Showing posts from August, 2017

2017 In Aspic - Episode 3

Episode 3 of 2017 In Aspic mixes two complementary types of records I've been stumbling across this year. The first are newer artists who play electronic music reminiscent of the industrial music of the 1980s. This includes artists like Shed, ADULT., and Todd Terje.  The counterpoint comes from popular artists of the 1980s - Alison Moyet, Erasure, and Blondie - who continue to make vibrant music the sounds new and fresh.  Even Fab Five Freddie lends his rap to a Vex Ruffin song. Also joining the mix are a host of great songs from artists like Tennis, Muse, and Jens Lekman.  The mix closes with This Cities Undone by The Moonlandingz, featuring extended screaming from the great Yoko Ono. Lots of fun stuff here.  Hope you enjoy. Here is the playlist: Call 32075! by Shed The Balance by Vex Ruffin Ladies Don't Play Guitar by Tennis Beautiful Gun by Alison Moyet Stop (And Start Again) by ADULT. Love You To The Sky by Erasure Fun (Eric Kupper Disco Re

Kowabunga - Jono Das

from the album Fiction (2017) When you go to Jono Das' website, it proclaims in big red letters: "I'm Jono.  I make beats and sometimes I do other stuff." He is an artist.  When you look at his photography and design, you get a feel for how his mind treats texture, positive and negative space, and composition.  This directly translates into his music, with beats and rhythms creating the audio companion to his visual art.  It is humanity framed in darkness, light, and energy. Although his new record is best enjoyed as a complete work, I am very drawn to the song Kowabunga .  It is a bouncing bass groove over a crisp high-hat beat.  Synthesized orchestration offers the counter voice to the bass.  Lush female vocals are injected at just the right place, along with his MC styled "yeah". And suddenly, after 2 minutes and 23 seconds the song ends.  That is the way it goes with an excerpt from a complete work, but - dang - I wish it could go on forever.

Tuyo (Tema de Narcos) - Bïa & Mamselle Ruiz

from the album Bandidas (2017) Bandidas brings together two amazing latina chanteuses: Bïa, a Brazilian singer-songwriter known for her beautiful voice and sweet melodies, and Mamselle Ruiz, a fantastic Quebec-based Mexican singer, known - not only for her solo work - but for her stints performing with Cirque du Soleil. I am wildly enamored with their song  Tuyo (Tema de Narcos) .  It is timeless, emanating from a distant place, where romance rules the day.  The women's vocals intertwine like two high-wire acrobats, dazzling the crowd, as they perform over a magnificent latin beat and groove.  Soul-stirring guitar and cello complete the soundscape. At times, I am not certain what to listen to: The bass line, the cello, or those soaring vocals. This song is sexy, sultry, and romantic.  A classic. Click Here to listen to Tuyo (Temo de Narcos) performed by Bïa & Mamselle Ruiz on Bïa JKeieger's SoundCloud site. Click Here to watch a promotional video of Bïa &am

Let It Melt - Danxia

from the EP Learn To Swim (2017) A recent obsession of mine is checking out the Bandcamp and Facebook pages of newer, unsigned bands.  I have become fascinated with how they package and present their products.  I am equally interested in the relationships they strike with their audiences. The trait that attracts me most to a band is honesty.  How accurate do they describe and present themselves?  Is the bond with their audience authentic?  Are they assholes? Danxia is a four piece band from Warrington, UK - a medium-sized municipality along the Mersey River, midway between the behemoth music destinations of Liverpool and Manchester.  They describe their music as "swirly, psych-inspired guitars, melodic bass lines, and haunting vocals laced with reverb."  Their Facebook page shows them gigging and recording.  Eating lentils and hummus.  I dig them. I also dig their tune Let It Melt .  It envelops the listener in a late night soundscape - lush in texture, dynamics, and

Blackness Of The Night - Yusuf / Cat Stevens

from the album The Laughing Apple (2017) Typically, we think of power in terms of energy, strength, and might.  Kilowatts.  Decibels.  Horsepower. But there is a different kind of power.  A subtle power.  A power that rises above the noise by standing apart from it.  Beauty.  Message.  Purpose.  Gandhi. Cat Stevens is a master of this type of power.  Singing - never shouting - in hushed tones.  His fingers softly working the fretboard.  In the ways that matter most, he is more powerful than nearly any current musician I know. In his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech, he nearly moved me to tears talking about his classic song Morning Has Broken , recounting how he tried to channel his mother's voice singing to him as a child.  It's tender and intimate - and powerful. So, as you listen to his new song Blackness Of The Night , think about subtle power and what a better world this might be if more people exuded - and followed - it. Click Here to watch a musi

Believe - Benjamin Booker

from the album Witness (2017) I am really digging the song Believe by Benjamin Booker. The tune hooks me in the opening seconds with an orchestrated introduction reminiscent of Ray Charles in his Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music era.  This gives a classic - or retro - sheen that lets the listener know something good is coming. Then enter Benjamin Booker's voice, raspy and tender over a light R&B groove.  The arrangement has space that allows for tension to build and release throughout the composition.  The orchestration is magnificently leveraged to highlight this tension to create moments of anticipation. Collectively, these elements form a mighty soundscape, over which the vocals and lyrics take flight, soaring above the music.  The hook phrase " I just want to believe in something, I don't care if it's right or wrong " has been echoing in my head since my first listen.  Backing vocals add an element of gospel in the closing section, tak

Silver - Waxahatchee

from the album Out In The Storm (2017) If I were vanquished to some isolated land where music could neither be played, nor heard, I like to think that I would create music in my mind. If, on any given day, I felt compelled to imagine a great indie rock tune, my thoughts might go something like this... It would open with a big, buoyant drum intro.  Nothing fancy.  A straight four beat with muscle and lift.  Then overdriven guitars and pulsing bass would enter, beating out an eigth-note rhythm and groove. The vocalist would be a younger, interesting female.    Male singers are such stereotypes.  Woman are complex.  Her vocal tracks would be doubled-up, which - when coupled with the beat, groove, and fuzzed out guitars - would give off a 90's vibe reminiscent of, say, The Jesus and Mary Chain.  The lyrics would be clever and alluring.  They would include lines like, " we kiss and my lips starts to feel unfamiliar. " The guitars would then hammer down for a force

Forgot Myself - Jen Cloher

from the album Jen Cloher (2017) I was nearing the gruesome end of a long relationship.  It was just a matter of time before one of us had the guts to put the final dagger in the other one's heart.  Needing to hit that big, red hyperspace button, I signed up for a three-month stint on the other side of the planet. After a month in Sydney, I was still a zombie.  Walking the streets, alone in the night.  Standing in the corner of the bar, slamming VB's, smoking cigarettes, interacting with no one.  Going back to my room.  Waking up, heading to work, coming home, and stepping back into the night. In some ways it was cathartic.  Endlessly writing the next great American novel in a dark corner of my mind.  Henry Miller meets Arthur Nersesian.  Nostrand Avenue.  Niagara Falls.  The Velvet Elvis. So, one night, I'm standing at a crowded bar in King's Cross, chain smoking nasty sticks and drinking Jack on the rocks.  This chick across the room is making eyes at me, but

Drive - Mere Women

from the album Big Skies (2017) Drive by Mere Women is one of those songs that crave to see performed live.  I imagine a well mic'd drum kit mule kicking me in the chest to the thunderous tom beats.  Even though it sounds like a "smaller" kit, those drums need to be "felt" as well as heard. I would also like to absorb the bass groove.  Bass guitar is a new addition for Mere Women.  I dig the way the groove stays present, adding dimension and bottom, without morphing the band's signature sound.  It is a lesson in restraint. Together the bass and drums create anxious anticipation akin to a churning winter's ocean.  Swells.  Chops.  But never that climactic crash. Over the rhythm section the guitar and synthesizer complete the post punk soundscape.  The collective sound is very agreeable to my musical tastes. That leaves the vocals of Amy Young.  In my mind, I imagine how she stands, holding the mic, her groovy sway.  She sounds sexy, in a disco

Feeling Good About Feeling Good - Art Feynman

from the album Blast Off Through The Wicker (2017) Feeling Good About Feeling Good has rapidly become one of my very favorite songs of 2017. This globydelic groove explosion is hypnotic, hyperbolic, and parabolic.  The jams jam for over seven minutes, man.  Groove and beat.  Move your feet.  Who's guitar playin'? Riff splayin'?  Mantis prayin'?  Jane, never let them stop this groovy thing... The brainchild of Luke Temple, this song is recorded under his alter-ego of Art Feynman.  Although I dig his work as part of Here We Go Magic, the liberation of an alter-ego suits him well. Capture the rapture.  Call the dispatcher.  Hope I die before they put me to pasture. Click Here to listen to Feeling Good About Feeling Good .

Puss - Party Dozen

from the album The Living Man (2017) Party Dozen is the name given to the duo of Kirsty Tickle and Jonathan Boulet, two Sydney, Australia musicians who play the saxophone and drums, respectively. The music is a form of primitive experimental jazz.  I find it captivating.  On Puss , the duo take full advantage of multi-track recording to create layers of dissident sax over flat tom syncopation.  The add in a little bit of organ and percussion to round out the sound, but I honestly do not know if it is necessary. I dig people creating their own vibes, marching to their own beats.  I would love to hang out with Party Dozen.  My guess is that it would be fun, in a different kind of way. Click Here to listen to Puss on Bandcamp.

Cryin' In The Streets - Zeshan B.

from the album Vetted (2017) One of my favorite "freedom songs" of the Civil Rights era is Cryin' In The Streets by George Perkins and The Silver Stars.  A lesser known song from 1970, George Perkins was inspired to write this song  based by his recollections of the imagery of Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral.  It drips with raw soul that is authentic and pure. For me, this song speaks to the power of the image each of us projects towards the world and the impact that image has on others.  When I flip the dial, I see all sorts of people carrying on, projecting images and issuing statements that make me cringe.  Do these people realize that their freedom of speech also comes with responsibilities, and that they are seriously lacking in the latter? Then there are others - the good ones - who use their imagery and words to inspire, educate, and promote justice. Which are you? It is great to hear Zeshan Bagewadi covering Cryin' In The Streets .  Songs like

2017 In Aspic - Episode 2

Thus far in 2017, perhaps no genre of music has shined like the singer-songwriters.  This should not come as a major surprise.  After all, great singer-songwriters write and sing great songs. There are so many great artists, songs, and performances in this mix.  I am certain that when the Grammy nominations come out this September, artists included here will be included. I hope that this mix does justice to these songs.  Enjoy. Here is the playlist: Cry Cry Darlin' by Leslie Mendelson Night Bird And Morning Bird by Abigail Lapell You Ain't Worth Suffering For by Kasey Chambers Hotel Amarillo by Caroline Spence What A Girls Gotta Do by Lindi Ortega Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing On A Sweet Potato Vine? by Jake Xerxes Fussell Any Given Day by Georgia Mulligan Astral Plane by Valerie June Lies I Chose To Believe by John Moreland No Good At All by Lucy Rose Gaudy Frame by Monk Parker Where I'll Find You by Joan Shelley Shiver

No Reason - Bonobo

from the album Migration (2017) Bonobo is the musical moniker of Simon Green, a British musician, producer, DJ who now calls Los Angeles home.  His form of electronica is noted for its inclusion of global rhythms, many from Africa and Micronesia. On his latest release, I am digging the song No Reason .  The beats and tones are straightforward in a way that really hooks me as a listener.  Vibe and texture set the soundscape apart.  I enjoy listening to this track in headphones to maximize fidelity. The song is also notable for its lead vocal track by Australian electronic mastermind Chet Faker, who appears under his true name of Nick Murphy. Chet (or Nick) has one of my favorite voices in music today. Click Here to watch the official video to No Reason .  It is very innovative.

Eléctrico - Sotomayor

from the album Conquistador (2017) Global Bass is perhaps my favorite music genre, because of its energy and inclusiveness.  In this musical form, electronic bass - laid down in a thick and heavy style - is mixed with traditional forms of music from various areas of the world, be it latin, acrobat, gypsy rhythms, you name it... I particularly dig when it mixes with latin dance music.  Cumbia, tango, the boogaloo.  All introduce great dance rhythms with pulsing electronica to create something fresh and dramatic.  Endless musical intersections tied together by bass. Sotomayor are a brother-sister duo from Mexico City whose brand of Global Bass draws heavily from Cumbia, but also andean rhythms - such as peruvian chichas - as well as afro-beat. Off their latest album, I am enamored with the song Eléctrico .  For me, it all starts with the three-note patterns that form the bass groove.  They completely hook me.  From there, the layering of synths, guitar, and latin instrumentation

Funny How Time Flies - Terrace Martin Presents The Pollyseeds

from the album Sounds Of Crenshaw, Vol. 1 (2017) As the last Uber scuttled off with straggling party guests, I settled in on the front porch with my trusted four-legged companion Karma Jean (The Dance Machine), poured some Fireball over ice, and took in the sounds of the city. Cole Porter had been bouncing around my brain all night. Tell me which is dreamier, Arcadia or Bohemia?   I started opening gifts.  Mostly booze and music.  Next, I unwrapped a book by Allen Ginsburg, collecting his lectures on the Beats.  I held the answer. Winding down, I threw on  Sounds Of Crenshaw, Vol. 1 , the latest record by LA's Terrace Martin that introduces his new band: The Pollyseeds.  The vibe was perfect for my late night urban chill.  Rooted in jazz with hip-hop and R&B undertones, the grooves were deep and hypnotic.  His sax solos magnificently understated. Saxophones and cities... Throughout the party, people kept asking how old I was.  I am never one to retreat from saying th

King Tide And The Sunny Day Flood - Billy Bragg

from the single  King Tide And The Sunny Day Flood (2017) What better way to start your morning than with a tweet announcing a new Billy Bragg single? That is how I woke up.  Now, I am bouncing between my computer and the espresso machine, listening, as my favorite protest singer croons for Mother Earth. Here are the lyrics: Wouldn't it be wonderful If we could save the world and all Simply by collecting up Tin cans and empty bottles We all want to believe it's true But it don't matter what you do So long as we continue to Burn our way through fossils Now it should come as no surprise To learn about the ocean's rise Polar caps are melting With every year that the planet warms Now people have to understand We're gonna feel it far inland It's gonna shift the seasons And super charge the storms King Tide is a coming King Tide is a coming King Tide is a coming Bringing flooding on a sunny day King Tide is a coming Can't you hea

Paper Cowboy - Margo Price

from the EP Weakness (2017) From a business perspective, Nashville is an amazing product enterprise.  It has built an enduring brand that connects with its customers, earning a loyalty that spans generations, while driving insane revenues and profits for those at the top of the heap.  They are the Johnson & Johnson of music. Like Coca-Cola, Nashville has a secret recipe that works.  Unlike Coca-Cola (think New Coke), they have been prudent enough not to mess with success. Nashville is a product factory.  Songwriters who understand the winning framework, endlessly working within it, gently pulling levers looking for something that connects and sells.  Musicians who are masters of their tone and technique, who get into the studio - or up on a stage - and knock it out every time.  Producers and Engineers who are expert in what a hit record "sounds" like and in how to capture that sound.  Lastly, the vocalists.  They are the stars.  The face of the brand.  They are swe

Count Your Blessings - The Como Mamas

from the album Move Upstairs (2017) When Thomas Edison first introduced electric light to the world, its power plants could only illuminate over short distances.  As a result, populated urban centers - like New York and Paris - became electrified while more rural locations remained in darkness. Imagine the awe and excitement of seeing the lights of a city for the first time. Radio provided a similar experience.  Early transmitters provided coverage of a relatively small radius, limiting their deployments to more densely populated urban centers.  However, as the technology matured, the transmitters expanded their range to include rural communities. Imagine the awe and excitement of having music broadcast into your home for the first time. The Como Mamas take their name from their small hometown of Como, Mississippi.  As girls, they were introduced to great music by the booming radio transmitter of WDIA in Memphis.  It was here that they absorbed the music of icons, like Elvis