Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Thunderlove - Igbo

from the single Thunderlove (2016)

Once upon a time, in the basement of a middle-class house, in a middle-class neighborhood, in a middle-class suburban town, three boys wrote a song called Thunder Lover.   They thought it was their ticket to fame and fortune.  Their ticket to a destiny yet to be fulfilled.

As they sit in their cubicles, reading this blog, I hope they think about the brotherhood created by making music with their closest friends.  I hope they think about how playing music in that basement helped unlock their inner groove in a way that only music can.  I hope they think about how much richer they were then - and are today - because of that undying dream that was born in a song called Thunder Lover.

Today, I celebrate those boys with the song Thunderlove by the band Igbo.  Igbo hails from Brooklyn, NYC - home of the most diverse and important independent music in the world today.  Their eclectic dance vibe is organic and fun.  Their energy makes me want to join the band.

May their wildest dreams come true...

Click Here to watch the video for Thunderlove on the Igbo website.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Baby Be Mine - Coco O.

from the single Baby Be Mine (2016)

Coco O. is a Danish singer currently based in Los Angeles.  She is best known for being part of the duo Quadron, where she is paired with Robin Hannibal of Rhye.

With Baby Be Mine, she takes on the mighty task of covering a Michael Jackson song from Thriller.  This takes quite a set of ... lungs.  Covering Michael is no easy task.

I dig the downtempo vibe and the purity of the vocals.  Michael Jackson sang with sincerity and innocence.  I always believed that this is what drove his ability to connect with people so deeply through his music.  Coco O. has captured some of that here.  When sings "Hold me.  Only you and I can make sweet love this way," my mind is taken to a special place.

This is a good choice for your late night slow jam mix.

Click Here to listen to Baby Be Mine on SoundCloud.

Click Here to read my June 2013 blog post of Hey Love by Quadron.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Love Rain Down - Mondo Freaks

from the album Plastic World, Vol. 1 (2016)

OK.  Here is a little secret.  I am a closet dancer.

My moves are more elusive than a Blue-footed Booby.  You will almost never find them on a dance floor.  For if you did, people would stare, people would laugh, and others would certainly shriek.  Not that it is all that awful, more that it creates a spectacle that most mortals simply cannot handle.  Let's just call it unconventional.

I was twice asked by security guards at the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw to stop a demonstration of my dance moves.  They did not buy that it was part of "the culture of my homeland."

But when I am alone, Overture, Curtain, Lights...

This usually starts when an old movie - like Saturday Night Fever - is playing on some odd channel.  Sometimes I am a bit more proactive, pulling out an old copy of Dance Craze and a bottle of Fireball.

Tonight was one of those nights.  The full moon shining bright on a humid patio.  The stereo pumped up loud.  My new Mai Tai recipe in full bloom.  And nobody else around, except for a Welch Corgi named Karma.

The new song in the playlist (there is always a new song in the playlist) is Love Rain Down by Mondo Freaks.  This Australian group lays down a post-disco 80's vibe that evokes Paradise Garage and the stuff Madonna danced to before she was Madonna.  It is funky.  It is freaky.  It even has some killer talk box thrown in.

Play this tune and bust a move.  Can you do The Big Fig Newton?

Click Here to listen to Love Rain Down on SoundCloud.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Could Be You - Allah-Las

from the album Calico Review (2016)

As I suspect every writer encounters the first time they dash off a piece about the band Allah-Las, I was faced with the dilemma of whether or not to mention that its members founded this group while working at Amoeba Records in Los Angeles.

The mention of this feels almost obligatory considering Amoeba's legendary status of the world's largest independent record store.  But who ever wants to write about the obligatory?  Yuck.

However, this time I do because it reminds me of a story in Willem de Kooning's biography.  In it, the 22 year-old artist stows away on a boat from his native Netherlands, arriving in Virginia in the summer of 1927.

As if by divine providence, he moves north to Hoboken, then across the river to mid-town Manhattan and finally to Greenwich Village, where he meets Jackson Pollack, Franz Klein, Mark Rothko and others to create Abstract Expressionism and form the New York school of art.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, great artists are ultimately drawn to communities of like-minded fellow artists.  In these places they flourish and make our world a better place.  Perhaps this is what happened with the Allah-Las?  Perhaps we all need to find that special community where we can flourish?  Sounds lovely, huh?

I dig the song Could Be You for its rambling vibe that evokes Bob Dylan and hints at The Velvet Underground.  What a fantastic sound !!!  Every tone achieves subtle perfection.

I particularly enjoy the background vocals.  How fun would it be to join them in the vocal booth singing ooh ooh ooh?

Click Here to watch the official video for Could Be You.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Party At Sunday - Cosmonauts

from the album A-Ok! (2016)

Cosmonauts are one of my favorite Beach Goth bands in the Burger Records stable.  Their mdic is uptempo and melodic, great for driving on the open road or getting' down with your funky friends.

And although their new record is filled with more great tunes in the same vein, I am hooked on Party On Sunday, a downtempo tune that maintains their measurable pop sensibilities.

Complimentary melodic textures are so fascinating when given space.  Listen to this song and let your mind run wild.  You are free, floating above the patio, smiling down on a party filled with colorful balloons.  Aah....

Click Here to watch the official music video for Party At Sunday.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Feeling Bad - Tom Lockett

from the single Feeling Bad (2016)

Much hubbub is made by those espousing the greatness of psychedelic rock.  However, many of us forget that this was largely an offshoot of psychedelic folk.

Travel back to 1965, to the arrival of Donovan in Scotland, of Jefferson Airplane in San Francisco.

Think of the vibe.  Think of those tones.  It is the sound of a moment in time.

Well with his debut solo single, Feeling Bad, former Electroshock Therapy frontman Tom Lockett has captured that sound with eerie preciseness.  Just take a listen and you will swear this is a 50 year old record.

Tom Lockett reportedly describes his music as "The Great Depression on acid."  His music is released on Magic Cactus Records.  How can't it be groovy?

Click Here to listen to Feeling Bad on Bandcamp.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Axis - Thee Oh Sees

from the album A Weird Exits (2016)

Strap yourself in for a retro psychedelic vibe.

Don't you know how much I don't love you?
Don't you know how much I don't care?
And can't you see how much I don't need you?
Just like you were never really there

Beautifully detached lyrics that evoke Roger Waters.

Play this loud in your headphones, late at night, and don't wake your parents up.

Click Here to listen to The Axis.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Big Cat - Wild Beasts

from the album Boy King (2016)

One of the pitfalls of our current Do It Yourself music culture is the lack of attention paid by many to post-production.

This was brought to my attention recently when one of my funky friends was playing an 80's dance mix.  As I listened to bands like Erasure, Bronski Beat, and Pet Shop Boys, I was captivated by the quality of the production.  The music sounded "complete" and sounded like a "finished product."  The production contained a certain "sheen" to it that could be associated with quality.

It saddened me to realize that so many people neglect this in their record making.

My spirits were lifted when I heard the song Big Cat by Wild Beasts.  Aside from being an excellent song with excellent performances, this record has taken the time in post-production to craft a finished product.  Bravo.

Please take a listen to this tune and let me know if you hear what I am talking about.  It is a little intangible, but I hope you can hear it.

Click Here to watch the official video for Big Cat.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hanalei I Ka Pilimoe - Kalani Pe'a

from the album E Walea (2016)

This weekend marks the return of the Persaid meteor showers.

This year, my vantage point is far outside the city, with clear skies and a kick-ass set of speakers.  An imposing question: what music properly accompanies such a setting?

Truth is, plenty of music does.  A night of Gershwin.  A night of iconic instrumental jazz.  And tonight, a mix of magnificently soothing Hawaiian music.

I dig Hawaiian music for its unhurried tempo.  Many tropical locals run on "island time", but Hawaii's is ever more relaxed, with an unearthly ability to dampen your heart rate.  What better way to watch the heavens?

The mix included one new song of note: Hanalei I Ka Pilimoe by Kalani Pe'a.  Kalani is a new kind of Hawaiian cat, with his designer shades and choice of a necktie rather than the obligatory aloha shirt.  What would Don Ho say?

But his voice.  His voice is pure and otherworldly, almost reminiscent of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.  Listening to him sing this beautiful song started me on an unexpected journey.

I thought of that magical destination in the song's title.  I thought of being a boy, singing Puff The Magic Dragon, and fantasizing about "a place called Hanalei".

I thought of my first trip there as an adult, of crossing that last bridge and being mesmerized by the tarot fields leading into town.  I thought of the waterfalls in the distance.  I thought of walking along that perfect cove where they filmed South Pacific.  I thought of Rodgers & Hammerstein as they wrote Some Enchanted Evening and Bali Ha'i.

I thought of all the ancient people who starred at this same sky.  I thought of their thoughts and imagined them pondering the enormity of it all.

I thought of friends who moved to exotic lands in search of transcendent dreams.  I thought of those who experienced the perils of soaring too high.  I thought of Icarus.

I thought of the people I love.  I thought of how strong - and fragile - they are.  I thought of my father and wished he was here, teaching me all about this splendid sky.

I thought of the joy of laying in a field, alone with my thoughts, as meteors streak by.

Click Here to listen to Hanalei I Ka Pilimoe.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Happy (Freestyle) - Squeegie O

from the single Happy (Freestyle) (2016)

I love what the democratization of music creation has done for my friends and family.

People I love in DEN, ATL, and NYC are all recording and releasing great music as we speak.  They are independent.  They are artists.  They are beautiful.

The fact that they live in cities allows them to more easily find other like minded people to collaborate with.  Together they find synergies that take them higher.  I dig that.

My cousin is a rapper on Staten Island.  Through him, my eyes and ears are open to the art of his community.  It makes me richer.

One of his contemporaries - Squeegie O - released his latest track yesterday.  Happy (Freestyle) leverages The Custodian of Records remix of Mary J. Blige's Be Happy as a foundation for his message:

Fake friends, false prophets, and broken promises
Can make a person feel nothing is worth accomplishing

Those are some great lyrics that would never have reached my ears in the past.

These are splendid days...

Click Here to listen to Happy (Freestyle) by Squeegie O.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Shut Up Kiss Me - Angel Olsen

from the forthcoming album My Woman (2016)

Sometimes, a kiss says it all.  Words need not be spoken, terms need not be negotiated.  Shut up, kiss me, hold me tight.  It is that simple.  If you don't get it, you need to go kiss someone special.

It just so happens that Shut Up, Kiss Me, Hold Me Tight is the central mantra to the latest song by the splendid Angel Olsen.

Add to it garage and punk tones coupled with a pop esthetic and you've got this cat's attention.

Who do you want to kiss?

Click Here to watch the official video to Shut Up Kiss Me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Lichterschmaus - Pantha Du Prince

from the album The Triad (2016)

My Uncle Frank is an accomplished painter whose art appears in NYC gallery shows.  When I was noodling on painting many years ago, he offered some advise: "Don't try to paint in a style.  Paint as exactly as you can and your style will emerge."

Although I never became an artist, that advise continues to help me in my varied endeavors to this day.

Fast forward to May 2016 and the release of Pantha du Prince's album The Triad.  In Pitchfork's review of the album, contributor Nathan Reese opened with a captivating passage:

"Techno is often dismissed as clinical music, engineered for precision impact.  But an irony of the genre - that Hendrik Weber, who records as Pantha du Prince, deeply understands, is that, though technical by definition, techno is most satisfying when you can feel the human inside the machine."

This resulted in my rushing to my local record store and buying the CD.  For the past 10 weeks, I have listened to it endlessly, searching for the human inside the machine.  It takes a while, but now I can hear it in songs like Lichterschmaus, one of the more upbeat tracks on the German composer's album.

I now look and listen for the human inside all sorts of machines.  Its always there, and finding it helps you get in deeper touch with your own humanity.

It also makes me think of my Uncle Frank.  It is no coincidence that the soul of an artist can understand the implications of the tomorrow's technology.

Click Here to listen to Pantha du Prince perform portions of The Triad at The Boiler Room in Berlin.

Click Here to listen to a sample of Lichterschmaus.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

(Looks Like) Someone Got Ahead Of Schedule On Their Medication - Charlie Hunter

from the album Everybody Has A Plan Until They Get Punched In The Mouth (2016)

I am often leery of jazz groups led by a guitarist.  I find many of these band leaders overly enamored with their skills and mistaken in thinking that listeners want to revel in their self indulgence.

Charlie Hunter is different.  He is all about bringing the composition to life and infiltrating the listener with thoughtful vibes.  He does this with various band formats, from his trio to larger ensembles.

I really dig his new album, particularly the song (Looks Like) Someone Got Ahead Of Schedule On Their Medication.  Based on a simple, understated drum beat this song has enough space between the beats to let your mind tell the story.  This is music to let your mind wander.

Listen to the expertness of the bass player and the horn sections.  They are totally in-sync with the beat, adding restrained accents that help take the listener to unexpected locations.  Also note the guitar, hanging back, letting the band work their magic.  This is uncommon.

Click Here to listen to (Looks Like) Someone Got Ahead Of Schedule On Their Medication.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Finder - Moderat

from the album III (2016)

Berlin tops my list of cities I would like to visit for the first time.  Aside from its history and architecture, I want to walk its streets.  I want to feel its vibe.

I picture myself sitting at a trendy bar in a boutique hotel.  The bar has a DJ in-residence who spins electronica that I have never heard before.  Each song takes me further down the wormhole.  I am consumed by the groove.  I am lost in the beat.  The cocktails take full effect.  Ich bin ein geist.

Moderat is a Berlin band I would expect to hear in this bar.  Their song Finder - with its staccato keyboard track and subliminal groove - would be part of my trip.  Wanna come?

Click Here to listen to Finder by Moderat.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Whatever That Girl Wants - Tijuana Panthers

from the EP Ghost Food (2016)

Beach Goth is back !!!

When I last wrote about Tijuana Panthers, I was bicycling around Amsterdam listening to their tune Forbidden Fruit.  This time around, I am floating in a pool surrounded by awesome speakers.  Both times, I am fully acclimated.

Tijuana Panthers latest EP - Ghost Food - consist of six excellent songs.  They manage to combine elements of surf with psychedelia with great effect.  This is most evident on the song Whatever That Girl Wants.

The bass, guitar, and drums sound like they could be playing in your living room.  The trademark vocals are heightened by trippy background vocals.  The production is magnificent.

The thing I dig most about this tune is the bass playing, which serves as the foundation for the psychedelic vibe.  I can't stop listening to it.

Click Here to listen Whatever That Girl Wants.

Click Here to listen to my previous post for Forbidden Fruit.