Credit: Warner Music

Featured Artists – January 2015

Every month the AUPEO! content team decides which artists are especially worth lending your ears to. Please enjoy our selection for January 2015!

Mark Ronson
Everything is laid out for the arrival of Mark Ronson’s fourth strike. “Uptown Funk” – which we consider a monster single – tops the charts, Ronson took five years to find the best guest singers for his records and now it’s funkytime. “Uptown Special” will hit the stores this week.

Echosmith
It’s a little weird to write about Echosmith in the beginning of 2015 since the four “siblings-gone-band” youngbloods have already been part of our guilty pleasures in 2013. But it seems they were for a good reason. Their hit single “Cool Kids” actually made them cool kids last year and now it’s time to give the guilty pleasure with the silky melodies a second spin. And a third. And a fourth.

D’angelo & The Vanguard
Fourteen years he made us wait, but holy cheese wasn’t it worth waiting for?!

K. Michelle
Is K. Michelle an exception of a reality TV star? She makes good music. Seriously, she does.

Viet Cong
These Canadian guys unveil a strong debut record of black pearls by mixing post-punk with bittersweet, poppy melodies.

Slaves
How loud can two people get? Loud enough to end up on the BBC’s Sound of 2015 list. Slaves, from the UK, have filthy riffs and enough power to beat every other band this year.

Konono No. 1 
Congolese junk and scrap metal groove merchants Konono No. 1 will be making a rare trip to the UK later this month in order to play a 3-day residency at London’s Cafe Oto. Distorted thumb pianos and beats played on old car parts, their music is as hypnotic as it is groovy, a sound that is curiously futuristic and primeval at the same time.

Bill Frisell
Grammy award winner Bill Frisell’s discography is certainly a diverse collection, and he returns in 2015 with a curious idea for an album, but like all of his output so far it just seems to work. On “Guitar in the Space Age!” Frisell has decided to pay homage to the pioneering guitar-led music of the 50s and 60s that inspired him to take up the instrument in the first place. Unsurprisingly with Mr. Frisell, there’s a bit of everything on here, from surf-rock to country and western, all with his own musical vision and mastery underpinning the whole project.

Lucinda Williams
A constant fountain of great Country songs, Lucinda Williams simply does not quit. The 2014 album Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone boasts 20 tracks spread over 2 CDs. Blues and Rock & Roll nuances continue to colour her artistic progression and it’s fair to say that Lucinda Williams is gradually defining her own genre.

The Secret Sisters
The Secret Sisters make harmonizing seem effortless. Their writing is catchy, especially on the newest release Put Your Needle Down. On paper, these are traditional standard songs of Country.  However, the sound smartly carries both a reverent southern tropology and a kick-your-shoes-off hoedown vibe.

I love Makonnen
From being remixed by Drake to the top of the charts. 2015 has begun well for ILoveMakonnen.

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Music to Dance with Elves to

It’s Christmas, isn’t it? It is, I’m sure. It must be Christmas, since I have seen a bunch of elves running around the place here. It turned out we hired the cheeky, little folks to build a couple of festive stations. Whatever your Xmas traditions or non-traditions are, sitting on Santa’s lap will surely be more merry and joyful with appropriate songs blasting through your speakers, perhaps even resulting in a sing-along! We have enough songs for you to go through the night of roasting a hamster to Classical Christmas, wrapping up a new tablet for grandma to Nostalgic Christmas, fooling around with the kids to Christmas Carols, and finally feasting with friends and family to Merry Christmas.

Be good, people! A very merry Christmas to all you lovely human beings.

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Mica Levi Issues the Sexiest/Scariest Soundtrack of 2014

Under the Skin is one of those movies that you know is good when it begins because the intro music is so awesome.  Then, you find out you’re right. Then, you watch the whole thing, including all the credits, without ever getting up to go to the bathroom.  I attribute this congruently to the film’s sheer sound.  Additionally, I anticipate that this recent work of Mica Levi will usher in a new era of focused motion picture scoring.

When initially posed with Jonathan Glazer’s film, which is quite abstract, Levi formulated a process  apropos to the life and testament of Miyamoto Musashi.  She fleshes out the rather bizarre ingénue by breaking her down into five elements.  Thusly, Levi creates a sub-narrative that embodies that character’s very particular set of physiological and emotional changes.  Levi has smack termed her personal approach in the studio as “a mixture of bad recording technique” and “not-fine playing”. Gradually pitch-bending and re-recording re-recordings, she produces a dynamic yet singular sound for the film. The track “Love” is painfully exquisite.  In “Love”, I hear the film’s already nuanced Leitmotif system crystallised into a pop-worthy five minutes and ten seconds –  an acute preeminence that of Lux Aeterna.  What she achieves from this method of layered fragments emotes an intoxicating allure; a continuous glissando of synthesiser and cello braid and coalesce into something which almost sounds like it’s being sung.

In terms of story line, the film takes on an extremely unfamiliar character dilemma.  So, the music must as well.  With that said, this soundtrack is quite minimal. The fact that so much of a film’s weight can be carried by such a finite set of elements makes this soundtrack one that stands outside it’s film — one to listen to. 

- Marion

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Featured Artists – December 2014

Credits: Universal Music

Welcome to our featured artists section. Every month the AUPEO! content team decides which artists are especially worth lending your ears to. Please enjoy our selection for December 2014!

Taylor Swift
It’s pretty easy to say that Taylor Swift is the biggest name in music of 2014! And we totally agree with that statement, and with her catchy pop songs too. You can’t shake us off, Taylor!

Lily & Madeleine
“Fumes” – Lily & Madeleine’s second album in a year and it’s proof that harmonizing siblings are veeeeery adorable.

Foo Fighters
Well, who just released another top record and is probably the best rock band at the moment? Exactly!

Rancid
Punk’s not dead! Rancid have been around since 1991 – and they just came back with a strong record full of wonderful melodic punk-rock! The soundtrack for pogo-dancing underneath the christmas tree.

Hurray for the Riff Raff
She has influences as diverse as their hometown of New Orleans. The transient youth that frequent the Bywater aren’t usually accustomed to such polished Americana sounds as this band brings. The new album “Small Town Heroes” shows grace and sharp reserve. Backing the voice of Alynda Lee Segarra is a set of crafty musicians poised to the fine hairs of their listeners.

Lee Ann Womack
There’s something sinister going on in Lee Ann Womack’s new album… and we love it. She’s a pro, and she always comes through vocally. “The Way I’m Livin'” features a collection of strange, emotional tones. Each song has a new twist, each of which Womack deftly owns.

Sven Väth and Ricardo Villalobos
Two German electronic artists for your listening pleasure on AUPEO!

Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim, fresh from a sell out performance as part of the London Jazz Festival, recently turned 80 years old! His concert at the Royal Festival Hall featured contemplative piano solos and also some very beautiful writing for a larger ensemble. It just goes to show that age is only a number, and Abdullah Ibrahim plays with just as much emotion and intensity as he did when he was a young man in South Africa.

Branford Marsalis
He was also performing in this year’s London Jazz Festival. The powerhouse saxophonist on the scene since the 19080s Branford’s accomplishments more than justify his notoriety simply on the basis of his famous family name. His varied career over the last three decades has seen him collaborate with a very diverse group of artists, and he continues to innovate and excite with his instrument today.

Big Sean
Another year, another chart topper by Big Sean.

Chris Brown
Brown’s new record “X” keeps marking the spot with more hits.

Whitney Houston
Houston, we have no problems. Whitney is back on the charts.

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CTM 2015 – Un Tune

Un Tune is the theme for the 16th edition of CTM – the festival of adventurous music and art in Berlin. For one week, from January 23rd to February 1st 2015, the question will be: How do sounds and frequencies affect us?

How do sounds and frequencies affect us? A necessary question, when you consider that you spend most of your working time listening to music, curating radio stations and music playlists, trying to find the perfect soundtrack for mood and theme stations and in the end: for the listener. But beyond that, sound, noise or vibrations are constant companions, everywhere – and ultimately always physical. A synergy of body and the sonic.

With an extensive program, CTM 2015 will attend to the Un Tune theme, to explore how sound, frequencies and music influence the body, based on different perspectives. The scene is spread all over the city and will take place in various venues in Berlin – like Berghain, HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Stattbad, Astra or Haus der Kulturen der Welt. The preview literature for the festival is evidence of quality, and promises entertainment paired with theory. A (sound) research with your own body, if you want to call it that.

With Alec Empire (Atari Teenage Riot), Carter Tutti Void – this project brings together Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter (both Throbbing Gristle/Chris & Cosey) with Factory Floor’s Nik Void – the mighty doom metalheads from Electric Wizard, the rising producer Evian Christ, the atmospheric noise duo Emptyset, Gazelle Twin and her haunting songs or the dancefloor bangers from Simian Mobile Disco… the first heavyweights for CTM 2015 have just been unveiled. And that’s just the beginning of a top-class line-up that suits the Berlin winter perfectly.

Parallel and in cooperation, Berlin’s festival for art and digital culture – transmediale – also takes place. For further information about the programme, tickets or news please visit: www.ctm-festival.de

 

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Babasonicos en vivo

The expat’s life is full of things half a world away. But sometimes the things you miss come to town like Santa …

In concert: BABASONICOS

29th October 2014, we were riding our bikes at night through the chaotic and strangely beautiful Berlin. We were on our way to SO36, yes, the “mystic” venue where all punk-rock legends played at

least once in their careers. But that night we weren’t going to see a frenetic three-chord band, we went to see a BABASONICOS show. For people from LATAM BABASONICOS is a really well-know band.

After 11 albums (+ several remixes, a rare “B-Sides” albums) they are an important part in our collective soundtrack of our lives. They landed in Argentina in the middle of the 90s with a “new“ take on guitar driven music far removed

from basic rock. They gave the country a new sound to ride the airwaves. In my opinion, at that point we witnessed the birth of rock in Spanish or “Rock en Español”.

And what do you mean with “BABASONICOS”?

BABASONICOS play rock but with the important insert of psychedelic-disco and, of course,- pop lyrics dealing with Adrian Dargelos’ ”linear life experiences” – a mixture that makes this band something unique. Living abroad gives you a great many things, but when you are so far away from your homeland a show like this one from BABASONICOS isn’t easy to find. This night we travel through place and time, they play songs like “El Colmo”, “Putita” and the

provocative “Y qué” from their early albums and of course “La Lanza” and “Los Burocratas del Amor” from their last “Romatisísmico”. All these great songs were part of this nights BABASONICOS “hit machine“ stomping through an amazing

repertoire and a permanent prove that BABASONICOS will keep providing us with beautiful songs. After signing and jumping our favourite songs we took our bike back to the east of Berlin.

If this piques your interest you can enjoy BABASONICOS and the best artists in Spanish language in our brand new station Rock en Español.

Salute
Alberto

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Metamodern Sounds In Country Music ?

Sturgill Simpson’s new album carries the title Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Simpson’s mix of politics, drugs and rebellion only improve my fast impression that he’s directly channeling the not-dead-yet spirits of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard all at the same time. It’s pretty easy to pick up on a philosophical bent throughout the album, but maybe it’s completely jocular. The album’s lyrics tend to present both possibilities. Lyrics that blatantly prod at your sensibilities such as, “Where reptile aliens made of light cut you open and pull out all your pain,” seem to starkly define the spiritual, otherworldly aspect of the album. However, it’s undeniably Country.  Simpson’s voice is utterly authentic (not gratingly political) when he sings, “Tell me how you make illegal something that we all make in our brain” and openly touts his band’s choice of psychedelics as a creative catalyst.

Metamodern audaciously walks the fence between something completely Country and something escapist. Simpson admits his writing is highly introspective and informed by audio lectures of Terrance McKenna and Dr. Rick Strassman’s book The Spirit Molecule. On “It Ain’t All Flowers,” he states that he and the band had tried making that particular track end like a “figurative hellish trip.”  With its low swooping bass line and distortion-scorched polyoctaves, this song actually reminds me of The Bends when Radiohead really started to let technical development take the place of formulaic rock songs.

Sturgill’s from Eastern Kentucky where everyone plays in a bluegrass band, so his ensemble’s flagrant fretwork (ostensibly tasty) is no surprise nor a necessity, as his humble and glassy-eyed thoughtfulness is swagger that charms his solo performances.  In an NPR Tiny Desk Concert I’d watched guiltlessly from end to end, his hand remained planted below the third fret, combing through standard majors, and taking out the Capo only once to air out some pull-offs revolving around the same chord positions.

Most of Simpson’s studio recordings are slow, drenched in steel slides and swelling reverb, as they should be.  Vocally, he’s golden.  He belts out, hollers, and then nonchalantly rolls through the passed-down lyrical tropes of country with a natural vibrato and masculinity.  While artists working in the Americana field nowadays have affected softer folksy voices, and the NeoTraditionals have perfected their heirloom sound, I laud Simpson’s ability to flirt with Esoterica, mock Buck Owens in Japan, and exude an outlaw vibe in 2014.

-Marion