Category Archives: Rock & Alternative

[Alternative EDM:] Grasscut – Pieces // Underground EDM, indie & rap from [adult swim]


[Alternative EDM:] Grasscut – Pieces

 

Grasscut’s “Pieces” is a delightfully unique offering in the electronic genre-sphere. Fresh from the Ninja Tune label, this “alternative electronic” track has elements of dance-pop collide with alternative rock/indie music that is reminiscent of bands like Death Cab for Cutie or Velveteen.

Beginning with sultry, subdued warped vocals, the song quickly begins an entrancing xylophone-like synth along bass and a steady beat. The accompanying video uses what looks like tripped out stock footage, in vintage 480p, adding to that underground/indie feel.

Appearing in an [adult swim] bump, the intermissions between their own shows and commercials, the network often promotes underground rap, hip-hop and electronic music. The network and Ninja Tune label are also closely associated with Big Dada records, Brainfeeder (Flying Lotus’ record label), and WARP records.
It is partly thanks to [adult swim], the network designed for 18-34 year olds, that eclectic acts such as Flying Lotus and Tycho and many more underground hip-hop acts (through label Definitive Jux) have been discovered, such as Aesop Rock, Cage, Despot, El-P, Murs, RJ-D2, and more received more widespread recognition.

The Ninja Tune and WARP records labels were radio stations in Square Enix’s Hong-Kong “GTA” video game, “Sleeping Dogs.” Within the game, playing the station would bring up underground EDM and ambient hits like Bonobo’s “Kiara,” artists like Stateless, Coldcut, UK rap/grime act Two Fingers, Emika & Lorn. It’s sister station “WARP records” played jams from artists such as Rustie, Flying Lotus and Hudson Mohawke. Truly revolutionary for it’s time (Sleeping Dogs was released in 2012).


More from Ninja Tune & Warp Records, Definitive Jux:

[Ambient/Chill:]

[Transcendent Ambient as seen in Sleeping Dogs]

[Hauntingly Deep Bass:]

[Underground, Thought-Provoking Alternative Hip-Hop:]

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[Deep House/Punk:] ATHRS – Shed Your Skin


Simply, shed your skin and
howl at the moon, with me…

ATHRS, the EDM punk rocker comes through with a quite deeper and more depth diving meld of deep house music and pop-punk vocals in “Shed Your Skin.”

The beat breaks down and builds up around deep house synths and an atmospheric soundscape prompting powerful emotions of breaking free and letting go (of troubles, the past, etc.). Do yourself a favor and check out this very unique track.

You can check out a feature I did on ATHRS and his response to an interview I did with him after his performance at Imagine 2018 on his experience at the fest.

Find more from ATHRS on his Youtube page.

[Commercials with Cool Music:] Microsoft Surface – The Salmon Sisters [Throwback to PS2’s Amplitude:] Garbage – Cherry Lips


[Alternative Rock/Pop:] Garbage – Cherry Lips

Go baby go go, (yeah we’re right behind you)
Go baby go go, (yeah we’re lookin’ at you)
Go baby go go, (oh, we’re right behind you)
Go baby, go baby, Yeah we’re right behind you!

Microsoft’s recent ad for the Surface Go has surfaced feelings of nostalgia in many people who heard the song featured in the ad, Garbage’s “Cherry Lips.” For me personally, I first heard the song on the Playstation 2 music game, Amplitude.

From the makers of Dance Central, the unconventional music game had you piloting a space ship that coasted along “tracks” of music. Each track had notes that you would blast and after getting through a “section” or “verse” with no misses the track would blast away and disappear and it’s element would continue to play for awhile. Each track was broken down into vocals, bass, drums, synths and FX, and basically the better you play the game the better the song would sound, you could also choose to completely ignore the vocals track to make an instrumental version, or only play the drums and bass for an acoustic/percussive “remix.”

It wasn’t until it resurfaced in the Microsoft ad that I found out more about Garbage and that the lead singer actually wasn’t Gwen Stefani (it sure sounded like it to me). Enjoy the ad and it’s original music video above and below take a look at what it was like playing the song in Amplitude.

 

[New Music] [Alt. Rock] Alex Clare – Open My Eyes


[Acoustic Alternative:]
Alex Clare – 
Open My Eyes

British singer-songwriter, Alex Clare, released “Open My Eyes” yesterday on Youtube. The multi-talented singer has released music spanning many genres including, electronic, blues, alternative rock, pop, drum & bass, and R&B.

This acoustic single invites his sultry smooth vocals over acoustic guitars and minimalist soundscapes. This gives the track a deep atmosphere, something present in many of Clare’s songs. Clare is most popularly known for his electronic single, “Too Close” that was featured in numerous ads and commercials, particularly, Microsoft’s ad for Internet Explorer 9.

[Throwback] [German Rock/Alternative:] Tokio Hotel – Dogs Unleashed (2009)


Throwback Jam: [Alt. Rock/German Rock]

Dogs Unleashed – Tokio Hotel

We are dogs unleashed,
Out of control
Full of dreams, nobody knows
Unleashed, time to escape
We don’t wanna suffocate…

Today’s throwback highlight is to German alternative rock band, Tokio Hotel. The band took the world by storm quietly after the release of their 2007 album, Scream. “Dogs Unleashed” continues their melodic foray into dark, but still light rock and has a nice catchy hook/chorus.

“Dogs Unleashed” comes from their 2009 album, Humanoid. Fun fact: I was on a school trip in Rome, Italy when I heard one of the band’s most popular singles, “Monsoon.” It played on the Italian equivalent of MTV, with it’s accompanying video. I also was introduced to Mika’s “Relax, Take It Easy,” a light-hearted dance-disco EDM cut, also released in 2007.

When I returned to the States, I found Tokio Hotel had become very popular and was beginning to make waves  in the US. Select singles became available in the US iTunes store. “Monsoon” was also featured in Guitar Hero: World Tour (the international themed iteration of the popular game).

[Alt. Indie Rock] Alt-J (∆)- Something Good


[Alt. Indie Rock] Alt-J (∆) – Something Good (as featured in Life is Strange)

[Music Video “Something Good”]

Get high, hit the floor.
Before you go…

Matador, estocada
you’re my blood sport.

This alternative indie-rock song is perfect for chilling out and hits you right in the feels. Whether you just happened across the song by chance or were like me, and heard it on the highly popular, play-as-you-go, “Choose Your Adventure” style video game, Life is Strange, Alt-J (∆)‘s calming soft-spoken, yet powerfully moving “Something Good” is a great song for these upcoming colder months. With relaxing guitar chords and keyboard arpeggios the abstract, and also very concrete lyrics create a warming, joyful ambiance.

Appearing in the game as the typical Pacific-Northwestern alternative-rock cut your main character, Max, just be chillin’ to. Its delivery (at the start of a brand new day the song plays as an “alarm” to wake you up) comes at a perfect time in the game’s story arch and really draws you into as the misfit archetypal high-school senior just trying to fit in.

Life is Strange is a downloadable video-game available on Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game revolves around an angsty 18-year-old teenager named Max, who has moved to Oregon to attend a private art-school for photographers. A place where her interactions with her teachers, peers, parents and others are determined by your choices alone. Decisions made during the games dialogues have lasting effects down the line; like whether you make fun of the class bully or help her during her bad day, or leave a window open to save a bird’s life or simply lament the sight of its dead body.

The twist which takes this beyond a game of storytelling and essentially a visual virtual graphic novel is the fact that Max learns one fateful day, when an off-kilter jock brandishes a gun in the school bathroom and shoots one of Max’s friends, that with the thrust of her hand and enough effort she can reverse time.

After the shooting Max awakens in class, about 10 minutes before she first walked into the bathroom and watched a student get shot. All the conversations, from the teacher’s lecture on Daguerreo-type photography, to class bully Veronica’s verbal jabs at Max play out exactly the same way as during the game’s intro with Max realizing she’s not dreaming. From there on out Max is faced with situations typical of young adult life; going to parties with the popular kids, rekindling a relationship with her stoner best-friend and the like, but with major ramifications and consequences for seemingly benign decisions.

Life is Strange is a refreshing breath of air in what technically could be called a role-playing or Adventure game, but pulls it off in a way never fully explored before in a video game. The result is like playing a movie or a TV show that you have control over, or if you’re real old-school, exactly like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books except the book is presented in 3D graphics right in front of you. So far I’m loving it.

[Throwback] [Alternative / Rock:] Taking Back Sunday – Liar (It Takes One to Know One)


Today’s throwback:

Alternative, pop-punk, post-hardcore emo band Taking Back Sunday was a band I heard a lot about in my high school days but didn’t particularly check out, or like too much. However, “Liar (It Takes One to Know One)” was one of several songs from the genre I particularly enjoyed, along the same time I was listening to early Fall Out Boy, Killswitch EngageSilverstein (whose first CD I bought), Breaking Benjamin, Incubus, The Killers and Modest Mouse. Journey back to 2006 with this single from the album, MakeDamnSure.

All our secrets they are tailored trouble
draped loose now around your hip —
your spotless instincts are valid
We co-exist…

If you tell me that you don’t bend…
Liar, Liar
if we’re keeping score,
we’re all choir boys at best (interested and arrogant)