Well Dressed DJ

Two of my biggest loves outside of my acting are music and fashion.

So, as a savvy individual of this modern age, I made a blog that chronicles both of them.

I try to update as much as possible, reblogging fashion I admire or generating music reviews and recommendations.

Hope you enjoy!

¡Record Recap!

My favorite part of the early new year is discovering great albums I found scanning through other publications Year End Lists. Here are a few of my best finds and short blurbs about what you may like from them:

For the Hardcore:

Deafheaven- Sunbather

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Sample Track: Sunbather

What You Should Expect:


Obliterating drums, guitars that are too loud even on a low volume, a vocalist that expresses his humanity through painful and empathetic howls, extreme drama, giving over to the transcendent journeys 10 minute epics take you on.

Stay Away If:

You appreciate knowing what people are saying without a lyric book, you think a song can make its point in 3 minutes.

For the Sexy:

Blood Orange- Cupid Deluxe

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Sample Track: No Right Thing

What You Should Expect:

Sexy and cozy croons, lush and 80s-influenced production, rappers appearing out of left field, songs about love, songs about feeling shitty during love, guy/girl vocals, big bass-lines, emoting-for-days singing, RnB that focuses on pre- and post-coital emotions and less on the coitus itself.

Stay Away If:

You don’t like the 80s, you don’t want to be caught off guard mid-groove walk with tears in your eyes.

For the Curious:

William Onyeabor- Who is William Onyeabor?

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Sample Track: Atomic Bomb

What You Should Expect:

Funk guitars, charming and off-kilter singing, spacey synthesizer interludes, warm and fuzzy production, bright melodies, chanting, playful drum rhythms, repetition of a fun groove for an entire song, silly love songs mixed with anti-war anthems all united under a weird Afro-future sound.

Stay Away If:

Fela! on Broadway was too adventurous for you, what people from the 70s thought that future sounded like makes you anxious.

Been getting a few new followers lately...

And I wanted to say 

Thanks!

My blog is mainly for my own personal music tastes…sharing and whatnot.

I’ll try to post albums I’m listening to that, hopefully, you’ll enjoy.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out my full Top 20 Albums of 2013, in 4 different posts.

Stay well!

Top 15 Albums of 2013: 05-01

05) Frightened Rabbit- Pedestrian Verse

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Sample Track: The Woodpile

Scott Hutchison, Frightened Rabbit’s lead singer, has been churning out his heartbreak wrapped in four minute rock songs for three albums, continuously mining his personal life for his art. On this years Pedestrian Verse, Hutchinson looks to the world for his inspiration with thrilling results. Keen observations on lifes smaller tragedies and beauties— social interactions, questioning religion,  self-loathing introspection — are paired with some of the bands most playful and energetic music. Sparse when the narrator wants to hide, lush and driving when the narrator is most anxious, the relationship between lyrics and instruments is top notch. Grant Hutchison’s (Scott’s brother) drums have always been a powerful force in their music, but on Pedestrian Verse, the reverb-laden guitar steals the show, sneaking in syrupy riffs at precisely the right moments. Yet back to Pedestrain Verse’s  beating heart: those observations. Hutchison’s lyrics paint characters that are painfully human, not giving a damn how ugly or desperate they seem, which makes us love them even more. Pedestrian Verse perfects the juxtaposition of energetic, soar to the heavens, rock music with lyrics that ground you right in the here and now of humanity.

04) Burial- Truant/Rival Dealer EPS

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Sample Track: Come Down To Us

It takes a special artist for me to love them to unconditionally, so devotedly that the second I hear about a new release I immediately pre-order it from wherever it can be found. Burial is one of these artists. Burial has always lived in the corners of dark alleyways, honing his original idea of dubstep, using his tinny, jungle beats under twisted, melancholic vocals. His music was emotional dance music for electronic music cynics. In a stunning left-turn, Truant and Rival Dealer are the boldest and most earnest songs he has created thus far. Burial has infused his music a very warm heart. Each song transports you to its specific domain, welcoming you and nourishing you for the long night ahead or offering you a place to escape from the dampeners of our world. There is some traditional Burial to be found (skittering snares and ocean-deep bass) but we also are treated to a piano ballad, a lovely chorus of bells, crashing drums and cascading synthesizers. Burial has always been somewhat of, well, a genius and he sounds like the most fun he has had with his music yet. With Truant and Rival Dealer, Burial not only has outdone himself musically, he opened up his arms for a embarrassingly affectionate hug we never saw coming.  

03) Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City

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Sample Track: Hannah Hunt 

Vampire Weekend, somehow, have captured the essence of what it is to be a millennial (whatever the hell that means) since their inception. The Columbia boys have made a name for themselves with whip-smart, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and interesting, if not always pleasurable, instrumentation. The music seemed second to the overall image they projected: an insufferably hip band that sound-tracked Williamsburg in addition to countless art-student’s lives. Modern Vampires of the City changes all of that. For starters, singer Ezra Koenig is pushing his voice farther than ever before, singing along to rather lovely melodies, while the band, helmed by multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, ditches most of their world music influences and creates a sonic palette distinctly their own; in short, these songs have the muscle needed to earn them a headline ticket at the Barclays Center. More importantly than the new-found musicianship, however, is what’s being said; Vampires of the City has lyrical content to match its grown-up music. There is not one song about the luxury life of breezy, summer days in the Northeast to be found. Rather, the album deals with two main questions: what am I doing with my life and who (truly) cares if I find out? Everyone, be it a 20-something millennial or a successful businessman halted by a mid-life crisis, asks these questions, aloud or to themselves, making Modern Vampires of the City an album everyone can relate to and, likely, cherish.

02) Autre Ne Veut- Anxiety

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Sample Track: Play By Play

After a year since hearing his debut single “Counting,” I can safely say nothing else right now sounds like Autre Ne Veut. Arthur Ashin, the man behind the moniker Autre Ne Veut, doesn’t ever really sing, rather he bleats, reaches, moans and wails his way through Anxiety’s ten tracks. The production is a fusion of over-the-top RnB rhythm’s with New Age flourishes, which may sound sappy and corny yet compliment Ashin’s vocals perfectly. Everything about this album begs you to crank it to ten and sing along, yet you may find you want to sing these songs alone. Ashin’s songs are wracked with worry about death, unanswered phone calls and finding love; singing along may become a deeper experience than you intended. That said, Autre Ne Veut’s biggest strength isn’t’t his voice or production— it’s his earnestness, his willingness to share.  Anxiety is an album where Arthur Ashin holds nothing back from us,: he wears his wants, desires and flaws for all to see.  When an artist is willing to go to such an emotionally vulnerable, naked place it’s a rare privilege to be able to listen. Treat yourself.

01) Arcade Fire- Reflektor image

Sample Track: Afterlife

 Tracking Arcade Fire’s history, we find many interesting dichotomies. Their classic debut, Funeral remains one of indie rock’s untouchable Holy Grails, yet it didn’t break the mainstream. Neon Bible, their darker, sexier yet flatter second album, then started the rise to the top, giving them an appearance on SNL and their first shot at big awards (namely the Canadian Polaris Music Prize). Finally, 2010 saw their mainstream take-over with career-low The Suburbs, a bloated double album with some absolute stunners, yet dragged heavily down by a ton of fat. It seemed like everyone just wanted to like Arcade Fire, rooting for them on the basis their obvious talent but their products weren’t living up to their potential. This year, we are blessed with Reflektor, the album, at least for me, that leaves all their other work in the dust.

   Arcade Fire’s lyrical themes remain present, songs about solidarity, fighting against the laziness of night and normal people are aplenty. More interestingly, they find exciting new topics rooted in history, detailing their own versions of Joan of Arc and the Orpheus and Eurydice myth to magnificent result. More importantly, Arcade Fire has increased its musical vision to widescreen, finally letting their music breathe, evolve and excite. With James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem,) steering them, Arcade Fire are able to luxuriate in the concept that more is more. Their giant line-up finally seems to serve a purpose, the songs are filled with many different instruments and none of them seem like fat, likely due to a larger influence of different genres. Usually confined to folk, classical and rock music, Arcade Fire looked to the Caribbean (where member Regine Chassange’s parents were born) to incorporate dub, reggae and other Latin American music into their tunes.

I’ve heard many fans not liking this album as much as their others. I plead, for your own enjoyment, GIVE IT TIME. I wasn’t that impressed with “Reflektor” as a single, yet in the context of the album, it’s one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s a grower, but given time, its beauties truly shine. Arcade Fire finally have their ornate, stunning crown to proclaim to all that they are the true kings and queens of indie rock deserved. Hail, Reflektor

 

Top 15 Albums of 2013: 10-06

10) Janelle Monae- The Electric Lady

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Sample Track: Dance Apocalyptic

Janelle Monae is an artist that is extremely easy to like but surprisingly hard to love. She’s talented as they come, oozes style and cool yet when she centers her music around being an android (that oh-so mischievous Cindi Mayweather) its hard to nab a genuine human connection. What started with her truly touching music video of “Cold War,” The Electric Lady, a prequel to the mythos of The Archandroid, Monae continues opening up and lets the emotions flow. From the guest-star filled first half to the more somber and personal second half, Monae sings with reckless abandon, having the time of her life, while her near-scene stealing backing band continues to impress with their seamless genre shifting: if not for the lyrical content and (surprisingly) enjoyable skits, the album plays more like a playlist than a true album. Get on your dancing shoes and from the opening strings to the aptly titled closer “What an Experience,” The Electric Lady will show you a damn good time.     

09) Chance the Rapper- Acid Rap

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Sample Track: So Good (Good Ass Intro) 

It’s always exciting to me when the clear line is drawn in between generations of artists. It’s hard to pinpoint, yet when listening to Acid Rap, I get the sense a line is being drawn. I hear the influences of this past generation’s biggest names (Kanye’s soulful sampling, Drake’s inner conflict, Lil Wayne’s scattershot delivery and cracked out vocal plau) but Chance (the Rapper) uses those tools, those artist’s colors and paints his own vivid portrait. The production is 100% soul-sampling goodness while Chance lets us into his inner thoughts. He’s a fascinating character, jumping from bravado boasting to introspective musings, yet Chance never comes off as overly-proud or dull, he just sounds like a kid having a blast at his own birthday party. In a genre that has been slowly breaking away from its tough as nails persona, the childlike play on Acid Rap is a bold new step for the genre. And the fact that the mixtape has been so well-received is a telling sign that Chance has great potential to be one of the dominant voices of the next generation.    

08) The National- Trouble Will Find Me

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Sample Track: Sea of Love 

What more needs to be said about the National. They are one of the best, most solid bands working. With four great albums (their debut is fair) Trouble Will Find Me sticks to familiar territory: beautiful, heartfelt, usually sad, rock songs that chronicle their experience with this difficult earth. Their sound remains the essentially the same, subtle guitars with driving drums underneath, garnished with whatever instruments seem to be lying around the studio pianos…horns…strings…great! throw em in!) What does change, however, are the song structures. Aaron Dessner, the bands guitarist and primary songwriter, has reached such a level of craft that he throws to the typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus structure to the wind, rather using repetition and subtle layering to slowly build their magnificent songs.  This playing with structure, along with singer Matt Beringer’s continuously gripping lyrics, make any the National album something special, Trouble Will Find Me being no exception.  

07) The Knife- Shaking the Habitual 

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Sample Track: A Tooth For An Eye 

Since their breakout smash “Heartbeats,” the Knife have evolved from writing catchy pop songs to writing more experimental, darker songs. After many years of silence, the Knife bestow us with the strange, gripping racket that is Shaking the Habitual, an album not only heavier in sonics, but also in subject matter. Their sense of anxiety and frustration with the world’s current socio-political climate permeate the album. The Knife’s ear for hooks and danceable rhythms are still here, but the songs were written to serve a greater purpose than three minutes of aural entertainment. During interviews for this album, the Knife discuss how Shaking the Habitual is meant to challenge all aspects of hierarchy from sexual to economical to political. The miracle of Shaking the Habitual is that it wraps these challenging topics into superb songs, songs that move your beliefs as much as your body.

06) Danny Brown- Old

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 Sample Track: The Return

Before you listen to any of Danny Brown’s landmark Old, listen to the closing song on his mixtape XXX, “30.” It gives us a brutally honest look inside his mind, giving a framework for what is at stake for him on his newest album, Old, the most sonically ambitious rap album of recent memory. It has refreshing variety in production, we got party bangers with blown out bass, we got slower introspections on fame with jazzy bass and snare. It’s shockingly well paced; the songs vacillate in energy and intensity so the album never feels like its dragging (take note future rappers: skits are death). But at the center of it all we have Danny Brown, a pariah-hero with something for everyone. He drops the most memorable, inventive verses delivered in his trademark yelp or a softer, knowing baritone. Danny Brown is a paradox, a hero disguised as a pariah, a consumerist who feels bad about spending all of this money, someone who knows the horrors of drug dealing yet still does a ton of drugs. These conflicts make great stories and those stories make Old the rap album of the year.

 

Top 15 Albums of 2013: 15-11

15) Local Natives- Hummingbird

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On their debut album, Gorilla Manor, Local Natives thrived on immediacy. All of their songs buzzed with eager energy; from opener “Wide Eyes” to mid album highlight “Who Knows, Who Cares,” the Cali boys never lost their sense of wonder. With Hummingbird, Local Natives have mellowed out and crafted an album of songs a bit more scarred and wounded, which in turn takes a little longer to immediately sink in. After a few listens though, you uncover how beautiful their heartbreak sounds. Their lyrics are on display more than their debut, and the vocal vehicle they arrive in is as melancholic as it is beautiful. Hummingbird is an album for the wounded hearts, and Local Natives are happy to soundtrack your healing process.

14) Sigur Ros- Kviekur

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Sample Track: Isjaki

Let me say one damn thing: Sigur Ros have gotten the short end of the stick far too long. Last year, they released that album of steamrolling ambience Valtari, which was admittedly somewhat a snoozer, but this year they released Kviekur, their true comeback album. Their most consistent release since Agaetis Byrjun, Sigur Ros have never sounded leaner or so driven. The gorgeous vocals are still provided by their angelic singer Jonsi, but the instrumentation plays with a newfound aggression. Drummer Orri Páll Dýrason finally gets room to flex his talents; he pushes the songs forward, keeping them lean and exciting. I’ve always taken time to listen to Sigur Ros albums; they’ve needed to be played out loud with room to breathe, each album reminding me of an ocean, a forest, the sky. Listening to Kviekur, I’m reminded of a cave, one that I will happily lose myself in anywhere I go.

13) Pusha-T- My Name is My Name

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Sample Track: Nosetalgia 

Terrence Thornton, stage name Pusha-T, is not here to make friends. In his songs, he is rude, crass and cocky, usually all within the same songs. He’s not exactly trying to win any friends here. Thankfully, On his solo debut, My Name is My Name, Thornton nabbed a dozen of GOOD Music’s best instrumentals and laid down the most vicious, compelling lyrical assault of the year. The production would be a highlight on many of today’s rap album, yet Thornton steals the show, proving himself one of the best lyricists working today. There is a refreshing focus on displa here; at a mere 12 tracks (no silly skits here!) you get a vivid portrait of a man who started slinging crack and is now signed to one of the more successful rap labels. There aren’t too many jokes, too many party tracks to be on My Name is My Name, but the sheer talent, the amount of skill and precision put into making these songs makes it very worth your while.

12) Savages- Silence Yourself

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Sample Track: Husbands

As a theatre-maker and actor, my favorite type of work to produce, work on or attend attempts to enact social or political change (though today, that line is heavily blurred.) Sadly, a lot of work in the theatre world comes off as (buzz word!) “preachy” or “self-indulgent” or the true bane of modern theatre “boring.” All of those offenders, and myself included, can learn a ton from Savages. On their debut Silence Yourself, they sound off an alarm for all of the problems they see in modern gender politics, packing it in one of the fiercest punk albums of the year. Singer Jehnny Beth wails tales of her distress in crystal clear vocals (something lacking in many punk bands) that brim with intensity. Meanwhile the rest of the band soundtracks her rage with pounding drums, driving bass and guitars that slice and blaze in equal measure.  Powerful, heartfelt, and vital, Savages throw down their beliefs and do their damndest to make you listen. This is music for a revolution.

11) Foals- Holy Fire

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Sample Track: My Number

This year I worked my first multi-day festival, Governor’s Ball, also known as the three day wait for Kanye West show. There was a last minute change that final Sunday where Yeezus was playing: The ever shift Death from Above 1979 dropped and Foals got their slot at the final hour. That Sunday, I made my way to the front to my friend Tobi and a legion of other Kanye fans were waiting for Mr. West since the park opened. He asked “So who are these guys Foals like? Folk?” I responded  “Kind of heavy…funky…British…just wait!” Their set list comprised mainly of tracks from Holy Fire, the pinnacle album of their fascinating rock music, and by the end of the day Tobi assured me several Kanye fans were also Foals fans. As I said before, Holy Fire is an album that doesn’t want to be described: it fuses heavy-metal riffs, electronic flourishes, falsetto, slow burning ballads all to glorious effect. It’s a modern day prog-rock album, I suppose, but don’t be turned off the fear of cheesy synthesizer solos: rest assured, if you like your rock loud and large, you will love Holy Fire.