Kognitif – Soul Food
Genre: Instrumental Hip Hop/Trip Hop
Favorite Track: The Message
Kognitif is a French DJ/producer who’s main focus of work is abstract hip-hop beats. I consider his album “Soul Food” a must hear for anyone that has ever had the thought of becoming a DJ/producer or just anyone with a pair of ears. This man cuts loops and samples like no other current producer out there, his style suggests something similar to J-Dilla’s work but a lot more flavorful. This is a plethora of perfectly blended jazz/soul samples; groovy drunken drumming; vocal chops; and some really cool synths, all of this adding up to a wonderful, laid-back but by any means not lazy mixtape. I have always viewed this project as a beautiful, shiny, hidden gem, which is not very well known because of the whole nature of Kognitif’s style is not what the common listener is looking for while trying to find new music. All of this being said, if you want to open your mind and dive into a scene that it is full of amazing talent, Soul Food is a great project to start with. Anyone that loves chill, relaxed music should check this album out. I promise that you will not be disappointed.
Janis Joplin – I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
Genre: Blues Rock
Favorite Track: Maybe
WARNING: Sit down and get comfortable before you start listening to this album because 10/10 times you are going to get blown away. Man, Janis Joplin has such a beautiful, powerful voice that reaches places that I have never seen another singer reach before. This may be a very beautiful and emotionally compelling set of songs, but it is also very funky and it has the capability to make you want to stand up and dance your butt off. While Janis Joplin’s amazing vocal abilities are the main focal point of this album, the impact that they make would not be at all possible if it was not for the compelling and genuine instrumental performance from the band. The whole project has a very well-crafted sound that reminds me of an energetic, sloppy, New Orleans big band performance. It is important to notice that when I say sloppy that is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, the small amount of sloppiness in this album’s instrumental performance is what gives it most of its authenticity and power. This is the kind of album that is enjoyed best if it is listened to all the way through and in order through a good speaker system, even though the tracks are individually already very enjoyable. It makes you feel like Janis is ripping her heart and soul in front of you and that you have known her personally for your whole life. When an artist is able to reach this level of intimacy through his/her music, it’s when we know that it is the real deal.
Oddisee – Alwasta
Genre: Hip Hop
Favorite Track: Catching Vibes
Oddisee, a rapper and producer originally from DC but now based in Brooklyn, has a very distinct style with lots of jazzy influences and a mellow J-Dilla-esque left field kind of producing. While there is a lot of concern with the creation of an intricate personal image in the hip-hop world these days, Oddisee is just a cool, average type of dude who is just out there to make some amazing music, and this is something I really appreciate because his lack of focus in his personal image makes his releases exceptionally genuine. There is something really special about the instrumentals in this EP, he distances himself from more traditional left field producers when it comes to drum stacking and the use of live instruments while he still maintains a very mellow, smooth vibe. On top of amazing instrumentals, Oddisee is a great lyricist. It is very common to see that when a rapper produces it’s own beats sometimes one of the two areas is lacking, but not with Oddisee, he finds the perfect middle ground. Overall, this EP is a really good one to sit and relax too.
PS. If you enjoy Oddisee I also recommend checking out his most recent release, The Odd Tape, for some more dope mellow beats.
Built To Spill – Keep It Like A Secret
Genre: Indie Rock
Favorite Track: You Were Right
Originally from Boise, Idaho, Built To Spill grew to be one of the most important indie rock acts of the 90’s. Strongly influenced by Neil Young spacey jams and having a similar sense of youthfulness and looseness to Pavement’s songwriting, Built To Spill turned out to be a vehicle for their frontman-man/mastermind Doug Martsch’s powerful eclectic songwriting. Along with Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis, Doug Bartsch helped establish the concept of the “indie guitar hero,” while both of them achieving this in very different ways.
Anyone that has ever played in a rock band knows how difficult it is to get a good sound with three guitar players without having at least 2 of them play the same phrases. This is and forever will be Doug Martsch’s specialty. Doug’s emotionally powerful three part guitar arrangements are a product of pure genius and mixed with his youthful, energetic singing it blends to what makes Built To Spill’s signature sound. Unlike Pavement, Built To Spill never got to be well known outside off their massive success within the indie rock scene, largely due to their unconventional, not pop-friendly song structures. In my opinion, this is all part of what makes them interesting. A traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure can get boring over time, but when you are listening to Built To Spill, you never know what you are going to get.
Keep It Like A Secret is Built To Spill’s 5th and most successful album. Containing some of the band’s most timeless classics such as “Carry The Zero,” Keep It Like A Secret is an amazing choice if you are attempting to embark on a deeply emotional journey while experiencing drastic dynamic shifts and listening to top-notch guitar arrangements.
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