Monday, August 9, 2010

DJ Gardnsound


I must say, I have a plethora of talented friends. DJ Gardnsound (Gardner Beson) has been one of my good buds since high school. We've both been able to watch each others musical interests grow and change through time so it was very cool to sit down and listen to his album. This will not be a Biased review, I'm going to try to keep it like Fox and be fair and balanced hehe... You can usually find DJ Gardnsound djing all around Columbia once the weekend hits, and if you heard him you know he has skills. If you thought you heard bangin music on the dance floor then get this album! True creativity is shown!

When I first put this cd in I though I was going to hear alot of "oonce--sss oonce-sss". You know what I mean. Getting away from using traditional techno sounds that are just full of claps, synth, and bass on each song DJ Gardnsound has found his own sound. DJ Gardnsound has a very good sense of rhythm and it's shown in his work. "Triple A's" definitely shows his classical background. The album starts out with an erie piano line that is then layered with "random" percussion. It seems each percussion instrument has its own rhythmic line. Then the synth brass kicks in, then BOOM the beat drops. That description made me feel like Saleris in Amadeus. HAHA...? I really do like the use of the piano in this album though. One of my favorites "A Minor" has another great piano line that is eventually sprinkled with a beat that'll make heads bob everywhere. When the beats not on top of a piano line its over an ambient-like or creative rhythmic line. "Oblivious" is a perfect example of this. After listening to this album I'd say my favorites are "Triple A's", "Reggaetech", and "Echosphere".

There's only one thing I would've liked to hear in this album. True it is an instrumental album, but it would've been nice to hear some vocals on some of these tracks. I could definitely see a female singer on "Echosphere". It's an upbeat song that Gardner probably goes nuts mixing in a club or bar. A big factor I loved and is helping me now in my work is his use of tempo. It really does set all of his songs apart. Each song doesn't sound like the techno that'll give you a heart attack. Alot of his tracks have chill "musical momentum". He does have really upbeat songs like "Ish" which is a song that will make you not able to sit still. Even now I'm dancing around in my room! To be honest I can't really pin the phrase "DJ Garndsound's music sounds like..." because it really is unique. But hey, I'm not an avid techno listener so who knows. I would love to see a combination of DJ Gardnsound and Calculations Of... I think that would be to much for people to handle. A-! I can see myself listening to this on a regular basis. Check out DJ Gardnsound's stuff on Itunes, http://www.myspace.com/gardnsound, or at http://www.reverbnation.com/gardnsound.
-Calvin Dugan (Calculations Of...)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Calculations Of...


It's been a while since I've written one of these. This time I will be writing about my music. I'm not vain or anything I'm just going to answer a lot of unanswered questions. I started this hip hop/electronica project called "Calculations Of...". I have been experimenting with different programs to create music. The whole idea of making electronic music first appeared to me as a joke. I started getting used to the program I was using and made simple beats that spanned across a measure or two. Being a lover of hip hop and rap (believe it or not), I decided to want to make a rap song. I worked at it for a couple days and finally finished it.
The first song I made is called "The Arrival" you can listen to it on a widget on the right side of this page. It kind of sounds like if Atari went gangster. After having this completed track I immediately became addicted to making "beats" and what not. See you know I have it bad because I'm making one right now and writing this at the same time.

So one after the other I started crapping out beats. I let a good friend listen to them (Daniel D!) and he told me they were actually pretty good. He also said he knows people that are in need of some good hip hop beats. Music production was something that I was always interested in so I decided to run with it. The beats that I was making became a little more elaborate one after the other. I made a "mixtape" which is basically a couple of instrumental hip hop beats. I haven't fully organized it but the name of the mixtape is called, "The Arrival" and has at least 12 songs on there. Hopefully when I get back to Charleston I will be working with a friend I knew since kindergarten that raps and another that plays violin. I also have some friends at USC-Columbia that are wanting to work with me. I will send them some beats and they will rap over them and visa versa. That's what is going on with my hip hop music and other beats.

Right now I am working on a solo project called "Calculations Of...:The Robot Invasion". I am trying to all my friends that are artists to send me sketches of robots. The whole premise of this project was for me to explore all my options on Fruity loops and to release an album with a story. The album will be released online of course and will also be released with all the sketches my friends send. The story behind the album is that robots come to earth and try to adapt and live among us. That doesn't work out and we eventually fight. Stay tuned it will be finished very soon...and keep reading this blog I have been recommended alot of really great artists this summer!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Jimi Hendrix: Valleys of Neptune


If there is one thing that you must know about me is that I absolutely love Jimi Hendrix. I have a ton of his albums and also videos of him playing the Monterey festival and Woodstock 69'. One of my good friends played a video clip of him performing "Killing Floor" at the Monterey Festival and after that I was sold on him. Like Julian Casablancas, Jimi Hendrix inspired me to sing and embrace my "true singing voice". He didn't have a whiny voice and he sang and wrote from the heart. Watching him sing and play guitar is so unreal because everything seems so easy and natural to him.

Like several artists, Jimi Hendrix has a bunch of unreleased material that is still floating around. I thought it was strange to hear a new Tupac song every once in a while, so when I heard this album was going to be released I had to check it out. Articles said it was some of of the material that never made it to Electric LadyLand so it's basically a B sides album. This album sounds like another one of Jimi Hendrix's studio albums. If you are a huge Jimi fan you will love this album. "Fire", "Hear my train coming", and 2 or 3 others are redone and sound better than they do on previous albums. Jimi also covers Cream's "Sunshine of your Love" and makes it an instrumental jam. The new songs you have to look forward to on this album are just "Lover Man" and "Valleys of Neptune". I think the other songs are just remastered.

As in skill wise Jimi Hendrix still delivers in this album. "Bleeding Heart" has a continuos rythm line and goes into a classic face melting hendrix solo. Another great solo on this album is on "Hear my Train Coming". Towards the end of the song hendrix plays and sings the guitar solo. Actually after listening he does that alot in this song. If you want to hear the bluesy side of Hendrix "Ships Passing through the Night" is a good choice. Of course he decided to keep his trio of Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding. Mitch Mitchell still lays down crazy drum beats that sounds like drum fills 60% of the time. He does use in Billy cox for some songs. Billy Cox eventually joined Hendrix in his group a Band of Gypsies. I wasn't let down when this album came out. I give it a B+ because it being a "new album" it still sounds like classic Hendrix and that was a small letdown for me. Listen and be in awe!
-Calvin Dugan

Julian Casablancas: Phrazes for the Young

Up until now, I have always enjoyed the music of Julian Casablancas. His work with the Strokes was incredible and he helped produced many songs that I have come to love. I still blast "Last Night" and "Reptillia" until I go deaf. Julian actually got me into singing in the first place because he made me realize that you didn't have to have "a voice like an angel" to sing. His solo album "Phrazes For The Young" definitely goes in a completely different direction than most of The Strokes' songs. It seemed like this album uses just as much synth as a Flock of Seagulls album.

Julian Casablancas' has a very unique sound to his voice. I would even be as bold to compare his voice to Janis Joplins'. Both voices are very harsh and have a grittiness to them. In The Strokes' first two albums he used a filter and kept a rough distorted sound to his voice. The singing on this album sounds like he didn't smoke 10 packs of cigs and down half a bottle of SOCO. All of it sounds very clean with just a little reverb on his voice. On tracks like "Out of the Blue" and "River Brakelights" his voice seems untouched. The instrumentation in this album sounds purely electronic with loads of synthesizer and maybe faint guitar parts. I say faint because there is one recognizable guitar solo in "Glass".

I think this album is complete garbage and I didn't like it at all. I am a huge Strokes fan and of Julian Casablancas, but this album just sucked. For his very first solo album he only wrote 8 songs, promoted with ridiculous poppy light shows, and produced a new type of "sell out sound." When I loaded this album in my itunes library it was listed under the "New Wave" genre. WTF?!? Are we listening to Yanni or something? Just as bad. This is basically a pop/electronica Strokes album. There are like only 2 songs that are good on this whole On top of that the new Strokes album isn't going to be released until January 2011, so until then we have this garbage to listen to. C-.
-Calvin Dugan

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Fall of Troy: In the Unlikely Event


The Fall of Troy has is now officially fallen. I was going through music on my library and decided to listen to then some today. This is music you jam to when you're trying to get ready for the day. I wanted to find some news out on The Fall of Troy seeing if they were working on anything new and found out some shocking truth. After some research (doesn't research make it sound professional?) I found out the band has officially broken up . The Fall of troy was definitely a unique hardcore band.

I got on the Fall of Troy bandwagon when I played there song "F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X." on guitar hero 3. After hearing this song I had to check out their other stuff. Surprisingly this band is pretty good. The Fall of Troy falls under a sub genre of hardcore rock called mathcore. All the genre mathcore is, is hardcore rock but they use more complex rhythms. An example of this is instead of tapping your foot to 4 it often changes to 6, 4, 2, 3.... Alright enough of the music theory babble let's talk the album.

This album is the first and last with their new bassist. Their sound hasn't changed that much compared to their last album. I will say their lead singer Thomas Erak is more comfortable with his natural singing voice. In their past albums it seemed like all he would do was scream. In "Dirty Pillow Talk" he teams up with Rody Walker from Protest the Hero and is more lyrical with his singing. Oh yea that's another great band check it out. Of course the guitar parts are still unpredictable, breakdowns at least twice a song, and Erak still has crazy fast tapping solos that you make you s^%$ your pants. To hear a more traditional sounding Fall of Troy listen to "Straight Jacket Keelhaud". It saddens my heart when I hear of a good band breaking up. B+ because I think "Manipulator", the album before this one was a little better.
-Calvin Dugan

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

B. o. B.: The Adventures of Bobby Ray


Next post is by one of my good childhood friends RJ Sudlow. I've never heard of this artist and I told him if he wanted to write about him some to do it. Well He did. Check out this artist he sold me with this article.
-Calvin Dugan

"You got two names: you got B.o.B aka Bobby Ray. I don't know if your name is B.o.B, aka, or Bobby Ray...what are you going to come out with next? Rob?"
-The Biz, May 25th Mixtape

With B.o.B himself acknowledging the difficulty some people have with grasping the idea of having multiple aliases, he decides to simply say his name, B.o.B, stands for Bob. After hitting the scene in 2006 with the single "Cloud 9", B.o.B has taken the spotlight and never turned it off. With the release of "I'll Be in the Sky", B.o.B has taken what was traditional rap soaked in the "same old, same old" and wrung it out, leaving only the bare essentials: hard bass, capturing melodies, and deep lyrics on his new album, "The Adventures of Bobby Ray".

For anyone who hasn't heard of B.o.B's music, imagine it as just that - music. He's not a rapper, he's a musician who takes time and focuses on the finer aspects in the composition of his tracks. After his single "Nothin' on You", it would have been easy for people to dismiss him as a simple one-hit wonder after making a little splash. Next came "Airplanes" featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore to bring in a refreshing chorus that STILL is getting thousands of spins all over the radio. Now people are starting to get interested in this B.o.B guy - only to hear his new single, "Magic" as the next song they hear all day, every day.

What I'm trying to say is this: B.o.B has completely changed the way people are going to look at Hip-Hop. It's no longer about the whole "she said, he said, autotune, baby-back bullshit" - it's all about the music. It's something that catches people by surprise when they listen to his album. It seems so simple to create music that feels good, but it's proven hard lately for some reason. B.o.B has an amazing knack for singing his own hooks, and for creating some amazing lyrics. With tracks like "Don't Let Me Fall", "Airplanes", "Ghost in The Machine", "The Kids", and "Magic", this album will have to go down as one of the best albums of all time. End of story. One year from now when the music executives has squeezed every last dollar from him they can, we can then look back and say, "Damn, that was good." Even his mixtapes have the quality of a studio album - look up "Don't Break my Heart" or "Not Lost" if you doubt me.

The thing about this album is that you can listen to it in any sitting - there's more musical influences on this album than I even care to list. I can't tell you how this music makes me feel because that's a journey that you're going to have to take for yourself. Buy this album please; I'm not an anti-torrent Nazi, but I love supporting artists that deserve it. And B.o.B is definitely one of those artists.
-RJ Sudlow

Muse: The Resistance


I love writing about bands that I love. I was introduced to Muse 3 or 4 years ago from a friend (Tommy Miserendino and of course Ivan Martinez hyped them up) and I was sold. Yea that's right I was listening to Origin of Symmetry before you were nodding your head to the stuff that's on the Twilight Movies. Yes. That does make me cooler. I am a bigger fan of their older albums but I have to give credit where it's due. Their most recent album "The Resistance" is damn good.

When I first heard a couple of songs on this album I was on the fence big time. Then Tommy Miserendino, a die hard Muse fan, told me this, "...I mean its not even a matter of if it(the album) sucks it's an evolution album for the band. They aren't the same band." He is sooo right. Their older sound was more band oriented. Most songs were bass driven, had guitar solos with crazy effects, and drum beats that'll make your heart beat faster. Now there are sustained synth lines, and remnants of a band are hard to hear at times.

All the songs on this album are good in my opinion. In "I Belong To You" There is a clarinet solo. Really?!?! My three favorite on this album have to be "Uprising", "Undisclosed Desires", and the three movements of their "Exogenesis Symphony". "Uprising" one of their first singles has a fat bass line with big leaps that just sounds awesome. This song still sounds like Muse still with the traditional set up of guitar, bass, drums and vocals. "Undisclosed Desires" is more of a taste of Muse's new sound. More electronic sounding and effects on the voice. The Symphony is just ridiculous. Too awesome for words. I just hope that if they perform it live someday it is with a real orchestra. Sit down and listen to this album right now. A++!!

-Calvin Dugan (Shout to Tommy Miserendino and Ivan Martinez!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Kills: Keep On Your Mean Side


If you are a fan of nasty, dirty, hmmm can't even describe it garage punk please check out this band The Kills. They have to be right now the embodiment of garage punk. I usually write about newer stuff but their album "Keep On Your Mean Side" from 2003 is gold. I have listened to this album at least 4 to 5 times today. I'm listening to it right now as I'm writing this! I guarantee you'll want to jump or just punch something after listening to them.

The Kills is made up of just 2 people. The female singer Alison Mosshart and guitarist Jamie Hince are a perfect combo. Their sound reminds me a lot of what The White Stripes sounded like when they first started out a while ago. Almost every track on their album is a song with a simple rhythmic guitar line, really muddy distortion, and great lyrics. Their song "Pull a U" is pretty how the album sounds. I wish a lot of band's that started on the garage scene went back to this strong core band sound.

As you can probably tell I think this is one of the greatest bands ever. Other songs that are awesome on their album are "Fried my little Brains" and "Cat Claw". No question about it I'm giving this album an A. If you like this album a lot and what to see how their sound changed (for better or worse) check out their other albums "No Wow" and "Midnight Boom". This is a band I probably will be talking to my kids when I'm about 60. Their name is fitting because their music kills!

Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest

Grizzly Bear has to be one of my newest favorite bands. Yes they have been around for a while but the first time I've heard them was the summer of 2009. I was at a "get together" and was told by 2 people that this was an "awesome " band. So "awesome" that when I informed them I never heard a song by them they flipped out. I then was rushed to the closet car and for the first time I heard Grizzly Bear. They weren't lying. Grizzly Bear is a great band.

Grizzly Bear is a little different compared to the music I usually listen to. A die hard Strokes, Hives, Chili Peppers fan their band sound was completely different. Their dreamlike semi-acoustic sound draws in many listeners. I would say their sound can be categorized as a new psychedelic sound. The music isn't the only unique thing about the band but the videos are also. "Two Weeks" includes heads exploding towards the end and "Ready Able" bizarre clay creatures. This band by all means is no longer "Underground". Grizzly Bear has been praised by artists such as Jay Z, Radiohead, and many others.

"Two weeks", one of their first singles from Veckatimest gained popularity quick and is even featured in a Volkswagen commercial. Driven by a steady piano line it guarantees your foot won't sit still. I'm not going to lie though, after a while this album gets repetitive. After three or four songs in you can expect an acoustic line backed with ambient sounds. You can't forget to add the floaty vocals often layered in two or three parts. This is pretty much true for most of the album and all their singles. Despite the repetitiveness I still like this album and listen to it often. Ehh I'd give it a B-. I think for this band to be even more successful they might need to change their concept of their sound slightly.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Justin Bieber: My World 2.0

What's Up! I am currently drinking an iced coffee. Folgers. Vanilla Biscotti. Yes it's very good. I'm sorry I can't say I have the same feelings for Justin Bieber though. What is with this Bieber Phenomenom?!?! Where did this kid come from. So far he has captured pretty much every heart of teenage girls all across the country... no world! I usually give my rating of albums at the end of the article but I'll tell you right now. C+.

You can tell there was time in the the production of the beats that he is singing. He has producers and writers like The Dream, Christina Millian, and many others helping him on this album. The beats on this album are good! If I was an R&B singer I'd be on top of the world . The lyrics aren't bad either. But!.. it's such a waste! This kid does not know the gold he has. Right now it probably sounds like I'm a hater. Well I am. Here's why...

My Issue with Bieber is he is far to young. Really?!?! What does kid know about love, romance, and other matters us "grown folk" worry about. He is a 16 year old singing subject matter he is to young to grasp. Here is a line from his song "Runaway Love". "I’d give it all up for us never be enough I won’t stop until I find my runaway love." He is merely just singing lyrics someone told him to sing and there has to be a disconnect between him and the music. In interviews and such he seems well involved and truly has a love for music, but HE NEEDS TO MATURE A LOT MORE. His voice seems strong enough for a 16 year old, but I'd love to hear this album redone with a 21 year old Beiber. His slightly mature R&B chipmunk-esque voice becomes redundant on this album.

Another issue I have is how fast he came up. Justin Bieber is a child star that had amazing promotion! I mean this kid had freaking Usher behind him and even has rappers like Ludacris on his tracks. That my friends is Ludicrous! He was prostituted for his "talent" and now has an attitude on him. Recently there was an incident of him mouthing off to workers on set saying, "Don't F*#%&%#$ touch me!". Justin please show some humbleness. Child stars come and go. I am waiting for a special on VH1 or a true Hollywood story on how, "Justin Bieber went downhill after his 6th album flopped." or "Justin Bieber checks in drug rehab for the fifth time."
-Calvin Dugan

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lil Wayne: No Ceilings

AAh lil Wayne! So much can be said about the Young Money rapper/mogul, but one thing for sure is that his mixtape "No Ceilings" speaks for itself. While most artists focus on the commercialization of their music for just the mainstream masses, Lil Wayne seeks more. No Ceilings is the latest installment of underground material the rapper has put out. As I listened, 2 tracks stood out to me, "Wasted" (remix of Gucci Mane's song) and Sweet Dreams ( yes Beyonce). Lyrics, style, and delivery are taken to another level on Wasted, while Sweet Dreams shows his confidence on a song that most rappers would consider a shame to even listen to. Lil Wayne shows that he is versatile and that any beat sent his way will be given proper justice. Beyond his mainstream success with Young Money, his most recent album Rebirth, and other ventures, he still proves with his mixtape "No Ceilings" why his career doesn't have any (ceilings).
-Violinist Daniel D

I myself agree with the Violinist Daniel D! Lil Wayne's "No Ceilings" mixtape, in ways is bigger than some of his albums. All songs on the album will make your head slowly bob. "No Ceilings" starts off with "Swag Surf". Lil Wayne uses clever word play such as, "I swear I be the sickest n*&%), you can ask the nurse And if you throw it in the bag, I bet I'll snatch her purse". The whole album is full of this. All the beats he uses from other artists compliment his flow and nothing feels "akward" or unsettling. What also is cool about this album there are original remixes on this album. Gucci Mane's "Wasted" and Omarion's "I get it in" are among these. I give this album a solid A. You don't even have to like rap to listen to it. Now if we're talking his rock album "Rebirth" that's a whole different story...
-Calvin Dugan

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster


OOOOOOOOO CAUGHT IN A BAD ROMANCE! Well many of you are thinking right now, "Calvin what is wrong with you. ". Most people reading this might know this artist is not just a left field pick for me but what I call a parking lot pick. So like many I heard of Lady Gaga, didn't really listen to her music, and just wrote her off.
Well folks here's the deal. Many people like Gaga because her music is just so catchy. You're probably thinking, "Does this dude like Gaga?". Well to answer that you won't see me driving through your hood blasting Gaga. BUT! This lady can sing. She even received formal training from NYU singing for 2 years! If you don't believe me look up on youtube a video of Elton John and her playing together. Two grands and strictly acoustic. I saw this when it aired on T.V. and was shocked. I had to look her up.

O.k. singing talent... CHECK. Album... surprisingly good...If you get into mainstream pop music. Most of Gaga's songs are heavily synth driven and have very catchy lyrics. You can't lie, you've turned on the T.V., heard a Gaga song and it was stuck in your head for about 30 minutes later. Her music is also good to dance too (if you're into that :) ).

The Singles from Fame Monster are hits. "Bad Romance", "Telephone", and "Poker Face" are pretty good. Lets get off the singles. When you listen to an album you have to listen to it critically and in its entirely. "Speechless" starts off with a Queen-esque intro. She plays piano on this song and is backed with "orchestra" (probably a synth line womp womp). I love this song actually. It's good. I admitted I liked a Gaga song. Is the Armageddon here?

Her album is kind of random. You guys probably didn't know she has a song with Flo-rida. It sounds like Gaga is trying to go R&B. It's called "Starstruck" look it up. Another song that doesn't sound like you're typical Gaga sound is "Paper Gangsta". She raps and uses a little auto-tune. The beat is very piano driven. I know right! Check that one out to. The jist of it is I give this album a B+. A B+ because she gets really creative and also I just can't listen to every song. If and only you are curious check out this album. And to the "Gaga Monsters"...... uhh yea.

Lady Gaga's website --->http://www.ladygaga.com/alejandro/

Chrishan the Prince: Night and Day





Well let me tell you. For those knocking the R&B and Hip Hop scene right now...I'm not hating you. I took a long "sabbatical" from it. Last time I listened to rap was when Lil Wayne just started getting big, Ja Rule was still a big name, and KC and Jojo was still still Crazy Crazy Crazy (hehe...). Yea I know. It's been a while.

My friend and fellow musician Violinist Daniel D heard about Chrishan from a friend. He played "U Had it All featuring T. I.". There is a reason why he is called "Chrishan the Prince". This song blew my mind! His voice sounded very lyrical and seems to be in the tenor range. "U Had it All" has a well produced beat, and catchy a hook. So after hearing this I was thinking maybe this is just a fluke or something. This dude isn't signed but he is crazy good. I listened to song after song and BAM. My dude is fire. Turns out he's independent and wants to be like that for a while. His album "Night and Day" has many songs that could very well be mainstream R&B singles. "U Had it All", "Gucci Swag", and "Get Out my Face" are definitely songs that could dominate the radio.

One thing that I admire about Chrishan is he seems to be well in touch with his fans. He has a live video show, Twitter account, Facebook account, and Myspace account. He doesn't just have them he gets on them. For your health, I highly recommend you check out this artist before he comes to your town and blows your mind. Follow his activity and check out his songs on his facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Chrishan/20425827254.