Saturday, January 31, 2009

Be My Guest

This coming week is something special here at MISB. Starting tomorrow, and running through next Saturday, I have seven special guests who have agreed to write guest posts for me to dazzle and entertain you. I assure you, you're in for a treat.

I asked these seven folks to come on board, at least temporarily, for different reasons, reasons I'll share as I introduce them each day. Suffice to say for now that they're people whose musical opinion, expertise, knowledge, and writing ability pin the needle on the meter. My goal is to hopefully turn on a few of you, my devoted readers (all four of you), to some other voices that you can turn to for guidance in the vast musical wasteland out there!

And yea, it gives me a week of respite to kick back and let others do the work. I might pop up here and there to drop some musical morsels, but for this week, the focus is off me. Please welcome my guests and don't heckle them too much, I can't afford to find replacements.

The Lafayette Afro-Rock Band

From day one hip hop has been about pulling music from the past and cutting it, stretching it, playing with it, spinning it in new ways. Sometimes it’s done in a way that’s heavy and entertainingly obvious. It makes us smile and say “Aw yea!” Think about the first time you heard De La Soul's Me, Myself & I and were instantly transported back to Funkadelic. Other times it’s subtle. A couple of notes here. A vocal slice there. J.B.'s distinctive OWWW. Sometimes they’ll sneak a song in that has a direct connection to a dusty gem that you won’t connect unless you have some ear time with the classics, like Salt-N-Pepa’s Tramp pulling from the song of the same name by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. Then there are the ones that unless your music collection has more vinyl in it than megabytes, they’re so obscure, forget about it. These are the ones that you get tipped off by people who get paid to know their stuff or you stumble across it by some mistake. Take the Lafayette Afro-Rock Band for example.

At the end of the 60’s and the turn of the 70’s, black American musicians were making connections between what they were funking out to here in the States and what was laid down in Africa. With the growth of black nationalism came the growth of African culture, including the music. And the notes weren’t just flowing one way, there was a mutual exchange going on. You had Fela playing in the US and James Brown playing in Nigeria. A lot of tight grooves were being laid down on tape in Europe as well. Starting much earlier with the exodus of the jazz greats across the ocean, black musicians found the European environment much more racially accepting of them and appreciative of their skills. Soul Makossa, the great Manu Dibango tune which became a hit here in the U.S., was actually recorded in Paris.

In 1971, a group from Long Island named the Bobby Boyd Congress decided to try their luck in Paris as well. They would soon change their name to Ice and would begin in earnest to make a name for themselves by playing live in the African section of town (where they would pick up highlife elements to fuse with their base of soul and funk) and through the recording of several albums. To reflect their sonic evolution the band changed their name once more to the Lafayette Afro-Rock Band (although they’d adopt several other short lived names and eventually revert back to Ice). They’d even cut their own cover of Dibango’s hit and name one of their albums after it.

The group would stick together through to the end of the decade but wouldn’t see the turn of the 80’s. They left behind a collection of soul and funk albums that would eventually become fodder for many hip hop artists over the next few decades. Remember the sax intro to Wreckx-N-Effect’s Rumpshaker? Yup, straight from Darkest Light (which has also been used in Public Enemy’s Show ‘Em Whatcha Got, more recently Jay-Z’s Show Me What You Got, and many others). How about Biz Markie’s Nobody Beats The Biz? Try listening to Hihache (which you’ll also find hidden in LL Cool J’s Jingling Baby, De La Soul’s Oodles of O’s, etc.). The list is endless, but for the most part, largely unknown to most listeners.

Thankfully, the diggers over at Strut Records did their job well in rediscovering this staggering source of samples which has been pulled from for the last thirty years. They put together fifteen of the Lafayette Afro-Rock Band’s funkiest and most sampled cuts for a collection titled Darkest Light: The Best Of that was originally released back in 1999. With the recent rebirth of Strut, they’ve polished it back up, added some to the liner notes (which, as always with Strut releases, are phenomenal and go into much greater depth and detail than I have), and are set to re-release it on February 17th. Here’s your chance to dig your teeth into a sampler’s paradise.

Visit the Strut Records website and become their friend on MySpace.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Hasta la vista, baby!

So you want to hear about a star that burned bright but short? Look no further than our man Tone-Loc. Tone hit it huge in 1989 with the release of his debut album Loc-ed After Dark, which, spurred by the hit singles Wild Thing and Funky Cold Medina, would go on to became the second rap release ever to top the pop charts (anyone want to guess what was the first?).

Although not given his props (probably in large part to his pop success), Tone was part of the shift in hip hop from being an underground movement to influencing popular culture at large, and I don't just mean music. He would go on to release a second album two years later in 1991 (Cool Hand Loc), but it failed to gain the attention his debut did, either from the pop world or the genuine hip hop world, and it would be the end of the line for Tone's singing career, although he would go on to do a substantial amount of acting, both in movies and on TV.

Cut scene to twenty years later (today, that is), and Delicious Vinyl has re-released the album in a digital deluxe edition with the original eleven tracks plus six bonus cuts. You'll find a couple below, including Cuttin Rhythms (a song that shows early shades of the west coast sound and Dre's work on The Chronic) and On Fire, one of the bonus tracks and the very first single that the label ever put out.

Visit his label Delicious Vinyl.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ben Kweller goes Country

"People are asking me, 'why did you wake up and decide to make a country album?' To them I say, 'I didn't. It's been in me the whole time, I just never put it on tape.' Friends heard me talkin' about Changing Horses for years. They know how much country music means to me - when Alan Jackson comes on the radio, somethin' happens inside. Brings me back to the trees, back to pushin' cars out of the mud. Reminds me of my hometown."

-Ben Kweller on his upcoming album

I have to tell you that before throwing Ben Kweller's new album on, I hadn't read a single thing about it, and consequently I was thrown six steps backwards upon hearing it. It's titled Changing Horses, and for good reason; it's more country than anything I've listened to in a long while! I'm talking love child of Dolly Parton meets Kenny Rogers.

I wouldn't even go so far as to call it alt-country. It's country. Period. And somehow, Ben's voice fits it perfect. Really, although it's absolutely nothing that I'd expect from him, he sounds like he was born to twang here. I'm still somewhat in shock listening to it, bit it isn't as off-putting as it was when it first hit me. There were a few tracks that I've enjoyed since the first listen (near the middle of the album - maybe it took me that long to get over my astonishment), and a few more that have grown on me since.

It comes out February 3rd, but if you pre-order it before then from the album link below you'll get the album, an autographed poster, and a chance to win 5 prizes (Grand prize: Dinner with Ben). Order the vinyl and it comes with the CD, too.

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

Upcoming Tour Dates


16 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown
17 - Minneapolis, MN - Varsity Theatre
18 - Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall
21 - Cleveland, OH - Case Western Reserve U
22 - Toronto, ONT - The Mod Club Theatre
24 - Somerville, MA - Somerville Theatre
25 - New York, NY - Town Hall
26 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
27 - Philadelphia, PA - TLA
28 - Pittsburgh, PA - Diesel


01 - Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
03 - Lousiville, KY - Headliners Music Hall
04 - Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
05 - Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club
06 - Birmingham, AL - Workplay Theater

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

F&M's two voices

Today I have another married couple group to throw into the hat. Ryan and Becky Anderson form the core of F&M, an Edmonton based band named after a funeral home back in 2002, who released their fourth album, Every Light Must Fade. As befitting their names' inspiration, the album has a quite sense of dark despair.

The pair share vocal duties on the album, with Ryan singing the majority of the songs (nine) and Becky picking up the rest (five). And although the instrumentation for both is consistent (which as mentioned above, is for the most part quiet, mostly spare, no frills accompaniment that sets the somber tone under the lyrics, and at times almost natural sounding as if it was the noises you'd hear around you listening to the sounds of the world), depending on the vocalist, the songs have a very different texture to them. Ryan sings with a distinctly deep voice that almost reminds me of the lead singer from Crash Test Dummies. His pace is slow and measured and feels like a steady plodding to a dark end. Becky's voice, on the other hand, has a quite contrary sense of lightness to it that even when singing of unhappiness, still seems to offer a measure of hope.

Below you'll find a song from each Anderson. Becky sings the acoustic Stuttering Boy and Ryan sings Stars. It will give you a flavor of the differences between the two while also giving you an idea about the album as a whole.

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Let's Get Drunk in London

Here are a couple of tracks from Little Majorette, a Swedish band that doesn't sound Swedish. The band formed in 2007, and are currently working on their dazzling debut, for which they have high aspirations! To wet your whistle for its future birth, here are a few songs which just might make their way onto it:

The first track, Let's Get Drunk, is a laid back indie-folk-pop with strings number whose tempo and poppishness belies it's melancholy message:
pretend we are in love again
let's get drunk
to settle our nerves again
let's get drunk
pretend we are alone again, again, again
The second, London, is a heck of a lot more playful and upbeat, with its invitation to paint the town (of London, of course) red.
there's enough to party so let's turn ourselves up
everybody is going so let's take a look
i've got a pocket of money ready to buy us drinks
and the records that they're playing will make you sing

next time you're in london
So there you have it. Whether you're up or down, there's a song for you to check out here. Head over to the group's MySpace page for a few more tracks.

Little Majorette - Let's Get Drunk

Little Majorette - London

Become their friend on MySpace.

He's Frank!

Visit their website and become the BPA's friend on MySpace.

The Blue Note 7 celebrate 70 Years

On January 13th, legendary jazz label Blue Note Records celebrated its 70th anniversary. To help commemorate the occasion, the label is releasing Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records, an eight track album performed by an all-star line-up who've dubbed themselves The Blue Note 7. The septet includes pianist, musical director, and current Blue Note recording artist Bill Charlap with trumpeter Nicholas Payton, tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, alto saxophonist/flutist Steve Wilson, guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Lewis Nash.

The seven artists have pulled eight songs from the label's storied history, eight tracks that they feel pull from and at least partially represent the diversity of players the label has hosted over the years. Mosaic, the album's title track which was originally performed by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers (nine days out of ten my favorite jazz musicians - sometimes ousted by Bird and Dizzy, but usually not) opens things up. Then the Blue Note 7 works their way through classics by Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson, Thelonius Monk (another personal favorite), Herbie Hancock (another-nother personal favorite), Grant Green, and the Horace Silver Quintet.

Of course, any jazz musician worth their weight in beans wouldn't be content to simply echo others' work, and the Blue Note 7 are no exception. Listen to the opening cut below, along with the original to see what they do to make the songs their own. The septet is now on tour in support of the anniversary and the album. You'll be able to see them perform some of the tracks from the album as well as other legendary cuts from the deep Blue Note catalog.

Tour Dates

1/27 San Diego, CA Anthology Club
1/28 Mesa, AZ Mesa Arts Center
1/29 Wickenburg, AZ Del E. Webb Center
1/30 Tucson, AZ University of Arizona/Centennial Hall
2/17 Boone, NC Appalachian State Univ./Farthing Auditorium
2/18 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt University/Langford Auditorium
2/20 Kansas City, MO The Gem Theater
2/21 Omaha, NE Holland Performing Arts Center/Kiewit Hall
2/22 St Louis, MO Sheldon Concert Hall
2/24 Meridian, MS Mississippi State University/Riley Center
2/26 Baton Rouge, LA Shaw Center for the Arts/Manship Theatre
2/27 Lafayette, LA Heymann Performing Arts Center
2/28 Birmingham, AL Alys Stevens Center/Jemison Concert Hall
3/1 Germantown, TN Germantown Performing Arts Centre
3/13 Detroit, MI Orchestra Hall/ Max M. Fisher Music Center
3/14 Lexington, KY Singletary Center for the Arts
3/15 Louisville, KY Kentucky Center for Performing Arts
3/16 Chicago, IL Columbia College Chicago (Private Event)
3/18 Norman, OK Sooner Theatre
3/19 Columbia, MO Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts
3/20 Chicago, IL Chicago Symphony Center/Orchestra Hall
3/21 Appleton, WI Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
3/23 Sheboygan, WI Lakeland College/ Bradley Fine Arts Building
3/25 Sioux Falls, SD Orpheum Theater
3/26 Lincoln, NE University of Nebraska/Lied Center
3/27 Ames, IA Iowa State University/ Stephens Auditorium
3/28 Milwaukee, WI Wilson Center for the Arts
3/29 Minneapolis, MN Orchestra Hall
4/1 Worcester, MA Mechanics Hall
4/2 Hanover, NH Dartmouth College/Spaulding Auditorium
4/3 Philadelphia, PA Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
4/4 Pittsburgh, PA Manchester Craftmen's Guild
4/5 Washington, DC Kennedy Center/ Terrace Theater
4/6 Princeton, NJ McCarter Theatre Center/ Matthews Theatre
4/8 University Park, PA Penn State University/Eisenhower Auditorium
4/9 Schenectady, NY Proctor's Theatre
4/14-19 New York, NY Birdland

Monday, January 26, 2009

Zion I Takes Over

For those of you not yet familiar with them, Zion I (pronounced Zion Eye), are a hip hop duo from Oakland California composed of producer and DJ AmpLive and emcee Zumbi. The pair have been laying down beats and rhymes since 2000 and are set to release their latest album, The TakeOver, tomorrow. I've literally been sitting on this album for close to two months now and am wired for its release this week. As I mentioned before when I posted up their Search and Seizure Mixtape, if this album had come out a month earlier it would have been on my favorites of 2008 list.

In some ways, the album feels like a mixtape of its own. There are so many flavors here to sample that it's an audio-rich experience. While the first few tracks are enjoyable, things really heat up around track four, DJ DJ (which you can check out below). It opens up with a Brazilian club drum beat and then slides into an old skool electro-hip hop feel to it that will take you back to the days of one of the most supreme DJs ever, Afrika Bambaataa, or even better, Egyptian Lover (think it's a coincidence that his big hit is Egypt Egypt, a double title just like DJ DJ? - and speaking of Egyptian Lover, there's a fabulous article involving him and Arabian Prince in the last issue of Wax Poetics).

From there Zion I heads into Antenna, a number that samples some smooth soul grooves that for the life of me I can't place (if anyone knows or figures out the source, please share). Then they head into Caged Bird Pt. 1, a track that shifts baack and forth between some fast and furious rhymes (including a guest showing from Brother Ali) and some soaring singing from an unnamed sister. It smoothly shifts into In the Mornin' (Caged Bird Pt. 2), which takes the previous track to a more urgent and intense level.

The music lightens back up with Radio (which feels like an Outkast song) and the Cajun spiced instrumental Gumbo. The pair goes electro again with Country Baked Yams, possibly my favorite track on the album in its own electro-poppy top 40 dance club beat kind of way.

Anyway, I've enjoyed listening to this album for a while now and finally get to share it with you. Here are a couple cuts to wet your whistle, then get the entire album this week when it comes out. Seriously, it's worth it.

and a non-album cut from the album's first single for Juicy Juice:

Visit their website, their label Gold Dust Media, and become their friend on MySpace.


Afrika Bambaataa - Funk You : Beware (The Funk Is Everywhere)

Egyptian Lover - Egypt Egypt : Hip Hop Essentials 1979-1991 Volume 1

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Soul - Grandma's Hands

Grandma's hands
Used to hand me piece of candy
Grandma's hands
Picked me up each time I fell
Grandma's hands
Boy, they really came in handy
She'd say, "Matty don' you whip that boy
What you want to spank him for?
He didn't drop no apple core"
But I don't have Grandma anymore

If I get to Heaven I'll look for
Grandma's hands

Bill Withers - Grandma's Hands : Grandma's Hands 7"

Bill Withers - Sweet Wanomi : Grandma's Hands 7" B-side

Find them both on his debut album, Just As I Am.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Roy Davis' Vision

Here's the latest from our friends over at Scion and their A/V Department. It hits shelves next week, but here's a sneak peak for you to jam to this weekend. It features a track from Ubiquity Records' legendary house producer Roy Davis Jr. with Erin Martin performing vocal duties. As always with Scion's releases, 100% of the profits go right into the artists' hands, so check out this remix and then share some of your coin with Roy by buying the rest of the single which features four other booty shaking mixes.

Visit Roy's label Ubiquity Records and become his friend on MySpace.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dar Williams on Tour

For those Dar Williams fans out there, she's now on tour in support of her latest album, Promised Land, which came out in September of last year. Her partner for the dates is Joshua Radin, who also released his sophomore album Simple Times in September as well. Here are the upcoming dates:

Fri, Jan 23 - New York, NY –Webster Hall
Sat, Jan 24 - Philadelphia, PA - Keswick Theatre
Sun, Jan 25 - Ringwood, NJ – Ringwood Public Library
Mon, Jan 26 - Richmond, VA - The National
Wed, Jan 28 - Carborro, NC - Cat's Cradle
Thu, Jan 29 - Birmingham, AL - Workplay Theatre
Fri, Jan 30 - Athens, GA - Georgia Theatre
Sat, Jan 31 - Greenville, SC – Handlebar
Tue, Feb 3 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room
Wed, Feb 4 - St. Petersburg, FL - Palladium Theatre
Thu, Feb 5 - Gainesville, FL – Common Grounds
Fri, Feb 6 - Jacksonville, FL - Freebird
Sat, Feb 7 - New Orleans, LA – House of Blues (Parish room)

Visit her website, her label Razor & Tie, and become her friend on MySpace.

The Macrotones

So when a band lists as their influences The Budos Band, Fela Kuti, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, the Daktaris, Antibalas, Nomo, and the El Michels Affair, I don't have to scratch my head long trying to figure out if I'm going to like them. I'll take one please, super-sized. And when the band is a (semi-) local band out of Boston, I've got to throw out some kind words for them to help spread the beat.

Their name is The Macrotones, an eleven piece outfit that's got a macro-sound, as in large, thick, and especially prominant. Like many of the groups they mention as influences, they pump out an instrumental, afro-beat inspired, funk sound that will get your booty shaking. While you certainly get the sense that Fela's spirit is lingering in the air, there are also dashes of good ol' American funk thrown in for good measure. Tight horns, funky basslines, all sorts of percussion - certainly a tasty recipe.

Although I haven't had the pleasure, I'm guessing that experiencing these guys first-hand would be quite an experience. If you're in the Somerville area, check them out at Johnny D's in Davis Square and let us know about the show.

Become their friend on MySpace.


Antibalas - Rat Race (Live Bob Marley cover) : Live at the 9:30 Club 4-4-07

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Roger O'Donnell's Silver Box

Anyone who grew up listening to alternative music in the 80's (either then or now), is bound to be familiar with Roger O'Donnell, even if they're not familiar with his name. As a keyboardist, he contributed to the Thompson Twins (perhaps not so alternative), the Psychedelic Furs and most notably the Cure. Unfortunately though, back in 2005, while working on his first album of solo material ever, O'Donnell was sacked by Robert Smith, and has since pursued his solo career.

Earlier this week, Songs From the Silver Box, O'Donnell's second solo album hit the shelves. And when I say solo, I literally mean almost completely 100% solo. The entire album was written and recorded by O'Donnell, mostly performed on his Moog Voyager with minimal drum work added, with the only substantial addition being the vocals of Lenka (whose debut came out late last year) on one track and Erin Lang (who also appeared on his first album) gracing two others (one of which, Tiny Pieces Of You, you can hear, and see, below). The remaining seven tracks on the album are pure instrumentals.

If you're not familiar with his last solo release, The Truth In Me, don't come to this album expecting anything similar to his work with other bands. Also do not let the fact that most of the album is synthesizer driven scare you away or make you think you're in for a techno-fest. O'Donnell does an incredible job at making his electronic music feel anything but. There are many, many dense, lush strands woven in the album's tracks that come alive in your ear. There is absolutely nothing impersonal about O'Donnell's compositions.

Below you'll find the opening instrumental track, The Prince Of Time, and the above mentioned Tiny Pieces of You. The two will give you a good taste of what one man can do with one instrument.

(watch the video)

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.


The Cure - Lovesong (live) : Paris

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Brand New Day

Last night I had a dream that the world
Was changin' by leaps and bounds
It started up in the bigger cities
And it's spread to the smaller towns

The people began to smile at people
They'd never even seen
And when Jeremiah woke me up
I was ready to live that dream

It's a brand new day
A brand new way
Oh yeah

A brand new day
A brand new way

And to add an extra layer of icing to today's cake, the incredible pleasure of seeing Aretha sing My Country 'Tis Of Thee, a completely unexpected surprise.

When you're feeling real low
Here's a great truth you should remember and know
That you're young, gifted and black
You got your soul intact
and that' a fact

You're young, gifted and black
Oh, it's a mighty sweet thing yes it is now
Young, gifted and black
(My sisters)
Young, gifted and black
You're young and you're black
You got your soul intact
You've got the future
Don't you never look back

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tomorrow, the Dream Comes Alive

I, Too, Sing America
by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue
by Curtis Mayfield

We people who are darker than blue
Don't let us hang around this town
and let what others say come true

We're just good for nothings they all figure
A boyish, grown up, shiftless jigger
Now we can't hardly stand for that
Or is that really where it's at?

Pardon me, brother, while you stand in your glory
I know you won't mind if I tell the whole story
Pardon me, brother, I know we've come a long, long way
But let us not be so satisfied for tomorrow can be an
An even brighter day

If only Martin Luther King Jr. had lived to see tomorrow.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Soul - Something Freaky

all twelve positions
of the zodiac signs
i won't quit
until i blow your mind
(blow my mind)
compatible or not
(compatible or not)
i'll hit the spot
(hit the spot)
in the name of love
everything i've got

i wanna do something freaky to you
(something freakish to me)
oh, baby
i wanna do something freaky to you right now
(something freakish to me)
oh baby

Leon Haywood - I Want'a Do Something Freaky To You : I Want'a Do Something Freaky To You 7"

Leon Haywood - I Know What Love Is
: I Want'a Do Something Freaky To You 7" B-side

Get the A-side on The Best of Leon Haywood.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Erasure Pop!

Erasure fans have a lot to look forward to next month. On the 9th, Pop! Remixed comes out. On the 23rd, Total Pop! (which includes all the hit singles from the band’s five Number 1 albums and including 17 Top 10 singles)hits shelves. And finally, on the same day, die hard fans can drop some serious cash on Total Pop! Deluxe (which will include both of the above along with a live disc and a DVD featuring classic BBC performances from 1986–2005).

While you're waiting, enjoy the above video for the Jeremy Wheatley Remix video for Always, a track that you can find on Pop! Remixed.

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

Massive Samples

If you know anything about trip-hop, then you have to be familiar with the name Massive Attack. Few artists did as much as they did at the end of the 80's and the turn of the 90's to launch the Bristol Sound into the listening conscious of the world. Indeed, their debut album Blue Lines (considered one of the first ever trip-hop albums) was one of the most influential British albums of the 90's. Even after the departure of Tricky, who headed out for his solo career with the release of Maxinquaye in 1995, the band forged on, continuously developing its style and sound and pushing trip-hop in new directions.

And now, after over twenty years of making music with various line-ups, they're set to put out two new releases: an album of new material titled Weather Underground and Protected: Massive Samples. Protected brings together a collection of twelve assorted tracks that have been sampled or covered by Massive Attack over the course of their career. The list of sampled artists will shock you, running the gamut from the usual suspects: Al Green, James Brown, and Isaac Hayes, to the more obscure: Wally Badarou, The Blackbyrds, and Lowrell (whose song Mellow Mellow was drawn from for the Massive Attack track Lately - listen to both below).

Herein lies the brilliancy of Massive Attack - their ability to pull in all sorts of sources, melding them together seamlessly, sometimes even unnoticeably, in their offerings. Protected will draw back the curtain, revealing some of the hidden inspirations for some of their best work. Look for the complete album in February

the sampled:

the sampler:

Visit their website, the compilation's label Rapster Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Theater Fire

So the other day a friend asked what I had been listening to lately that I could recommend. I rattled off a small handful of albums, including Matter and Light, the third LP from Forth Worth, Texas band The Theater Fire. Of course I had to offer a small blurb, something to sell the band. The best, most succinct, tightly wrapped description I could offer was that they played "countrified, eastern Europized, folk pop - yea, it's kinda quirky." Right.

The album, released last month, is an independently grown affair whose fourteen tracks really pack a lot into their journey from beginning to end. As you can tell from my summation above, the instrumentation here is fairly diverse: weeping pedal steel and violin, strains of accordion, mandolin and xylophone, plucked banjo and guitar, sorrowful brass and the clip-clop of found percussion. Roll that all up together and you get the image of a cowboy traveling across Romania looking for his muse with a supporting chorus popping out from behind cactuses at the appropriate points (do they have cactus in Romania?). Try Beatrice (Ode) below to see what I mean.

As a package, it's diversity is its greatest draw, but potentially also a detractor if you don't go for their inventiveness and playfulness with their sound. For me it happens to work. Try to following tracks to get an inkling if it'll work for you.

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Neko Case

Neko Case is getting set to release her newest album, titled Middle Cyclone, in March, and in preparation she's released an early track for people to check out. As if that wasn't cool enough though, for every blog that shares the track with its readers, Neko and her label Anti- will donate $5 to the Best Friends Animal Society and $1 for every iLike user that adds the song to their profile. Here' s a little about them:
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2009, Best Friends Animal Society is one of America’s foremost animal rescue organizations. Founded in 1984, Best Friends advances nationwide animal welfare initiatives by working with shelter and rescue groups around the country. On any given day Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the nation’s largest facility for abused, abandoned and special needs companion animals located in southwestern Utah, is home to approximately 2,000 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, and other animals. The society also publishes Best Friends magazine, the nation’s largest general interest, pet-related magazine with approximately 300,000 subscribers. For more information, visit
Needless to say, I'm eager to check out the new album. You can already pre-order it through Amazon, and in the meantime, enjoy this song, the album's third track, People Got A Lotta Nerve.

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

There's a Paper Moon Rising

Winnipeg based band Paper Moon is back, temporarily satisfying your cravings for new music from them with a five track EP titled What Are You Going To Do With Me? The title cut features the title track from their upcoming full length album Only During Thunderstorms, due out some time in April. In addition to the sneak peak, there is another original track, a remix of an older one (the Candlelight Remix of These New Friends of Yours...), and two covers (Hot Little Rocket's Down with Safe and Lindy's Witness).

If you're not familiar with the band, they churn out upbeat poppy synth laden cuts that seem vaguely early 90's alternative derived at points, and at others, way too electronically spastic (in a good way). Check out what they did with Down With Safe below.

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Everlasting Sheila Jordan

If you're down with the ladies of Jazz (Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday), then you've got to check out Sheila Jordan. Although I've been a fan of the before mentioned ladies for a while, I've never come across Sheila's name, although she's been performing for some 60 years now. As a matter of fact, she just celebrated her 80th birthday last November, and in conjunction with the celebration released her latest album, a live album titled Winter Sunshine, on her new label Justin Time Records.

Although 79 at the time the album was recorded (February in Montreal), Sheila's voice and lyrical ability are quite impressive. She delves into one of her influence's well known talents, Ella's scat singing, and although she plays many time honored standards, both she and her band manage to make the tunes their own, stretching them out and playing with the notes in true improvisational manner. This includes the lyrics, as Sheila adds verses and choruses of her own.

You can catch the flavor of Sheila's on the spot creationism as well as her working the crowd on the disc's opening number, the classic Comes Love. Then try out a medley which includes an original, Ballad For Miles (in honor of the Miles Davis, who she worked with back in the 50's!), intertwined with another standard, It Never Entered My Mind. This is jazz vocalism as it was meant to be: smooth, swinging, and cool.

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Zion I Searches and Seizes

I have to admit that it's taken me MONTHS to finally check this mixtape out. And when I say months, I mean two. That being said, I'm kicking myself in the arse for not having done so quicker. It's put together buy Zion I, who're also set to release their latest release, The TakeOver, later this month, which to be honest, would have been on my favorites of 2008 list if it had come out a month earlier.

It's set up just like a tape; there's a Side A which is all about the old skool hip hop, and Side B which pulls in indie rock and electro territory. Although both sides do it for me, Side A really spins my gears. On it, you'll find breaks pulled in from some seriously classic cuts including Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay (which opens up the tape), Public Enemy's Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic, MC Lyte's Paper Thin, and EPMD's You Gots to Chill (on Gotsa Chill, a track that features Talib Kweli that you can hear below).

Best thing of all? It's free. Zero dollars and zero cents. And you need to get it. HERE.

Zion I- Gotsta Chill (Temperature RMX feat. Talib Kweli) : The Search & The Seizure Mixtape Side A

MC Lyte - Paper Thin : Hip Hop Essentials 1979-1991 Volume 2

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jamie T's Fire

You might remember me singing praises for Jamie T's American debut Panic Prevention back at the end of 2007. If not, it was (and still is) an insanely good album that you'd do well to check out. Anyway, this post isn't about that album, rather to share the fact that he's been back in the studio and is gearing up to release his next album soon. As a teaser, here's a track (and it's video) to share with you titled Fire Fire. If you're familiar with Jamie T, this track's spastic shock won't give you second thought. The opening reminds me quite a bit of the Beastie Boys' Heart Attack Man. Check it out yourself and keep your eyes open for the album.

Jamie T - Fire Fire : ??? (untitled/unreleased new album!)

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.

Almost There - Art and Music Project

I get a lot of e-mails from bands and PR agents who represent bands, but very few from artists like Joe Simpson. Joe e-mailed me a couple of days ago with the following to share:
I'm a visual artist who has collaborated with twelve bands and solo-artists to create a series of paintings that has an original soundtrack. Each painting has a song written especially for it, to be listened to whilst viewing the piece. The twelve paintings show scenes from one characters journey, as he leaves the city to find redemption on the open road. The painting are to be exhibited with headphones beside each piece, to simultaneously listen to the song and view the painting. The exhibition runs at the Candid Arts Trust, London, UK - Feb 21st - March 1st.
It's really quite an interesting idea and one that caught my attention. The picture above is one of the paintings, and the the song River Cafe below is the accompanying track. And if I lived anywhere near London, I'd be at the front of the line to check it out on the 21st.

Matt Cameron - River Cafe
: Almost There Original Soundtrack

Visit the project's official website.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Soul - Giving Up

Giving up is hard to do
When you really love someone
Giving up .... so hard to do
When you still depend upon
Her warm and tender touch
Her kiss and her hug..........her caress
Oooooh that used to mean so much
And bring you happiness
Woooo ooooooooh

Giving up, so hard to do
I've tried
But it just ain't no use
Giving up, so hard to do
I said I've tried
But it just ain't no use
But my light of hope is burning dim
But in my heart I pray
That my love and faith in the girl
My love...will bring her back someday

I'm talking 'bout when you really love someone

Get the A-side on A Donny Hathaway Collection and the B-side on Live.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Amy Kuney performs Rocket Surgery

You say that you love me but I ask you How much?
So you spread your arms wide till behind you your thumbs touch
And you hold that position as I add it all up
In cold hard mathematical terms you’re in love

Hold me, don’t think too hard about it
Would common sense allow it?
You wait too long and you’ll lose me
Just do it when you get the urging
Oh it's not rocket surgery
When you know you love someone
It’s easy

Although Bird's Eye View has been buried on my desk since early to mid December (who knows without carbon dating it), it wasn't until the beginning of this week that I got around to finally listening to it. It's the debut from the incredibly young looking but mature sounding Amy Kuney, and it hit shelves back in August of last year.

The above lyrics come from the album's second track, Rocket Surgery, which you can listen to below and is probably my favorite track from the album. It's a good place to start as it displays the album's characteristics that make me enjoy it. Amy was involved with writing all of the songs on the album, and lyrically I appreciate the album as it tends to steer clear of all the cliches and presents typical emotions and situations in meaningful and genuine ways. The other enjoyable aspect of the album is how dynamic it feels, chock full of lively instrumentation. Most female singers try to go light with the instruments and rely on their voices to carry the album, but here there is just as much going on behind Amy as there is with her voice and the lyrics.

Appreciate Your Hands is another, slower track from a little later in the album.
You try, you try, you strive
You aim to please
Nobody cares, nobody sees
I have a taste for talent wasted, oh
Waste it on me, waste it on me

Bury your shovel by the door
Nail your hammer to the floor
This job is for a gentle hand
You have so much love to give
And I am here to welcome it
As long as you’ve got time to spend
And I'll be the kind of work…

That appreciates your hands
The rest of the album share songs just as sweet as these and deserves a good listen. Looking for some good mix tape material for that special someone? This is a sure source to take advantage of, and a solid debut from such a young artist. And if you don't have anyone to make a mix for, this album will make you wish you had.

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