Archive for the 'Music' Category

MIKE POSNER

2010-12-11

Mike Posner is pop-rap. Not my usual bag I guess, but I have to admit to quite liking the guy’s début album entitled: “31 Minutes to Takeoff“. It only came out a few months ago

Here’re the usual links to check him out:

[Embedded videoclip of Cooler Than Me by Mike Posner live on You Tube]

I like his lyrics — “pre-Madonna” — and “come on over and we can have deja-vu (ooh ooh ooh)” or “Trying to look bored in them Diors”.

He says what we’re all thinking, and that’s a gift!  It is actually refreshing to hear good pop again — a quality lyric, good production, and fine musicality.

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ELI “PAPERBOY” REED

2010-12-09

Sometimes it is nice to hear old fashioned R’n’B — and I mean by that, The Blues Brothers or Van Morrison. Especially after The Antlers. This sort of music seems to be making a revival with the likes of the young Eli “Paperboy” Reed.

I have his début album, “Come and Get it“. It is really good. At time on “Help Me” he sounds like James Brown! He really does have a great range and texture to his vocal that allows his the James Brown wail as deeper Otis or Marvin stuff.

If you like Wilson Pickett and Sam Cooke or even Jools Holland or Gnarls Barkley , then you will love Eli. Check him out!

His links:

[Embedded videoclip from YouTube of Eli – come and get it][Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5_p3iLqChQ]

The Album tracklist is:

  1. Young Girl
  2. Name Calling
  3. Help Me
  4. Just Like Me
  5. Come And Get It
  6. Pick A Number
  7. I Found You Out
  8. Tell Me What I Wanna Hear
  9. Time Will Tell
  10. You Can Run On
  11. Pick Your Battles
  12. Explosion

It’s odd that he’s white — or in fact that he looks like a fat Jimmy Carr, but hey, you soon get used to that.

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THE ANTLERS

2010-12-08

[Picture of Peter Silberman of The Antlers]Peter Silberman plays a Fender Mustang and has one of the best falsettos in the business. He formed “The Antlers” — and I have their album “Hospice“.  It is Brooklyn, and New York City in mood and lo-fi approach, but it is more straight, clearer and on focus. They opened for “The National” in Barcelona — now that would have been some gig!

I have been listening to this album on and off now for quite a while, but recently a chap I work with has discovered it — which has led to my returning to it again.

My favourite is “Epilogue”, simple guitar strumming (G major) — but a voice like Gregory Hoskins or Jeff Buckley.

“Hospice” is an incredibly emotional record. This guy really seems to pour out his heart and his art.  One for the headphones.

Here’re the usual links:

Peter did a blog that is intended to compliment the album: theantlershospice.blogspot.com

[Embedded videoclip: Epilogue by The Antlers on YouTube]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQwkbRVqqxU&feature=related]

In a nightmare, I am falling from the ceiling into bed beside you. You’re asleep, I’m screaming, shoving you to try to wake you up. And like before, you’ve got no interest in the life you live when you’re awake. Your dreams still follow story-lines, like fictions you would make.

So I lie down against your back, until we’re both back in the hospital. But now it’s not a cancer ward, we’re sleeping in the morgue. Men and women in blue and white, they are singing all around you, with heavy shovels holding earth. You’re being buried to your neck. In that hospital bed, being buried quite alive now. I’m trying to dig you out but all you want is to be buried there together.

You’re screaming, and cursing, and angry, and hurting me, and then smiling, and crying, apologizing.

I’ve woken up, I’m in our bed, but there’s no breathing body there beside me. Someone must have taken you while I was stuck asleep. But I know better as my eyes adjust. You’ve been gone for quite awhile now, and I don’t work there in the hospital (they had to let me go.)

When I try to move my arms sometimes, they weigh too much to lift. I think you buried me awake (my one and only parting gift.) But you return to me at night, just when I think I may have fallen asleep. Your face is up against mine, and I’m too terrified to speak.
–Epilogue or Sylvia Alive In Nightmares

Absolutely beautiful music.  Painful at times, but worth it. Enjoy.

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NARCISCO YEPES

2010-11-30

Rodrigo’s ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ was the first time I heard Mr Yepes play.  I still have the vinyl LP, and it is his version that I think of as the standard or benchmark.

I always found it odd that Yepes was not rated properly.  He had a very clean technique, but that doesn’t mean he was emotionless!

I have found this sort of thing a lot with guitar-players and critics over the years — they compare and compete.  The fact is that Yepes had to be compared with Segovia or Bream, which is unfair as they are so exceptional.  Yepes died in 1997, Segovia in 1987 and Bream is still around, so they were contemporaries.  Perhaps Yepes would not be accused to being detached and emotionless in another context.  I think he suffered from the comparison — and yet they did their own distinct things.

Yepes pioneered the 10-string guitar and transcribed loads of lute stuff.  The impact is clear today with the likes of  Dominic Frasca — or even with harp guitars of the likes of Andy McKee and Antoine Dufour, or more traditional work by Pasquale Taraffo, Mario Maccaferri, Luigi Mozzani, and Gian Battista Noceti.

[embedded videoclip from YouTube of Yepes playing Recuerdos de la Alhambra]

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLHR8zaEsA8]

[embedded videoclip from YouTube of Dominic Frasca playing 10-string guitar]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2BOApUvFpw]

Vai gets a lot of stick for being more technique and less emotion, yet I think that criticism is often founded on dubious contextual comparisons or personal preference.

So if you take Narscisco at face value, and listen to his playing on ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ (especially the Navarro one I grew up with), and you will hear a superb guitarist.  He has such a natural affinity with Spanish music.  When it comes to Spanish guitar music, not many can do it the justice that Narciso Yepes did.

Anyway, he deserves a mention on my blog for “sharing things I like” as he has always been around when I need him.

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ERUPTION

2010-09-23

[Picture of Eddie Van Halen playing guitar]“Eruption” started off life as a guitar solo done by Eddie Van Halen exclusively in a live context. It was recorded in 1977 and kinda changed the world (the guitar world anyway).

In the armoury of guitar techniques, tapping has always been around, but generally within classical and flamenco styles.  Some tapping did appear in rock on electric guitars, but never as comprehensively as here on “Eruption”.

Van Halen came up with the two-handed tapping technique to create a new soundscape — and in fact, most people assumed that it was played on a synthesiser or some form of electronic wizardry.  Van Halen famously played it with this back to the audience to hide the technique for a while at the beginning.

Of course, today, everyone’s familiar with this tapping sound and technique; it’s pretty standard in the curriculum, but back in the day — the mid to late 1970s — it was brand new and very exciting indeed.  That was a very creative period for the arts, and this is but one example of all the extraordinary things that came out of that very special era.

Technically, Van Halen tuned down the guitar by one fret, and begins in Ab and ends on the Eb 12th fret harmonic. The intro is based on “Let Me Swim” by “Cactus” followed by the “Etude No. 2” by Rodolphe Kreutzer. It ends with the final bars of an early baroque lute piece by John Dowland called “A Fancy”.

[embedded video clip of Eruption by Eddie Van Halen]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULEBSxP725w]

Now, I have to admit that tapping like this has not appealed to me personally. I have done it for a laugh now and again, but it just doesn’t sit in my personal “toolkit” for when I want to express myself on the guitar.  That’s just me; it is a fabulously effective technique for sounding fast or accomplished — what would Bill and Ted films be without Vai’s tapping?

Credit where credit is due, this single piece was so talked-about, so hyped, so “up there” back in the day, it was a real buzz, and everyone was amazed and tickled by the whole thing.  In the guitar shops, this started  to take over from “Stairway to Heaven” and “Smoke on The water”. It is always high on the charts of guitarist voted bests.

Wonderful stuff!

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LARRY CARLTON

2010-09-16

[Picture of legendary guitarist from LA - Larry Carlton]Back in the day when I was buying LP records all the time — I began noticing the credits, the names of the session guys.  I think it started with Steely Dan; they were just two musicians and a producer — so everyone else was a guest session musician.  If I liked some bass playing or a guitar solo, I would maybe take a punt on another album where that name came up — or get into their actual real solo albums.

That’s how I got into Larry Carlton.

But Larry meant more to me than just being a guitar player; he defined the guitar sound of the time — probably because he played on EVERYONE’S ALBUMS for years.  I’ve heard it said that Larry put out something like 500 sessions a year throughout the late 1970s to the late 1980s.

He played on the TV theme to a massive hit TV cop show called “Hill Street Blues”. For a while I would mix up Larry and Lee Ritenour, probably because they both used ES335 guitars (my favourite guitar, by the way), although Lee used a slide.

I always adored Larry on “Gaucho” and even his older stuff with Steely Dan, such as the solo on “Kid Charlemagne” from 1976 — and I am amazed that this solo was voted third best ever recorded guitar solo in Rolling Stone magazine.  Wow.  Good for you, Mr Larry Carlton.

As so often happens to my musical heroes, Larry suffered a tragic event — a random act of terrible and senseless violence.  It was back in 1988 outside his own private recording studio (Room 335) that he got shot in the neck! Seriously. The bullet got his vocal chords and ruined some important nerves.  Can you believe this?  I mean, although Larry was one of the best guitarists in the world, his solo work did feature him singing.  How tragic for him.

  • Yet, he survived.  The man lived and moved on to complete the album he was working on, and he has continued to create wonderful music to this very day — what a guy!

[embedded videoclip from Youtube.com, Bubble Shuffle – Larry Carlton]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOn4AsqQSP0]

[embedded videoclip from Youtube.com, Misty – Larry Carlton]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAwAEj6Mdbw]

From my point of view, Larry influenced me greatly — his big hands and big chords suited me and what I was doing with Holdsworth.  Larry led me away from the dark side toward musicality, a lighter, free-er, way of playing. He played so easily, so confidently, so cleanly, and he winked and smiled too — yet this was tricky stuff to play, it was just somehow dissolved into a sugary, show-bizzy, rat-packy scene that was as plasticised as a Playboy cover. Fascinating and bewildering too. I mean to say, soloing with closed eyes! Ah!

What an unsung hero (in so many ways), I salute you, Larry Carlton.

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JOSHUA RADIN

2010-09-09

[Picture of Joshua Radin]The Thing about Joshua Radin is that he’s one of THOSE blokes that turn up to annoy every so often.  Girls buy their records.  It’s acoustic, lite, easy, smooth, kinda folky, guy-with-acoustic-guitar stuff.  We’ve all seen it before. Many times.  In recent times it’s been Jack Johnson or James Blunt or whatever.

The power of TV can make a difference — look at José González.  In the case of Josh Radin, it’s two massive US TV shows –“Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scrubs“. As well as movies such as “Catch & Release” and “Garden State“.

Yes, his soundtrack can break your heart, make you and your girl cry aloud in front of your TV set — and annoyingly, he’s a hunky, good-lookin’ guy. ENOUGH ALREADY!

OK, so I am quite prepared to hate this guy then I saw the video for his song, “Brand New Day“. Yep — everything you could imagine doing to this guy gets done right here — from being splashed by a car and a puddle to being beat up and having his own guitar smashed into his face! Genius.  How could you NOT like? I have to admit I was quite shocked when he gets hit by a truck, but I laughed when that guy stood in his way and he had to lean round to be seen!

[Embedded youtube video clip Brand New Day]
[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkF51KDtGQ8]

I hate to say it, but this guy can laugh at himself BIG TIME.  he gets robbed and moved on, and yet he still sings happily away about “nice things”. Ironic? Ah- HA!

Well good on you, Josh. I’m now a reluctant fan (sort of begrudgingly). Oh the power of the TV media!

[Embedded youtube video clip Scrubs]
[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rirPLLYBys&]

[Embedded youtube video clip Grey’s Anatomy]
[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHPj5-vCaCw&]

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RUMER

2010-08-30

Rumer is a strange name, and it’s a peculiar choice for searching the internet; it returns a lot of weird stuff. If you are not looking for Bruce Willis’s daughter (who she?), but the wonderful band featuring the wonderful singing of Sarah Joyce, then check out their website: www.rumer.co.uk.

[Embedded Videoclip from youtube of Rumer doing Slow]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvYUfwMBCrU]

Sarah Joyce is a Pakistani lass who grew up in Cumbria/Cumberland (Carlisle) discovered by none other than Burt Bacharach. She has a voice that resembles the smooth, easy quality of Karen Carpenter, Maggie Reilly, Carole King and Eva Cassidy. It’s easier than Norah Jones, more easy pop than jazz, so it ought to appeal as a familiar and secure, homely thing in a financial crisis — and there’s a lot of that about — just look at The Scissor Sisters, Mika, and The Feeling. Her album is not ready yet, but apparently will be due for release by Atlantic in November 2010. It HAS to be big for Christmas! Who knows it could upset the X-factor people again! Sarah deserves it — she’s now 31 and she’s been at this since she left Newman High School in Carlisle aged just 16. It’s been a long slog for this singer-songwriter, from Wentworth Drive, Lowry Hill with her Mum Tina, Dad Jim and sister Kathy to California. Rumer Godden was her Mum’s favourite author, so Sarah relaunched herself professionally as Rumer in honour of her mum who died in 2003 of Breast cancer. Her mum would be proud of her recent chart success.

[Embedded Youtube videoclip of Long Long Day]

[Embedded Youtube video clip of Aretha]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhCkw-tXpiY&]

Pakistan is suffering just now with the cricket, the floods, and the politics relating to “looking both ways” when it comes to neighbouring Afghanistan’s Taliban/ Muslim terrorism. Maybe Sarah can claw some much-needed goodwill back.

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MIDLAKE

2010-08-20

I let my wife listen to The Trials of Van Occupanther, a 2006 offering from Midlake, and she got hooked.  It is easy to see why — reminiscent of Neil Young, Gram Parsons, Fleetwood Mac, Surfjan Stevens, and even Joni Mitchell, it is at first shot, an “easy listening” album, but it offers more with each listen, and is in fact quite complex and rewards the effort.

I reckon the world simply divides into two camps with Midlake; you either “get it” or you don’t.

Here are the relevant links:

[Embedded video from You Tube of “Head Home” by Midlake]

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NOW WE CAN SEE

2010-08-18

[picture of Cover of Now We Can See by The Thermals 2009]I am getting back into raw rock’n’roll at the moment, and what better than last year’s “Now We Can See” from The Thermals?

Classifying them is just annoying — I see “garage-rock” and “punk-pop”! Quite why we have genres and subdivisions is beyond me; if you like rock’n’roll, from Tom Petty to The Pixies, you WILL like This Thermals record.

At The Bottom Of The Sea starts a bit like an old U2 track, When I Died starts like Feargal Sharkey! Now We Can See is just superb, completely catchy Johnny Thunderesque, early Attractions, maybe Frank Black, Dr Feelgood chops, love it; it’s addictive, mood-lightening, daddy-dancy classic stuff.

[Embedded Video clip from YouTube.com The Thermals’s Now We Can See]

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJu611UdfxA]

When We Were Alive is pretty punky, and nods at old Lux Interior or The Ramones. Liquid In, Liquid Out is sharp and clean, and a firmly modern song to rival the Arctic Monkys or Franz Ferdinand.

[Picture of the guys from The Thermals]“Now We Can See” is not offensive on first listening, being easy music to get into straight-away — yet it still grows with each play! Like a fine wine, it develops rather well.

The Thermals are: Westin Glass (drums), left-handed bass-playing chick Kathy Foster and Hutch Harris. Funnily enough, Foster owns a Tee-shirt company and she plays drums in the appropriately named “All Girl Summer Fun band”. Their website is www.thethermals.com, and they are on www.myspace.com/thethermals.

Check it out.

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