PREMIERE: "Otis" feat. Otis Redding by Jay-Z & Kanye West

Today's rap icons are encapsulated in two individuals: Jay-Z and Kanye West. There's no doubt about it. I mean, really, have you heard The Black Album or My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy? With every new release of theirs, we're always prepared for something hard-hitting, controversial, down-right gritty, and/or grandiose. It was a only a matter of time before the two would figure some way to collaborate on a project.

Hence, Jay-Z and Kanye West are now appropriately known as The Throne, and their debut release is called Watch The Throne, dropping August 8th. As a way to promote the album, they've released the single "Otis" featuring a sample of Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness," and it's pretty impressive. It's good hearing their voices on the same record, especially if you've got the two rappers playing around in what comes off as a duel, each one given a verse here and there, and Otis Redding to boot. It's more in the style of something reminiscent to Kanye's The College Dropout, so if you're into that record (you know, "Old" Kanye), then you'll probably enjoy this.

We can only speculate how great Watch The Throne will be for about another week, but listen to "Otis" below and get your fill in the meantime. If you're liking it as much as we are, pre-order the album on iTunes here.

Otis feat. Otis Redding by watchthethrone


REVIEW: George Ellias - Self-Titled EP

Genre: Folk/Acoustic
Origin: Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles doesn't have too many folk acts coming around these days, but L.A. native George Ellias appears to want to be the exception. Why, you ask? It's hard to say. Folk can be troubled waters to tread since the wealth of that genre has always relied on underground sensibilities, retained to giving the average listener a second thought. It's not entirely something attainable in a city like Los Angeles where rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers and Silversun Pickups have a huge following.

But to George Ellias, folk is here to stay. It's understandable, too, that this notion Ellias charges at us with is very much the vision of an artist well-deep into his influences. That isn't to say he's purely imitating, but rather he is providing the music we once loved, a kind of nostalgia that seems to be recurring throughout current popular music such as 70's soul punchers Fitz and the Tantrums (an L.A. act, no less). Perhaps that is key to the possible success of his niche and, of course, timing. Timing is everything.

We get his first foray into the music world with his self-titled EP, which does a pretty good job of giving us a glimpse into certain possibilities of ol' folk. Reinvigorating the days of Bob Dylan with spot-on lyrical playfulness and guitar-picking intricacy, he's able to withstand that sound without being generic. Lyrically, he benefits from relying on messages that spark the same kind of interests of Dylan's followers and possibly even today's listeners. The song "Ghost Town" insinuates the lost lifestyles of old, which is perhaps a summation of what folk is all about in the first place. Kudos to that.

The rest of the EP steers its course in a similar vein, even if they play off as more of a showcase than a concept. We get the somber "A Farewell Song" and we get a lively "Stand Ashore," and we get these tracks as merely accepting Ellias' talents. If that is the thread that defines the EP, it can appear somewhat flat, but this reviewer is willing to find that his pros outweigh this small issue.

The EP mostly stays in tune for its seven tracks (six if you don't include the outtake of "Wonder Babe"), varying in terms of "quality." Songs like "Stand Ashore" and "Take My Advice" have a more "produced" approach, while songs like "Wonder Babe" and "A Farewell Song" are of lower fidelity. Either way, the use of reverb gives each song a very live, acoustic feel, and his track placement is finely interweaved as to not make the overall sound become counterbalanced.

Ellias gives a fine number of songs to link us to fonder days. As this is only his first EP, one can only imagine what his full-length will consist of, but this EP provides us with enough optimism. Each song brings us closer to classic folk, and whether or not that is Ellias' prerogative, he's managed to make us feel good about it.

Check out two tracks from the EP, and if you like what you hear, make sure to visit Amazon, iTunes, or George Ellias' Bandcamp webpage.

George Ellias' EP is available now from End & Co. Records.


VIDEO: Bjork - "Crystalline"

Bjork is known for her wild excess, but it's good to see her back with "Crystalline" from her new album Biophilia. The album is creating some kind of media-frenzy, as in it's appearing in other digital forms like an iPad application. As for the song? "Crystalline" is exciting and very - how should I say - now, and it's hard to deny how optimistic we are for when the album drops pretty much everywhere on September 26th.

We can also be thankful that she has once again collaborated with genius filmmaker Michel Gondry (The White Stripes' "Fell In Love With A Girl", Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) for the music video. He always seems to understand the visual style of her music down pat, and "Crystalline" is no different, featuring otherworldly themes using varying types of animation and in-camera effects.

Make sure to check out the video below and let us know what you think of it (cause we think it's pretty badass). Also check out Bjork's updated website for some HTML 5 fun.