Category Archives: music

A Glimpse Into An Odd Future

Lyrics about violence, raping under-aged women, swag and smoking copious amounts of cannabis – LA based rap/skate collective Odd Future is not exactly primed to perform at the next PTA convention. Nonetheless, this clique of teenage rappers has generated a lot of attention the past few months. They performed on Jimmy Fallon’s show, were recently featured on the cover of Billboard magazine and Odd Future captain Tyler the Creator signed a one album deal with XL records. Odd Future’s quick rise to fame is both bizarre and fascinating, eccentric and extravagant. However, there is one aspect of the group that I want to focus on and it’s summed up by Billboard writer Andrew Nosnitsky.

Nosnitsky says, “Some speculate that Odd Future will do to the polished hip-pop of Drake and B.o.B what Nirvana did to hair metal. The charisma, intelligence and sheer destructive impulse are definitely similar, spearheaded by hyper-creative music nerds who play the rebel role artfully. The members of Odd Future have of course yet to produce a “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and it’s unclear if that’s even their goal. Today’s media is perhaps too fragmented to even support such a big bang movement. Instead, Odd Future moves horizontally through word-of-mouth.”

This is the phenomena that I want to analyze. Years ago, Odd Future may have indeed sparked a big bang movement within the music industry. However, the current state of media and pop culture is definitely fragmented. I did a quick Google search on music consumption habits and discovered that 2008 was a watershed year for the music industry, many of the statistics I found were dated back to 2008 (However, I would like to include the most current data, if you have it feel free to leave it in the comments section of this article).

According to the data, the majority of music fans listen to music using a digital platform and over half of the music fans in America and the UK (65%), download illegally and this is coming from the reported statistics, not including individuals who did not participate in polls or poll participants who flat out lied. Personally I feel the number now is closer to three quarters of young music fans downloading illegally.

Moreover, according to ZDnet the majority of the people downloading are under the age of 24 and do so to “give in return to others.” Oddly enough, the actual price of the music being too expensive is one of the lowest ranking factors on a list of eight reasons as to why people upload music online. The top reason for why people do not upload is due to computer viruses, security/firewalls, and overall technical caveats that protect digital systems from being tampered with.

What is even more interesting is that the number of tracks legally purchased vs. the ones illegally purchased is almost half and half. In this particular scenario, I would say some of the poll participants definitely lied and these statistics may be skewed. However, these statistics do reveal much about music fans’ consumption habits and reveal a trend as to where these consumption habits are headed. Now how does all of this relate to Odd Future?

From a social perspective, big bang movements, specifically from pop culture and entertainment vantage point, are spearheaded by young people.  These movements start for a variety of reasons, but these movements cannot exist in environments deleterious to the foundation of the movement. Moreover, the drive behind a social movement is contingent upon the appeal of a charismatic and authoritative figure, but also once the movement gains success, it becomes trendy at which point it gains more followers. The hardest part of making a social movement stick is disseminating the actual knowledge that exists at the core of the movement.

In the current media environment, it is highly fragmented. When I look at groups like Odd Future, I wonder what makes them stick- how can the mainstream be informed of this phenomenon and is it possible for young music fans (the Odd Future target demographic) to reach a galvanizing opinion on this collective?

Those are tough questions and I don’t have all the data and ground level research, however, I would bank on this not happening now, but possibly in a few years. Odd Future’s rise to fame reminds me of a young Eminem in his rebellious and cantankerous Slim Shady years.

Eminem dissed every possible celebrity figure, said everything you’re not supposed to say on a record and he became a household name. No doubt, he had a mega press machine behind him courtesy of a major label and he came out in a time where the national media outlets were a bit more united across all borders, television, radio and the press appeared to be in sync when buzzing about new music acts. You could break an act on TRL, have them appear on the cover of Rolling Stone and play their latest hit single on a mainstream radio station all in the same week.

We have found similar alternatives; however, I feel the demographics are much more widespread now. It may be easy to sell Odd Future to the 15 and 16 year olds who read the hypebeast forums, but what about the more traditional media outlets like Rolling Stone or David Letterman’s late night show which may have a very wide target demographic of 18-49. One can even look at the sales of Tyler the Creator’s singles “Yonkers” and “Sandwitches,” both have collectively sold less than 25,000 digital units on iTunes. I feel it’s harder for a movement to produce energy across all entertainment mediums before addressing this question, how do you define the “average” music fan?

Now you could challenge this assertion and say what about pop stars like Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus?  Both of these music acts have managed to crossover from radio to television to film, their access and exposure amongst media outlets and age groups holds no boundaries. I would argue that these kinds of artists are manufactured to have the greatest possible appeal, yet their music is not created or steeped in the beliefs of starting a social movement or making a statement. Rather it’s about selling a fine crafted product, buying a Justin Bieber album is like buying a Coke, it’s not meant to challenge you, but leave you with a familiar and refreshing taste.

Music acts like Odd Future cannot be marketed as mere products, but they have to sold as a phenomenon that appeals to individuals in large societies who feel socially detached or insignificant. Moreover, they have to be exposed to people who feel that the industry is lacking in certain goods or resources. The overall discontent of both of these parties can generate a catalyst that springs forth into a social phenomenon, hence selling Odd Future as what appears to be a product, but is really a lucrative social movement.

I suspect that there is some sort of wizard behind the curtains acting as a source of funding and promotion for Odd Future. This source may have been present even prior to the release of Tyler the Creator’s stunning debut Bastard. I am curious as to how they will continue marketing this collective and what moves they plan to make in the next few months. Nonetheless, I’m going to be rooting for their Internet fame to manifest into real world success – SWAG.

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Shathouse Rats Interview

This is a reprint from Beatlanta, thanks Adam and Chris!

Shathouse Rats were just some down to earth guys, drinkers. They came across as modest toward their music and talent, but eager to let folks know what they’re up to right now. I say these guys have something going for themselves. It might not be for some, but for me it was hard to place them in the same arena as any bands I know in Atlanta right now. That makes them all the more appealing. They mix several genres from punk to blues to rock and attitude. They have an old school jail rock feel to them.

In the interview we talk about the Picaflor show on March 18th, the band’s upcoming release and tour plans as well as their music, style and aspirations.

Shathouse Rats will be performing at Picaflor this Friday with Qurious and Imagination Head. For more details about the band, click here

First Listen: Miles From Pangaea – “Hypoxia”

Miles From Pangaea are a three piece progressive/ambient instrumental rock band. They’ve been blowing minds’ around the Atlanta area for the past three years and here’s the single Hypoxia off their new album being released in May. Fans of the Omar Rodriguez Lopez group, early Pink Floyd and Can will enjoy.

Listen to Hypoxia here

For more about Miles From Pangaea, click here

From Exile @ the Earl 1.7.2011

From Exile receives plenty of attention in the local Atlanta press and because of this I tend to avoid publishing stories about them. However, this January footage of them at the Earl is too good to pass up. These guys have definitely taken some notes from the Megadeth/Judas Priest metal shredders handbook and on this recording they show off their star pupil status.

From Exile will be releasing a NIN cover ep in May and their next show is on March 31 at 529 with Lazer Wulf and Universe Divide.

For more about this band, click here


Album Review: Earth – “Angels of Darkness”

This is a reprint from Little Advances, thanks Denton!

Dylan Carlson is not a selfish bandleader. For the second album in a row, the avant-metal icon has ceded a hefty portion of the spotlight to an instrument other than his own. Carlson’s thick, glacial guitar lines were the focal point of the early Earth, stretched out over epic song lengths and frequently rolled out without much accompaniment. When Carlson reformed the band in 2005 after a nine year hiatus, re-imagining the project as a creeping doppelganger of Western soundtracks and Dirty Three post-rock, he ditched the metal but kept most of the minimalism. There were changes in the foundation, though.   The band expanded its palate on 2008′s The Bees Made Honey In the Lion’s Skull with the major addition of Steve Moore’s organ.  The spine of the band still consisted of Carlson’s guitar and Adrienne Davies’ patient drumming, but the organ brightened everything up.  Moore’s contributions were the most emotive parts of that album.

Prior to Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1,  Earth’s lineup shifted again.  Moore is gone, but his role has been more than adequately filled by Lori Goldston on cello.  Actually, that’s an understatement – the addition of Goldston to Earth 2.0 is absolutely crucial and has taken the reborn band to new heights.  Angels might not be as groundbreaking as Earth 2, but it’s the best product to come out of the band’s second run.

Goldston’s cello is mournful where Moore’s organ was bright, and it brings out the foreboding undercurrent that has remained present in the band’s work even after they ceased to resemble doom-metal or any related sub-genre. Carlson once again allows a side player to do the expressive heavy lifting, with the cello often sounding achingly close to snapping while the guitar lines remain slow and deliberate.  At other times Goldston sounds like she’s shadowing Carlson’s guitar, reverberating around his spare notes and adding heft even though this still isn’t “heavy” music.

It wouldn’t make too much sense to get into a track by track breakdown of the album, because it’s best digested as a whole.  This is the rare hour long album that feels about 20 minutes shorter than it actually is, a welcome surprise after Bees, an album that could occasionally drag.  This is an immersive listen through and through.

As much as I appreciate Carlson’s willingness to tinker with the formula, I would love to see this current incarnation of Earth stick around for awhile.  They’ve got such a unique chemistry that it would be a shame if this album and the incoming Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 2 (set for release later this year) end up as the only recordings from this lineup. I guess you never know, though – the next version could very well be as revelatory as the current one.



First Listen: Dolli – “Wissenssoziologie EP”

Dolli is a Venezuelan post rock/ambient group, yet they appear to have a strange fascination with German/eastern European culture. Their new record is entitled the Wissenssoziologie Ep and it reminds me of artists  like Tortoise, Robin Guthrie, and Tamaryn. If you’re a fan of any of these groups, you may enjoy Dolli.

Bandcamp: http://dolli.bandcamp.com/

{Official Video} Tyler the Creator – “Yonkers”

Tyler the Creator is a 19 year old rapper from Los Angeles and the leader of a hip hop/skate crew called OFWGKTA. I heard about him a few months ago via Pitchfork Media, but as usual I wanted to wait and evaluate the hype. I took a listen to his self-produced debut album Bastard and was blown away by what I heard.

His style reminds of Slim Shady era Eminem meeting a foul-mouthed and rambunctious MF Doom while skating in a cracked out insane asylum. I understand this an odd description, but if Tyler the Creator truly is the future of rap, we are indeed looking at an odd future.

Tyler’s new album is entitled Goblin and will be released in April. Check out the promo video for his single “Yonkers” below.