Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl, and Lindsey Buckingham’s 2014 Grammy Rehearsal Footage Leaks

Nine Inch Nails Queen of the Stoneage Lindsey Buckingham Dave Grohl Grammy 2014Of the arbitrary tweets from the 2020k account on the night of the 2014 Grammy Awards, an act of aggravation in regards to CBS cutting the outstanding Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, and Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters performance off in favor of advertisements was one of them. No regrets. Fist bump to the Rock it Out Blog. Click.

Later, Trent Reznor joined in, several full cut versions of the presentation were uploaded only to be removed for copyright reasons, and now we have full rehearsal footage on YouTube courtesy of a Nine Inch Nails archive website Reflecting In The Chrome.

Most likely, this footage will be taken down at some point, so grab a stream and a download before it’s too late. Hysterical moments include fake crowd noise and an announcement of Red by Taylor Swift for album of the year winner (the real winner that night was Random Access Memories by Daft Punk), but the performance is a seamless, superior rendering of the aired telecast.

The talented gang perform extraordinary versions of Nine Inch Nails’ “Copy of A” and Queens of the Stone Age’s “My God is the Sun”.

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We’ve Finally Calmed Down Enough to Talk About the New Iamamiwhoami – “Fountain”

iamamiwhoami;_fountainTrust me, for the last four days there’s been nothing in this room but fountains of audiowaves bouncing off the walls.

Ambition gets expensive, no matter how satisfying it is for artists to create and recipients to enjoy. Because of this, iamamiwhoami have ripped page from the How to be Amanda Palmer Diaries with a titled Generate concept [here] being broadcasted on their official website. Essentially a donate page, all funds are sworn to go towards future creative projects, with the possibility of communication between donators being reciprocated back. (Sidenote: Donations are nothing new. Art is an extremely rewarding hardship. It’s right under your nose).

Thankfully, the duo has found strength in their artistry and so January 21st brought new light into the iamamiwhoami world with an enigmatic introduction called “Fountain,” which is assumed to be the catalyst in regards to a follow up from 2012′s kin and 2013′s physical bounty release.

The song itself is a freeing, self-proclamation of persevering against the odds, a sort of uplifting conviction of self-love and human experience. “Fountain” speaks straight into the mindset of Iamamiwhoami right now, as the Generate and continuation of the group is obviously an expensive investment, but a project so gratifying and worthwhile that the brawl to keep it alive seems worth it. “When all has gone to blazes, I start to run,” Jonna laments, “until I find places where nobodies gone.” Of course, “Fountain” has a surface level of overall triumph, but layers are what we’ve come to love about this Swedish duo, and layers are what we’re continuing to see not only lyrically, but visually and sonically as well.

The video pays homage to the black and white contrast, while further expanding the idea by displaying several transparencies throughout the feature. The first and most apparent example of this concept showing itself mere seconds into it; a fish in its square bowl. Working more subtly in showing progression, Jonna Lee’s plastic outfit carries on and is free from the “b” music video and creatively uses the song’s water based premise as an overall transparent image to bring together this era’s aesthetic experience, thus far. The black box has been burned, shootupthestation [recap] has been burned, this is a new foundation. Epic, relying on breathtaking wide angle scenic shots in accompaniment to the quirky dances Lee has adoringly incorporated into her performances, the apparent WAVE [info] directed visualization stems unique viewpoints and signature maintains of the folklore we’ve experienced through the iamamiwhoami project since the beginning.

What describes the sonics as a whole is nothing short of majestic, otherworldly, resplendent, and marvelous. Claes Bjorklund’s craft of synth love and long reverb techniques shine the spark so brightly on the mark that through arpeggiated melodies, swirling pads, and stereo oriented hi-hat manipulations, the overall musical painting flourishes auditory envisions of fountains, waterfalls, and soaked emotion more elegantly than one could ever sculpt.

“Though my body’s aching, we have to push on” and to that we say welcome back, Iamamiwhoami. Nice to see you surging forward.

“Fountain” is available straight from the website in lossless and MP3 formats, as well as iTunes. Doesn’t look to be streaming anywhere beyond YouTube.

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crystal SURGE Debuts “VHS AFTERLIFE” and Divulges Cyptic Underlying

crystal_SURGE_VHS_AFTERLIFEAmbiguous identities, obstructive statements, and cohesive conceptualizations are nothing new to the independent market, especially in the alternative electronic world. In an apparent attempt to focus deeper thinking, the Ukraine based (at least, that’s the location stated in any details we could conjure up) crystal SURGE have released a puzzling debut entitled VHS AFTERLIFE that recalls nostalgic urgency inside of both minimal and busy tracks.

When asked to explain the themes within VHS AFTERLIFE, crystal SURGE spoke exclusively to 2020k, disclosing with us openly, “the opening track sets up what is going on in this record.  [It's] the idea of sending messages back in time by using entertainment from different eras.” Later, the artist more ambiguously added, “the more ambient tracks are influenced by the suggestion of an afterlife existing in an analog medium.”

What seemingly works well in the ambient genre lately is the process of time stretching popular music samples beyond recognition. crystal SURGE follows suit in “Heaven is ok (you don’t know),” taking away accessible focus from one of 2012′s biggest hits [spoiler, if you dare] – transforming the sample into uncertain, surreal bliss. An opening ambient pad ambivalently drones, providing the slick paste to mesh interpolated and original aspects together in a solidity. “if you really want it” progresses this motif head on through headstrong, classic Janet Jackson snippets spaced out through a complicated downtempo based foundation.

Alternatively, “Japanese Legs” relies more on a dubious environment, almost sketchy and dirty when coupled with the song’s blank title.

Following afterward is the accessible “VHS is Killing Me,” with a manipulated emcee confronting the puzzle piece that is the album’s title. “I tried save you, you’d rather fade through. I came through, too late to take you.” The demise of VHS’s have never felt so human.

But what about inspiration? What was the mindset behind this lone creator? We asked that too and received a response seeping in clandestine possibilities. SURGE  “I think the most reoccurring image in my head while creating the album was Chicago Bulls era Michael Jordan.”

Anything else? “Dennis Rodman in drag as well.” Fair enough.

There’s more than meets the eye with this release, in fact there’s an apparent secret code hidden within it. crystal SURGE asks that you decipher it, then hit the Bandcamp contact button with your answer. The first person to successfully crack the code will be contacted back for further instruction.

Thumbs up if you’re listening to this in 1999 now.

VHS AFTERLIFE was released on January 23rd, 2014 and is available as a limited casette and name your own price digital download via Bandcamp.

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Northern Lights: Open ‘Til Midnight’s Top Ten Tracks of 2013

I_Love_Music_by_kjghluvrThis is a monthly infrasound guest post by Amber Waves over at Open ‘Til Midnight. Inside of these issues are five tracks – mostly independent acts from Canada – that have found their way onto Waves’ radar. Be sure to check out this month’s posting by 2020k on OTM’s blog monthly as well with the same premise, called Hidden Gems.

You know what’s fun about the end of a year?  Watching the Best Of Lists.

It’s not because I agree with them; usually, I think most of them copy each other, chomping at the proverbial bit to appear genius-like and being mediocre and safe as a result.  What I do enjoy about the best lists is being exposed to albums that I maybe missed along the way, finding new favourites as I do so.

Case in point:  Lorde.  No, really.  I don’t listen to radio, aside from local station Indie88, and sometimes, when an artist is suddenly hyped to death, I recoil out of a stubborn refusal to listen just because everyone is.  Poor gal was on my list of “I’ll get to you, I swear!” until December.  Past late to the party moment:  Florence + The Machine.

In any case, in discussing with Mr. 2020k what to post for the January installment of our music sharing, I suggested we exchange our Top 10 lists, given that they were so very different.  Our preferences and regional exposures created very different sonic landscapes at the ready in 2013.  Come enjoy them, as we have.

Open ‘Til Midnight’s Top 10 of 2013

(For our complete Top 30, click here; for extra musiclove, click here to check out our Top 13 Albums of 2013.)

10. “Weapon For Saturday” – LOLO

From our previous review
Lauren Pritchard (now going by LOLO) first caught my attention with her soulful blues vocals on the cast recording of Tony Award-winning musical, Spring Awakening. For all of the hype and praise Lea Michele has received from that launchpad, Lauren was the one who truly stood out for me. Her debut album, Wasted In Jackson, became a favourite of mine; in particular, darker tracks like “Painkillers” and “When The Night Kills The Day” became songs I’d give to friends. “You gotta hear this,” I’d tell them.

Yeah, I was totally Garden State Natalie Portman. Not sorry.

After a hiatus, LOLO has emerged from the silence with a fresh track to feast upon, and it’s one hell of a tune. A blend of bluesy rock and industrial elements, it’s everything I believe Madonna was trying to accomplish with the sonic atrocity “Gang Bang”. Sinister yet seductive, foreboding yet fascinating, Pritchard delivers clever wordplay and a sense of confidence not seen since Fiona Apple’s classic album When The Pawn…

9. “Burn” – Magneta Lane

From our previous review
Kicking off the quartet of tracks [on their latest EP, Witchrock] is melodic rocker “Burn”, a pedal-to-the-floor tune with a driving melody that begs for attention and lingers on the lips in a merry hum. Dark and foreboding, it evokes the Celebrity Skin era of Hole: hook-heavy, almost danceable, yet confessional and in your face in unrelenting fashion. Bonus points: one of the best videos of the year.

8. “The Strangest” – Future History

Honourable mentions: “My Lungs Don’t Feel Right”; “Take Two”

Markham, Ontario’s Future History delivered their follow-up to their acclaimed album Loss:/self this Fall. Entitled Lungs, the album serves as a continuation and answer to its predecessor. While taking any one piece from the whole diminishes the larger picture, “The Strangest” serves as a stunning example of the instrumental layering and ambiance that makes the band stand out from the indie folk rock crowds, while capturing the essence of the album’s internal conflict.

7. “Bad Dream” – Wildlife

Toronto band Wildlife’s sophomore album, …On The Heart is a self-described love letter to the organ itself, both in its physical and metaphorical forms. Everything about the album, from its pulsing, throbbing percussion to the way it achingly captures love and loss, hits the mark. “Bad Dream” has literally taken over my brain. I’ve written to it, sang it loud and proud and immersed in a loop of it at times. Intelligent lyrics with a word even I had to look up in the dictionary? Colour me impressed. Perfect for speeding down the highway (OTM does not endorse the breaking of traffic laws /disclaimer).

6. “We’re Long Gone” – Matthew Good

Honourable mentions: “Letters In Wartime”; “Had It Coming”

Track begins at 2:40 (although really, the two songs go together as a one-two punch, so play the whole thing).

From our previous album review: Where previous outing Lights Of Endangered Species was an experimental, exploring analysis of humanity and its role in its destruction or survival, Arrows Of Desire is a throwback to the garage rock honesty of decades lost, a study of history and a spirited call to arms against our repetition of it. “We’re Long Gone” evokes early Springsteen with its ‘lost hometown’ vignette and an infectious melody that deserves to jam out live for several more minutes.

5. “Caves” – Data Romance

From our previous album review: Vancouver-based duo Data Romance have set out on their debut LP Other on an exploration of the human experiences of belonging and disengaging, whether intentional or not. From the soaring heartbreak of opener “Caves”, the equally enchanting and haunting vocals of Amy Kirkpatrick spill over the listener, echoing the battered beats of metaphorical muscle beneath the ribcage.

4. “Knives” – The Box Tiger

Honourable mention: “Set Fire To Your Friends”

From our previous review: The use of pop song structure to intentionally clash with darker elements continues with “Knives”, the second single released as a lead-in for the album’s release. Eighties babies like myself may giggle in secret to a refrain of “Cuts like a knife” but the track is again one of the sinister deceptively cloaked in gossamer and ought to be a Top Thirty hit by now.

3. “Came Back Haunted” – Nine Inch Nails

Honourable mentions: “Copy Of A”; “While I’m Still Here/Black Noise”

From our previous review: On Hesitation Marks, the echoes of [The Downward Spiral] are most prominent in lead single “Came Back Haunted”, a pulsing, predatory composition with undercurrents of PTSD and a battle not yet over. “They tried to tell me but I/I couldn’t stop myself and I came back/I came back haunted,” Reznor belts (an intentional rarity on the album, surprisingly). For the listener, it epitomizes the thematic elements on this journey: depression; isolation; the cyclical nature of one’s emotional well-being; but also, the compulsive need to reflect, to delineate our history to better appreciate and ultimately survive and thrive in the present. One also finds sonic throwbacks and variations on the core elements of The Downward Spiral: the swelling, electronic noise evokes hit track “Closer” in an almost negative image.

2. “Afraid” – Amanda Merdzan

Australian folk artist Amanda Merdzan is one of those musical finds that make wading through the email backlog a joy. When her stunning video for “Afraid” arrived in the inbox, I was immediately captivated by its message. Favouring a raw and confessional approach to her work, “Afraid” is a testament to the fear within the struggle to grow and change, to face the obstacles in our path. More than a well-crafted tune, it’s become a mantra for me, a favourite song of all time. For more, read our interview with Amanda or our review of her CMW performance.

This brings us to our top track of 2013, a song we’ve previously raved about in our monthly column at 2020k…

1. “Let Me Go” – HAIM

Honourable mention: “The Wire”

From our monthly column at 2020k: Perhaps one of the most hyped debuts of the year, Los Angeles band HAIM slammed onto the scene with singles “Forever” and “The Wire” and have continued garnering attention with their album Days Are Gone. Cleverly pop in the vein of Fleetwood Mac meets early 90′s girl band and shaken with just a touch of Joan Jett anger, HAIM is pretty infectious for pop rock.

But where the ladies truly shine is on the first track of theirs I ever heard, “Let Me Go”. Blues rock angst that builds and swells, the collective talents of the band are truly unleashed. I can’t say whether the decision to lean the album to more of a retro dance feel was a marketing choice or truly where their hearts were at, but I do know that I’d love their next release to jam out as hard as this live recording from The Roundhouse.

And there you have it:  the ten brightest lights in my northern corner of the world!  See you in February, with a collection of 5 fresh tracks to keep you cozy in the winter.

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Infrasound: Pittsburgh Native Band Lovebettie are Finalists to Perform at 2014 Grammy Award Celebration

Lovebettie 2020kThis year, the Grammy’s are switching it up and allowing viewers to pick and choose who they’d like to see win a spot at performing during their celebrations. Currently, there are 40 finalists and four days to vote. The winners get a spot at the Los Angeles Club Nokia for the GRAMMY Gig of a Lifetime Concert and also open for The Neighbourhood.

Amongst the few are the critically acclaimed and local Pittsburgh swagger rock band Lovebettie.  A mixture of authentic rock, accessibly smart melodies, and a hell of a bunch of talented folks make up this band and while the area has watched them rise and continue their artistic growth for years, it’s absolutely wonderful to see them attain this level of height.

Just for name dropping purposes, Jim Wirt (Incubus, Fiona Apple, Hoobastank, Trapt) has produced the band since their 2001 debut.

Lovebettie have a tiny piece of my heart as they run into my lives constantly without any member of the band knowing.

+At my first internship in Turtle Creek, PA, a member of the band came into the studio for something I can’t remember. While on a date in Latrobe, PA, a member of the band was employed at the restaurant we went to. “Do you know who that is?” exclaimed the boy before he informed me.

+At my first job after graduating from CRAS in Arizona, free CDs were dropped off for us to give away and while working at another customer service job (the one that refuses to sell Frank Ocean or Beyonce records….I digress) when the lead singer of the band would come in and a less seasoned co-worker would comment slyly to myself or someone else about her insanely awesome hair in a less than courteous fashion, someone was always quick to say “shut up, do you even know who that is?” Ah, the suburbs.

But enough with my boring back story and love for them…stop reading this blog (temporarily, of course) and vote here. While you’re at it, check out some tunes at and like them on Facebook.

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2020k’s Top 50 Songs of 2013

In 2011 we had twenty top songs. 2012? Forty. The year, we’re taking an even more expansive look at the spectrum of music in the 2020k year end wrap up of 2013′s best tracks. Because of the long list, the top ten songs each have separate streaming/video embeds, while all fifty have a listening link as well as an accompanied Spotify list of applicable songs in the list.

If I wrote something about a specific artist or song this year, the number associated with the song will be clickable.

Partial playlist:

55. Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop [YouTube]
54. Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines [YouTube]
53. Gauntlet Hair – G.I.D.
52. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop (Feat. Wanz) [YouTube]
51. Jhene Aiko – The Vapors (Feat. Vince Staples)

depeche-mode50. Depeche Mode – My Little Universe
49. Imagine Dragons – Radioactive [YouTube]
48. AWOLNATION – Sail [YouTube]
47. Late Night Alumni – Ring a Bell [YouTube]
46. Tycho – Awake [Soundcloud]
45. Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal [Soundcloud]
44. Little Boots – Motorway [Soundcloud]
43. Lily Allen – Somewhere Only We Know
42. July Child – Liquid Form
41. Daughter – Winter
40. Tyler the Creator – IFHY
39. Sarah Bareilles – Brave [YouTube]
38. Betaphax – Mood [Bandcamp]
37. Newtimers – Heavy Weather [Soundcloud]
36. Benign & Roy Hessels – My Refuge [Soundcloud]

35. Telepopmusik – Try Me Anyway (Feat. Betty Black) [Soundcloud]
34. Scyye – No End On [Soundcloud]

33. xSDTRK – Powder [Soundcloud]
32. Zedd – Clarity (feat. Foxes) [YouTube]
31. Lana Del Rey – Chelsea Hotel No 2 [YouTube]
30. Wet Eyes – Side Ache [Bandcamp]
29. Tricky – Is That Your Life
28. Justin Timberlake – Blue Ocean Floor
27. Britney Spears – Perfume [YouTube]
26. Icona Pop – I Love It (Feat.Charli XCX) [Soundcloud]

Capital Cities25. Capital Cities – Safe and Sound [YouTube]
24. Amel Larrieux – Afraid [Soundcloud]
23. Nyetscape – Tumbling Down [Bandcamp]
22. HAIM – Falling [Soundcloud]
21. Kinesthetiac – Life Enhancement Hypothesis [Soundcloud]
20. FKA Twigs – Papi Pacify [YouTube]
19. Nine Inch Nails – Copy of a
18. Janelle Monae – Q.U.E.E.N. (Feat. Erykah Badu) [YouTube]
17. Beyonce – ***Flawless (Feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) [YouTube]
16. The Irrepressibles – New World (Iamamiwhoami Remix) [Bandcamp]
15. Javelin – Light Out [Soundcloud]
14. David Bowie – Where Are We Now? [YouTube]
13. David Lynch – I’m Waiting Here (Feat. Lykke Li) [YouTube]
12. Boreal Network – Normal Hopeless Future [Bandcamp]
11. Fil OK – Parasympathetic [Bandcamp]

TOP 10 2013 SONGS
10. Andre Obin – Lemondrop

09. Daft Punk – Doin’ It Right (Feat. Panda Bear)

08. Burial – Come Down To Us

07. Fiona Apple – Pure Imagination

06. Moby – The Lonely Night (Feat. Mark Lanegan)

05. Lusine – February

04. M.I.A. – Bring the Noize

03. Boards of Canada – Nothing is Real

02. Cults – High Road

01. Lorde – Tennis Court

BONUS: Simulate Televangelist – Cobalt Surge

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2013 Mini-Album Reviews Part Three: Justin Timberlake, Iamamiwhoami

Justin Timberlake The 2020 Experience 2 of 2Editor’s Introduction: What a year 2013 has been! Between releasing “Run in Circles” with Vestron Vulture [link], the “Contagion EP” [link], then having “Contagion” released on Touched. [link], being called The Future of Electronica in Sykomindz Magazine [link], moving into the city of Pittsburgh, and a million other undertakings that will be reflected upon in this blog’s yearly wrap-up article, the blog has taken quite a backseat. In hopes to catch up before the year’s end, there will be several super-articles compiling all that has been missed in the last 12 months.

This particular article features several mini-reviews of records released this year. We featured catch-up articles like this in July, have part one of these mini reviews here and will stop at nothing until all of the interesting releases have been reflected upon. Let’s get started – the final installment.

The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 by Justin Timberlake

Continuing his return to music and ode to 2020k, The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 by Justin Timberlake finds itself in the hands of Timbaland once again as the pair explore the boundaries of pop music through the use of extended compositions, coupled with live instrumentation, synthetic melodies, and sample based rhythms.

Unfortunately, Part 2 suffers the same fate as Part 1 [our review here] in terms of sounding too sterile, overproduced, and compressed. Sitting at an average of 6dB of dynamic range, all of the songs except the hidden track run notoriously hot and at times are so full of low and mid frequencies that the top-end shine is difficult to lend attention to. Interestingly enough, this is a technique Timbaland productions have begun to take on and since the release of the Justin projects have gotten better (see Beyonce’s self-titled release where the pristine sonics are still present, but with a tighter final mix). With these engineering flaws come a few on-purpose moments that don’t particularly sit well either. Most notably during “Only When I Walk Away,” a lead vocal distortion technique becomes so cumbersome that it’s a daunting, uncomfortable listen and seemingly impossible for a focus to be found anywhere other than Timberlake’s voice (ironically, the contorted vocal mixing used when distorting creates overtones that brighten the mix, but not for the better).

Don’t even try the vinyl. While owning both volumes on wax is a nice collectable purchase, the sound on it is devastatingly distorted, with analog concentration on overcompensated kick & bass aspects of all songs in The 2020 Experience collection, and it’s not your turntable.

The worst offender on The 2020 Experience – 2 of 2 however, is the country/rock crossover “Drink You Away,” which unfortunately tumbles to the same fate as the Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton duet “Just a Fool” from the songstress’ Lotus record. Cliche alcoholic references flourish in between an uninspired throwback to the Pop-Country takeover of the 1990′s.

In a continuation of Timberlake’s time with NSYNC and solo artistry, The 2020 Experience – 2 of 2 does find its strength in the actual music. Its lead single “Take Back the Night” finds itself popped out with a unique horn section by the Benjamin Wright & The Benjamin Wright Orchestra, successfully recalling high-class jazz and disco influences that unfold under a relevant, mainstream umbrella. “TKO,” “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want),” and “Cabaret” also find themselves to be refreshing portions of this project.

bounty by Iamamiwhoami (2013 Physical Release)

Now that the hoopla behind the mystery of Iamamiwhoami has died down, the duo have successfully been caught up in a whirlwind of interviews, touring, and releasing their back catalog in physical form. bounty, the record that digitally started it all, found itself in a slew of vinyl delays, eventually releasing on wax a few months after it was promised.

It was well worth the wait, but judging from our “; John” and “Clump” reviews, as well as our extensive coverage of the band, one wouldn’t necessarily have to look far to know that Jonna Lee and Claes Bjorklund are held as celestial beings around 2020k. Both the CD and vinyl releases come equipped with a DVD containing all full videos from the bounty era and in keeping with the monochromatic artwork, in opposition to the black themed kinthe bounty vinyl is white.

Aside from its bump in clarity from being in lossless format and mastered to sound cohesive throughout its physical platform, bounty stays true to the original digital releases and while a full release of the prelude tracks would have been the icing on the cake, it’s best that the original intentions on the full length, already released songs have a proper space all to themselves instead of being overcrowded with additional material.

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