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Music

ASTR – R U With Me

ASTR is a musical project that embodies the youth of America’s creative class.

Its name is semi-ambiguous. What (or who?) is an ASTR? Is it a reference to John Jacob and the rest of the infamous Astor clan? Or does it connote “astro,” the prefix meaning “pertaining to stars”?

Its creation story is rife with both authenticity and irony: “After meeting three years ago in a Manhattan yoga class, they discovered they shared a musical and artistic sensibility informed by cinema noire, Miami Vice and urban dreamscapes.”

Its bios are inspiring in a Wes Anderson-meets-Zoe Deschanel way (never mind that the lead singer is actually named Zoe):

Zoe, a New York native and a “former major label refugee,” met Adam, a “recovering vinyl addict with a penchant for 60s/70s cinema scores, after “a hiatus from music to explore the world via spirituality.”

Can’t make this stuff up folks.

Here we have two true artistes, denizens of Manhattan – that eternal font of creativity – who identify themselves publicly through their quirkiest attributes. Their Soundcloud features covers of Drake and Beck, two mononymous artists that hold significant cache in the salons of the urban artistic elite.

And yet, after all of this intrigue, their music sits comfortably at the radio-ready crossroads of hip-hop, indie electronica and pop.

Dear Zoe and Adam: Please make some music worthy of your bios. Zoe, you are a major label refugee who just “explored the world via spirituality.” Don’t rush back! Adam, where are the cinema score elements and vinyl hiss? Where is the concept album about the rise and fall of the Astor family, and the ironic insider album cover of Astor Place or the New York Public Library main branch?

As we await their reply, I’ll be working on the screenplay. Anyone have Michel Gondry’s phone number?

ASTR – R U With Me

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Music

Danny Brown – Die Like A Rock Star (Space Gang Redo)

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This is such a an awesome remix. Danny Brown had created the original track which is harsh (in the best way) in its lyrics and delivery. Consistently referencing the deceased of Hollywood and delivering an almost eery tribute with his unique rap style. I think it is more in his voice than anything that makes him sound like no other. Hip-hop is embracing these unique sounding rappers all showing a slightly different style, others like Chance the Rapper or Slum Village coming to mind.

Space Gang, or Daniel Moore, is an up-and-coming U.S. producer. By adding in the delicate chimes he gives this track a mysterious new sound. The original being a heavy hip-hop track is transformed into a sexy tune letting you listen to vocals rather than be hit with them. I am not sure which I prefer more. One thing for sure is Space Gang is one to watch.

Danny Brown – Die Like A Rock Star (Space Gang Redo)

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Music

Divine Fits – My Love Is Real

So my father is hip. He’s thrown around the term “with it” a couple of times and I’ve caught him reading Gawker and Jezebel while a used and abused Wall Street Journal sits wrinkled in front of him at his desk. He’s not one of those other dads, he’s a cool dad (Mean Girls reference anyone? eh eh?). I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been introduced to many a new artist from him over the past couple of years. I remember one morning waking up while being home for the holidays and hearing Animal Collective playing from the family room. Confused, I went to find the source and there was my father sitting in his reading chair with the paper listening to a band I associated with my Mary Jane lovin’roommate at the time. He then informed me that not only had he just purchased the new Animal Collective album, but he had also downloaded The xx’s freshman album and Fever Ray’s. I hadn’t even downloaded these artists yet. I was dumbfounded and embarrassed for myself. Needless to say my dad earned some points in my book that day. Since then we’ve been exchanging music and emerging artists are often a source of conversation between us. Today I’d like to introduce you to a band my dad suggested I listen to this past week, the Divine Fits.

A side project while their respective bands are spending time away from the studio, Divine Fits is Britt Daniel of Spoon and Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Sam Brown. Formed earlier this year, the Fits are already many critics artists to watch. Their sound is reminiscent of the member’s previous bands: guitars and low-fi synths come together to make an urgent plunge into the alternate minimalist rock world. Boeckner’s odd blend of falsetto and spoken song on the album’s introductory track is blunt and a little off-putting considering he’s crooning “My love is real until it stops.” This bluntness, however, mimics the band’s acoustics. A simple kick-drum and synth bass rhythm carries us flatline through the song while light keyboard sounds give the track its playfulness. I found myself saying “yes, yes, yes” after this track cut off and immediately went into the second. Nothing the Fits do is overdone, showy, or unnecessary.

It’s all very tongue and cheek with the Divine Fits. In all honesty, this track and the rest of the album, A Thing Called Divine Fits, is one of the best things I’ve heard all year. As much as I love the member’s previous bands, I’m crossing my fingers that this project keeps its momentum. Their sonic formula is right on target; tightly packaged and promptly delivered. Here’s to hoping they don’t end as abruptly as this track does.

Divine Fits – My Love Is Real