Formed in 2005 by cousins Tom Van Buskirk and George Langford, Brooklyn, New York-based indie electronic duo Javelin crafts funky, abstract, R&B-flavored pop with an emphasis on painstakingly re-created samples and loops. The band's 2009 self-released collection of demos (Jamz n Jemz) and pair of Thrill Jockey 12"s (Javelin, Number Two) were followed by its debut album, No Más, on the Luaka Bop label in 2010. The Western-influenced Canyon Candy EP followed one year later. To record its second album, the duo moved away from homemade sounds in favor of recording in a real studio and decided to write more traditionally verse-chorus songs that could be re-created on-stage with a band. The resulting album, Hi Beams, was released in early 2013. ~ James Christopher Monger, Rovi
THIS IS DETROIT TRAP POP. Ryan Spencer pens songs with provocative lyrical imagery. These are accounts of intense violence, hopelessness, and drug use— juxtaposed with honest tales of love, a lack thereof, and the pursuit of a reason to live.
Jamaican Queens have a unique way of making the uncomfortable tolerable, and the sexually explicit accessible. Whether you are looking for infectious earworms with which to sing along, or MDMA-induced club bangers to provide the soundtrack for an evening of popper huffing— Jamaican Queens have got your back. This is post-everything pop for people terrified of reality.
Heavily influenced by the southern rap beats of Three 6 Mafia, Gucci Mane, and Young Jeezy, as well as the experimentation of Brian Eno and Lee Scratch Perry— the outcome is an urgent canvas overlaid with pop hooks that would make David Bowie blush.
This is new. This is different. From a city left behind by the failures of a once great country, this is Jamaican Queens. Welcome.
Tiny Victories is Greg Walters and Cason Kelly. Their debut EP dropped Feb. 28.
So here’s where the band name comes from (or so they tell me): Greg and Cason were walking down the street in Brooklyn when they saw this guy scraping graffiti off his front porch. Somebody wrote “F— You” on his house. He had this gleam in his eye, like he was getting even with the universe in a small way. “All right, everybody, today is mine.” And Greg’s brother Doug, who was with them, turned around and said: “So what are the opposite of tiny defeats?”
For me, that’s what this music is about: small moments of redemption, amplified. It’s got the spirit of a marching band at a funeral. It’s a party at the end of the world, and you can’t help but join in.
It’s a big sound for just two guys. In their live show, they play electronic music with an array of samplers and gadgets and live drums—no laptop. They’ll sample crowd noises with a microphone during the set, process it live, and weave it into the songs. Their show has an uncommonly organic, improvisational feel for electronic music. I’ve seen crowds completely change when Tiny Victories takes the stage.
If you ask Greg and Cason about it, they’ll tell you every song is an experiment. Each uses a method they’ve never tried before. It’s a process that’s impossibly complicated—they’ve tried to explain it to me, and I just nod my head and stand back.
Once (after a long night of drinking) Greg put it this way: “We make simple songs out of complex pieces.” Take a melody that works on an acoustic guitar. Then orchestrate it with samples that have been reprocessed beyond recognition—like the sound of trash being thrown into a Manhattan dumpster. They sampled that one afternoon, then ran it through a gazillion effects and turned it into a backbeat you can hear in the ending of Get Lost.
I first found out about these guys last year, back when I had a job booking bands in Brooklyn. I’d scroll through hundreds of bands looking for something new, something that stood out. And then I came across these two. It was suspiciously great music.
They formed the band in 2010 after meeting in Brooklyn. Cason moved there from Athens, GA, and spent his early 20s doing social work with inner city kids. Greg, born in DC, moved to New York after six years as a foreign correspondent, covering a war (Russia-Georgia) and two revolutions (Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan). If you ask them to tell you a story, get ready for a crazy one.
Those Of Us Still Alive is their debut album. But these songs don’t sound like a band’s first effort. They have the confidence and consistency of a mature project. It’s an album about how the outside world might not be as bad as it looks, or maybe it is. And it’s about ghosts that won’t shut up.
–Timber Wolf Brooklyn, New York January 2012