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Showing posts from November, 2016

Hate To See You Go - The Rolling Stones

from the album Blue & Lonesome (2016)

At their core, The Rolling Stones are rooted in the blues.  From their 1964 tribute to Chess Records - 2120 South Michigan Avenue - to taking their band name from a Muddy Waters song, the Stones and the blues are inseparable.

Check out the moment in the concert film Shine A Light when Buddy Guy joins them on stage for Champagne & Reefer, you see the joy in the bands faces and hear the heightened intensity in their sound.

This week, the band releases Blue & Lonesome, a record comprised of covers of old blues songs.  The record further stakes their claim as a great blues band.

Of the pre-released songs, my favorite is Hate To See You Go.  This Little Walter cover is highlighted by Mick Jagger's harmonica playing.  I dig sitting back and thinking "that cat can blow like Little Walter."  High praise.

Willie Dixon famously said "The blues are the roots, the rest are the fruits."  It is nice to see the fruits giving b…

Où Va Le Monde - La Femme

from the album Mystère (2016)

La Femme is a French band that create trippy vibes.  Check out the western mysterioso stylings going on in Où Va Le Monde.

Coupled with the vocals, this song takes my on a groovy psychedelic journey that makes me smile.

Click Here to watch the video for Où Va Le Monde.

Muscles - Sport

from the album Slow (2016)

I am excited to be bouncing around France for a few days.

Paris is quite different than I imagined it.  More gritty, less magical.  Maybe that makes it more magical?

Anyhow, the vibe here really calls for some strong alternative rock and punk bands.  In my search, I came across Sport, an indie band from Lyon that I am really digging.  There music has a Replacements sensibility that I cannot get enough of.

Check out the tune Muscles.  It is melodic with a driving sense of purpose.  This is what I want on my headphones when I ride the Metro.

Click Here to listen to Muscles.

Mr. Babylon - Bi.ba

from the album Massavana (2016)

With Dancehall and Dub styles in season, great new roots reggae is sometimes hard to uncover.  Look no further than Bi.ba.

On their latest album, this Bingy Band throw down a chain of grooves that soothes the soul and puts joy in your heart.

Check out the tune Mr. Babylon.  Listen to the tightness of the rhythm section.  Feel how everything blossoms from there.

Click Here to listen to a live version of Mr. Babylon.

Soma Gone Slapstick - Kristin Hersh

from the book Wyatt At The Coyote Palace (2016)

Last night, I caught a Kristin Hersh show at Saint John on Bethnal Green in London.  There is something about this city that makes every musical performance a cherished event.

She is on tour promoting her new book Wyatt At The Coyote Palace and the double CD that accompanies it.  I quite dig this type of packaging.  So many of the singer/songwriters I admire also write excellent prose.  Combining the two seems too natural.

One of the new songs that stood out most is Soma Gone Slapstick, the lead single.  Although the lyrics are expectedly out front on this tune, it is the underpinning stomp and pulse that create the necessary tension to highlight the might of the lyric.

The world needs more thoughtful, high-quality writing in all forms.  Artists like Kristin Hersh have a special gift allowing them to contribute across the literary spectrum.

Click Here to listen to Soma Gone Slapstick.

B-Cuz - Bettie Serveert

from the album Damaged Goods (2016)

One of my funky recently texted me with an urgent message to check out the Dutch Indie band Bettie Serveert.  He saw them opening for Squeeze in Boston and became enthralled.

So I downloaded their most recent release - Damaged Goods - and boarded a transatlantic flight where I would give them a spin.  Eight hours later, I was landing at Heathrow after a good dozen listens.  It is something of an indie tour de force ranging from epic rockers to Dusty Springfield inspired grooves.

The song I digged most was track one, B-Cuz.  The tone of this record takes me back to early Who songs from albums like My Generation.  In fact, the song almost seems to give a tip of the hat to the song The Kids Are Alright.

I really enjoy how that 50-something year old sound is updated into something fresh and current.

Do yourself a favor and check out the full record.  There are lots of gems here.

Click Here to watch Bettie Serveert perform B-Cuz live.

I Trusted U - Balkan Beat Box

from the album Shout It Out (2016)

Balkan Beat Box is an Israeli band whose music is stands at the intersection of gypsy punk, electonica, and reggae in a style that incorporates Jewish, Middle-Eastern, and Eastern European traditions.

I first became aware of them a decade, or so, ago through their song Bulgarian Chicks.

The single of their latest record is titled I Trusted You.   The song contains a dizzying mix of beats, horns, rhythms, and catchy vocals.  I dig it.

Click Here to watch the official video to I Trusted U.

Hey Lucinda - Tindersticks

from the album The Waiting Room (2016)

Lhasa de Sela has collaborated with Tindersticks before, her voice offering a perfect counterpoint to frontman Stuart A. Samples' iconic vocals.  The two have even recorded together on Mr. Samples' solo efforts.

What makes this year's release of the song Hey Lucinda particularly poignant, is that Lhasa de Sela sadly died of breast cancer in 2010.

In a Vogue interview earlier this year, Staples said of Hey Lucinda:

"When I first wrote the song, I was very excited because I broke a kind of stricture.  From Islands In The Stream to Lee (Hazlewood) & Nancy (Sinatra), duets have been written the same way.  The man sings a bit, the woman sings a bit, they sing the chorus together.  In Hey Lucinda, the music follows the conversation rather than the conversation being fitted to the song structure."

"I went to Montreal, where Lhasa lived, and sang it with her, and it sounded great, but I was struggling - it was too linear, a…

I Know Who - Ash.

from the EP The Please Like Me (2016)

How about some auto-tone laden, R&B driven, synth-pop to roll into the weekend?

Last night, I heard the tune I Know Who by Ash. on SCAD Atlanta radio.  It was catchy and hooky in a way I did not expect.  I even turned up the volume (a lot).

Sometimes we all need some mindless goodness to cleanse our spirits and souls.  For those times we go there, it is best to choose really, really god mindless goodness.

I dig this tune.

Click Here to watch the official video to I Know Who.

Felicidade - Dom La Nena

from the EP Cantando (2016)

I am on a beautiful, moonlit beach.  Just me and the Land Ro.  A few hundred yards to my left are some sailors, boisterous and drunk, speaking Portuguese.  A bit apprehensive, I walk in the opposite direction.  The Land Ro follows me.

As the sound of the sailors fades beneath the soft surf, the sky becomes electric.  The stars begin to dance on their indigo backdrop. I walk in wonder.

Maybe half an hour later, I reach a perfectly rounded cove and decide to rest on a well-placed piece of driftwood.  I sit there, secluded, wondering if this is where my magical journey ends.

Music starts to play.  A beautiful, soft Brazilian voice over plucked strings.  Bowed strings come in adding to the magic.  The shazam in my mind has heard this voice before.  It is Dom La Nena.  Hers is the sweetest voice I know.

I lay in the sand, looking towards the heavens.  The Land Ro morphs into a giant snowy egret and flies away.  The music plays.

Do do do...

Click Here to listen to

Motivation - Babyfather

from the album "BBF" Hosted By DJ Escrow (2016)

I'm on the floor of a Brixton pub.  You know, the one with the rottweiler on the roof.  I can't move and there is this Hackney brother hovering over me.  As grateful as I am that he is not belting out a rendition of Singing In the Rain, I am a bit alarmed by the rapping and all the talk of "niggas."

It's an understated, monotone, do it on the bathroom floor kind of rap.  It is a song called Motivation.  The brother is Dean Blunt.  DJ Escrow is somewhere in the background, shouting out to all his tugs.

Shorty fell in love with a hustler
Shorty fell in love with a G
Hunny wanna hang with the brothers
And she's always down for the tease

I don't know Hunny.  I don't know Shorty.  I don't even know where my Land Ro is?

But you know what, Motivation is a pretty cool tune.  Now, get me out of here...

Click Here to listen to Motivation.

Plaisirs Américains - Bernardino Femminielli

from the album Plaisirs Américains (2016)

Maybe it was the super moon.  Maybe it was the shots of Salmaikki in that Helsinki bar.  But how the hell did I wind up in Paris?  And how did the trusted, rusted Land Rover get here?

Anyhow, I'm laying on the hood of the Land Ro - under my sleeping bag - eating baguette and stinky cheese trying to get that salty licorice taste of those shots out of my mouth.  It's working.  So is the Côtes du Rhône.

Bernardino Femminielli is also working.  I'm jamming the little track of his latest record - Plaisirs Américains - on my Land Ro stereo.  Seven minutes of ecstasy.  The hushed french vocals.  The percussive piano chords.

I'm diggin' this trip...

Click Here to listen to Plaisirs Américains.

Synnyin Syksyllä - Jukka Noisiainen

from the album Jukka Noisiainen (2016)

So I'm still behind the wheel of that old Land Rover.  Having cruised along the rough roads of Nigeria, I decided to hyperspace to some new scenery.  Welcome to Finland.

Some locals suggested I drive north from Oulu to Hammerfest, but I opted against it.  Good name for a puffy pants festival, bad name for a podiatrist convention.  Instead, I am cruising south along the Gulf of Bothnia towards Pori.  Good times.  Hope the skies clear so I can see the super moon.

For this leg of the journey, I am listening to Jukka Noisianinen,  I really dig this Finnish guitarist, particularly his tune Synnyin Syksyllä.

Warm analog tones, highlighted by a country twang and harmonies, create a familiar vibe.  However, the Finnish vocals give it an erie unsettled excitement.  Kind of like Tennessee in an alternative universe...

Anyhow, it is perfect for this ride.  Ooh.  Look.  It's the super moon.

Click Here to listen to Synnyin Syksyllä.

Win In the Flat World - Lorenzo Senni

from the album Persona (2016)

When I first started listening to the song Win In The Flat Room by Lorenza Senni, I had a similar feeling to when you come across an old photograph of someone from your past who - although dear to you - you have not thought about in decades.

The reason is the style of music, particularly the high-velocity riffing on the keyboard.

Once upon a time, I hung out in cars and dorm rooms listening to keyboardists like Keith Emerson and Rick Wakefield as they dazzled with hard-driven rocking riffs with near Mozart-like precision.  In the music circles I've been swimming in these days, the fellas just don't play that way.

I did not realize how much I missed it.

Click Here to listen to Win In A Flat World.

Finlin Ho - Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou

from the album Madjafalao (2016)

After this endless election cycle - and all the gloating and whining that has followed - wouldn't you just like to get away from it all?

In my mind, I am driving an old Land Rover across some remote stretch of West Africa.  The sun is warmly shining as I bounce along a dirt road in the open air.  The stereo is cranked up blasting the happy, free-spirited music of Orcrcheste Poly-Rythmo Cotonou.

Finlin Ho is tune that I keep coming back to.  The band grooving to polyrhythms and sweet, sweet melodies in a language I do not need to understand.  Just feeling the vibe, basking in the sunshine.

I wish this road could stretch forever...

Click Here to listen to Finlin Ho.

You Want It Darker - Leonard Cohen

from the album You Want It Darker (2016)

Leonard Cohen died today.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the song "If I Didn't Have Your Love."  I thought that it was altogether fitting to choses a love song from the final album of such a master songwriter.

I was urged by readers of this blog to also write about the album's title track, "You Want It Darker."  I agree with them that it is an incredible song, but I held back.  Not certain why.

Well, tonight I find myself listening to this song - over and over - wondering if he know of his impending death when crafting the lyrics and music.  Maybe...

Take a listen to a master songwriter at the end of his days.

God bless Leonard Cohen.

Click Here to listen to You Want It Darker.

Click Here to read my post on If I Didn't Have Your Love.

Out Of This World - Floating Pyramids

from the single Out Of This World (2016)

Once upon a time, I played in a band of highly talented musicians.  We were not a "band of equals" as the singer and guitar player were prima donnas, soaking up the glory while the rest of us played second fiddle.  Kind of like how the Beatles largely allowed George Harrison to contribute only one song per album (think of all the music this denied the world).  In our band, if it wasn't their song or idea, they poo-poo'd it.

Knowing that I had fair writing and marketing chops, I wanted to be the one who promoted our records and gigs.  However, I knew that this would be a non-starter with our ego-maniac singer.  My solution was to tell the band about a Public Relations specialist I knew named Elmore Bassett (cleverly named after my trusted Bassett Hound, Elmore James) who agreed to do me a favor and help us out.

It worked.  Over the next few years, our records were played in seven states and copy written by Elmore Bassett appear…

Boyish - Hippo Campus

from the single Boyish (2016)

Hippo Campus is a very clever band name derived from a play on one of the most important components of the human brain.  I dig that.

The hippocampus is thought to play a role in emotions like fear and anger, as well as the "slam on the brakes" reflex you may experience while driving.

It also plays a role in feelings of joy and pleasure, which is what I experience when listening to Boyish, the latest single from this Minnesota band.

From the opening notes, my heart is rushing with anticipation and joy.  The eighth notes of the drum are really effective, as are the synth tracks.  The high pitched vocals and occasional background mantra of "I'll save the earth" further add to the vibe.

When this song ends, you can't help but feel a let down.  It is cool when a song's energy evokes this.

Click Here to watch the official music video to Boyish.

Learning To Fly - Deep Sea Arcade

from the single Learning To Fly (2016)

Once upon a time, I saw A Flock Of Seagulls perform in a small NYC club.  While most of the crowd wanted to hear I Ran, which was all the rage at the time, I was there to hear Space Age Love Song.  For me, the song had something magical in the vibe that seemed to lift me off floor allowing me to float a few inches in the air.

When I first heard the single Learning To Fly by the psychedelic Sydney band Deep Sea Arcade, I had a similar sensation.

What is it that causes this?  Is it the way the synths bounce over the beat?  Is it the melodic vocal line?  Is there something in the subliminal bass groove?  The spaced out guitars?  All of the above?

And I wonder if the band understood that they were creating this sensation when naming the song.  I like to think so.

Anyhow, gives this tune a spin and give me a hand in figuring this one out.  Thanks.

Click Here to listen to Learning To Fly.

Smash Hit - Potty Mouth

from the single Smash Hit (2016)

Are you looking for something "super extra ultra special fantastic" in your life?  Something that gives you the fame and notoriety that has been eluding you for too long?  That best selling novel?  That hit record? Your Oscar speech?

Well, take a minute to dream with Potty Mouth, a garage pop band from Northampton, Massachusetts.

And while your listening, please remember that we believe in you, we are rooting for you, and we will be in that roaring crowd when your dream comes true !!!

Click Here to watch the official video to Smash Hit.

Dancing On Glass - St. Lucia

from the album Matter (2016)

Once upon a time, a drunken armada set sail for Sag Harbor, New York to see the Thompson Twins perform at a club called Bay Street.  It was good pirate fun.

Fast forward to today and one of those buccaneers has turned me on to St. Lucia, a Brooklyn-based synth-pop band whose mastermind hails from South Africa.

Of all the songs I've sampled, Dancing On Glass is the one that resonates most.  The title's visual imagery coupled with the recklessness it explicates puts a smile on my face.  We all dance on glass in one form or another and "we'renever gonna stop until we break it."

Now to the music, the synths, the beats, the groove are all fun; all have retro 80s with a modern sensibility.  It evokes an underlying spirit of the time that we could dance our problems away.

Thanks to my funky pirate friend for turning me on to this.

Click Here to listen to Dancing On Glass.