Orishas – Emigrante

24 06 2010

Listened: Tuesday June 22

Emigrante is another CD from my coworker Jim that I had never listened to before. I think I preferred El Kilo to Emigrante, but it’s still very interesting to combine rap with more traditional Cuban music. More listens are in order!





The White Stripes – Elephant

24 06 2010

Listened: Tuesday June 22

I remember the moment I heard the first notes of the first song on Elephant (Seven Nation Army) how shocked I was – the White Stripes, known for having no bass in their songs, were starting their new album with a bass line? Later I learned it was a guitar tuned way down, but still I took it to mean, “Hey, don’t put us in a box, we will surprise you.” I appreciated such bold artistic statements, since it seems few “hip” bands, especially big successful ones, do that nowadays.





The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland

24 06 2010

Listened: Monday June 21

I love how the cover of Electric Ladyland is so obviously a sexual reference. I am guessing Jimi has been caught by the camera in the middle of playing his guitar. But it looks like he could also be in the middle of a sexual act. I didn’t realize until now that the photo was taken by Linda McCartney. Nice!

Clearly Jimi was even farther along in his musical evolution and experimentation with this album. More than prior albums, the vocals on Electric Ladyland can sound very motowny – high pitched crooning like the Temptations. But then a song like Voodoo Chile is still clearly blues-oriented.

Jimi is another one of those guys who could completely both transform and improve a Bob Dylan song – he owns All Along the Watchtower, as he previously owned Hey Joe and Wild Thing, two songs he also didn’t write, but greatly improved upon.

I also love the way Jimi makes his guitar sing with him on Gypsy Eyes and the intro to Burning of the Midnight Lamp is one of my favorite song intros ever, which then proceeds to develop into a painting in sound, complete with the music flowing from left to right channel and back again. 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be) also is very much a painting in sound. Beautiful, fitting, and depressing that this was the last studio album he released!





Elastica – Elastica

24 06 2010

Listened: Monday June 21

I hadn’t listened to Elastica since high school and the first thing that hit me was how much this album likely influenced both MIA and Lily Allen. I can easily hear where both of them got elements of their style from Elastica. What also strikes me is how much this sounds like the music Blur was releasing at the time as well.

But both of these comparisons are explained by the “scene incest” involved at the time – MIA and Justine from Elastica were roommates and Justine and Damon from Blur were a couple around this time – after she stopped going out with Brett from Suede. One thing that woman did that bugged me was to undermine her own respect in the industry by going out with famous musicians. I think she was plenty talented on her own, but gave people too many easy opportunities to say she was where she was because she was sleeping with frontmen.

Back in the day, I remember the criticism of this album was that Elastica totally ripped off OG 70s punk band Wire. Apparently there was even a plagiarism case they lost because Connection resembled Three Girl Rhumba too much.

Until writing, I had still never heard Wire, so I went to YouTube to check it out. I agree Three Girl Rhumba and Connection are quite similar in regards to guitar, but there is an extra note thrown in. I am not up on my definition of plagiarism to know if that’s enough. Other than that song though, I don’t see a lot of similarity. It reminds me of how everyone always said Bush ripped off Nirvana. I could never hear that either.





Orishas – El Kilo

21 06 2010

Listened: Friday June 18

My coworker Jim loaned me El Kilo, but I hadn’t listened to it until this project. I really liked it upon first listen. It’s super-catchy and energetic rap-en-espanol over Cuban-influenced music. I’m definitely going to listen to this more!





Audio Bullys – Ego War

21 06 2010

Listened: Friday June 18

Audio Bullys are an odd mixture – I would say they are a more rappy, more direct Underworld. Like Underworld, they are dance music oriented, but with a lot of interesting sounds and structure. They have beefiness in their tunes, not minimalism. Unlike Underworld though, their lyrics are less free-association and more of a story.

Ego War has good energy and a soccer-chant-like quality to the songs that makes me sing along as I’m working, especially to the naughty bits like “What the faaaaaaaaaak!” I had forgotten about this album and I definitely need to play it more.





Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

21 06 2010

Listened: Friday June 18

I really didn’t want to like Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. They seemed like a big group of silly annoying hippies if you judge them on their looks (and don’t lie, we all do it). I didn’t even recognize Alex, the lead singer, who used to be in Ima Robot and used to look like this (guy to the left). Now, in Edward Sharpe, he looks like this.

I figured he had turned into some insufferable crunchy hippie. It actually sounds like he might have been insufferable before and now he’s much happier, so maybe it was a good thing that he changed.

The album is like a mix between Arcade Fire and Ennio Morricone-Sergio Leone western soundtracks (the album cover is apt and Sergio gets a shoutout in one of the songs), plus a big helping of hippie. In a good way. It’s quite positive in tone, begs you to sing along, and every song sounds different. The standout to me is Home, the fifties-style duet between Alex and Jade. It’s so endearing because you can hear the smiles on their faces as they sing and you can feel the chemistry between them.

Their live show is powerful too – at Coachella their set reminded me of Arcade Fire’s rousing performances of years past. So far, they have lived up to the indie hype.





Explosions in the Sky – The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place

21 06 2010

Listened: Friday June 18

Explosions in the Sky is a great name for this band Woody introduced me to. That’s what their music sounds like – beautiful explosions in the sky.

EITS is very dreamy, ambient, and dramatic rock music with no lyrics. They’re reasonably famous for being used as mood music on TV shows like Friday Night Lights. It’s also great driving music.

Hearing this reminds me of when Woody and I first were going out, since it was one of the first CDs he shared with me, so it elicits very positive feelings when I hear it.





Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman

20 06 2010

Listened: Friday June 18

  • Despite being a long time Underworld fan, Dubnobasswithmyheadman was the last album of theirs I acquired – odd because it’s the first album Karl Hyde and Rick Smith released as Underworld (though they had released 2 prior albums as Freur).
  • I enjoy it, but it’s definitely on the upswing of their evolution to the smashing Underworld years, since they aren’t to “smashing” yet. This album is quite mellow and almost hushed compared to their later style. It’s only on the singles like Dirty Epic/Cowgirl where they present some remixes that help me understand how they got to the Beaucoup Fish Underworld era.




Gaudi and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Dub Qawwali

20 06 2010

Listened: Thursday June 17

I remember Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan being a big thing amongst cutting edge rockers (e.g. Pearl Jam) back when I was in high school. Despite being someone open to world music and such, I really hadn’t ever listened to him until quite recently, when I heard about Dub Qawwali on NPR. I get it now; indeed he was a great singer.

Gaudi (who I had never heard of until the story either) is an Italian electronic music artist who decided to mix early NFAK recordings with electronic reggae/dub music. At one point he uses a recognizable part of a Kraftwerk song as the backing instrumentation. All this on paper sounds slightly odd, but works really well in practice. You could conceivably listen to this during the more active parts of a yoga class, but it’s not so slow and mellow that it puts me to sleep as I work. It’s good for those times when I need to be productive, but I’m coming down from a very busy period to a more regular level of work.