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Album Review: Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves

Natural-Child-In-LAFor the current crop of garage rockers its not 1965 anymore. Many of the bands who have been champions of scenes like the now virtually defunct San Francisco one have moved on from their raunchy roots to embrace a more sonically sophisticated 1969 feeling. Mikal Cronin and Thee Oh Sees have embraced lush string arrangements, The Fresh & Onlys have become a pop band, and Ty Segall’s decision to go acoustic on last year’s “Sleeper” had a tinge of the controversy that Dylan brought by famously deciding to do the opposite. Chances are if you were a lo-fi mainstay in 2009 you’ve upped the fidelity quite a bit by this year. Evidence of this especially rings true with the release of the fourth album by Nashville good ol’ boys Natural Child. On Dancin’ With Wolves the three piece has added two new members, keyboardist Benny Devine, and pedal steel player Luke Schneider, and has produced ten tracks of boozy, groovy, country bliss.

On their earlier releases Natural Child channeled the raw riffs that made their forbears superstars. Their debut album “1971” made no secrets of their influences with song titles like “Let It Bleed” and a stomping blues about an intoxicating lover named “Yoko.” Guitarist Seth Murray, Bass player Wes Traylor, and drummer Zack Martin pounded out southern flavored jams for two more records after that slowly moving out of the garage and into the studio. The two albums released in 2012, For The Love Of The Game and Hard In Heaven, show a band eager to put out music, and whose talent is increasing exponentially. Natural Child’s brand of country rock emphasizes a band with strong roots in the South. The twin lead vocal harmonies of Seth and Wes give the songs a jamboree vibe, and the grooves that the trio root themselves in are simultaneously rocking and rolling.

Dancin’ With Wolves keeps the rock n’ roll freight train choogling along, but is driven mainly by straight up country. Natural Child channels less of the Stones, and more of the likes of Waylon Jennings, JJ Cale, and the Allman Brothers. The album opener “Out In The Country” sits back into a lazy ride on the bayou. Devine’s keys punctuate Murray’s guitar gracefully, and the song feels like a summer evening jam session in a smoke filled houseboat. On the next track the boys remind you that they can kick it up a notch. “Don’t The Time Pass Quickly” showcases their new pedal steel player who hovers over the top of a racing rocker. Other standouts like “Country Hippie Blues” and “Saturday Night Blues” demonstrate the lyrical prowess of the Nashville crew. Natural Child’s stories are timeless, yet current. “Country Hippie” sees the longhairs explaining their pot smoking ways to their more straight-laced Nashville-ites. On “Saturday Night” the group explores the familiar feeling of being stuck at home on the weekend with no cash or prospects.

Most of the tracks on Wolves demonstrate Natural Child’s mastery of stoned down home blues. However, the band shows their range on the jazzy “Bailando Con Lobos.” Complete with Spanish lyrics the boys bounce around on a difficult timing, while the steel guitar whines hauntingly and the organ packs a punch of melody. There are few dull patches in the forty minute album. Unfortunately a brush track is much too heavy in the mix on Tom T. Hall’s “Nashville’s A Groovy Little Town,” the only cover on the record, to distract from an otherwise fun jangly tune. At other times when only one member steps up to the mic the sound loses some of it’s fullness; like on “Rounder.”

On the whole Natural Child’s Dancin’ With Wolves shows a mature and talented group of young musicians, who like their peers have had faith in their fans to be able handle more than just 1-2-3-4. Garage bands, given time, have always evolved into more, and with Natural Child Nashville rock n’ roll is in capable hands.

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Updates from the RPM Department

Greetings, KZSCers!

There’s a lot going on in the RPM department right now. We’ve been flooded with so many great releases in the past few weeks that some may have flown under your radar. Here’s a roundup of best releases has received as of late:

Tensnake – Glow: Ranging from house to disco and taking sonic queues from the likes of Disclosure and Daft Punk (even going so far as to feature Nile Rogers on a track!), Tensnake delivers 16 tracks of hip-shaking goodness for your worthy ears. I am sure it will be throughly rinsed out on KZSC’s electronic shows.

Patten – Estoile Naiant: On the more experimental, ambient side of the electronic palette, Patten has created a lush maze of sound to sink into. Using elements of drone, techno, drum and bass, and found sounds, Patten creates a deep sonic universe in which you can easily immerse yourself in.

Thomas White – Ariose EP: Built for the club, Thomas White’s Ariose EP turns up by combining trapped-out percussion and hard-hitting bass with smooth chords and range of unique samples. This is absolutely one to play loud!

I also thought I’d include one last one from up-and-coming 17-year-old producer Dolphin Tears; some classic Jersey Club:

Considered your itch for new music scratched, KZSCer’s! Until next time!

Wave Racer - Streamers

RPM Charts – March 17th

Top 10:

1 TENSNAKE – Glow / Astralwerks
2 ILLUM SPHERE – Ghosts Of Then And Now / Ninja Tune
3 WAVE RACER – Streamers / Future Classic
4 JEROME LOL – Deleted/Fool [EP] / Friends of Friends
5 HASTA – Floral [EP] / Apothecary
6 PATTEN – Estoile Naiant / Warp
7 CASHMERE CAT – Wedding Bells [EP] / LuckyMe
8 MACHINEDRUM – Fenris District [EP] / Ninja Tune
9 ACTRESS – Ghettoville / Werkdiscs-Ninja Tune
10 PAUL BASIC – Transient Horizons / Pretty Lights

Top 5 Adds:

1 ODESZA – Sun Models / Odesza
2 DOJA CAT – “So High” [Single] / RCA
3 SAINT TIIMBRE – Power / Little Friend
4 WAVE RACER – Streamers / Future Classic
5 VARIOUS ARTISTS – Suicide Squeeze Records Presents: Forever Singles / Suicide Squeeze

Have a listen to Wave Racer’s obnoxiously catchy single, “Streamers” here:

And here’s a taste of Jerome LOL’s excellent EP:

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Upcoming Hip-Hop To Cop

 

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Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata (Madlib Invazion)

Gary, Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs is set to release his fourth collaborative project on March 18 with critically acclaimed producer Madlib, known primarily for his work with MF DOOM (Madvillainy) and J Dilla (Jaylib). Freddie Gibbs was originally signed to Young Jeezy’s label CTE World in 2011, but due to contract disputes Gibbs left CTE and started his own label called ESGN last year. Their previous 3 EPs Thuggin‘, Shame, and Deeper, have shown Freddie Gibbs talent to rap over Madlib’s unorthodox style of production. With Piñata, we can expect more of Gangsta Gibbs’ street-inspired rhymes.

 Kevin Gates - By Any Means

Kevin Gates – By Any Means (Bread Winners’ Association)

Kevin Gates will be following up a very successful 2013 with his new mixtape By Any Means, set to release March 18. The Louisiana rapper’s 2013 releases Luca Brasi Story and Stranger Than Fiction showcased his ability to incorporate the Southern rap style popularized by Master P and T.I., with very well-thought out lyricism. Kevin Gates has found much popularity in his home state, but has yet to fully break into the national spotlight. Perhaps By Any Means will be the release to change that.

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Future – Honest (Epic/Freebandz)

Future has gone from being a one hit wonder to one of the biggest names in the rap industry today. He kills the hook game. Following up his 2012 debut, Pluto, the self-described “Astronaut Kid” looks to bring more extra-terrestrial sounding, infectious rhymes on Honest, set to drop April 22. Future has already taken advantage of the rising fame by starting his own label called Freebandz, on which has signed several up and coming rappers. Future is the cousin of Rico Wade, member of Organized Noize, the producers behind countless hits by Goodie Mob, TLC, and Outkast. So it is no surprise to see a rare Andre 3000 verse featured on this. Honest also includes guest appearances by Pharrell Williams, Pusha T, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, Wiz Khalifa, and Freebandz affiliates Young Scooter and Casino. You can play the video game accompanying his new single “Move That Dope” at  MoveThatDoh.com.

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Mid-March New Indie Rock

End of the quarter finals are facing UCSC students, including yours truly. Here are 10 new indie rock releases that will help anyone concentrate:

1. CHERRY GLAZERR – Haxel Princess
2. TACOCAT – NVM
3. HABIBI – Habibi
4. DAMAGED BUG – Hubba Bubba
5. NATURAL CHILD – Dancin’ With Wolves
6. ST. VINCENT – St. Vincent
7. PHANTOGRAM – Voices
8. REAL ESTATE – Atlas
9. BROKEN BELLS – After The Disco
10. HOLY WAVE – Relax

The new Warm Soda album is super fun garage pop awesomeness. Here’s a track from it!

Ambrose Akinmusire

Ambrose Akinmusire Does it Again

 Ambrose Akinmusire (ah-kin-moo-sir-ee)  and his new album The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint really cooks! His second release on Blue Note records since his debut in 2011, Ambrose truly takes you on a auditory exhibition for over an hour with his emotionally-packed new compositions. Featuring collaborations with artists such as Becca Stevens, Theo Bleckmann and Charles Altura on several tracks, Ambrose Akinmusire continues to paint a dramatic narrative for the listener as his musical career continues to unfold and flourish.

Oakland’s own, Ambrose has received countless awards for his musicianship and compositions since beginning his career as a  jazz trumpeter. Winning the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition in 2007, as well as the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition,  one could say Ambrose Akinmusire is one of the most decorated young musicians in the world today.

His newest album is no disappointment – Check it out as it hits the streets March 11th!

AmbroseAkinmusire_ImaginedSavior_cover Personnel on The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint:

Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet
Walter Smith: tenor sax
Sam Harris: piano, Mellowtron
Harish Raghavan: bass
Justin Brown: drums