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Showing posts from June, 2014

1,2,3,4 - Autoramas & B'Negão

from the EP AutoBoogie (2014)

Autoramas are a garage/surf band from Río de Janeiro.  Their 2011 instrumental cover version of New Order's Blue Monday is one of my favorite songs in recent years.  I have been eagerly waiting for this band to release some new music for me to sink my ears into ever since.

This spring they released the EP AutoBoogie.  My favorite of its four songs is 1,2,3,4.  This tune features that same, incredible guitar tone as Blue Monday.  When I wrote about them in 2012, I described that tone as the sound of insects drilling into your teeth.  That still applies.  So does the stellar drumming and bass playing.

Of course, the person who turned counting to four into an art form was Dee Dee Ramone.  I am not sure if Dee Dee was the inspiration for this song, but I hope so.  If nothing else, this song kicked me into listening to the Ramones Rocket To Russia album.  That might just be the greatest album ever.

Click Here to watch Autoramas perform 1,2,3,4 live and then…

Lonely Life - Dick Diver

from the forthcoming single/EP Fruits & Flowers (2014)

Coloured Stone are an Aboriginal band from the Koonibba Mission in southern Australia.  Their music is a wonderful mix of reggae, ska, funk, and rock with a cool aboriginal vibe.  Their 1984 song Black Boy remains their high water mark despite producing three decades of high-calibre, original music.

I dig that the Australian indie-rock outfit Dick Diver has covered Coloured Stone on their upcoming release, Fruits & Flowers.  This act brings increased attention to a great band.

The song Lonely Life has a pop americana vibe sounding like it could have been written on the back of a Greyhound crossing Wyoming on a fall day.  I dig the country twang, the strum of the acoustic guitar, and the harmonies.  I also like the effect of the steel drum sounding instrument (that may even be a steel drum).

If you are not familiar with Dick Diver, do yourself a favor and check them out.  Their 2013 album Calendar Days was amongst my favori…

Take Away These Early Grave Blues - Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra

from the album Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything (2014)

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra are an experimental rock band from Montreal, Canada with a firm foundation in hardcore bands, with Black Flag, Minutemen, and Minor Threat as influences.

Guitarist Efrim Menuck also cites the influence of Deerhoof, stating "there's a way to unreal a melody so its the oddest sounding thing in the world that we're always excited whenever we can even hint at it."

Take Away These Early Grave Blues is a song that achieves melodic hooks and threads woven in a discordant grunted out drone.  Listen to it several times and you realize it is a different type of pop tune.  Really.

In particular, I dig the drum beat and vocals most.  The beat is the centerpiece of this song with its pounding toms matching the vocals in repeating "Take away these, take away these" that creates the foundation for all the other cacophony.

Give this tune a shot.

Click Here to listen to…

Why? - Ginger Baker

from the album Why? (2014)

A friend of mine has a t-shirt that reads "I may be old, but I got to see all the cool bands."  This shirt had the odd effect of making me wish I was older.  You know, Woodstock old.  If only I could have seen The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience,  or The Beatles.  Guess I'm not old enough.

Cream is another band that I wish I had caught live.  By the time I was hanging out in hippie dens - harmonizing "I Feel Free" with my barefoot, incense burning, tie-dye wearing, tambourine rattlin' sisters and brothers - they had gone their separate ways.

Ginger Baker took the road less traveled.  After Cream and Blind Faith, he followed the beat of his own eclectic drum to Africa, playing with the immortal Fela Kuti.  He also drummed for Public Image Ltd, Jeff Beck, Bill Frisell, and on Paul McCartney's Band On The Run album.

At seventy-four, he continues his journey playing daredevil jazz in a band that does not allow chords. Thats rig…

I'm A Man - James Skelly & The Intenders

from the album Love Undercover (2014)

James Skelly & The Intenders are a Liverpool band that released their debut album earlier this month.    Listening to just how tight their perform, I am guessing they have spent years honing their craft in local bars, and such.

I dig their song I'm A Man from the opening mariachi horns.  The drumming and piano tracks join the horns in carrying the tune.  The drums offer that steady snare beat with subtle variations that shift the song confidently thru the arrangement.  The piano adds a rollicking American bounce to the vibe before delivering a great solo.

I also dig the lyrics, particularly the chorus:

You can work me to the bone
Try to turn my heart to stone
But I'm a man
And you'll never take my soul

It is exciting to have a first listen from such an accomplished new band.

Click Here to listen to I'm A Man.

No Justice No Peace - Roy Davis Jr.

from the album Destroy & Rebuild (2014)

Chicago house musician Roy Davis Jr. has laid down a cool, lounge vibe with the tune No Justice No Peace.  The craftsmanship of this song is expectantly stellar, as Roy Davis Jr. is also an accomplished producer working with artists including Seal, Patti LaBelle, Mary J. Blige, and Daft Punk's music label.

But what really turns me on is the application of a protest theme to this musical genre.  When I hear this song, I immediately think of Peter Tosh singing "I don't want no peace.  I want equal rights and justice" or "Have you ever been to jail for justice" by Peter, Paul, & Mary.

However here it is simply spoken.  No emotion, just four words:  no justice no peace.  No need to get angry or rile people up.  This song says "This is who we are.  Real people who aren't going to take any shit."  It is just a stated fact.  I dig that.

Click Here to listen to a segment of No Justice No Peace on SoundClo…

I Try To Talk To You - Hercules and Love Affair

from the album The Feast Of The Broken Heart (2014)

My greatest blogging regret to date is not writing about the song GMF by John Grant.  It was amongst the songs I absolutely digged most in 2013.

The initial reason for this omission was that GMF stands for "Greatest Mother Fucker."  When I started this blog, I wrote down some guiding principles for my voice and two of them were to avoid songs about drug use and profanity-laced songs.  The latter excluded GMF.

As the year wore on, I began to introduce profanity and dropped a few drug innuendoes (much to the rebuke of my funky friends).  Still I did not write about this song.  I am not sure why.  I wrote entries on it several times but never hit "publish."  When I look back at my Top 25 of 2013 list, this song would clearly have made the cut.

Hercules and Love Affair are a NYC collective headed by DJ Andrew Butler, who - according to Wikipedia - "began his musical career at 15, DJing in a Denver leather bar run…

Disco Hi-Life - Orlando Julius

from the reissued album Disco Hi-Life (2014)

I really dig the latest wave of Afrobeat music that is gaining global popularity.  Over the past year, I have caught great Afrobeat shows in London, San Francisco, and NYC.  I love how people lose themselves in the groove.

In the 1970's there was another Arfobeat wave that originated in Nigeria.  It was best represented by musicians like Fela Kuti.  This music was inherently African with western genres injected.  However, there were artists - like Orlando Julius - who infused larger doses of soul and R&B into their music.

Disco Hi-Life is a reissue of a 1978 record.  This record stands at the intersection of Disco and Afrobeat.  It is amazingly catchy.

It is wonderful to see the lost records of african musicians - like Orlando Julius and William Omeador - finding new audiences nearly 40 years after there initial release.  I hope it serves as inspiration to today's musicians to explore the intersections of great groove music.

Click…

Lighthouse - Ziggy Marley

from the album Fly Rasta (2014)

Not far from my ancestral home, a lighthouse has stood for a few hundred years.

As a kid, my father used to take me there to walk around the dunes and sandy road.  At certain times of the year, we would count migratory birds for the Audubon Society.  He loved being there with his family.

In the years since his death, that lighthouse has become very special to me both for the memories and as a metaphor for the man I admire most.  So the song Lighthouse by Ziggy Marley strikes a heartfelt chord for me.  The song is sung to his siblings while also containing a message to his deceased father.  I particularly dig the chorus:

I'm holding up the fire
Lighting up the sky
Like a lighthouse on the ocean
Bring you home alright

As someone who carries the torch for a great man, I get it.

Click Here to listen to the album version of Lighthouse.

Click Here to watch Lighthouse performed live.

Long Legged Blonde Memphis - Margot & The Nuclear So and So's

from the album Slingshot To Heaven (2014)

The song Long Legged Blonde Memphis has been bouncing around my brain for the past few months.  This song has gotten its hooks into me more than any other song released so far this year.  It is a simple, catchy, indie rock song with a pop sensibility.

Why are songs like this an exception?  Why can't seasoned songwriters crank out tunes like this every hour?  It just seems too easy.

At its core, this song has a very catchy chorus.  But it consists of the same three or four chords that you find in tens of thousands of tunes across the genre.  The verse consists of a five note pattern that almost anyone can pick up a guitar and play.  The drum beat and bass line are inherently simple.  This just isn't that hard.

If you take it another level down, you find strong visual imagery (long legged blonde), magnificent tone (particularly the guitar), a tempo that is not too rushed (a sign of maturity), and a smoldering vocal performance that reson…

Eliza - Peter Murphy

from the album Lion (2014)

Last Thursday night, I had the good fortune to guest host on The Fuzz Factory with Brett Callero on SCAD Atlanta Radio.  This was a high honor for me as this has long stood as my favorite internet radio show.

The theme for that evening's show was Girls of Summer with each song containing a female name.  I came prepared to contribute (with a little help from my friend, Richie Beans) but found it hard to add value to the steady rockin' vibe of this well considered broadcast.

Perhaps my best contribution was the song Eliza from Peter Murphy's latest album, Lion.  This song was the perfect next track to Molly's Chamber by Kings of Leon.  This song's hard edge, with guitars reminiscent of dental work and an MG-42 like rhythm section, sounded magnificent.  Topping it off was the beauty of Peter Murphy's voice.  He has amazed me with every release since his Bauhaus days.

Join me in celebrating the triumph of internet radio.  It is that speci…

IMF - Seun Kuti & Egypt 80

from the album A Long Way To The Beginning (2014)

The intersection of protest and song is likely as old as mankind itself.  It bonds us and gives power to everyday people.

One the greatest - and most overlooked - protest singers of the 20th century was Fela Kuti.  This Nigerian bandleader gave voice to the people of West Africa against the corruption and theft by their governments and elites.  He was to afrobeat what Bob Marley was to reggae.

Today, his youngest son - Seun - leads his father's great band Egypt 80 and carries the banner for social change thru music.  Last month, he helped arrange street protests against the inaction of the Nigerian government to combat Boko Haram and the kidnapping of 270 schoolgirls.  The protests were met by tear gas.

Nowhere is the power of his music - and the tradition of his father - better captured than on the song IMF.  A blistering condemnation of the International Monetary Fund (International Mother Fuckers) this song features mighty horns…

Hey Mr. Grey - Bob Mould

from the album Beauty & Ruin (2014)

In my opinion, there is no purer rock & roll ensemble than the power trio.  Bass, guitar, and drums.  In this configuration, each instrumentalist has great responsibility and freedom allowing them to find the ultimate form of expression.

The drummer's job is to establish the beat and maintain the beat.  The bassist establishes the groove and maintains the groove.  The guitarist provides the rhythm and color.  Within this framework, they are free to experiment without interference from other musicians.

The great power trios make this look easy.  Think of Cream or The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  The Who.  The Ramones.  ZZ Top.  Their sounds are so full and unique.

Bob Mould is a master of the power trio.  Husker Dü and Sugar are legendary.   But even in his solo work, he has put together great power trios.  His latest band includes Jason Narducy on bass and Jon Wurster on drums.  Together, these three musicians create a monster sound that ec…

Serious Time - Mungo's Hi Fi

from the album Serious Time (2014)

I dig the spirit of Jamaican Sound System culture.  In this setting, MCs, DJs, and engineers collaborate to create reggae, ska, and rocksteady music.  This approach results in creativity, experimentation, and discovery.  What's not to dig?

Mungo's Hi Fi have established the sound system culture in their hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.  This ever morphing collaborative has found a wildly receptive audience across the UK and Europe.  Their latest album, Serious Time, is one of the best cover-to-cover reggae recordings I have heard in some time.  It is the perfect soundtrack for your next barbecue.

The title track is a real stand out.  The retro-reggae-ska vibe is complete a cool horn riff that locks me in.  From this foundation, the vocals can really shine.  I dig both the make and female performances.  I also like the central lyric:

These are serious time
You'd better mind when your walk
Where you walk
Who your walking with

Try this song with a…

Just Can't Win - Lee Fields & The Expressions

from the album Emma Jean (2014)

A few nights ago, I partied into the wee hours with a group of my funky friends.  It was an intoxicating night with booze, pretty women, and musical instruments always within arms reach. Nothing like watching friends dance beneath the stars to a mandolin waltz being played on a front porch by neighborhood musicians to remind you why the south is so special.

Somewhere around 2AM, someone began playing Hall & Oates.  I think it was an extension of a discussion about their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Soon, people were singing Sara Smile and a bunch of their other soulful classics.

I woke up the next afternoon, thinking about Hall, Oates, and the sweet soul of Philadelphia.  I put on the Delfonics and lost myself in their sound.  Man, I dig it.

Fast forward to this morning.  I woke up at 4am to start another leg of my never ending tour.  Before heading to the airport, I had the good sense to download the new album by Lee Fields & T…

Silver Timothy - Damien Jurado

from the album Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son (2014)

Here is a great psychedelic tune to start off your surreal week.

I really dig the vibe to this tune.  Always a fan of the more acoustic elements of psychedelia, this song features acoustic guitar, flute, and subdued lead vocals.  These are counterbalanced by some stellar drumming, synthesizers, grooving bass, a wicked lead guitar, and trippy vocals.

This is the first working Monday of your own, personal, summer of love.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Silver Timothy.