Playlist: Pathways

It’s the first day of spring in the western hemisphere and this season is known for rebirth, life, and growth. To start off this time of renewal here’s a playlist of 10 songs about life reflection, perspective, and making choices.  Happy Spring Equinox!

In Every Direction – Junip

Silver Timothy – Damien Jurado

Biggy – Warpaint

Apocalypse Dreams – Tame Impala

Pieces of What – MGMT

Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.) – Monsters of Folk

Maybe Not – Cat Power

Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes

White Oak – Kalen Nash

Paz – Zoé

Atmosphere Releases Paul Bunyan-Themed Video For “Bob Seger”

Indie rap kingpins Atmosphere released the one-off track “Bob Seger” back in July and now have visuals to accompany the moody, evocative piece, one of their strongest individual songs since 2008’s When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. Slug had the following to say about the Andrew Melby-directed clip:

“(The video is) about how the legend of Paul Bunyan began. Babe wasn’t really a blue ox, it was a blue axe. But the northern accent made it sound like ‘ox’. Blue from the blood of the evil Canadian soldiers. It was filmed on the northern Minnesota iron range.”

Atmosphere is currently in the middle of their annual Welcome to MN Tour alongside Toki Wright, Big Cats, No Bird Sing, deM atlaS and Jimmy2Times. Catch the remaining dates below.

2.13 – Duluth, MN @ Clyde Iron Works (sold out)

2.14 – Rochester, MN @ Mayo Civic Center Auditorium

2.15 – Fargo, MN @ The Venue at the Hub

2.17 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue (sold out)

El-P and The Bots Celebrate CONS Project: Brooklyn with Intimate Performance

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CONS Project: Brooklyn came to a close Friday night with performances by El-P and The Bots at Converse Rubber Tracks. The three-month creative workshop offered emerging artists the opportunity to learn from the best in the fields of audiovisual, production and recording.

Hailing from Los Angeles, the young punk-blues duo known as The Bots rocked the Williamsburg performance space for the better part of an hour. Their gritty, wise-beyond-its-years repertoire included a song about a girl from their school that used to cut her feet and put her blood in the cupcakes she sold on campus.

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The Prison Poetry of Ceschi Ramos

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Drawing by Ceschi Ramos

In December 2010, rapper, singer and multi-instrumentalist Ceschi Ramos was arrested when a vehicle carrying 100 pounds of marijuana wrapped up like Christmas presents parked outside of his New Haven home and an informant pinned Ceschi as its intended recipient. Police tackled Ceschi to the snow and drew guns to his head, refused to allow his 98-year-old grandfather to contact a lawyer, threatened to arrest his entire family and seize their home and ultimately coerced Ceschi into signing a confession. Following three years of legal battles, he accepted a plea deal for an 18-month sentence. There was no evidence suggesting he was anything more than a scapegoat aside from the signed confession and by the time his sentence began in September 2013, marijuana was no longer illegal in Connecticut.

To keep the record label he co-founded with his brother David in 2008 afloat, Ceschi and Fake Four, Inc. launched an indiegogo campaign in the fall. Their modest initial goal of $15,000 was met within 24 hours and the final tally sat north of 52 grand. Approximately four months into his sentence, Ceschi was released on parole over the holidays.

“We’re pretty confident that the noise everyone made helped put me on the fast track for release,” says Ceschi. “It was even hard for me to believe but the public nature of my case had every C.O. in prison pointing and talking about me, they seemed utterly annoyed by the amount of mail and books and visits and overall attention I was getting – and that really helped push me out into the program faster.”

One of the many perks offered by Fake Four’s indiegogo campaign included the opportunity to receive original poetry penned by the artist behind bars. My girlfriend, one of the 1,046 individuals who donated to the Free Ceschi campaign, received one of his pieces last week, entitled “Bori, Niantic”, which Artlux is proud to share with you below.

Click each image for a larger version

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Artlux Mag’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

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When not discussing Miley Cyrus, the hype machine suggested Kanye West and Arcade Fire were the primary gravitational forces of 2013. And while Yeezus and Reflektor were great records, the time and energy journalists devoted to Kanye rants and Arcade Fire dress codes could have been spent covering a wealth of genius material that flew under the radar. With that in mind, and with the acknowledgment that ranking art is a pointless (though oddly fun) endeavor, Artlux presents its top 10 albums of 2013.

10. Serengeti – Saal

King of character study and frequent Sufjan collaborator Serengeti put out a lot of music in 2013. His record under the guise of Chicago bratwurst enthusiast Kenny Dennis received the most attention, including praise from Thom Yorke, but it was the underhyped Saal alongside German producer Sicker Man that showed Geti at his most raw and revealing, singing of a recurring night terror involving his deceased girlfriend and showing up at an ex’s wedding wearing a fake nose.

9. Young Fathers – Tape Two

Artists who make music described as uncategorizable  are often doing something right. Scottish trio Young Fathers are hip hop at their core, but their experimental lo-fi odyssey routinely features elements of African music, soul, reggae and more. Their second EP on Anticon is equal parts beautiful and grimy, highlighted by the melodic might of “I Heard” and adventurous tumult of “Queen Is Dead”, which sounds like a synthy post-apocalyptic dance party set in the Grand Bazaar.

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Rickolus – Troubadour (Review)

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Released by Circle Into Square

Over the course of 13 years, the last film projectionist in Florida spent his spare time recording an album a day in a green shed in his Jacksonville backyard, piling up roughly 4,748 albums according to legend. Somewhere along the way he got married, had a daughter, made music with indie rapper Astronautalis, and went on the occasional tour. This man is Rickolus.

The singer-songwriter, who emerged into cult consciousness with the obscure-yet-praised Youngster and Coyote & Mule records, had the audacity to drop a double album in the age of dwindling attention spans. This album is Troubadour, split into the acoustic Roads and electric Towns.

Drawing inspiration from Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth, Troubadour is Rickolus‘ abstract exploration of love as the highest spiritual experience and serves as a meandering epic poem to his wife. His witty, emotive palette lends itself to a beautiful sonic sadness even when the subject matter itself doesn’t occupy the same space, as evidenced by songs such as “White Whale” and “9th Street to San Pablo”.

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B. Dolan Raps to Hardcore Crowd at Saint Vitus

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Photography by April Siqueiros

Following a memorable show with Sage Francis back in May at the Knitting Factory, B. Dolan returned to Brooklyn for an hour set bookended by hardcore bands at the sold-out Saint Vitus Bar. The current run opening for Circle Takes The Square marks Dolan‘s first trek with a live band, and his touring 3-piece brought the goods.

Drawing primarily from Fallen House, Sunken City and House of Bees Vol. 2, Dolan‘s band expertly transformed the beats of Alias and Buddy Peace to the stage while the Rhode Island emcee won over uninitiated hardcore fans with his staggering cadence and charisma.

He also shoved a white Rasta in the face, which looks like a fun thing to do.

Check out April Siqueiros’ photos from the night and view B. Dolan’s setlist below.

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Download Hellfyre Club’s New Label Compilation ‘Dorner vs. Tookie’

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The Los Angeles underground, responsible for some of the most challenging and remarkable hip hop released over the past two decades, continues to evolve and shift in interesting new directions. Arguably the two most important and original figures on the scene today, Open Mike Eagle and Busdriver, both call Nocando‘s Hellfyre Club home. The progressive art rap label also lays claim to Milo, the abstract philosopher who put out one of this year’s strongest tracks with the Busdriver-assisted “Red Oleanders” back in July.

Today Hellfyre Club releases its third compilation, Dorner vs. Tookie, which is available to stream and download below.

Serengeti and Surprise Guest Sufjan Stevens Join Louis Logic for Release Show at Glasslands

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Less than two years ago, underground hip hop veteran Louis Logic considered quitting rap and trying his hand at indie pop. On Sunday night, in front of a packed hometown Brooklyn crowd of fans, friends and fellow emcees, Louis walked around Glasslands with a Mylar balloon tied to his wrist and an irrepressible grin on what was clearly one of the best nights of his life.

The show was a celebration of Louis Logic’s first solo LP in seven years, Look on the Blight Side, which comes out next week on Fake Four, Inc. It had also been seven years since underground contemporary J-Zone rapped on stage. After experiencing some marginal success in the early 00s with his comedic pimp raps, J got burned out, stopped recording, and penned a book on how to not make it in the music business. Motivated by positive press for the book, J recently dropped his 11th album, Peter Pan Syndrome. His brief Glasslands set consisted of new material such as “Gadget Ho” and “Trespasser”, songs about his disdain for smartphones and gentrification, respectively. “Jackin For Basquiats” continued the onslaught with a snarky jab at Jay Z and other rappers mindlessly referencing high art for style points. An audience member took note and called out, “What else do you hate, J?”

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What Do Banksy and Arcade Fire Have in Common?

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Photo via Banksy

Earlier this month, enigmatic street artist Banksy arrived in New York City for what he’s calling “an artist’s residency on the streets of New York.” Banksy has revealed a new artwork each day of October, amassing a collection of funny, thought-provoking pieces that entertain and also force the viewer to confront uncomfortable realities. So far, he has painted an homage to the fallen twin towers in Tribeca, arranged a slaughterhouse delivery truck carting stuffed animals to tour the meatpacking district, and sculpted a traveling fiberglass replica of Ronald McDonald having his shoes shined by a real boy. Halfway through his stint in the city, there is no telling what his next work will be. For Banksy, no territory is too offensive to target.

While Banksy is touring and tagging around the five boroughs, Arcade Fire is also in New York (for a couple of surprise concerts in Brooklyn this weekend) and also tagging. Last month, colorful chalk patterns in the shape of a diamond started showing up in major cities around the world, New York City included. When the band’s new title-track single “Reflektor” dropped in September, the letters in the diamonds suddenly made sense and promotion for Arcade Fire’s highly anticipated, fourth studio album (due out October 29) had begun.

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