Monthly Archives: November 2011
I spend a lot of my time listening to music about serious topics: heartbreak, death, war, etc. It’s always great to take a step back from the intensity and listen to a “fun” band, full of energy and life who sound like they have a great time playing together (not that bands can’t have fun and be serious too). Fort Lean is such a band. Their debut EP features some amazing straight-up rockers that always put me in a good mood. Yesterday, they released their music video for Beach Holiday. The video features the band members working at a deli and does a great job of giving a visual side to the song as well as showcase all the band members pounding away at their respective instruments. I don’t know about you, but it’s got me in the mood for a warm and sunny holiday right about now.
Fort Lean – Beach Holiday:
Kings Go Forth is a very good band that makes very good music, and their album is called The Outsiders are Back. The vocals recall the soulful flair of Otis Redding, but the real appeal of this group comes from their fresh take on a classic sound, soul. The horn section blares, the drums kick, and the funk flows like water. These guys remind me of Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, but less political, and less Afro-influenced, more straight-ahead throwback funk-n-soul. I was surprised when I first heard this record; I didn’t know what to expect from a group with a name like Kings Go Forth. I couldn’t make sense at first of such a seemingly random name, being accustomed to the literary, artsy names of so many new bands. But that didn’t really matter, because they kick ass. Check this band out for a breath of fresh air if you’re tired of new indie music, this’ll take you back to some of the great music of the 60’s and 70’s. Listen to the single “I Don’t Love You Know More” below.
Kings Go Forth – I Don’t Love You Know More:
“To what I did and said,
Rest in my arms,
Sleep in my bed,
There’s a design”
The reason I love Sufjan Stevens is that every time I revisit an old album, I discover an awesome track that I had previously overlooked. This is not to say I don’t pay close attention to his albums, but rather that almost every song is a stand-alone classic. While waiting on the platform for my train back to school, I put Sufjan on shuffle and was immediately entranced by “Vito’s Ordination Song” from his 2003 album Michigan. His softly sung lyrics over a relaxed drum beat and a harmonic horn section, while typical Sufjan, seemed organic and wholesome in comparison to his 2010 electronic masterpiece Age of Adz. The meaning of this song, again typical Sufjan, is elusive, but seems to have religious overtones I can’t quite pin down. Anyways, if you are a fan of Sufjan or if you haven’t heard him, this track is definitely worth listening to… again and again.
Sufjan Stevens- Vito’s Ordination Song
It’s that time of year again, and I for one am ready to stuff my face with food and spend the day with friends and family. All that regular Thanksgiving Day stuff. But I’m also gonna spend the day listening to a holiday classic running around 20 minutes long called “Alice’s Restaurant.” This song tells the most epic Thanksgiving tale I’ve ever heard and it has become somewhat of a tradition to listen to the song every Thanksgiving in my family. Check out the song below (trust me it’s worth the 20 minutes) and have a great holiday.
So the story goes like this. A California native moves to Iceland in the dead of winter. Unsurprisingly, the land is cold and dark to this foreigner and from that darkness came Low Roar. An album of quiet echoes and sad pleas, Low Roar’s self-titled debut is a compelling album to listen to on a long winter night. Singer Ryan Karazija sounds a little like Thom Yorke (which certainly doesn’t hurt the album’s sound) although the music has more space than current Radiohead albums, featuring mostly guitar and vocals. While the album is great all around, the middle songs are where the album shines, painting pictures of solitude and sorrow with songs like “Patience” and “Low Roar.” Though that’s not to say that the rest of the album lags behind. In the final song, “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” Karazija pulls out all the stops and creates a seven minute long song featuring drums and electronic instruments which create a louder, more intense presence than all the other songs on the album combined. It’s that final push through the darkness. Check it out below and be sure to hear the full album, which came out November 1st.
Low Roar – Tonight, Tonight, Tonight:
“Twinkly” is not a word I often use to describe electro, but it’s the first one that comes to mind when considering the work of LA-based electro whiz Teebs, whose newest album Collections 01 dropped last thursday. I’m still appreciating the lush textures and hypnotic grooves Teebs showcased on Ardour, released last year, but Collections 01 delivers similarly awesome sounds. Naturalistic and airy, Teebs’ makes electro thats as beautiful as you’re likely to find; like a less trippy Animal Collective that went to live in the rainforest for a while. But seriously, this is some of my favorite music; stop, drop, listen and be blown away.
Teebs – Cook, Clean, Pay The Rent (New House Version):
Last July, Cults, a seemingly harmless indie-pop band, announced plans to release a rap mixtape using the songs from the self-titled debut album. Name dropping rappers like Freddie Gibbs and Lil B in the conversion sparked some shock and skepticism onto the actuality of the tape. Talking to the band briefly after their Free At Noon show on XPN this summer, guitarist Brian Oblivion told me of his great interest in hip-hop and the similarities he sees in his music to the genre, whether people see it completely or not. He also elaborated to the fact that with extra money laying around from after the album’s completion, the band decided to try for a fun side-project. Fast foward, four months and the first song has arrived, a remix of Bad Things featuring gangsta-rapper extraordinar, Freddie Gibbs. Check it out and keep a lookout for the mixtape, hopefully coming soon.
“Everybody prays for the day they see the light, But the light at the end of the tunnel is a train”
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the most knowledgable when it comes to rap and hip-hop. Sure, I know the greats and I even know a few of the more obscure gems in the genres, but overall I’m relatively clueless. But that does not mean that I don’t know good rap when I hear it. This is where Phonte comes in. I first heard this artist last week when NPR did an amazing DJ set showcasing some of the greatest rap and hip-hop artists not heard on the radio. Phonte, hailing from North Carolina was one of the rappers featured in the mix, and with good reason. His debut solo album Charity Starts at Home features sick beats and lyrics to match. The whole album is amazing, but my personal favorite is “The Good Fight” a song about the struggle to make a living and the fact that no matter how good things seem to be, there’s always some sort of catch, some other battle that needs to be fought. Whether you’re “in the know” about rap or you’re like me, just pickin’ and choosin’ what you like, Phonte should be on your list of artists to hear. His debut album was released in September, check out “The Good Fight” below.
What is a field recording? Is it some geezer in a field’s tape reel full of ambient noise? Is it exploitation? Is it whalesong, birdsong, sunsong, moonsong? Is it giggling hippos?
Truth is, it can be all of these things. But at its most magical (to my ears at least) it is the documentation on a record of an isolated musical tradition of popular origin, performed by professional and amateur musicians in a closed community, who learned what music was and how to play it from their fathers and mothers, whose fathers and mothers played the same horns, strings bells and drums as their fathers’ fathers’ fathers and mothers’ mothers’ mothers on back into time indeterminate.
Calling field recordings, or “ethnic music”, a genre, is like calling “other” a genre. It is defined as music that does not sound like ours. Javanese gamelan, Greek rebetiko, and the polyphonic ensemble singing of Congolese pygmies have nothing in common besides their strangeness to the Western ear.
Even subsets of “ethnic” are difficult to categorize across national boundaries. Sardinian polyphony and Congolese polyphony are both polyphony, and, in a broader sense, they are both singing, but they could not be more different.
The great era of modern field recording took place roughly between the mid sixties and 1985. During this time, record companies like Le Chant Du Monde, Ocora, and Playa Sound (France), Museum Collection Berlin West and Bärenreiter-Musicaphon (Germany), and Folkways Records (USA), began supplementing fieldwork in ethnomusicology through the production of LPs documenting specific musical traditions in regions all over the world. These records included liner notes full of meticulous research; recordists such as Wolf Dietrich, Ragnar Johnson, John Levy, Hugo Zemp, Henrietta Yurchenko, David Blair Stiffler, Sima Arom, Alan Lomax and John Storm Roberts, would often write a treatise on the music in question to go along with the actual musical document.
The academic presentation, along with the thorough research and deep respect afforded to the documented community, distinguish these records as extraordinary examples of ethnography and conservation. However what makes them special to the common listener and open-minded consumer is the music itself, the realization that there is so much more out there than what you get on the radio, than what fits the accepted Western parameters of tone and structure as to befit the name “music”.
This, to quote a great collector, is music to be believed in. We live with our heads under the sand, unable to imagine life without the internet, computers and cell phones. This music, if you take it on its own terms, will change you.
Here are two mixes I made from ethnic records.
I can be contacted through tourdevaap e-mail for a detailed tracklist.
Back with some Lil B bizarreness. This time around, the song is entitled “I Got AIDS”, off his latest 2pac inspired mixtape “BASEDGOD VELLI”. The song is labeled as an AIDS Awareness Song , by B himself, and he truly gets the message across. Say what you want about some of Lil B’s song, but this jaunt is an instant classic. Listen and Learn. Thanks BasedGod.