Saturday, February 28, 2009

Don't fear Emanuel and the Fear

Emanuel and the Fear are a collective comprised of eleven classically-trained musicians who have played and toured with the likes of Sufjan Stevens, The National, Akron/Family, and Bryan Scary & the Shredding Tears., and who, last month, released their debut self-titled EP in preparation for their debut LP, whose arrival date has yet to be announced. As you could expect from their background, the crowd of musicians does a remarkable job of presenting a melodic unified sound comprised of drums, bass, synthesizer, violin, guitar, flute, violin, cello, trombone, trumpet, and piano along with vocals in a sound that is certainly not classical. Below you'll find the lead off track for the EP, which is available now.

Visit their website, their label Paper Garden Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The [Abstract] Best

I mentioned Q-Tip a few days ago when talking about his appearance on the new Grandmaster Flash album that's dropping on March 3rd. I'll keep it on the Q-Tip a little longer to tell you about a project put together by J.Period titled The [Abstract] Best, Vol 1, an all-star affair paying tribute to Q-Tip and his many contributions to hip hop over the years. Some of the many luminaries appearing and contributing their skills include De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, ?uestlove, Black Thought, Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Consequence, Zion I, Skillz, Black Sheep, Kid Cudi and Blu. Mix this all together in one pot and you get an album that includes a comprehensive collection of Q-Tip’s music and production, new remixes, interviews, plus brand new tracks.

If Vol 1 really does it for you, you can get Vol 2 free by ordering a t-shirt displaying original artwork honoring Q-tip. Find them on the J.Period's website. Here's one of the tracks to lure you over:

Download the entire thing for free, along with some bonus 12" singles (also for free), HERE!

Marissa Nadler's Little Hell

Marissa Nadler - River of Dirt - Directed by Joana Linda from Kemado Records on Vimeo.

Here's another artist to add to the list of locals who've slipped past my radar screen. Her name's Marissa Nadler, she's from Boston, and she's releasing her fourth album, Little Hells, on March 3rd. It includes other-worldly gauzy folk songs that feature her hauntingly ethereal voice floating in and out...

Visit her website, her label Kemado Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Upcoming Tour Dates

02.27.09 Brooklyn, NY Church of the Messiah
03.04.09 New York, NY Joe's Pub
04.07.09 Los Angeles, CA Hotel Cafe
04.08.09 San Francisco, CA Cafe du Nord
04.16.09 Minneapolis, MN 400 Bar
04.17.09 Madison, WI HIgh Noon Saloon
04.18.09 Chicago, IL Schuba's
04.19.09 Chicago, IL Schuba's
04.21.09 Toronto, ONT El Mocambo
04.22.09 Wakefield, Canada The Black Sheep
04.24.09 Cambridge, MA The Lizard Lounge
04.25.09 New York, NY The Highline Ballroom
04.26.09 Arlington, VA Iota

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hollywood, Mon Amour

For those of you out there who are Nouvelle Vague fans, Marc Collin has decided to break out on a project of his own titled Hollywood, Mon Amour. Instead of taking the Bossa Nova road though, this time around it's all about the 80's, and specifically film songs, many which are near and dear to all of our hearts and some of which might have slipped by you the first time around. Also different than his previous work are the vocalists for this foray into the past including Australia’s Nadeah, Britain’s – and former Morcheeba singer – Skye, the US’s Juliette Lewis, Brazil’s Cibelle, Denmark’s Katrine Ottosen, and France and Israel’s Yael Naim. And as one would expect, the results are anything but ordinary, leaving enough to trigger nostalgia but fresh enough to feel new. Here's the line-up:

1. Call Me (Performed by Skye) from Ameican Gigolo
2. Eye of the Tiger (Performed by Katrine Ottosen) from Rocky III
3. When Doves Cry (Performed by Nadeah) from Purple Rain
4. Cat People Putting on Fire (Performed by Dea Li) from Cat People
5. A View to a Kill (Performed by Skye) from A View to a Kill
6. Flashdance What a Feeling (Performed by Yael Naim) from Flashdance
7. Footloose (Performed by Cibelle) from Footloose
8. This is Not American (Performed by Juliette Lewis) from The Falcon and the Snowman
9. Arthur's Theme Best that You Can Do (Perfromed by Nadeah) from Arthur
10. Reality (Performed by Nancy Danino) from La Boum
11. Forbidden Colours (Performed by Nadeah) from Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
12. For Your Eyes Only (Performed by Dea Li) from For Your Eyes Only
13. Dont you Forget About Me (Performed by Leelou) from The Breakfast Club
14. Take my Breath Away (Performed by Inga) from Top Gun
15. Together In Electric Dreams (Performed by Nadeah) from Electric Dreams
16. It's Wrong For Me to Love You (Performed by Bianca Calandra) from Butterfly

If you've listened to Nouvelle Vague, you have some idea of what to expect here. If not, be prepared for a neo-80's revival. It's out March 3rd, but here's a preview.

Hollywood, Mon Amour feat. Katrine Ottosen - Eye of the Tiger (Survivor cover) : Hollywood, Mon Amour

Hollywood, Mon Amour feat. Nadeah - Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do) (Christopher Cross cover) : Hollywood, Mon Amour

Visit his label [Pias] Recordings and become his friend on MySpace.


and some originals...

Survivor - Eye of the Tiger : Eye of the Tiger

Christopher Cross - Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do) : The Best of Christopher Cross

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

K'naan Troubadours for you

Somalian rapper K'naan made his first appearance here on MISB way back in 2007 with the US release of his debut album The Dusty Foot Philosopher. It didn't take him long to record the follow-up, which dropped today, titled Troubadour. The new album crosses back and forth between hip hop and R&B, and it definitely feels like K'naan has assimilated American culture into his sound here. Where as the last album retained some ties to his homeland and native music, this new album, while still fronting lyrics connecting to his experiences in Somalia, has a much more westernized feel to it (with the exception of the album opener T.I.A. and, ironically, America, which features guest appearances by Mos Def and Chali 2NA). That's not to say that the last one was a Fela Kuti knock-off, just that it had more of an Afro-vibe to it.

Check out the album's second track, ABC's, which features Chubb Rock and channels the old skool classic Treat 'Em Right.

Appears on Troubadour.

And here's a live version of an older song from his debut:

K'naan - Strugglin' (live) : Live (studio version appears on The Dusty Foot Philosopher)

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.


From here to Southeast Engine

A few weeks ago I wrote about Ben Kweller's latest album Changing Horses and commented what a shocking departure from his previous albums it was for me. Well, luckily for me, I stumbled across another new album that just came out last week which stands in for a stunt double for the album that I was expecting from Ben. It's titled From the Forest to the Sea, and it was recorded in the musical hotbed of Stewart, Ohio by Ohioans Southeast Engine.

Adam Remnant, who provides lead vocals for the album, really sounds a lot like Ben to me, and the musical orientation is this side of the fence of country. You can still see country landscape here, but it's a garage indie strain that's a little less of a leap for those of us who might not get out of the city much. Take The Forest III, for example, a track that in its slow deliberate opening, actually reminds me a little of a different southern rock icon (from Canada!) who doesn't wear his colors on a Stetson, Neil Young. As the track goes on, the pace picks up though, leaving Young behind. The other track you can listen to here, Black Gold, really gets movin' with a 60's brit rock and pop feel to it.

The bottom line is, if you're a Kweller fan who's still feeling a little shell shock, this album might help get you through the rough times until you can come to grips with Ben's new sound.

(watch the video)

Visit their website, their label Misra Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's not Lily Allen, It's you

Just in case you haven't heard, Lily Allen is back with her sophomore release, It's Not Me, It's You. If you were a fan of her first, as I was, the new one could take you either way. Still present are Lily's cutting lyrics, like on Not Fair (which you can listen to below):
There’s just one thing that’s getting in the way
When we go up to bed you’re just not good it’s such a shame
I look into your eyes I want to get to know you
And then you make this noise and it's apparent it’s all over.

It’s not fair and I think you're really mean
I think you're really mean
Yes I think you're really mean
Oh you're supposed to care but you never make me scream
You never make me scream
In terms of what is going on behind her though, it's certainly a bigger budget studio sound, and that's where it might lose its appeal for some listeners. Right now, I'm still in undecided territory, holding off on my decision to voting day.

If you decide that you like what you hear, when you buy the album, you also get access to their bits, so you can funk with them, mix them up any way you want, and submit them to Lily's site right here. Lily is also hitting the road here in the States in support of the album in April, dates below.

and an older one:

Lily Allen - Heart of Glass (Blondie cover) : live at SXSW, Waterloo Records, Austin, TX, 3/15/07

Visit her website, her label Capitol Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Tour Dates

4/1 San Diego, CA House of Blues - San Diego
4/2 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern
4/4 San Francisco, CA Warfield Theatre
4/6 Seattle, WA The Showbox SODO
4/8 Salt Lake City, UT In The Venue
4/9 Denver, CO Ogden Theatre
4/11 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
4/12 Chicago, IL Vic Theatre
4/13 Detroit, MI St. Andrews Hall
4/15 Atlanta, GA Variety Playhouse
4/17 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
4/18 Philadelphia, PA Theatre Of The Living Arts
4/19 Boston, MA House of Blues
4/20 New York, NY Roseland Ballroom
4/22 Toronto, ONT Sound Academy

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Soul - Keep On Loving Me

Shaka boom boom boom
I've changed, I've changed
Shaka boom boom boom
I've changed, listen

I know I'm guilty
I feel ashamed
I did you wrong but
I didn't gain a thing

You put your trust in me
But you got deceived
Lord, I can't blame you
If you wanna leave

I'm not the same man I used to be
I even got a different personality
Just keep on loving me
And you'll see the change

Friday, February 20, 2009

Grandmaster Flash spans the Bridge

What if Hip Hop was never born yo
No Herc No Flash No Bam No Jams yo
No Djs No Graf No Breakers No MCing
What would the state of the world truly be in
No throw ya hands No screamin No Noise No Djs cuttin
No BBoys No Bgirls No Graffitti No Nothing.
If Hip Hop was never born let me make this clear
Just the Thought of it defintely brings me tears

KRS-One on What If

When I say that I've been waiting for this album for almost a year, I'm not even exaggerating! This was originally set to drop mid-last year but it's been pushed back a few times. Or maybe I should say that we've all been waiting for something like twenty years, because it's been that long since Grandmaster Flash has released a new album.

As far as I'm concerned, along with Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc, Flash completes the Holy Trinity of hip hop. Although not the first on the scene, Flash developed several DJing techniques that were seminal in the growth of hip hop, including cutting (improving on Herc's creation by the use of a mixer), back-spinning, and phasing, thereby taking hip hop to the next level. His contributions weren't limited to the wheels of steel though, as his work with the Furious Five can attest to. Indeed, although The Sugarhill Gang would be the first to hit big on vinyl with their self titled debut (which ironically, contained mostly NON-hip hop tracks), Flash and the Furious Five's release of The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel would be the first time scratching would be inscribed in vinyl, and their first LP The Message contains the ground breaking title cut as well as a few other classics. In 2007, they became the first hip hop artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Enough with the history lesson, here's some history in the making. It's titled The Bridge: Concept of a Culture, and as its name suggests, it's a bridge between the past and present. The lyrics that led out this post come from the album's seventh track, What If, and fronted by another hip hop legend KRS-One, serve as a primer for those not so well associated with the true roots of the hip hop movement. After a brief interlude by the Grandmaster himself, a follow-up punch is thrown with Tribute to the Breakdancer, which is one long shout out to all the b-boys and b-girls who helped put hip hop on the map.

Flash doesn't just dwell in the past though thinking about the winning touchdown pass he tossed up in high school, he shows he's still got some fresh game to lay down as well. He takes it international with the third cut, We Speak Hip Hop, which features some MC's from around the globe (including KRS-One, Afasi, Kase-O, Maccho, and Abass) dropping rhymes in their native languages, and proves the incredible cultural legacy hip hop has shaped and continues to shape well beyond 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. You'll also spot Q-Tip (who also recently released an album after a long hiatus - The Renaissance) on the second cut, Shine All Day, which is one of the album's smoother ones, Snoop Dogg on Swagger (which you can spin below), another old skool hero, Grandmaster Caz, on Can I Take You Higher (which pulls in some beats from the ever classic 45 King's 900 Number and which you can also hear below), and many many more.

Let me put it to you straight; I'm ready to pencil this album in as my favorite of 2009. Yea, I know, there's still ten more months to go, but I don't care. I have NO doubt that I'm going to be still spinning this come New Years. It hits shelves (finally!) on March 3rd.

kickin' it old skool:

Visit his website, his label Strut Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Laura Gibson on Mortality

"In looking back over these songs, I found two themes arising: First, reaching towards something outside of ourselves, be it a lover or god or family (Communion Songs) and second, grappling with the idea of ultimate aloneness and acceptance (Funeral Songs)."
-Laura Gibson, on her album Beasts Of Seasons

For those of you who checked out my Favorites of 2008 list, you might remember seeing Laura Gibson's Six White Horses on it. For those of you who didn't see it on the list, trust me, it was there, and if you haven't heard it it's a lovely six track EP neatly encompassing Laura's covers of some beautiful blues numbers. Needless to say, definitely worth your time to check out.

But today is not about 2008, it's about 2009, and more specifically February 24th, 2009, the date when Laura will release her next full length album, Beasts Of Seasons. Laura's music has always been of a muted texture, with shades of gray expressing her deep shared secrets, and her newest album is no different. As the above quote suggests, the nine tracks here all revolve around the idea of mortality, and her minimalistic, bare bones, folkish approach serves the subject well. It's a rich dose of tragical sweetness whose beauty lies in its melancholy fullness.

Below you can listen to Spirited, the third track and the closest thing to an upbeat number that you'll find here. Look for the rest on the 24th.

and an old favorite:

Visit her website, her label Hush Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

N.A.S.A. launches

Out today is The Spirit of Apollo, quite possibly the most diverse star studded release since We Are the World. Seriously, here's the list of collaborators: David Byrne, Chali 2na, Gift Of Gab, Z-Trip, Chuck D, Ras Congo, Seu Jorge, Method Man, E-40, DJ Swamp, RZA, Barbie Hatch, John Frusciante, KRS-One, Fatlip, Slim Kid Tre, Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Ol' Dirty Bastards, Fatlip, Tom Waits, Cool Keith, Kanye West, Santogold, Lykke Li, Sizzla, Amanda Blank, Lovefoxxx, George Clinton, Chali 2na, Spank Rock, M.I.A., Nick Zinner, Kool Kojak, DJ Bãboa, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, DJ Qbert, The Cool Kids, Ghostface Killah, Scarface & DJ AM. Whew - try listing those in one breath.

All of these folks have teamed under the guidance of Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon under the grand moniker of N.A.S.A. (no, not the space place, North American / South America - as in it collects artists from the two continents) for its debut release. In its composition and theory it reminds me a lot of the Brighton Port Authority album that Fatboy Slim just released earlier this year, although its collaborations are super-sized, with most tracks having anywhere from two to five artists working together, in many cases very diverse artists. Of course, bringing together such a range of artists means some experimentation that could roll snake eyes, which means all seventeen of the tracks might not hit you equally well. Take for example, Tom Waits' distinctive growl mixing it up and laying down some rhymes with Cool Keith on Spacious Thoughts. It would be interesting to know how many of the singers actually worked in the studio at the same time and how many phoned in their pieces.

Regardless, there's some great material here worthy of the personnel. N.A.S.A. is taking to the road starting at the end of this month. I'm not sure how they're going to swing the party without the star studded supporting cast, so if anyone checks them out let us know. Of course that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the studio works of art. Here are a couple to check out.

Visit their website, their label Anti-, and become their friend on MySpace.


Monday, February 16, 2009

The Dogs

Yesterday I played some sweet soul a la The Chi-Lites from the Windy City, and today we're fast forwarding to the present with some indie rock served up deep dish Chicago style from The Dogs. As guttural as their name sounds, the trio plays a lo-fi acoustic indie folk mixture that is mellow for the most part, with a few kick-started surprises thrown in for good measure (try Useless Me below to see what I mean).

They've released a handful of EPs prior to this, their self titled debut full length, and are offering all nine tracks for free download on their website, along with the opportunity to buy a physical copy of the CD from CD Baby here. Below you'll find a few choice cuts to tempt you into getting the entire deal.

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

Free Yr Radio

I don't listen to a lot of radio simply because there's not much out there worth the ear time that I can pick up. That being said, the few independent radio stations there are still hanging on and spinning tunes deserve our support. And if you're looking for a way to make sure they stay on the airwaves, the Free Yr Radio campaign is the way to go. Here's a little bit about it:
Now in its second year, the Free Yr Radio campaign helps generate awareness and funds for independent radio through a series of promotional activities including free station-sponsored in-store concerts by top indie artists, vehicle sweepstakes to augment station fund-raising drives and a benefit compilation. Yaris and Urban Outfitters joined forces to create Free Yr Radio in 2007 to start a conversation with their customers about the importance of independent radio and to encourage people to talk about, listen to and support their favorite stations.
The 2008 version of the compilation came out a few weeks ago and is available for the paltry sum of .99 cents and you can donate more if you'd like. That's right, you get twelve tracks for a ridiculously low price and all the proceeds go directly to the participating stations, including the following:

* KEXP // Seattle, WA
* KVRX // Austin, TX
* THE CURRENT // Twin Cities, MN
* KUSF // San Francisco, CA
* KUCI // Irvine, CA
* WPRB // Princeton, NJ
* WERS // Boston, MA
* KRCL // Salt Lake City, UT
* WVKR // Poughkeepsie, NY
* WVUM // Miami, FL
* OHIO.FM // Columbus, OH
* KIWR // Omaha, NE

Here's the track listing:

01. !!! – Must Be The Moon (Live at KEXP)
02. Chairlift – At My Side
03. Yeasayer – Final Path (Daytrotter Sessions)
04. White Williams – Blue Steel
05. Dan Deacon – Cave Birth
06. No Age – Padded Chair
07. Mudhoney – The Lucky Ones (Live)
08. King Khan & Saba Lou – Past and Gone
09. The Secret Machines – The Walls Are Starting To Crack (Live at KEXP)
10. The Walkmen – In The New Year (Live)
11. Tokyo Police Club – Your English Is Good (K-Os Remix)
12. Jamie Lidell – Rope of Sand (Live at Austin City Limits)

And here's a track to wet your whistle while you're downloading the rest:

King Khan & Saba Lou - Past and Gone : Free Yr Radio 2008 Benefit Compilation

Visit the official Free Yr Radio website.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Soul - Have You Seen Her?

Why, oh, why
Did she have to leave and go away (oh, yeah)

Oh-oh-oh, I've been used to havin' someone to lean on
And I'm lost
Baby, I'm lost (Oh)

Oh, she left her kiss upon my lips
But left that break within my heart
Have you seen her?
Tell me, have you seen her?

Oh, I see her hand reaching out to me
Only she can set me free
Have you seen her?
Tell me, have you seen her?

The Chi-Lites - Have You Seen Her : Have You Seen Her 7"

The Chi-Lites - Yes I'm Ready (If I Don't Get to Go) : Have You Seen Her 7" B-side

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Terry Lynn's Logic

I'm a child of the soil, I was born in the ghetto
Where the gangstas roll by and then gunshot echo
You have to hide inna your place and tuck down like a gecko
Can't touch the street until the gangstas dem say so

-Terry Lynn in Child of the Soil

Listening to Kingstonlogic 2.0, the debut from Jamaican artist Terry Lynn, feels like stepping into a time machine and heading back to 1989 via Public Enemy. You know, when “gangsta rap” used to be an attempt at a genuine reflection of what was happening in the streets. An attempt of an upstart musical genre to generate social critique concerning the problems all too many people faced in the United States. An attempt that has obviously fallen by the wayside in most of present day hip hop.

Regardless of the musical mainstreaming happening in the US, Terry Lynn’s goals appear similar to Chuck D when he started the Countdown to Armageddon. In Kingstonlogic 2.0, Lynn brings her native countries problems into sharp relief, not using hip hop, but an electronified amalgamation of reggae, dancehall, and dub that provides a stiff, sharp frame for her lyrics that tackle poverty, government corruption, and globalization in Jamaica. Check out the lyrics above from the opening track Child of the Soil to get a strong taste of what Lynn is up to right from the get-go.

If you buy a physical copy of the album, it contains a booklet with pictures taken in Jamaica showing the chilling conditions much of the population lives under, conditions described in Lynn's music. If you buy a digital version, simply head to her site and you can see them in slide show format. They complement the music perfectly and together form a complete artistic project created not just to entertain, but to educate and raise awareness.

Visit her website, her label Last Gang Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bonnaroo 2008, a second time

For those of you who enjoyed the Bonnaroo festival this last year (and even those of you who didn't, such as myself), here's your chance to relive some of your memories. The festival has put together an hour and a half video featuring performances from some of the many bands in attendance as well as backstage footage, frontstage footage, middlestage footage, and everything in between.

Here's the listing of songs that are included on the DVD. Interspersed between them are interviews with everyone and anyone and all that footage I mentioned above.

1. The Raconteurs - Old Enough
2. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - Let Them Knock
3. Broken Social Scene - Love Is New
4. Gogol Bordello - Think Locally Fuck Globally
5. Chali 2na with Galactic - Lock Shit / Right Now
6. Metallica - Fade to Black
7. Lee Boys - Come On, Help Me Lift Him Up
8. Tegan and Sara - Back In Your Head
9. Against Me! - We Laugh at Danger (And Break All The Rules)
10. The Avett Brothers - Die Die Die
11. Jack Johnson - If I Had Eyes
12. Les Claypool - One Better
13. Mastodon - Colony of Birchmen
14. Two Gallants - Despite What You've Been Told
15. My Morning Jacket - I'm Amazed
16. Pearl Jam - Better Man

Here's the official trailer to check out:

And here are a few of the songs in audio format for you to sample:

Chali 2na featuring Galactic - Lock Shit / Right Now (live) : Live From Bonnaroo 2008 (DVD)

The Avett Brothers - Die Die Die (live) : Live From Bonnaroo 2008 (DVD)

Visit the official Bonnaroo website.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Diego Bernal's juicy beats

The man pictured above is Diego Bernal, who, when not working as an attorney for a national civil rights organization (not even kidding), puts together some beats that are off the hook! Bernal hails from San Antonio, Texas, and is set to release his first album, For Corners, on February 24th. It includes nineteen tracks that draw upon Mexican influences spicing up primarily instrumental tracks ranging from Latin soul to trip hop to hip hop with some electronic flavor mixed in.

All of the songs are short but enticingly juicy beats that are over before you know it. They're not overly complex, with just enough ingredients to mix it up and hook you. They're also dinstincly individual enough that they don't all just flow into one beat that feels repetitive and drawn out. Or in the words of the immortal James Brown, they "hit it and quit" real tight like. In fact, listening to it makes me wish that Bernal would let some MC's lay down some rhymes on top of his work, maybe as a complementary follow-up album. I've actually been fortunate to trade a few e-mails with him and he's already looking ahead to do just that for his next release. I for one will be looking forward to it.

Below you'll find a few of his creations. The first is a remix of Bring It On Home, the first single (that is already out) from the album. The second cut here, May Day, comes from the album and features some vocal samples Diego brought in from his work as a civil rights attorney and rolls a little more mellow then some of the other beats on the album. I seriously recommend checking this album out, even if instrumentals aren't usually your thing. These go by so fast are are so catchy that you'll be at its end before you know it.

Visit his label Exponential Records and become his friend on MySpace.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Findlay Brown takes us back

Findlay Brown dropped his first album a few years ago. I hadn't heard about it, and I'm not sure that anyone else had either, but he's back for round two, and this time I'm listening. It's titled Love Will Find You, and while I can't compare it to his earlier work, I can tell you that it's a heck of a lot 50's doo-wop meets Roy Orbison. Yea, you read that right, Findlay would make a damn fine Orbison tribute singer. I almost wish he had covered Pretty Woman on the album, but perhaps he's saving it for a b-side.

Seriously though, this album definitely has that AM radio oldies feel to it that reminds me a lot of fellow Brit Richard Hawley. The album is slated for release in May (not sure of a date, but you'll probably forget by then anyway), but here are a couple of songs to take with you and a link to check out some more of his music.

Become his friend on MySpace.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sunday Soul - Choice of Colors

If you had a choice of color
Which one would you choose my brothers
If there was no day or night
Which would you prefer to be right
How long have you hated your white teacher
Who told you, you love your black preacher
Do you respect your brother's woman friend
And share with black folks not of kin
People must prove to the people
A better day is coming for you and for me
With just a little bit more education
And love for our nation
Would make a better society

The Impressions - Choice of Color : Choice of Color 7"

The Impressions - Mighty Mighty Spade & Whitey : Choice of Color 7" B-side

Get them on both on The Young Mods' Forgotten Story.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Saturday Guest Post - Achtung Baby!

It's hard to believe that it's already the end of the Mainstream Isn't So Bad 1st Annual Guest Writers Week. I hope you enjoyed reading some posts that were better written then most of the dribble that I throw up here! To end the week, I've saved possibly the best for last. Some three plus years ago, when I first discovered this ever widening expanse of mp3 blogs, Achtung Baby! was one of the first that I stumbled upon, and definitely the very first that I purposefully visited regularly. It was (and still is) so artistically well done, mixing so many facets of art together succinctly and poetically: picture, word, and sound. If I were magically able to switch places with any blogger and their blog out there, without doubt Achtung Baby! would be the one I wish I were the writer of. When Juan agreed to participate in this weeks entertainment, I was tickled pink. So without further ado, here's the final post of the week.



To me, Cole Porter's "Night and Day" is one of the most perfect songs in existence. My first encounter with it was Frank Sinatra's Duets album. Then U2 covered it as a B-side on one of their singles. (here's a live version of it: For the longest time U2's version was my favorite but lately, Maude Maggart's short and somber reading of it has become a favorite. I'm a sucker for strings.

A Red Cat In The Doghouse

When I first gave Night On LegHorn a spin, I really didn't know much about it or its creator, A Red Cat In The Doghouse. Truth is, I still don't know much about him, but I do know that I've been enjoying the album. What I have found out about this odd named act is that it's the moniker for an Italian DJ in Rome by the name of Aido who's worked as a rock and roll guitarist, sound engineer, and producer before putting out this, his latest production.

The album, with only eight tracks, rolls by fairly quickly and even in those eight tracks is a fairly diverse lot. On it Aido plays acoustic and electric guitar, sansula (a sort of mbira or kalimba, an African mallet), ney (an Arab flute), virtual synths and virtual Rhodes, drum sequences and sample editing. He takes all of these very organic instruments and then turns them on their side with mixing, scratching and editing, to produce an electronic hybrid.

As said before, no two tracks sound alike, so trying to give you one or two as samples isn't all that representative. At times, it fronts a reggae feel, other times an Asian edge. Then you get to Riot Times, with what I think is the tiniest sliver of a sample of Run DMC's It's Like That which they snuck in. So instead, I'll just give you my favorite cut from the album, the second track Rise Up, which features rapper One Self, in hopes that it will lead you to the rest of the album.

Visit his label Ropeadope and become his friend on MySpace.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Friday Guest Post - Usurla Rucker is Poetry To Your Ears

Ahhh, Friday is here. And to end the work week, I offer up a mystery blogger to share a little bit of girl power music. Today's writer works as one of those music industry types during the day (don't hold that against her though), and as a food blogger by night (check out Go Meat Yourself for some scrumptious recipes - and order some homemade Chocolate Dipped Bits for your Boo for Valentines Day), and she and I send listening recommendations back and forth. It took her a while to get her thoughts together, and the title for her draft was "THIS SHIT IS HARD," but I think she did a pretty good job (for being one of those music industry types at least). So give a hearty welcome to our want-to-be-music-blogger and enjoy the end of your week!



Don't call her a spoken word artist - Ursula Rucker is a poet. Her 2008 release, Ruckus Soundsysdom is a full 15 track album with three interludes - you really get your money's worth with this one. Each track is jam packed with provocative lyrics that will make you shiver, wince or exclaim, "you fucking say it, woman." You can listen to this entire album over and over and still react and learn from Rucker's strong, yet vulnerable wisdom because no word is superfluous. From talking about shit men, to fruitful relationships, from inspiring historical figures to her four boys; Rucker crafts about all sorts of "urban" ruckus and beauty.

One of my fave tracks is Read Between The Lines where she suggests you "Take your eyes off the surface / Look deep between the lines cause perception is a mother." She says it better than I, check it: "Swear I'm vegan but I'll kill some turkey scrapple / Want me to debate and pontificate on the latest police beating or political debacle when / Sometimes I just want to sit in front of the fire and listen to that shit crackle... And yeah, I do burn nag champa at the crib but I also use Lycol spray / Four boys, two cats and a big ass dog / Need I say / More?" Love you Rucker for being more than an image.

Ursula Rucker - Read Between the Lines : Ruckus Soundsysdom

Ruckus Soundsysdom was produced in part by King Britt and 4Hero's Dego and provides soulful, electronic beats to gently glide below her lyrics. However, if I had to criticize the album in any way, I would mention that unless you are ready for a good sit and really ready to pay attention, this album sounds like a whole lot of interlude. Maybe that's intentional?

Or maybe I'm just used to Rucker's brand as being the interlude, which is how I first discovered the artist. She closed The Roots' albums, Do You Want More?!!?!!?, Iladelph Halflife and Things Fall Apart. Her piece, Return To Innocence Lost (from Things Fall Apart) is a song that will mess you up like how Requiem For A Dream did. The story, the flow, the sound and sound effects still put me into a despair years after my first listen.

The Roots - Return to Innocence Lost (Feat. Ursula Rucker) : Things Fall Apart

Visit her label Five Six Media and become her friend on MySpace.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Those Days

now we're walking along and you're humming a song
about a boy in love with the moon.
but he left it too long and soon it was gone,
slipped away like untied balloons.
and the little boy didn't think he should protect it,
but it slipped his grasp and he let it

in those days i had it all but i lost it
and now i'm just a lonely fool,
i tried much too late and it costed
can someone take me back to those days?

i could have been the one who sleeps beside you,
but now i greet the morning light alone.
can someone take me back?

Matt York - Those Days : Mine

Visit his website, his label Rock Ridge Music, and become his friend on MySpace.

Thursday Guest Post - Sarah Rocks

While Sarah Borges' name (and music) is no stranger to this site, Rich from Modern Acoustic was kind enough to share his thoughts on her new album, The Stars Are Out, which is due out next month (and which I have yet to have the pleasure of listening to). For those of you who haven't checked out Modern Acoustic, it's an e-zine that Rich puts out quasi-semi-periodically when the mood hits him which covers everything from the rash of blogger take-down notices that struck a few months ago to locally grown (Boston area) music to the struggles of internet radio, all packaged up in an electronic magazine that looks like it was produced by a professional stuff much larger than one man. While not working on the upcoming issue Rich also posts irregularly at the Modern Acoustic Blog as well.


For those who have found my magazine, Modern Acoustic (link:, you are well aware of my affinity for the music of Sarah Borges. For those who have yet to give her a listen, well, you are missing a treat and should jump in with both feet (and ears).

Sarah, who hails from the working-class town of Taunton, Mass., is a little bit country and a lotta rock ’n’ roll. Her music is best described as sassy bar band roots-rock and Americana, but is infused with some serious bad-ass Boston swagger by way of Aerosmith and J Geils.

The tunes from her first two albums, Silver City and Diamonds in the Dust, are garnished with pedal steel or a country sway, but allow plenty of room for rip-roaring electricity to pump you up and get you bobbing your head and dancing. The great sound is due in large part to her tenacious backing band, the Broken Singles. Drummer Rob Dulaney is a steady, smiling force with a big beat, while bassist Binky is Sarah’s foil and a great stage presence. With the new album, they have a new guitarist in Lyle Brewer; he has big shoes to fill replacing the great Mike Castellana, who could make one minute make you weep with his pedal steel and then could blow you away on the electric the next. Sarah, of course, can play a bit herself and with her relentless energy, it is hard to take your eyes off her onstage.

The band’s new album, The Stars Are Out, is due out on March 24. On first listen, it sounds like Sarah is stretching the band’s sound, making it a little more radio friendly and trying some new things. The country influences have been diminished for a more rocking attitude. The first song, Do It for Free, opens with heavy guitars and a hard-drumming beat. It sounds a little like a rocked-up version of Faith Hill’s Sunday Night Football song. One of the standout songs is Me and Your Ghost, which has a ’60s girl-group sound with a rockabilly kick. There are also some great covers that she makes totally her own, including Smokey Robinson’s Being With You, the Lemonheads’ Ride With Me, and an outstanding version of No One Will Ever Love You by the Magnetic Fields.

In the end, though, you have to catch Sarah and the band live. That is where they break away from the pack. They get you on your feet and dancing and hooting and hollering and screaming for more. Here's a video of them playing Me and My Ghost, a song from the new album.

and here's an older live cut:

Visit their website, their label Sugar Hill Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Tour dates (more will surely be added soon)

2/21 Toad, Cambridge, MA
2/28 Turning Point, Piermont, NY
3/2 Pianos, New York City
3/15 Concerts in the Studio, Freehold, NJ

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Simply Asa

I know, I know. I said I was going to stay on the sidelines this week and let some other (better) writers take center stage around here, but there's an album that's been in heavy rotation around here that I wanted to share by a French/Nigerian artist named Asa. She just dropped her self titled debut last week, and it's already selling like hot cakes around the world.

As one might expect, Asa draws upon the musically rich heritage of Nigeria, the place where she spent her childhood, citing such influences as Fela Kuti and Sunny Ade, but she doesn't stop there. Interlaced with her afro-shaded sound is a soft and easy reggae vibe courtesy of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. Something Asa shares with all of these artists is a strong political and social conscious that is clearly displayed in many of the album's songs' lyrics. Take for instance Jailor, the album's lead off track, a song about oppression and the people who attempt to enact it.
I have fears, you have fears too
I will die, but you sef go die too
Life is beautiful don’t you think so too
Mr Jailer
The album is a whole, in its topics, its multilingual lyrics (even if you can't understand Yoruba, their beauty comes through loud and clear), its intent, reminds me a lot of Wyclef Jean's music. It's slowed down, acoustically presented to us, with a female singer, but still I'd definitely place the two musicians next to each other. Taken as a whole, I really think the album's a strong debut that holds a lot of substance both musically as well as thematically.

Visit her website, her label Downtown Music, and become her friend on MySpace.