Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Play It Again: Fashionable People

When was the last time you heard a song, and immediately listened to it a second time? I think when I was in high school, I might have done this for a Guns 'n' Roses (Locomotive) or Red Hot Chili Peppers' (I Could Have Lied) song, but I cannot recall a single recent time that I've actually wanted to hear something twice in a row.

Today, it happened.

I subscribe (and you should too) to the KCRW "Today's Top Tune" podcast, which is one free song per weekday downloaded straight to your computer via iTunes or whatever podcasting service you use. The public radio station, based in Santa Monica, California, has a wonderful selection channels and artists - everything from Tom Jones to The Cold War Kids to Natacha Atlas - that spans almost all genres (though there is a pretty distinct lack of electronic or hip-hop music).

Today it was Joel Plaskett Emergency, with their pop ditty "Fashionable People". It's a quirky (and timely) critique of "fashionable people doing questionable things", and it had me humming along and distracting me from doing database backups and playing freecell (admittedly not that hard).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cash and Dylan - on the same track?

Incredible, but true. The Aquarium Drunkard blog (found via BoingBoing) has a great post up with about 19 tracks from three 1969 sessions between American folk legends Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. All are free to download, and four of them are "quadraphonic" mixes. What that means, I'm not sure, but it sounds great!

To tell the truth, I'd never been a real fan of Dylan (I know - apostasy), having grown up listening to my mom's records (and therefore determining it to be very un-cool), and had not really noticed Cash until he did the incredible cover version of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt", which is much better than the original.

This collabo, however, is just too good to pass up. Check it out here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

MMW @ El Rey

Last night I had the pleasure of taking in a show at one of my favorite venues here in LA: the El Rey Theatre. It's a cozy little joint with two fully stocked bars, a grill on the side, plenty of open space in front of the stage, beautiful chandeliers flying overhead, and a plethora of good music streaming through. 

Last night was some particularly good music in the form of the tonal triumvirate Medeski, Martin, and Wood

I was a bit worried about getting into the venue at first. I was running late, and by the time I got there the line was fairly long. I rushed and grabbed the first lot I could find (a $15 parking garage east of the venue. From what I hear there is an $8 one across the street, I recommend you go there or find street parking). But the fates smiled upon me as I quickly scalped a ticket for $20. Anyhow, onto the music. 

When I first heard they were playing in LA I was stoked, as I hadn't seen them since sophomore year in college, in fact I didn't even know they were still around. Shows what I know. Apparently they've released three albums this year. Three! So needless to say they pillaged from those three, as I didn't recognize any tunes. But really, I could care less. Everything that came out of the trio was fun, danceable, and amazing. I honestly think they could play on a bunch of rocks and somehow produce rad tunes. This theory was nearly tested at one point when Wood and Medeski grabbed cow bells, and Martin grabbed his tambourine. This percussion jam lasted about five minutes, and they never skipped a beat. (Although I was very sick of hearing "More Cowbell" about fifty times). 

At the end of the show they thanked everyone for the amazing energy (it definitely was a lively and fun crowd), as they opened up a killer encore. Bottom line, great show. If you've never seen Medeski, Martin, and Wood go check them out. Expect some crazy experiments in their mad music lab. But once you've heard them transform a chaotic blend of noise seamlessly into a thick jazzed laden rhythm you'll be hooked.

Blowing up the spot

We all know that the internet (created by Al Gore) is for porn. But a handy side-effect of all that smut-trafficking is that it is now easier than ever to find out what's tearing dance floors apart in some of the hippest clubs in the world. This is the kind of stuff you only hear about years later, when it has finally made its way into the latest Ministry of Sound triple disc set or some other compilation.

Well, now YOU can be in the know pretty much as soon as the files are saved. Mad Decent Worldwide radio is on the cusp of anything and everything that is waaaay over your head. Go to their website right now - don't wait - and download everything on the first page of blog entries (all free) and you will be dipping a toe into what's coming. For those that need genres to inform their musical choices, this will break your addiction.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Led Zeppelin Notes

I love my XM radio. Recently I found out that XM and Sirius finally merged, and as a result my entire channel selection is mixed up now. Figuring out the new stations today I "rambled" across XM 39 which is an all Led Zeppelin station. Needless to say, a great find. I haven't actually listened to Led Zeppelin in awhile, so it was a great to listen to some old favorites and discover some new music. Here are a few thoughts on Led Zeppelin. 

• Apparently they're trying to stage a come-back tour, with our with-out Plant. Count me in!

• I do like "Kazmir", but I think it's a bit of an overrated song. Even more so after Diddy sampled it. 

• I don't like "Rock and Roll" anymore. Ever since they sold out to that dumb car commercial that's all that goes through my head when I think of it. Thanks for ruining it for me Cadillac. 

• I know "Ramble On" is about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I still like to pretend it's about a rambler. 

• I always thought "Stairway to Heaven" was a weird choice for a slow dance song in middle-school. It was nice until the end jam part, then you just awkwardly swayed to Page shredding and Plant rocking out. 

• "The Lemon Song" is highly under-rated. 

• I don't own nearly enough Led Zeppelin.  

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Barack OBollywood

Sorry, this is entirely devoid of seriousness, but I just had to post this:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jane Fonda's Mr. Right is Mickey Avalon

So, not being the LA socialite that one must be to keep up with the rich-and-pretty kids these days (Blue Sky? :), I've only come onto Mickey Avalon in the last few weeks. Basically, what began as a joke with friends (who happened to be in the band Whitestarr) has now turned into a joke with a website and some very catchy tunes.

Exhibit A: "My Dick" (fan video)

Avalon himself has certainly lived a lot of life, having gone from heroin-fiend to male prostitute to rapper VIP in the LA club scene, and his irreverent lyrics poke fun at life while at the same time referencing many of the darkest places he's been. According to the Wikipedia entry, he's released two albums and a mixtape, as well as toured internationally, though this last part can probably be construed to mean "played shows with friends at LA-scenester-acceptable venues". For now, I think we'll stick to the lighter side of the repertoire.

Exhibit B: Jane Fonda

Bonus exhibit
: "My Dick" was mashed with The Commodores "Brick House", with the result being chosen as a November "Top 10 Mashup of the Month" over at the Bootie Blog. Direct mp3 link here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Old Crow Medicine Show @ Henry Fonda Theatre

So last night I went to the Henry Fonda Theatre  to check out the Old Crow Medicine Show. I picked up on their sound just this year through singles like "Wagon Wheel" and "Tell It To Me". I loved their sound, and I had never been to the venue before, so I was eager to check it out. 

The band rocked out hard. While most blue grass bands don't have a percussion section you could hear the entire floor shake with boot-stoppin'. They played a few cuts off their new album, and of course some crowd favorites (including the two above mentioned songs). The entire show was super energetic, and they seemed to be having such a good time given the crowd's eager responses. And just when I wasn't sure how much better the show could have gotten the band drug out Jacob Dylan to help them close out the encore with a cover of "The Weight". An incredible night of music, and it was especially nice to see that LA has some solid blue grass fans. 

As far as the venue goes I had a great time. Two bars, open standing room in front of the stage, and a generally laid back feel by the staff. Right next door is a bar for your pre-show whistle wetting, and it's conveniently located just off Hollywood. My parking beta would be park on Sunset. It's only a block South, and all of the metered parking was open. Overall a cute little venue with very reasonable ticket prices. Look out for Mason Jennings coming on 11/14.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mashing it Up

I know they've been around forever, but recently I've discovered the wonderful world of mash-ups. I'd heard of remixes, medleys, and samples, but I had never really come across the strict genre/world of mash-ups. 

For those who don't know what a mash-up is, it's basically the combination of various tracks from various pieces of music all placed together to create a new song. Sometimes additional audio elements are thrown in to make the track more seamless, such as additional percussion or synth tracks. An example would be taking beats from Daft Punk's "Da Funk" and adding in the vocals from Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" (making "Another One Bites Da Funk").  If you're still a bit fuzzy here is an excellent video giving a brief demonstration. 

After scanning some mash-ups I've found some can be playful and fun, others transcendental, and even more just plain awful. Some of my favorite mash-up artists include Party Ben, Norwegian Recycling, and DJ Earworm. And a great catch all source is a neat little website called "Mash-up Town". 

Overall I love the concept. I love finding music that opens up my mind, and I've found this subculture has definitely done that. And plus who doesn't love hybrid song titles like "Drop It Like It's a Whole Lotta Love", "Shut Up, American Boy", and  Sweet Mama O'Mine". Check out and support your local mash-up artists, you'll hear music in a whole new way, I promise. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

1 Day away

As Def pointed out elections certainly galvanize this country's creative minds. I wanted to share one of my favorite finds recently. It's a performance by the students of the Ron Clark Academy. I love this clip cause it's an awesome take off one of my new guilty pleasures off T.I.'s "Paper Trail", and it has some great non-partisan lyrics. It's a great reminder that what matters most come November 4th is that you vote, and what makes this country great is that we get to choose our leaders. So like they say, you can vote however you like. 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Election Season Tunes

With the U.S. Presidential election in its final days, it's worth mentioning the amount of fan-generated music that has come to define the 21st century nature of media and politics. From Obama Girl and the Yes We Can video to Raisin' McCain and Vlad and Boris' Song for Sarah (not to mention this silliness), memorable tunes on both sides of the spectrum are now a staple.

What all these things have in common are their ubiquity. We are indeed a YouTube generation. It would seem that Senator Obama has been the most savvy in utilizing the web, as shown through his fundraising success and early adoption of social networking tools like Facebook as part of the campaign strategy. Both campaigns used viral videos to get many of their campaign advertisements out on the web, saving money on television airtime in the process. I'll let the historians debate exactly what effects this non-stop feed of sound-bites, stump speeches, local tv interviews and so on have had on the race, but I don't think anyone would disagree that the impact has been huge.

While I was living in Hungary this summer, a popular tune on disco station RoxyFM was House Music United's Yes We Can remix. Funny enough, most people I asked had no idea who was speaking in the background.

Dead Prez take it (typically) one step further, suggesting on their track PolitricKKKs that "If Obama win it wouldn't be the first black/take your two-dollar bill and turn it over to the back", in this case referring to the myth of John Hanson, the so-called "First President" being descended from slaves.

Finally, from the fresher-than-fresh heads at Mad Decent comes The Vote is In, a free one-track DJ mix of somehow election-themed tunes from Lord Tameil and DJ Tiga. With titles like "Jockin' Jay-Z" and "Head Titties & Ass", I'm not sure what the connection is, other than that we should probably dance more in general - politics is so depressing.