Showing posts from December, 2012

Make The World A Funkier Place

Time Has Come Today by The Chamber Brothers is one of the greatest songs ever recorded.  It speaks to a time and a place like few songs, ever. Unfortunately, one of the men responsible for this and so many other great songs, Lester Chambers, has been massively cheated on his royalties and become otherwise down on his luck.  He currently lives off his Social Security check. Fortunately, the Kickstarter organization is helping to pick Lester up and set him back on track.  Although they will never get all his money back, they will raise $38,000 to cover all of the costs necessary for Lester to record and release a new record.  They are also providing legal support to ensure he receives all the royalties. This is done by micro-donations from music lovers like us. And for us, Lester Chambers has released two funky, new Christmas recordings: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Jingle Bells.  They sound great.  Can't wait for the record. Please join me in helping bring back L

Your Christmas Bonus ...

Bi-Coastal Songwriter & Musician James Apollo sent in these links to his new Holiday tune.  It is called Ho Ho, Ho Hum . I really dig it.  From the opening bars, with the muted trumpet and vibes, the song captures a great bluesy vibe.  James Apollo's vocals are perfect.  I picture myself alone in a smokey jazz joint on Christmas Eve, listening to him sing Ho Ho Ho, Ho Hum .  The sleigh bells at the end are also a nice touch. Be sure to check out the rest of James Apollo's material.  It is good stuff. Click Here to listen to the song. Click Here to watch the You Tube version.

The 10 Songs I Digged Most In 2012

I've spent the past week listening to all of the great new songs I've been digging in 2012.  The result is this Top 10 list.  Tough stuff, since there are simply too many great songs to chose from.  Any song in "the next 10" could have made the list.  In the end, I grabbed a bottle of wine, got my chill on, set the volume fairly high, and spent a night listening to a couple of dozen awesome tunes. So, here it is... 1.   Rest - Michael Kiwanuka 2.   Cigarettes & Truckstops - Lindi Ortega 3.   Hold On - Alabama Shakes 4.   Be Mine - The Heavy 5.   No Diggity - Chet Faker 6.   Darkness - Leonard Cohen 7.   There's A Whole Lotta Heaven - Iris DeMent 8.   The Rumors Are True - David Wax Museum 9.   Dear Believer - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros 10.   Bird On A Buffalo - Angus Stone Please let me know what you think. I will be taking a short break for the rest of the year.  I expect to return right after they drop the ball

Benzedrine - Jack Yoder and The Two Piece Suit

from the album Songs We Don't Know (2012) 2012 has been a great year for Jack Yoder, marked by the release of the self-produced Songs We Don't Know and for winning the Colorado Blues Society competition for best solo blues artist of 2012.  Both the record and Jack will be competing at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee next month. Nice way to kick of 2013. Jack Yoder has an encyclopedic knowledge of tone.  Mention a song and he can dial up the tone and play you the tune.  Doesn't matter if its Hubert Sumlin or Bob Mould, shut your eyes and that's the sound.  It is a gift.  Mixed with his own musicianship and songwriting skills, it produces jaw-dropping results. Benzedrine is a song I really dig off of this record.  Expertly written, Jack gives us a throwback vibe that would sound great on any of the recent Bob Dylan albums.  Listen to the guitar tone with its clarity and tinge of reverb and you are transported back to any 1940's blues j

Mark It Wrong - The Departed

from the album Adventus (2012) I have fond memories of a late-night, partying with a group of people along the banks of the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana.  One dude had stage monitors in the back of his SUV and cranked out a live album by Cross Canadian Ragweed.  When the song Boys from Oklahoma came on, everyone (except me and my work buddy) knew all the words and sang along.  Fun night.  Fun song. A few years later, I was saddened to hear that singer/guitarist Cody Canada and bass player Jeremy Plato "departed" from this Red Dirt Country-Rock band to form The Departed.  But not so much now. The Departed continue to evolve their sound into a "rock band from the country" vibe that I find very interesting. This vibe is best evidenced on the instrumental Mark It Wrong from their new album, Adventus .  Pick out each instrument and listen to the tones: guitar, bass, drums, keys ... all rock.  This ain't Molly Hatchet or Lynyrd Skynyrd, it is somethin

Walt Whitman - Trampled By Turtles

from the album Stars and Satellites (2012) This has been a great year for the banjo-plucking crowd.  The Lumineers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford and Sons, and The Avett Brothers are all part of a pretty sweet playlist of new tunes on my iDevices.  But this weekend, I realized that I have omitted Trampled By Turtles.  Shame shame. This band hails from Duluth, Minnesota ... birthplace of the one and only, Bob Dylan.   Walt Whitman is the song I keep coming back to from their 2012 release, Stars and Satellites .  It is a 2 minute 39 second full-gallop.  I dig the fast tempo and how the musicians keep so tight while playing at such a blazing pace. Of particular note is the fiddle solo.  It reminds me of the first time I saw Charlie Daniels in concert.  Lickity-split finger work playing scales up and down the neck.  I really look forward towards seeing this dude play live. Lastly, I enjoy the theme of leading a whirlwind life, while remaining uncertain if you can make it on your

Letter To My Countrymen - Brother Ali

from the album Mourning In America And Dreaming In Color (2012) I have a love / hate relationship with rap.  As an art form, it provides an incredibly poetic platform for self-expression.  However, I get frustrated that more rappers do not harness its power.  It's like dressing Heide Klum in a burka. My two favorite rap songs of all time are The Message by Grandmaster Flash + The Furious Five and Ms. Jackson by Outcast.  Both songs have powerful lyrics.  One song has a guy asking "What the hell is going on around here?  You people have me at the breaking point."  The other has a guy telling his girlfriend's mother "Treat me with respect, because I'm a guy who treats your daughter with respect."  In both cases, the songs deliver a truthful, real-world message that is stronger because it is rap. So, I dig Brother Ali for extending this letter to his countrymen.  He takes his message and elegantly lays it out.  I hope people are listening.  It star

The Rumors Are True - David Wax Museum

from the album Knock Knock Get Up (2012) I have been thinking about intersections lately.  Not from a civil engineering perspective, but more along the lines of the great results you can achieve when you cross two disparate items.  This is true in virtually every form of art. Music is no exception.  When the spirituals and field hollers of slaves intersected with ragtime syncopation and the blues, the result was jazz.  No need to go any further. So I really dig David Wax Museum for leveraging an unexplored musical intersection to create a unique vibe that they can call their own.  It is the place where Mexican Sol and Americana Roots music meet. From there, David Wax and Suz Slezak find a platform to spin their craft. Wikipedia quotes New York Times writer James C. McKinley Jr. as describing the sound as " a lively and rustic cross-border mix: lonesome Appalachian harmonies over mariachi horn lines and rhythms you might hear at a rural dance in Veracruz or San Luis Potos

The Season's Upon Us - Dropkick Murphys

from the album Signed And Sealed In Blood (2012) Once upon a time, I travelled to Boston during the holiday season.  I wound up drinking with some college friends south of the city at The Dot Tavern in Dorchester.  It was a no frills, drinking man's joint.  I remember a guy called "The Hinge" who had a tattoo of a hinge on his elbow that got a lot of exercise lifting pints.  This is the blue collar life you find in movies like The Departed and The Town . Just south of Dorchester is the town of Quincy.  Same basic deal, with a little more history.  John Adams and John Quincy Adams were both born there.  This is also the birthplace of Dropkick Murphys, a celtic rock band with a spirited vibe that I really dig. The Season's Upon Us is a brash holiday number.  The verses end with the line " They call this Christmas where I'm from ."  Along the way it paints a cheeky picture of the odd assortment of family and friends who make Christmas that special

El Jefe - Mexican Institute of Sound

from the album Politico (2012) Mexican Institute of Sound is the brainchild of Camilo Lara.  This Mexico City DJ / producer has created a project that takes an electronica foundation and integrates diverse musical elements from Latin America and around the world to create a cool, alternative vibe that I dig. The song begins with an uptempo, groovin' bass line and drums.  It reminds me of early recordings by The Police, and some early ska, while keeping its finger on the pulse of current hipness.  I particularly enjoy the vibe when I am speeding on the interstate or hanging out - late night - with my funky friends. Spy-themed keyboards join in the mix next.  This adds an element of intrigue that also helps the song build intensity.  This is followed by the trumpets, the signature tracks on this recording.  The trumpets bring a real Mexican texture and provide a fantastic hook that perfectly counterbalances the percolating bass and drums. Bravo to the trumpeters. I also dig

Be Mine - The Heavy

from the album The Glorious Dead (2012) The Heavy is one of those special groups that craft infectious, memorable grooves and combine them with stellar production and hip vocal arrangements.  My lady friend introduced me to them when How Do You Like Me Now? became a staple on her work-out tape a few years ago.  Soon after, I heard Short Change Hero and my interest began to peak. The new album is full of the big beat vibes that initially hooked me. However, it is Be Mine with its slow bass groove over a steady beat that I have really come to dig.  The opening bars create this Gorillaz meet Fine Young Cannibals vibe that captivates me.  It is amazing how easily I get lost the bass line. Then enter Kelvin Swaby with a fantastic vocal.  The slower tempo of this song allows you to fully appreciate his talent. This matchup of song and singer is outstanding.  And, of course, the song contains all the great instrumental performances and production that one would expect of this band.

Get Up And Go - Sea Of Bees

from the dual single Won't Be Long / Get Up and Go (with Jason Lytle) (2012) Yesterday was a really rough end to a really rough week.  I did not sleep much with too many things on my mind.  Woke up around 5AM and have been in zombieland ever since.  Now its time to pull myself together and get back on track ... (end of self pity) Step one was to find a new song to cheer me up.  Leave it to Sea Of Bees to do the trick.  I have been digging the band since catching a set this May at the Mercury Lounge in NYC.  It was one of my favorite shows of the year. Get Up And Go is a cover of a Jason Lytle song from his Dept. of Disappearance album that was released back in August.  It is a great song from a great album, not sure how I missed it. This rendition begins with acoustic guitar and chimes.  Julie Baenziger enters with a dreamy, endearing vocal.  Add a simple beat and groove, then turn up the rough lead guitar track.  Top it off with some joyful whistling and kazoo playing .