Friday, November 30, 2012

Talking to Myself

Yes, definitely, but that's OK, it's good to have a place to put down my musical thoughts and links.

I was in New York this last weekend and heard a couple of things I liked, but wow, how things have changed.  Am I still the person who'd go to New York for a weekend just to see Ellen Allien (check out that mix btw, I'm listening to it and it's very good so far)?  I don't think so really.  The only music I came across on this trip was background music while I was doing other things (picking up jeans, drinking a cappuccino).  But, it still counts, and with the wonders of technology I was able to remind myself who the first track was by and figure out what the second track was.

I'd forgotten how cool looking the video is to this song.  I heard it again while sitting in a hotel lounge at seven am, and the funny thing is that this song sounds like hotel lounge music anyway!  Still good though, very good:

Here's a Grizzly Bear track I like.  I liked Grizzly Bear when I saw them on Jools Holland, playing live, but wasn't as impressed when I listened to them on record.  Might have to give them a bit more time though.  Definitely like the drama in this record:

Just came across this shamelessly retro track at the Guardian.  Very late 80's sound to it I think, but maybe that says something about how forward sounding music was in the late 80's??

Couple of reading links now.  I'ved lived in the DC area since 2007 but never really paid attention to the Washington City Paper (WCP) until a few weeks ago, when I decided to pick it up randomly.  I'd been turned off in the past cos it didn't compare to the Baltimore City Paper, but I've been quite happy with what I'm finding in there now.  It's a short read but there are always at least a couple of good articles in there.  This week's issue has two good pieces that relate to music. One is an amusing tour diary that seems to capture the modern life of an indie rock band pretty well.  I'm not sure if the print version's intro is included, or if this fact was in the diary section, but the writer has been doing this for ten years.  Keep that in mind as your read the entries...  Second article is by Ian Svenonius, a local musician who's been popping up randomly for me recently.  First read a bit by him in Harper's, then came across some more writing somewhere else, then an acquaintance was going to see him live, and now he's on the cover of this weeks WCP.  He only stood out to me cos I found his writing quite funny and truthful, and now you can check it out for yourself here.  I wouldn't mind picking up his books myself.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I am really liking these Detroit sounds I am hearing. Just loving it. I just heard this tune, as in 10 minutes ago, while listening to the latest programme from Benji B on BBC Radio 1. Seems like I discover these Detroit tunes whilst listening to BBC radio.

Here is "New For U" or is it "New 4u"? - by Andres. So good! It has that dreamy feel, that seems to be my fave kind of house/techno tune.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

From Later

A nice perk of my massive comcast bill is having the music channel Palladia.  Why's that a perk?  Because the excellent BBC show 'Later... with Jools Holland' is on it.  If you've never heard of it, 'Later...' has been on for twenty years and is a live music show -- around six different artists are in a studio together, where they take turns playing songs in front of each other and an audience, and it's all broadcast (I believe) live.  It's pretty cool and makes for some great juxtapositions, as well as great performances.  Look it up online and you'll find all kinds of clips from the show -- it's almost like the old Peel sessions from Radio One, but on tv.

I've been taping the current season and catching up with episodes every now and then.  It's great to see some favourite artists live, like Jack White and Brett Anderson; it's also cool to check out some artists I've heard of, or who are famous, on the show, such as Sharon van Etten and the Beach Boys.  Another cool thing is hearing artists I've never heard of before on there and being blown away by their amazing voices, which is what happened last time I checked the show out.  I guess I've got a thing for female singers with big voices at the moment, as both the singers that stood out to me most recently fit that description.  

First up is Beth Hart, who was on a few weeks ago.  Never heard of her before, know nothing about her, but her voice was amazing.  I can't find the clip from 'Later...', but it was a great performance -- it seemed like it was no effort at all for her to sing, and that she was using her authentic voice.  Here's a different live clip I found (I don't think it's as good):

Lyrically it's nothing special, but I do think her voice, especially as I heard it on 'Later...', is pretty amazing.

My second find is Natalie Duncan -- similar in that she's got a big voice and she's on the piano, but different since she has a band and seems to put a bit more effort into her singing:

Again, no info, but she looks very young and seems like a new artist.  The song seems like it may have something to do with 'Skyfall', the newest James Bond flick, but I don't know of any connection.  I really like this track, even after a few more listens today.  

Hearing these two slightly different artists reminds me of another who also had a big brassy voice and was tatt'ed up a bit like Beth Hart is.  She comes to mind as I'd heard her again on the radio quite recently.  I refer, if you haven't guessed, to Amy Winehouse.  'Back to Black' is what I heard a few times recently, and I was really struck by how evocative that song is -- when I listen to it I can see scenes, places, people, in my mind's eye.  

I think you're better off just listening to that song and ignoring the video -- let your imagination do the ... imagining.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Nu Clear Sounds

Well, first off, sorry for the mis-leading title: not everything I'm going to write about is actually new, but it may be new to you!  First part definitely is new though, a new album of Bjork remixes that's currently streaming at the Guardian.  The album, 'Bastards', is remixes from 'Biophilia' and it's rather good on a first listen; I'm even thinking about picking it up, but I think I'll take advantage of this free stream a few more times first.  You can check it out at the link as I can't do an embed on this one, sorry.

On to Ash now, a band from my good old teenagehood who are still around and are on a 20th anniversary tour.  I went to see them last night at DC9, a fairly small venue that was nicely packed for the energetic and happy pop-punk show Ash put on.  It was definitely enjoyable, with some good trips down memory wormholes in search of lyrics I didn't even know I knew, from songs I haven't heard in years.  But as well as the smile-inducing old stuff there were some more recent songs that were also really good -- I haven't really paid a lot of attention to Ash recently but it's great to know they're still around and still releasing good music, while the industry has changed so much in the 20 years they've been going.  I couldn't help reflecting on things like that while I was seeing them, and also on the fact that when I first heard them we were all teenagers -- me, my friends, my brother, and Ash themselves.  Now we're all in our 30's and it was a bit odd seeing Tim up there singing, still looking the same really, but knowing that things like Kung-Fu are now 20 years old.  It was a little sad; I find a fair amount of Ash songs to be tinged with sadness anyway, I don't know why:  maybe something to do with lost youth, or that yearning feeling all their tracks seems to produce?  But we're all still here and OK so it's alright really.  I also found myself wondering about what it's like to be ... them?  Making a living as a band, doing it for 20 years, doing it while perhaps raising a family and all those normal things too but still getting on stage on tours and striking cool guitar poses on top of amps.  It's a bit weird seeing people like this grow up -- they made sense as teenagers, playing this music, but it's almost strange now to see men in their 30's playing the same stuff.  Ho-hum, my incoherent thoughts on music and aging once more.

I'm going to put up a random selection of songs I enjoyed, some old, some new, which'll hopefully serve as a decent intro if you've never heard of Ash, and a nice reminder of how good they are if you have.  The show, by the way, was excellent; great crowd, lots of energy and movement, and great banter from the band too -- they really seemed to enjoy it, even though it was a pretty small place.  I think it served as a great way to celebrate one of the best pop bands of the 90's.  Not that they're done or anything mind; they mentioned working on a new album and touring the States again soon, so hopefully they'll be around for a while yet.

'Arcadia' was new to me and I was really happy to hear that Ash still make great pop songs:

So was 'Return of White Rabbit', which was surpringly funky but NOT crap in that punk-funk way!

I'm going to finish up with two songs from 'Free All Angels', the Ash album I most got into.  These are two songs I hadn't heard in years and had basically forgotten -- until the first chords rung out last night, and they instantly came back to me.  Good stuff!

In case you're wondering, Tim looked exactly the same except he's got a beard that's flecked with white hair (if he shaved it off I don't think he'd look any older really); Rick's got less hair but otherwise hasn't changed much (though he's really really thin); and Mark was slightly tubbier and reminded me of Rick Mayall for some reason.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

the void

I've been going through a teenage diary of mine and when I heard the first line of this next track I immediately knew that teenage me would've related (current me can relate too, really):

Next track got me thinking about the different ways people experience love -- infatuation, passionately, pragmatically, etc.  Are some forms better than others?

That's it.  Look at me, being so succinct.