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BAMM.tv Best Albums Of 2014: The Flashbulb, Vandella

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We asked some of the great acts who have performed for BAMM.tv to pick their favorite albums from the year gone by. Today it’s the turn of Benn Jordan (aka The Flashbulb) and Vandella …

THE FLASHBULB

BAMM.tv Presents: The Flashbulb – “Virtuous Cassette” (live at SXSW) from BAMM.tv on Vimeo.

1. The Future Sound Of London – Environment Five

When I was a teenager, I was probably listening to FSOL more often than not, so maybe I’m biased here. Environment Five is the apex of what these 2 musicians are capable of. Everything is gentle and unpredictable, no beat “drops”, no melody reaches a climax, no idea is illegal, and sounds that would seem cheesy everywhere else are welcomed on this canvas. Dazed And Confused era guitars dance with wind chimes while relaxing waterfalls give way to something ominous and terrifying in the distance. Nothing short of brilliant.

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The F-Word: Homophobia in Hip-Hop

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A BAMM.tv Exclusive Report by Joseph Bien-Kahn

Warning: Strong and derogatory language is present throughout this article. BAMM.tv in no way condones discrimination of any kind. We felt it necessary to present the raw language used in the form of lyrics, comments, and quotes in order present an honest story addressing homophobia and sexism in hip-hop.

A rapper recently told me, “When you say, fuckin’ faggot, that’s like the worst possible thing you can say about someone, besides like, dirty cunt. Those are terrible words and when they’re coming out of your mouth, you have this feeling of, almost, hyper-masculinity, this feeling of like extreme power. When you’re saying those words, you feel badass, you feel like you’re dominating somebody.”

The rapper who said that, Sam “Oh Blimey” McDonald, explains herself as “exactly the opposite of what I know the face of hip-hop looks like.” She’s white, she’s female, she’s homosexual.

I squirmed in my seat when I heard that opening quote; your stomach might have turned reading it. But that’s where hip-hop’s at today. It struggles with mainstream success and its all-too-present misogyny and homophobia. Rap is big enough now that the headliner acts say all the right things about homosexuality and hip-hop. But the truth is, homophobia is still a living, breathing force in the rap game.

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Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Nick Hansen

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To my alarm, the assignment from our VP of Programming, Phil, read: “Write an essay on what music means to you, and do up a playlist to accompany your thoughts if you have time.”

Oh? Really? Has he lost his mind?? Music! — of all topics, music — boil it down to “my life in a nutshell”, then? How?!

“What does music mean to me” is like “what does water mean for a fish” or “what does fuel mean to an engine”. It’s the sine qua non of life!

Even if you’re imprisoned and held solitary confinement, you still can hum a tune out loud. I read recently about a “locked-in syndrome”, sadly someone prominent drew attention to it through his eventual death last year in England. Google it — you can’t move, you can’t talk, but you can think clearly. Probably, even if you’re so completely unfortunate, you can still dream up a song, one that you’re not hearing with your ears.

The world around us is full of sound, and you know that everyone is seeking your attention, and combinations of sounds can form melodies and harmonies can form stanzas and compositions and songs and albums and compendiums and all that. We are human, we are alive, we make music.

From birth, our first outpouring of expression is in tonal mono-syllables. Over time, some of us are better than others in stringing those together to form song and to vocally express their compositions. Singing for others. It helps if people love the output, but either way, if you’re into it, you’ll probably sing it. Nothing wrong with that.

The public seeks a performer as the performer seeks an audience. They get together. The intense feeling of heavy, deep drum and bass in the middle of a crowded dance floor with its tactile sensibilities, including perhaps unwelcome olfactory experiences and unexpected visual references. The fleeting thoughts. For those willing to put in the effort, when it reaches this stage, the experience isn’t just “brought to you” by music, it is music in its complete intensity, a memory maker.

That sort of intensity regarding music is there to lullaby you as a newborn and to see you off from planet Earth. And every point in between. The tense times, the times you need energy, the times you need to relax, the times you’re running, moving, pushing yourself, fun sexy time, the time you’re tired and lethargic, down in the dumps, that time you cried.

Music is the facilitator that helps everyone smooth over the rough patches in life, both big and small. It’s there for you, it keeps you going, it sets memory points, it reaffirms your existence and defines, a bit, your camaraderie.

OK. Well. Where are we now? Oh. I’m happy that I did my homework in the end. Music means I’m going to wake up tomorrow and get on with it, and hopefully the next day will be at least as good as the day before.

OTHER BAMM.TV STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Chris Hansen

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Jerad Fox

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Phil Lang

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Jeff LaPenna

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Sophie DeWitt

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Christopher Davies

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Sarah Levitt

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Diana Gamboa

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Phil Lang

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This is the first in a new regular series in which we ask the BAMM.tv crew one simple question: why do you love music? We begin with Mr. Phil Lang …

I love Aretha Franklin’s voice when she goes up to get that last note on “People Get Ready.” Her voice pulls you closer to God, or at the very least makes a damn good argument for the notion one exists.

I love that the last line on the last song of For Emma, Forever Ago is “Your love will be safe with me.”

I love how “Oh Yoko” reminds me that the most romantic sentiments are literal and simple. “In the middle of the bath I call your name.”

I love knowing what song will play at my funeral – “When the Ships Come In”.

I love knowing what song will play for my first dance at my wedding. “Need Your Love So Bad,” by Little Willie John. I have zero doubt that my future bride, whomever that might be, will agree with me on this choice, regardless of her music tastes.

I love moments of perfection. There’s no perfect song, but there are songs with perfect moments. The bridge of Mason Jenning’s “The Light” (Part 2) is perfect (at the 1:30 mark). “Please don’t forget how much I meant to you when you are redefined by someone new.” A simple articulation of the most complex of feelings.

I love how “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” changes my gait. It’s coolness manifests itself in my stride. The song makes me cooler than I am for seven minutes and fifteen seconds.

I love horns in rock music. There aren’t enough horn sections in rock bands these days.

I love that Jackson Browne wrote “These Days” at 16 years old. It’s kind of silly, actually. What days, other than “these,” are there to a 16 year-old? Yet, he nails it. He’s right – I do think a lot about the things I forgot to do. It is hard to risk another (lover) these days. And while we’re at it –I haven’t forgotten my failures, so don’t confront me with them. Yeah, what that 16 year-old Jackson said. I think writing a song can produce an idea the songwriter doesn’t fully understand at the time he or she writes it, it goes out into the world, and its full weight is first felt and understood by a stranger. There’s something metaphysical and fundamental to human nature in that transference.

I love Freddie Mercury.

I love when Hip Hop is backed by a live band. “The OtherSide” – The Roots, Bilal Oliver, Greg Porn.

I love a killer sample. “Heart Of The City” (Ain’t No Love) – Jay-Z.

I love that “The Boy In The Bubble” challenges me everytime. I know every image rendered in the song, and I line them up in my mind and take stock of which run parallel and which intersect. I’m still figuring this song out.

I love that a great song can be high art, but high art is not a requirement in order for a song to be great.

I love that “Move On Up” is over eight minutes long. I don’t typically like long songs, but  “Move On Up” (and “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” for that matter) could go on as long as I want them to go on.  I should be able to select the amount of time the song plays, like a setting – “10 minutes,” “30 minutes,” or “doing dishes.”

I love how music is a dog ear to our memories. It preserves who we were and contextualizes who we’ve become. Shameless plug – that’s why we (BAMM) made a series about this very thing – Musical Yearbook – themusicalyearbook.com

I love movies about music, but I don’t like biopics about musicians. Give me more High Fidelity and Almost Famous and less Walk The Line and Ray.

I love that music – even more so than sports – is a great equalizer. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you grew up. All that matters is whether or not you can play.

I love that Sting was the artist featured in Bill O’Reilly’s meltdown. That detail has always been hilarious to me. Of all artists to be involved in a clip of a dumbass losing his shit, it’s Sting – the serene, tantric love machine.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_HyZ5aW76c

I love what the right song at the right moment can do to the mood of a bar. You can’t go wrong with “I Want You Back” (if you’re looking to breathe some life into the place) or “Desolation Row” (if you’re looking to clear the place out and drink some whiskey alone…but the wrong bartender will probably skip that one on you).

I love how music can make lonesome a shared experience.

I love how my take on a song is ever-changing. It’s possible I’ve  listened to Graceland (the album) one thousands of times, but I am not the same person I was when I first heard the album, so, in a way, it’s not the same album either. Relationships work the same way. Friends, foes, family, and lovers – as I change so does my understanding of them. That’s comforting.

I love how my mom played the station wagon dashboard like a piano on our road trip to Mount Rushmore when I was five or six. We listened to a lot of Willie, and she was on the keys for “On The Road Again.”  Harley’s were flying by us on I-90 (the Sturgis motorcycle rally was the same week), and we, the personification of Suburbia, stood out like a boulder in a river. The farmland extended beyond the horizon. It was August, and hot. On that day, we were the band of gypsies rolling down the highway. I was happy.

Jay-Z And Master P: A Tale Of Two Empires

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Joey Bien-Kahn takes a revealing look at the interwoven business history of two modern day moguls: Jay-Z and Master P …

jay_z_master_p

2013 was a bad year for Jay-Z the Rapper. Magna Carta … Holy Grail had none of the dark elegance of Reasonable Doubt, none of the club slaps of The Blueprint and not even any of the royal over-indulgence of Watch the Throne. It didn’t have a club hit, wasn’t committed to artistry, and some of the lyrics read like stroke-induced gibberish (“I’m in the ocean/I’m in heaven/Yacht!/”Ocean’s Eleven”).

But 2013 was a great year for Jay-Z the Mogul. Once again, Jay made money for himself and his friends, while remaining squarely in the public eye. He presold a million copies of Holy Grail for early download on Samsung smartphones and tablets (check out that promo below). He toured North America with Justin Timberlake, bringing in $69.75 million. And his protégées J. Cole and Kanye West put out two of the best studio albums of the year, while his wife won the Pop Star Wars with an unprecedentedly unexpected album drop that defied the Age of Internet Leaks.

Stadiums: sold. A million records: sold. Samsung smartphones: sold. Say what you want about Jay’s rap output since The Blueprint (2001); just don’t say a thing about his business savvy. Let’s be honest here—Jay-Z the Mogul has been the more impressive side of Shawn Carter for much of his career. Remember: He’s not a businessman; he’s a business, man.

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BAMM.tv Featured Artist: Wild Child

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It’s the return of our Featured Artist feature – and we’ve got an absolutely amazing band all set to fuel your February. Gather round and get ready to tame the beast that is Wild Child! We’ve got all sorts of exclusive stuff coming up over the next couple of weeks, starting with this in-depth interview. Enjoy …

How did the band get together?

Kelsey and I we touring together as part of the backing band for a Danish band called The Migrant. I was playing accordion and she was playing violin. We were on the road for 6 weeks and during that time we started writing songs in the van to pass the time. During one stop in SF we stayed with my cousin Evan and wrote “That’s What She Say” together. After that we really started cranking them out and by the time we got back to Austin, we decided we wanted to make a band and make a record. Next came a full band lineup and the album Pillow Talk.

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Bamm.tv Featured Artist: The Flashbulb

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Meet electronic mastermind Benn Jordan. He’s a man of many different names, collecting pseudonyms the way a hyperactive 90s kid collected Pokemon. You may also have heard him referred to as (deeeeeep breath now) Acidwolf, CHR15TPUNCH3R, DJ ASCII, Dr. Lefty, Dysrythmia, FlexE, Human Action Network, Lucid32, rapemachine, rnd16, 66x or Q-Bit.

For the purposes of our Featured Artist celebration, however, we fixing our beady eye on Benn’s most well-known alterego: The Flashbulb.

Benn is particularly direct when it comes to the origins of Flashbulb. “In the mid-70’s,” he recounts, “Lee Jordan and Denise Richardson met while vacationing in Virginia. Many sexual instances later Denise noticed she was more nauseated than usual. 9 months later the band was formed, but did not record music for another 14 years.” In other words: it’s just him. Flashbulb is a one-man operation, and Benn is the brains and talent behind it.

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BAMM.tv Featured Artist: Hollerado

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Charity begins at home, the old phrase goes – and if the history of Canadian melody-merchants Hollerado is anything to go by, it seems that musical genius begins in that area too. Born and raised in Manotick, Ontario (infact, three of the band members grew up on the same street together), the four Hollerado boys – Menno Versteeg, Nixon Boyd, Dean Baxter and Jake Boyd – officially came together in April 2007. Relocating to Montreal, they’ve since been gathering a well-deserved reputation as everyone’s favorite Bright Young Things.

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BAMM.tv Featured Artist: Wallpaper.

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Anyone familiar with reviewer shorthand will know the meaning of the term ‘wallpaper music’. It’s often used to describe the output of MOR giants like Coldplay or Maroon 5 – it’s background stuff, ambient dinner party noise, inoffensive and barely noticeable chatter which uses music more as a pleasant crutch than a blazing center of attention.

Sooooo … if you were a frenzied hip-hop electro-pop mastermind who drops beats like John McClane drops bad guys, you probably wouldn’t want to associate yourself with the word. You’d call yourself ‘Explosion Beast’ or ‘Annihilator’ or ‘Dance Yourself Sick’. That would be the predictable thing to do. The thing is: Ricky Reed – the producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind Wallpaper., our brand new Featured Artist – is anything but predictable.

Interested yet? Want to read on as we get all Home Depot on your ass and really start examining Wallpaper.? Or are you just a big old Doo-Doo Face?

(Note: Doo-Doo Face is the title of his first album. It’s just a joke. We’re not really calling you a Doo-Doo Face. Unless you’re a sadomasochist and are into that kind of thing. This is the internet, after all).

Anyway. Let’s continue (after the jump …)

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