Tag Archives: Next Level

Next Level : Ducktails

12 Aug

Ducktails is New Jersey’s Matthew Mondanile’s sugary sun-noise project. What’s that you say? You’re hearing warm waves of nostalgia crashing onto the coast of Fiji? But you’ve never been to Fiji? Yet you still feel like you are fading into a reminiscence of summer bliss that perhaps did not occur? Interesting.

Well, with the help of using samples and playing guitar and synthesizers over them recorded on cassettes in his parents’ basement, Ducktails’s songs summons these half-dreams/half-memories into fruition. Mondanile also does guitar for fellow New Jersey band Real Estate, as he grew up four houses away from lead singer Martin Courtney. Speaking of dreams though, Mondanile dreams of moving to Portugal one day and recently tweeted “I wish artists and musicians made more money :(“.

Those may be his dreams, but ours is that his third full-length album, Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics, released on Woodsist Records this autumn, will help extend our summer fun like a back-to-school Justin Bieber concert.

Posted by : Melissa Kim


Next Level : Prince Rama

11 Aug

When Dirtbag Journalism talks about bands that are “next level,” we’re usually talking about awesome, up-and-coming music that catches us off guard and makes us all the happier for it. But Brooklyn-based trio Prince Rama (sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson with friend Michael Collins) has figured out how to exploit the term “next level” in every way possible (in the best way).

They were all raised in the largest Hare Krishna commune in the western hemisphere in a small town in Florida, where they met three years ago. Their music is almost psychotically psychedelic. They were signed to Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks Records after their set at this year’s SXSW. And their fourth full-length album out on September 14, Shadow Temple, was produced by Rusty Santos, and Animal Collective’s Avey Tare and Deakin.

Prince Rama makes other Brooklyn psychedelia sound like The Killers, and they’ll make you want to, in the words of Noel Fielding describing singer Paloma Faith, “saw off a piece of a rainbow.”

Prince Rama will be playing the Snowball Gallery with Deakin in Toronto on Thursday, September 16.

Posted by : Melissa Kim

Next Level : Altered Zones

8 Jul

Pitchfork Media has made itself a creditable source for independent music news since 1995. In the last 15 years; indie music has seen more transformations and crazy sub genres than you’d care to memorize. It’s been really beneficial for our generation to have this beacon of up to date information be available to us at all times.

The music scene has changed a lot  more in the past few years and some of these new bands are doing things on a much smaller scale, which makes it hard for a lot of different types of music lovers to check them out. Underground, extremely overlooked and sometimes completely off the radar; these fresh faces are making very unique, leftfield music that’s not reaching the masses. But now a group of awesome bloggers are about to change all that.

On June 29th, 2010, Pitchfork announced that they will launch a sister site called Altered Zones. This site will give readers a chance to dwell into the emerging D.I.Y music scene that has been slowly growing more and more over the last several years. 14 different blogs will post new tracks, explore new genres, and showcase a flood of new bands that are making their way on the underground scene. Blogs like : Friendship Bracelet, Gorilla Vs Bear, Get Off The Coast, among others are going to share all their awesome music with us. From psych pop, drone, tropical, African beats; nothing is off-limits on Altered Zones. You’ll have 10 favorite new bands after one visit to that site.

Sounds good right ? You don’t know how awesome it really is until you check out the site itself. Beautifully displayed, amazing content and music, and every blogger gives thorough information about the band they’ve posted. For the site launch; the bloggers posted their favorite albums, cassettes, and tracks of the first half of the year. The regular post schedule will start on Monday.

Altered Zones is going to change the game that is music blogging. It’s the pinnacle of what Dirtbag Journalism strives for and it’s about time that we recognize the contributions of these D.I.Y musicians and the people who love them. Altered Zones plan for world domination starts now. Good on you dudes!


Posted by : Max Mohenu

Next Level : Tony Castles

13 Jun

There are three dudes in Brooklyn that you have to check out. Tony Castles are still getting their foot in the door, but these young men definitely have “Next Level” written all over them. So the back story goes like this; Paul Sicilian and Gabriel Wurzel first crossed paths as freshmen at a central Connecticut high school. The two soon began playing together in punk bands, which continued when they went to Skidmore College. They were introduced to fellow student and musician Willie Miesmer.

Within two years of graduating all three moved to Brooklyn, NY where they reconnected and began playing together. The boys are notorious for swapping instruments and experimenting with gear and dream poppy sounds. Songs like Adequate Sheen have this atmospheric pop sound that’s just too die for . One might say it’s kind of Born Ruffians during the dreamy days of Animal Collective; with waves of organic sound and good drum(really good drum).

What’s got them on Dirtbags radar ? These kids aren’t signed and there making some serious moves. Just last week they opened for U.K Afro-punk powerhouse Ebony Bones in Toronto and let’s just say while Ebony stole the show as always; these fresh faces short set at Wrongbar was more than a good first impression. The band’s debut EP was recorded by Jake Aron (Jamie Lidell, Yeasayer, Chairlift) and mixed at the Rare Book Room by Nicolas Vernhes (Dirty Projectors, Deerhunter). The EP is coming soon, but until then these dude will be touring like crazy all summer with Fools Gold.


Posted by : Max Mohenu

Next Level : James Blake

10 May

If the collage is the 20th century art-form, then London-based James Blake’s post-dubstep productions inform the 21st century of the next great art-form: the audio decoupage.

Blake—that’s his middle name (James is his first)—samples, mixes, adds his vocals and instrumentation, and then varnishes them all together; resulting in big picture poetry. With such poised dashes of funk and silence, sometimes it’s hard to decide whether to dance or to sob. Not surprisingly, his seamless songs have turned all three members of The xx into huge fans, with coy crooner Oliver Sim gushing to NME this month, “[Blake] has an amazing voice.”

And this 21-year-old contemporary music student is not letting that voice go to waste. In less than a year, he’s released the single, Air & Lack Thereof on Hemlock Recordings and The Bell Sketch EP on Hessel Audio; and his R&B-influenced CMYK EP (featuring samples of Brandy, R. Kelly, & Kelis) will be out May 31st digitally and on 12’’ vinyl from R&S Records.

Aside from cutting his teeth at the same college all four members of Blur attended, he’s remixed Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” and “Bills Bills Bills” by Destiny’s Child under the moniker Harmonix; as well as shuffled himself into Brit band Mount Kimbie’s live lineup after inviting them via MySpace message to one of his DJ sets.

In September, the masterful editor of the aural told The Quietus, “I just think you don’t appreciate the beauty of some sounds until you forget their context for a few seconds.” Unfortunately, it does not look like we at Dirtbag can appreciate his beautiful sounds in the North American context, as his only listed tour dates are in Europe. Here’s hoping that we can nudge him into releasing that full-length that nudges him across the pond.

Posted by : Melissa Kim

Next Level : Male Bonding

27 Apr

Although most bands may have that winning “I’ve made it!” high when signed to a label like Subpop (Fleet Foxes, Postal Service, Iron & Wine), for some reason, U.K. lo-fi surf-punk trio Male Bonding are still paying their karmic dues. Case in point: John Arthur Webb (guitar/vocals), Kevin Hendrick (bass/vocals), and Robin Silas Christian (drums) skipped Iceland on their last tour, and now their biggest fan Eyjafjallajokull is ticked; leaving them stranded in Los Angeles for the past few days. Then there’s also the fact that earlier this month in Montreal their van was broken into, and last year Hendrick had a burrito thrown at him where the only way to dodge it was to jump in front of a car.

But this series of unfortunate events is not enough to get these roommates from Dalston, a district of inner-London, down. The band has been around for only two years, but they’ve already toured with Soft Pack, Dum Dum Girls, and Vivian Girls; not to mention their debut full-length due on May 11, Nothing Hurts, features the latter. And it’s no surprise. Their single, “Year’s Not Long,” is a two and a half minute hypnotic scramble that puts the fast-forward button on any CD player to shame.

Male Bonding is booked until October with European tour dates, so if you missed them at Wrongbar during this year’s CMW, you’ll have to do without a live performance until they make it back across the pond. And as soon as Nothing Hurts comes out, you’ll definitely want them back. We at Dirtbag will even use the title of a Razorlight song to make our plea: “Don’t Go Back to Dalston” and come back to Canada.

Posted by : Melissa Kim

Next Level : Polow Da Don

20 Apr

If you’re a struggling pop star or hip hop artist, this man can probably save your career. Polow-Freache Jamal Fincher Jones(known to the music world as Polow Da Don) is an up and coming music producer that started his career in the early 2000’s. He got into synths and keyboards during high school, but didn’t really focus on music until halfway through his bachelor degree at Morehouse College. He dropped out and started a rap group called Jim Crow, but after just two albums they were dropped from their label.

After many short-lived projects, Polow began to send shock waves through the hip hop world. From  gutter hip hop, to Top 40’s hits for the likes of Fergie and the Pussycat Dolls; one of the things that’s made Polow such an innovator in hip hop and pop is his ability to look outside the box. 2009 was a year where this man constantly dominated. His biggest accomplishment that year was putting the up and coming R&B singer/songwriter Ester Dean on the map with the overnight smash hit, Drop It Low.

Now it’s time to bring you up to speed on how this man can save your career. Exhibit A : Usher Raymond. The R&B star struggled to solidify a new sound after his 90’s success, but after collaborating with Pollow on the synth heavy club banger Love In This Club, their working relationship has led to many hits(including the M.V.P track of Polow’s career, Little Freak).

His current assignment is trying to make people give a crap about Christina Aguilera again and so far it’s working out. The hit maker has given Xtina a track that could probably put her back on top. Not Myself Tonight has not been out for more than a month and it’s already claimed a spot on the charts. Feeling like the washed out pop tart you are ?  Only sold 10, 000 copies of your first record ? Call Uncle Pollow, he’ll help you out.

Posted by : Max Mohenu