Sunday, November 30, 2008

From yoga teacher to main stage in one song

It's been done before and hopefully the trend of placing unheard music in national television campaigns will continue. Although Apple may not have been the first to exploit (it's not a bad thing) an emerging artist through an ad campaign, they certainly have been the most recent company responsible for the growth of dozens of new radio singles and iTunes downloads. Remember the Kooks, Yael Naim, The Ting Tings? Yes, they each charted and beyond that, it's hard to argue any of them would have reach mainstream ears if it weren't for conglomerate corporations helping them. Side note: people have given groups such as Aerosmith and Zeppelin shit for years now saying they've "sold out" by allowing their music to sync with car commercials and so on. Really? If someone came up to you and offered you $500,000 to use your song in a commercial that didn't offend anyone and all you had to do was say "ok", could you really turn 1/2 million down? Honestly? Ok, now what if you were Johnny Cash and Preparation H offered you $1,000,000 to use your song, "Ring of Fire" for their anal burning campaign? What then? Is it the money amount involved, the brand involved or a combo of the two that defines a "sell out"?Discuss amongst yourselves.

Batter up: Dell Computers and Kira Willey.

A children's yoga instructor, mother, and musician, Kira Willey founded Fireflies, a musical yoga program in Pennsylvania for children. Full story here. I may have been the last on earth to see this commercial until my brother urged me to hear the simple song that reminds quite a bit of Yael Naim or multiple Juno Soundtrack staples. It's a simple song with that innocent and feel good attitude. If I were a parent singing songs to children aiming to teach them a healthier lifestyle and then some computer company offered me 'x' amount of money and a possible fortuitous musical career for a song I'd written for fun, then I'd be a sell out any day.

Kira Willey - Colors

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 I remember

So I've been one of those that, despite their popularity and dent left on the history of rock, have never taken a liking to certain groups such as The Police, Steely Dan and Van Halen. Keep in mind that yes, I thing two of these groups actually have amazing talent. But for some reason, their tunes generally make me search for a new radio station. Though whenever I hear a song by Van Halen, I end up searching for a noose and I now I know why. A few days ago my co-worker showed me a video of David Lee Roth's vocal track of what he contributed to the 80s ballad, "Runnin' With The Devil." Simply put...embarrassingly talentless.


To justify his talent, or lack thereof, here is David Lee Roth with the rest of the group, allowing him to mask his minimal input.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rodrigo Y Gabriela Live in Japan

The seductive Mexican duo via Ireland can now add the country of Japan to the most recent list of swooners and oooh-ers and ahhhh-ers. Sure their songs get a bit repetitive if you listen to the album in it's entirety, but seeing Rodrigo Y Gabriela live is a completely different experience. The speed in which the metal influnced folksters hands explore and dance the necks of their one-of-a-kind handmade acoustic guitars will leave your jaw dropped. In addition to Rodrigo's humbleness and Gabriela's cutsie stage presence comes some great music. Are they dating? Are they married? Are they brother and sister? Let's hope it's not the Jack and Meg White question all over again. Rumor has it that they are definitely together, though on stage it's all about the music, picking and getting the crowd to clap along.

Rod Y Gab have just released a double disc CD/DVD of their time overseas from ATO Records. On it you'll find a handful of songs from their debut release with a bit of pepper. However, to make it worth your penny, the crew was able to capture a few newbies including a solo by each and a kick ass cover of Dave Brubeck's 1959 classic, "Take Five." Here's the original and Rod Y Gab's take on it for ya!

Rodrigo Y Gabriela - Take Five (live)

Friday, November 21, 2008

She & Him is the best 2008 has to offer.
Really? I mean, really?

I mean really Paste magazine, She & Him released the best album of 2008? Really? C'mon. So I'm at work earlier today minding my own when Jason walks in and slams down the newly released Paste rubbish on the table after announcing their choice for Best Album of 2008. Without hesitation, I facetiously respond: "did Paste even listen to the album?" Stereogum, please save us.

OK, I'm a realist and know it's just a simple poll. Before you think I'm one of those self-righteous music snobs who's "above it" and no matter who "they" ranked at #1 I would have disagreed, let me put in my own asterisk. *I love (Him) M. Ward. I think (She) Zooey Deschanel would never ever win an ugly contest...voice or looks. I own all of M. Ward's albums. I love watching Zooey and Buddy The Elf (Will Ferrell) duet in Elf. But really...the best album of 2008? It IS unique. It does stand out. Hell, he is an instrumentalist extraordinaire and she only adds to the skiked Kool-Aid. But trust me you, by no means does their talent, production, lyrics, melody or sound top the charts of 2008. Take a listen and then come right back.

OK, now I'm not stating that I'm important enough to compile a Top 50 list of 2008. And I'm confident that if I did, I'd have to stand up and take the punishment of the naysayers and critics, which is only appropriate after rating artistic talents...especially when my musical talent is confined to performances alone in my living room or at campfire in front of alcohol-induced onlookers. That being said and without posting these in any specific order, I'd like to remind you of some songs/albums that I believe got shoved aside by Paste when they hoisted She & Him's Volume One to the #1 slot of 2008. Really. Again, I'm not saying She & Him blows. I'm saying it was good but "good" should never be the cover of a magazine as big as Paste. In this man's humble opinion, each below are more deserving of the #1 stature than what Paste determined.

Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal

Vampire Weekend

TV On The Radio

Okkervil River - Lost Coastlines

Lykke Li

Bon Iver

Ray Lamontagne

Noah And The Whale

Girl Talk


Sigur Ros

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Belle & Sebastian!!!!!

They're back! I know there were never really gone, but when a new release arrives from such an influential indie band, it's a good day. Now I know the definition of "indie" has lost much of it's flare and has easily been clouded due to the ease of attaching those five letters to any old band that isn't on the four big labels. Hell, many of the bands on the big labels are still considered "indie" becuase of their roots and many of the bands on "indie" labels such as Sub Pop (bullshit) are anything but independent of politics and polish of the big boys they despise. Anywhoo...on with the main point huh? Indie pop staples, Belle & Sebastian, have released a new double disc album available digitally, on CD and if you want the true living room performance experience, it's available as a double vinyl. Right on.

It's a testament to Scotland's Belle & Sebastian and their volumes of stripped songs when a BBC sessions album full of bootlegs, live performances and rareties, can count as damn great album in it's own right. The first disc is full of BBC radio recording from 1996-2001 while the second disc provides some nice dessert via a live performance from Belfast. The BBC Sessions album is out now from Matador Records. If you want some more detailed information on the release from the band, check their Myspace here. Their BBC album on vinyl is the answer for a brisk fall Sunday evening with a slowly disappearing glass of wine.

Belle & Sebastian - (My Girl's Got) Miraculous Technique

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Le Scaphandre et le papillon

Hands down one of the best films I've seen in a handful. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is a true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a stroke causing him to be almost fully paralyzed apart from his left eye. Through family, transcribers and doctors, Bauby uses his left eye to blink a memoir describing "the aspects of his interior world, from the psychological torment of being trapped inside his body to his imagined stories from lands he'd only visited in his mind" (imdb). See the trailer here

Aside from the brilliant cinematography, the actors involved and the numerous awards that this film has secured (including a Golden Globe for best director), the music was sterling. Not only serving as the director, Julian Schnabel also supervised the films soundtrack. Watching the film and noticing the pastel layout of colors along with the surf and ocean scenes coupled perfectly with Tom Waits, Lou Reed and some grunge from the days forgotten, I immediately thought of another movie, "Basquiat". After making a trip to IMDB, it was no surprise that Schnabel also wrote and directed "Basquiat" He also composed the soundtrack's original music with John Cale, the man responsible for the now notorious "Hallelujah."

Anywhoo...Go see the film (or both!) and get the soundtrack(s). The Diving Bell and The Butterfly's bloated soundtrack is full of Lou Reed, traditional French gems from the 40s and 50s, The Dirtbombs, obscure(ish) U2, classic Tom Waits, Joe Strummer, Bach, and Ultra Orange and Emmanuelle. Speaking of...
The Velvet Underground - Pale Blue Eyes

Ultra Orange and Emmanuelle - Don't Kiss Me Goodbye

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Iglu & Hartly

I was at a concert recently when a friend asked me if the artist on stage had "made it." What is the status an artist should reach or is there an initial plateau, monetary amount, fan base, record deal, tour schedule, self fulfillment or combination that counts for "making it" in this political and cutthroat profession?

DJ Iglu and Hartly Dark, a young group of hip-hop artists that I used to help out a bit, is at that moment...or maybe they surpassed it months and months ago...I'm not sure. Micheal Jarvis and Sam Jantz used their imagination, light-hearted nature, musical experimentation's and various left-field influences to start up a hip-hop/rock/punk/beat-driven group when they attended the University of Colorado in Boulder. In the long months to come with late evenings spent locked in their college basement with a bunch of instruments, liquor, self-taught production skills and time, they eventually gathered a light local student following. Maybe enough of a following to pay for a few kegs and a three vintage sets of shirts. Through their small success grew the needed confidence to pick up everything and head to Hollywood to see if the college band/experiment could blossom.

Being a consultant, booker, blogger, and supervisor in this profession, I'd have to say about 1% of the bands/artists out there make it past the trudge of performing the free coffee shops and house parties decorated as a dive-bar. Jantz and Jarvis quickly proved to NOT be one of those. Eventually re-branding their band under the name of Iglu & Hartly, picking up some actual back-up musicians and making the move to California, they quickly found the surfer-girl following and rightly so. These guys are skinny Cali punks that haven't a care in the world other than what stage will allow them to dance and smile the following night. Hell, no one still knows whether to call them a rock band, punk experiment, garage rock or hip hop. Their influences range from 60s punk, The Cars, The Clash, to the 80s NY street rappers and probably today's underground indie bands that won't make it upstairs.

Weeks after establishing their fan demographic of flip-flop wearing surfer gals topping out at 22 years-old, Iglu & Hartly played the Viper Room, opened for acts that they've now surpassed ten-fold, appeared on MTV's The Hills and placed their newest single "In This City" on the UK charts. In roughly a year after the sun started shining bright, Mike Jarvis (now Jarvis Anderson), Jantz and full band found a home next to The Killers on Mercury Records and on an extensive tour in Europe. Regardless of all the success and fans now following Iglu & Hartly, the local "rock" station in Denver still passes them up for jokes like the Flobots. Maybe stations in the U.S. like KTCL will continue to let the UK fans establish bands and jump on in a few more months down the road. Why take the risk, right?

Have I&H made it? Major record label, full tour schedule, smiles, no need for t-shirts any more, chart position in the UK and great music. I'd cast a vote.

Here's a recently filmed concert at the famous Paradiso in Amsterdam via Fab Channel
And here is for your critique:
Iglu & Hartly - In This City

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

David Ford shows us how to go to hell

He was my favorite artist to break out in least to U.S. audiences. I'm lucky enough that after not touring in my neck of the woods for the past two years, UK singer-songwriter David Ford is coming back around! He's still not too well known in the states but has secured opening slots for gems such as Gomez, KT Tunstall, Richard Ashcroft and Elvis Costello. Not only a brilliant singer-songwriter that gleams passion, Ford actually calls himself as much a technician as a strict performer. A jack-of-all-trades is what you'll see if you don't pass up the common name on a billboard venue. David Ford awes fans on stage as most expect his backing band to appear any second to fill the vacant slots in front of the bass, percussion, guitar, drums, piano, guitars, and multiple mic stands. Not much time is wasted when Ford takes control and loops segments of dozens of instruments, resulting in a cacophony of perfectly synced sounds, dismissing any need of a backing band.

Ford has now released a few videos showing that everything you hear on his album may have taken a lot more talent you'd be quick to guess. Here's how he constructed the full sound of "Go To Hell"

David Ford - Go To Hell

Now how about this - a live recording, one take, four times

Ford is again on tour in the states, this time with New Yorker Ingrid Michaelson (yes, the gal responsible for making you remember Grey's Anatomy and Old Navy), and England's Newton Faulkner.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Margot and Nuclear W's Last Day In Office

The Mountain Tempo posted on Margot & The Nuclear So And So's a bit ago, featuring the two fantastic singles, "A Children's Crusade on Acid" and "As Tall As Cliffs" from their upcoming album. If you wanna get 'em and hear more about Margot's history and their relationship with George W., check out the post link above. The news coming out of the Margot headquarters is the hilarious new video for their single, "As Tall As Cliffs," documenting W's last moments in office. I'm no political jive-talker, mudslinger or high-hat spokesman, though I do take a firm stance in encouraging satire and dark comedy, no matter the victim. Take a look.
As Tall As Cliffs

Not Animal was released in Oct from Epic Records and I'll say it again. It's a hodge-podge of diverse influences, balanced noises, and uniquely titled songs like their single or the down-tempo'd "Hello Vagina." Don't let the titles and jolly video make you dive in with expectations of only silly and fun songs though. Both "Hip Hip Hooray" and "Real Naked Girls", buried deep in the album, threw me off as I expected something totally different from what the lyrics and tune delivered. The albums really does have it all. Your turn.

Margot & The Nuclear So And So's - Real Naked Girls

Margot & The Nuclear So And So's - Hip Hip Hooray

Friday, November 7, 2008

Music History:
How Springsteen changed Genesis

"Solsbury Hill" is arguably Peter Gabriel's most recognizable song which is saying a lot after the video success of "Sledgehammer" and Cusack's hoisting of "In Your Eyes." You know the song as a staple on adult radio and you know the singer, but do you actually know how it came to be?

According to Wikipedia, the song emerged after a spiritual experience Gabriel had atop the actual Solsbury Hill, located in Somerset England, after his departure from Genesis. In fact, Solsbury Hill is said to be a metaphor to the excitement and adventurous spirit Gabriel felt once he made the decision to leave Genesis. Wiki leaves it at that and misses much of the story that I find more interesting. Although most know Phil Collins as the lead of Genesis, it should be known that he only ditched the drums and sang in the mic after Gabriel's departure. So what ignited this song and Gabriel's ambition to depart such a prolific band in favor of a risky solo-career? Bruce Springsteen. The Boss.

As the story goes, Gabriel arrived to his decision at some point before 1977 after watching Springsteen in concert. His first verse describes Springsteen as an "eagle who flew out of the night" and "standing stretching every nerve." Some sites and reviews go line by line through the song dissecting Gabriel's concert experience, his reaction to it and how he paved his new solo path. Instead of regurgitating their words and sending you their direction, it may be more fun and eye-opening for you to re-listen to the song with this new information of how this song came to be and how Springsteen's heavy-hitting style might have served as a catalyst.

Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill

Since emerging in 1977, "Solsbury Hill" has appeared on over 50 albums, received countless cover tributes by people such as Dave Matthews, Sarah McLachlan, Erasure, Moe., and has seen millions of spins on our FM dial throughout the decades.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Decemberists Cover Velvet Underground

The Juno Soundtrack was the "Garden State" of the past few years. A pretty damn-strong soundtrack that served our highschoolers, college boys and girls with some of the great indie staples they may have missed out on while focusing on Beyonce, Bush, No Doubt or Modest Mouse only a few years before. Juno re-introduced the younger masses to acts like Mott The Hoople, Kimaya Dawson and her Moldy Peaches, The Velvet Underground, Belle and Sebastian and some Sonic Youth. The Juno soundtrack really didn't debut any new songs, it reminded us what needs to be re-added to our iPods.

Portland's The Decemberists are about to release another album and having listened to it in it's entirety, I'm now assuming Meloy and Co. are one of the few bands that just don't put out an average album. They didn't get the memo about the notorious one-hit wonder phase and they overlooked putting out a weak sophomore album. Maybe their last album in 32 years will suck.

Anywhoo, The Decemberists are set to release a handful of singles through their Always The Brides Maid: A Singles Series from Capitol Records. A few are currently available through their site, iTunes or One released single covers Lou Reed's 1976 bootleg called "I'm Sticking With You," which resurfaced in early 2008 thanks to Juno and Velvet Underground. Seriously, take a listen to this and then get the rest of the singles for really is another strong output from the Portland quintet.

The Decemberists - I'm Sticking With You

Here's the Velvet Underground version

Monday, November 3, 2008

1 Vote DOES NOT make a difference

Only 537 people decided the 2000 election.

"537? There's more Baldwin brothers than that."

Here's a nice little viral campaign with a plethora of celebs. I think the best may be Braff's reference to "Tommy Cruise" or Justin's "I can do anything. I was in a boy band, ok?" Get up early tomorrow and do your part if you haven't already done so.

I like Toe Jam

Here's a funny and wonderfully edited video, showing us some music and hot buns that are to come in the middle of a cold winter.

"Toe Jam" is the first single from I Think We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat, the new album from Norman Cook or The Brighton Port Authority, or BPA for short. Norman Cook, the real name to the face behind Fatboy Slim, teams up with greats such as Lateef, Martha Wainwright, Simon Thornton, Iggy Pop, and Emmy The Great in the album which is set to drop from Southern Fried Records in early 2009. The video you saw above is none other than Cook with rhymester Dizzee Rascal and Talking Heads front man and musical experiment extraordinaire, David Byrne.

Toe Jam - David Byrne, Norman Cook & Dizzee Rascal