Record Label: Fat Beats Records
In 2011, hip hop artists from Detroit have continued to create some of the most celebrated music in the genre, and no one is raising the standard in the underground as high as Black Milk and Danny Brown. After their collaborative track “Black and Brown” from Black’s LP Album of the Year became a fan favorite, the two decided to record an entire EP together, fittingly titled Black and Brown. While the aforementioned track appears on the EP, the remainder of Black And Brown sees Danny Brown exclusively handling mic duties, with Black Milk showcasing his masterful production.
Black Milk’s Album of the Year dropped in September 2010 to strong reviews and an impressive showing on the Billboard charts, and his stock has continued to rise ever since. Performing with a live band for over 80 shows on a worldwide tour in support of the album, he has established himself as one of rap’s best live performers. He also became the first rap artist to record and release music with rock superstar Jack White, who co-produced and played on the much-publicized “Brain” 7-inch single on White’s label Third Man Records. Never straying from his hip hop roots, Black Milk also serves as a member of the group Random Axe (with Sean Price and Guilty Simpson), and entirely produced their successful self-titled 2011 full-length release.
Danny Brown first gained wide recognition with the release of his album The Hybrid as a free download in March 2010. Since the release, he’s emerged as one of rap’s most distinct new voices. The shock value of his drug- fueled and sex-laden rhyming has been frequently compared to the early works of Eminem, and his ear for progressive beats as well as his unique fashion sense has made him a favorite with critics. His latest project XXX was released as a free download in August 2011, and was instantly hailed as one of the top rap albums of the year by artists and fans alike, while receiving heavy coverage from media outlets like Pitchfork, MTV, and The Fader.
LA/Joshua Tree based Sugar Candy Mountain deliver carefully built psychedelic odes in the style of Jacco Gardner and Tame Impala. Their newest album 666 feels like something unearthed from a box of records found in your dad’s garage, glowing wistfully with vintage inspired tones, rambling organs, fuzzed out guitars, shimmering keys and sprawling drums. Ash Reiter’s woolly voice croons with the icy warmth of Francoise Hardy, while Will Halsey’s tender Lennon-esque vocals uncoil with easy languor. Recorded with Jason Quever of Papercuts, the bands sophomore album sits comfortably between 60’s Laurel Canyon bliss and more modern production of Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips/Tame Impala). 666 is the band’s first record after deciding to retire Ash Reiter’s eponymous solo project to focus solely on Sugar Candy Mountain. With this shift Ash became more heavily invested in writing for the project. On 666 the band moves away from the grandiose production of their previous album, Mystic Hits, on which some songs featured over two hundred instrument tracks. The majority of basic tracking was done on Jason Quever’s 16 track Ampex tape machine through a Neve console, and completed at the bands home studio. Under Quever’s guiding hand, production on 666 is significantly simplified, favoring featuring strong melodies over the wildly playful orchestrations of Mystic Hits. Quever is also significantly featured on the record as a player, with his influence distinctly coloring the album.
Omni - the band, not the hotel - are from the former home of the Braves: Atlanta. Playing lo-fi pop that channels the spectre of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Omni brings you back to an era where any sane person was reeling from the unfulfilled promise of the Space Age and Age of Aquarius bleeding into the looming threat of "Morning in America.” Omni distills the buzz and grit that snakes through the best of Television, Devo, and Pylon into surprisingly danceable, hook-laden slabs of raw, angular, sonic bliss. It ’s still the summer of '78, and pushing the roots of rock & roll to its limits remains in vogue. "Deluxe" serves as a fresh reminder that rock music can work outside of blues rooted, formulaic progressions without playing it safe behind a wall of effects. Arty enough to impress record enthusiasts, yet melodically attractive enough to transcend to those who’ve never asked: “’Sister Midnight’ or ‘Red Money’?” “Deluxe” is a decidedly hometown affair, recorded by Nathaniel Higgins (Carnivores) in their Atlanta practice space & mastered by Travis Thatcher.
New Zealand’s Ghost Wave return with their sophomore album Radio Norfolk. Following on from 2013’s Ages the groups’ latest sees the duo explore deeper into their psychedelic sound, while adding a more electronic focus to their sunny warped songs that mix the sound of Flying Nun bands of the ‘80s, the British explosion of the ‘60s and the wayfaring dubs of Lee "Scratch" Perry. On top of this, they aptly brought on the talents of Spaceman 3’s Sonic Boom to master the record. From the lead single, Blues Signal ’79 on, Radio Norfolk is a series of trippy, psych hooks filled with clashes of keys, organs, and percussion. Ghost Wave started life in 2012 as the brainchild of Matthew L. Paul (Vocals, Guitar). What was a initially a project relegated to a small room in Auckland, New Zealand over time the sonic chemistry he was cooking up caught the attention of fellow music maker and soon-to-be collaborator Eammon Logan (Drums). Together they self-recorded what came to be their selftitled EP and followed this up with 2013’s debut album Ages. Inspired by skate vids, persian rugs and the music of Little Richard, you could simply characterize Ghost Wave by jangly guitars underpinned by motor-style rhythms and a unique melodic sensibility. Yet, with Radio Norfolk they have gone further than that, creating something even more captivating and intriguing. In their own words it’s “ …the countdown to the meltdown.”
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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