VIDEO: Johnny Utah – Us (“Be Us” Mixtape Promo)

Johnny Utah

Aussie hip-hopper Johnny Utah, from the I Forget, Sorry! collective, has been working on a free mixtape of late. Last night we got our first taste of what to expect from the December release. I’ve been keen on some new material from Utah since I reviewed the first EP he worked on, and I’ve got a feeling this is going to be a solid release. All of the IFS! boys have been going from strength to strength lately, and rarely disappoint. Someone tag this guy into Rapper Tag already.

The teaser samples Brother Ali’s track “Us” for those of you wondering.

LIVE: Mind Over Matter, live at the ANU Bar, Canberra (07-04-11)

Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah.

I Forget, Sorry! can be credited for really broadening my interest and faith in hip-hop. The Australian based collective create some brilliant, innovative music that deserves much more attention than it’s currently receiving. I’ve been a fan for quite a while, and recently I was lucky enough to catch a few of them live on Mind Over Matter’s Just Like Fireworks tour.

My friend and I arrived at the ANU Bar a bit before 7. The place didn’t look incredibly lively, but by the time the first supports took to the stage there were a few people wandering around. Unfortunately I think Illy playing a show the next night may have had a small effect on the turnout, but everyone looked like they enjoyed themselves throughout the night. Even if they’ve probably played to bigger crowds before.

If I’m blunt, I don’t remember a whole lot about some of the local supports. That’s not an insult to Canberra’s hip-hop scene (if there is one – I’m new here), it’s just they didn’t grab my attention and I was hanging out with a few mates. Although I do remember a duo called Domesticated Apes. Their songs got better towards the end of the night, although a few were hit and miss. Repeatedly saying “Sh*t C**ts” over and over didn’t do much for me to be honest.

I think it was about 9.30 or so before Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah came on. To say the least, I was a little excited. Johnny Utah’s EP The Welcoming Party was a solid release, and I love Coptic’s acoustic stuff I’ve heard lately. At any rate, these guys have been a part of my hip-hop diet for almost a year now, and I was pumped to see them perform live. They did not disappoint.

Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah (with Count Effectz DJ’ing)

That night was the first time Coptic and Johnny had performed live together, and I was incredibly impressed. The interplay between the two was great. Playing tracks they would normally perform individually, each knew the right moment to jump in and the right moment to hang back. As a result, the older songs sounded collaborative and fresh, but didn’t take anything away from the original.

The duo went through tracks from Johnny’s debut EP and Coptic’s The Sound of Wings. We even got to hear “I Hate Sleep” from The Sound of Wings 2, the acoustic release (which you should all buy by the way! – acoustic hip-hop sounds brilliant. I’ll have a review up soon). I was lucky enough to hear some of Johnny’s new songs too, which will hopefully feature on his debut album Handful of Gravel. They sounded brilliant, and I’m keen to hear the studio versions.

Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah were a great support act, and despite the fact they didn’t have a live band like Mind Over Matter, they energy they put into the performance was amazing. Great songs performed by great musicians, with enough energy to get everyone pumped up. Count Effectz was DJ’ing for them and did a great job as well. Seeing these guys was a highlight of the night, and has only reinforced my belief that I Forget, Sorry! deserve more attention across Australia.

Mind Over Matter

Next up Mind Over Matter came on stage, and the crowd reacted incredibly well. I haven’t heard Just Like Fireworks yet, although I’ve heard good things about it. After seeing them live, I’m convinced I’ll enjoy it. The songs they played had amazing hooks and sing-a-long choruses (see “Be A Pirate”), and everyone really got into it.

The addition of a live band did the set wonders. Ernst Carter Jnr’s back-up vocals were amazing and added a whole new dimension to the songs. It really did sound great, and the live bass and drums gave the whole act more stage presence. Everyone had more to look at, and the way it all meshed together is a testament to their talents and preparation.

The general consensus from the media is that Mind Over Matter have really launched themselves into the Australian hip-hop scene with this album. Their live show reflects this in a way that you have to see to understand. I thought they were going to play longer, but I think noise restrictions came in or something. At any rate, they put on a great show, and for $10, I think everyone felt like they got more than their money’s worth.

Mind Over Matter

It’s a pity that brilliant artists like the ones that performed all night aren’t getting the recognition or airplay they deserve. I could go into a large rant about support of Australian musicians, but it’d detract from the review. Suffice to say, like Coptic and Johnny, Mind Over Matter put on an incredibly entertaining and engaging show. In my case, familiarity with the songs means that I personally enjoyed Coptic and Johnny a tiny bit more. In some cases familiarity can go a long way, but Mind Over Matter buck that trend. Despite the fact I knew only one or two songs they played, their show emphasised their talent as live artists, and these days that talent can be quite rare.

I Forget, Sorry! are a brilliant collective. Download the free mixtape I put together last year and give them a go.

Don’t forget to get over here and check out the rest of their dates. You should definitely head along.

MIXTAPE: On The Tune Mixtape Vol. 3 – I Forget, Sorry! mix

Hey everyone. I’m going to be doing some reviews for Aussie collective I Forget, Sorry! over the next few weeks, so I thought it’d be a good idea to introduce you all to some of their stuff.

They’re primarily a hip-hop collective, but they merge other genres and styles through their music, so it’s a pretty interesting listen. Check ‘em out.

Tracklist:

1. Coptic Soldier & Miriam Waks – Why Suffer

2. Elgen and Johnny Utah – Matchbox ft. Phatchance & Steve Hollins

3. Mind Over Matter – It’s Not A Secret

4. Coptic Soldier & Miriam Waks – No More Waiting feat. Phatchance

5. PhatchanceInvisible Queen

6. Elgen and Johnny Utah – When The Rain Hits ft. Steve Hollins

7. Mind Over Matter – Still Skinny (Konfuzion Remix)

8. Phatchance – Mountain Of Glass

Download

Size: 25.16 mb

Don’t know how to unzip stuff? Download 7zip here.
Don’t know which download link to click? I don’t know what .msi files are either. Do you use Windows? Try this one.

I’ve already reviewed Elgen and Johnny Utah’s “The Welcoming Party”, so look out for reviews of Coptic Soldier & Miriam Waks, Mind Over Matter, and Phatchance over the next month.

REVIEW: Elgen and Johnny Utah – “The Welcoming Party” EP

Do you like your Aussie hip-hop? If you do, this will be perfect for you! If not, you should listen anyway, because these guys are pretty damn good. Elgen and Johnny Utah are two Australian brothers who make hip-hop together. Elgen produces the music and Johnny raps, and it’s the combination of these talents in “The Welcoming Party” that landed them a spot at the Maitland Groovin’ The Moo festival, courtesy of triple j Unearthed.

If I’m bluntly honest, I never used to listen to hip-hop at all. Years ago, I had the misguided and incorrect view (cultivated by living in a town where most people get their musical education from mainstream commercial radio) that all rap was boring, repetitive, lyrically shallow, and arrogant. Luckily these days I know exactly how wrong I was.

Despite my realisation, I can’t say I constantly listen to hip-hop now either. It’s not one of my largest influences. But being a fan of triple j, I’ve been exposed to some great hip-hop that makes use of interesting and catchy instrumentation which I absolutely love (Hilltop Hoods, Bliss N Eso, etc.). So when I first heard “When The Rain Hits” by Elgen and Johnny Utah, I was excited to say the least. On top of that I was stunned that they were unsigned.

Lyrically, Elgen and Johnny Utah don’t sing about “how dope their bitches are”, or about how rich they are, or about how they can afford 3 private jets. It’s quite refreshing, and it sure beats the stagnant, ego-inflating material some other artists produce.

“Matchbox”’s chorus contrasts brilliantly with the rapping verses, and it’s this contrast that helps set this song apart. The sampled riff is a bit out-there too, but it’s got personality and it’s catchy.

“It’s A Little Bit Funny (But That’s How I’m Living)” begins with a great quote from The Shining, but unfortunately it’s let down a little by the over-use of a laughing sample. It’s not a bad effect, but it’s used to the extent that it becomes mildy irritating. This is the only real complaint I can procure, to be completely honest.

“When The Rain Hits” is the standout track, and it’s the simplicity of the piano chords throughout which help emphasise the rapping. The chorus shines, it’s brilliant and catchy, and it almost feels like something you could get up and dance to. It’s definitely something you want to sing along with, and I can already see this song going off at festivals and gigs.

The performace put on by Steve Hollins, who features on a couple of tracks (“Matchbox” and “When The Rain Hits”), should really be commended. As should the work from other guests, including Phatchance, Drake MC, and Doctor Freud. Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of these guys prior to listening to “The Welcoming Party”, but their contributions to the EP really help make it what it is.

It’s a solid release, and “Close The Door” really completes it. The off-beat drums are great, and like most of their other songs, the samples really make the songs more appealing and interesting. It’s a fitting closer, and lyrically it’s emotionally moving:

If you listen, please take notice that I’m not upset / There’s not a thing we could’ve done and I have no regrets / I won’t be left to wonder, wait for change and false hope / When it rains, it pours, I keep the door closed. I’ll keep that door closed.

These songs feel like they really showcase Elgen and Johnny Utah’s talents. And if this is the base that they build upon in the future, we can safely look forward to what is hopefully an amazing debut album.

Verdict: Positive.

Grab some of their tracks for free here. Do it.

MIXTAPE: On The Tune Mixtape Vol. 1 – Aussie Indie

Remember how I said I was working on a surprise? Yeah, well this is it.

I was sick of seeing other blogs giving away cool music while mine didn’t. So I decided I’d go around and find a tonne of bands who would let me use their music in a mixtape. I want to do this legally and do the right thing by the bands. So I sent out e-mails to many a manager and band, asking for permission to use their songs in a free mixtape. Quite a few didn’t reply, but many did. For which I am quite grateful.

So as a consequence of this, I now proudly present to you the first volume of my On The Tune Mixtape. As you’ve probably noticed, this one is themed around Australian independent bands, but future ones may not be themed at all. We’ll see how it goes.

Tracklist:

1. Kill Teen Angst – Gen Y

2. Lovers of Modern Art – I Got The Shakes

3. Goodnight Owl – Maps & Compasses

4. Faux Pas – Chasing Waterfalls

5. Guineafowl – Botanist

6. Kid Sam – We’re Mostly Made of Water

7. Emperors – Favourite Colours

8. The Weekend People – Mascara

9. The Good China – All Nothing

10. Polaroid Fame – Face Off

11. Elgen and Johnny Utah – When The Rain Hits ft. Steve Hollins

12. Sleep Decade – Colour In Between The Lines

13. Tyrian Dawn – Colours to the Mast

14. The Jezabels – Hurt Me

Download

This had been downloaded at least 250 odd times before it was taken down. Why? Because apparently it contained artists like The Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna. Clearly, it does not.
Thanks for that IFPI. You also seem to be ignoring my e-mails regarding the matter. This is why bloggers who operate legitimately and legally with regard for musicians get annoyed with you.

The above is the re-uploaded version everyone.

Size: 68.46 mb

Don’t know how to unzip stuff? Download 7zip here.
Don’t know which download link to click? I don’t know what .msi files are either. Do you use Windows? Try this one.

Just a quick shout-out to all the artists/managers for allowing me to use these tracks! I really appreciate it.

Also; feel free to (in fact, please) spread the word about the mixtape! Just link back to my blog post here. Thanks!

I’ll see you guys in 3 weeks! Most likely. Unless I get some spare time.