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Showing posts from October, 2017

2017 In Aspic - Episode 5

One of my funky friends calls his favorite month of the year Roctober, because this is the month when all the best bands seem to come to town and some of the best new music gets released.  At first, I thought it was a bit goofy, but after years of observing I get his point.

In the spirit of Roctober, here is a mix of some of my favorite rock tunes of the year.

I dig the way classic artists blend with new artists in this mix.  Robert Plant (singing a duet with Chrissie Hynde), The Jesus And Mary Chain, and Trent Reznor share this mix with Big Thief, Pissed Jeans, and Alexander F.

Hope you enjoy !


Here is the playlist:

Amputation by The Jesus And Mary Chain

Post-War Cinematic Dead Man Blues by Chuck Prophet

Get Out by Sallie Ford

Shark Smile by Big Thief

They Put A Body In The Bayou by The Orwells

The Bar Is Low by Pissed Jeans

Call Me Pretty by Alexander F.

Bluebirds Over The Mountain by Robert Plant

What Comes Back by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Alabaster by All Them Witches

Gone, Gone, Gon…

Fat's Left Hand

As a bass guitarist, I developed my personal playing style by studying the left hands of great blues and New Orleans pianists.  Men like Memphis Slim, Professor Longhair, and Johnnie Johnson.

They taught me how to sit in a groove, how to boogie, and how to jump.

A good friend recently posted some of our old recordings.  Listening to my bass lines, I found myself thinking "That's Pinetop Perkins.  That's Champion Jack Dupree."

But of all these pianists, my favorite to emulate is Fats Domino.  His left hand was all about the groove.  Compared with others, his touch was softer, playing fewer notes, sitting a little bit further back in the groove, allowing his tone to ring truer.

It is beautiful to listen to.  Check out the bass line on Blueberry Hill.  Everything you need to know about playing bass guitar is in Fat's left hand.

God Bless Fats Domino.




Bluebirds Over The Mountain - Robert Plant

from the album Carry Fire (2017)

One of the things I dig most about Robert Plant is the way he has managed to subtly recast himself throughout his post-Zeppelin career.  It started in the 80s with songs like Big Log and In The Mood. This is allowed by his collaborations with female Americana and Folk artist, with my favorites including his remake of Killing The Blues with Alison Krauss and Ohio with Patty Griffin.

His rendition of Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down with his Band of Joy is the cherry on top.

On his latest album, it is a duet with a rock and roll lady that has caught my fancy.  On Bluebirds Over The Mountain, he sings with none other than Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, the smoky velvet and confidence of her voice casting a new angle on Robert Plant's master vocals.

I really dig how he hangs back in the song, never overshadowing the other singers or musicians, and then in the outro he lets loose with some Zeppelin-inspired moans.

I am also excited to hear a resurre…

Vacation - Dirty Heads

from the album Swim Team (2017)

What a better way to start your work week than with a tune that proclaims:

Eh eh aye
I'm on vacation
Every single day
'Cause I love my occupation

I dig Dirty Heads.  Their vibe is fresh and fun.  Their songs contain humor, wit, and substance.  Whenever I listen, the songs stick in my head all day.  It is uncommon for a songwriter to consistently achieve catchiness.

Vacation will be in my head all day.

Click Here to watch the official music video to Vacation.

Click Here to read my November 2013 post on the Dirty Heads song Crazy Bitches.

The Light Of Day - Kacy & Clayton

from the album The Siren's Song (2017)

I really dig the place on the musical spectrum that Kacy Anderson and Clayton Lithicum have carved out for themselves.  It is a stripped down, psychedelic folk music, full of tightly-balanced juxtaposition.  Vintage and fresh.  Macabre and uplifting.  Otherworldly and raw.  This brand of folk defies time and place.

Arriving at this delicious musical spot comes - in part - from their broad range of musical influences.  Leadbelly.  Bob Wills.  Shirley Collins.  Fairport Convention.  Mississippi John Hurt.  The Deep Dark Woods.

Another part likely comes from their upbringing in the relatively remote Wood Mountain Uplands of Saskatchewan.  I imagine that being raised there gives you an interesting perspective on music and how it relates to your immediate universe.  I also imagine it is a supportive community, perfect for learning a lexicon and honing your craft.

The first track on their latest album is called The Light Of Day.  It is a throwback …

Gigolo A Go Go - Episode 8

This mixtape is a funky affair.

It represents the type of mix I would want to play at the perfect big city party.  Something that gets people loose and groovy.

I dig funk.  It sits at the intersection of R&B, Soul, Rock, Jazz, & Disco.  That lets the DJ vary the vibe, giving something to everyone.  Especially my funky friends.

So, grab a cocktail and give this mix a spin.  Hope it blows your head.


Here is the playlist:

Grits And Gravy by The Fame Gang

Ain't It Funky Now by James Brown

When Love Comes Home by Chet Ivey & His Fabulous Avengers

Blow Your Head by Fred Wesley & The J.B.'s

Gimme The Boots by Mo' Blow

Katchi by Nick Waterhouse

Outa-Space by Billy Preston

Sexy M.F. by Prince

What'd I Say - Parts I & II by Ray Charles

Don't Lay Your Funky Trip On Me by SeƱor Soul

Son Of Slide by Slave

Stripped by Soul Department

I'm Not Gonna Cry by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Take It As It Comes by Sugarman 3

Baby, I Don't Know You by Vicki Anderson

Momma…

Frontine - The Selecter

from the album Daylight (2017)

The Selecter are one of the great ska bands that recorded for 2 Tone Records back in the 1970s.  Their only industrial name is actually the term used by Jamaicans to describe disc jockey.

The band has always been noted for their beat and groove, coupled with the vocals of Neol Davies and Pauline Black.  For me, Pauline Black has always been the critical member.  She is the original "rude girl," the prototype for all future female ska singers.  I dig her.

Nearly forty years later, they are still recording and releasing great music.  Their latest single - Frontline - has become one of my most listened to songs this year.  I dig the tight rhythm section, the dueling vocals, and the variations in the arrangement.  It is a modernized ska vibe with nods to other musical styles, all delivered with a bouncing beat.

I also dig the message to the song.  It stands as advise to millennial to get off the couch, put down the video games, and engage live head…

I Am A Slave - The Roots

from the television program Black-ish (2017)

For those old enough to remember, just the mention of Schoolhouse Rock puts a smile on your face.

Songs like "Conjunction Junction" and "Three Is A Magic Number" appeared on the ABC network's Saturday morning cartoon programming as cute, little, animated educational segments.  They wound up becoming pop culture sensations, pillars of that generation's childhood experience.

The king daddy of all these songs was "I'm Just a Bill."

Fast forward forty-one years, and the legendary band The Roots have created their own rendition of the song - entitled "I Am A Slave" - detailing the experience of those who endured human bondage.

Dig the second verse;

I am a slave in the home of the brave
A product of the triangular trade
Please pardon my ways
If I'm nervous or the slightest bit skittish
In the presence of the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, or British
They kept me in colonial chains
Tell me how to persu…

Town Called Malice - Rude Boy George

from the forthcoming album Gifted: A Tribute To The Jam (2017)

The Specialized Project is a group of UK-based music folk who raise money to help those stricken with teenage cancer, and other dreadful afflictions.  The fundraising largely focuses on the release of multi-CD tribute albums that feature dozens of great bands.  Their forthcoming release - Gifted: A Tribute To The Jam - is a four-CD affair containing 65 ska and reggae artists covering tunes by The Jam.

I can't wait to taste the whole enchilada.

The first track I have stumbled across for this record is by Rude Boy George (great band name) taking on the classic tune Town Called Malice.  They are an NYC band that specializes in ska remakes of 80s New Wave songs.  I dig it.

The primary differences between this version and the original are the ska backbeat, a slightly slower tempo, and the dual vocals of Megg Howe and Roger Apollon Jr.  The ska vibe and groove combine nicely with the sentiment of the original, making this a…

Over Everything - Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile

from the album Lotta Sea Lice (2017)

Lotta Sea Lice, a forthcoming release by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile, is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.

Individually, each represents the best that new music has to offer.  They are gifted songwriters, vocalists, and guitarists.  Triple threats.

Over Everything is a pre-released single from the album.  It succeeds in capturing the essential qualities of each artist.  Where it exceeds is in the interplay between them, both vocally and instrumentally.

I'm listening to a Kurt Vile song.
I'm listening to a Courtney Barnett song.
I'm listening to a Kurt Vile song.
I'm listening to a Courtney Barnett song.
I'm listening to a Kurt Vile song.
I'm listening to a Courtney Barnett song. I'm listening to a Kurt Vile song.
I'm listening to a Courtney Barnett song.
You get the point...
Click Here to watch the official video to Over Everything by Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile.

If All I Was Was Black - Mavis Staples

from the album If All I Was Was Black (2017)

If all I was was black
Don't you want to know me better than that?

Mavis Staples is an American treasure.

Combining incredible vocals with iconic songwriting, her music resonates like no other artist today.  There is no musician who speaks more elegantly on race, freedom, or individuality.

At age 78, she is in one of her most fertile and prolific periods of her career.  On this record, she is once again teamed with Wilco frontman, Jeff Tweedy.  The results are spectacular.

There is so much to admire in her.  Is there anyone I dig more?

Click Here to listen to If All I Was Was Black.

Isotype - Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

from the album The Punishment Of Luxury (2017)

Back when I was younger, I always assumed that I would be famous one day.  I often daydreamed about stepping onto the set of a late-night talk show to the thunderous applause of an adoring public.

In these Walter Mitty moments, I could easily imagine the band playing the perfect theme song as I took the stage.  In my mind, it always alternated between the same two songs:  Meet Dr. Foo by Coleman Hawkins and Dreaming by Orchestral Manoeuvers In The Dark.  Both are fine selections.

These memories come flashing back at me as I listen to Isotype, a new song from my old aural companions, OMD.

The familiar vocals.  The stirring synthesizers.  The early electronic marching beat.  Collectively, this sound defines a very special place in a private corner of my soul, where we could be together.  Now and forever.

Join me there...

Click Here to watch the official music video to Isotype.

What Comes Back - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

original score to the soundtrack for The Vietnam War (2017)

What a challenge it must have been to compose the soundtrack for Ken Burn's extended documentary on The Vietnam War.  I am not sure that many artists would take on this project, let alone deliver such an outstanding product.  Hats off to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross !!!

For the past week, I have been playing this soundtrack in my headphones as I ride a crowded rail to work.  In this context, I become both detached - and highly tuned into - my surroundings.  I imagine this is what it must have felt like to be on patrol in a Vietnamese village.

The men I know who actually had that experience prefer not to talk about it.  As much as I respect their silence, I wish they would share their experiences.

My favorite song on the soundtrack is What Comes Back.  I really dig its craft.  The song has a menacing quality.  One part of it is the deliberate tempo and the dull thud of the snare.  The other part are the two guitar voices,…