Briefs News

World in Brief: Another win for Bernie Sanders, COVID-19 shuts down northern Italian cities, bees in California, fatal earthquake in Turkey.

Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucus on Saturday Feb. 22, continuing his Democratic lead after the third primary contest. With strong support from the Latino voters in the Nevada caucus, Sanders finished with 47 per cent, reported The Guardian. Joe Biden took second place, at 24 per cent. Buttigieg was third, with 14 per cent. Elizabeth Warren was fourth, with 9 per cent. Next up for the democrats, the South Carolina race.

There have been two deaths in Italy as a result of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), with seventy-nine confirmed cases of the virus. A dozen towns in northern Italy have shut down as a result. The origin of the virus in Italy, has been linked to a man who hadn’t travelled to Wuhan. Those who died were a man and woman in their 70s, though it has not yet been confirmed whether the woman died from the virus or an underlying health problem. Towns affected in Italy have closed schools, businesses, restaurants and sporting events, reports The Associated Press.

A swarm of 40,000 bees shut down a California block, sending five people to the hospital, including three first responders last Thursday. Firefighters and police responded to a call for a single bee sting, soon realizing that an entire block had been covered with bees. The bees had stung seven people, two did not need hospital treatment. One firefighter had been stung 17 times. Firefighters and a professional beekeeper were able to safely remove the hive situated on the roof of a Hampton Inn. Some of the bees were killed, while others left the area, as reported by CNN.

Nine people were killed by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in eastern Turkey on Sunday morning. The earthquake also struck western Iran, injuring 75 people, with no reported fatalities. Turkish Health Minister, Fahrettin Koca, said that 37 people had been injured and nine are in critical condition. The earthquake also affected 43 villages in Turkey’s mountainous regions. Twenty-five ambulances, a helicopter and 13 emergency teams have been sent to aid the public. The Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) of Turkey has said 144 tents for families had been set up, reported The Associated Press.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


QUICKSPINS: D Smoke – Inglewood High

Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow winner shows immense potential on debut

In October, Netflix aired the first season of its new hip hop talent show, Rhythm + Flow, judged by T.I., Cardi B and Chance the Rapper. The trio stopped in various U.S. cities in search of the genre’s next big star. After 10 episodes, Inglewood, California native D Smoke emerged the victor. On Inglewood High, he proves exactly why he was chosen.

D Smoke has delivered an EP filled with mature, introspective songwriting over soulful, jazz-infused instrumentals. He uses the project’s short run time to paint a picture of what life is like in Inglewood, through various perspectives.
The album opens with the tone-setting titular track “Inglewood High”, a short, one-verse introduction that tells Smoke’s story – that of a young man who avoided gang life by pursuing a teaching position at his local high school.

Following the introduction are “On Paper” and “Lil Red,” tracks from the perspective of two of his troubled students. These tracks highlight both Smoke’s storytelling ability and his ability to effortlessly rap in both English and Spanish, even constructing verses that use both languages.

While D Smoke’s immense talent is apparent, his cadence and flow are sometimes too similar to some of his peers – namely Kendrick Lamar. For example, his second verse on “On Paper” could easily be mistaken for an unlisted feature from Lamar.
Overall, this is an extremely impressive first outing. Smoke’s poetic lyricism perfectly pairs with a great selection of smooth jazzy instrumentals. He shows a maturity that is uncommon for a debut project.

If this is just the start, we have a lot to look forward to from D Smoke.


Trial Track: Ain’t You

Star Bar:
“Seven Gang was the clique; it wasn’t no Blood or no Crip
Was more like fraternity ties mixed with bare knuckles and clips
My big homie saw something in me, said f**k hitting licks and pistols
Your test scores gon’ hit the lick with pencils, teaching credentials.”
(D Smoke on “Inglewood High”)

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Anderson .Paak – Oxnard

Dr. Dre protege and neo-soul-rap alchemist Anderson .Paak is at his most ambitious and vigorous on this vibrant portrait of southern California. His hyper-masculine energy bursts through Dr. Dre’s massive drums and synths to create a tape that trades the smooth, meditated crooning of his previous Malibu for wild, boisterous charisma. Weaving sometimes thin, political musings and Los Angeles colour commentary into his tight braggadocio, .Paak’s character is solidified. His formidable confidence makes his message convincing, even if it can be superficial at times. It is so easy to get lost in his world, and accompanied by a trophy case of features from Pusha T to Snoop Dogg, .Paak is on fire.


Trial Track: “6 Summers”

Star Bar: Trump’s got a love child and I hope that bitch is buckwild

I hope she sip Mezcal, I hope she kiss senoritas and black gals – Anderson .Paak on “6 Summers”


An exploration of BJM

A look at the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s humble beginnings

I was first introduced to The Brian Jonestown Massacre (BJM) through an interview with Californian psych-pop duo Foxygen in early 2013. The latter group had just come out with their second studio record—the clumsily yet aptly titled We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. I was floored by BJM’s style, which jumbled mod elegance with 60s Californian dirt à la Easy Rider. Their raucous sound was an unhinged take on the Brian Jones-era Rolling Stones.

Founded in San Francisco in 1990 by Anton Newcombe, the group’s rigid leader and only consistent member throughout their near 30 years of existence, BJM has never had a steady lineup. Instead, the band has seen a rotating cast of musicians come and go under Newcombe’s crude tutelage.

In 1991, they put out their first release, Pol Pot’s Pleasure Penthouse, a rough collection of poorly recorded, droney dream-pop in the form of a hand-dubbed, self-distributed cassette. Though far from their best work, it laid the groundwork for what would become one of the most consistently creative discographies of all time.

BJM’s first commercial record, 1995’s Methodrone, released on famed independant label Bomp!, is a classic in its own right. Though the record was widely overlooked by critics at the time, it remains a fan favourite, and was ranked 33rd by mega-blog Pitchfork in their 2016 list, “The 50 Best Shoegaze Albums of all Time.” Despite that, the group never made another record of the sort. Tracks such as “Wisdom,”—which would be re-recorded for 1998’s Strung out in Heaven, their only record on major indie label TVT—and “That Girl Suicide” remain mainstays in the BJM canon. The record’s closer, the seven-minute epic “She’s Gone,” stands as one of the group’s most powerful tracks, noted for its ability to find serene beauty in its excessive instrumental textures.

Throughout music’s long history, few bands have achieved the same level of cult success as BJM. While rarely seen topping, let alone appearing on “best of” lists, their music lives on today through groups that pull huge inspiration from them. Their cultish charm stems from their refusal to conform to pop conventions, which the band really put into effect in 1996. That year saw acts such as Weezer and Beck releasing weirdo slacker-pop gems that would go on to define the year musically. Newcombe, however, had different ideas.

For BJM, 1996 could go down as one of the group’s most prolific years. Not only did they release three full-length records within a six-month span, these records were deemed masterpieces, each showcasing a different facet of the group’s creative mind.

Take It from the Man!, released in May of that year, is considered the group’s fundamental record, showcasing them at their most deranged and prototypically “BJM-esque.” Featuring a sound so superfluously British, the one-two punch of openers “Vacuum Boots” and “Who?” possess a speed-fried psychedelia that’s both abrasive and inviting.

This theme of overblown Britannia would continue throughout the 69-minute tracklist, culminating in the 11-minute closer, “Straight Up & Down,” an overbearing ode to heroin riddled with breakdowns, solos and capped off with a vulgar ode to “Hey Jude.” Take It from the Man! also saw Newcombe hand over songwriting duties to bassist Matt Hollywood, whose naive rock-and-roll melodramaticism shined brightest in “Cabin Fever” and “In My Life.”

Toning it down a step, the BJM followed up that record with Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request. Heavily influenced by The Rolling Stones’ psychedelic cult classic, Their Satanic Majesties Request, this sequel of sorts sees the group experimenting with expansive Indian-inspired drones and acid-drenched grooves. Tracks “Cold to the Touch,” “Miss June 75” and “Anemone” show the group at their most hypnotising, delivering subdued, swirling psychedelia tied together brilliantly by percussionist Joel Gion’s infectiously tight tambourine work.

Their third record of 1996, Thank God for Mental Illness, best demonstrates the group’s tireless work ethic and boundless creativity. Reported to have been recorded in a day for $17.36, the tracklist is comprised of psychedelic, blues-inspired folk songs—equal parts inspired by Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Syd Barrett. Though less instrumentally complex than their previous efforts, the record’s dusty, lo-fi ambiance gives Newcombe a perfect platform to showcase his beautifully strange songwriting.

Give It Back! (1997) is undoubtedly their most straightforward, musically accessible release. It’s also their most ear wormy and most laden in 60s pastiche and irony. “Not If You Were the Last Dandy on Earth,” their quasi-parody of The Dandy Warhols and their neo-pop star image, shows the group at their most sardonic and confident. Or, alternatively, like a group about to crash.

Signing to large independant label TVT in 1998, BJM’s only record on the imprint would mark the beginning of the end of the group’s golden era. Noted for its cohesion and maturity, the workload on Strung Out in Heaven was benevolently spread out between Newcombe and Hollywood, due to Newcombe’s increasingly toxic heroin addiction. Despite flopping in the eyes of TVT, causing the label to drop them altogether, the album’s higher production value enabled BJM to craft some of their most nuanced songs to date. Hollywood penned songs “Love” and “Spun,” slow-building psychedelic jams, which utilized nostalgia in a way seldom heard in the band’s music.

Unfortunately, these tracks would be some of the final songs to feature Hollywood and the rest of the group’s core. The turn of the millennium saw the majority of the band dwindle out, either to pursue their own careers or simply out of frustration with Newcombe, marking a new era for Newcombe and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth


Mixtape: Coachella 2012 Preview

If you are looking for a list of what needs to be seen at this year’s edition of Coachella and you’re thinking The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Florence and the Machine, and Justice, well, you’re going to have to look it up online. The “modern-day Woodstock” boasts an incredible roster year after year and Coachella 2012 is no different. However, a lot of the bands you should be giving a portion of your day to get overshadowed by repetitive headliners that are thrown in your face from all angles. With the exception of the almighty Radiohead, if one is to migrate to beautiful California for the two weekends-long festival, don’t get caught up in trying to catch the bigger artists. I’m not saying you should avoid all headliners (Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg together—what?!), but you should pay attention to the bands in the smaller print. This is not your average mixtape. And if you are planning to catch David Guetta’s set, there’s no point in reading the rest of this and, quite frankly, I would not want you to either.

Listen to the mixtape here:

SIDE A: The mandatory necessities

1. “Lotus Flower (SBTRKT Remix)” – Radiohead – Single
2. “Nuthin’ But a “G” Thang” – Dr. Dre (feat. Snoop Dogg) – Nuthin’ But a “G” Thang
3. “New Noise” – Refused – The Shape of Punk to Come
4. “Sleepwalk Capsules” – At The Drive-In – Relationship of Command
5. “Family Tree” – Black Lips – Arabia Mountain
6. “Play Your Part (Pt. 1)” – Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
7. “Midnight City” – M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
8. “Nantes” – Beirut – The Flying Club Cup
9. “Common People” – Pulp – Different Class
10. “Perth” – Bon Iver – Bon Iver

SIDE B: Other necessities and the lesser known

11. “Rubber” – Yuck – Yuck
12. “My Ma” – GIRLS – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
13. “Saw You First” – GIVERS – In Light
14. “Human Error” – We Were Promised Jetpacks – In the Pit of the Stomach
15. “Endless Blue” – The Horrors – Skying
16. “Peso” – A$AP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP
17. “Do The Astral Plane” – Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
18. “Never Fade Away” – Spector – Single
19. “Last Known Surroundings” – Explosions In The Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
20. “Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls” – Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Yanqui X.U.O. Part 2 of 2

Exit mobile version