Bryce Rudow likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @brycetrudow (or follow him to make him feel more popular while getting access to random new music he doesn’t have the time to write about).
- Yellow Ostrich – “Shades”
In October of 2012, I wrote this about Yellow Ostrich’s then-new single, “Ghost”:
“For anyone that was under a rock when Yellow Ostrich released their breakout 2011 album The Mistress, only to follow it up a year later with the matured, complex Strange Land, let me be the first person to tell you that Yellow Ostrich are without a doubt one of the most talented up-and-coming bands I have heard in a long time.”
And even earlier this summer, I casually slipped them into a compliment while describing something tangentially related:
“But I know that there are some bands (Tiny Victories, Mesita, Yellow Ostrich, etc) that if I had the world’s largest bullhorn, I would scream about from the top of my lungs to get people to listen to them.”
This is because Yellow Ostrich are awesome. They are a talented, creative band that is continually evolving a into more and more impressive iteration of itself.
In only 3 years, they’ve come out with a rough diamond of a debut album (see: “WHALE”), followed that up only 15 months later with a near-perfect indie rock record (see: “Elephant King” AND “Daughter” AND “Marathon Runner” AND “I Want Yr Love”), then followed that up with a 6-song EP that proved they knew how to play soft just as well as they could play loud (see: “Ghost”).
By the way, if you want to read over 25 paragraphs on the band’s discography, their management team thought it would be a good idea to put an overwhelmingly expansive bio on the band’s website for when you have a good half hour to dedicate to learning everything you’d ever want to know about Yellow Ostrich. Plus there’s also some great “press releasey fluff” lines in there, which I’m going to start curating from now. We’ll figure out what exactly to do with them later, but I feel like this is a necessary thing to do.
Anywayyyysss, Yellow Ostrich is now back with a single to introduce their upcoming album, Cosmos. That single, “Shades”, is distinctly Yellow Ostrich in sound, but there’s an inescapable feeling that something new and foreign has been added, whether that be the two new band members on the roster or a production team that cites Sparklehorse and Radiohead on their respective resumes. And I don’t mean foreign in a bad way; I just mean it in the objective sense that there is something noticeably different present in the style of this song. It feels as free as anything on Strange Land, but its rolling loops, electronic flares, and occasional meltdowns paint a sonic landscape that’s vast, captivating, and yet also a bit disorienting.
The press-release tagline for this album is that it was created from the dichotic muses of isolationist singer/guitarist Alex Schaaf’s recent interest in astronomers like Carl Sagan and drummer/percussionist Michael Tapper’s (great name for a drummer) decision to live on a sailboat for a month while traveling from Mexico to Hawaii. I’m not exactly sure what kind of album those two mindsets are going to produce, but odds are it’s going to be great and worth hearing live when they play DC9 on March 3rd.
- Here We Go Magic – “How Do I Know?”
I had the pleasure of seeing Here We Go Magic two weekends ago at my favorite “venue” in DC, Paperhaus. I had brought a few Paperhaus virgins with me, and while I had done my best to describe what to expect— a cramped rowhouse with nice people who all decided to make the trek out there in hopes of listening to good music in an intimate but raucous venue—I knew that my words could never do it justice.
Unfortunately, a heavy rain forced the volume of people that usually spend their night out back into the already cramped living room, but luckily my compatriots and I found a nice spot sitting on the kitchen counter, elevated above the huddled masses. From there, I was able to relax, enjoy my good beer, savor a sloppily rolled joint, and take in what was a surprisingly mind-blowing set.
I had only heard the nifty “Make Up Your Mind,” the infectious “How Do I Know,” and maybe a few other songs before that night, but even if I was intimately familiar with their material, I don’t think I would have expected that kind of live show. On the album they are tight, with any sort of instrumental exploration coming off more as a groove than anything else. But live, they stretched out into epic jam sessions that captivated even someone like me who cringes at the term “jam band”. They played with rhythmic patterns and crescendos to keep everything hypnotizing yet danceable, and at times I found my slightly inebriated self getting absolutely lost in the music as it played (plus, ya know, pretty lights and drugs…).
Having gone back to their studio albums since that show, I can hear a bit of that live magic in them, but I really hope that whatever future release(s) they have in store will have paired the band up with a producer that can find the right bottle to capture the lightning of what they’re capable of. “How Do I Know” does a pretty good job of harnessing that energy and is probably the best introduction to the band, with its toe-tapping beat and its charming vocals. But as someone that felt the need to stand up on that same kitchen counter and dance his ass off when this song was played the other night, I’ve got to tell you that this is a group you just have to see live to truly get.
- Young Galaxy – “Pretty Boy” (Peaking Lights Remix)
I know I’ve gone on record saying I don’t do remixes, but whoever Peaking Lights is, they get an exception. I heard their remix to “Pretty Boy” before I heard the original (thank you to former Guest Writer You Should Know Ben Wormald) and it adds the perfect amount of depth and flourish to the original, making it feel like a much more complete song. In fact, I’m going to be adding this to the “Mine Is Yours All-Stars” list that I just made up, named after the Cold War Kids song that Passion Pit took ownership of thanks to a brilliant remix, and which is comprised of remixes or covers that should just replace the original from now on (if you can’t tell, I’m really proud of that punny title).
By just accentuating the best parts of the song, adding a few trimmings and trappings, and allowing the track to really breathe, Peaking Lights are able to alchemize a song from synth-pop satisfaction to electronic jamboree celebration. It’s funny because it’s not SO different from the original, but it’s those little differences that make all the difference when it comes to making this song the best it can be.
Plain and simple, this song is a pure joy to listen to, and all I can do is thank you Based God for that percussion breakdown near the end. It’s glorious.
But now, it’s time for a very special edition of…
THE GUEST WRITER YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW: Eric Kokuma Edition
Editor’s Note: One of the best things about moving into the house where I live now in Mt Pleasant is that I am next door to Eric and his housemates. Most weekends, their basement can be heard from the alley behind us blasting ridiculously good music. Eric is one of those guys who knows artists I’ve never heard of, and he’s got a nice knack for local hip-hop.
- Noetic – “Oceans”
Hip-hop is coming back to its roots.
After years of auto-tuned, mindless dribble, with only a few artists daring to break the mold, rhyming like you mean it is finally slowly being restored to the game. It’s been appalling seeing artists not live up to their potential because they choose to dumb it down, but things are changing, and Noetic does no such thing.
Devon Valentino Howard, who goes by Noetic (a branch of metaphysical philosophy concerned with the study of mind and intellect) is an up and coming hip-hop artist who oozes ambition. The talented artist/producer was born in Beacon, NY. Growing up, he quickly realized that music was his passion, citing a desire to be admired by others like his entertainer father Kid Nice was. His method is that of the Lox, Jay-Z, Heavy D, all of the greats he admired growing up. With a combination of calculated instrumentals and expressive vocals, Noetic speaks to every side of the game, conjuring up images of both struggle and redemption.
He took his time before landing in Maryland in 2007 and he’s been pounding the local pavement ever since. His latest song and video, a flow over Frank Ocean’s, Oceans, is an accurate depiction of what he does best. Whether he’s in a basement freestyle session or strolling along the Georgetown waterfront, his story-telling abilities carry you away with him.
Noetic’s 34 career mix tapes are a testament to his work ethic, and his latest studio album, Every State of Mind, was released this past November, but more importantly, on January 11th, Noetic will open up for Pusha T at Echostage. Grab your tickets while you still can.
If you/someone you know is up for the task of writing non-sequitered musical ramblings, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected], tell me I look pretty, and convince me why you should be a Guest Writer We Should Fucking Know.