Monday, August 27, 2007

Blues board & forum

Where online are you going to meet people like 'Coyote Slim' or 'mississippijohnhurt1928' or 'Blues Princess' or 'Blues Shark' or 'Rusty Red? (assuming they're not pseudonyms all for the same person) If you haven't already guessed, it's at a music destination appropriately called The Blindman's Blues Forum. There you can find thousands of postings about pre-war blues, post-war blues (which war was that now...?), gospel, jazz, concerts, musicians' forums and "shameless plugs," along with blues I.Q. tests and a cafe to shoot the breeze (not politics though...). It's very heartening to see blues nuts chew the fat and wax about their favorite music the way you usually hear it done for whatever next big thing is being shoved down our collective pop throats. Registration is free and any blues fan should be involved in this, if only to share your love of the music with fellow fans.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sonicbids & the invasion of the indie divas

Here's some simple advice if you want to go through a large pile of hopeful bands just starting out and vying for attention: don't do it. There'll be some diamonds among the roughage but to get there, you'll get a big headache. On one hand, I have to give any kind of beginners credit- every band's got to start somewhere and many times, it takes a lot of time and effort to put together even a demo in this age of MySpace pages.

So after recently going through a bunch of hopefuls, I made a few nice discoveries. First of all, MySpace ain't the only place online where you go to hear music. Seems kind of obvious but the site is so damn ubiquitous now that it's easy to forget that there was music offered online before they came around. As you go through the Sonicbids site, you sometimes wonder why MySpace has kicked its butt in terms of popularity. SB started out two years before MySpace (which started in 2003) and has a nice DIY set-up where bands can post songs, pictures, videos, tour schedule, press clips and such. Ideally, this would be the best way to showcase your band but let's face it, MySpace has more juice- as of last year, they have over 100,000,000 accounts. The fact that it's also a social networking site for millions of non-musicians is a big draw no doubt. But Sonicbids still deserves kudos for being a band-friendly place where they can easily set up "electronic press kits" and where potential fans can check out new music.

So after sifting through a bunch of Dave Matthews and Coldplay wanna-be's, I was pleasantly surprised to find a trio of up-and-coming divas who caught my ear. Good strong vocals, catchy songs and good beats- you know, the kind of thing you can imagine thousands (not millions anymore in our fragmented pop world) bopping their heads to and singing along to. I'm not promising you that Sadiiyah Rock and Emily Jackson are going to be on your radio soon but they sure as hell sound like they'll be there soon. Good production will only get you so far of course but I think they have the right sound, attitude, etc. that make a difference. Maybe it's no surprise that they're on the same indie label (appropriately called Urban Melodic) or that they both happen to come from the Tri-State area. In any case, listen and enjoy them now and if they do take off, you can brag that you heard them early on when they were just coming up.

Monday, August 20, 2007

R. Kelly- still trapped in video and in his personal life

What do Richard Wagner, Charles Manson and R. Kelly have in common? There have been few artists whose repulsive personal life has made it so hard to enjoy their art as much as all of them (Chuckles was an aspiring songwriter who caught the Beach Boys' ear, remember).

At first, Kelly's Trapped in the Closet series seemed like a bizarre, unique idea: "an urban R&B soap opera," as it's been called. It was audacious, bold and pretty strange as he took a very minimal song and stretched it out to different chapters, each having its own cliff-hanging climax which led to the next part. After collecting the first few on record and then the first 12 onto a DVD, he decided to extended it, releasing a new chapter a day at IFC Channel (which is a interesting marketing idea as it's not an expected or obvious medium for this and it also sets him up as a mini-cinema star now). He's managed to keep things strange so you're usually not likely to guess what's coming next and he's taken some interesting turns lately (like taking it to church with a pimp) and soon this latest set of chapters will appear on its own DVD tomorrow (again, very canny marketing). And he's not saying how far or long he's going to take this (though a possible prison sentence might put a damper on that).

One mark of greatness (or at least its cultural significance) is all the funny parodies it's inspired (i.e. Mad TV's Trapped in the Cupboard and Weird Al's Trapped In the Drive-Thru). The one problem with R.'s latest chapters themselves is that like William Shatner doing his "singing" career again, he knows how ridiculous some of this is and he plays up to that, which doesn't make it quite as appealing as before. But that doesn't mean I won't keep watching this.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

RIP Max Roach

In honor of the passing of this jazz drumming great, a connection to not only bop but also hard bop and beyond... Above is a video of him soloing and there are also other YouTube videos of him collaborating with Abbey Lincoln, Fab Five Freddy (old school from 1983) and (in a manner of speaking) Martin Luther King. Plus MR talking about his own work.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Honeydripper- a preview of Sayles

A clip from the next John Sayles film set in Alabama in the 50's about a troubled club. This is a nice scene with Danny Glover and Keb Mo aptly playing a bluesman. As he plays "Stagger Lee," Glover looks distantly, thinking. It's obviously bringing back memories and not necessarily great ones. "I hate that song," he says. The bluesman just laughs it off. Can't wait to see the movie.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Samim- world music techno via Switzerland

How's this for a bio? " Samim is also known as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Born into a Swiss-Iranian Family, he was exposed to a wide range of musical influences throughout his life. Soon after discovering his passion for electronic music through Hip hop and Industrial music, he started to develop and enhance his renowned Syncopated Patterns and Hypnotic Rhythms." OK, so you figure this guy's gotta be either really good or really bad.

I'm a fan 'cause not only does he know how to program a good beat (which is the least you can expect from a DJ but also because his other sound sources are interesting too. From screaming whoops and swooshes ("PG23") to goofy death-metal whispering ("Ride My Cadillac") to spacy fusion keyboards ("Deep Meet"), this guy'll engage you one way or another. My favorite track of his isn't available on his MySpace page but through the good people at Beatport (which I just wrote about here). "Heater" is the number 1 and number 8 (remixed) song on their charts now and with good reason. Along with a bouncy beat, it's hooked on a breezy accordion that sounds both like Columbia cumbia music and also South African township jive music (the kind that got Paul Simon hooked to African music).

Monday, August 06, 2007

Beatport- one stop shop for techno needs

I've been using Beatport for a while now and it's been such a regular part of my online music surfing experience that I never remembered until now that it's something I should share here. It's a great service that lets you hear a lot of new tracks from all manner and stripe of techno genres, including drum and bass, trance, house, chill out and numerous subdivisions under each of those, totaling tens of thousands of releases. They also offer the tracks for sale and though many of them are over 99 cents, they're extended, full length tracks (many over 10 minutes), available in HIGH quality fidelity (256 kbps, which is higher than the usual 128 kbps that you're probably used to) and also non-DRM (at least what I've seen from transferring their tracks to different MP3 players and computers). You can get lost in the site, listening for hours- that's part of the fun of it. As another bonus, they're not stingy with listening samples- rather than the standard 30-seconds which would barely scratch the surface of most techno tracks, most of Beatport's samples go on for a few minutes. If that weren't enough, they also offer their own best-selling charts so you can hear what some of the hottest items out there are right now.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Aug/Sept issue of PSF- Genesis P Orridge, Peter Hammill interviews and more

I might as well take pride in my work and tell you about the latest edition of my zine.

In the latest issue of Perfect Sound Forever online music magazine, you'll find (among other things):

* The good, the bad & the ridiculous
"The head starts to flush with delight as you envision seeing a favorite band you thought only still existed on records or old videos. Wether you haven't seen the band in years or maybe you never got to see them live before you're equally ecstatic. The chance to get to hear songs you love done live among a crowd of dedicated fans is a sure promise for a great show. Eventually though, after the initial joy of the announcement, fear starts to surface- can the reunited band can live up to the expectations in your head?" (See graphic to the left with Dinosaur Jr. and Bowser from Sha Na Na)

* From rocksteady to world traveler
"Dunkley's talent partly resides in his ability to turn a cover song (like Barbara Lynn's "You're Gonna Need Me," Sam and Dave's "Soothe Me" or John Holt's "Nobody Else") into an original tune. Maybe this tendency to rely on cover songs has done him a disservice and he may have come across as a competent singer lacking "originality." This view is quite erroneous as Dunkley's own compositions (like "A Little Way Different," "Repatriation" and "Rush Me No Badness") are evidence that he is a good songwriter too."

* In defense of
"Progressive rock can be a very disreputable subject. No other musical style has been so vilified by the critics and became a synonym for 'pompous' and 'bombastic.' Almost every music critic in the early '70's had something unflattering to write about it. None of them seem to have noticed that the genre combined the old with the new and brought things to popular music that simply wasn't there before."

* Van Der interview
"Some call him The Voice and still marvel at his thunderous, operatic rants and his celestial falsetto. Others follow him as a good-natured English philosopher, a wise, unassuming man who can express our feelings better than anybody, especially when trying to untangle the mysteries of love, memories of childhood, the castrating shadow of religion, the perversity of politics, or the doom of mankind..."

* Gospel goodness
"What happens when one sees and hears a stout man, that man's brother who is a wisecracking tenor, a brother who is really a baritone but sings bass and writes songs--and the stout man's Rubenesque wife, who once aspired to be an opera singer? What one sees and hears is The Happy Goodman Family, one of Southern Gospel music's major pioneers--and a Grammy winner--from the 1960's through 1990. Actually, the verb in that last sentence should be 'was.' They are all, as country comedian Jerry Clower used to say, graveyard dead."

* Wunderkind folk duo
"Vanessa Palmer is not your average young woman. In addition to being, the prodding force behind the indie folk band In Ink Please, she has been married and is in the process of divorce, been to Antarctica, will be spending the summer in Germany, and is a chemistry major/environmental health minor at the University of Washington in Seattle. She and her band-mate Jerik Hendrickson have been on two major tours of the U.S. as In Ink Please..."

"Louis Jordan was one of the musical greats who emerged from the swing era to leave a permanent mark on American music. In addition to being an accomplished saxophonist, Jordan is best remembered as a vocalist of immense vitality whose combination of down home earthiness and comical patter played an integral part in the evolution of rock and roll music."

* Aussie punk legends
"It would be unfair to throw the lives and work of Lobby Loyde and Ian Rilen into the same general basket merely because they died within a few months of each other... It would be just as unfair to their respective legacies to talk about them in the same breath merely because, for instance, they were both bass players for Rose Tattoo at different moments in the '70's. It might be more relevant, however, to discuss them together for the fact that they were both older participants in the world of Australian punk and new wave in the '70's and '80's"

* Throbbing psychic interview
"Genesis P. Orridge should need no introduction as the hermaphrodite extremist fronting art-magick experimenters Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV and Thee Majesty. Now living in New York, he's recently rekindled his love of rock music, using it to espouse an exploration of future human evolution via pandrogyny on the new PTV3 album Hell Is Invisible / Heaven is Her/e out now on Sweet Nothing in the USA, Cargo in Europe, not to mention a long awaited TG reunion and new album (The Endless Not on Mute)."

* Stalking their reunion
"The Slits are not typical girls. Never were. They made it clear some 30 years ago. Typical girls buy magazines, as they sang on their legendary if under-acknowledged debut album Cut. Typical girls worry about spots, fat and natural smells. Typical girls learn how to act shocked. Typical girls don't rebel. They are, however, typical Slits. And they'll say so."

* Avant toy piano
"Tan was the first woman to graduate from Julliard with a doctorate in piano performance, and the first decisive career move she made was to give up being a pianist in favor of training hearing-assist dogs. She was able to train and deliver two such dogs--a fact of which she is justifiably proud--before the badly run program collapsed, and she returned to the piano. On her return to music, she faced again the worry that had prompted her to involve herself with the potential of a non-piano-appreciating species: she felt that as a concert pianist, she was of no real use to society."

* Reliving the last rites for an ex-MC5
"I had several Rock n Roll heroes back in the late '60's One of them was Rob Tyner, lead singer from the MC5. The other was Dave Dixon, Chief Air Ace from Detroit's WABX Radio. Back then, Dave filled all our minds with radical politics and radical music, while Rob personally incarnated and exemplified that wild revolutionary hard rock life-style that made the late '60's into that powerful pivotal historical epoch we all remember with such suffering and such joy."

* Listen for Yourself
"I've received even more requests for blanket recommendations on all things analog over the last few weeks. This, of course, is understandable if you're a vinyl newbie, and you're looking to get into this crazy hobby for the first time, or maybe even just the first time in many years. You don't want to spend a lot of money. You don't want to be fiddling around with cartridge alignment, anti-skating or tracking force. You just want a little taste of what vinyl can do, with as little fuss as possible."

* Their early years
"The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, and The Kinks are the bands from the first British Invasion era that garner the most attention, and deservedly so. Bands like The Yardbirds, The Animals, The Searchers, The Move, and The Dave Clark Five undeservedly garner a little less attention. And there are still other bands that garner even less attention, some probably deservedly so, but that shouldn't be so with The Zombies."