Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Your Similar Album Covers of the Week - Joyrides Gone Awry

These seemingly random album covers share similar themes, though who knows what/if there's any real meaning behind them. Little Feat was always known for their irreverent/cartoony album art by illustrator Neon Park which often had nothing to do with the music therein (some say they severely detracted from the music). Lord knows what this illustration of George Washington and Marilyn Monroe out for a joyride about to get hit by lightning means. There's no denying, though, that it is brilliant in its randomness.

The Ry Cooder album features another joyride gone awry, this time in a '39 Buick convertible. Again, the cover art has little to do with the music inside, but it certainly tells a story which we can only guess the details of. There's a great little article on the making of this cover over at sleevage.com. And there you have it -- two fantastic albums featuring slide guitar virtuosos, brought together forever by vintage cars in a storm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Treasure Island Music Festival Review - Jambase.com

This fifth year of the Treasure Island Music Festival sported some of the most eclectic and forward-thinking music in the festival's history. And while there were some great acts whose sound just didn't fill the massive setting, there were plenty of highlights. Check them out over at Jambase:

YACHT proved to be the best band I've never heard of, and this version of "Psychic Ciy" shows why:

The Head and the Heart was a refreshing change up from all the synth-heavy bands, getting the crowd riled up with some good old folksy rave-ups:

Beach House also delivered with some glorious sunset bliss-out music:

And Dizzee Rascal was surprisingly awesome, showing off some real MC skills with some deep electronica to get the crowd bumpin' hard:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Your Similar Album Covers of the Week - Special Toast Edition

Hey kids, remember After Dark? You know, that awesome screen saver program that we used on our old Macintoshes back during the dawn of the 90's? Of course you do. They were the ones who brought us the most iconic of all screen savers, The Flying Toasters:

This little piece of randomness tickled the public's fancy in just the right ways, helping After Dark software to skyrocket in popularity throughout the 90s. But few know that the idea to put wings on toasters did not originate with screen savers. Case in point, Jefferson Airplane's 1973 live album, Thirty Seconds Over Winterland (which proved to be their final album):

The similarities here were so blatant (down to the 1950's style toaster) that in 1994, Bay Area band Jefferson Airplane sued Bay Area company Berkeley Systems (the company that released After Dark) for stealing their iconic imagery, originally illustrated by Bruce Steinberg. The judge eventually dismissed the case due to the fact that the album art was not copyrighted by the time that Flying Toasters was released by Berkeley Systems in 1989.

In case you were wondering, After Dark screen savers are not currently available for use with your new MacBook. Berkeley Systems is long gone as a company, and it is unclear who holds the rights to Flying Toasters at this point. I'm sure I'm not the first to say that a re-release is sorely overdue....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Return To Forever & Zappa Plays Zappa Review - Jambase.com

Fusion Geeks unite! What is probably the greatest assemblage of pure musicianship on a tour in many, many years just passed through the West Coast, and I was there. That's right, a set of Frank Zappa music followed by a set of Return To Forever, the greatest Jazz Fusion band of their generation. The icing on the cake was that RTF was joined by Jean-Luc Ponty for this tour, the most rockingest jazz violin player to ever pick up the instrument.

Though everyone amazed, it was Stanley Clarke that stole the show with his mastery of the acoustic and electric basses. The man can really do whatever he wants -- he possesses complete precision and control of his musical universe. Here's my coverage of this momentous concert event over at Jambase:

Frank Gamble from RTF sat in with Dweezil Zappa and Co. for some guitar pyrotechnics on Zappa's "Willie the Pimp," and it was good:

Return To Forever then proceeded to take the stage and rip us all a new one with their instruments, which was also good. Here they blaze their way through "Señor Mouse:"

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Your Similar Album Covers of the Week - Cock Rock

This week we feature two classic, provocative album covers. These two albums were released ten years apart, and not much needs to be said about how much sleazy rock music changed between 1971 and 1981 -- these crotchy albums say it all in a nutshell. In ten years we went from bulging denim to studded leather and chanis: the Stones paved the way for scandal and shock-rock (don't even get me started with their banned 1973 EP), and the Crüe ran it into the ground with their own shallow, over-the top brand, inventing Hair Metal in the process.

It's hard to imagine that Mötley Crüe didn't deliberately conceptualize their cover without thinking of the Sticky Fingers LP (photo by Andy Warhol, vinyl packaging complete with a working zipper which unzips to reveal Mick's skivvies), it's too similar to not be an homage. Whatever their motivation, these two bands were the leading beacons of Cock Rock for their respective generations, and these albums effectively exemplify this in an oh-not-so-subtle way.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Your Similar Album Covers of the Week - Smoking Angels

Ah, innocence lost. What a great theme for a hard rock/metal band album cover. A smoking angel is a hilarious contradiction, working with the fallen angel idea on a number of different levels. Dio-era Black Sabbath devised of this idea first for their 1980 album, appropriately titled Heaven and Hell. This was the first album they released after Ozzy was booted from the band, and was a re-birth for them in a number of ways. With Dio's huge, epic pipes blowing Ozzy's nasal whine out of the water, the band speeds their trademark sludgy riffs into a faster, more energized metal that just kills it. Highly recommended.

It couldn't be a coincidence that Van Halen used this idea only four years later for their last David Lee Roth-era album. They do improve upon the concept with a fantastic smirking, impish Cupid-cherub illustration (a play on the classic Raphael painting), though the concept couldn't have been original after Sabbath used it. Regardless, 1984 sold 10 million copies, so most of you reading this knows this cover well, and have probably never seen the Sabbath one.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Your Similar Album Covers of the Week - Sky Fire

This one is pretty self-explanatory. While the past few posts have been more thematically similar, this one couldn't be any more literal: asteroids falling to earth near a lake at twilight, leaving a brilliant trail in their wake. Bam! 70's album cover gold. The image just has a certain je ne sais quoi that whispers class in just the right way...

These albums were released within two years of each other in the mid-70s. Many are familiar with Weather Report, the hugely successful and ground-breaking jazz fusion group, but the band Firefall has been lost to time, probably for good reason. They're the ones who contributed this little ditty to civilization:

You know you've heard it, the melody is definitely back there in your subconscious somewhere. Most likely it was playing while you were shopping for groceries, or browsing the aisles for slacks at Marshalls. The song fits the department store soundtrack criteria perfectly: non-threatening, bland, unobtrusive, and pleasantly innocuous. Firefall has found a lasting place in society right next to Sade's "Smooth Operator," serenading shoppers around the world into a relaxed anesthesia. I wonder if they get royalties for it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Your Similar Album Covers of the Week - Cowboy Hippies

The gorgeous Old West/Norman Rockwell theme of a bonneted, skirt-billowing dame gazing longingly in the distance isn't the only similarity in these two excellent albums. Both these bands emerged out of Bill Graham's ballroom-circuit San Francisco in the late 60s, which produced more than its fair share of amazing music.

While many know of Quicksilver and their virtuoso lead guitarist John Cipollina, fewer have heard of the progressive rock band It's A Beautiful Day, which was a Bay Area staple for a number of years during those halcyon days. During the late 60s, those crazy Frisco hippies developed a widespread cultural obsession with the Old West that permeated their fashion, art, and music. It also made for some righteous album covers. Thanks, hippies, for your awesome contribution to pop culture.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Your Similar Album Covers of the Week - Marketing to Whites

This week we feature two albums from the late 1950s. Both are seminal recordings of the most important and influential black artists of a generation, and both feature white females on their covers. What's wrong with this picture?

It seems that in pre-Civil Rights era America, it was pretty tough to get http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifthe general white music-listening audience to turn an ear to the "race records" of the time. The solution to this problem was to put pretty young whites on the covers of such records, thus attracting a wider audience of deluded whites, and prompting Miles Davis to ask Columbia Records executive George Avakian "Why'd you put that white bitch on there?" Things soon got better, and subsequent re-releases saw the album covers changed to better reflect the music that was inside. In the following years, Miles and JB were eventually granted creative freedom over their album art, which yielded colorful results. Shit's crazy, though.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Your Similar Album Covers of the Week - Soft Hues

Ah, the golden age of vinyl. It was only during this time -- approx. from 1969-1983 -- that the packaging of records became a real art form, resulting in a product in which the record sleeve's design and art was given as much attention as the music inside (an art form that is all but lost in today's digital industry).

Many record covers in the 70s omitted the traditional glossy shine, opting for a softer, natural cardboard texture, which the grainy, saturated, shadowy-cheekbone photos in these examples compliment nicely. Of course, these .jpegs don't give any sense of the album's texture, which can only be experienced by lovingly holding, cradling and caressing the record in your hands. So head to your local vinyl shop and rub your hands over some classic records, as these are examples of timeless album art for the ages.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Your Similar Album Covers of the Week - Electric Hands

This week starts a new reoccurring segment, in which two existing album covers are picked from time and space and presented as coincidentally similar.

Today's pair both seem to be freaked out that their hands have morphed into unwieldy electronic equipment. The main difference here being that one is a landmark album in the history of hard rock, and the other is a ridiculous, awful joke of a record. Guess which is which?

Monday, July 11, 2011

High Sierra Music Festival Review - Jambase.com

I hope everyone out there in the land of the internets had a grand 4th of July weekend, preferably spent far, far away from any computers or wi-fi connections. I had one for the record books: four days of camping and music up at the High Sierra Music Festival in Plumas County, high in the mountains. There was non-stop music from 10am to 4am, four days in a row, and I did my darndest to catch as much as I could. It is truly the most well-put together festie I've ever attended, and I would recommend it to any music lover. Here's my writeup of the long, exhausting, exhilarating weekend over at Jambase, supplemented with tons of awesome pics:

High Sierra Music Festival :: 06.30.11-07.03.11 :: Plumas County Fairgrounds :: Quincy, CA

The Travelin' McCourys pickin' up a storm among the pines:

Brokedown in Bakersfield was a one-gig-only country band put together to play High Sierra, and they certainly didn't disappoint:

Reggae guitar legend Ernest Ranglin got us all skanking with an epic sunset set. Here Audio Angel helps him out on a cover of The Abyssinians' "Satta Massagana":

Later that night, Ween got us all brown with Skerik on sax for "Your Party":

Gillian Welch closed out her set on the first night with a huge take on "White Rabbit":

Overall, a truly epic weekend.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Criminally Underrated Guitar Gods - Part II

Heyo! Got another half hour to kill? Great! This week's installment of Criminally Underrated Guitar Gods focuses on the more proggy/fusion style players that have fallen by the wayside of widespread recognition. Prepare to have your face melted by some serious fretwork, and you may learn a thing or two in the process...

Jeff Beck

Having graduated from the same school of British blues-rock as Clapton and Page (all three played in the Yardbirds at one point, Page and Beck together for a time), Jeff Beck seemed to be the black sheep of this graduating class. While his chops were on par with his soon-to-be-more-famous cohorts, Beck's musical vision proved to be less accessible than his peers. Beck never strove for the bombast and arena-rock showmanship on the caliber of Cream or Zeppelin, and instead carved out his own legacy of instrumental music, churning out quality albums of blues-rock and jazz fusion over the years. He did score a couple of platinum albums in the mid-70s (back when the public actually listened to jazz fusion), but fell out of the mainstream eye in the ensuing years. His unique playing style (vibrato bar, no pick, finger tapping, etc) is instantly recognizable, and is known to pull sounds out of a guitar that boggle the mind. It's reassuring that Beck has had a resurgence in recent years thanks to a new-found musical relationship with Clapton. He is a true virtuoso, and deserves all the praise he can get.

Jeff Beck - "Scatterbrain"

Terry Kath

Kath was the lead guitarist of The Chicago Transit Authority (soon shortened to just "Chicago") from 1968 until his death at 32 in 1978. His amazing talents were often obscured by Chicago's big-band format, which had a large horn section often taking the lead. Despite this, Kath managed to attract the attention of Jimi Hendrix, who once told Chicago saxophonist Walter Parazaider, "Your guitar player is better than me." Kath struggled with addiction and weight problems throughout the 70s, and has perhaps the most tragic death on this list. Kath was playing around with a supposedly unloaded pistol at a party, and put it to his temple and pulled the trigger. There was a bullet in the chamber, and Kath died instantly. His solo on "25 or 6 to 4," from Chicago's second album, is legendary:

Chicago - "25 or 6 to 4"

Steve Howe

Howe has seen his share of mainstream success as lead guitarist of Yes, and also had a stint with Asia in the early 80's. Yes was a giant in the music world through the 70s, and Asia scored a few pop MTV hits in the 80s, though few actually know Howe by name, and few know that he is equally remarkable on classical guitar as he is on electric. Prog rock has garnered an ugly reputation since its peak of decadence around 1974, and Yes has lost much of its street cred since, save for a rabid cult following that it maintains to this day. Howe still tours with Yes regularly, and with all his chops intact, taboot -- his otherworldly technical mastery is second to none. His acoustic skills warrant their own track, on top of some classic electric Yes freakout-rock:

Yes - "Mood For A Day"
Yes - "Sound Chaser"

Robert Fripp

Fripp founded King Crimson in 1969, and proved to be the only consistent member of the group, which saw drastic musical and stylistic shifts over its long history. He pioneered prog rock and heavy metal with his dissonant stylings and heavy riffage, and later dabbled in electronic soundscapes with Brian Eno, on top of many, many other side projects. What's notable about Fripp is that his guitar style takes nothing from the blues-based tradition, instead containing more of a European avant-guarde/classical influence. His music is certainly not accessible in any sense of the word, nor is it meant to be. Fripp has consistently challenged the ears of his fans over his long career, though he never ceases to amaze with the weirdness he conjures up with six strings. Case in point? The searing shards of sound he lays down on this Brian Eno track:

Brian Eno - "Baby's On Fire"

Ritchie Blackmore

The lead guitarist for Deep Purple from 1968-75, Blackmore was a master of the hard rock riff, having written one of the most recognizable riffs in the history of rock ("Smoke on the Water"). Though this alone should be enough to cement his legacy, it doesn't scratch the surface of what he was capable of with a guitar. After quitting Deep Purple, he formed the since-forgotten band Rainbow, his own project which featured Ronnie James Dio on lead vocals for a time. Rainbow became legendary for its epic live performances, and with Blackmore's lightning-fast fingers at the hem, they crushed audiences night after night. He retired from hard rock in the 90s, and now plays exclusively folk music. Blackmore also warrants two tracks to show his prowess both in the studio and live. His flawlessly executed solo at 3:50 of "Highway Star" is one of the greatest ever laid on wax, while the live Rainbow track is sprawling in its messy virtuosity. Both are awesome, in completely different ways.

Deep Purple - "Highway Star"

Rainbow - "Catch the Rainbow"

Frank Zappa

While most know him for his crude humor and absurdly challenging compositions, Frank Zappa was also an absolute monster on the electric guitar. No one has or ever will play the six-string anything like he did, as he brought his own twisted musical sense to every guitar lick he ever played. When improvising, Frank attempted to create spontaneous compositions with his solos. No one ever knew what he would play next, and he set his band up so that they would respond to what he played. This often resulted in new "songs" being created on the spot. The results were often bizarre and avant-garde, and sometimes sublime. I would recommend picking up the 3-disc set Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar for more on this technique, which is comprised solely of live guitar solos. As with the rest of his music, his guitar work exists in its own musical universe, free of influence from nothing but the genius in his own head (and maybe some Stravinsky).

Frank Zappa - "Easy Meat"

Is this list to your liking? Do you notice any glaring omissions? Feel free to comment...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Criminally Underrated Guitar Gods - Part I

Hey there, got a half hour or so to kill? Great! To start summer off right, we're going to shine a spotlight on some of the lost heroes of Rock-n-Roll -- namely, those guitar gods who never got the real recognition their talents truly warranted, and instead resorted to holding cult status for the entirety of their careers. For every millionaire Page or Clapton out there, there are scores of equally (or more) talented axe-men who never achieved mainstream success for any number of reasons - whether it was musical inaccessibility, refusal to sell out, addiction, or death. Here are a few of the best guitarists you may have never heard of: today's edition focuses on bluesy virtuosos lost to time...

Eddie Hazel

This master of searing, freak-out, funk-metal guitar excursions was Funkadelic's first (and best) lead guitarist, and helped to lay down the band's defining masterpiece in 1971, the soul-wrenching "Maggot Brain." But he disappeared into relative obscurity after that album for various reasons, including a prison stint for assault and drug possession. He died in 1992, and "Maggot Brain" was played at his funeral.

Funkadelic - "Super Stupid"

Ry Cooder

This is a musician who has never bothered with mainstream success, and instead choose to always follow his muse, wherever it may take him. As a result he is impossible to pin to any genre, as he has dabbled in everything from folk, blues and gospel to Cuban and African music. Though he has released many great solo albums, he is best known as a studio session man, having played with every act you can name, including Captain Beefheart, the Stones, John Lee Hooker, and most recently, Buena Vista Social Club. Rest assured, whatever he touches turns to gold, as he is a true master of his craft.

Ry Cooder - "Feelin' Bad Blues"

Peter Green

The leader and founder of the original Fleetwood Mac, Green has been lost to time as one of the most gifted guitarists to come out of the British blues explosion of the 60s. It has been nearly forgotten that while Clapton was being called "God," they were calling Green "The Green God." He was really that good. Tragically though, like Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett, he was an LSD casualty who dropped out of the band by 1970 due to schizophrenia. After years of obscurity, he's started performing again in recent years. At his peak, though, he rivaled anyone in the world with his searing, soulful guitar work.

Fleetwood Mac - "I've Got A Mind To Give Up Living/ All Over Again"

Roy Buchanan

Buchanan was an American blues guitarist with a tone that could break your heart. A true virtuoso, he recorded a couple of albums that went gold, but never achieved any type of real breakthrough success. He struggled with drinking problems and got sober at one point, but could never shake his demons. In 1988, after being arrested for public intoxication, he committed suicide in his jail cell.

Roy Buchanan - "Sweet Dreams"

Rory Gallagher

An Irish blues-rocker, Gallagher was a hometown hero in his own country. He achieved some success in the UK, but never really broke through outside of the British Isles, though he maintained a loyal cult fanbase throughout his career. His clean, furious playing is a joy to listen to, on par with Clapton at his dirtiest. Gallagher died in 1995 due to liver failure, at 47.

Rory Gallagher - "Walk on Hot Coals"

John Cipollina

A Bay Area hometown boy and the lead guitarist of Quicksilver Messenger Service, Cipollina is considered one of the fathers of the San Francisco psychedelic sound - that classic vibrato twang is his signature tone. For years he was considered the Bay Area's best kept secret, and was content to play around locally in a number of bands after Quicksilver broke up. He often sat in with the Dead during hometown shows, and was beloved by local fans and musicians alike. He died tragically at age 45 in 1989 of chronic emphysema.

Quicksilver Messenger Service - "How, Which, Who Do You Love"

Check back next week for Part II in the "Criminally Underrated Guitar Gods" series...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lettuce / Soulive Review - Jambase.com

Need some greasy funk in your life? Look no further than Lettuce, the supergroup of all-star virtuosos which is guaranteed to slap you upside yo' head with a heavy dose of syncopated party groove. Lettuce recently headlined the Fillmore, sharing a triple-bill of epic proportions with Jazz-Funk trio Soulive and drummer extraordinaire Adam Deitch's Break Science. The coverage of this extravaganza is over at Jambase:

Here's a great clip of Soulive rockin' their Beatles medley. "She's So Heavy" is mutha-pluckin' heavy indeed:

There are a million clips of Lettuce getting dirty in your face, but this one from JazzFest 2010 gives a fine sense of the infectiousness of their grooves:

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Devil Makes Three Review - Jambase.com

One of the finest acoustic/Americana acts in the biz today, The Devil Makes Three possess a show-stopping catalog of near-classic anthems of and for the working man. Hailing out of Santa Cruz, this trio has got songwriting skills and three-part harmonies that slay, and when given a chance, are very likely to work their way into your "new favorite band" category very quickly.

I caught one of their two sold-out shows up north in the great little town of Petaluma, which they were using to record their new live album. Naturally, the crowd buzz was off-the-walls as a result. Here's my report back on the festivities, over at Jambase:

The Devil Makes Three:: 05.07.11 :: McNear's Mystic Theatre :: Petaluma, CA

To give a sense of the rowdy that permeated the evening, here's footage of one of their many numbers about drinking, "Beneath the Piano." The camera starts off shaky because of the moshpit that ensues, but it steadies out nicely:

But one of the band's most memorable, sing-along-worthy anthems is "All Hail," which contains a killer chorus that is guaranteed to have you unapologetically singing along by the second go-around. These guys are truly the real deal:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beastie Boys - Essential Mix

So who's excited about the Beastie Boys' new album? Coming a full seven years after their last proper hip-hop album (a long time even for them), Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 is a much welcomed return to form for these three pioneers of cool, especially as Adam Yauch is coming off of a battle with throat cancer. To have these guys still making super-fresh beats in their 40s is certainly something we can all be thankful for, here on this first night of Pesach.

It seems like every time the Beasties release an album, it's considered a comeback of sorts, as their albums come so few and far between over the past fifteen years or so. And now that these guys are back in the collective consciousness, it's time to dust off all those old classics, which I know have fallen off my radar over the past few years. So now I'm inclined to revisit their discography, and re-discovering heaps of gems: deep album cuts and B-sides which don't always make it on to the typical Beastie playlist. Predictably, I've made a mix compiling the best of these "lost" Beastie tracks for your listening pleasure. This compilation is chock-full of obscure pop culture references, sliced-and-diced funky fresh beats, and of course, enough doodie rhymes to keep your body movin' for the rest of the day.

Beastie Boys - Essential Mix

1. Skills To Pay The Bills
2. The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin')
3. Beastie Groove
4. Unite
5. Stand Together
6. Flute Loop
7. Shadrach
8. Triple Trouble
9. Hey Ladies (Green Lantern Mix)
10. The Scoop
11. Alive
12. Oh Word?
13. Putting Shame In Your Game
14. Finger Lickin' Good
15. Now Get Busy
16. The Move
17. Shazam!
18. Car Thief
19. Boomin' Granny (ridiculous)
20. Professor Booty
21. Alright Hear This
22. The Brouhaha
23. Time To Get Ill
24. Rock Hard

Download Link

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hot Buttered Rum Review - Jambase.com

This week's review tackles some pipin' hot, shit-kickin' acoustic music. The bluegrass/country/ rock-ish ensemble Hot Buttered Rum put on a raucous show last week at the beautiful Great American Music Hall, where they showed us their musical stew of pickin' + drum n' bass grooves ain't nothin' to mess with. These guys tackle the Americana of string band music with a rock band approach, and do it with grace and precision. They know how to put on a hell of a party too, said party being documented over at Jambase:

To supplement the show review, we're lucky enough to have a pristine recording of the complete concert, available for streaming or download over at the Internet Archive. This site (which coincidentally is located in SF, in an amazing old building on Park Presidio and Clement) is an incredible resource for free live music and a million other forms of free media. I would advise you to spend a few minutes browsing its database, as it's got everything and then some.

But, back to bluegrass. Here's Hot Buttered Rum doing a pre-show pre-game performance in a liquor store in the Tenderloin before their headlining slot down the street at GAMH:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chromeo Review - Glide Magazine

DJ performances are often hit-or-miss affairs for me, as I thrive on the act of spontaneous musical creation in the moment. But Chromeo is an exception of sorts, a hybrid "band" of two dudes who perform their songs accompanied by pre-programmed backing tracks. The experience is super-fun for those who come to dance their retro-butts off, though it left me somewhat wanting in musical creativity. But apples and oranges, I suppose. The guys are clearly talented musicians if they're cranking out track after track of insanely catchy, finely-honed retro-electro-pop. The fact of the matter is that they have a huge arsenal of sing-along worthy, funky-as-hell anthems that are guaranteed to please any crowd. Here's my review of their East Bay performance:

One element of Chromeo's music that is hard to put your finger on is the level of irony present in their deliberate nods to cheesy 80's music. At first, it seemed that they were clearly tongue-in-cheek with their music's smooth Yacht Rock references (soaring sax solos and analog synths). But as time went on and they blew up, the line of irony started to blur, especially when they collaborated with Daryl Hall himself. At this point in their career, the Chromeo sound seems pretty irony-free.

But that doesn't mean these guys now take themselves seriously or anything. Case in point, their appearance on Yo-Gabba-Gabba:

And here they are in a joint set with Daryl Hall at Bonnaroo 2010 in full-band mode, with a Chromeo-ized version of "I Can't Go For That." (The vocoder being Chromeo's signature stamp on the tune.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spotlight On Cactus - Another Phish Mix

As Phish summer tour plans start to take shape over the past week, it's easy to forget that bassist Mike Gordon is currently on his own big tour with his own band, which is getting tighter all the time. Gordo and his band of merry melody makers recently hit up the Northwest for a number of shows, and have been dusting off some old chestnuts in the process. (Mound, anyone?)

Seeing that Mike and his band are lighting it up onstage these days, I thought it an opportune time to dust off an old mix I made back in 2004. It was originally made to trade and share with other fans at the debacle that we know as Coventry. As fate would have it, I was actually able to personally give Mike a copy of this mix when he stopped his golf cart next to me in the concert field. I chatted him up for a couple of minutes before a crowd formed around us, and learned that his all-time favorite Phish show at that time was 6/20/04, at SPAC. I also asked him if the band would ever perform "Mound" again, and he said not likely, as they had forgotten how to play it (they busted it out this past December in Worcester).

From bluegrass to Jewish songs to straight dirty cow funk, these disks showcase some of the best stuff that Mike brings to the band we know as Phish. Enjoy.

Phish - Spotlight On Cactus

Set I:
1. Sneakin' Sally (12/30/97 MSG)
2. Ya Mar (11/27/98 Worcester, MA)
3. Ginseng Sullivan (12/31/93 Worcester, MA)
4. Mound (3/31/93 Portland, OR)
5. Moma Dance (9/17/00 Merriweather Post)
6. Weigh (3/1/97 Germany)
7. Scent of A Mule (6/11/94 Red Rocks)
8. Wolfman's Brother (12/1/03 Albany, NY)
9. I'm So Tired (10/31/94 Glen Falls, NY)
10. Yirushalayim Shel Zachav -> (7/8/94 Great Woods)
11. Avenu Malchenu (4/18/92 Palo Alto, CA)
12. Uncle Pen (2/20/97 Milan, Italy)

Set II:
1. Destiny Unbound (9/22/90 UMass Amherst)
2. Ghost (11/17/97 Denver, CO)
3. My Mind's Got A Mind of Its Own (12/7/97 Dayton, OH)
4. Train Song (11/20/98 Hampton, VA)
5. Round Room (2/28/03 Nassau Coliseum)
6. Mike's Song->
7. Old Home Place->
8. Weekapaug Groove (4/3/98 Nassau Coliseum)
9. E: Contact (1/3/03 Hampton, VA)

Download Links:

Disk One
Disk Two

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cake Review - Glide Magazine

Cake is simply a timeless band. Whatever they do, it is of a consistently high caliber, and is always catchy and fun. For the past 15 years or so, we've always been able to rely on them to deliver their own brand of dry-humored pop-funk-rock-country goodness.

Their sold-out four night run at the Fillmore was proof that everyone still loves Cake, even if they've been off the map recently. And they still deliver live, playing all the songs you loved in your adolescent days that still hold a place in your heart. The show I attended was an ecstatic sing-along affair, and went above and beyond my expectations, mostly due to the outpouring of love which the audience showered upon the band and their music. Cake responded with a fantastic show, which I got to cover on Glide:

Here's a performance of their recent single, "Long Time." They're as tight as they ever were:

Now compare this to a 1994 cable-access performance of "Jolene," filmed in San Francisco:

They haven't changed much, have they? If anything, they've gotten better with age...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Little Dragon Review - Glide Magazine

The Swedes were recently in town to bring us into their musical world a few weeks ago, and a sold-out crowd at the Independent was there to soak up every second of it. Little Dragon is a strange little band that excels in synthy, detached pop, and though their live show left a bit to be desired, their music as a while is thoroughly unique and worth seeking out.

Amidst all the bloops and bleeps was the soaring voice of Yukimi Nagano, who's melodies soared over the weirdness of the music. At their best, Little Dragon make you feel like you're floating around in a frigid deep space party -- it's funky, but spacious and cold as ice.

Here's the write-up at Glide:

One of their best tunes is "Runabout," and this performance gives a good sense of the unique qualities this band has to offer:

"My Step" included some nice Prince-like synths in there, too:

Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute Review - Jambase.com

Writing about instrumental music ain't easy. Especially exploratory, free-jazz-mind-fuck-fusion. Thus was my challenge when presented with the opportunity to cover and adequately express the music of Spectrum Road on paper. This supergroup of virtuosos has recently come together to pay homage to the inventor of Jazz-Rock, drummer Tony Williams, and the result is astounding.

I caught this band in Oaktown on a Wednesday night, and they proceeded to blow the tiny room away with furious playing, heavy riffage, and cerebral excursions into the outer realms of improv. With this much talent on one stage, it could have easily turned into a battle of egos butting heads together, but the musicians played with sympathy respect for each other's strengths, resulting in a mind-blowing set of agile jazz-rock.

Here's my review of the show over at Jambase:

This is just a small example of the musical boundaries these guys were pushing all night. Warning: this is not for the faint of heart, or those with ADD...

But the real star of the show was Cindy Blackman-Santana, the goddess drummer in pearls. Here's a good example of what this woman is capable of with two sticks in her hands:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Budos Band Review - Glide Magazine

The turn of the new year always brings lots and lots of great touring bands to the Bay Area, and there's no better way to dive into twenty-one-one than with a great big heaping slab of FUNK. That is just what Staten Island's The Budos Band brought to the Independent for a two-day run of deep, dark grooves. Equipped with a four-piece percussion section, these Daptone Records recording artists were here to slay, and they dug deep to bring it hard to a sweaty mass of revelers. Who needs vocals when you've got nine dudes deep in the pocket rockin' your socks off?

Here's my take on the relentless party that these guys busted out last Friday night. Glide Magazine has the scoop:

For a little taste of the fires that those who go by Budos are able to conjure up, take a gander at these here moving pictures. Gamin' on ya!