Darkside & Opinions on tUnE-yArDs

Darkside

Electronic duo Darkside join Jim and Greg for an interview and live performance. Later they review a new album by experimental pop artist Tune-Yards.

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Last month, Jim and Greg shared the news that house music godfather Frankie Knuckles died. Now, sadly, another giant of the genre has left us. Rashad Harden, aka DJ Rashad, was a pioneering dancer and producer of a particularly sizzling style of dance music known as Footwork: a metamorphosis of the house sound that Frankie Knuckles helped establish in the 1970’s and ‘80s and juke style, Footwork pushes the beats per minute from around 125 to upwards of 165, encouraging a uniquely athletic style of dancing. The uptick in tempo makes sense as Harden got his start dancing to house and juke music on Chicago street corners in the 1990’s. Over time, other producers have joined the footwork fray, but DJ Rashad’s always managed to keep things original, and often abstract, so that his songs were great to listen both at the club, and at home with headphones on. In remembrance of DJ Rashad, Jim and Greg play his landmark single Let It Go.

Fans of streaming music and movies should pay heed to recent developments concerning Net Neutrality. For those not familiar, Jim explains that Net Neutrality is the idea that all data on the Internet, regardless of origin or destination, should be seen as equal and treated the same by Internet Service Providers ( ISPs). The Federal Communications Commission, however, is causing a stir by proposing new rules that go against that concept. One rule in particular would let those who can afford to, pay ISPs for the privilege of having their content distributed to consumers faster than other those who don’t or can’t pay. The Future of Music Coalition warns that these new rules would carve the Internet into a fast lane for well-heeled corporations and a dirt road for everyone else. Jim and Greg are nervous what this will mean for the music industry and will be keeping a close eye on what happens to Net Neutrality.

Darkside

Jim and Greg joined by the duo Darkside, featuring electronic artist electronic artist Nicholas Jaar and multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington. They first met while they were both students at Brown University. Harrington first worked with Jaar as a musician in his band during a solo tour, and then on Jaar’s 2011 breakout album, Space Is Only Noise. The two musicians talk to Jim and Greg about writing songs that defy the genre definitions of electronica, jazz, funk & classical music. They also explain the route of the band’s name, which involved a freak incident at a Berlin hotel. Plus, they play two tracks from Darkside’s critically acclaimed 2013 album Psychic.

Nikki Nack tUnE-yArDs

Nikki Nack

Merrill Garbus, the creative force behind tUnE-yArDs, is back from Haiti with adventurous new rhythms and a whole lot to talk about. The result is her third album, Nikki Nack. Expectations for this release were high for Jim and Greg, who lauded 2011’s W H O K I L L, and were wowed by the band’s live performance on Sound Opinions. But Garbus has outdone herself on Nikki Nack. Greg loves the unconventional Haitian percussion tapping underneath as Garbus ‘s voice, an instrument in its own right, explores deep, dark themes with a soaring ecstasy. Jim agrees, only taking issue with the cannibalistic interlude, Why Do We Dine on the Tots?, a quirky skit adapted from Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal that lets Garbus showcase her puppeteer training. Otherwise, Jim admires the empathy for women and the poor that comes through in these experimental pop songs, and thinks that Garbus got more out of her Haitian visit than Arcade Fire did. Both critics will Buy It.

Greg

Laura Nyro is an artist we don’t talk about enough, says Greg. Best known for writing songs that others made famous, like Three Dog Night’s Eli’s Coming and The 5th Dimension’s Wedding Bell Blues, Nyro died young in 1997 at age 49. But Greg insists that her own records are criminally overlooked —namely her fifth, Gonna Take a Miracle, an all-covers album of songs that Nyro listened to growing up in the Bronx. For that album, she enlisted as collaborator (and chef) Patti LaBelle, who in turn brought onboard her Labelle bandmates Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash. The result was an extraordinary record, produced by the legendary duo of Gamble and Huff. Greg picks the group’s (mostly) a capella rendition of The ShirellesI Met Him on a Sunday to jazz up the Desert Island.

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