It's been a whirlwind year so far and I've been listening to so much amazing music. Here are just some of the highlights that have fun videos. All these guys have just released new material and are playing live shows this summer, so check 'em out.
Interesting little tidbit I just thought of: all of these bands funded projects successfully on kickstarter.
The Seshen - caught them live a couple weeks ago. Not only are they super nice people, but they are fabulous live. I'm loving the whole album, which you can stream here. Sorta Morcheeba, Erykah Badu-esque with dub step.
DRMS (pronounced "Dreams") - Emily Ritz's vocals are pretty magical. They also put on an awesome show with lots of percussion (vibraphone!), visuals and performance art elements. Listen to their new album here.
Zej and Calen - I just think this video is so sweet. I had the pleasure of interviewing these two on my podcast, check it out here (live performances!). Their music is sweet and thoughtful. I've been enjoying their new record "Last Station" full of love songs, many of them with environmental themes.
In March I interviewed Jeremiah Lockwood of The Sway Machinery on my friend's little flipcam. I had no idea what I was doing. I started to use iMovie, got frustrated and put it off. But it was a great interview and I really wanted to make something of the footage.
I've been cleaning out the email of a certain member of the band I work for and his friends have sent him some really, really awesome video and articles, so of course I get distracted while I'm working. I wanted to share a couple of these with you.
This one is called "Eh Hee" and comes from Dave Matthews back in 2006. The story is that he was inspired by a Khoisan riff he heard in Southern Africa by the San people (Botswana, South African & Namibia). He recorded this song and made this video, but didn't really publicize it and now it's just floating around the internet.
He seems to be channeling Peter Gabriel's wonderfully weird theatrics with make-up and what looks like fake blood. I love the choreography: mostly very slow movements, but sped up so that when the dancers do move more quickly, it looks really jerky. I also like the affect of the dancers moving around in white powder, creating all sorts of bizarreness.
This next one is called "Elephant Talk" by King Crimson, in a live performance back in 1981. Now, I've never really been a Crimson fan, not because I don't like them, but because I just never got into them. Now might be the time. This is just, really, really rad.
My friend from growing up, Will Hattman from the Portland bands Jana Osta and At Dusk has much love for this video and calls it a "space-alien novelty... it's one of my favorite TV performances of any song ever. I've watched this dozens of times and never get sick of it." So I'll let him tell you why he loves it (the following came from an email):
1) Tony Levin's queasy opening trill on the then-virtually-unheard-of Chapman Stick, sounding like an electric snake with a bad sense of humor. (Jamie says: excellent description!)
2) The syncopation game that drummer Bill Bruford and second guitarist Adrian Belew play throughout by punching the unlikeliest of beats—a sixteenth-note before 2—corrupting at regular intervals what would otherwise be a comfortable, even seductive, funk groove.
3) Belew's manic, deranged lead guitar work, dealing in above-the-nut chimes, seasick whammying, and deliciously apropos animal noises (I'm sure you'll hear the elephants in there), and culminating in a solo of jaw-dropping imaginativeness. (This clip's is even better than the album's!)
4) Belew's vocals, a bit of alliterative, metalinguistic slam poetry that from a lesser performer would come off irritatingly mannered, but which Belew somehow makes genuinely funny, and which becomes more endearing as it goes on.
These ingredients are all pathbreaking, and all in ways that poke out and draw attention. They're proudly odd, built on harsh, unfamiliar sonorities and disarming rhythms, and any one of them alone would make an otherwise ordinary song stick in the mind. It takes the most confident of players to throw them all into one song and make something not merely listenable, but beautiful. The passing of three decades has done virtually nothing to soften the stubborn weirdness of this song. I'm still waiting for the pop world to catch up to it.
I'm going to start rolling out photos and videos from my trip to Africa and Europe. I'll start with the ones that are probably the most interesting culturally and historically, but which I also know very little about.
What I can tell you is that these performances are for the tourists. They were in touristy parts of Cape Town where there was a lot of shopping happening: the Waterfront and Green Market Square. These are folks that get up in the morning, put on their costumes and go dance for tips. And it's nice that they do, because in Cape Town you don't really get a feeling of much traditional culture, it's a very modern and European city.
Tourists were constantly joining these ladies so that they could have pictures taken with them. It was a little annoying as I just wanted to watch them perform. I really enjoyed their interlocking rhythmic and melodic chanting. It was very cool.
I passed them a couple hours later and they were sitting and singing. It was hot, and they were tired. They were cute ladies.
If you know anything about these performances, please let me know.
"You are so dumb, home, home, homeboy" says Antoine Dodson
Okay fine, I give in. Theses songs are totally catchy and I totally admit that I can't stop watching/listening to them. I might even download them.
So, according to the New York Times, the "Bed Intruder Song" has made it to the 39th spot on itunes as well as number 89 on the Billboard chats. The Gregory Brothers have split the proceeds of the song with "unintentional singer" Antoine Dodson who is using his money to move his family out of the projects. That might be the best part about this story.
So if you've not seen this yet, watch it. If you've watched it a million times, here it is again: "Bed Intruder Song"
I'm a little late to the game with this one, but this is "Double Rainbow" inspired by this video of a guy freaking out over a double rainbow in Yosemite. It's intense.
I'm finding that you need to have a certain sense of humor to really appreciate the ridiculous awesomeness that is auto-tuning. Musicians, like Ke$ha (article soon to come), have instead of using it to "fix" pitch and instead use it in the open to create pitch.
Love it or hate it, you have to admit that when use right, it's absolutely hysterical.
In the making the San Francisco, California Mix, I was reminded of one of my favorite musical moments of all time: the introduction of the character Jesus, played by John Turturro, in The Big Lebowski accompanied by the Gipsy King's rendition of "Hotel California."
The editing is perfectly timed with the music. Each frame tells you exactly what you need to know about this character, no more and no less: the rings, the purple outfit one long nasty fingernail, the hairnet, the tongue (oh gawd that tongue!), the bowling stance, the "Jesus" embroidery, the kiss he blows at Donnie...
The little dance Jesus does after his strike: it kills me every time.
The Ronnettes (not part of Motown): an inspiration to many of the girl groups of today and yesterday
This is a really cute video/audio mash-up featuring Beyonce and Girl Groups of the 60s: The Ronnettes, The Supremes, Tina Turner, Martha and the Vandellas, The Marvellettes and more. The Motown backup track (no idea what it is) surprisingly fits really well with Beyonce's melody.
This mash-up is a great tribute to the girl groups of the 60s and puts Beyonce in the context of the amazing women who came before her.
When Jack Conte told me that Pomplamoose was going to cover that silly pop song from the movie Armageddon, I was thinking, okay, "crappy silly dramatic love song that this band will make awesome." And they did. Of course. Everything that this band touches they turn into diamonds, or gold or.. whatever.
What makes this song for me is Nataly's ghostly angelic vocal interlude right after the bridge at 2:18. I've played just that little bit about 12 times now. It's absolutely stunning.
Pomplamoose produced Nulia Nune's most recent EP I Think you Know and the track "Through the Floorboards" features a vocal track that sounds very similar to the one you'll hear here.
This video is a month old and I had seen it a couple weeks ago. But I came across it again and I think it's worth sharing.
The Swell Season performed at Warehouse Live in Houston on November 13, and according to the description on the YouTube tag:
Glen introduced a new song, inviting the audience to sing along. Upon a quick rehearsal of our part, he heard one voice that he dubbed "Aretha" and promptly invited it's owner, Moji to join him onstage. Here is the magical result!
I love when she cues the band to come back in with louder dynamics. She's obviously a pro.
Hello everyone! Last week I got to do an interview with the band Pomplamoose. They are sweet genuine people and I learned so much from them. I posted an interview in three parts on examiner.com. Check it out.
I wanted to stress that if you are a musician or have friends that are struggling musicians, tell them to read this interview (at least the first two parts). Nataly and Jack of Pomplamoose are supporting themselves on their mp3 sales! Of course they are also talented and charming, but they've made the internet really work for them. They're doing so well they're even looking for a personal assistant to help them with day-to-day administrative tasks.
If you are in the Bay Area next weekend, Pomplamoose will be playing a show at the Brainwash Cafe on Friday November 13th.
This morning I sang at a recording session for a demo of Heart's "All I Want to Do is Make Love to You" in 4-part harmony. Do you remember this from 1990? A film director in LA wants to put this tune in her movie with an all female a cappella group and hired a guy I know in San Francisco (same guy who did the "Good Night Bush" arrangement) to arrange it for her. He wanted to put a quick demo together for her so that she could get an idea of what it would sound like.
Imagine a 4-part a cappella arrangement of this song. The best line is:
So we found this hotel, it was a place I knew well.
It was hard not to bust out laughing during the recording session... oh wait, I did, several times. It was so fun.
Check out Ann Wilson's outfit and Nancy' Wilson's moves. The hair is pretty awesome too.