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Showing posts from August, 2013

She Don't Care - Ty Segall

from the album Sleeper (2013)

Last Thursday night, I had the privilege of being a guest on my favorite Internet radio show, The Fuzz Factory with Brett Callero.  It was three hours of psychedelic music from the 60's and 70's.  Sitting in the studio with its awesome speakers, I rediscovered the thick, analog tones of the era.  It has changed the way I think of new music.

I had a blast hangin' out with Brett, spinning bands like The 13th Floor Elevators and The Animated Egg.  But when I stripped it all back, the night served as a reminder that The Beatles created the best psychedelic music ever recorded.  Brett wisely started off the show with Tomorrow Never Knows off of Revolver.  This is often described as the first and greatest psychedelic song, ever.  I can't disagree.

This renewed focus on The Beatles drew me to She Don't Care off of Ty Segall's latest album.  When I listen to this song I am positively reminded of the four dudes from Liverpool.  This song co…

The Sermon - Mickey Hart

from the album Superorganism (2013)

Whenever a new Mickey Hart album comes out I am eager listen, knowing that I will be graced by great rhythms and vibes.  With that said, I have been listening to his new album, Superorganism, since it's release earlier this month.  Of all the groovin' tunes on this record, I particularly dig The Sermon.

The musical genius of this 70-year old percussionist is in full display as a flowing, tribal rhythm couples with funked-up guitar riffs to create a shifting, primitive vibe.  Above this are powerful, bible-thumping lyrics, flawlessly delivered by Crystal Monee Hall.  When I listen to her sing, I am reminded of Annie Lenox.

The lyrics to this song are particularly noteworthy.  They are written by Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, with some of the lines tipping a hat to early songs by The Chieftans.  These lyrics perfectly compliment the band's vibe.  Listen to how the music rises as the verse ends, then settles down just as the next ve…

Inner City Life - Hackney Colliery Band

from the single Inner City Life (2013)

I find it interesting that jazz music is becoming a prominent element of the London indie record scene.  When you couple the ability of London to put out the most compelling popular music in the western hemisphere with the quality and complexity of jazz, the potential is limitless.

Inner City Life is a recent release on the Wah Wah 45 label that I have been digging a lot lately.

This song has the feel of an old Duke Ellington soundtrack, such as Anatomy Of A Murder.  It places you in a mysterious cityscape.  The chord progression is uneasy but predictable, giving you a sense of pending doom.  This is accented by the mad drumming and blaring horns.  I particularly find the drumming on this record superb.

The other thing I really dig about this song is watching the music video.  The music is so well suited for the video of a man walking with a brief case thru the city, building a sense of anticipation, before the bizarre climax.

London Jazz.  There …

What I Might Do - Ben Pearce

from the single What I Might Do (Radio Edit) (2013)

Tonight, I went to a neighborhood park for movie night.  Pee Wee's Big Adventure was on the docket.  Good flick.

Close to a dozen of my friends were there and it was a grand time.  Then the movie ended and everyone went home.  The problem is that I did not want to go home.  I wanted to keep the party rolling.  Instead I was sentenced to my back deck, alone, listening to tunes.

I was locked into my late night groove mix, which contains some recent dance tunes that I really dig.  Top of the list was What I Might Do by London DJ/Producer Ben Pearce.  His PurpSoul label has one of the London indie labels I have been tracking as of late.

The big bouncing beat, the staccato vocal line, and the moody keys create a vibe that put me out on the town.  Too bad I am not in a club listening to this song write now.

Click Here to watch the music video for What I Might Do.

Stop Tonight - Yellowbirds

from the album Songs From The Vanished Frontier (2013)

Hey baby, let's go out tonight...  With this opening line, Sam Cohen and company kick off a psychedelic folk tune that I really dig.

Unlike classic psychedelia that can leave a listener freaking out and licking the wallpaper, on Stop Tonight the listener is taken to a happy place where they can explore the infinite possibilities of love.

This pleasure field begins with an erie space age vibe that quickly crescendos with beautiful orchestration that transports you to a higher plain.  From here, the visual imagery of "the stars surely shining somewhere" for cooped-up lovers unfold over a great bass line, tasty drumming that create the foundation for all the other wonderful instrumentation.

If you have the opportunity to listen to this song on high-end speakers, you will be treated to well crafted tones and production.  If you are in a psychedelic mood, you will be treated to something even more glorious.

Click Here to l…

Eurozone - Shine 2009

from the single Eurozone (2013)

I am an activist for a cause.  As is always the case, money is required for the cause to endure.  Initially, this comes from benefactors.  However, as the cause grows, securing additional revenue streams becomes essential to survival.  Then you wake up one morning from your idealistic dream and realize that money is the cause.

The Eurozone is a cause that started with the lofty ideal of creating peace and prosperity for its millions of inhabitants.  It has effectively become an economic union whose survival relies on money.  The major difference between their cause and mine is that the leaders of the Eurozone are using it to become obscenely rich.

With that as a backdrop. I totally dig the tune Eurozone by Shine 2009.

This dance song has a great hook line that goes "It's easy when you know how to do it / Let's make a profit."  As I groove to the beat, this lyric creates a vision of rich Euro-bastards dancing with champagne in the hands…

Can't Pretend - Tom Odell

from the album Long Way Down (2013)

In May 1972, a 22 year old Bruce Springsteen auditioned for Columbia Records.  The recording opens his collection of rarities titled Tracks, with the engineer announcing "Bruce Springsteen.  Columbia Pop Audition.  Job number 79628.  Mary Queen of Arkansas.  Take One."  What follows is magic, as the young musician strums his guitar and sings his song.  With each note, you hear the raw talent that will make rock and roll history.  I get chills listening to it.

I am reminded of this when I listen to the song Can't Pretend.  At the age of 21, Tom Odell walked into a studio and recorded what would become his first single for Columbia Records.  I can't help but wonder if someone forty years from now will listen and have the same experience I do with Mary Queen of Arkansas.

What talent this young Brit has.  His skills as a songwriter, singer, and musician are on full display as he leads his band thru this track.  Listening to the quality…

Be My Monster Love - David Murray

from the album Be My Monster Love (2013)

My next door neighbor is a writer for our city's major newspaper.  He is a quiet chap, rarely saying hello, simply nodding as he works on his never-ending landscape project.

The one thing that I know about him is that he is a serious jazz enthusiast.  Miles & Monk can be heard coming from deep inside his brick house on any given morning.  When visitors stop by, Duke Ellington and Stan Getz seem to be his preference.

I often wonder what he makes of the eclectic cacophony that blares from my back deck most evenings I'm in town.  The joy of transitioning a mix from Shoegaze to Beach Goth to Nigerian Funk is likely lost on him.  This supports my theory that good speakers make good neighbors.

However, on weekend mornings, I am sometimes inclined to put on a jazz mix.  My most common mix is of swingin' tunes.  Stuff like Ella singing The Cow Cow Boogie.  It are these moments that keep him from calling the cops.

Saturday morning, I was…

Marathon Man - The Icarus Line

from the album Slave Vows (2013)

Of all the music out there, how much of it is really exciting to listen to?  For me, not too much.

The Doors were probably the most exciting band I can think of.  Songs like Five To One or The Unknown Soldier best make the case.  When I listen, I never quite know where they are going next.  And when it does, it is unexpected and awesome.  Couple that with Jim Morrison's aura and the song becomes an experience.

The song Marathon Man by The Icarus Line excites me.  This is a heavy rock tune with drenching guitar playing that leaves you exhausted after almost 7 minutes.  This sensation is largely created by the guitar that screeches over a steady beat and bass groove.  It is monumental distortion and feedback that comes and goes.  When it comes, the bass and drums explode into mayhem.  When it goes the bass and drums fall back into the beat and groove.  It is a thrill.  I dig how the snare drum sounds like a gunshot.

The other thing that makes this so…

Amped Up - Robert Randolph & The Family Band

from the album Lickety Split (2013)

Once upon I time, I had a roommate who occasionally went by the name Hollywood.  He was a different kind of cat, and the fun we had together was pretty out there.  He had a serious obsession with his image, often spending hours in the mirror striking poses to a copy of People magazine.  This paid off, as his Linkedin photo is unquestionably the best in my network.

He also had the most impressive workout regiment of anyone I've known.  This included 45 minutes of intense jump roping every day.  I created the mix tape for these sessions, doing my best to fill it with the most uptempo songs I could find.  Songs like Night Time by The J. Geils Band, Got The Time by Joe Jackson, and a slew of Ramones tunes were staples.  However, he would inevitably say "I need something faster."

When I first heard the song Amped Up by Robert Randolph & The Family Band, I immediately thought of Hollywood.  This song would have made his workout tape.  It…

Playboys Of The Western World - Minks

from the album Tides End (2013)

In recent months, I have been finding myself increasingly fond of the SynthPop crowd.  No doubt that part of it is a romantic attachment to the synthesizer bands of the 1980's, although at the time I was far more aligned with guitar bands.  To a larger extent, the major driver is that successful bands in this genre value the musical elements that I admire most in a song.  Things like songwriting, musicianship, melody, and vocals.

I also dig the crowds at SynthPop shows.  They tend to be happy people.  You never feel like a fight is going to break out.

Playboys of the Western World by Minks has been spinning in my regular rotation this week.  As I listen, I imagine myself on a late autumn afternoon having cocktails and a smoke with friends overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in a town like Sea Ranch.  Then I climb into the convertible and cruise along the coastal route, past towns like Gualala and Bodega Bay, jamming to some awesome mix before entering San…

7 Times Around The Sun - The Jim Jones Revue

from the album 7 Times Around The Sun (2013)

Nick Jones is the drummer for the Jim Jones Revue.  His performance on the song 7 Times Around The Sun is inspired, providing a test book example of a rock and roll drummer's responsibility to "establish the beat and maintain the beat."

This song is built on his galloping pattern played hard with brushes on the snare accented by powerful kicks on the bass drum.  There are no bass guitar or rhythm guitar tracks to establish a groove, just Nick Jones and his never faltering beat, naked and alone for all the world to hear.  Here's to you, Mr. Jones.

The drumming lays the foundation for two additional instruments, a thundering rockabilly piano track and a pair of maracas.  Above this is Jim Jones, leading a call and response vocal that sounds like something out of a prison movie.

The drumming and arrangement create a rough and tumble vibe that I really dig.

Click Here for the official music video.

Click Here for a live version r…

Foreign Films - Hills Like Elephants

from the album Feral Flocks (2013)

The first thing that attracted me to the band Hills Like Elephants was their name.  As an Ernest Hemingway fan, I immediately picked up the reference to his short story Hills Like White Elephants.    This resulted in me going to the shelves and picking up my early edition of Men Without Women.  This 1927 collection of short stories features some of Hemingway's finest work.

Thumbing thru the book I realized that the story immediately following Hills Like White Elephants is The Killers.  I like thinking that this was a conscious choice, placing them forever ahead of Brandon Flowers and Company.

My favorite tune in their catalogue is Foreign Films.  My first listen brought me back to a day - many moons and several asteroids ago - when I picked up Talking Heads '77 at a used record shop in Milwaukee and spent the next year losing myself in every beat and measure.

This song has many of the same qualities as that classic album.  The bouncing octave…

Pelican Man - Youth Lagoon

from the album Wondrous Bughouse (2013)

I have a thing for pelicans.  They are just too cool.  Flying low, dive bombing for chow, all the while looking majestically silly.  If I were reincarnated, I wouldn't mind being one.  That said, I was naturally attracted to the song Pelican Man when it was released earlier this year.

Youth Lagoon has created a wonderfully imaginative song here.  The bass, drums, effect-heavy guitars, and assorted keyboards come together to create a series of sweeping movements that evoke everything from symphonic cascades to electronic drone.

My favorite part begins about a minute into the piece when the bass and drums kick-in behind a theatrical keyboard riff.  The music creates a sensation that I am actually a pelican in flight, gliding above the coastline, my keen eyes observing the beauty below.  It takes a special songwriter to create this imagery in a listener.

Then enter the second movement with vocals (this song does not have a typical lyric structu…

No Expression - The Sufis

from the album Inventions (2013)

When you think of Nashville, psychedelic music is typically not the first thing that comes to mind.  The Sufis are out to change that.

On their latest album, Inventions, I am really digging the tune No Expression.  From the first note, the drum beat and the guitar tone remind me on the more psychedelic pop tunes of mid-60's Beatles albums, particularly Revolver.  You could hear Ringo Starr banging out the uptempo beat.

The song also sports a host of little things that keep me hitting the repeat button:

-->  The choice of keyboard tones.  From the farfisa lurking in the background of the choruses to the song's cheap electric piano lead, these accents perfectly craft the thrilling vibe.

-->  The way the backing vocals hold a sustained chord over a snare roll on the first chorus.  Then, on the second chorus, the beat changes to create a new groove.  These choices of beats are pretty cool.

-->  The production team.  Although it is lo-fi, i…

Big Surprise - Carbon / Silicon

from the single Big Surprise (2013)

With Joe Strummer gone, the Clash fanatic in me need not look too far for inspiration.  Mick Jones' band Carbon / Silicon released the single Big Surprise a few months ago.  It is such a positive and uplifting song.  Each verse contains lines that ring like mantras in my mind.  Here is a taste:

Great tomorrows lie in wait
With much to celebrate
And paradise lost will be found
The good times always come around

Oh-oh, I'm alive, we're alive
Oh-oh, I survived, we survived
As the sun will always rise
Cause along comes another one
And life's a big surprise

Maybe today is one of those days
To be astounded and amazed
And seeing that laughter in your face
Restores my faith in the human race

There are few songs that strike a deep personal chord in me.  This is one of them.

Click Here to watch the official music video.

Drinkin' - Holly Williams

from the album The Highway (2013)

One of my funky friends is second cousin to Hank Williams.  That makes her redneck royalty.

Yesterday, we were at a birthday party and she extended an invite to join her for a show by one of her kinfolk - Holly Williams - in a couple of weeks.  I did my best not to freak out.  I have been diggin' her tune Drinkin' since I first heard it back in January.  I had never made the Hank connection, let alone the funky friend one.

This song is so well written.  For example, if you only listened to the first line of each verse, you would get the gist of the entire song.  Here they are:

Why are you drinkin' like the night is young?
Why are you screamin' like I don't have ears?
Why are you cheatin' on a woman like this?
Why are you leavin' like we don't exist?
Now, I'm here drinkin' like the night is young.

Equally impressive are the music and arrangement.  The softly picked acoustics, the minimalist bass line, the subliminal d…

In the City - Tim Timebomb

from the single In The City (2013)

Aspiring artists, writers, and musicians are often taught that the best way to achieve their potential is to practice their craft every day.  This can be grueling, but the results are undeniable.  My personal experience is that frequent blogging has greatly improved my writing skills.

Tim Armstrong, best known as the guitarist and vocalist for Rancid, has fully bought into this philosophy.  Under the pseudonym Tim Timebomb, he has committed to release a new song every day in 2013.

These songs consist largely of cover versions of tunes that span everything from Sittin' On The Dock Of A Bay by Otis Redding to Concrete Jungle by The Specials.  The song I am particularly digging this week is In The City, that was released yesterday.  This song is an instrumental version of The Jam's 1977 classic.  Viva Paul Weller.

Listening to this song, I am struck by how effortless it seems.  No doubt the result of his daily routine.  The musicians sound so at…

Evil Twin - Buddy Guy

from the album Rhythm & Blues (2013)

So, how does Stephen Tyler really gets his rocks off?  Jamming with Buddy Guy, that's how !!!

This week, the 77 year old blues legend released Rhythm & Blues, a 2CD set of new material with one CD dedicated to rhythm and the other dedicated to blues.  Included on the "blues" disc is Evil Twin, which features Stephen Tyler, Joe Perry, and Brad Whitford of Aerosmith.

What a thrill it must have been for the Aerosmith gang to record with one of the few remaining legends of Chess Records.  When rock gods look for role models, the great bluesmen must be at the top of the list.  They set the example that you are never too old to rock and roll.  Just look at B.B. King, age 87.

Evil Twin is a song about an unfaithful woman denying accusations of infidelity.  This results in the hook line, "If that ain't you baby, well it must be your evil twin."  Nice blues theme.

Stephen Tyler takes the second verse.  You can hear his det…

Garden Of Love - Winston Mcanuff & Fixi

from the EP Garden Of Love (2013)

When I first listened to Garden Of Love by Winston Mcanuff & Fixi, I was struck by its curiously original vibe.  It is the first song I have ever heard that places me in a Paris cafĂ© watching a reggae singer front a group of local street musicians.  I dig that.

With a bit of research, I discovered that Winston Mcannuf is a Jamaican reggae singer who realized a three album career in the late '70's.  In 2002, he moved to Europe and signed a record deal in France.  This rejuvenated his prospects, uncovering an enthusiastic audience, particularly in France.

I also learned that Fixi is a stage name for Camille Bazbaz, a highly-regarded French musician and composer with an impressive catalogue of albums and motion picture soundtracks to his credit.

Together they have put together a record that I find captivating.  Musically, the song consists of three instruments: piano, accordion, and percussion.  The piano track is a four-note pattern running …