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Showing posts from 2015

Aqua Teen Dream - Patti Smith

from the TV series finale of Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2015)

The elegy is one of the most sanctified forms of poetry or song, lamenting on death since the days of the ancient greeks.

In the world of western music, there is perhaps no artist more qualified to deliver an elegy than Patti Smith.

Last night, she delivered a musical elegy at the close of the series finale for the Adult Swim cartoon series Aqua Teen Hunger Force.  What a brilliant way to go!

In a deadpan style, Patti Smith sings:

I never dreamed
I'd be an Aqua Teen
Thirteen seasons
What did it mean?
A Master Shake
Meatwad, a floating head
And now you're dead
And it's the end
of Aqua Teen Hunger Force
It's the end
of Aqua Teen Hunger Force

So, grab a Kleenex and have a listen.

Click Here to listen to Aqua Teen Dream.

Meet The Mets - Yo La Tengo

from the album Yo La Tengo Is Murdering The Classics (2006)

Last Wednesday night, New York Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores broke into tears on the field during a game against the Padres.  Apparently, social media went viral with reports that he had been traded to Milwaukee to the point that many in the home town crowd gave him a standing ovation when he came to bat.

They say that nobody cries in baseball, but Mets fans understand Flores' emotions.  Our hearts get broken all the time.

So, in honor of Wlmer Flores and Mets fans everywhere, here is Yo La Tengo performing a lo-fi cover of the New York Mets theme song.

Click Here to listen to You La Tengo perform Meet The Mets.  Dig Keith Hernandez holding a cigarette.

Click Here to watch Wilmer Flores getting emotional amid trade rumors.

Click Here to watch Wilmer Flores hit a game winning home run two nights later.

Brokedown Palace - Watkins Family Hour

from the album Watkins Family Hour (2015)

I recently read about the funeral for a young deadhead where her friends sang Brokedown Palace in her honor.  What a beautiful tribute!

This song off of American Beauty is beyond enchanting.  The space between the notes and the moving lyric approach perfection.  I can't imagine keeping a dry eye in the room as they sang:

Fare thee well
Fare thee well
I love you more than words can tell
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
To rock my soul

Closing their debut album, Watkins Family Hour deliver a thoughtful rendition of this song with the grace and care it deserves.  Each instrument plays with restraint.  The vocals are tender and thoughtful.

After losing myself in this song, I learned that the band consists of members of Nickel Creek and Fiona Apple.  Two great tastes that taste great together.

Click Here to watch Watkins Family Hour perform Brokedown Palace on CBS This Morning.

Click Here to listen to the original version of Brokedown Palace by Th…

Taste The Ceiling - Wilco

from the album Star Wars (2015)

Sometimes, all it takes is a single line for me to be forever hooked into a song.

Such is the case Taste The Ceiling from Wilco's brand new, unexpected release.  The line poses the questions:

Why do our disasters creep so slowly into view?

I've been singing this line like a mantra.  I've picked up the old acoustic and learned the chords so I can sing along.  I've been scanning my freeze frame of a world looking for creepers (and finding them).

It is fantastic when a song reveals a universal truth that otherwise goes unnoticed.  Here is the full lyric:

I was only asking for a moment of the truth
I can't fight the feeling when I'm hanging out with you
Why do I forgive you because I get confused
I could never leave behind the part of me that you refuse

I was on the ceiling I could almost feel the sun
Try the words in sequence but that's never how it's done
Why do our disasters creep so slowly into view
I was only after a friend to fo…

Music Flows North - Jack Yoder

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Production Notes from EP

A few weeks ago, Jack Yoder released Music Flows North on 40 Watt Records.  I had the great privilege of producing this EP.

I have known Jack for twenty years and have seen him play everywhere from jam-packed clubs to my funky old sofa.  I wildly admire his talent and aimed to create a record that captured his tone and technique in a manner that was authentic and pure.  Most musicians I know would pucker at the thought of this, but Jack is a musician's musician who simply grinned and said "Well, All Right."

We decided that the best place to make this record was in New Orleans.  This is where Jack lived and played in the years surrounding Hurricane Katrina.  This is also the place where Jack seasoned his chops and evolved from a player to a musician.



The Musicians

Accompanying Jack on the record is Gregory "Li'l G" Rosary.  Li'l G and Jack used to play together regularly, everywhere from street corners to festivals.  Reuniting the…

The Magic of Music

Just came across this video of a violinist at the Pairi Daiza - a zoo and botanical garden in Belgium - serenading and appreciative elephant.

What this says about the importance of beautiful music to sentient beings cannot be overstated.  Enjoy.
Click Here to view.

Shame - Young Fathers

from the album White Men Are Black Men Too (2015)

Over the years, one of the recurring issues that I have had with this blog is its format.  In particularly, the documenting of individual songs does not allow me to write about albums I dig.  This is compounded by the struggle I often have in determining which track on the album "I dig most."  This consternation results in my not writing about any of the songs, thereby not sharing great songs with my cherished readers.

This is certainly the case with the album White Men Are Black Men Too by Young Fathers.  This is by far my favorite album of 2015, thus far.  It is a complete work that transcends genres with a fresh and modern bounce that I find infectious.

Putting a gun to my head, the song I have listed above is the quick-tempo'd and catchy single, Shame.  However, it could easily be any of half a dozen other tracks on this Scottish band's great album.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Shame.

Click Here

The Magnificence of Restraint

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Last night, Richie Beans and I caught a Booker T. Jones show at Eddies Attic in Decatur, Georgia.

This is the third time that I have had a chance to see Booker T, the first was at the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden and the second was on a ridiculously hot day at Dobbins Air Force Base outside of Atlanta when he performed with the MGs.  These two concerts rank among the greatest shows I have ever seen.

To me, the genius of Booker T is in his restraint.  In a musical world that always pushes towards "louder-faster", Booker T has crafted his music in a way that caps both volume and tempo.  This creates a natural tension for the listener and places an emphasis on the music's tone, technique, and structure.



The magnificence of his music is that - despite the greatness of the musicians - nobody ever overplays.  Last night you heard it in songs like Born Under A Bad Sign (he co-wrote this song for Albert King when he was 22 years old, introducing an…

Somethings Weren't Meant To Be - Eilen Jewell

from the album Sundown Over Ghost Town (2015)

A lucky horseshoe in an pile of junk.  A hot rod decaying in the thorns and the weeds.  Daisy seeds planted.  Yesterday's sages.  Dried up old cactus.  These are all visual images in Eilen Jewell's new song Something's Weren't Meant To Be.

Coping with a world of unrealized dreams is part of the human condition.  A failed business.  A relationship that didn't work out.  The guitar sitting in the corner of the room that never gets played.  These are all a part of life.

I really dig how Eilen Jewell captures this reality in a melancholy country waltz.  It is a beautiful musical form that is perfectly suited to capture a sad, universal truth.

I also dig the craft in assembling this song.  The soft country piano, the steel guitar that sounds like a teardrop, the thud of the snare, the grit in the lead guitar tone.  Each tone is magnificently placed and restrained.

And then there is the curious choice of "somethings"…

Butterfly - Rocky Dawuni

from the album Branches Of The Same Tree (2015)

I regularly find myself thinking about the great songwriters who sang for social change but died too young.  I think about the songs they might have written and wonder how they would frame this crazy, messed up world.  John Lennon.  Joe Strummer.  Bob Marley.  You know them.

But these songwriters are all multi-sided.  They have each written some of the greatest songs of love and unity I have heard.  Truth is, great songwriters are in touch with all things human.  Protest, love, you name it.

Anyhow, I became overjoyed when Ghanan super-star, Rocky Dawuni, covered a nearly unknown Bob Marley tune.  The song Butterfly was a demo that was later released as a rarity.  It is a love song like only Bob Marley can write.

Rocky Dawuni does this song justice.  I dig the backing vocals, the relaxed strumming, and the not-to-over-the-top orchestration.

It is crazy to think of all the great music that might have been...

Click Here to listen to Rocky Da…

See That My Grave Is Kept Clean - Mavis Staples

from the EP Your Good Fortune (2015)

See That My Grave Is Kept Clean is one of the most lasting blues songs.  Originally recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1927, it has subsequently been recorded by music greats including Bob Dylan (he recorded it twice), B.B. King (my personal favorite rendition), Lou Reed, The Grateful Dead, Son House, and Widespread Panic.  In fact, it has even been sung by Andy Griffith on his TV show (he sang it to Otis in the drunk tank).

Mavis Staples is the latest to tackle this number on her latest, exquisite EP, Your Good Fortune.  To be honest, the only thing that kept me from writing about this EP is not knowing which song I dug most.

Then came last weekend, chillin' with my funky friends, and cranking the four songs.  See That My Grave Is Kept Clean won the listening session.  A great song in the hands of a great singer.  The magic formula.

Mavis Staples continues to release great recordings at age 75.  Her voice is part of the fabric of American mus…

Cool Collie - Hopeton Lewis

from the forthcoming album Take It Easy With The Rock Steady Beat (2015)

On September 4, 2014 Hopeton Lewis died of kidney failure in Brooklyn, New York at the age of 66.

Lost on too many music lovers is his contribution to the world of reggae music.  Hailing from Kingston, Jamaica, Hopeton Lewis recorded some of the greatest rocksteady tunes of the late 1960's and early 1970's.  These songs are some of the finest this genre ever produced.

In a few weeks, a compilation of these dongs - Take It Easy With The Rock Steady Beat - will be released.  This is an essential album for your record collection.

The collection includes Cool Collie, a 1967 song noted as being the first Jamaican song to endorse smoking marijuana.  For those unfamiliar, the Urban Dictionary defines Collie as "some dank ass marijuana" and offer its use in the sentence: "Raymond smoked collie weed on his wedding night.  It got him high as shit."

Subject matter aside, this song is mesmerizing …

Brass Plant - Vibration Lab

from the EP The Brass Plant (2015)

It is a beautiful Friday morning.  The sun is rising and there is dew on all the pretty flowers.

Today is a day for chillin' and groovin'.

The first tune of the morning is Brass Plant from the UK dub/reggae outfit Vibration Lab.  Total groove. Perfectly restrained.  Dig the horns.  Minimal vocals lend great hooks.  Stellar production.  I dig it.

Click Here to listen to Brass Plant by Vibration Lab.

100Mc4 - Trickfinger

from the album Trickfinger (2015)

If necessity is the mother of invention, who are the parents of reinvention?

Why did Julia Child not write her first cookbook until age 50?  Why did Grandma Moses become a painter at age 78?  What inspired Peter Roget to begin compiling his thesaurus at age 70?  There are people in this world who are driven towards reinvention.  Towards embracing new tools.  Towards trying something new.

These thoughts are bouncing around my brain when I listen to the new album by Trickfinger.  This is an electronica album of the acid variety.  It is also a testament to the personal reinvention of John Frusciante, former lead guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  What compels a guitar hero to leave it behind for synths and sequencers?

Picasso referred to it as the "sun in my belly."

So, check out the tune 100Mc4.  I believe it is named after a data delay device, but I am only guessing.  I dig this track.  It's in the synth riff, the tones, and knowin…

Courage - Villagers

from the album Darling Arithmetic (2015)

Last night, I broke out my secret strawberry daiquiri recipe.  It is likely not that different than a thousand other recipes, but this one is mine and it is a secret.  That counts for something.

I took my dogs and walked down to a floating dock on a secluded southern lake.  I sat there as the late evening turned to night.  Drinking and thinking about the past eighteen months while my dogs patrolled the dock waiting for the sweeping bats to get close enough to die.

I thought about how everything derailed for me over those months.  But somehow, I stuck it thru and just might have come out the other side.  I think of the friends I've lost along the way.  Some forever, others hopefully not.

Then I started thinking about this blog.  Thinking about how last August I all but shut it down only to find I could not walk away.  I also thought about the promises I made to myself to find my way back into the world of music.

It feels like I've comple…

Holy Road - The Blind Shake

from the album Fly Right (2015)

Nothing like an 89-second metal explosion to keep an insomniac from going back to sleep.  That and too much sugar in the margarita mix.

Anyhow, great job naming a band The Blind Shake!  It sure got me to check them out.

And I'm glad it did.  This song has an almost surf guitar sensibility in its metal wrapper.  You hear it in the drumming, the descending chord progression, and the central riff.  In fact, during the intro, I almost expected them to break into The Munster's theme song.  I dig it.

Click Here to listen to The Blind Shake perform Holy Road.

Some Days I'm Golden All Night - Josh Rouse

from the album The Embers Of Time (2015)

This morning, I heard the song Some Days I'm Golden All Night by Josh Rouse for the first time and I can't stop digging it.

This song has a city-boy-crossing-the-country-on-a-greyhound sensibility that reminds me of Harry Nilsson singing Everybody's Talkin' (even though the Midnight Cowboy metaphor is reversed).

Some Days I'm Golden All Night shares many of the finest attributes with the Harry Nilsson classic.  Of course, this starts with the songwriting.  A simple, rambling melody with a vocal line that is easy to sing along with the exception of some higher-register notes that are fun to try hitting.  The lyrics provide gentle visual imagery that matches the vibe.  The vocals are delivered pure and clean.  The arrangement rises and falls, carrying the listener along the journey.

But my favorite part of this song is the drumming.  The galloping beat from the brushes on a snare is perfect for the rambling vibe.  It is the com…

Whispering Pines - Boz Scaggs

from the album A Fool To Care (2015)

Whispering Pines is a wonderfully spacious ballad that was written by Richard Manual and Robbie Robertson.  It first appeared in 1969 on The Band's second album, The Band.

This week, the song was released on Boz Scaggs' latest album as a duet with the splendid Lucinda Williams.  Her vulnerable, whiskey-soaked vocals leads off the track, backed a five piece band featuring rich accordion tones and a haunting keyboard track.  Listening to these two instruments play off each other is spellbinding.

I particularly enjoy how the accordion leads during Lucinda Williams' vocals and then takes a backseat to the keyboard during the Boz Scaggs verse.

Oddly, I do not like it so much during the parts when they are both singing.  Perhaps it is because their voices are each so captivating that they distract from one another.  It is a curious thing.

The other thing I really dig about this song is how it takes me back to that sophomore album by The Band. …

Hold On Magnolia - Glen Hansard

from the album It Was Triumph We Once Proposed ... Songs Of Jason Molina (2015)

Jason Molina was a talented and tortured soul.  Over his 39 years on this planet, his wrote and performed lasting songs that evoked both melodic beauty and desolation in the rich tones and spaces between the notes.

I was fortunate to be introduced to the music of his revolving band Songs: Ohia by a bartender in Oregon ten or so years ago.  The music spoke to me then, and still does today.

My favorite song was (and still is) Hold On Magnolia.  I find it both mournful and uplifting.  It is the kind of song I could picture The Band performing (with either Rick Danko or Levon Helm singing).  I dig the way this tune touches me in the solitude of a wine-soaked night.

This week a collection of Jason Molina songs was released by Glen Hansard.  His treatment to these songs is respectful and pure.  His tonal quality of his Irish voice is well suited for the material and adds the necessary authenticity for a proper c…

Depreston - Courtney Barnett

from the forthcoming album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)

I really dig Courtney Barnett's deadpan, rambling style.  Songs like Avant Gardener and History Eraser are staples in most of my newer music playlists.

With great anticipation, I devoured the two pre-releases from her forthcoming album, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.  The song Depreston plays repeatedly on all my devices.

This song captures me with its visual imagery.  Like many great songs, the little images paint a collective landscape that beautifully collects time and place.

You said that we should look out further
I guess it wouldn't hurt us
We'd needn't have to be at all these coffee shops
Now we got that percolator
Never made a latte greater
I'm saving 23 dollars a weeks

We drive to a house in Preston
We see police arresting
A man with his hand in a bag
How's that for first impressions
This place seems depressing
Its the California bungalow in a cup-de-sac

Lit…

America - First Aid Kit

from the EP America (2015)

Sometimes when I listen to Simon & Garfunkel, I simply sit in awe of them as songwriters and performers.  However, I find myself listening to them increasingly less over the years.  Music rolls on.

Hearing the First Aid Kit cover of their classic tune America serves as a powerful reminder of just how great the poet and the one man band truly were.

The lyrics contain countless visual images that combine to capture time & place & youth with chilling artfulness.  "Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike".  "The man in the gaberdine suit was really a spy".  "Toss me a cigarette, I think there's one in my raincoat."  "Cathy I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburg."

Fantastic.

Not to be forgotten are the beautiful descending chord progression, vocal arrangements, and melody line.

Thank you to First Aid Kit for capturing all these qualities in this thoughtful reproduction.  Its newness reminds us al…

Midnight - Tor Miller

from the EP Headlights (2015)

There is nothing I dig more than a well written song.  Particularly songs with lyrics that create lasting visual images.

I also dig songs about New York City, my ancestral home.

The song Midnight by Tor Miller contains all of these things.

The music is magnificent.  A well recorded piano serves as the central instrument.  It plays sustained chords early on, allowing you to synchronize yourself with their progression and appreciate the lyrics, vocals, and melody line.  Drums and bass soon enter, along with other accompaniment.

The music intertwines with the vocals.  Together they leverage to create a series of powerful crescendos.  The vocals are stellar.

Then there is my favorite part: the visual imagery centered on "the lonely hours of midnight."  Dive bars, car fumes, angry drunks, rumbling concrete, two stumbling lovers, someone buying a loosie, the Holland Tunnel.  They all take me back to that fine metropolis.

Great to hear such a well craf…

American Beauty - Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors

from the album Medicine (2015)

American Beauty is a beautifully subtle song.

I dig the tone of the guitar.  It is clean and crisp, with a rounded sound to the strings that adds a warmth that I find appealing.  The song also contains space that allows the melodic rhythms and musical intricacies to evolve.

This music is the perfect complement to Drew Holcomb's vocals, which are pure with an underlaying vulnerability.

Together the vocals and music make each other stronger and more rugged, much like the American Beauty rose.

The lyrics are also thoughtful and tender:

With her wayfarers on
In the summer sun
Her touch felt like a loaded gun
Wish I had held her longer
Wish I had held her longer

A sweet song for mellower times.

Click Here to watch the official video to American Beauty.

Dangerous - Rumer

from the album Into Colour (2014)

Friday mornings often put me in a silly mood in anticipation of a groovy weekend.

This morning, I am cranking out one of my favorite pop ditties of 2014, Dangerous by Rumer.

Dig the '70s production complete with disco strings.  How grand?

Is your love too dangerous?

Click Here to listen to Dangerous.

diskhat ALL prepared1mixed 13 - Aphex Twin

from the EP Computer Controlled Acoustic Instrumentals pt2 (2015)

Today, I am pounding on a keyboard trying to write 3000 words on something far less interesting than modern music.  Fortunately, my work environment allows me to crank tunes.

When writing, I prefer listening to instrumentals.  They provide background enjoyment and do not clutter my mind with lyrics.  Unless, of course, I am generating a tear-stained email, in which case I would be cranking Blood On the Tracks.

The new Aphex Twin EP Computer Controlled Acoustic Instrumentals pt2 is the flavor of the day.  The sonic clarity is amazing.  In fact, it sounded so good that I broke out my Sony Studio Headphones for the 3rd listening.

My favorite track is diskhat ALL prepared1mixed 13.  This is not a campfire sing-a-long by any stretch.  It is well arranged electronic sounds and pulses, ambient piano, and a funky rhythmic underbelly.  It creates the perfect groove for the task of the day.  Spacious. Textured.  Stimulating.

Click…

Santaria - The Black Ryder

from the album The Door Behind The Door (2015)

One of my favorite bands of all time are The Jesus And Mary Chain.  It is mind boggling that yesterday they announced a tour to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their debut album, Psychocandy.

That album helped define my listening in the 80s.  Tracks like Just Like Honey, Some Candy Talking, and You Trip Me Up helped introduce me to dark wave music.  I still crave it thirty years later.

That vibe and tonal quality have resonated ever since.  A great example is the song Santaria from the forthcoming album by The Black Ryder, The Door Behind The Door.  I really dig this tune.

From the opening tone of the notes gently picked on an electric guitar, with echoing drums sitting in the background, I am instantly sucked in to this song.  The droning vocals further excite me for the next three minutes.  Then WHAM power chords ring as the intensity level builds while maintaining a post punk afterglow.

I plan on making a point of catching The Blac…

Atom Dance - Bjork

from the album Vulnikcura (2015)

I've got a friend named Johnny Valdosta.  He is a bonafide Bjork freak.

Any gathering at his house inevitably climaxes with Bjork videos synchronized on four walls with music booming louder than any Miami night club.  When Bjork is played anywhere else, he devolves to the point of losing his dignity.

Our friends know better than to ever even mention Iceland's eclectic princess.

So next time we're are all gathered together, I look forward to asking "So what do you think of the new Bjork album, Johnny?"

He will be so happy.

I will share that my favorite track on the album is Atom Dance.  I imagine his jaw agape and eyes unblinking in the splendor of this unexpected choice.  The orchestral arrangement, the vocals, the second half which forms a song within a song.  As someone in cyberspace offered "her own personal beat heavy and sadly beautiful Blood On The Tracks."  I dig it.

Does Johnny Valdosta think you're cool?

Clic…

I'm In Love With You - Ryan Adams

from the single Do You Laugh When You Lie? (2014)

Love.  Exciting and New.  If only it were that easy.

Once upon a time, I was a freckle faced boy with a somewhat naive view of love.  Bopping around like Super Mario with a bouquet of daisies in my hand for that special someone.  Singing along to Paul McCartney songs like nothing else mattered.  And it didn't.

Good news is that that kid still lives inside me and pops his head out from time to time.  However, I have also grown to understand that love ever evolving in its complexity.  Like a fine wine.

I've been happily exploring those more nuanced elements of love lately.  Finding meaning in the art of Marc Chagall, the books of Graham Greene, and the poems of Jose Garcia Villa.  Did you really think I would mention Larry Flint?

So, when Ryan Adams released a song titled I'm In Love With You, I needed to know if he would be rhyming love with above, or perhaps rubber glove.

It is both pure and dark.  Alone with his feelings.…

Dalia Lama Big Banana Marijuana - Dune Rats

from the album Dune Rats (2014)

Welcome to 2015.  My resolution for this year is to embrace fun and silly at every turn.  Life is simply too short.  I'm gonna laugh my way thru whatever time I have left.

Difficult in the face of global jihad and intolerant people everywhere who can't take a fucking joke.  We would all benefit if they would just roll it, lick it, suck it, feel it.

What better way to start an irreverent new year than with a song by Dune Rats, a trio of lo-fi surf punks from Brisbane, Australia, and their tune Dalia Lama Big Banana Marijuana?  No smarter choice of spiritual leader to pick on in song, since this endearing Tibetan is least likely to open a can of fatwa.  In fact, he wouldn't hurt a fly.  Dig the Dalia.

My favorite thing about this song is how the syllables bounce of my tongue like silly bells in a childish melody.  Makes me happy.

You can find this tune on Bandcamp.

Click Here to watch the video to Dalia Lama Big Banana Marijuana.