Friday, June 27, 2008

Reviews:: Dirty Beaches Seaside EP


These days, it's hipper than hip to use copious amounts samples for party records that are essentially better in theory than reality. I mean, I'm all for old skool hip hop and creativity, but I'd rather listen to old Eric B. & Rakim than someone trying to take a snippet of Microphone Fiend and playing it over a classic rock jam by like Boston or some other shit. I really don't need to hear any more remixes of Jay-Z either, even if it sounds killer over Radiohead.

Sure, I know Girl Talk's mash ups sounds great - on the new record he drops Ahmad into the mix, which pleases High School rap loving me - and the samples he finds are clever as hell, but I really don't see how you can want to listen to this if you aren't coked out of your gourd and dancing shirtless in some ill club.

Note: If you like tight jeans, bad hair, body odor and your parents paying your rent, the preceding statement doesn't apply to you.

So where am I going with this? Well, actually I'm not really sure but I wanted to talk about Hawaii / Toronto native and current Montreal resident, Alex Zhang Hungtai - aka Dirty Beaches. He too combines sounds and samples in clever ways, but the snippets he uses are actually the sounds of real life; conversations, instruments, street noise, waves crashing into the sand and he records them all on a shitty tape recorder.

I guess to put it into perspective, most typical mash ups rely on a familiar beat and a degree of irony and tend to fuel frat parties and Civics full of dudes. The sounds of Dirty Beaches are more intimate and let you lose yourself in thought as you stand shoulder to shoulder on the Streetcar after work. They are the warm fuzz that adds weight to your eyelids when the sun dips out of sight at the end of a day on the beach or the comfort of hiking up the collar of your winter coat on a peaceful walk home on the first cold, crisp night.

Alex doesn't seem to be concerned with appealing to the masses, as most of his music is inspired by traveling and solitude. His pleasure comes from observing the crowd undetected, relishing the smallest details that most take for granted. While most of the songs meld into the noise of the city, he does find some incredibly pleasant lo-fi pop moments - like the smile inducing A Hundred Languages or the incredible Blue Birds. Remarkably, he's able to make his most personal experiences transferable and accessible.

Posted at 1:05 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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