Mildly Obscure New Music That Will Enrich Your Spotify Playlist

If one of your resolutions was to make 2019 the year you listen to new music and broaden your Spotify playlist, this is for you.



New Music That Will Make Your Ears Happy In 2019
PHOTO | MC Hamper

With so much to look forward to in the next year from heavyweights like Rihanna, Cardi B, and Whitesnake – yes, that Whitesnake – it’s fair to say 2019 is going to be laden with some big releases. But what about new music? Are you looking to expand your sonar sensitivities and Spotify playlists?

From dipping my toes into pools of new music, I’ve tried to find some wheat amongst the chaff, the stuff that stands out a bit more than the rest.

Giant Swan: “Pax Britannica”

Techno with an underlying punk-edge, Giant Swan is into pounding filth. It has to be said, they’re one of the more interesting acts to emerge from the re-energized techno scene. They encompass the energy, but they throw in chaos as well, mainly controlled and to great effect.

If you fancy having your ears drums blown out so they vibrate like loose lips blowing strawberries, I’d recommend listening to last years’ “Pax Britannica” from Whities. It gets the heart going, that’s for sure.

Describing their sound, imagine if there was an incident on a motorway and both vehicles involved were traveling at such a speed that the passengers were all just a big ball of each other. Imagine those passengers are Factory Floor and Death Grips and this ball of mega-bodies is somehow granted the ability to make, release and perform music.

Solid Blake: “Tissue”

Electro, in the classic sense of the word, is a term stretched so much these days that the real stuff seems overlooked.

I loved the Two Lone Swordsmen back-in-the-day. The up-tempo nature of their brand of Electro always sat wonderfully with me. What’s more, they always had this aqua-marine thing going on buried deep in their rhythm tracks. Little bleeps and fizzes coming from a long forgotten underwater beacon, still emitting its sound for whoever hears it.

Glasgow-born, Norway based. Solid Blake has seemingly resurfaced from a deep-water dive and brought the sound source to ground. Here, she presents them more directly, reducing the distance.

This is exactly the sort of Electro I like. Last year’s Warp Room 4-track is a much more developed sound compared to the earlier Mario E.P. The beat, pads and those lovely first-beat-of-the-bar touches do the bulk of the work on this release. But don’t let that give you the idea that this is empty sounding music. Settling between the beat and the thin, precise lead synth parts are very well-rounded and full productions. The way Blake allows her sounds to develop and grow as the tracks play out has the guidance of a grand shepherd, resulting at times in a pretty ferocious snarl. This great producer will be on a few lists this year.

Matmos: “Plastic Anniversary”

Matmos’ new album, Plastic Anniversary, is not so much an anniversary than a celebration of one of mankind greatest double-edged swords: plastic. I think plastic is one of those divisive things; you can’t really say you like it, because environment, and you can’t really like it, for the same reason. Truth is, although not a huge consumer, most of what I hold dear is made largely of plastic. My wife and my family the only things that are completely free of it.

Matmos delve into their basement to drop an album made entirely of plastic. For those familiar with their work, you’ll not find this anything more than just Matmos being Matmos. For those who aren’t, I can tell you they make some great music. They always use the most insane sound sources. One album is made from anatomy parts, liposuction, and other bodily weird shit. They can be like techno, they can be really glitchy, but always interesting.

It’s out on Thrill Jockey, which now houses some of the artists I’ve followed for years, namely Mountains and Black to Comm. The latter, incidentally, has a new album out next year as well… and he’s just fabulous. Give Seven Horses for Seven Kings a blast when it comes out. In the interim, you can sample a track “Lethe” here.

Another Sky: “Avalanche”

One might say Another Sky are just another Goldsmith’s band. And while you’d be correct, there is something a bit special about them. Borrowing heavily from Radiohead, their sound is defined mainly by the unusual voice of their vocalist, Catrin Vincent. Enough of a thing in itself to make a band interesting, but there’s no holding back in terms of sonic dynamism.

Musically, the mix of real and synthetic instruments drift in and out, acoustic guitars and beats that keep the spirit of early-Four Tet alive and fuzzed out almost post-rock euphoric swells. “Avalanche”, in particular, is quite the diddy.

Hopefully, Another Sky won’t be another example of a good British band not getting the exposure it needs to flourish – Lunacre, I still hold out for you. But we’ll see. With Alt-J still making waves, one could argue this kind of music is represented all-the-well.

Kim Petras: “Close Your Eyes”

I was introduced to this pop starlet by my wife, who, knowing my penchant for a good pop song, sang it repeatedly at me until the time came to hear it properly. Petras is a famous transgender model, completing her transition when she was 11 years old. One would’ve thought that that would be enough to get tongues wagging and create a press frenzy without having to release anything.

The truth is, Heart To Break is a damn good pop song. Written with Dr. Luke, it has all of the tropes of the Max Martin factory of hit-making, which regardless of how you feel about the genre these guys wade, and no matter how ashamed you may feel in admitting it, they write some seriously good songs.

Anyways, if the ’80s is your favorite genre, but prefer contemporary production tricks, with blatant Daft Punk leanings, then give Petras a go. It’s shameful. It really is! You should be ashamed of yourself.

Flohio: “Wild Yout’”

Since the British government tried to clamp down garage music in the early 2000s, forcing the genre underground, the scene’s momentum has re-ignited. At the time, there were occasional breakout heroes such as Dizzy Rascal and Wiley, but neither generated enough enthusiasm in the mainstream to garner a real second chance for good U.K urban music.

That’s all changed now. But, like all scenes, the main voices in the populous aren’t always the most representative of the genre; Giggs and Stormzy. Thankfully there are artists like Flohio who… flow yao. And not a mumble in range. She kicks!

Quarter Mirrors

I’ll end with the reason I’m going to flagellate myself for the next five hours. Have you heard of Quarter Mirrors? You haven’t? Excellent. Allow me to explain.

The moniker of this writer, Quarter Mirrors is electronics in every guise. Slow building, noisy, at times unsettling, but always interesting. You’ll be hearing it in offices, in muzak renditions, busked and copied from 2019.

Seriously, though. There’ll be a spate of releases in the coming year. For those who like noise, ambient, drone, soundscapes, pretentiousness, etc, check it out. The sound has matured since the 2017 release of A June in May/Strait of Mast split. And that’s my self-promotion quota for 2019 used up! Have a listen here.

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A$AP Rocky Officially Charged With Assault in Sweden



A$AP Rocky Officially Charged

When rapper A$AP Rocky went to Europe to start his Injured Generation tour, few expected it would end with him being accused of assault in Sweden and detained, facing up to two years of jail time if found guilty.

After an altercation between Rocky — real name is Rakim Mayers — his bodyguard, two performers from his show and two men surfaced on TMZ in late June. News quickly spread that “the rapper voluntarily went to the police” for questioning and was immediately taken into custody on July 3 — where he has been since.

Despite the Grammy-nominated rapper claiming they acted in self-defense, even posting video taken of the altercation, the Swedish High Court rejected an appeal arguing he was a flight risk.

Swedish prosecutors have now said in the Stockholm District Court documents that Rocky pushed the man, identified as Mustafa Jafari, to the ground.

Sources say that the rapper is being held in solitary confinement and that conditions in the jail were called “inhumane,” saying that “walking into that place was like walking into a toilet.” Those same sources claimed he was being held in a cell next to a mentally ill inmate known for throwing feces and sleeping on a yoga mat instead of an actual bed.

Swedish law enforcement even raided the hotel room of long-time manager John Ehmann, allegedly confiscating his cell phone and demanding the password to go through the contents. This is an incredibly odd and aggressive move considering Ehmann has nothing to do with the alleged assault.

“[Ehmann] was completely taken aback,” a source said. “[He] had no idea what this was about […] He never saw it coming.”

Hip hop artists and high-profile celebrities alike have expressed their support for A$AP Rocky ever way they could.

Fellow A$AP Mob label mate A$AP Ferg took to Instagram to express support, Tyler the Creator, ScHoolboy Q and Tyga have all either canceled planned shows or sworn to never play a venue in Sweden and stars like Nicki Minaj, Post Malone, Justin Beiber, Diddy, T.I., 2 Chainz, Lil Yatchy, G-Eazy, Juicy J, Kid Cudi, Tory Lanez, Machine Gun Kelly and Miguel have all gotten behind the #JusticeForRocky hashtag.

Joining in the #JusticeForRocky hashtag were big names like Shawn Mendes, Kris Jenner, actress Cara Delevingne, former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Naomi Campbell.

Now, even U.S. politicians have gotten involved. President Donald Trump has tweeted on behalf of the jailed rapper, calling on the Swedish prime minister to “treat Americans fairly.”

The State Department raised concerns about the arrest and detention, urging the Swedish government to treat him fairly via a statement.

“There are certainly some facts about the arrest and detention that raise concerns,” the State Department spokesperson said. “We expect all governments, including Sweden, to treat American citizens fairly and with respect. … We hope to see ASAP Rocky and his colleagues back on tour and reunited with friends and family soon.”

Even New York Democrat Representative Adriano Espaillat has responded to the Change.org petition, telling the Associated Press via a statement that he would push to get the rapper home.

“I will continue fighting until A$AP Rocky is released from Swedish prison and brought back,” Rep. Espaillat said.

The man who attacked A$AP Rocky’s crew will NOT be prosecuted for any crime, despite the fact that he incited the violence and persisted in harassing the rapper before he finally snapped.

As of the writing of this article, the Change.org petition had just over 600,000 signatures and counting with a goal of 1 million.

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Music, Cannabis and the Hollywood Walk of Fame



Walk of Fame

First conceived in 1953 and completed in 1961 on both Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, Hollywood’s Walk of Fame is one of the world’s most recognizable and visited tourist attractions.

Initially only awarded to stars of the silver screen, in recent years the Walk of Fame has opened up to other entertainment industry caveats, including musicians.

Cypress Hill and the Walk of Fame

In April this year, legendary rap group Cypress Hill received their star, making history yet again as the first Latino-American hip-hip group to be given a star. The multi-platinum selling group is the 2,660th star on the Walk of Fame.

The Southern-California band — B-Real, Sen Dog, DJ Muggs and Eric Bobo — have been at it for more than 30 years now and are still going strong with the release of their ninth studio album “Elephants on Acid” in September 2018.

“We are proud to honor the first Latino American hip-hop recording group,” Ana Martinez, producer of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, told ABC7.com. “They have been successful as a group for three decades and we know they will continue their success for many years to come.”

The group has long been linked with cannabis and have talked openly about their use and affinity towards it. The three-time Grammy-winning group with smoking anthems like “Hits From the Bong,” “I Want to Get High,” and “Dr. Greenthumb” go as far as to thank cannabis for their success.

“We love the star. It could have been a gold leaf, though, a gold weed leaf. That would have been good too,” said frontman B-Real. “This is going to be an altar for all stoners, for all cannabis culture right here. Come light your candles, dump your blunts, dump your joints, dump your bongs right here, pray for a great harvest. Thank you very fucking very much.”

He told Variety cannabis use plays a big role in their longevity and health over the years.

“We’re medicating,” explained B-Real. “We’re eating clean. We stay in the gym. We never did party too excessively. We party, but it’s not every night and we’re not drunk and sloppy. Weed was the answer for us.”

“Being away from friends and family and the comforts of home is tough. Sure, we’ve had our disagreements like brothers do. Every band goes through it,” said B-Real continued. “Clearly, cannabis has been a big factor in keeping us together.”

Cypress Hill’s cannabis advocacy isn’t just for relaxing after a show. They’ve translated that support for cannabis into the incredibly successful LA-based Dr. Greenthumb dispensary where the group sells their own brand of specially designed Cypress Hill Bhang (CHB) line of cannabis products.

Celebrities like Xzibit and George Lopez both turned out to the reveal of the star on April 18 and got on stage to congratulate the rap collective on their accomplishment.

“Their accomplishments and accolades reach deep in the roots and history books of hip-hop, and today is another chapter in that saga,” Xzibit said. “Yo, B-Real, Sen Dog, Muggs, Bobo: You are our Rolling Stones, Ungrateful Dead, you are the West Coast Public Enemy.”

“There’s a lot of actors, there’s a lot of comedians, there’s a lot of entertainers who are on [the Walk of Fame]. But there’s only one Cypress Hill, the first Latino hip-hop group. But to everyone who lives the American dream, not the last Latino hip-hop group to ever be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Lopez added.

Cannabis-Loving Musicians Who Have Received Stars

Cypress Hill is the latest cannabis-loving singers to earn a star of their own. Huge names in the game like Snoop Dogg and Melissa Etheridge all have their own stars on the Walk of Fame.

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg Receives Hollywood Star

PHOTO | alliance/abaca

Of course, Snoop has made a career around his cannabis use, writing hit songs about it, investing in the cannabis industry and even getting his own line of cannabis products.

Melissa Etheridge

PHOTO | PRPhotos

Melissa Etheridge is a cannabis advocate who might fly under the radar for many. In fact, many were shocked when she was arrested for possession on the U.S./Canada border.

For Etheridge, her start with cannabis came after she was diagnosed with breast cancer more than a decade ago. Ever since she’s been a strong supporter of medical cannabis.

Now in her 40s, Etheridge has advocated politically and invested in the cannabis industry, using her voice to fight for patient access to medical cannabis.

Willie Nelson

You know what’s weird? Willie Nelson doesn’t have a Walk of Fame star.

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Has the Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival Been Canned?



Woodstock 50
PHOTO | Hulton Archive

The fate of the summer’s most hyped festival remains unclear after Woodstock 50 investors announced their decision to pull funding for the summer music event — and cancel it.

More than 100,000 people were expected to attend the event scheduled to take place at the original site at the Watkins Glen International Speedway in New York from August 16-18th.

The investors, the Dentsu Aegis Network, reported site readiness, capacity, and permit issues as reasons for the cancellation.

In a statement sent to Billboard on April 29th, the Network explained that, “despite our tremendous investment of time, effort and commitment, we don’t believe the production of the festival can be executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name while also ensuring the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees.”

As a result, the statement continues, “Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi Live, a partner of Woodstock 50, has decided to cancel the festival. As difficult as it is, we believe this is the most prudent decision for all parties involved.”

According to the same Billboard report, more than $30 million had already been spent on the event, which includes payments to artists on the line-up. Whether those artists are still contractually required to perform remains to be seen.

Michael Lang, Woodstock co-founder, and promoter, told CNN that the Network’s decision to cancel the event undermines the festival’s organizers.

“It is one thing to decide for oneself that it is best to move on, but it is entirely another thing to try and close the door on us,” he asserted, adding, “Woodstock never belonged to Dentsu, so they don’t have a right to cancel it.”

Lang publicly expressed interest in finding the remaining funding needed to move forward with Woodstock 50. However, since Dentsu announced it would pull the plug on the festival, Woodstock organizers filed a suit in the New York Supreme Court on May 8.

According to Rolling Stone, Lang  “[…] and other organizers requested an injunction that would, among other things, force Dentsu to hand over $17.8 million in disputed funds and continue work on the festival.” A hearing is scheduled to take place in New York on Monday, the site added.

The lineup was announced in early March and features headlining acts from both the Woodstock and modern eras.

The Killers, Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, the Black Keys, and Halsey were just some of the artist set to perform alongside original Woodstock 1969 performers: John Fogerty, Santana, and Dead and Company.

Tickets for the three-day festival were set to go on sale on April 22. As of now, the Woodstock 50 official website reports that tickets will go on sale “soon.”

In the meantime, festival organizers remain hopeful: “Our intention holds firm. To deliver a world-class, once-in-a-lifetime festival to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. To honor a cultural icon that changed the way we think about music and togetherness… and will do so again,” according to Woodstock.com.

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