I Wanna Be Like You” from the Jungle Book, I’m pretty sure I’ve found one.  It captures the fun child-oriented feel of the original song (the Monkey Song), but adds a lot of depth and ambiance, including some deep jungle-y drumming and some guitar chords straight out of a luau.  If only all Disney movies featured awesome musical covers – I’d probably have a better reason to revisit my youth…

[mp3] The Morning Benders – I Wanna Be Like You (Jungle Book cover)

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