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Bill Callahan

I’ve been captivated by Bill Callahan ever since I discovered him at my favorite record store. Callahan has been recording music for sometime now, since 1992 as Smog, a moniker he shed with his first self-titled album in 2007. His new album, Apocalypse, is his fifteenth. His voice is dark and smooth like a tub of margarine with bits of toast residue in it. It reminds me a bit of Chris Goss from Masters of Reality. Some musical parts in his newest album remind me of a few Mike Watt songs. With only seven songs, the album appears to be short, but there are 40 minutes of tremendous song structures mixed with one of more original voices I have heard in a long time. This track, "Baby's Breath", starts out slowly, builds to a nice pace, then settles down into its original tempo. It repeats this pattern throughout. The emotional crux of the song hits as he exclaims, "Oh I'm a helpless man, so help me", while his guitar cries out in pain. As of right now Apocalypse is the best album I have heard this year. I highly recommended it. - By Todd S

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Velocity Girl

I have this tendency to get addicted to songs to the point that the people around me begin throwing heavy objects at my throat and knee-caps. The detox process consists of playing the song over and over while I write a little narrative of my relationship with that song. Lately, I haven’t detoxed; it’s hard to get back into that habit once you’ve abandoned it. After today I promise not to discuss my lingering absence. My latest awakening is due to one of my all time favorite roadtrip songs, “Go Coastal” by a forgotten favorite: Velocity Girl. I rolled the song over, along with a gaggle more, in a recent refresh of my exercise playlist (I only listen to that about once a week by the way...) and now I can’t live without it. It took me about 10 listens to re-memorize the lyrics, I’m slow like that, and now I’ll enjoy singing along to it for another 50 or so. I talked a lot about Velocity Girl in my Sarah Shannon review, and now I’ll reciprocate. After Velocity Girl broke up in ‘96 (the same year I brought a child into the world—man, those 14 years flew by), Sarah reappeared with a couple of the velocity boys in Starry Eyes, put out two solo records in ‘02 and ‘06, sang on a Free Design cover with Styrofoam, brought a couple of children into the world herself, and is now writing and performing songs inspired, I imagine, by those children. I’m gonna call my friends at Yo Gabba Gabba and see what I can do about getting Sarah’s voice stuck in the head of cool kids and parents worldwide!

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3hive Rewinds and Fast Forwards

Let's face it, 2010 was less than stellar at this url. The principals and our reviewers all dropped out of ear-shot simultaneously and for months 3hive has been out of commission. No particular reason really. Life unplugged us, and once unplugged it's hard to get back into gear, back into the groove. Twenty-eleven's gonna be different. I can only speak for myself, but I'm back on the wagon. I'm good for a couple posts a week, maybe even three. I'll likely drop in the readings I'm obsessed with on occassion, like this, this , and this. 3hive's Most Popular Posts from 2010: 11. Jaga Jazzist 10. Inlets 09. Let's Say We Did 08. Happy Birthday 07. The Royal Chains 06. Bonobo 05. Junk Science 04. Cap'n Jazz [re-issue] 03. Galactic 02. Phantogram 01. Tycho

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Mayer Hawthorne

A smooth Christmas rebirth.

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Junk Science

My problem with a lot of so-called "avant-hop" music, even some of that released on our beloved Anticon label, is that it's just not funky enough. To quote that great skit from De La Soul Is Dead: "Maybe if you flipped it on 45, so I could dance to it..." The Brooklyn duo known as Junk Science has been typecast as avant-hop thanks to intricate (and sometimes arrhythmic) production and autobiographical (and sometimes heavy) lyrics. What they should be known for is their ability to move a crowd, in both senses of the word. DJ Snafu is a sample connoisseur — dusting off everything from AM Gold to deep jazz to informercials — and puts a little "whazzat?" into every drum pattern he lays down. Baje One has an easy flow with lyrics that are at once approachable and hard to touch. And they know it, too. In fact, MC Baje One regularly puzzles over his strictly underground status, as he does in the soulful shimmy "Do It Easy": "Tryin' to sell a couple records/At the club they come to check us/But dog, what kinda money do y'think I'm stackin' y'all/Coachin' JV high school basketball?" But he isn't about change his style to goose his iTunes royalties: "Vitamins and nutrients, static in the bass/Plus I get extra points 'cause I ain't rappin' in your face." Baje One is taking matters into his own hands now, shedding their decidedly underground label, Embedded, for an imprint of his own making called Modern Shark. There's a whole page of freeMP3bies to be had over at modernshark.com/free. From the sounds of it, his financial future looks bright. That said, based on the clever punchlines of their latest single, "Millins", even if Junk Science were to start making dollars we probably wouldn't see a spike in Hennessey sales. But you better believe that JV team would get the finest throwback Nikes money can buy...

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Cap'n Jazz

Cap'n Jazz were such a short-lived band that their entire musical catalog fits on a double album. But what a double album it is - a sloppy, cryptic, energetic, engaging masterpiece - and it's being reissued by their erstwhile label, Jade Tree, as a double vinyl LP on June 15, 2010. To celebrate, the boys are getting the band back together for a set of reunion shows in select cities, including two sold-out shows in their hometown of Chicago. Cap'n Jazz's influence extends well beyond those 34 songs. Their musical family tree includes other Monsters of Emo - Make Believe, The Promise Ring, American Football, Owls, Ghosts and Vodka, Joan of Arc and Owen. This is the kinda musical act you make a road trip to see. And, unless they add a Detroit show, I will have one in my future. Or maybe I'll cash in some SkyMiles so Sean and I can geeeeek out at the LA show, the way we did when we saw The Promise Ring in Austin back in the day.

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Galactic

Now this is my cup of tea, or more appropriate, my cup of soup. An album named after food. Ya-ka-may is a type of New Orlean's street food: a noodle soup typically made with shrimp, chicken, roast beef, and almost always a hard boiled egg. Galactic reproduces the multi-ethnic spirit of ya-ka-may on record. The band pulled in a not so disparate mix of artists and sounds from the New Orlean's music scene into one steaming hot platter of bouncing funk. Everyone from such legends as Allen Touissant (The Meters) and the Rebirth Brass Band and up-and-comers Trombone Shorty and John Boutté plunk down their unique sound into Galactic's oh so tasty stew. The band generously offers up three tracks from the album—so listen in and if you dig it, expand your palate and buy it.

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Happy Birthday

Today is my youngest son's 6th birthday. Happy Birthday Jasper! What more can a six year old ever want on his birthday than a review on 3hive dedicated to him? Maybe he'll appreciate it more in ten years. When he wakes up he's gonna be appreciating the chocolate chip muffin I bought him from our local donut shop. Back to Happy Birthday the band: the fine purveyors of music, Sub Pop, fell in love with Kyle Thomas' work as King Tuff. He brought on Chris Weisman and Ruth Garbus about a year and a half ago to back him up on a bunch of new song's he'd written. Sub Pop picked them up after they'd played five shows. And this wonderful album is the happy ending to chapter one of Happy Birthday's hopefully epic journey. The skewed musical note sketched out on the cover together with their label's name describe the band's music to a tee. If I had to make up a genre name for Happy Birthday, I'd call it hand-clap doodle rock. They don't actually use hand-claps on the album, but most of their songs are so fun that you wanna hand-clap your way through them. RIYL: Let's Active, Daniel Pinkwater.

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Earth Program

So one of the band members of Earth Program, I won't identify her specifically, has been pestering me for this post for some time. I think she didn't really realize that I had quietly retired from 3hive as a way to maintain sanity. Seriously, how can anyone actually listen to even a fraction of the music that's out there and keeps on coming every day? It was her quasi-anonymous e-mail that did it; "Dear Editor, " it began. Come on... As a disclosure, I knew this band member before there was an Earth Program, back when she was the complicated girl in the back of my high school Creative Writing class. She was as awesome then as her band is now, and I'm glad I unretired just to share some tunes I think a lot of you are going to like. I mean, just listen to "Eat Your MakeUp," ok? Earth Program is pop enough to be bearable and strange enough to keep things interesting. Sounds like a fine time to be 20ish in Chicago. Oh, and hi Jen.

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Inlets

Inlets' first full-length album has been over three years in the making, and now fans can finally hear why it took so long. Sebastian Krueger is back with a lush slice of pastoral pop called "Bright Orange Air", a teaser from the forthcoming Inter Arbiter LP. Equally gorgeous is the accompanying video, directed by Benjamin and Stefan Ramirez Perez. For those who geek out on this sort of thing: it was filmed, rotoscoped, separated into layers, and then run through AfterEffects to create seven different color textures from which they created a rich range of color. Yummy. Lisa's original post from 01/31/07: Sebastian Krueger is the man behind what he calls "the bedroom fidelity project" Inlets. This perhaps makes him both faithful and musical? Ladies? He is also a generous man, and we here at the 'hive appreciate good music even more when the artists who make said music decide to make their EP's available for NO dollars to music lovers of the world. Krueger gets "sharing the sharing." He just gets it. Back when I was a 3hive fan and not a participant, I used to be totally charmed by all this "this is totally a Clay band", "oh such and such is Shan music for sure" business. Since I'm still pretty new, I'll just say that Inlets is Lisa music--moody, instrumental, a touch earnest, but musical in a way that avoids sappy sweet sentimentality. And who doesn't like a man who cut his teeth with My Brightest Diamond? So snatch up the Vestibules EP at luvsound while the gettin' is still good.

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Jaga Jazzist

The name suggests a one-person show, a jazzist of the Jaga persuasion, whatever that might be, but in fact, this is a nine piece band from Norway formed 15 years ago by a then 14-year old, Lars Horntveth. The name also implies perhaps a certain musical sound, but unlike say, The Jazz Butcher, Jaga Jazzist is quite jazzy. Jazzy's the wrong word though because that makes it sound as if the band uses jazz flourishes and this couldn't be farther from the truth. Jaga Jazzist is jazz. Jazz purists might disagree, but shame on them. Jaga Jazzist explores the boundaries of what jazz is and what jazz can be. More than that, Jaga Jazzist explores the boundaries of what music can be.

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Let's Say We Did

Sebastian Fors, Sweden's answer to Jeff Tweedy, used to roll with a revolving cast of characters called The Ones That Got Away. He now leads a group called Let's Say We Did. Fors' groggy vocals and lovelorn lyrics cast a nice shadow against the band's bright Americana pop. Frayed edges in the production make it feel old and familiar, like flannel on a cold day. Cozy up. Buy the EP here.

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Bonobo

It's been almost four years since Bonobo (aka Simon Green) dropped a full-length on our ears, so pardon me if I get all giddy on you with this post. Bonobo gets heavy rotation in my mixes and iPod for their timeless, jazzy goodness. Like the right jacket, his music can class up any occasion. But that doesn't mean I haven't been craving some new material. Two tracks from the forthcoming Black Sands album have been released so far, both featuring sultry guest vocalist Andreya Triana (whose pipes graced Flying Lotus's Reset EP) and both have me salivating for more. If these two flavors any indication, we'll see some interesting range from our man come the end of March. Below you'll find the video for "The Keeper" and both an album edit and a bumpin' Warrior One remix of "Eyesdown" for your downloading pleasure. Speaking of remixes, Bonobo is flipping the remix contest script and offering his remix talents to the song that gets the most votes. Get in on Bonobo's own version of March Madness at bonobomusic.co.uk/remixcompetition (may the best bot, er...artist, win).

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The Royal Chains

Sorry for the hiatus. Life got a bit hectic the last couple weeks, and since I'm pretty much navigating this ship solo (alas!) it doesn't take much for it to veer off course. Queue The Royal Chains. I pulled this out of the latest stack of mail at random and the lack of effort and forethought paid off. They're just a couple boys from Nashville via Brooklyn, Dan on guitar and Adam on drums and vocals, who describe their musical MO in the third person this way, "They write pop songs that are probably more rock. They write rock songs that are probably more pop." I struggled to chose a song to post. The whole five song EP is pop rock solid. I decided on "Lucy Takes the Dare" (which leans toward the pop end of their spectrum), because I think it's the hit. Which is funny because it's not structured like a hit at all. The song builds slowly, taunts you with a couple pre-choruses, a meandering bridge, then finally, two minutes in, the title is sung three times, and the song keeps building right into the outro and it's over and you have to hit repeat. There's some nice texture looping in the background which reminds me of Howard Hello and if you mix in a touch of Superchunk, minus a bit of tempo, you get pretty close to how great The Royal Chains is/are (depending on your plural band moniker usage preference).

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Quantic

On my radio show, Quantic (aka Will Holland) is my go-to guy, so when I realized we had not given him the proper props on these pages I did some music mining. Lo and behold, Holland himself provides a minor motherlode on his Quantic site. I use him as a staple on the show precisely because his catalog is extensive and diverse. Holland cut his teeth on an album of downtempo hip-hop and soul, recorded in his bedroom before he'd turned 21. He's never looked back. Eight years and twelve full-lengths later, Quantic has proved himself a jack and master of all genres, at least the one's he's conquered thus far. Funk, soul, jazz, house, hip-hop, dub, electronic, and on his last few albums, reggae, salsa, tropical, and cumbia. His Combo Barbaro is made up of musicians from all over the globe, including Panamanian Singer Kabir on "Linda Morena." I've not only learned to never underestimate Quantic, I've also learned to count on him for quality and an ever expanding sonic palette.

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