Category Archives: a musical recommendation

Audio Recommendations 3

BraidsNative Speaker (2o11).

Saw these dudettes and dudes last month with Baths. They put on a great show. And the album is great too. Kinda like a better version of Yeasayer.

This is the first song on the album. It’s called “Lemonade”

here they are performing it live:



Next up, David Sandstrom’s 2000 album, Om Det Inte Hander Nat Innan Imorgon Sa Kommer Jag. I had a hard time choosing a song to share, cuz they’re all epic. Seriously.

This is “Nar Hjartat Svider”

Here’s David and Frida Hyvonen performing some songs from a different album:



Trans Am’s Thing, from 2010. Listen to it. Fabulous album. Dirty. Dancey. Noisy.

This song is called “Naked Singularity”

Here they are destroying some shit live:



And finally…

I’ve been listening to Second Coming by The Stone Roses quite a bit. Like Trans Am, these are some sexy songs. However, they’re actually nothing like Trans Am.

This was their comeback single, “Love Spreads”. The guitar is brutal.

and I couldn’t find a good version of this live, so here’s the video:



ps- parts 1 and 2. and other recommendations.

Audio Recommendations 2

Struggling to keep my new year’s resolution.

Part 1  is HERE.

Okay. I promise to put at least one 2011 album in each of these recommendation posts. Here it is:

Jonathan Richman’s O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth. More of the same from this beautiful man. Which is a good thing. What else would you want?

Here’s a song about poseurs. It’s called “My Affected Accent”.

and here he is performing it live:



You guys have listened to The xx’s self-titled album, right? Well I hadn’t. Whoops. It’s good.

This is “Basic Space”. Love the rhythms.



Here’s a classic that I’d never listened to. Nina Simone’s Finest Hour.

Although it sounds like a musical at times, “Mississippi Goddam” is brutal. So much passion/emotion. Very real.



And I’m gonna throw in a classic that’s been getting a lot of play. Lifter Puller’s Soft Rock [disc 1]. This is a collection of everything except their last album.

The song’s called “Viceburgh”…

tiger can’t talk he’s got shoes to shine, said it’s pretty dry
we could try the guy up on first and fifty-ninth if he’s still alive
the callgirl stalls and lets her voicemail take it
she says hey i ain’t here besides i quit that business
the door was locked so we knocked on the next one
and here’s this guy he’s got a bullet-proof vest on
said you guys look desparate,Ill give you an address
said you guys look gorgeous, dig all that blistex


ps- for other recommendations, check out the features: Canon Sonique and Stuck on Repeat.

Audio Recommendations

So my resolution this year is to listen to more music. Yes, I realize this is like a heroin addict resolving to shoot up twice as much as he did the previous wasted year. However… I’m also resolving to listen to more NEW music, which is something I really slacked off on in 2010.

Here is where I tell the world about it…

For the most part, I’m not going to write reviews about this stuff. I’ll just point you guys in the right direction. If I post it, that means I think it’s good. Give it a listen and tell me I’m wrong. I dare you!

First off, I’m already falling behind on the new music thing. The only new album I’ve listened to is Bright Eyes’ new album, “The People’s Key”. This album isn’t out yet (it’s scheduled for release 2/15). Whoops! But you can hear it for free, and in it’s entirety, on NPR, so don’t feel bad.

Okay… so here’s the first track, “Firewall”. Like on most Bright Eyes albums (if not all?) it begins with some spoken word nonsense. This time, the atmospheric composition behind the vocal sample begs for these boys to attempt an entire ambient album. Maybe I’ll suggest that.

Oh yes… and any song that references a Macaw named Jules Verne might automatically end up in my favorites pile.

Next up… Nocturama, the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 2003 release.

It really digs its claws in. Here’s “He Wants You”:

Another one that I’ve been listening to for WEEKS now is Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks Soundtrack.

So mysterious! I was going to just post the theme, since it’s so good, but I decided to put “Audrey’s Dance (Instrumental)” up instead.

And finally… you guys should listen to The Gorillaz latest album, Plastic Beach. It’s the best Gorillaz album so far.

It was hard to pick which song would represent the album the best. So I just chose my current favorite, “White Flag”, featuring Bashy, Kano, and the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music.


ps- for other recommendations, check out the features: Canon Sonique and Stuck on Repeat.

Album Review: Michael Jackson’s “Michael”

Michael reached number 3 on the Billboard album chart

The first release of Michael Jackson’s since his death a year and a half ago, and the first album with all new material in nine years, Michael is an amalgamation of tracks. Many sound similar to different albums of his career with small touches to make them sound more modern by various people though it’s hard to tell what was changed by ear alone.

The most modern sounding of these tracks is “Hold My Hand” and “Monster”, thanks to appearances by Akon and 50 Cent respectfully.  Unfortunately, the weakest song is his duet with Akon which was to be originally released on Akon’s 2008 album, until the unfinished track was leaked. The first track to chart on the Hot 100, it reached the Top 40.  “Monster” on the other hand is much better, with anger and persecution in the vocals you would find in the last three of his studio albums.  Indeed,many of the songs sound as if they came from these albums. “Best of Joy” sounds like a song from Invincible, “Hollywood Tonight”,with its opening reminding one of “Who Is It” and a catch phrase and spoken vocal reminiscent of “In the Closet”,from Dangerous.  Originally recorded for Invincible, “(I Can’t Make It) Another Day” sounds as though it came from Blood on the Dance Floor or HIStory. It was produced and written by Lenny Kravitz with guitar and background vocal by Kravitz.

The three best songs on this album are “Breaking News”, “Behind the Mask”, and “Much Too Soon.”  The latter two were both written or cowritten by Michael during the Thriller era and it’s not hard to tell.  “Behind the Mask” is the best track on the album, with the sounds of a concert crowd  opening the song.  It includes a sample of the Yellow Magic Orchestra song of the same name.  Yellow Magic Orchestra was a pioneering electropop group from Japan, who released their original version in 1979. The only criticism is that the saxophone on the track may be a little cheesy for some.  The album closes with the song “Much Too Soon”, the title  seeming to comment on Michael’s untimely death.  However,the lyrics itself have nothing to do with the death and instead talk about love lost.  The finale harkens back to Michael’s solo songs before Off the Wall, but this time with a twenty-something voice.

Overall, the album has received reviews that were neither strongly negative or positive.  Personally, I would recommend it especially for fans of MJ.



A musical recommendation: Six Concerts a plusieurs instruments 

Six Concerts Avec plusieurs Instruments (1721)
(common English title: Brandenburg Concertos)

composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (1989)
produced by Nicholas Parker (1989)
directed by Monica Huggett with Catherine Mackintosh, Alison Bury and Elizabeth Wallfisch (1989)
violin performed by Monica Hugget, Alison Bury and Elizabeth Wallfisch (1989)
violino piccolo performed by Catherine Mackintosh (1989)
viola performed by Pavlo Beznosiuk (1989)
violone performed by William Hunt (1989)
viola da gamba performed by Sarah Cunningham and Richard Campbell (1989)
cello performed by Richard Tunnicliffe (1989)
oboe performed by Paul Goodwin (1989)
horn performed by Timothy Brown and Susan Dent (1989)
recorder performed by Rachel Beckett and Marion Scott (1989)
trumpet performed by Mark Bennett (1989)
flute performed by Lisa Beznosiuk (1989)
harpsichord performed by Malcolm Proud and John Toll (1989)

Brandenburg Title

In 1721, Johann Sebastian Bach presented six concertos, entitled Six Concerts Avec plusieurs Instruments,  to the Duke of Brandenburg, probably hoping for some kind of patronage, as money was leaner than Bach would have liked.  Of course, if he could have worn a damn condom he wouldn’t have had over a DOZEN mouths to feed at home.  It appears the concertos went unappreciated/unnoticed by the Duke and they languished for years and years before being rediscovered.

Today referred to as the Brandenburg Concertos, the six works form a cohesive body that compares to a contemporary musical album.  Each of the concertos consists of 2 to 4 movements, usually about 5 minutes each, similar in length to a pop and rock songs of recent times.  Listening to the Brandenburgs straight through from beginning to end is quite similar to listening to an epic, cohesive album like The Beatles (aka “the White Album”) or Pet Sounds or …and Justice For All or (insert your favorite epic, cohesive album here).

By epic I mean ambitious and breathtaking, not gigantic and overblown.  Compared to the symphonic monstrosities that later composers are known for, almost all Bach music is relatively intimate and personal, written to be performed in churches or small music halls.  The Brandenburgs were written for smallish ensembles of about 12 performers, give or take.  Most of the movements are highly melodic and can be powerfully emotional.  There is a section in the 1st movement of the 5th concerto that I have designated as my official deathbed music, with the stringed instruments and woodwinds calmly trading off every few notes in a descending melody pattern while the harpsichord chugs away quickly but serenely before everything explodes in a refrain of the movement’s theme.  Many of the melodies are joyous, with horns trilling away triumphantly.


The Brandenburgs recording that I chose to purchase is performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.  This unfortunately named ensemble performs “historically informed” interpretations of baroque-era music, using historically accurate instruments.  This entails use of recorders and currently obscure stringed instruments like violone and viola da gamba.  Admittedly, I don’t think I’m well enough educated to distinguish between a cello and a violone upon hearing but still, I appreciate the effort.  Despite that, I can say with authority that the performances are awesome and do justice to this sublime collection of concertos.

I would highly recommend the Brandenburg Concertos to fans of ambitious psychedelic pop of the 1960s.  I can certainly see why some critics labeled albums like Pet Sounds as “California baroque” as there is certainly a kinship in musical feeling.  Fans of Beatles albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour, with their sometimes traditional, Euro-style orchestrations and strong, strong melodies will probably find a lot to like in the Brandenburgs as well.


A musical recommendation: The Who Sell Out (Expanded Version)

The Who Sell Out (1967)
produced by Kit Lambert
written (mostly) and composed (mostly) by Pete Townshend with John Entwistle
sung by Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, and John Entwistle
guitar performed by Pete Townshend
bass guitar performed by John Entwistle
drum kit performed by Keith Moon

The Who Sell Out

The Who Sell Out ranks up there alongside psychedelic pop classics like Revolver and Pet Sounds.  It may not be quite as awesome as those albums, top to bottom, but it’s a rather cohesive and well-written effort.  Unlike most of the other great psych-pop classics, The Who Sell Out is not stuffed with accordions, bass harmonicas, and orchestrations.  Except for a few keyboard lines or a backwards horn loop here and there, it’s pretty much just good, old-fashioned guitar, bass and drums.  I suppose this indicates that psychedelia is more of a recording style and attitude than a strictly overblown raaaaiiinnnnbow of sounds.

If my referring to this album as psychedelia offends, especially if you generally associate The Who with mod R&B or classic rock anthems, this album is the exception.  On this collection the group sings about goofy things like cities in the sky, young boys getting tattoos, young ladies with shaky hands, and commercial products.  Yes, commercial as in advertisements.  See, that’s the theme of the album, get it?  After every song or two a silly, sometimes clever, ad is played, just as you might hear while listening to the radio.  Much, much funnier are the occasions when a fully realized song degenerates into an advertisement by its conclusion, as in the case of “Odorono”.

“Armenia City in the Sky” and “I Can See For Miles” stand somewhat apart as the big, noisy anthems  standing as pillars at the beginning and middle of the album while “Rael” – one of those psychedelic-era ambitious-for-the-sake-of-being-ambitious numbers – holds up the end.  In the case of the much-expanded, remastered 1995 re-release, the fun has only started, offering up another 11 tracks from the same recording period, complete with more commercial interludes.  These tracks are generally of the same quality as those from the album proper and do not feel tacked on.  Rather, the extended program feels quite natural, with more of the same quiky, catchy pop tunes and a driving rendition of “Hall of the Mountain King/Peer Gynt Suite”.

Like many of the great pop rock albums from this era, there is no dominant lead singer, as the band splits these duties up fairly evenly.  Thank Satan for that – who wants to listen to Roger Daltrey for an entire album?  Just look at the little shit on the cover image.  God, what a cunt.

I wish The Who had continued in the direction found on The Who Sell Out.  However, poor sales drove the group in the concept-album, teen anthem direction for which they became quite famous.  And then Pete Townshend looked at child porn and played at the Super Bowl.  Amen.


A musical recommendation: Controversy

Controversy (1981)
written, composed, produced, sung, guitar/bass guitar/drum kit/keyboard performed by Prince


Early 1980s Prince is my kind of bitch. For one thing, he don’t need no band. He’ll play it all himself and do it well, no thanks to you. Second, he’s perfectly willing to spend three minutes making feminine/gay sex noises over a slow jam. He knows no shame and he’d fuck you just as soon as play drums at you.

The instrumental performances are strong, quite impressive considering Prince played almost every part on the album (a practice he would soon abandon). The arrangements and performances have a lot of personality, in contrast to Michael Jackson’s Bad, which I reviewed (a few hours ago el oh el). While there aren’t as many lead guitar antics as on later Prince albums there are just enough to let you know he can shred, an impressive level of restraint. The singing is typical Prince, with a priority on expression over pitch (not that it’s ever out of tune or anything).

There are basically three kinds of tracks on the album: funk jams, slow fuck jams, and uptempo party romps. The latter category features weird, chirpy organ work that reminds me of John Cougar or something. None of the album’s tracks were big hits, at least as far as I know (what, me research?!) but a handful of tracks are pretty catchy. The others are more concerned with creating gritty, funky jams, replete with slap bass, handclaps, and staccato synths.

The standout track for me is “Annie Christian” (like anti-Christian, get it?), as it presents a dreamlike atmosphere that almost suggests a drum n’ bass feel, years ahead of its time. Unfortunately, Prince just chants on this track but there is a very catchy melody suggested by the synth lines, complimented by clever guitar interjections.

To date, this is the earliest Prince album I’ve heard, although I’ve heard the singles from his earlier albums. I would say Controversy presents a transition between his gritty funkcentric beginnings and his more mainstream but relatively bloated mid-80s efforts.  This album is actually stronger than the much more famous 1999, largely due to an element of discipline largely absent from that later work.

On a final note, the final track is entitled Jack U Off.  Prince spends the entire song attempted to convince some poor sap to submit to Prince’s jacking-off advancements.  In my vernacular, “jacking off” refers to the act of gripping a penis and stroking it repeatedly.  Is Prince begging to give some dude a handjob or can jacking off apply to the ladies’ unmentionables, as well?