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Showing posts from August, 2016

Semaphore - Flock of Dimes

from the album If You See Me, Say Yes (2016)

As a person who deeply appreciates the meaning and the visual imagery of lyrics, I tend to become obsessive in my pursuit of meaning when listening the well-crafted song of a thoughtful lyricist.

As a result, I became all-consumed in my quest to comprehend the song Semaphore by Flock of Dimes.  As an exceptional songwriter, Jenn Wasner - better known as the front woman for the Baltimore band Wye Oak - must have had a specific visual image in mind when naming a song Semaphore.  The problem I have is not knowing which definition for the word she is using.

I am most familiar with the word in a computer programming context, where a semaphore is symbol that is used to act as a "gate" to prevent run away processes from occurring.  Inside this framework, the hook line "I'm too far gone for a semaphore" is fucking brilliant.  I interpret the meaning as her saying "It is too late.  My mind is already racing and I cannot …

No Me Gustas, Te Quiero - The Parrots

from the album Los Niños Sin Miedo (2016)

Garage Rock from Spain with an early psychedelic vibe.

I dig this song for the tripy guitar tones, drum beat, and vocals (particularly when they sing together).

Can't wait to lay this one on my funky friends...

Click Here to listen to No Me Gustas, Te Quiero.

Fukushima - San Pedro el Cortez

from the album Un Poco Más de Luz (2016)

Mexican Beach Goth !!!  Just what my soul demands.

Based in Tijuana, San Pedro el Cortez creates a stirring blend of surf, garage, psychedelia, and punk into something I really dig, particularly the song Fukushima.

Listening to the surf meets modern spy vibe puts me on an exotic beach with a mystery companion.  Sun drenched.  Burnt out.  Riding that psychedelic wave until the moon shines bright and the tequila takes charge.

Click Here to listen to Fukushima.

Davy Gets The Girl - The Minus 5

from the album Of Monkees And Men (2016)

If not for the ever keen attention of The Minus 5's frontman - Scott McCaughey - an important pop culture anniversary might have gone unnoticed:  The 50th Anniversary of The Monkees !!!

Instead, we celebrate this momentous occasion by reveling in a cheeky collection of original songs paying tribute to Michael, Davy, Peter, and Mickey - television's original rock band !!!

And as any Monkee's fan knows:

Davy gets the girl
Davy gets the girl
Davy always gets the girl

What they might not know is that Gene Roddenberry created the Star Trek character Chekov as an attempt to emulate the wildly popular Davy Jones.

This song will leave you singing its chorus endlessly.  It will also send you in search of Daydream Believer, I'm A Believer, and Last Train To Clarksville.

But do yourself a favor and check out the other tunes on this record.  You will find tracks like Michael Nesmith andBlue Rickenbacker only add to your groovy mood.  (Note tha…

Forever Love - Dolly Parton

from the album Pure & Simple (2016)

Dolly Parton is one of the greatest songwriters in all of music.  She also has a great voice.

But the thing that separates Dolly from the rest of the pack is her unabashed honesty.  She never tries to be anything but authentic and that endears her to me.

Last week, she released the album Pure & Simple, a record celebrating fifty years of marriage to Carl Dean.  It is a testament to enduring love.

Knowing that this record is a love letter, I jumped immediately to the closing track - Forever Love - and needed to go no further:

You touch me it's like no one else ever touched me
Kiss me and all other kisses just fade
No other arms come to mind when you hold me
As if ever knew that for you I was made

You are my joy and my laughter
You hung the moon and you gave the stars light
You are my ever after
Forever love, the light of my life

This is pure and simple, like a love song needs to be.

Click Here to listen to Dolly Parton sing Forever Love.

Drowning Here With All My Friends - Infinity Crush

from the album Warmth Equation (2016)

Lately, I have had multiple friends talk to me about the dramatic rise in suicide rates across the United States.  They tell me that these rate are at their highest in over thirty years and that the fastest growing group are men between the ages of 45-64, which is increasing at a rate exceeding 50%.

My inner existentialist can't help but wonder if they are concerned for my well being or their own.  It could go either way...

This has resulted in my taking notice of the song Drowning Here With All My Friends by Infinity Crush, the brainchild of Maryland's Caroline White.

There is a line in this song that can't seem to escape my mind: "We tell each other that we are pretty until the day we die."  Thank goodness we do.  In this crazy messed up world, these tiny positive affirmations might be all that keep us from passing the razor around?

Where would we be without our friends?  Our collective bond brings us purpose and meaning.

A…

State Trooper - Son Little

from the single State Trooper (2016)

What is the best Bruce Springsteen album?

What is your favorite Bruce Springsteen album?

Are they the same album?

So, for me, I would answer that the best Springsteen album is Born To Run.  Aside from all the classic songs, I credit the greatness of the album to the individual performances of the E Street Band members, in particular Clarence Clemons and Roy Bittan.  When I listen to the two of them on Meeting Across The River and Jungleland, my jaw drops every time.  Bruce's vocal on Backstreets also gives me chills.

But my favorite album is Nebraska (although on some days I might answer Darkness On The Edge Of Town).  The power of the stark vibe, coupled with the songwriting and lo-fi production, create a brutal intimacy that changed my view of what a "great record" really is.  I believe it also inspired the other brutally intimate record I dig, American Recordings by Johnny Cash.

These things are on my mind because of a cover of Sta…

The Riot - Apache

from the single The Riot (2016)

After being sidelined for the past nine weeks with an expected career disruption, my never-ending-tour is back on the road today with a gig in New Jersey.

The anticipation is putting a strain on my speakers.  Top of the list is The Riot by Apache.  This song is a riotous 70's garage ditty, complete with power chords, crashing cymbals, and an exuberant rock and roll attitude.

Just the thing to kick off the next leg of the tour.  I'll see you down at the riot.

Click Here to watch the official music video for The Riot.

Thunderlove - Igbo

from the single Thunderlove (2016)

Once upon a time, in the basement of a middle-class house, in a middle-class neighborhood, in a middle-class suburban town, three boys wrote a song called Thunder Lover.   They thought it was their ticket to fame and fortune.  Their ticket to a destiny yet to be fulfilled.

As they sit in their cubicles, reading this blog, I hope they think about the brotherhood created by making music with their closest friends.  I hope they think about how playing music in that basement helped unlock their inner groove in a way that only music can.  I hope they think about how much richer they were then - and are today - because of that undying dream that was born in a song called Thunder Lover.

Today, I celebrate those boys with the song Thunderlove by the band Igbo.  Igbo hails from Brooklyn, NYC - home of the most diverse and important independent music in the world today.  Their eclectic dance vibe is organic and fun.  Their energy makes me want to join the band…

Baby Be Mine - Coco O.

from the single Baby Be Mine (2016)

Coco O. is a Danish singer currently based in Los Angeles.  She is best known for being part of the duo Quadron, where she is paired with Robin Hannibal of Rhye.

With Baby Be Mine, she takes on the mighty task of covering a Michael Jackson song from Thriller.  This takes quite a set of ... lungs.  Covering Michael is no easy task.

I dig the downtempo vibe and the purity of the vocals.  Michael Jackson sang with sincerity and innocence.  I always believed that this is what drove his ability to connect with people so deeply through his music.  Coco O. has captured some of that here.  When sings "Hold me.  Only you and I can make sweet love this way," my mind is taken to a special place.

This is a good choice for your late night slow jam mix.

Click Here to listen to Baby Be Mine on SoundCloud.

Click Here to read my June 2013 blog post of Hey Love by Quadron.

Love Rain Down - Mondo Freaks

from the album Plastic World, Vol. 1 (2016)

OK.  Here is a little secret.  I am a closet dancer.

My moves are more elusive than a Blue-footed Booby.  You will almost never find them on a dance floor.  For if you did, people would stare, people would laugh, and others would certainly shriek.  Not that it is all that awful, more that it creates a spectacle that most mortals simply cannot handle.  Let's just call it unconventional.

I was twice asked by security guards at the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw to stop a demonstration of my dance moves.  They did not buy that it was part of "the culture of my homeland."

But when I am alone, Overture, Curtain, Lights...

This usually starts when an old movie - like Saturday Night Fever - is playing on some odd channel.  Sometimes I am a bit more proactive, pulling out an old copy of Dance Craze and a bottle of Fireball.

Tonight was one of those nights.  The full moon shining bright on a humid patio.  The stereo pumped up loud.  My new Mai …

Could Be You - Allah-Las

from the album Calico Review (2016)

As I suspect every writer encounters the first time they dash off a piece about the band Allah-Las, I was faced with the dilemma of whether or not to mention that its members founded this group while working at Amoeba Records in Los Angeles.

The mention of this feels almost obligatory considering Amoeba's legendary status of the world's largest independent record store.  But who ever wants to write about the obligatory?  Yuck.

However, this time I do because it reminds me of a story in Willem de Kooning's biography.  In it, the 22 year-old artist stows away on a boat from his native Netherlands, arriving in Virginia in the summer of 1927.

As if by divine providence, he moves north to Hoboken, then across the river to mid-town Manhattan and finally to Greenwich Village, where he meets Jackson Pollack, Franz Klein, Mark Rothko and others to create Abstract Expressionism and form the New York school of art.

Whether consciously or unconsciou…

Party At Sunday - Cosmonauts

from the album A-Ok! (2016)

Cosmonauts are one of my favorite Beach Goth bands in the Burger Records stable.  Their mdic is uptempo and melodic, great for driving on the open road or getting' down with your funky friends.

And although their new record is filled with more great tunes in the same vein, I am hooked on Party On Sunday, a downtempo tune that maintains their measurable pop sensibilities.

Complimentary melodic textures are so fascinating when given space.  Listen to this song and let your mind run wild.  You are free, floating above the patio, smiling down on a party filled with colorful balloons.  Aah....

Click Here to watch the official music video for Party At Sunday.

Feeling Bad - Tom Lockett

from the single Feeling Bad (2016)

Much hubbub is made by those espousing the greatness of psychedelic rock.  However, many of us forget that this was largely an offshoot of psychedelic folk.

Travel back to 1965, to the arrival of Donovan in Scotland, of Jefferson Airplane in San Francisco.

Think of the vibe.  Think of those tones.  It is the sound of a moment in time.

Well with his debut solo single, Feeling Bad, former Electroshock Therapy frontman Tom Lockett has captured that sound with eerie preciseness.  Just take a listen and you will swear this is a 50 year old record.

Tom Lockett reportedly describes his music as "The Great Depression on acid."  His music is released on Magic Cactus Records.  How can't it be groovy?

Click Here to listen to Feeling Bad on Bandcamp.

The Axis - Thee Oh Sees

from the album A Weird Exits (2016)

Strap yourself in for a retro psychedelic vibe.

Don't you know how much I don't love you?
Don't you know how much I don't care?
And can't you see how much I don't need you?
Just like you were never really there

Beautifully detached lyrics that evoke Roger Waters.

Play this loud in your headphones, late at night, and don't wake your parents up.

Click Here to listen to The Axis.

Big Cat - Wild Beasts

from the album Boy King (2016)

One of the pitfalls of our current Do It Yourself music culture is the lack of attention paid by many to post-production.

This was brought to my attention recently when one of my funky friends was playing an 80's dance mix.  As I listened to bands like Erasure, Bronski Beat, and Pet Shop Boys, I was captivated by the quality of the production.  The music sounded "complete" and sounded like a "finished product."  The production contained a certain "sheen" to it that could be associated with quality.

It saddened me to realize that so many people neglect this in their record making.

My spirits were lifted when I heard the song Big Cat by Wild Beasts.  Aside from being an excellent song with excellent performances, this record has taken the time in post-production to craft a finished product.  Bravo.

Please take a listen to this tune and let me know if you hear what I am talking about.  It is a little intangible, but I hope …

Hanalei I Ka Pilimoe - Kalani Pe'a

from the album E Walea (2016)

This weekend marks the return of the Persaid meteor showers.

This year, my vantage point is far outside the city, with clear skies and a kick-ass set of speakers.  An imposing question: what music properly accompanies such a setting?

Truth is, plenty of music does.  A night of Gershwin.  A night of iconic instrumental jazz.  And tonight, a mix of magnificently soothing Hawaiian music.

I dig Hawaiian music for its unhurried tempo.  Many tropical locals run on "island time", but Hawaii's is ever more relaxed, with an unearthly ability to dampen your heart rate.  What better way to watch the heavens?

The mix included one new song of note: Hanalei I Ka Pilimoe by Kalani Pe'a.  Kalani is a new kind of Hawaiian cat, with his designer shades and choice of a necktie rather than the obligatory aloha shirt.  What would Don Ho say?

But his voice.  His voice is pure and otherworldly, almost reminiscent of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.  Listening to him…

Happy (Freestyle) - Squeegie O

from the single Happy (Freestyle) (2016)

I love what the democratization of music creation has done for my friends and family.

People I love in DEN, ATL, and NYC are all recording and releasing great music as we speak.  They are independent.  They are artists.  They are beautiful.

The fact that they live in cities allows them to more easily find other like minded people to collaborate with.  Together they find synergies that take them higher.  I dig that.

My cousin is a rapper on Staten Island.  Through him, my eyes and ears are open to the art of his community.  It makes me richer.

One of his contemporaries - Squeegie O - released his latest track yesterday.  Happy (Freestyle) leverages The Custodian of Records remix of Mary J. Blige's Be Happy as a foundation for his message:

Fake friends, false prophets, and broken promises
Can make a person feel nothing is worth accomplishing

Those are some great lyrics that would never have reached my ears in the past.

These are splendid days..…

Shut Up Kiss Me - Angel Olsen

from the forthcoming album My Woman (2016)

Sometimes, a kiss says it all.  Words need not be spoken, terms need not be negotiated.  Shut up, kiss me, hold me tight.  It is that simple.  If you don't get it, you need to go kiss someone special.

It just so happens that Shut Up, Kiss Me, Hold Me Tight is the central mantra to the latest song by the splendid Angel Olsen.

Add to it garage and punk tones coupled with a pop esthetic and you've got this cat's attention.

Who do you want to kiss?

Click Here to watch the official video to Shut Up Kiss Me.

Lichterschmaus - Pantha Du Prince

from the album The Triad (2016)

My Uncle Frank is an accomplished painter whose art appears in NYC gallery shows.  When I was noodling on painting many years ago, he offered some advise: "Don't try to paint in a style.  Paint as exactly as you can and your style will emerge."

Although I never became an artist, that advise continues to help me in my varied endeavors to this day.

Fast forward to May 2016 and the release of Pantha du Prince's album The Triad.  In Pitchfork's review of the album, contributor Nathan Reese opened with a captivating passage:

"Techno is often dismissed as clinical music, engineered for precision impact.  But an irony of the genre - that Hendrik Weber, who records as Pantha du Prince, deeply understands, is that, though technical by definition, techno is most satisfying when you can feel the human inside the machine."

This resulted in my rushing to my local record store and buying the CD.  For the past 10 weeks, I have listened …

(Looks Like) Someone Got Ahead Of Schedule On Their Medication - Charlie Hunter

from the album Everybody Has A Plan Until They Get Punched In The Mouth (2016)

I am often leery of jazz groups led by a guitarist.  I find many of these band leaders overly enamored with their skills and mistaken in thinking that listeners want to revel in their self indulgence.

Charlie Hunter is different.  He is all about bringing the composition to life and infiltrating the listener with thoughtful vibes.  He does this with various band formats, from his trio to larger ensembles.

I really dig his new album, particularly the song (Looks Like) Someone Got Ahead Of Schedule On Their Medication.  Based on a simple, understated drum beat this song has enough space between the beats to let your mind tell the story.  This is music to let your mind wander.

Listen to the expertness of the bass player and the horn sections.  They are totally in-sync with the beat, adding restrained accents that help take the listener to unexpected locations.  Also note the guitar, hanging back, letting the b…

Finder - Moderat

from the album III (2016)

Berlin tops my list of cities I would like to visit for the first time.  Aside from its history and architecture, I want to walk its streets.  I want to feel its vibe.

I picture myself sitting at a trendy bar in a boutique hotel.  The bar has a DJ in-residence who spins electronica that I have never heard before.  Each song takes me further down the wormhole.  I am consumed by the groove.  I am lost in the beat.  The cocktails take full effect.  Ich bin ein geist.

Moderat is a Berlin band I would expect to hear in this bar.  Their song Finder - with its staccato keyboard track and subliminal groove - would be part of my trip.  Wanna come?

Click Here to listen to Finder by Moderat.

Whatever That Girl Wants - Tijuana Panthers

from the EP Ghost Food (2016)

Beach Goth is back !!!

When I last wrote about Tijuana Panthers, I was bicycling around Amsterdam listening to their tune Forbidden Fruit.  This time around, I am floating in a pool surrounded by awesome speakers.  Both times, I am fully acclimated.

Tijuana Panthers latest EP - Ghost Food - consist of six excellent songs.  They manage to combine elements of surf with psychedelia with great effect.  This is most evident on the song Whatever That Girl Wants.

The bass, guitar, and drums sound like they could be playing in your living room.  The trademark vocals are heightened by trippy background vocals.  The production is magnificent.

The thing I dig most about this tune is the bass playing, which serves as the foundation for the psychedelic vibe.  I can't stop listening to it.

Click Here to listen Whatever That Girl Wants.

Click Here to listen to my previous post for Forbidden Fruit.

Beautiful Life - Lost Frequencies

from the single Beautiful Life (2016)

Felix De Laet - a.k.a. Lost Frequencies - is a 22 year old DJ from Belgium who has teamed up with Swedish signer-songwriter Sandro Cavazza to create the perfect uptempo dance song for the 6th day of August.

It's a beautiful, beautiful life...

Click Here to listen to Beautiful Life.

Disciplinary Procedure - William S. Burroughs

from the album Let Me Hang With You (2016)

William S. Burroughs stands alongside Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, Herbert Huncke, and Lucien Carr on the Mount Rushmore of Beat Generation writers.

I began reading him in my mid-twenties, starting with his first novel (I have a special affinity for artist's first statement to the world), Junkie.  I enjoyed the book so much that I rolled straight into his second novel, Queer, and then his third, the masterpiece Naked Lunch.

Naked Lunch was a difficult book for me to initially consume.  The book is not written in a conventional - linear - form.  Instead, it is written using a cut-up technique that Burroughs learned from painter Brion Gysin, where Ginsberg cuts-up and rearranges passages and sentences that detail various drug-induced vignettes to form something truly original.

Naked Lunch predicted a dark future that included many things that would later come to bare, like AIDS, liposuction, and crack cocaine.  It was banned in Boston due to…

Hometown Girl - ZHU

from the album Generationwhy (2016)

Here is an impeccably crafted dance tune from the debut album by ZHU.  Check it out.

I always dig first efforts by artists.  Dissecting them.  Figuring out their process, their influencers.

Beats.  Groove.  Melody.  Highs & Lows.  Clean tone.

I also dig the catch line "You'll never be my Hometown Girl.  Ain't nothing like her in this world."

Hometown Girls are special.

Click Here to listen to Hometown Girl.

Dance Together - Dele Sosimi (featuring Prince Fatty and Nostalgia 77)

from the EP You No Fit Touch Am In Dub (2016)

Dele Sosimi is a London-born keyboard player who moved to Nigeria at as a child.  By his 16th birthday, he was a full-fledged member of Fela Kuti's Egypt 80.  A staggering accomplishment.  He then helped Fela's son - Femi Kuti - create the band Positive Force and help drive the global AfroBeat explosion.

Today, he is back in London making music in many formats, large and small.  I had an opportunity to catch one of his shows at a club in Brixton a few years ago.  It was magical.

This summer, Wah Wah 45s - my favorite British indie label - put out an EP capturing dub remixes of last year's album, You No Fit Touch Am.  This record also includes a dub version of a song titled Dance Together, which does not appear on the original album.

I really dig this track.

This dub treatment of an AfroBeat performance is aided by jazz producer Nostalgia 77 and dub producer Prince Fatty.  Collectively, they create a delicious sonic concoction t…

Green River - Billy Gibbons & La Marisoul

from the album Quiero Creedence (2016)

The world's long wait for a latin tribute album dedicated to Creedence Clearwater Revival is over.  Now all we need to do is listen and rejoice.

My personal highlight on this record is the pairing of Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) and La Marisoul (La Santa Cecilia) to deliver a Tex-Mex celebration of Green River that is both bilingual and swamped out.

I dig hearing Billy Gibbons trademark guitar tones grinding out classic CCR riffs.  Add La Marisoul's booming voice throwing down lyrics in español, along with Billy, and I am in heaven.  The tripped out breakdown at the end of the tune is gravy.

Click Here to listen to Billy Gibons & La Marisoul cover CCR's Green River.

Narcissus Soaking Wet - Chris Robinson Brotherhood

from the album Any Way You Love, We Know How You Feel (2016)

"Burnt out and funky.  With a bit of California's seedy side thrown in the groove".  Those are the words I wrote in my notebook when I first heard Narcissus Soaking Wet, the lead track on Chris Robinson's latest album.

California's seedy side has enchanted me since the first time I read Bukowski.  I can hear it in this song, along with other seedy stuff, like Donald Fagan-esque background singers and keys.

Click Here to listen to Narcissus Soaking Wet.