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Showing posts from April, 2016

Space To Bakersfield - Black Mountain

from the album IV (2016)

A good rule in life is to always seek out friends with excellent speakers and great record collections.  A funky friend in Cabbagetown turned me on to the latest release by Black Mountain a few weeks ago.  It sounded great.

His killer speakers enveloped the open space with all sorts of throwback psychedelic rock vibes impeccably produced by Randall Dunn.  It was like a kaleidoscope in my ears, channeling the best of classic, 70s psychedelia. (I need to hang out there more often).

I urge you to listen to this album in its entirety.  You'll be paid off with Space to Bakersfield, a nine minute Pink Floyd-esque soundscape that could have appeared on Wish You Were Here.  Lush textures float by as cleaving guitar leads slaughter you like a calf.

And while you're transcending, check out the fantastic cover art (that tips the hat to the above mentioned Floyd album imagery).  This cover also pays tribute to Led Zeppelin's first album (with The Hindenburg in…

Mercury Rise - Electric Eye

from the album Different Sun (2016)

When you listen to as much music as I do, your mind becomes a catalogue of tones, melodies, grooves, and vibes.  It is often hard to listen to a new song and not hear something that reminds you of an old song.

I try not to write about those similarities too much out of respect to the artists.  When some jackass blogger (like myself) points out these similarities it implies plagiarism which is hurtful to the artist and rarely the case.

However, there are times when I believe (completely subjectively) that the band is paying homage to an influence or an icon.  Under these circumstances I may write about the similarity.

Electric Eye are an eclectic psychedelic group from Bergen, Norway.  Their music is very original and very good.

On their latest album - Different Sun - the song Mercury Rise really grabs me.  The thing about this song is that the vibe and the vocal melody are wickedly like T. Rex's Bang A Gong.  Check it out.  Soon you'll be si…

Bad Texan - The Lucid Dream

from the single Bad Texan (2016)

The Lucid Dream are an outstanding group of neo-psychedelic blastmasters from the UK.  Their 2013 single Love In My Veins is a playlist staple whenever my funky friends stop by, finding itself in the company of Hookworms, The Roaring 420s, Singapore Sling, and Super Furry Animals.

Their latest single is titled Bad Texan, which causes me to grin due to my love-hate relationship with various Lone Star State citizens.  I really dig this tune.

Check out the sound of the drum kit in the opening measures.  Have you ever heard anything so real?

Then come the guitars and synths, echo and reverb on ten.  Is this some kind of space aged love song?  I'm falling in love...

This band plays hard and tight.

Click Here to watch the official music video to Bad Texan.

I Have Some Business Out West - Hookworms

from the album Hookworms (2016)

Hookworms are one of my favorite bands in recent years.  Their records can be played in their entirety providing a great end-to-end sonic experience.

I particularly like it when they play psychedelia over a strong groove.  Such is the case with I Have Some Business Out West, my favorite track on their latest eponymous record.  The long sustained keyboards over the groove and tight drum rhythm becomes hypnotic.

The female vocals enter next.  They are more spoken than sung adding an irreverence to the vibe that I quite enjoy.  Then at the three minute mark the band kicks into a controlled mayhem that is exhilarating.  Next they break it down and build it back up to a chaotic climax.

Enjoy the ride...

Click Here to listen to I Have Some Business Out West.

Peace Of Mind - Peter Wolf

from the album A Cure for Loneliness (2016)

In the decade before their smash hit albums Love Stinks and Freeze Frame, The J. Geils Band was one of the most incredible American bands to ever hit the stage.  They mixed a stomping blues fury with classic R&B and Soul.  Their concerts erupted in rapture leaving exhilarated fans breathless and drenched in sweat.

At the center of it was Peter Wolf, the dance-happy frontman who made Mick Jagger look like one legged pirate, holding court over some of the greatest party music ever performed.

At age 70, he has released a new album - A Cure For Loneliness - that drips with all kinds of great American styles, but mostly southern R&B and soul.

The song I've been digging off the record is Peace Of Mind.  I can't get over how effortless this song feels.  Making music this good is never easy.  How do they make it sound so chill?  I keep listening and can't figure it out.  I also dig the opening lyrics:

When I was a young man
I belie…

Time Wind - M83

from the album Junk (2016)

Last night, I had a chance to sit outside with a yummy tequila drink and sit under the stars cranking Junk, the latest album by M83.

The fifteen songs are presented as a complete recording, an album intended to be listened to from start to finish.  It is also meant to be listened to loud as it its dynamic variations from softly-sung  french vocals over piano to soaring, big groove numbers.  I plan to listen to this record often.

Time Wind is a song that I really dig.  It combines a funky bass groove with M83's trademark piano and vocal melody lines that recall 70s groups - like The Alan Parsons Project - and 80s artists like Dream Academy.

Adding to my soft spot for this tune is that it features a cameo appearance by Beck.

Click Here to listen to Time Wind by M83.

Peaches - The Roosevelts

from the album The Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn (2016)

I've seen a band of highly-talented musicians approach the line where they needed to either quit their day jobs and totally commit, or go home.  Most went home.  The Committed One rambled from town to town, sometimes living in his van, an ultimately succeeded.  I dig that.

Likewise, when James Mason and Jason Kloess stood at that line they had much to lose.  For James, a career in medicine, Jason in technology.  The Roosevelts are the result of their choosing music, the fruits of which were witnessed when they blew the roof off SXSW last month.

On their sophomore release - The Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn - you hear the dedication anywhere your ears focus.  The craftsmanship in the songwriting.  The tender inflections in the vocals and harmonies.  The melody lines.  The tone.  These guys own their sound.

The Roosevelts website cites three musical influences:  James Taylor, Joe Cocker, and Ryan Adams.  Quite a t…

Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin' - Sammy Walker

from the album Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin' (2016)

Once upon a time, radio disc jockeys had the freedom to play the music of their choice.  People tuned in and listened, as a trusted source guided them thru music that was most relevant irrespective of genres and formats.

WBAI was a New York City radio station with its antenna atop the Empire State Building.  In the 1960's and 70's it allowed its disc jockeys to experiment with their musical choices and opinions.  This helped give rise to the counterculture.

One of WBAI's DJs - Bob Fass - had a jewel of a program called Radio Unnamable. This was a free form show that weaved between music and left wing politics.  The quality of artists who stopped by to perform on this program was staggering.  This is where Arlo Guthrie first performed Alice's Restaurant.  It is also where Jerry Jeff Walker first performed Mr. Bojangles.

Other musical guests included Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Muddy Waters, and Frank Zappa.  Likewise, the…

Lingerie & Candlewax - Mayer Hawthorne

from the album Man About Town (2016)

Flying home from a week in Vegas.  Can't really talk about it.

Las Vegas is a crazy house of mirrors.  Millions of stories about real people in a world of adult make believe.   It has a certain seedy element that attracts me, similar to Bukowski's LA.

So here is a song I was digging all week by Mayer Hawthorne, Lingerie & Candlewax.  R&B with a deep groove, slick city horns, and back-up singers straight from a Donald Fagan after-hours party.  A snappy beat, cool synths, and a vibe that makes me want to crack the cognac.

I also dig the serpentining melody lines throughout the vocal arrangements.  It won't take long before you're singing:

Smokin' in the Cadillac
Take a hit pass it back
Starts with this ends with that
Lingerie and candlewax

And then the female singers chime in with an appreciative "You know what I need, babe."

You need this song in your late night party mix.

Click Here to listen to Lingerie & Candl…

Berlin Got Blurry - Parquet Courts

from the album Human Performance (2016)

Happy Monday!!!  Flew into Vegas on a late night flight rockin' to the new Parquet Court's album, Human Performance.

My favorite tune is Berlin Got Blurry.  Dig the spaghetti-western guitar stylings, the cheeky keyboard riff, the catchy bass groove, the good-bloke vocals.  This is artsy, post-punk, garage rock at its best.

Hail Brooklyn, mecca of fantastic music !!!

Click Here to watch the official music video to Berlin Got Blurry.

A Life Worth Living - Quantic

from the forthcoming album 1000 Watts (2016)

Will Holland is a master of the vibe and the groove.

Starting his career in his native England, Will Holland - under the name Quantic - evolved his musicianship while branching into DJing and Record Producing, where he was known for deep, nasty funk and classic soul.

In 2007, he moved to Cali, Columbia and opened a recording studio.  One exciting outcome was the formation of his Flowering Inferno project, an ever-changing collective of musicians from the region.  Their sound combined elements of reggae and dub with other tropical forms like salsa, cumbia, and bossa nova.  When coupled with his DJ acumen and producing chops, it flourished.

In 2014, he relocated to NYC.

On his forthcoming album - 1000 Watts - Quantic presents his Flowering Inferno featuring Jamaican toastmaster U-Roy and Brit soul singer Alice Russell.  The first release is the song A Life Worth Living.  Take a listen and loose yourself for five minutes.  If you are anything…

In Bloom - Sturgill Simpson

from the album A Sailor's Guide To Earth (2016)

Back in January, I started this year with a blog post on Sturgill Simpson's incredible country remake of When In Rome's new wave classic The Promise off of his 2013 album Metamodern Sounds In Country Music.

On his new album, A Sailor's Guide To Earth, he has done it again with a cover version of Nirvana's In Bloom.

In the future, I will surely write about some of his original songs on this new album, but for today, I hope you enjoy this fantastic rendition of a great song.

Click Here to listen to Sturgill Simpson cover Nirvana's In Bloom.

Click Here to read my January 2016 blog post on Sturgill Simpson's cover of When In Rome's The Promise.

Love Don't Let Me Down - Hayes Carll

from the album Lovers And Leavers (2016)

The TV pundits keep talking about the anger that spans our country.  They keep wondering how those in the beltway bubble missed it.  Funny thing is that they are not getting it either.

The murky currents that run though most folks I know have little to do with anger.  They are more aligned with emptiness and hollowness.  So many of us get up every morning, fight the good fight, and bust our ass, only to slip a little further back, finding ourselves a little less secure.

This leaves many of us empty vessels looking towards love for purpose.  Oh, how we play with fire.

On the song Love Don't Let Me Down, Hayes Carll touches that spot like only the finest Texas singer-songwriter can.  A quiet song with a tender lyric.  Play it on a wine-soaked night and mourn the loves you have lost with a song of hope in these rock hard times.

Under the sun, ain't nothing new
There's lovers and leavers and moments forgotten
And dreams that don't ever…

The Curse Of Hypervigilance (In Politics, Romance, And Cohabitation) - Open Mike Eagle & Paul White

from the album Hella Personal Film Festival (2016)

There are many reasons I have been digging The Curse Of Hypervigilance (In Politics, Romance, & Cohabitation) by the LA-based Hip-Hop/Rap artist Open Mike Eagle and UK-based Producer/Instrumentalist Paul White, starting with the song title.

From there, I found myself instantly hooked by the intro consisting of human whistling over quarter-note piano chords.  I cannot recall ever hearing a rap song with such an acoustically pure vibe.

Making this vibe even more special is that this is a downtempo song.  It is all about the groove without any of that punch-you-in-the-face attitude.  I always dig a good groove.

Third is the lyrical content and vocal performance.  My favorite part is the use of the word dang.  I really dig this word (or is it an expression)?

Dang, I should have known, I should have known
Dang, I've seen it all, I've seen it all

If you have a chance, check out this full album.  It is a great listen filled with a…

Dance Like Fire - Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals

from the album Call It What It Is (2016)

For over twenty years, Ben Harper has consistently released some of the most thoughtful and beautiful music I have known.  Songs of love.  Songs of protest.  Songs of peace.  Songs of home.  His music is woven into the soundtrack of my life.

Dance Like Fire is the latest addition to my soundtrack.  It is a mellow roots tune with an incredible melody.  The musicianship is spot on.  The production has uncommon clarity.  And then there is Ben Harper's voice delivering yet another magnificent lyric:

It takes four men to carry a coffin
But just one to carry a cross
Takes a lifetime to find yourself
A split second to be lost
If we could dance like fire
We'd never get burned

The song takes me back to the first time I heard Ben Harper, in the mid-90s living room of two sound engineers in Decatur, Georgia.  They were convinced that Ben Harper was the real deal, a voice for a new generation.  We drank Bloody Mary's and listened to his record over an…

Otis Was A Polar Bear - Allison Miller

from the album Otis Was A Polar Bear (2016)

Is there anything more inspiring than life?

When NYC jazz drummer Allison Miller and her partner Rachel celebrated the birth of their daughter Josie last year, it inspired her to create some very beautiful art.  Ten original compositions are captured on her new album, Otis Was A Polar Bear.  The title alone makes me smile.

The thing about the record that I really dig is its vibe, which takes the listener to an intimate place where like-minded musicians gather and play softly together.  I usually associate this kind of vibe with a gaggle of guitarists making some form of roots music, not city folk playing jazz.  But here it is, as intimate as a campfire.

Allison Miller's sextet - Boom Tic Boom - consists of upright bass, drums, piano, violin, clarinet, and cornet.  They are all restrained and accomplished in their approach and technique.

On the title track, we are treated to a thoughtful arrangement that sometimes hints of an oriental mor…

People Get Ready...

It has been four years since I started this blog.  I revered this as a golden decade in music (ultimately they all are) and sought to find some hidden gems.

Every week, I would unearth a few.  Great songs hidden in Brooklyn, Brixton, Melbourne, or some other corner of the world.
Then came 2015, a year that seriously shook my belief in this eternal bubbler.
Hopes hung on a new year.
Well after three good months, April is turning out to be the best month for new music that I have ever known.
Emerse yourself.  Surf's up.  Cowabunga.

Changes - Charles Bradley

from the album Changes (2016)

In the month's since David Bowie's death, scores of artists have payed tribute by covering one of his classic songs.  When I learned that Charles Bradley was including a soul version of Changes on his new album, I was eager to take a listen.

Much to my surprise, it wasn't a David Bowie song he was covering but rather a Black Sabbath song.  Dig it.

Changes is a song on the 1972 album Volume 4, an album where Sabbath first began experimenting with new textures and tones.  The song is nearly a piano ballad, with Tony Iommi putting down his guitar to bang out long, sustained piano chords.  To this accompaniment, Ozzie Osbourne puts his vocal chops on fine display.  I love listening to Ozzie sing this song because it reminds me that Ozzie can really fucking sing.

Interestingly, this song is often played at funerals for Metal Heads.  Enough for guessing Electric Funeral...

So Charles Bradley's cover is a total delight.  A slow, Stax-dripping soul…