About Author: down.caster

Downcaster(s) is not a music critic, he's a music fan. So he usually doesn't talk about music from a "you should listen to this because it's moving art forward" perspective. He likes the "you should listen to it because it kicks ass" perspective.

Posts by down.caster


Sic Alps prep EP of Tronics covers

Sic Alps are set to release Pangea Globe, an EP packed end-to-end with Tronics covers! Wait, who are the Tronics!? We’re not really sure (sorry, we’ll stop yelling), but we know they’re a late 70s post-punk outfit fronted by a dude called Ziro Baby (great name). Check out “Shark Fucks” below. The dry, monochromatic tone reminds us of the Velvet Underground, but they’ve got a raw, jangling edge that makes us say, yeah, I can see why the Sic Alps are covering them…


Morning Benders change their name, offer free EP

The Morning Benders are back with a new name and a new sound. The New York (but sometimes San Francisco, other times LA) band has given way to their own unyielding political correctness and re-branded themselves “POP ETC” after learning “bender” is a derogatory term for “homosexual” in the UK. In the process, the group has departed from the lush, organic retro-rock we flipped for on Big Echo, and developed a more synthetic, stylish tone. While the new name is kinda’ sorta’ okay, the new sound is kinda’ sorta’ awesome. Stream their new, self titled EP below, or download it free.


Hip-hop collective ‘Quakers’ drop their self-titled debut

Fuzzface (Portishead’s Geoff Barrow) leads this, um, 35-member hip-hop crew (Really? Thirty-five members?) called Quakers. We were impressed with lead single “Fitta Happier (f. Guilty Simpson & Med)” which masterfully companied prominent samples by Run DMC and Radiohead. Check it out…

Download “Fitta Happier”

Later, we were (even more) impressed with “Smoke (f. Jonwayne)” (free download), and not just because (the guy we once knew solely as a DJ) Jonwayne’s mic skills have been quickening, but because the beat here also kicks ass. Today, the group’s self-title debut hits stores, and from the sound of this album preview, it’s likely an end-to-end banger…


Death Grips – The Fever (Aye Aye) – video

So,  Death Grips are turning into one of those bands where, like, everything they do we talk about it because they’re rad. And by “rad”, we think they piss off as many people as they make really happy (they make us smile). That to us is great art. Anyway, if you’re new to this Sacramento crew’s aggressive, jagged deconstruction of hip-hop, their latest bit of propaganda, a video for “The Fever (Aye Aye)” (from their — ahem — major label debut, The Money Store, due April 24), is a good place to start. Stream it below. Then go get some free shit here. And here.

While we’re on the subject, we just found “The Fever” in downloadable form for you obsessive possessive types…


DJ Format enlists Edan, Mr. Lif on new LP

It’s been a minute (seven years, actually) since we’ve seen a new LP from the UK producer DJ Format. There was a Fabriclive compilation and some collaborations, but nothing near as ambitions as his recently released Statement of Inetent. According to a release from label Slice of Spice, Format covers everything from Jazz and Blues to Psych rock and hip-hop. Below, are a couple cuts with contributions from mad awesome MCs, Edan and Mr. Lif…


Pontiak – Royal Colors – video

Brothers Lain, Van and Jennings Carney returned to the Virginia barn where they record music recently with a new mixing board (a Soundcraft 6000 24-track analog component). The idea was to pursue what they described as “a color project, painted through music, favoring the traditional form of the song to explore texture and color”. Months later, they ended up with the album Echo Ono (out now). On lead single “Royal Colors”, you’ll notice the Carneys do a pretty good job channeling waves of sloshing riffs, squalling leads and tightly-wound percussion in a crisp, dynamic four-minute box.

Pontiak – Royal Colors from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.


B-Ju – Mia Got a New Haircut – free mp3

German beat maker B-Ju shares a geometric beat with glitched effects and neon textures from his latest, Prozak People. While this cut comes from across the Atlantic, it sounds like something from California’s Low End Theory-led electronica underground. To narrow it down, B-Ju makes digital waves with primary colors in the same pool as SF producer Salva.

Download “Mia Got a New Haricut” [XLR8R]


Action Bronson – Blue Chips – Album Review

Early last year we were impressed by the sample-heavy swag of Action Bronson’s debut, Dr. Lecter (we were also pretty stoked with the Bon Appetite mixtape). The effort was enough to land the former chef on our list of favorite new hip-hoppers (we didn’t actually write that up… but we wish we had… Danny Brown and Death Grips would have been on that list, too). However, as 2011 rolled on, we were underwhelmed by the one-offs (“Cliff Notes”, “Muslim Wedding”) and collaborations (with Ghostface Killah, Apathy and half-a-dozen others). Not disappointed. But underwhelmed compared to the spark we heard on Dr. Lecter.

Actually, we were a little disappointed with a single, “Blue Chips” that we later learned was   the title track from Bronson’s forthcoming mixtape. Not a good sign. But Blue Chips is here. And there was absolutely no need to worry. This mixtape killer (free download).
All of the swag and vigor from Dr. Lecter is back, and then some. The R+B, funk and jazz samples (even some 50s pop) are more killer, the bass loops are funkier and Bronson’s flow has finally drifted to a comfortable distance from Ghostface’s. But the key aspect is range and pacing. Action Bronson has done an exceptional job of shifting tempo, mood and rhythm across Blue Chips, which gives the mixtape a spark that last from the simple nostalgia of “Pouches of Tuna” to the rich thump of “Tapas”.


Clark preps “Iradelphic” LP

UK producer Clark has kept us guessing with each successive leak from his forthcoming LP, Iradelphic (due April 3rd on the mighty Warp records). First, there was the Boards of Canada-inspired digital wonder of “Com Touch” (free download), now we’ve got the brooding, swerving trip-hop of “Secret” featuring Martina Topley-Bird. Who is Ms. Topley-Bird? It’s the girl that was on Tricky’s 1995 breakthrough Maxinquaye.

Both songs are totally awesome. We’re very much looking forward to April 3rd.


Tennis – Young and Old – album review

Colorado dream-pop duo Tennis return with another collection of sun-faded beach tunes on Young and Old. This time around, the husband-and-wife team are more focused and charged than they sounded on their debut, Cape Dory (2011). And thre are some excellent highlights, especially the brilliant “Origins”. But Young and Old feels like a natural extension, rather than progression, from Cape Dory. It’s a great place for new fans to start, but those that caught onto the Tennis thing early might be a little disappointed. Then again, “Origins” (and, to a lesser degree, “Traveling”) may be enough to keep Young and Old in heavy rotation for a while.

3.5 / 5