Monthly Archives: August 2011

Karmin

(Note: This is Part 3 of Spotify week. Click here for Part 1: Convenience and here for Part 2: Pricing.)

To wrap up Spotify week, I’d like to look at what this new (to U.S. Americans) service provides in the way of social connectivity. Let me first say that I haven’t had the chance to use turntable.fm yet, and I do not mess with Ping for iTunes. From the get go, Ping seemed unlikely to catch on, and I really wasn’t in the mood to join another social network (yet I just signed up for Google + — I don’t understand me either). However, I was excited when I found out from my friend Robbie that with Spotify, you can easily browse and listen to friends’ playlists. Choosing which of your playlists you want to make public is simple, so you can hide that embarrassing one you put on when you’re a sad, pathetic mess WHAT I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT MYSELF… or, if you’re extremely proud of one, like a certain someone — Spotify account name YouHearThat — is of their Mario Kart playlist, you can make it available for all to see. This special list of upbeat songs has been battle tested and is guaranteed to boost your Mario Kart performance (trust me on the John Williams stuff — you haven’t lived until you’ve won a race while blasting the main theme to Star Wars). One of my favorite tunes on the list is Karmin’s cover of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” While Karmin is usually a duo, this cover features ?uestlove and Owen Biddle of the Roots, and I’m not sure if it’s the driving synth percussion on the chorus or hearing BOOMBADOOMBOOMBOOMBADOOMBOOM repeatedly, but this tune never fails to send me on a red-shell-slingin’, banana-peel-droppin’ rampage. Check out the video above and download the song from iTunes here.

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Other Lives

Tamer Animals

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how convenient Spotify can be. But let’s talk about cost. Unless you’re Jermaine Dupri circa 1998, money IS a thang, and it’s worth learning about Spotify’s price points. The bottom rung of the ladder is free — once you’re invited and set up an account, you can stream millions of tracks on your computer, but there are ads and time limitations, both of which go away when you sign up for the second rung, Spotify Unlimited, which costs $4.99 a month. The third option, the $9.99-a-month Spotify Premium, is where things get interesting. You get access to the same huge library of music, plus you can access music on your phone AND make songs available for offline listening. So, if you’re on the beach, and Jay Ward of White Laces tweets about a band you’ve never heard of, you can hop on Spotify and find out that Other Lives makes wonderfully enthralling and richly layered songs like “As I Lay My Head Down.” If you love finding new music, this is where the value lies. Apple’s iCloud will let me access my music, but Spotify Premium gives me a legitimate way to hear Other Lives’ totally unfamiliar Tamer Animals album right away. I know I’ll keep buying music from iTunes for the time being, because I’m still not used to not “owning” my music (though that brings up an entirely different discussion about Apple’s file format) and I worry that artists won’t see the money they deserve, but I love that in that moment, while checking Twitter on the beach, I was able to find a band that I look forward to patronizing, in one form or another, for a long time. Check out “As I Lay My Head Down” below, and click here to grab the album from iTunes.

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Rodrigo y Gabriela

Last week was my vacation, but it was also my honeymoon … with Spotify. Spotify and I tied the knot two Saturdays ago, when Mrs. You Hear That, sister Cary and bro-in-law Brian were on the road to Duck, North Carolina, and I subscribed to the $9.99-a-month premium service. To mark the happy occasion, I thought I’d spend a few days looking at what Spotify’s arrival in America means for music lovers like you and me. First off — convenience. See, I have Rodrigo y Gabriela’s self-titled album in my iTunes library, but where did I turn on beach week taco night when Mrs. YHT hit the musical accompaniment nail on the head? I’ll give you a hint — I didn’t open my laptop, find my cord and transfer Rodrigo y Gabriela to my phone, because it was just a quick search away on the Spotify mobile app. Even with crappy reception, the entire album streamed without interruption. And YES, of course the tacos were delicious, because I added a truly ungodly amount of cumin, chili powder and cayenne. As I ate, pretending not to be worried about what the meal was doing to my extended family, I was taken aback for the zillionth time by the virtuosity of the Mexican guitar-playing/drumming/abusing duo of Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero. They’re fast, precise and compelling, as you can tell by the above video of a very awesome and very speedy live version of “Diablo Rojo.” I’ve included the album version below for comparison, and here’s a link to buy the album from iTunes.

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Nottz

(Note: It’s a very exciting day for YHT — my friend and lifetime guru in the ways of hip hop J. Clyde has written the first in a recurring series of guest posts entitled “Original vs. Sample,” where he looks at the origin of samples found in his favorite tunes. Graphic and title subject to change.)

By J. CLYDE

I’ve been thinking about a few things for the guest spot and one of them is my friend/mentor/hero/fellow Norfolk native Nottz. You might not know much about him, but trust me, you’ve heard his music countless times…”Barry Bonds” by Kanye West, anyone? I’ll let the Wikipedia/google/youtube search leave you in awe instead of running down his iconic discography for you here.

Anyway, I just found this sample he used the other day for one of my current favorite jams (“Break Bread” by Nottz & Asher Roth). The word “genius” is thrown around far too loosely these days, but Nottz is a musical genius. Trust me, I have spent many nights watching him work in his studio and he blows me away every single time. He is the only person I have ever known that I truly believe is doing EXACTLY what God put him on Earth to do. I think this example will show you that.

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Wugazi

13 Chambers

When I say “Vacation in Duck, North Carolina,” you say “RAP MUSIC!!” Wait… what? Normally the soundtrack for my family’s annual trip to the Outer Banks consists of classic rock, a little metal (thanks to bro-in-law Brian) and Roy Orbison, who made waves a few years back when my mom demanded he be silenced because he was making her “tense.” It was a priceless moment. She’s had a whole new reason to be tense this year, because some great hip-hop was been filling the beach week air. I wrote about Drake’s new tunes on Monday, and yesterday I finally dipped into something my friend Travis told me about via email a few days ago — Wugazi. This amazingly fun mashup album, entitled 13 Chambers, features very tightly clipped samples from Wu-Tang Clan and Fugazi, and it kept me alive during an unreasonably hot and humid run along NC Highway 12. Though I’ve never listened to Fugazi at length, and am only a novice Wu-Tang fan, craftsmanship is what shines through most clearly on 13 Chambers, which makes sense, given that the project’s website describes the album as a year-long “labor of love.” I’m very glad Travis sent me the link, because even more than good running music, or a way to make my mom tense during the traditional 5-7pm cocktail hour, Wugazi has given me 13 excellent reasons to revisit and learn more about these two legendary groups. Check out/download the whole thing below.

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Drake

Headlines

I didn’t go nuts for Drake’s last album, Thank Me Later but I kinda did. I just didn’t realize it. Even though I never sat down and listened to the album all the way through (and still haven’t), so many songs on the album squirmed their way into my consciousness via remixes, the radio (What? I still listen to the radio sometimes… don’t look at me like that) and ya know, just being out in tha cluuub. Part of my initial reluctance came from his sounding like Lil Wayne — I already had one Weezy in my life, and things were doing just fine thankyouverymuch. However, my friend J Clyde recently enlightened me as to the true nature of the two rappers’ sonic likeness. Apparently, it’s widely accepted that Drake may have … ahem … coached I MEAN “helped” I MEAN worked closely with (we’ll go with that) Weezy on some lyrics early in their careers, so really, Wayne sounds like Drake, not the other way around. Quite the bombshell. That fact, plus the amazing Drake/James Blake mashup, have me very excited for Drake’s upcoming album, Take Care. We’d already heard “Marvin’s Room,” a dark and brooding song about drunk-dialing people (OK, so that may be a bit reductive. Gimme a break, I’m on vacation this week), but over the weekend, the interweb brought us a much more swagger-packed tune, “Headlines.” Though it still hints at Drake’s characteristic broodiness, “Headlines” is a triumphant, top-of-the-game banger, and I’m really enjoying it. Chekkit below.

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