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Author: Kate B
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The Grind

The first thing you have to know about TAMPPA is that he loves his hood. Born and raised in Brooklyn, the rapper considers the borough his muse. On “Brownsville Grind,” a nod to one of Brooklyn’s public housing projects, TAMPPA paints a picture of his hustle. The track is a soulful, brassy, hip-hop hot cooker with an intro by none other than Ludacris. TAMPPA’s got connections—his cousin is Anthony Cruz, a.k.a. the rapper and frequent Nas collaborator, AZ. As you can hear, talent runs in the family. TAMPPA’s tracks are filled with lyrical smart bombs. On “Gotta Be More” he talks about rising above his situation and chasing the dream, rapping, “Like the late, great Michael, I gotta go thrill ‘em.” By “Fix Your Face” he’s arrived. Over rattling textures and a fat bass line he proclaims, “We are kings, and ghetto legends.” All hail the next great MC of Kings County.


Bonus update. Tamppa has a personal message about his latest collaboration:

Shot Koller

If you’ve never heard the name Yuri Koller, you better ask somebody. Like, maybe Saigon, Drake, or Diddy’s Day26 band, all of whom have crossed paths with the artist and his music. Koller, who used to go by the stage name “Lokz,” is a Toronto R&B singer and megawatt star in the making. No, seriously. Listen to “Throw It Away” and tell us it isn’t one of the best R&B/pop jams you’ve heard since Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around Comes Around.” Over shuddering synths and a thumping beat Koller introduces us to his formidable talent. His voice sails dreamily on the chorus of the jazzy “Without You,” and goes rapid fire on the stylized and dynamic R&B banger “24 Hours To Love You.” Like the heir apparent to Usher, Koller brings incredible vocals, killer production, and lots of sex appeal to the game. He won’t be a free agent for long.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Nas and Amy Winehouse collaborate on “Cherry Wine”

Nas has just released the video for “Cherry Wine,” his collaboration with Amy Winehouse. And since Amy isn’t around to shoot videos, the rapper came up with a unique way to include her via a ghostly projection. It looks cool and it’s a lot cheaper than a Tupac hologram. Check it out. Continue reading ‘Discourse & Dischord’

Sizzle Pop


Goodnight Argent

Pop music is great, but if you’re looking for emotional depth, you may not find it in an LMFAO song. So when Chase Manhattan was recalibrating after his band short-circuited midway to their big breakthrough, he turned his focus to making pop music with substance. Enter Goodnight Argent, a nod to an old studio on Argent Road in the band’s hometown of Pasco, Wash. The band crafts burning, soulful pop, part Justin Timberlake, part Ben Gibbard. “Those Were The Days” is a smoldering look at summer love, driven by a simple back beat and panging piano. “When the sun comes up will the stars remember our love?” Manhattan wonders. Then, like an admonishment, the band fires back with “Don’t Get Sentimental, ” a track filled with spacy sequences and piercing guitars. The only thing these guys have in common with LMFAO is that they’re sexy and they know it.



Bands of brothers—history is riddled with them. From Creedence Clearwater Revival to the Bee Gees to Kings of Leon to The Beach Boys to Kool & The Gang to Good Charlotte to Pantera to, well, you get the point. Oaklynn, a band out of Dalton, Ga., brings its own exceptional symmetry to this illustrious group. Made up of two pairs of brothers—Josh and Seth Smith and Tripp and Tate Howell—Oaklynn purveys catchy, hook-driven synth rock with gossamer vocals. Fans of Postal Service will love the band’s single “Everytime.” Over compressed beats, tambourines, digital bleeps, and reverb guitars, Tate Hollowell sings, “Every time you come around here lately, you lift me off the ground.” Oaklynn’s ethereal songcraft has a similar effect. Next time you need a serotonin surge, give these guys a try.

Shake & Quake


MSF hails from Boston, so it’s not surprising one of their biggest influences is the seminal post-punk Beantown band, the Pixies. You can hear that influence best in their dark and cheeky track, “Oven Head.” Over piercing guitars that sound like they were recorded in a silo, David Michaels intones, “That’s all I want, to die.” Like the Pixies, the music is galvanizing, fitful and manic, but Michaels’ adenoidal croon brings an element of Elvis Costello to the mix. “Oven Head” is the sound of unraveling, but on the catchy “Walking Jealousy” frothy guitars and galloping, polyrhythmic drums lighten the mood. Who cares if you can’t decipher what the chorus is (“We haven’t got our keys”? “We’ve all forgot our drinks”?)? Your body will move regardless of what your brain understands.

The Young Gun

Nick Gill

Before he had even finished high school in Alabama, Nick Gill had three albums and a 50-date tour under his belt. And if that doesn’t impress you, his music will. Gill has come a long way since penning his first song in 8th grade about a kooky English teacher. These days his songs are poignant, spare meditations on life’s more difficult experiences: love, loss, and growing up. The haunting “How It Feels” is about a friend’s suicide. But rather than dwelling on the shock and horror, Gill reminisces about the good times—driving around with beauty queens on Halloween. As a violin, piano, and a softy strummed guitar deliver the elegy, Gill’s mellow voice ascends into a honeyed falsetto. “Game” is lighter fare—an upbeat melody led by a guiro, acoustic guitar and piano. Gill’s warm and dusty songs are on par with singer-songwriters like Jack Johnson and John Mayer. But unlike those elderish statesmen, this young buck’s just getting started.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Frank Ocean rocks SNL

Frank Ocean helped Saturday Night Live kick off its 38th season with a bang. The singer was joined onstage by John Mayer, who lurked in the shadows for the most part. Check out this performance of “Pyramids,” wherein Mayer delivers a slow burning guitar solo while Ocean entertains himself with video games.

Mother and son go “Gangnam Style” on Ellen

Psy’s K-pop hit “Gangnam Style” and its accompanying dance has landed Stateside. Everywhere you look, someone’s riding that invisible pony. Ellen Degeneres is a big fan of the Korean rapper, even bringing him on her show to teach Britney Spears how to do the dance. But our favorite performance is this mother and son team, who show Ellen how to go Gangnam, family style. Enjoy. Continue reading ‘Discourse & Dischord’

In The Light


Some bands use music as catharsis, grinding their axe against the injustices of the world. Some use it to broadcast emotion, bearing their hearts for all to see. And maybe some use it to ask questions—to ponder the inner workings of the universe. Canons, out of Tecumseh, Mich., uses music to celebrate their faith. But it’s not all choirs of angels and heavenly trumpets. Their music draws not only from divine inspiration, but from secular bands like Jimmy Eat World and Coldplay. “Someday Soon” is angular and turbulent, a caveat for those wasting their time here on Earth. “Someday we’ll wake up and see the dream is gone,” sings Dustin Lolli over crystalline guitars and thrashing drums. If that’s too dark a thought for you, skip over to “Take Hold Of My Hand,” a power ballad that compels you to wave your lighter in the air. Reverent rock isn’t for everyone, but if the spirit moves you, let there be light.

Running Down A Dream

Amy Stroup


Amy Stroup is doing just fine, thank you. With an appearance in Prairie Home Companion and song placement on shows like Private Practice, One Tree Hill, and Drop Dead Diva under her belt, the Nashville singer-songwriter is on the rise. Stroup’s music has caught on, and it’s easy to understand why. Her diaphanous folk melodies are composed with economy, creating wide open spaces for delicate textures—a piano line here, a stroke of cello there. On “Hold On To Hope Love”—a song that would sound right at home on the Once soundtrack—Stroup tiptoes up the scales as the melody swells like a symphony. With a softly husky voice like Norah Jones, Stroup infuses every lyric with sweetness and light. “I’m running over the clouds to you,” she sings on “Just You.” Running over clouds is as good a description as any of her music. And if you’re like us, you’ll want to join her up in the ether.


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