Friday, December 18, 2009

Mistletones


The wait is over! Brittany and I (Beautiful Notions) officially release our sophmore album today, December 18th, 2009. We've spent the past two months slaving away to ruin your favorite holiday songs, and I feel we've surpassed our wildest expectations. Luckily, no one else really has much in the way of expectations for Beautiful Notions, so we don't have to live up to anything.


Honestly, it was a lot of fun (which is really the point), and I greatly enjoy the creative process and re-connecting with Brittany. Never a dull moment and an unbelievable amount of laughter. We're looking forward to hosting a small holiday party tonight to drink some wassail, perform a song or two, warm ourselves by the fireplace DVD and toast to good friends. If you'd like a CD, please let us know. If you're in Hawaii, Brittany will be there for the holidays to give you your copy. If you're in Kansas/Missouri, I will be there for you to distribute copies out of a car trunk.

Best wishes!
_Michael

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stocking Stuffers



Anyone who knows Brittany and I, knows about Beautiful Notions. Born out of an escape from the workload and frustrations of architecture school, we've been remaking/ruining perfectly good songs for four years now.


Now translated to the working architecture world about 1,700 miles away, we've rekindled our lo-fi hack-job approach to musical creation. Our next victims are of the holiday variety and we're excited to officially announce our latest project: the yet-to-be-title Christmas album. Keep your eyes open for a December "bad Christmas sweater CD release party" and enjoy this teaser:



_Michael

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lovely little morsels



It's been a bit of a hiatus from the blog world. Not so much that I've been uninspired or uninterested, just a little busy. Luckily, I still get a daily listen into the music world (while doing other work) whether through following about 20 blogs, getting acquainted with the weeks new releases on tuesdays, or reading up in magazines. I really love finding new artists, albums and sounds. Unfortunately, for every enjoyable song I hear, I probably sit through at least portions of twenty truly terrible ones. Lucky for you, you won't find in this blog post any of those musical equivalents of a class of third graders learning "hot cross buns" on the recorder.

Recently I've been fortunate to stumble upon three new bands that I'm excited to share. First up:
Free Energy out of Philly. I think they had a song featured on IMEEM at some point and it really struck me. This is that music that just feels good to me. It's fairly simple and playful and has those shades of Weezer accessibility that I remember first introducing me to a serious love of music when I was a young lad in Kansas. They recently had a west coast tour fall through but said they'll probably be in Cali in early 2010. Should be a fun show.

Free Energy - Dream City


Free Energy - Free Energy

Oh man do I love this band this week. Even better is the fact that I have tickets to see them at the Rickshaw Stop on November 22 for a mere $10. Freelance Whales are out of Queens and put out a beautiful album, Weathervanes, recently. Chock full of songs influenced by the likes of Sufjan Stevens and The Postal Service and just a great listen.

Freelance Whales - Location


Freelance Whales - Generator ^ 2nd Floor


Quebec Antique released their debut album, The Abbey Tapes, and are relatively unknown out of Oregon, Texas. It's another really beautiful album, much sleepier and moody than the previous two, but check out the songs on their myspace page and I'm sure you'll really appreciate the build of their music and the swelling textures.

Quebec Antique - Right As Rain

_Michael

Monday, October 12, 2009

Folk-n-poke

I recently learned that there is a sulfur hot water springs near San Luis Obispo that college students there affectionately refer to as the "soak-n-poke". While pondering what words may rhyme with "folk", I've struggled to think of anything else. Thanks a lot hot springs. Not surprisingly though, these two words could not be more opposite. Where there is folking, there's a good chance there's not a lot of poking, as many of the best folk artists tend to look like so:


I watched the movie Sugar last night and midway through I recognized a Spanish version of the song "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. I don't know much about the man or his music, but remembered enjoying that song when I've heard it (although uncomfortable and confused as it played during a sex scene in Watchmen). This, along with last week's Strictly Bluegrass festival here in the city, got me thinking about my secret love for the genre.

Undoubtebly due to my parents, I've carried a fondness for folk music throughout my life. Consider this an intro to several upcoming posts on songs that I associate with my family, childhood and Kansas existence. As an adult, I've enjoyed the storytelling and moodiness of Neil Young and Mary Gauthier. It'll be interesting to look at the artists that my parents listen to and ultimately led me to find my own preferences in the folk genre.

(Papa Townsend in the tie and me trying to hide in the background on the far left)

If you like the following songs, I highly recommend the full albums on which they're found.

Neil Young - The Painter (from the album Prairie Wind)

Mary Gauthier - Mercy Now (from the album Mercy Now)

_Michael

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Return



After a long hiatus, I've been hard at work on my latest mix, figuring I'd need something big to re-enter the blog scene with. A lot has transpired in the music world since my last post. Kanye managed to annoy Mr. Smooth himself, Obama, some killer albums have been released by major DJs and a whole slew of remixes and dance music have continued to fill up my
Hype watchlist. The noticeable number of really great new songs with female vocals that I had begun to gather led me to focus on that theme, bringing you the best of lady-centric danceables mixed with some current electronic favorites including Deadmau5 and locals Thrill$ N Grillz.

Looking forward to co-hosting a big halloween party with the other half of DJBN, so mark your calendars. To get you revved up for the event, I give you the "GIRLS NIGHT OUT" Mix.

WARNING: EXPLICIT LYRICS

Download MP3

Setlist:


Everybody's Fancy - Mister Rogers

Duck N Cover (DJBN Vocal Edit) - Thrill$ N Grillz

Give It All You Got (ft. Kree) - Lil' Jon

Township Funk (Crazy P Remix)(DJBN Vocal Edit) - Mujava

I'm Not Your Toy (datA Remix) - La Roux

Shirley You Can't Be Serious? - Alex Metric

Right Hand Hi - Kid Sister

Poker Face (Paul Anthony & ZXX Remix)

Tick Tock - Kesha

Moar Ghosts N Whatever - Deadmau5

New In Town (A1 Bassline Remix) - Little Boots

Waking Up In Vegas (Calvin Harris Remix) - Katy Perry

Something Bigger, Something Better - Amanda Blank

Keep It Goin' Louder (ft. Nina Sky & Ricky Blaze) - Major Lazer

Shove It (ft. Spankrock) - Santogold

Bulletproof (Foamo Remix) - La Roux


_Michael


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Study" Abroad

There's this lady I know that has a blog about travel. It's in its beginning stages, but is interesting and a good way for her to express, digest and discuss this quasi obsession of hers. I was thinking tonight about various great experiences I've had while traveling and also about certain memory triggers. Does your life unfold to a soundtrack?


A defining moment in my life on multiple levels was my four months studying abroad in Italy in 2005. It was an unbelievable experience and an immersion that was completely foreign to me in my life to that point. That semester brought with it powerful memories of food, cities, landscapes, trains, language, cultural events, wine, history and architecture, and great friends. Now, along with the collection of photos and storytelling, I have strong association of certain music to this events to trigger memories. A classmate and friend of mine, Mike Baskett, let me copy some albums from his laptop while we were studying in Castiglion Fiorentino and introduced me to Dntel and The Wrens (no, not the old R&B group).

As I'm sure most college students across the US at the time were, we had this little obsession with The Postal Service a few years prior and when I heard that James Scott Tamborello has earlier been involved in the solo project, Dntel, I was intrigued. As is common, Dntel strikes me as the experimental and more abstract origin of the Postal Service pop approachability. This was perfect for providing a spacey epic backdrop that kind of stutters and pops as it stumbles out of the headphones. I hear this and imagine myself sitting alone at Villa D'Este sketching, or taking a moment to soak it all in at the top of the mountain over Lake Como.

Dntel - Anywhere Anyone



The Wrens appealed to me in a much more simple and irrational way. Living in New Jersey and with very little mainstream success, this group had just the right amount of obscurity and pep to keep me interested. I don't really remember falling in love with their 2002 album, The Meadowlands, but I do know that I played it over and over again. I even have a very distinct memory of listening to a song while walking up the hill in Castiglion to the bus stop some random morning. This is striking to me because I have a poor memory in general and retain very little unless it has an emotional or strong visual impact on me. I can't really explain that bust stop memory at all.

The Wrens - This Boy Is Exhausted


Thanks to Mike B!
_Michael T

Monday, July 20, 2009

Two friends, two shows


If you're looking for a break from your routine. I have a couple of great options for you this week. Tomorrow night, Justin (Commodore 69) will be DJing at his monthly Laszlo show, Computer Rock. They've been known to play killer music, project nintendo on the wall, and generally keep you up past your bedtime on a school night. This month hosts a special birthday celebration for local NONEWYORK



---
Thursday night at Hotel Utah, Tanner will destroy your eardrums as a part of the band Raised By Robots. Their shows are always energetic, loud and unpredictable including a recently added horn section. You can also check out their eclectic sound on muxtape. If you listen closely, you may just hear the subtle noises of stage diving.


_Michael

Monday, July 13, 2009

Live and in person



The
Ticketmaster / Live Nation merger, yet another bully monopoly move in the corporate world, has been on my mind lately after reading the lengthy article about ticket prices in a recent issue of Rolling Stone. As a consumer, I'm obviously unnerved by the fact that ticket price averages have tripled in the past 15 years (~$25 to $65) and Ticketmaster can easily be held responsible for that atypical percentage increase. It is also, to some degree, a reflection of the evolving business. Many artists make most of their money on live shows, where they get a big cut of the earnings, as opposed to the ever-increasing inconsistency in revenue from albums sales where the record companies reap most of the profit. I'd always rather the money go to the artist, but concert prices are increasingly making live shows less accessible to the average consumer.

Luckily, there are still options even in the most obscure of places. I have many fond memories of seeing live shows of small unknown bands at small unknown venues. I grew up driving to places like The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS (among others) and was happy to see they still sell tickets independent of ticketmaster. Similarly, here in San Francisco, you can see amazing shows at The Independent for low prices and avoid the ticketmaster trap. Here are some upcoming shows I'm excited for:

July 16
Kanye West's DJ, A-Trak will rock the stage with opening acts from Theophilus London, Treasure Fingers, and I've heard rumors of Rye Rye.

August 25
Chicago/Portland band Fruit Bats will be on tour promoting their upcoming album under the killer label Sub Pop.

September 18
Out of Selkirk, Scotland and now in Glasgow, Frightened Rabbit are a great band who recorded a fantastic album with an even better title, Midnight Organ Fight.

September 19
Victoria Christina Hesketh, known as Little Boots out of the UK released the album Hands recently to provide you with even more 20 something girly "good time" pop music.

Follow the artist links and check out some of their tracks. Even more good news? All of these shows are under 20 bucks. What?!
_Michael

Sunday, July 12, 2009

You know that one time when I said...



If you know me well, you know that I often find myself complaining about vocals. It's safe to say that in general, whacked out vocal styles just don't do it for me. Don't whine, don't fake an accent, don't make your voice shudder.
--insert autotune debate here--
If I'm aware of some deeper artistic expression and/or rebellion, well okay I'm inclined to appreciate that, aka the punk movement. If, however, I feel like you're just trying to get a rise of your hipster fanbase, I'm done. Equally painful, but more at the level of sympathy, when a band has great instrumental and songwriting potential, but decides it's okay to let someone sing who obviously cannot. If your band's signature sound is not purpose-driven, but merely a result of a lack of talent, you've got to wonder.

All that said, I find myself regularly breaking my own rules. For reasons I cannot explain, I present to you three groups that I keep adding to my present listening rotation, despite their borderline painful shaky, nasally or awkward voices. So I eat my words, enjoy!

_Michael

Airborne Toxic Event - Sometime Around Midnight


Passion Pit - Little Secrets


Empire of the Sun - We Are the People


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mixtape to Milli



Today, Drake finally signed to Lil Wayne's label, Young Money, as part of Universal. This deal, after a massive bidding war, is not only a milestone in his relatively young career, but a picture of the music industry today. In the past 3 years, this Canadian rapper has steadily built a successful underground following with his four mixtapes, culminating in this year's So Far Gone. An incredible mixtape, and one of my favorite albums of the year thus far, So Far Gone has helped launch him into almost unprecedented unsigned stardom. His current single, Best I Ever Had, could potentially become only the 2nd #1 song in history by an unsigned artist (he currently has songs at #3 and #10). So far this year, he's performed on various TV shows, awards shows and on tour, selling out shows all well before the release of his first studio full-length album.

The situation is unprecedented, but I foresee it becoming more and more common. With an increasing divergence from an upfront consumer exposure being controlled by corporate music industry, the underground indie artist is gaining power (albeit still relatively capped). This is evident in Drake's success with So Far Gone. As a free album, the buzz that it's generated and the opportunities that it's led to demonstrate the power of the listener to reward quality material as well as the true money-making potential for an artist in everything but album sales.

All that said, it's impossible to notice two things. Firstly, Drake was basically adopted by some powerfully mainstream mentors. Along with getting public praise and facetime with Jamie Foxx, Kanye West and Jay-Z, Lil' Wayne has been grooming him for success for several years now. This manifests itself in So Far Gone with four songs featuring Weezy himself. It's close to impossible to avoid success when your chummed up with the best-selling artist of last year. Most recently, the two performed two songs and sat together on the front row of the BET awards.


I'm excited to hear his upcoming major label debut, but I'm nervous. Part of what has made Drake so interesting for me thus far has revolved around his ability to speak openly and smartly. Amidst hints of the nonsense of a stereotypical hip hop extravagance, he always mixes in reflections on something of emotional depth. In the same verse that he talks about a freak-show tour bus, he details crying with his mother after he catches her trying to literally desert him as a young boy. This is all coupled with a great restraint in the musicality. Much of So Far Gone is slow and moody, finding ways to re-imagine popular indie songs from the likes of Lykke Li and Peter, Bjorn and John. I hope that his marriage to Lil' Wayne doesn't begin to corrode this style. Weezy, although somehow managing to make almost any song sell, has a tendency to digress into a cracked-out randomness in his lyrics in a way that bends more towards disturbing than metaphor to me. Insert "A Milli" here.

Can an artist really have a chance at consistent mainstream success without eventually being tied to a major label?

Drake - Say What's Real (Warning: Explicit Lyrics)
Drake - Successful (ft. Trey Sonz & Lil' Wayne)(Warning: Explicit Lyrics)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sarah may be the coolest librarian ever.



My sister requested a 15 min. mix as an intro to her preschoolers storytime at the public library in Norfolk, VA. The summer theme is "Alphabet" and I got a handful of suggested dance-worthy songs that she was looking for and took off from there. It was a lot of fun, not only to jump back and forth between all of these classic songs, but to insert little nuggets of "special" like the french alphabet (the language we both took in high school) and the kermit song (she's been known to appreciate muppets.) It also helps to invision an unruly mob of min-humans jumping around for 15 minutes getting excited for stories to come. Thanks for the opportunity Sarah!

_Michael




Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shake a leg




I returned from a stunning vacation in the Grenadines with rejuvenation and a bit of a tan. At the time I knew that I wanted to record a new mix, but I was unsure which direction it would go. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, the influx of stress over the past few weeks helped me narrow focus and craft the playlist. While reaching for tracks that I very much enjoy as of late, often simple and catchy to give my mind a break, I began to notice a trend towards the grimey. So, without further ado, I'd like to share a new mini mix with you (albeit a tad louder and dirtier than usual). Enjoy!

_Michael




Setlist:

Santigold - You'll Go Crazy ft. Young Jeezy
Phoenix - Listomania (Alex Metric Remix)
The Virgins - Rich Girls (The Twelves Remix)
Passion Pit - The Reeling (Calvin Harris Remix)
Boss in Drama - Favorite Song
S├ębastien Tellier - Kilometer (A-Trak Remix)
Dragonette - Fixin' To Thrill (Don Diablo Remix)
Hot Chip - Touch Too Much (Fake Blood Remix)
MSTRKRFT - Click Click ft. E-40
Killa Queenz - Bitches (Zombie Disco Squad Remix)
Daft Punk - Harder Better Faster Stronger (Deadmau5 Edit)
Heads We Dance - When The Sirens Sound (Don Diablo Remix)
Empire Of The Sun - Walking On A Dream (Van She Tech Remix)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Flashback



I'm mid-process of recording a new mix and should have it up in the next few days. This mix goes back to my interest in electronic/pop/indie dance music and you can get a little taste by listening to last November's mix. Enjoy and stay tuned!


Setlist:
  1. CSS – Move (Cut Copy Remix)
  2. Treasure Fingers – Cross The Dancefloor (Chromeo Remix)
  3. Lykke Li – Dance, Dance, Dance (Data Life Remix)
  4. Justice – Phantom Pt. 2 (Soulwax Remix)
  5. Lykke Li – Breaking It Up (Punks Jump Up Remix)
  6. MGMT – Kids (Soulwax Remix)
  7. Thunderheist – Jerk It (Jokers Of The Scene Remix)
  8. I Am Finn – I Love You (Van She Tech Remix)
  9. Kap10kurt – Mission Complete (Moulinex Remix)
  10. Chromeo – Fancy Footwork
  11. MSTRKRFT – Bounce Ft. Nore (Felix Cartal Remix)
  12. FnDannyBoy – Drop On The Dancefloor
  13. Kid Cudi – Day-N-Nite (Crookers Remix)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yikes



So I just realized that unless you have an IMEEM account, you've been hearing mostly 30 second previews of these songs.  You can still listen to the full song by clicking on "Listen to the full track" in the player, which will link you to IMEEM.  I'll continue to look for other options in the meantime and sorry to those who were annoyed at a blog full of 30 second clips of songs.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dance already



A few new dance tracks I've been enjoying lately. Dig it. The first from Alex Metric, who cranks up a newly released track from French band, Phoenix. Secondly, Deadmau5 reinvents the classic Daft Punk track and finally, Don Diablo kills "When the Sirens Sound".





Sunday, May 3, 2009

Not in Arizona



Every once in a while I feel like I've struck gold with a musical find. Even when I'm not convinced that they're going to be the next big thing or that all of my friends need to listen to their music, I still feel obliged to share. I'm convinced that most people have some odd, unexplainable attraction to a very specific genre or sound. A tune that just makes them feel right.

My relatively new exposure to the French band, Phoenix, is giving me hints of that "right" feeling. Emerging from suburban Versailles (joining the ranks of Air and Daft Punk), this foursome has those ingredients of funk, indie rock, electronic and pop that seem to work for me.

Their first, self-titled album was released in 2000 and had some great, accessible songs such as this one:



Their next two albums, Alphabetical and It's Never Been Like That were released in 2004 and 2006 and further defined the bands sound, introducing more electronic. Check out "Long Distance Call" or "Run Run Run" alongside this one



Releasing at the end of this Month, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is looking promising with their first single "1901" released as a free MP3 and their latest, "Lisztomania". Look for them in San Francisco at the Regency Center on June 27.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Finally



Hello to all of our kumquats! I have finally done what I said I would ages ago and recorded a mix. So enjoy the ViewMaster into my hip-hop world. This is the first of hopefully many recordings. If you love it, say so. If you hate it, keep to yourself.

Thanks,
Management
(BMW)

Download the MP3



Setlist:

Little Brother - Life of the Party

The Cool Kids - Black Mags
De La Soul - Baby Phat

88 Keys - Stay Up! (ft. Kanye West)
Jay-Z - Jockin' Jay-Z

Pigeon John - Do The Pigeon
Ryan Leslie - Addiction (Remix ft. Cassie, Fabolous)

Q-Tip - Gettin' Up
Ron Brownz - Pop Champagne (ft. Jim Jones, Juelz Santana)

Jennifer Hudson - Pocketbook (ft. Ludacris)

Snoop Dogg - Candy (Drippin' Like Water) (Feat. E-40, MC Eiht, Goldie Loc, Daz & Kurupt)
Jamie Foxx - Blame It (Remix ft. Young Joc, T-Pain)

Monday, April 13, 2009

DJBN April 2009 Mini-Mix



I recorded a new mini-mix this past weekend to satisfy all of our raving fans. Had a lot of fun with this one and was able to try a number of new technical things while sticking almost exclusively to hip/hop, both old and new. If you'd rather not stream it, the 35 minute MP3 can be downloaded by clicking on "DivShare".



I'd love to get some feedback, positive or negative. Enjoy!
_Michael

Setlist:
Kanye West - Heartless
Nas - If I Ruled the World (ft. Lauryn Hill)
A Tribe Called Quest - Award Tour
Souls of Mischief - 93' Till Infinity
Kevin Rudolf - Let it Rock (ft. Lil Wayne)
Beastie Boys - Body Movin'
Rick Ross - Magnificent (ft. John Legend)
Common - The Light
Erobique - Endorphinmachine
The Dream - Walking on the Moon (ft. Kanye West)
Gregor Salto - Mystery Baila
DJ Class - I'm the Shit (Remix ft. Lil John)
Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow
Buraka Som Sistema - Kalemba (ft. Pongo Love)

Friday, April 10, 2009

J*Davey



I found J*Davey through a song of theirs called Mr. Mister and I found my way from there. I really enjoy this song because of its mellow yet jazz feel. They hail from LA and they dabble in a little bit of everything genre wise. They were introduced by a mutual friend in high school and have been a group ever since.

BMW-out this biatch

Thursday, April 9, 2009

DiscoTech



Consisting of Danny Daze, Joe Maz, and Gigamesh, this DJ trio is a remixing force to be reckoned with. Hailing from the Crooklyn Clan, DiscoTech sources from all genres of popular music (Coldplay, T.I., The Police, Rolling Stones, Kanye West, Foo Fighters, etc.) to create danceable hits. What seems most effective about them is their restraint, generally keeping much of what is recognizable to people intact while still introducing their own amplified beat production.





Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blu



I first ran across Blu at the Keys to the City concert at the Independent. Even thought U-N-I headlined and I love their music, Blu managed to steal the show. The confidence in which this guy delivers is incredible. It's nice to see a lyricist like this gain some recognition and I'm excited to see what comes of his major label debut. In the meantime, don't miss his Below The Heaven
collaboration with producer Exile. The two are an incredible duo and I hope Exile works his way into the Warner Brothers deal. A few jazzed up tracks for your listening pleasure...



XV



I heard the song "A.D.D." on another music blog and thought it was a lot of fun. I like the energy and after a little digging, I learned a little about XV and have linked up a few more songs.



I especially like the transition around the 3 minute mark of "Everything is Cool". Interesting to find out that this guy hails from Wichita, Kansas. Having grown up in Kansas, I know a few things are true: 1 - Tornado warning means go to the roof to watch 2 - We produce no good hip/hop (aka Tech N9ne from KCMO). I hope he can make a dent in the latter, so go ahead and keep an eye out for his upcoming album, "The Kid With the Green Backpack".



Sunday, March 29, 2009

Q is for Queens

Q-Tip
We Fight, We Love (Remix ft. Kanye West, Consequence)






Released this past year, Q-Tip's "The Renaissance" didn't hold my attention for very long, but it still managed to remind me of the things I loved about A Tribe Called Quest and the two times I've seen them live. Go ahead and enjoy this jazzed up beat.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rootbeer

Pigeon John and Flynn Adam
"MGMT injected with some N.E.R.D and A Tribe Called Quest"





I ran across Rootbeer and their new 5 track EP, Pink Limousine a few weeks ago when it was released. The track "Girlies" stood out to me and I enjoyed the little stutters and repeats that chop up the main vocals.