Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sharon Jones Learns the Hard Way

In less than a week now, I Learned the Hard Way, the latest release from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings is set to drop. And boy do I have a bevy of succulent goodies to share with you to go along with it. You might want to ask first though if it is any good. Is it any good?!?!? Seriously. Does Binky Griptite know how to introduce a band? Does Daptone Records release some of the juiciest 45's put out today? Did Amy Winehouse owe a whole lot of her success to a certain horn section? Hell yeah I say.

Want to hear it yourself? NPR is streaming the entire album up until its release on the 6th, so head there to taste it yourself. On top of that, they've got a stellar live recording from their SXSW showcase on the festival's opening night. Head here instead to download the entire show, which features a slew of songs from the new album, a few older ones, and some new ones that are so new they're not even on the new album! While you are waiting for it to download, listen to Road of a Brokenhearted Man / When the Saints Go Marching In from the show below.

AND, in case you haven't heard, the group is playing the historic Apollo theater in NYC on April 31st and May 1st! If ANYONE out there is going and happens to have an extra ticket, please feel absolutely free to drop me a line and offer it my way!

Visit their website, the Daptones Records website, and become their friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the Bird and the Bee and Daryl and John

Having grown up in the 80's, I'll unapologetically admit to my love of the pop duo Hall & Oates. Long time readers will remember me admitting to that when I wrote about the four disc box set retrospective Do What You Want, Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall & John Oates back in October of last year. So as you might imagine, when I first heard about Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates, the latest album from the more current duo of The Bird and the Bee (Inara George and Greg Kurstin), my excitement was over the moon.

As I've admitted to loving Hall & Oates, so too have I written about The Bird and the Bee many times over the last few years. Over the course of their two LPs and two (?) EPs, my listening enjoyment has not diminished. And when I saw that they had referred to H & O as "Masters," my appreciation of them only deepened!

Their newest album features nine tracks: one original and eight covers of classic H & O hits. Heard It On The Radio, the album's one B & B original, opens the album, and does so quite admirably. On it, George sings about songs she hears on the radio that take her back in time to recollect memories and connections that those songs hold for her. While listening, it's easy to imagine George genuinely holding these feelings while listening to some of the original versions of the songs that she is about to sing.

Starting with track number two we go through a parade of 80's staples, songs that anyone who listening to the radio in the 80's is familiar with: I Can't Go For That (a personal favorite), Rich Girl, Sarah Smile, Kiss On My List, Maneater, She's Gone, Private Eyes, and One on One. While anyone can reel off covers, what makes this album so enjoyable is that while paying sincere homage to 80's songs (a task that is usually accompanied by hokiness and a sarcastic wink of the eye) B & B manage to keep the souls of the originals alive while injecting their own musical style into the whole thing.

Anyway, if you enjoy either or both of these duos, this is an album that you NEED to check out!

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

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Soul - Sexy Mama

I wanna open up them love gates
To my heaven
This afternoon I know you'll like me
By tonight you're gonna love me

I think in just a moment
There's gonna be a love explosion
Go head and let your jones
Get good and funky, ooh

Come on sexy mama
You're just the way I want you to be
Take it easy, baby
Go head and lay that thing on me

I better pinch myself to make sure that I'm not dreamin, oh
Cause the way you make me feel, I feel like, oh, screamin
Come on, come on, come on, come on
Do it to me now, baby, yeah

The Moments - Sexy Mama : Sexy Mama 7"

The Moments - Where Can I Find Her
: Sexy Mama 7" B-side

Thursday, March 25, 2010

MISB update

SO you might have noticed the deafening silence around here lately. Fear not, the old computer didn't meltdown before its replacement came in. The new computer is up and running, the only problem is, due to some technical difficulties, I still don't have access to any of my music. Needless to say, that makes it a little difficult to listen to it and write about it here. I'm hoping (everyone cross your fingers for me) to have these issues solved this coming Saturday.

In the meantime, I have a little streaming action to share with you of a mix of music put together by Tommy T, bassist for Gogol Bordello, and recent solo artist releasing his debut The Prester John Sessions late last year (I wrote about it back in November

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

It's an exotic mix of music featuring some tracks from his album as well as some other Ethiopian tunes. Enjoy, and wish me luck for Saturday!

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

Looking for something to download? Well speaking of Gogol Bordello, they're planning on releasing their new album, Trans-Continental Hustle, on April 27th. You can download the first single from the album, Pala Tute, below!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

All Because of You

and needing
it can make you do some things you don't

girl i want ya
and i need ya
and i'd do anything
don't think i won't

it gives me so much joy
to wake up in the morning
to find you by my side

i'm gonna do all that's in my power
keeping you happy by the hour
keeping you satisfied

i love ya
and i need ya
girl and i want you here by me always

Leroy Hutson - All Because of You : All Because of You 7"

Leroy Hutson - All Because of You (Theme Instrumental) : All Because of You 7" B-side

Find it on Hutson.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Early and Now

A few months ago (back here), I wrote about Early, a recent release from Georgia Anne Muldrow, and basically a collection of early studio recordings that illustrated from what point she has developed with her music. Along with a track from that album I posted up King's Ballad, a sneak peak from the upcoming album of the same name that seemed appropriate given its connection to the then recent events. Well, that album is here, I've listened to it, and I'm ready to tell you why you should buy it.

Whereas Early was fairly conventional, straight forward soul music, Kings Ballad continues in the vein of much of Muldrow's work: pushing, widening, deepening, and in all ways expanding what can be expected of the genre. As you travel through the album's fifteen tracks, she makes sure to switch things up without getting gimmicky, offering variety without making too large of a musical leap. Another notable quality of the album; it is entirely handcrafted, with no samples to stitch together the original material.

The album opens with Indeed, a track dedicated to children and their magic. It's a down-tempo track with notes that seem one step shifted from typical, like a Thelonius Monk line, and a bold opener for the album. It closes with the cries of a baby, and then the album moves on into Doobie Down, probably the album's funkiest track hands down, and then onto Simple Advice, which has also got a deep throbbing bass line helping to propel it along.

King's Ballad, the song dedicated to Michael Jackson's memory, comes next, a slow, evocative ellegy, followed by the short instrumental R.I.P..

At this point, the album starts shifting forward in time, into a future-electro-soul world that seems apropos for the release's label, Ubiquity Records, and shouts back to Sa-Ra Creative Partners and the Platinum Pied Pipers, two groups who Muldrow worked with earlier in her career. There are a few appearances by Muldrow's husband, Dudley Perkins, most enjoyably on Summer Love, here in the second part of the album. This second part also takes on a hip hop flavor as well, with strong beats carrying the current.

Moving in to the albums last third, you'll find a few of the most unique tracks including the musical interlude March For Africa (which sounds like a definite throw-back part 2 to Foot Soldiers (Star-Spangled Funky) off of Funkadelic's Uncle Jam Wants You), and then a few tracks later, Room Punk! (which as it's name suggests is a punk song about taking a shower and getting dressed - who would have thunk it). The album comes to a close with Thatch, the most futuristic of the songs here, where one senses there are lasers shooting by and people wearing metallic silver coveralls.

It's hard to get a grasp on this album as a whole with its diverse elements, but it's well worth the time and effort. I've seen a lot about her other project that was just recently released (the album SomeOthaShip which displays Muldrow pairing on an entire album with her husband Perkins, who also goes be the moniker Declaime, as well as a whole slew of guests), this album deserves just as much of your attention.

Visit her website, this release's label Ubiquity Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patricio day!

If there is any band around today that proudly carries the music of Ireland's flag, it's The Chieftains. The core of the group has been together for nearly 50 years, helping spread traditional Irish music all around the world. What's helped them retain their vitality though is their willingness to go beyond the limits of the label of traditional though. For a bunch of old men, they've shown time and time again that an old dog can learn new tricks, playing with a wide array of artists such as Ultravox, Carlos Núñez, Van Morrison, Ashley MacIssac, Bela Fleck, Siobhán O'Brien, Moya Brennan, Mark Knopfler, Loreena McKennitt, Mick Jagger, Elvis Costello, Roger Daltrey, Nanci Griffith, Tom Jones, Sinéad O'Connor, James Galway, The Corrs, Art Garfunkel, Sting, Rosanne Cash, Jim White, Tom Partington, Ziggy Marley, Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne, Eros Ramazzotti, Mike Gordon, and many others in an equally wide range of genres that they manage still, somehow, to connect home to their roots in Ireland.

Their latest album, which came out earlier this month, is titled San Patricio, and for its inspiration it draws upon an amazing story from the Mexican-American war that is surely not in your history book. I know what you're saying, what the heck do the Chieftains have to do with playing Mexican inflected music?!!? I know this, because I was thinking the same thing when I first found out the basics of the album. Come to find out, there was an Irish battalion who decided that the Mexicans they were ordered to kill so the United States could take their land weren't so bad after all and switched sides, fighting alongside the Mexicans in their doomed attempt to defend their land. The story is explained in much more detail in the liner notes, but suffice to say, it's quite interesting.

That being said, Paddy Moloney and company have joined together with guitarist Ry Cooder, Lila Downs, and some Mexican counterparts to recreate the feel of the music that might have been brought to life with this strange union of soldiers originally ordered to kill each other. The result, a wondrous mix of Mexican and Irish flavors that you'd never believe would work, but do, and do so beautifully.

and some older favorites:

Visit their website, their label Hear Music, and become their friend on MySpace.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Soul - Don't Change Your Love

baby this year
i've been more than dear
so don't change your love
don't change

took four years to grown
and here i'm about to blow
don't change your love
don't change

so i'm in love
and if it's all the same
don't change
baby don't change

c'mon now
i love you
you know it too
don't change your ways

broken in two
if i'm losing you
so don't change your love
don't change

might be a little lazy
doggone it's crazy
baby don't change your love
don't change

now i'm in love
and if it's all the same
don't change
baby don't change

Five Stairsteps & Cubie - Don't Change Your Love : Don't Change Your Love 7"

Five Stairsteps & Cubie - New Dance Craze : Don't Change Your Love 7" B-side

Find them on Love's Happening.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The end is near...

So A few days ago I mentioned how my computer is about to have a meltdown, well, the signs of the end drawing closer are becoming more and more evident. The last week or two, I've been having some issues with iTunes. Whenever I play a song, it skips and momentarily freezes like a scratched CD. Doesn't matter what I play, doesn't matter if it's on the headphones or through the speakers, and it's driving me BONKERS! Luckily, I run my turntable through the computer to digitize vinyl, so I've been playing a lot of records lately, otherwise this house would be a very, very quiet house indeed. Well, tonight, I was just about convinced that iTunes had given up the ghost. It took me four attempts just to start it (I was trying to transfer some music to the Pod to listen to that way) before it finally decided to work. The end is near. Indeed.

Thankfully (and don't tell my computer this), its replacement is in the mail as I type and should arrive Monday/Tuesdayish. While I'm eagerly anticipating the ease and speediness of using the new computer, I'm already dreading having to install all of the programs, remember the passwords that are stored, and import 46,000 songs into iTunes again and hope that the album art comes with them. To be honest, I'm casting about for a replacement for iTunes as a matter of fact. So if any of you have some recommendations or music players that work with Pods, please send them my way.

Alright, so enough of the chit chat, time to share some music with you, as who knows when this contraption will decide to head to the big electronics junkyard in the sky.

V.V. Brown first started revealing her music last October with her four track EP The Attic. Next month, she'll be releasing her debut full length, Travelling Light the Light, which includes those four songs (in somewhat different version in two cases) and expands on them. Above you can see her performing the first single from the album, Shark in the Water, on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. And while the hat doesn't entirely do it for me, her performance certainly overshadows her choice of head-gear and makes up for it by far. I would sum up her album by saying her sound is a mix of Amy Winehouse (sober) and the Pipettes (the original line-up), with some songs leaning towards one side, and some the other, with a hint of Shirley Bassey thrown in to flavor.

At this point, I feel like I'm pushing my luck with the computer gods, so I'll share a song and quit it. If you like what you hear, the album comes out on shelves April 20th, but you can download it off of iTunes already (if you haven't switched yet). If you REALLY like it, you can catch her live, dates below. If you're lucky, she'll be sporting the hat.

Find the full octane version on the upcoming Travelling Like the Light

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

Upcoming tour dates:

March 21 Charlotte, NC The Milestone
March 22 Charlottesville, VA Rapture/ R2
March 23 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brendas
March 24 Washington, DC Liv Nightclub
March 25 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
March 28 Allston, MA Great Scott
March 29 Montreal PQ Lambi
March 30 Toronto, ON Wrongbar
April 1 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall
April 2 Iowa City, IA Mission Creek Midwest
April 3 Omaha, NE One Percent
April 5 Denver, CO Bluebird
April 6 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
April 9 Seattle, WA Nectar Lounge
April 11 Bellingham, WA The Wild Buffalo
April 12 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios
April 13 San Francisco, CA Independent
April 14 San Francisco, CA Independent

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mavis, in its own particular way

"Listen. Dreaming of Mavis, some singers, some kindred spirits, lovingly selected, having never met, each other or her, passing on their feelings, from song to song, meeting place to meeting place, finding their Mavis, loving her in the imagination, praising Mavis, the way her hands moved, how she breathed, the rebellious wisdom, the faith, sorrow and trust, the inner mystery, gracing Mavis, the city she built, the mountains she moved, the beautiful and tough songs she sung, out of heavy shadows and great light, ruins and fragments, mouth and nerve."
-Paul Morley 2009

I wear my appreciation for Soul superstar Mavis Staples on my sleeve. When I was able to see her perform a few years ago, I was ecstatic. So when I first heard about Mavis, all sorts of thoughts filled my head. Is it a new Mavis Staples album? No. Is it a bunch of artists singing Mavis Staples cover songs? No. Is it a brand new group/singer completely unconnected with Mavis Staples. Well, kind of...

Roughly 4 years Ashley Beedle and Darren Morris heard Mavis Staples cover of a Burt Bacharach song, A House Is Not A Home, that hit them hard. Working off that song, the pair put together an instrumental rhythm track which they then sent to Ed Harcourt, who laid some vocals down over the track. Inspired by the results, Beedle then sent the exact same track to a handful of other singers, who in turn recorded their own, original vocal interpretations of the instrumental and sent them back to Beedle, who then subverted the backing track to individualize it to their voice and vocal message. Sound complicated? Maybe, but the resulting album is amazing.

So who exactly is Mavis? It's the behind the scenes work of Beedle and Morris coupled with a line-up of vocalists, some familiar, some not so much, producing some completely chill down beat music of beauty and power. For those of you familiar with Beedle, don'e be expecting some floor shaker. This album is one to go easy with. Check out the vibe with Puzzles & Riddles, below, as well as the song that was the inspiration for this project in the first place from the #1 Mavis!

and the song that inspired it:

Visit the album's official site and !K7 Records.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Crazy (country) Heart

While I'm not a big movie-goer, and even less of an Oscar Awards watcher, word has it that Crazy Heart pulled down two awards: one for Jeff Bridges (his first in five nominations) for his lead role in the movie and one for Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett for the film's theme song The Weary Kind (which you can hear/see above). Accompanying the movie is a soundtrack that is a generous heaping of country music, some new, some old.

I've admitted many times over the life of MISB that country music isn't my forte. Other than Johnny Cash that is, but for some ineffable reason I'd argue that his music transcends simple generical boundaries. Other than a few Willie Nelson tunes, one or two Dolly Parton numbers (9 to 5 jumps into mind), and Kenny Rogers' The Gambler of course, I've steered mostly clear of the land of Country and Western. That's changed recently though, thanks to my friend Erica, who's got me listening to a lot of music from south of the Mason-Dixon line.

That being said, the Crazy Heart Soundtrack has been in the mix off and on lately, and it's been a pleasant change of sounds for me. First off, one of the remarkable things about the album is that it has a handful of tracks actually sung by Jeff Bridges. Yeah, Jeff Bridges, the actor. Who would have thunk that he had a singing voice to him? Not me, for sure. But, he pulls it off, convincingly well I might add. If you don't believe me, listen to his song Hold On You, which opens the album up. As I mentioned above, the album mixes new songs (including five songs Bridges sings) with some older classics (including a smokin' blues tune from Lightnin' Hopkins).

What the album thankfully avoids is any contemporary country pop. It's available in two editions, a sixteen track version and a deluxe twenty three track version. And while I probably won't get to the theaters to see the film, after listening to the soundtrack there's an excellent chance that I'll rent it to check it out.

or get the Deluxe Edition

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sunday Soul - In the Rain

Once the rain starts falling…on my face (on my face)
You won’t see (you won’t see a) a single trace
Of the tears I’m crying (I’m crying)
Because of you I’m crying (Because of you)
Don’t want you to see me cry…let me go, let me go, let me go!

In the rain…

Once the sun comes out and the rain has gone away
I know I’m gonna see a better day
Right now, I think I’m crying (I’m crying)
Because of you I’m crying (because of you)
Don’t want you to see me cry…let me go, let me go, let me go!

Go outside…
In the rain…
It may sound crazy, but it may sound crazy but I…
Wanna go outside…In the rain…

Rest in peace Ron Banks, one of the founding members of The Dramatics, who passed away last week.

Find them both on Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Meltdown Imminent

So, I'm holding my breath waiting for my computer to self destruct at any minute. Literally. It could go in the middle of this post for all I know, or it could keep trudging along until next week when I'll hopefully have its replacement (shhhh...don't tell it that, it might decide to commit hari kari just to spite me). You know the feeling: you're scared to listen to iTunes while having two windows open in your browser, and you hold your breath while typing praying that you aren't hitting the keys faster than the computer can deal with. It know it, too, I'm convinced. It knows it's got you.

Anyway, like Custer, I'm going to keep firing my six-shooters to the end. In that spirit, I'm tossing out a track to pump you up to hit the floor tonight if you aren't already there. I've been a long proponent of the Scion A/V series, first posting up on them way back in December of 2007. Since then they've consistently rolled out releases that span a wide range of sounds. And while I haven't enjoyed every single one of their releases, I still applaud them for their generous musical marketing strategy.

Their latest project involves partnering up with the European music blog Fluokids to put together a five track EP of house music that's pumping. Check out the track Fruit Loop from Renaissance Man, a song which, much like the similarly named Beastie Boys' Flute Loop, features a flute masterfully mixed in. Check it, and then try to stop in a Scion event to pick up the EP for free. You can also listen to the other four tracks on the Scion A/V website.

Renaissance Man - Fruit Loop : Scion A/V Presents: Fluokids

Visit the Fluokids website (if you can read French), become their friend on MySpace, and the Scion A/V website.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

What to Say

well it figures that i wouldn't know what to say
i'm usually better off when the words stay in my head anyway
the consonants get jumbled on my lips and fall to shore
and the vowels all slip and stumble to make it past my tongues report

yeah sometimes it's better to say nothing at all

The debut full length What To Say, from Daphne Willis, has got a few things going for it that have caused it to be in my ears fairly consistently the last month or so. I'll be honest with you, it took a few listens for it really to firmly root in my head, but since it has, it's been a go-to album for me. At 22, Willis is just beginning to come into her own, and this album feels like a great start for her. Her voice, which has really hooked me, seems a mix between the soulfulness of Grace Potter and the sunniness of Tristan Prettyman, both singers that I enjoy immensely, and her lyrics contain a complexity, as you can see from the ones above. In terms of the instruments behind her, although Willis hails from Chicago, her band has got a whole heapin' of Memphis in them that grooves deliciously. Check out the title track below which the above lyrics come from, and then listen to her cover of the classic Aretha Franklin song Think that funks up the original a little bit.

and an older one:

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

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Make the Difference

"Make the Difference" : MADSTEEZ from MADSTEEZ on Vimeo.

Check out this massive mural put up in just six days. Crazy good stuff with some equally crazy good music, led off by Marlena Shaw's California Soul. Grab the mixtape (which starts with the 3 songs from the video) HERE.

Win some Wild Things!

Karen O & Spike Jonze Interview - The Songs

Where the Wild Things Are | MySpace Music Videos

Today I've got a little contest for you for some of the most funnest prizes ever given away here at MISB! Back in October I posted a little something on the release of the soundtrack for the movie version of Where the Wild Things Are. Well, it's coming out TODAY on DVD, and to celebrate I've got some WTWTA goodies for you (sorry, no copies of the movie). They include the following:

1 copy of the soundtrack on CD
1 paper crown
1 carol mask
1 copy of FILTER's special WTWTA issue

All of these could be yours! Just leave a comment (or email me) with your name and email address and you'll be in the running. I'll choose a winner next Tuesdayish and notify them via email. In the meantime, check out the video above of Spike Jonze and Karen O talking about the music from the film.

Monday, March 01, 2010

?uestlove on Fela

"Fela is the one African figure whose story resonates with modern American hip hop culture. The trials and tribulations that he's went through politically, socially, creatively, it's the story of hip hop, it's the story of taking nothing and making it into something."


So a few weeks ago I traveled on an Africa kick after receiving the latest issue of Wax Poetics, which was similarly titled The Africa Issue. One of the posts I threw up was about the new batch of Fela reissues from Knitting Factory Records. Check the video above for the importance of Fela to modern hip hop music from ?uestlove, who's involved as an associate producer for the hit musical Fela! on Broadway.