Friday, July 29, 2011

Serious Indie Cred

I tell you what, it's hard to get back over here to write an album review. Lately I've been so addicted to turntable.fm that I don't know what it's like to listen to my own music! Are we all here now? Just hit mute on the speakers, and come listen to some Wye Oak with me. Buy an album or two so you will know which track is the best to share on your next venture into the virtual club.
Wye Oak is another he-she band (sorry! No, it's not a tranny band. I mean, it's a she and him he and she matt and kim except their names are Andy and Jenn band) and I'm sorry to lump them into that group but they don't do a whole lot to differentiate themselves from the sounds I hear when I think of Pomplamoose or She & Him. I found an album review for Wye Oak's 2008 album If Children wherein the author called this sound endangered. Yup. Endangered. Well, it isn't. Folk music, indie music, earnest-sounding music, frontwomen who sing through clenched jaws: we still like it.

Click to Enjoy Wye Oak - Dog Eyes

On this and on each of their previous three albums, they alternate between reserved and noisy. And the noisy ones sound good, too. They like the noise, not for noise's sake but because, well, sometimes shit gets... blustery. And you will find plenty of reviews describing their sound as "punch-in-the-gut", "moody and powerful", or "huge-sounding"... But as turntable is teaching me, there are a lot of opinions on music out there! Did you ever notice?

(tongue)
(cheek)

If I want moody but powerful, I reach back for Toni Childs I guess. So I have an asshole and I have an opinion. But I like Wye Oak fine. And you will too. You will be showing serious indie cred if you drop this in a turntable room full of music snobs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thanks Dad



On the morning of June 13th , I received a call from my 75 year old dad saying he thought he was having a stroke. After I hung up and proceeded to call 911 (since he didn’t), the paramedics came, rushed him to the hospital and sure enough, he unbeknownst to us, had suffered from his 3rd stroke. The good news is, he has no lasting effects from any of the strokes, however, his heart is not functioning to its full capacity and further treatment will be necessary. During his recovery, I spent the first 2 weeks straight with him at the hospital, where I had time to think about the memories we share and the impact he has had on my life.

I now realize that my love for music has come from my dad and his influence started at an early age. Like me he’s not a musician and can’t carry a tune, but I can remember being in his yellow Ford truck and hearing one of his favorite songs on the radio, Kim Carnes, “Bette Davis Eyes” and also dancing to “Rockin’ Robin” in the living room.





The one memory that makes me laugh the most is when I was about 5 years old, and wanted to listen to one of my kid albums. I threw a FIT because he was listening to a Fats Domino album and wouldn’t put mine on. Little did I know that I would carry that memory with me all these years and one day even like Fats Domino and all the other music he made me listen to.

Click To Enjoy Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill

Still to this day, my dad has the same turntable and 8 track player that was there when I was a child. Yes, it still works (although after he put his treadmill on 10mph, zipped off the back and crashed into it, I’m surprised it still does) and the man never throws anything away. No, he is not a hoarder. More like a saver who is stuck in the stone ages. No computer or cell phone has he nor does he want either of the previously mentioned. Ahh... the simple life.

So thank you Dad for making me listen to great music that would stick with me for a lifetime and thank you for calling me on June 13th to hear my voice in case you died, but next time please call 911 immediately. Every second counts and I would like to have you around a lot longer.



Monday, July 25, 2011

Owl City Concert Review


June 16, 2011
Location: OrlandoFlorida
By Andrew Basinski edited by Pam Basinski

Only two days after the release of the new album “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, the band Owl City came to perform in Orlando at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney.
The line wrapped its way around the building like an enormous Chinese Dragon.  All the fans were excited and anxious to enter the building.  It took about 45 minutes to finally get to the door where security cleared us and we made our way to have our tickets swiped. 
Opening band Unwed Sailor put on a great show.  With two bass players, one guitar and a drummer, their sound echoed throughout the building with the long bass lines and deep music.  They had a very unique sound and without lyrics it was easy to get lost in the music.
Mat Kearney


Next opener was Mat Kearney.  He performed and wowed the crowd with his latest hit song “Hey Mama”.  He opened it by saying he had written this song for his wife who was an anthropologist.  He even crowd surfed and serenaded the fans with his charisma.  I found myself dancing but was anxiously waiting for Owl City to come on stage.

Click to listen to Mat Kearney - Hey Mama

Adam Young
And he did!  Adam Young was accompanied by a drummer, violinist, cello player, and guitarist.  Adam himself is an accomplished musician and plays many instruments.  He showed us that by playing acoustic guitar, electric guitar and keyboard in several of his songs.  He spoke to the crowd and danced by flapping his arms to mimic an owl in flight.  I was amazed at how great his performance was.  When he played “Hello Seattle” the entire crowd sang along.  One girl was overcome and passed out and had to be carried out by Security.  
Overall a truly fantastic show for any die-hard Owl City fan!  When will you be back in Orlando please?


   

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wu are you?

A few weeks ago I was pointed to a website by a friend who shares my love for the band Fugazi -- shoutout to Gushy V for the tip. I clicked the link and was suddenly very excited. It turns out a couple guys thought it would be a good idea to mash Fugazi with the Wu-Tang Clan. It was one of those "why didn't I think of that" moments, except that I don't do mash-ups and probably don't know Wu-Tang as well as I should. Beyond that I totally should have come up with the idea first. Anyway, the project is fittingly called Wugazi.

Click to play Wugazi - Sleep Rules Everything Around Me

"Sleep Rules Everything Around Me" was the first track I heard, as the full album hadn't been released at the time. It almost acted as a leading single, particularly since it uses one of Wu-Tang's better-known tracks, "C.R.E.A.M.," on the lyrical side. I was impressed enough to keep an eye out for the album release, though I felt the track wasn't the strongest representation of Fugazi. I hoped for more.

Having heard the full album now, I'm only in a slightly better state. Let me start with the good: there are some great tracks and a few moments of genius on the record. Every once in a while everything just hits the right spot and it's something new. Here's a track that really works, in my opinion:

Click to play Wugazi - P.L.O. Squared

The rest of the album, sadly, leans more toward pretty decent than great. The trick, as I gleaned from that first listen to "Sleep...," is to make sure you capture the essence of Fugazi. Too much chopping or simply swiping great basslines doesn't really fit that bill. Too often I feel like we're left with Wusomethingthatisn'tquiteFugazianymore. It's still worth a few listens and it's an impressive feat, but it just leaves me wanting something a little more. Props to the creators, regardless. I totally repect your vision and hope everyone here will listen to it and send you money to keep working on creative projects. The album can be downloaded or streamed from www.wugazi.com.

Click to play Wugazi - Shame On Blue

The other album I've had on repeat lately seems to be a symptom of the summer weather we're finally starting to see here in Portland. When the warmth gets here it's time for Pimm's #1 and ginger, lots of oscillating fans, and smooth music to drive to. Right now that last item is Curtis Mayfield's Super Fly. It's somewhat likely you already know this album but in case you don't: this is Mayfield's soundtrack to the film with the same name. Isaac Hayes may have won the Oscar for his work on Shaft, but the funk Curtis brings on this album puts that to shame. It's mellow. It's cool. It has the perfect grooves for cruising in the hot sun. It says "hey man, I'm hep and I've got nothing to prove." Just like me. Just like you. Here's my favorite track from the album, "Pusherman."

Click to play Curtis Mayfield - Pusherman

Be cool, my people. And check out that Pimm's link if you haven't had it before. It is seriously the best summer drink of all time. OF ALL TIME!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stage Fright Alone Could Scare You To Death

And I never thought that I'd act this way
The way I act today makes me feel ashamed
And I know that I may have lost my way, may have been led astray
But I'll make it right some day


Click to Enjoy Scoundrels - Arrogance Blues



I believe that in every relationship debacle there is an opportunity for growth and connection. Of course there is also an opportunity for it to turn into a huge irreconcilable fight. Unfortunately, many of us fall too easily into the latter category. To avoid falling into the pit of relationship despair, several things have to happen. Two of which are: you must learn how to tolerate your own feelings when you've hurt someone and you must learn how to tend to the hurt you've caused your loved one. --Julie Cohen, MFT






Monday, July 18, 2011

Is it AWESOME?

I finally got the chance to create a room on turntable.fm, and having my friends play all their favorite tunes over the last few days has done more for my discovery of new bands than anything previously. If you haven't heard of turntable.fm, let me get you up to speed.

Turntable.fm is a project of Seth Goldstein and Billy Chasen, the two guys who brought us Stickybits (stickybits is a free app that allows you to unlock every single barcode with a quick scan to find info, deals and cool stuff). The website was started in January 2011 and opened to the public in May 2011. By late June it had already reached 140,000 active users and it receives about 143,314 unique visitors per day. As of today, the site has over 300,000 users. For the code monkeys out there, the site front-end is mostly Javascript. The audio is Flash, so the site is useless on an iOS device. The back-end is written in Python and uses MongoDB and is all hosted on Amazon's EC2 and S3 servers.

Turntable.fm is simply a series of user-generated chatrooms where members take turns picking music to be played. The other peeps in the rooom vote on the song, "lame" or "awesome." If you score an "awesome" while you are on the decks, you get a point. The more points you have, the more virtual street cred you have. Even better, you unlock avatar changes as you reach point milestones. The rating of songs in this way isn't new, but for some reason when I hear new songs in "the real world" I still find myself looking for the LAME and AWESOME buttons!

Right now, the service is a bit buggy, but don't complain...it's still in beta. You can connect via Facebook but only if one of your friends has signed up.

Once you get in a room, or start your own, you make a call out to your friends via email, Twitter, or Facebook. Most people will ignore you. That's fine, because the people you want to join you are those that cannot resist checking out a site thats called turntable.fm.

Once you all get in the room, you start sharing your favorite songs, or better yet, songs that follow another song well. I've discovered some completely new music and rediscovered great music in my own library as a result.

Emiliana Torrini, The Mooney Suzuki, Lovage, and Mayer Hawthorne are all bands/artists that were new to me, which I have quickly fallen in love with.

The latter is who I'd like to feature in this post. Mayer Hawthorne draws influences from many artists, namely the music of Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Barry White, and Smokey Robinson. The song "Don't Turn The Lights On" can be found on the free covers EP Impressions - The Covers. Hawthorne says this about the track:



My favorite track from Chromeo’s latest LP. On the surface it’s an electro-funk, dance floor filler, but underneath is a brilliant love ballad with lyrics that reminded me of something from Tyrone Davis. Dave1 (of Chromeo) told me the song is about a guy who falls in love with a ghost, so I wanted my version to have an eerie, ghostly feel to it. Quincy McCrary played the creepy piano solo at the end.

You can listen to Hawthorne's cover and the original below. I hope we will see you in our little "virtual club" on turntable.fm sometime very soon! We would love to hear what you LOVE, in ALL caps.

Click to enjoy Chromeo - Don't Turn The Lights On

Click to enjoy Mayer Hawthorne - Don't Turn The Lights On (Chromeo Cover)



Friday, July 15, 2011

I Just Got Out From A Minor Operation

Yuck.

Yuck is what you get when you take two dudes from London band Cajun Dance Party, add your sister for supporting female vocals, and then throw in a Japanese female bassist and a drummer from New Jersey.

Daniel Blumberg and Max Bloom, the aforementioned two dudes, met in Israel although both are from London. They connected over an Animal Collective t-shirt. They later found their drummer in Israel, as well, although at the time he was still a college student in New Jersey. They all decided to give up any other plans they may have had to join the London music scene. And they were soon labeled "Revival Grunge."

"It’s weird that there’s a certain label of bands called ‘grunge revival’ when there’s been guitar bands consistently making amazing music. There hasn’t been a stop or start or anything. There’s just been more attention given to it" explained Max Bloom.




I wanna be well designed
I wanna be well designed
Cause you talk and I just feel so
Cause you talk and I just feel so


Revival grunge? Meaning this is what grunge is now? Hmm. Paul Lester from the Guardian calls it more like a "shoegazey Sonic Youth." YES. That's it. Shoegazey Sonic Youth. Or Dinosaur Jr. Or Teenage Fanclub. There you go.

I try to think but I just don't fuckin' know


Quite honestly, I think their best track is "Rubber", which closes out the album and lasts 7 minutes and 14 seconds. Mogwai remixed it and managed to stretch it out to 8 minutes. The self-titled album is interspersed with slow and brooding tracks like "Rubber", a few faster but oddball love songs, and a few good ones that mix the two, like "The Wall" and "Operation."

Click to Enjoy Yuck - The Wall

Click to Enjoy Yuck - Operation

Slottsfjel Festival in Norway today, can I get a shout out?! ;) OK, how about Pitchfork in Chicago on Sunday. Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Seattle, check your venues, because Yuck will be there soon. Full tour list on their MySpace - and yes, they update it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blackbird




While out walking the other day, I had a blackbird hovering over my head. Normally I wouldn’t think anything of it, but 2 years ago I got blindsided and attacked in the back of the head by one. According to what I read, you’re supposed to bark like a dog to scare them off. So I put my knowledge to use and started barking in a loud, gruff bark. It did nothing to scare that bird, but I did embarrass myself in front of a bunch of strangers before I took off in a full sprint. I don’t know what it is with me and birds. I’ve been shit on by them 5 times in my life as well. My mom thinks that they think my hair is a nest. I do have quite the mop. I however, believe it is payback for not cleaning my parakeet’s cage as a child. The guilt still haunts me, as I have this reoccurring dream that the poor thing’s poop is piled up to it’s perch. Guess that’s why now I’m only allowed to have plants as pets.

The male Red-winged Blackbird really is beautiful and after I “out ran” it, and escaped another brutal attack, one of my favorite Beatles’ songs popped into my head. “Blackbird” is such a simple, catchy tune that always makes me tap my foot and break out into a whistle.


(Apparently this kid practices his guitar a little bit more than I ever did)



It’s been covered countless times and I’ve seen it performed live by numerous artists. One of my favorites being “The Dead”. This version is from Milwaukee 7/1/03. Just Weir and his guitar, before the band joins in for a little jam and then into “Foolish Heart”.

Click to play

Even Neil Diamond takes a successful stab at his own version.

Click to play

Of all the times I’ve heard this song, I never knew that actual meaning of the lyrics. I had my own interpretation in my head, but after researching the intended meaning, I’ve come to love the song even more.

According to Wiki, “Blackbird was written when Paul McCartney was just sitting while he had free time on a tour. Then he heard a women screaming and a lot of police cars pulled up. The police had her handcuffed and were beating her. There was a giant crowd. Paul thought the black women committed a huge crime. Turns out all she did was sit in the whites section. Paul was shocked, as there was no segregation in England. He decided to write a song. Notice how all the adjectives are bad: dead, dark, sunken, broken, and black. They describe the unfairness. The verbs show the actions of the black people: fly, singing, free, arise, waiting and see. After all those tragedies the African Americans didn't use violence. It was the lady's time to be free and arise from the dark black night. There is also the sound of a foot beating in the background. McCartney insisted they have it but couldn't do it himself so they actually used a metronome. Why? The footsteps represent the marching of all the African Americans.”

Simple tune it may be, but with some very profound lyrics. Thank you Mr. Blackbird for the near attack and causing me to do a little research and thank you even more to Lennon/McCartney for such a beautiful song!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Laughing My F*ck!ng Head Off!

LMFAO is just two dudes from Los Angeles, California that like to make music and party! These two dudes go by the name RedFoo (Stefan Kendal Gordy) and SkyBlue (Skyler Husten Gordy). They are actually related. RedFoo is SkyBlu's uncle. RedFoo is the son of Motown founder Berry Gordy.

Like I said...just two dudes...

LMFAO made 14 songs about partying and then released those 14 songs as an album called Party Rock 2 years ago. On June 21 the duo released an apology album called Sorry for Party Rocking.

It's a great album, and just yesterday, it became the number one album in the U.S. of A. Here's another interesting fact about these regular dudes. By reaching No. 1, Stefan claims bragging rights over his older brother (by 11 years), Kennedy. Who is Kennedy? You know him as Rockwell, and if you remember, he peaked at No. 2 with "Somebody's Watching Me," in 1984.

How did this become the Number One song? Hard work? Talent? Yes, perhaps that's true...but the truth is a bit more shocking. Check out the video below.



I'm totally visualizing you hitting the Recommend button on this post. Then I see that I am getting an award for having the best music blog in the country. I'm counting piles of cash on my dining room table. My girlfriend is rubber banding them and stacking them into a giant pyramid that I will climb and proclaim that "all I see is MINE".

Everyday I'm shufflin'

Let's listen to the hit single, shall we?

Click the link to start the party. LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem (featuring Lauren Bennet & GoonRock)

It's dope. It's catchy as shit. You might have stepped out of your cubicle to get yo Shuffle on. Right?

The official video is super cute. It's got 110 million views on YouTube, so you have probably already seen it...but just in case.. The premise is that Redfoo and Blu Sky wake up from a party-induced coma to find out the song "Party Rock Anthem" has turned everyone into dancing zombies a-la 28 Days Later. Look out for the gold head robot and your favorite savior for memorable appearances.



  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Eno is enough

I pride myself on listening to a wide variety of music. I'm also a solid asset to have on your trivia team if music or lyrics are the categories. Still, I have to admit that I've missed or glossed over many artists, some of them legends. This is the case with Brian Eno.

Yes, I've heard of Roxy Music, and I know about his many collaborations with artists I do know and love. I just never took the time out to listen to any of his work. I'm sure I've heard some of it. Maybe I've heard a lot and never knew. In the end I have to hang my head in shame and admit there's a living music legend I not hip to. Until now.

I'm going to pause here to bring up a point. Being unfamiliar with an artist can actually be a benefit when you write for a music blog. I'm about to talk about a new album with no existing context or preconceived notions based on previous works by the artist. That may be good or bad, but it makes me feel pure and innocent in some way.

Brian Eno's newest recording, Drums Between The Bells, hits stores Monday, July 4th. Some of you will be camping then, or are already camping instead of reading this, and I don't blame you. We'll all have to get back to the grind at some point, though, and this album might be a nice segue. It's atmospheric and dreamy, but there are moments of harshness and experimentation that keep it from floating off into space. Poet Rick Holland wrote all the lyrics, though they are presented (mostly in spoken-word style over the musical background) by a number of guest vocalists. To keep this post shorter and give you more time to light things on fire, I'll just post a couple tracks I like. It's up to you to listen to the rest.

Click to play Brian Eno - Pour It Out

Click to play Brian Eno - A Title

Ok, just a couple points I feel I should add. Disc 1 of the album includes the vocals; disc 2 is the same songs in instrumental form. There is some cute wordplay between the two, such as the track "Dow," which becomes "Nikkei" on the second disc. If you have a large stock portfolio you're laughing your head off right now.

I also want to bring up that musically this reminds me A LOT of post-rock bands like Sigur Ros or Pacific UV. With the exception of a few more frenetic tracks, this would fit in perfectly with your collection if you are a fan of that genre or shoegaze. It would also be great background listening when you just need to relax a bit. It's absolutely gorgeous at times, and always a good listen.

I hope you all enjoy your holiday, even if it's just a long weekend at home.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I guess you call this regression

I've spent this year as a ghost and I'm not sure where home is anymore.

Currently on Warped Tour touting their third full-length album, The Wonder Years is a band of Pennsylvania buddies whose albums progress through a story. This album, Suburbia: I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing is inspired by the rambling poem "America" by Allen Ginsberg, a small snippet of which appears below:

America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can't stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don't feel good don't bother me.
I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?

Their sound is pretty much the same as that of Four Year Strong, and I don't suppose that is a bad thing. In fact, Alan and Dan from FYS supply guest vocals on track 6, "Summers in PA." I'm diggin on track 5, "My Life As a Pigeon." Apparently the cohesive story is supposed to be the band's complaints about touring, but I still like how some of the complaints can be translated to life.

Click to Enjoy The Wonder Years - My Life As A Pigeon

And with that, I ask you to embrace beardcore. Yes, it is just going to keep happening. We are going to keep subdividing musical genres until everyone gets their identity boxed right up for you. I happily use the term because it was pretty much named for Four Year Strong, a band I will always respect. What the hell, though. We analyze and categorize every goddamn detail of our lives as we try to justify its worth;, we might as well analyze and categorize our art too.

The Wonder Years actually does a very nice job tying this album up and allowing the inspiration from the poem to shine through with more than just an homage in the title. You can find snippets throughout the tracks, song names, and a summation in the final track on the album, "And Now I'm Nothing."

Click to Enjoy The Wonder Years - And Now I'm Nothing

America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts
factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.