Some of you may know my little sister's gettin all married & stuff. She and Chris have a website, which all the
thousands hundreds tens of you should go check out, if only to stare at the wall of pictures for awhile.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
THRILLS AND CHILLS by Helene Smith.
I know three facts about this song. One, it's from an Eccentric Soul release that I got from Katie and Chris. They were so excited about it they made me open it early. Two, the liner notes say that Thrills and Chills is an answer song to another song called Chills and Fever, and that it "firmly established Helene Smith as the first lady of Miami soul." Third, it's an absolute killer.
The backing band was drawn from Florida A&M's Incomparable Marching 100 band, and there are at least 100 little bells and whistles in the arrangement. There's somebody keeping the beat with the kick drums, some chinky guitar, some funhouse organs, some bubbly bubbly bass, some guys having a blast with their backing vocals, and a really smooth, sweet vocal from Ms. Smith. Loads of fun in under three minutes!
Photo: Rollingwood, 2006.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Well it finished 1-1 and it was a bit of a non-event. They put together a nice move for their goal but until then it was sleeptime for both teams. The only word I know for it all is "rubbish." Anyway, Kolo equalized and we went for it but looked tired. And we lost Baptista so we're up against it now for a few weeks. Next is Wednesday hosting the Tiny Totts.
Watched it over at Windy's coz our cable had decided to stop working for about 12 hours. That was a long 12 hours, even if I was asleep for 8 of them. Woke up a couple of times just to re-boot the box...
Friday, January 26, 2007
OMINOUS CLOUD by Broadcast.
When our kids ask us one day why we ever went to record stores, what will we say? Since I came of age during what has turned out to be a short-lived period of what should be more accurately-termed the CD store, I'll miss the clack-clack-clack as you flip through the CDs looking for exactly the one you want.
Or looking for something you're not looking for. Those serendipitous discoveries of one thing when you're looking for another. When "just browsing" turns up something useful rather than just something to say so the clerk leaves you alone.
What is really rare is when said clerk adds something to your music shopping experience. Those are the ones you go back to. I've already mentioned Rocks In Your Head before, but that's what I miss about that store. Every time I went in there was a chance, like the shoppers hearing The Beta Band in High Fidelity, that I'd walk out with something I didn't know before but that I really needed after all.
So it was with "Haha Sound" by Broadcast. I came in one afternoon and they were playing Ominous Cloud. This was something I had to find out about, and the guy said, "Just wait til you hear the rest of it!" The funny thing is, even though I do love the rest of the album, my favorite song is still Ominous Cloud, and probably for no other reason than its the one I heard first! Have a good weekend.
Photo: Happy Days.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
SLEEP AWAY YOUR TROUBLES by The Softies.
In November I downloaded a track, Me and the Bees, from a Dutch group called "Safe Home." It's a cover off the last record put out by the Softies, and it got me going back to that album, "Holiday in Rhode Island." It's a crisp, wintery little thing.
From what I recall, Elliott Smith once upon a time went out on tour with The Softies (both are from the Pacific Northwest as well), which got more than one writer to draw comparisons between the two acts. It doesn't really work, except songs like Sleep Away Your Troubles have a resigned prettiness about them, which is at least one attribute of much of Elliott Smith's material. See what you think.
Monday, January 22, 2007
CHILDHOOD (Live on Fair Game from PRI with Faith Salie) by Beach House.
Last January I spent some time making a list of my favorite releases from 2005. Not two days after I finished it up, I came across My Morning Jacket's album, and listened to that for about two months straight (shelving all of my so-called favorites in the process).
This year I didn't go to the same trouble, but if I had, Beach House would be the group to render my list outdated. I had a song of their's, Apple Orchard, back in September but didn't pay much attention to it. The last few weeks, though, all of I've done is listen to this group.
If you've read anything about them, you've probably seen the words "Mazzy Star" or maybe "Galaxie 500." I like the latter comparison, and also perhaps The Clientele or even Beachwood Sparks.
They're opening for Grizzly Bear (another point of reference) in March and I plan to drag Amy to that.
I had one of their songs, Master of None, lined up for today, but then I heard this live recording of Childhood (h/t Stereogum) last week and it blew me away. So here it is!
Photo: Four Corners.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
HEDFAN by Gillian Elisa.
If I said that this song was by a Welsh soap actress, comedienne, and celebrity doodler, even though that's all true, I would be creating false expectations in the minds of you listeners.
Because it's not awful. It's actually amazing. It's got a real splendiferous, glam sound (recorded in 1975) but it's got even more than that. I don't know if it's due to Ms. Elisa's pipes or the fact that she's singing in exotic, consonant-y Welsh, but there's something seriously sublime, mysterious, and unsettling about this song.
I got this towards the end of 2005 from the Welsh Rare Beat compilation, which was a real pleasure, and Hedfan in particular grew to become one of my favorite and most-played tracks of 2006.
Photo: Fog on 5th Avenue.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
THE RAIN by Popi Asteriadi with Lakis Pappas.
In keeping with a quasi promise i made last month, I'm posting a bit
of Greek music today. The Rain is an outtake off an album called
"Another Sunday Gone" released by Popi Asteriadi with Lakis Pappas.
No, I don't know either. Last year I stopped into Other Music a
couple times and they had a little write up on the album and I decided
I'd give it a try. I haven't been disappointed. If you like
Françoise Hardy or Bryter Layter, you should give this a listen.
"Another Sunday Gone" and The Rain are both pretty typical musical
evocations, but the nice thing about both is that at least the names
fit. This really does sound like music you'd listen to as you watch
it rain down on another Sunday afternoon.
Photo: Outside Hana, Maui.
Monday, January 15, 2007
MANINHA by Miúcha and Antônio Carlos Jobim.
Maninha is dedicated to our friends Andrew and Tim (which is a
potentially dodgy proposition, since even though it's a beautiful
song, it may be about the curse of the black plague for all I know.
If so, my apologies, mates!).
I'm told that Tim and Andrew have the honor of being the first guests
to make concrete plans for our wedding this summer (kind of a stacked
competition, I know, since most of you haven't yet (soon!) been told
any details about it), but even that flattering and humbling act
wouldn't be enough to get a mention on the blog. Oh no.
But Tim and Andrew gave us music, which takes it to a whole other
level. A couple years ago, around Halloween, I was struggling to put
together the Christmas CD for that year (what eventually became this),
and listening to all of the old samba tunes I had. Andrew, who was
visiting with Tim at the time, and happens to be Brazilian himself,
So Tim and Andrew enrolled me in a little remedial course in good
music, and came back that afternoon with five (!) of their own
favorite CDs for us to listen to.
Our favorite of the five has been an album from Miúcha (best
referenced in this country as the mother of Bebel Gilberto) and
Antônio Carlos Jobim, and Maninha is our favorite track from that
album. Thanks to Andrew and Tim, we hope you enjoy it!
Photo: From Hodge's farm.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
MANHÃ DE CARNAVAL by Luiz Bonfá.
Instead of giving you something louder and crazier this Friday, as was my original plan, I've been persuaded to offer you something more familiar and more melancholy. It's more appropriate for a chilly end to a long week.
Manhã de Carnaval is one of Brazil's most beautiful songs. This short instrumental version, written and played by Luiz Bonfá, first appeared on the soundtrack to Orfeu Negro.
As I said, this was one of the earliest Brazilian songs to "cross over" to America, and certainly one of the worthiest. Now it's a standard. Over the years, it's been covered by a million people. Here's a pretty good (if a little showy) version by Chet Atkins, George Benson & Earl Klugh.
Photo: At rest.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
BALANÇAR by Mestre Iram Custodio.
You know what Balançar sounds like it? It sounds like the umpteenth rendition of one of those counting songs like 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, 12 Days of Christmas... the, er, Ashley Cole song.
So here everyone goes mad and runs all the words together before collapsing in a drunken heap, BalançarBalançarBalançar!!!
Well, maybe if you're smashing buttons playing Eddy in Tekken Tag or something. But Balançar is actually something like "to swing" or "to balance" in Portuguese (go ahead, look it up!), and this music, at this tempo, accompanies those amazingly precise capoeira routines you see from time to time.
Photo: At the Cloisters.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Monday, January 8, 2007
GLORIOSO SANTO ANTONIO by Antônio Carlos & Jocafi.
If I had to do it all over again, I'd grow up in Brazil and know everything there is to know about samba school or bossa nova or baile funk or MPB or forró or what have you. Alas, things didn't turn out that way. So with our Brazilian selections we can offer enthusiasm but not much expertise—we'll tread lightly.
"Treading lightly" is a good metaphor for what Glorioso Santo Antonio is doing. The song manages to incorporate a bunch of instrumentalists, a half dozen backup singers, a typical Brazilian afro-funk beat. Oh, and a Gregorian chant. But it's not some turgid sade donne moi thing—Glorioso Santo Antonio is lighter than air. Don't play it once unless you're prepared to play it four times running.
Glorioso Santo Antonio is from Antônio Carlos and Jocafi's self-titled third album, released in 1973. Records like this one made them "mega stars" at home. If I had to do it all over again, I'd grow up in Brazil...
(Note: Some of you may have trouble downloading this if you try to open it in Windows Media Player. Use Realplayer, Quicktime, or iTunes instead, if you can.)
Photo: Marrakech, 2005.
Saturday, January 6, 2007
Friday, January 5, 2007
BRAZILIAN RHYME by Earth, Wind & Fire Mabo and the Invalidation of Terra Nullius.*
Today we're observing our friend Stu's birthday. Like the obnoxious guests we are, we're requesting the DJ start the party off with this number by Earth, Wind, & Fire. We think there's a good chance it'll come off, mainly because there's no one up at the moment to challenge us, and also because it's a pretty killer little tune.
Brazilian Rhyme is off 1977's awesome
"All 'N All" "Mabo and the Invalidation of Terra Nullius Sing the Songs of Earth Wind and Fire"* (funny internet story, from an amazon.com review: "My college roomate used to have me rolling with this anecdote-he was at a church where a crazy man walked to the pulpit with an EW&F album and proceeded to tell the congregation, "THIS ALBUM IS GOD!" before being forced offstage by the ushers").
But it's really from Milton Nascimento, who wrote Ponta de Areia (Sand Edge), from "Ultimo Trem," on which Brazilian Rhyme is modeled (another internet story: When Maurice White formed Earth, Wind & Fire he posted an ad looking for "musicians who could sound like Milton Nascimento"). In the spirit of giving, we'll let you hear the original here.
That's yer lot. Happy Birthday Stu, Happy Weekend everyone else, and we'll be back Monday.
(Edited to make an extremely tenuous Gaffers joke, but why not?)
Photo: Windfarm, 2005.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
EVERYMAN by Double Exposure.
Everyman was recorded right at the end of 1975, beginning of 1976, and it shows. It's obviously a Philly record, but with its energy and exuberence, it's a classic 12" disco record first and foremost.
So Everyman is sitting on one end of a musical era from Shut 'Um Down. It's also sitting on the other end of the political spectrum, should you care to hear music so didactically. To be fair, Everyman is pretty explicit in its political message. Check out around the five minute mark where the down and out guy asks the singer for a helping hand. And the singer says? "I said no." (!)
No surprise to learn that "A conservative African-American talk show host in Cleveland used Everyman as his theme song." (Speaking of didactic, "He went as far as to read the lyrics to listeners who didn't comprehend the message he was trying to put across to the audience." Heh)
Whatever the message, this one got us bouncin' in the car, so it's goin out to yous.
Photo: Darwin Dance Hall, 2005.
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Monday, January 1, 2007
SHUT 'UM DOWN by Gil Scott-Heron.
Happy New Year! And welcome to the re-launched blog!
There's no better way to kick off the new year than with prime Gil Scott-Heron. Shut 'Um Down sounds like it's trying to WAKE YOU UP, stop dreaming. We know now that America wasn't really listening to Scott-Heron, and it was about to spend the next decade on a yawning woozy nostalgia trip (it's "morning in America," as the President would say).
This particular tune, off 1980 (incidentally, Scott-Heron's last album with Brian Jackson), was probably written with Three Mile Island in mind, so you wouldn't think it's topical. But Scott-Heron's righteous, confident, astringent funk sounds pretty good in 2007!
Photo: Divis ditch, 2006.