Harrison Giza presents: 10 musical artists to check out


Ten Musical Artists to Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch – CH-Checkout

Flatbush Zombies – heavy drums concocted in sinister flute backgrounds, scaring me through skipped Danny Boyle cinematic – these guys are New York originality at it’s finest. Flatbush Zombies are like the Dawn of the Dead remake of the rap game – taking old concepts and topics and transporting them through a new, exciting and enjoyably horrifying listen or two. “Nephilism,” a track off the trio’s Better Off Dead, has the hoe slapboxing, under-the-table-dealings that rap has preached before … but with a flesh-peeling and fresh-out-of-the-box presentation. This is just one example of their future prowess.

Along with Joey Bada$$, these guys continue to surprise me with the raw viciousness their voices scrape up. Zombie Juice screeches like a Montanan cokehead, Meechy Darko rips me up and scars my ears with his burnt bacon holler, and Erik Elliot is as smooth as the slits his knifes hits. They not only sample Pink Floyd’s “Meddle” on their track “Bliss,” but they also manage a full-frontal storm of fuck you’s that could make Goodfellas jealous a few seconds after. Tracks like “Death,” “Amerikkan Pie” and “G –Tearz” were staples after the first listen for me. I mean – humor, violence, creativity, sex, AND ZOMBIE WORDPLAY? STEP UP THE GAME, THE GAME!

I enjoy each time I hide in the Flatbush Zombies, where I pretend I kill people and own the money game riots. Yet, with a sound schooled old and bred in NY city crispness … can you really blame me? As a final note with these guys, this is where ODD FUTURE should be right now if they were as consistent, East Coast and horrific as Flatbush.

Smith Westerns – I think the first time I heard these guys I was making out in the backseat of Toledo, hightailing 1-2-0 with a pipe and a brew. Like my driving fines and law enforcement fights, I was bound and gagged with tender care. These guys make great fun music and it is the kind you want in the car, on the back porch, with a cold beer, and maybe all three at the sametime.

To me, these guys trail a line of Beatle – eared, T- Rex lovin’ garage freaks that culminate with a large taste in record collections in big black bins. “3 am Spiritual,” a song off their latest album, reminded me of the first time I heard MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular. I was instantly hooked by the droning weather-beats of drums AND HOOKED at the 70’s Wings that took flight at the end of the earlier mentioned track.

To me, they aren’t a sad band trying to be a sad band. They are a happy band pretending to be happy – that is the best way to describve their summer lovin’ had me a blast sound. The vocals and guitar work are air-tight in fire harmonies and wailing bends. You can definitely get freaky to this.

I won’t lie to you. They are warm band that resemble the spiders of Bowie’s early days. However, the Westerns aren’t microwave spaghetti you put in because you’re drunk. They are a meal to savor and cook properly. Share it with someone.

King Krule –  My new Jack White, King Krule is memorable riffer with a drunken sloth of a voice. Dripping with neo-soul gusto, 19 – year old Archibald Marshall has created the anti- Al Green. Dark ditties with daft honeys and endless romantics, head sinking guitar lines, and a bard of hip – hopping jazz electricity. Krule is open, full of stories but minimal on details. You’ll never know where songs are going the first time you hear them because they are in a martini of transformations – distorted dance punk fusions, dipped in lush brightness that channel and weave in-between your ears.

I haven’t screamed out lyrics like this since my last Green Day binge. King Krule, even with such small amounts of material, has shown the tenacious dexterity of a harsher, unloved James Blake. This guy deserves more attention. This guy deserves your time.

HIS VOICE STANDS OUT. HIS GUITAR STANDS UP. HIS SONGS STAB YOU.  He jokes, screams, laments uncaring, deprecates, falls in love, and despondent on male bonding.

Krule draws a lot of Morrisey comparisons, and, as much as I understand where people are coming from, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, his latest work, is his own. The bass on this album is a new innovation for where hip-hop baselines can go. I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy ends up getting begged for instrumentals by rappers because he can craft this killer volatile incendiary licks.  My wish? A Neptunes – Sweatshirt collab. Sinister would finally have a name.

I highly suggest dancing to this music. It has the “hey!! Look at me! I’m dancing to a Smiths song!” feeling I got when I was twelve and sad. Tips to enjoy these dazzling songs? Maybe get drunk. Maybe call friends. Maybe forget that you’re human. Maybe find them. Maybe kiss them. Maybe you’ll love them. Maybe you’ll call them. Carly Rae Jepsen.

SUN RA – What can be said about this guy. Until his later years, many people didn’t give him any time of day, taking his space loving jams as mockery and joke music for pothead jazzists. With pieces like “Adventures in Space” and “We Travel The Space Ways,” I can see why other people would resist a dive into Sun Ra’s music. However, to every one who likes originality and Zevon – drafts of instrumentals, this guy is for you.

To start, his version of “Round Midnight” is an acidic jazz romp that conjures feelings of Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall.” His music is the kind to drift away with. L – the strumming bass and hammered horn that start the track – all good stuff. Listeners should float off and imagine the imagery this music summons. My mind gushes and heaves with deep space reverb, piano rolls flourished over tip-top flute tunes send me into space.

Sun Ra has the name of a God but plays the music of an alien. He is religious in his practice of ideas and patterns but loosely atheistic in his pilotless, plotless long winds of trip.

“Saturn,” a song that begins with sprawling spats of horns, erupts into quick zaps of 20’s dabble and boasts a sense of irresistible foot tapping for any age of person. It hits you like a classic TV theme… one that you’ll remember.

He swung, he improvised heavily, and left an original message to planet Earth’s reefer – swallowing muggles. Sun Ra is an artist to cult over and many have done so. With a sound so catchy in jazz, paced with cool slack and relaxed riding-the-bull stretches. Sun Ra deserves his Sagan swings and Tyson tunes.

KA –  Ka is DOOM mixed in Wu brewed in Cool J authority and a case of infinite rhyme. From the first time I heard him on “You Know It’s About,” I felt a Viktor Vaughn veracity inside his Brooklyn charm. He goes deep under 36 chambers of choice homage and street smart, book smart glitter.

He cooks in 4 piece lines and invisible auras of unpredictability. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that this tid-bit makes Ka a gentleman’s rapper – one that young rap enthusiasts should check out to expand their taste, flow and basic capacity of idealism and vocabulary. “Nothing Is” is a menagerie with mad libs wrapped in Madvillain stage presence. It surges in samples too – the guy knows how to compile a good album and it shows.

Ka , AKA, 41 – year old Kaseem Ryan, is a good listen for anyone that wants to get into alternative hip hop. His imagery is of chess, war, peace, streetbug crawling, drugs and sinful attractions of actions unspeakable. Gangsta feel is away while the gangster sound is present in each syllable Ka crows out and each buttery story he drops.

Now while I praise him, Ka is a rapper’s type of rapper. People who aren’t hip hop heads constantly searching for new artists in this meme-infested rap trap won’t dig it. If your favorite rapper is “T.I.” because he is “cool,” do not give Ka’s mythology and discography a listen. Instead, leave now and never come back.

Vampire Weekend – The first time I heard Vampire Weekend, “Blake’s Got a New Face” came on in the car as we passed a CVS. I was hooked instantly. Since then, they have become the comic books to my Nic Cage, the Saturday Night Fever suit to Gene Shalit – I prize them. Their sound keeps growing and evolving with each release they put out … though my favorite is still their self-titled debut.

One of the greatest things about the band is that they are a perfect mix of misery and music. Sadness sweeps over huge climaxes of guitar frenzy and Phish – frantic drumming. Ezra Koeing is like a Paul Simon to me – storytelling, unique in influences and charismatic in intelligence.

I have listened to everything the band has ever recorded and each studio work deserves it’s own auditory inspection. Sure, I don’t like everything, but Vampire Weekend continues to mix inspiration and novelty like auto-tune and Californian English. “A-Punk”, one of the group’s most popular songs, is so damn simple that each and every pop of pleasured guitar and rushed percussion becomes undeniably likeable on just one listen.

Many compare them to the Talking Heads and some even jump to a strange Souls of Mischief comparison, but these guys are surely unprecedented in making new forms of the pop culture fantastic. They can surprise you, they can excite you, and with Modern Vampires of the City, they can tease and twist both lyrically and musically.

I have many great experiences with their work because they constantly cook up new ideas while having a strong sense of cultured personality in their music. They are the only vampire fad I follow.

Curtis Mayfield – Say your friend invites you to a party. All your old pals are there, the greatest hits. Everyone is feeling funny and laughing and the jokes are as great as you always remembered they were. You want to get to this party. You need this like AA needs a drink. However, you forget that you are an insignificance forged in a nobody of a person – ice cold and left out to get wet in the rain of non- existence.

Then, you hear “Move on Up.”

So, you suave motherlover … you cucumber of badassery and kept cool. You were born in Antarctica and get your freak on even when you’re sleeping. You groove. You spice. Everybody calls you “the (man, woman, dog) of the hour.” You are golden and glittering with the greatest of highs.

You are Curtis. You are cool.

This is the guy that got me into lots and lots and lots and lots of music. Mr. Mayfield slid me into funk, extended jamming, and a colossal interest in everything non-Caucasian. I went from Vanilla Ice to James Brown. The guy could orchestrate these huge band ensembles but still rip wah – wah fanatics with bongo beat downs and  smooth spacious dance breaks with unpredictable virtuosity.

This guy should be as popular as Martin Luther King, God and Miley Cyrus because he truly changed the world of music while simultaneously creating original and beautiful works of his own. The way “Pusherman” pulls you in is quicker than speed. “Party, Party” is Prince before he ever even wore a crown and defies disco-headed bubblegum with fun and fancy boogie that blows higher and higher with each guitar vamp.

“Miss Black America” is a treat filled with soul with admiration for an entire culture of people. The voices interacting at the beginning only start the track’s highlight reel. Mayfield to me is something of a Dylan or a Zimmerman – he is imaginative, witty and politically expressive through toughing details.

Take nothing less than the second best. Listen.

LCD Soundsystem – I used to hate this band. I used to hate every single cynic, angry and repetitively rash song that beats synth into Murphy’s screeching calls of slurred sentence. Then I heard “Losing My Edge.”

Immediately, I was jollied up with eccentric happiness for aging disc jockeys and felt the thrills of losing my cool over youthful prominence. That song, with its upfront humor, chaotic rise, and Murphy’s character all ignite something memorable and addicting to return to. Every time I get to the end of the song, each time I hear the lists and listless favorites that Murphy loves, it never gets old. His voice, both in appeal and dry as gin music snob pickiness, weave a heroic spiral with an escalating powerhouse of pop culture bumps.

As one delves deeper into LCD, one may note that all albums are consistent in juicy computed sounds and scoffers of undeniable dance brawl forces. There is electricity. There is comfortingly desperate piano. There is happiness in disdained digital backbeats and punk pushes of power chords.

LCD Soundsystem may have broken up, but their appeal climbs higher with each visit I spend in New York City. Their music can bring a person down, but it can also revive them and allow a person to let go of their sorry and just dance, dance, dance. “I Can Change” showcases how much of a GZA genius James Murphy is. The wails echoing from his vocal chords match sound and emotion seamlessly, not to mention the robot tweaks and outlandish Casio keyboard notes from Hell are a real treat for a song so well-groomed.

I love them because they can bring me up just as much as they bring me down.

Stephen Sondheim – Saved for last of course, I leave the most controversial letters of all my life. Yes Broadway snobs, I am putting Stephen Sondheim on the same list as Flatbush Zombies. I see nothing wrong with mixing great artists in their respective genres. Music is to be enjoyed regardless of “what real music is.”

Now that that is all out of the way, I want to say that Stephen Sondheim is the Eminem of musical theatre. The guy is a master of everything that the genre has ever put forth. He has heard every great, every flop, and brought forth terrific work with the creativity of Allah.

Emotion is always present. You can feel the torment and confliction Bobby howls out in “Being Alive” (a song Sondheim wrote from the show Company.) The whispering calls of love that “Johanna” yelps out send shivers down every freckle, hair and undergarment that I wear. You see the guy always hits the right notes. He can literally make you feel any idea he wants to get across to you. In “Rose’s Turn,” he presents a human being breaking down to her very last straw and you experience a part of her worldly split. You don’t even need a stage to see Sondheim’s music … all you need is an ear.

To end this little drivel of musical fanaticism, I want to say that this guy has inspired the largest variety of artists – from the creators of South Park to Johnny Depp and even Questlove. People say that Broadway is dying, and while I may drunkenly agree with that statement I will say that one song of Sondheim’s will change my view.

-Harrison Giza


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