Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Don't Stop the Pop"

I've long had an uneasy relationship with pop music. After years of turning my nose up at it in favor of bands like the Bealtes or the Rolling Stones, it's hard to admit that you've had multiple KeSha songs stuck in your head, or that while Katy Perry shouldn't be allowed to sing live, you'll crank the volume knob when "Teenage Dream" comes on.

My internal musical struggles aside, this video is quickly making its way around the internets, and for good reason. It's a mashup of the top 25 song of 2010 by one DJ Earworm, and it's fantastic.

So, I beseech you– no matter what your inner music snob says, "Don't Stop the Pop."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Drive My Car : The Beatles

The past couple of days have been pretty snowy in Nashvegas so we've been listening to a lot of records around the house, one of which being Rubber Soul, the album that followed Help and preceded Revolver.

While it's not a popular opinion, I think Rubber Soul is a better album than Revolver. It's more of a complete piece, whereas I always thought Revolver was a bunch of really good songs that could more or less stand apart from each other.

In any case, I wanted to post "Drive My Car," the opening track of Rubber Soul. There's not much to say, it's a great song– very peppy, Paul McCartney doesn't use his "pretty" voice and it features cowbell. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Musically Inclined's Top 10 Finds of 2010

Every December TMI likes to take a look back at the year and do a quick round up of what was great during the past twelve months. It's also an opportunity to throw TMI's two cents in the mix with a 'best of' list of our own; Lord knows every other blog/site/publication does it. Honestly, it's too much fun not to.

Anyway, 2010 was a good year. We waded through buzz around Arcade Fire and Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack, then Kanye swooped down and somehow managed to land at the top of, if not close to, multiple 'Best of 2010' lists, and at the last second, no less.

Spoon, Frightened Rabbit, The National, Sufjan Stevens– they all made killer albums ranging from raw and tense to densely layered. I'm still getting to know Sufjan's The Age of Adz. There's a lot to sift through there and a handful of listens won't do the trick.

Alas, they are all well-loved artists at TMI, familiar dwellers of my iTunes library and therefore ineligible for The Musically Inclined's Top 10 Finds of 2010, but that's okay because what follows is a list of new discoveries that aggressively laid claim to the "most played" category on iTunes.

As always, here are the rules for how songs can make the list:

1. It can be any artist or band that was unheard by TMI before January '10.
2. Songs have to be good. Catchy? Bouncy? Quirky? Sure, but mostly they just have to be solid. Doesn't hurt to be fun and mildly screwy, either.

Fairly simple, no? Here's what survived the year at TMI.

1. Dance Floor : The Apples in Stereo

Hands down, this infectious, somewhat cheesy dance number dominated my year from the moment I watched their music video staring Elijah Wood. I was absolutely shameless in the frequency with which I played this song. It was unhealthy. Groove aside, I really took to the feeling of nostalgia for something that no longer exists (said the kid about to graduate form college.) Front man Robert Schnieder sings "the dance floor isn't there no more, but my body's still moving. Tell me, do you know, where are we to go when the world is so confusing." Words and music, baby, straight to the heart. Listen

2. 1901 : Phoenix

Every once in a while you hear a song that's so good that you can hardly believe it exists. This was one of those songs this year. From the sonar blips and buzzed out guitar to enigmatic lyrics, "1901" hit on an unshakable vibe. I resisted Phoenix for a long time but Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix wound up being one of the best albums I bought all year. It had that special something that kept me playing it almost every single morning this summer. "It's not a miracle we needed, and I wouldn't let you think so." Sometimes you've got to believe the hype. Listen

3. The High Road : Broken Bells

Here's another example of a song that turned into a mild obsession for me this year. When it was announced that Danger Mouse was teaming up with James Mercer, the indie community collectively wet its pants. The product, a self-titled album of quirky, retro tunes from outer space, was totally worth the change of knickers. "The High Road" is cool in a way that has everything to do with the most deliberate usage of the word. Of course, after going so long without any new material from The Shins, who wasn't happy to have Mercer and all his musical sensibilities piped in through their speakers once again? Listen.

4. Other Hearts : Michael Huff

It's really hard to pick one song off this dude's EP, so I figured I'd go with the title track. Last January I interviewed Huff for the Belmont Vision. Much in the way Andrew Bird snagged an early spot on the list in January '09, Huff and his wise, warm songs were a no-brainer. Melancholic and comforting all at the same time, it's difficult not to return to this album for a periodic pick-me-up. "Other Hearts" is one of the more up tempo tunes. It's really a sweet song. The challenge in writing the piece for the Vision was staying objective when all I really wanted to say was "I'm madly in love with this EP and I think it'll get you too." There's not a video for "Other Hearts" so I'm linking to "Too Far Off" instead. Listen

5. Sleepyhead : Passion Pit

This song officially whetted my appetite for electro/pop. The first time I heard "Sleepyhead" I really did not dig it at all, but somehow it grew on me and represented the greatest musical catharsis I heard all year. It sounded reckless and young. I made it my ringtone. But in all seriousness, this song is a flat out contagious good time. "Everything's going to the beat." Some days that's exactly how it feels. Listen

6. Say La La : Keegan DeWitt

Moving on to a more recent discovery, I heard "Say La La" at The Basement in Nashville during the Next Big Nashville music festival this fall. Initially, I was outside but there was such energy and effervescence pouring out the doors, I wasn't out there long. DeWitt has a great voice. The song itself is really lively– sounds like a whole bunch of people are having a blast. I think we need to keep an eye on this fellow. That way, we can remind people he's from Nashville. Listen

7. Shadow People : Dr. Dog

While I'm typically critical when folks try to channel Bob Dylan with raspy vocals and a mild disregard for melody, Dr. Dog manages to pull it off with "Shadow People," a song with roots running deep into some other decade. The best part of the song is definitely the lyrics. There's something wistful about it all without being glum in any way. Favorite line? "In some backyard, in some plastic chair, hoping these cigarettes will save us." That's a very real and familiar visual. Listen

8. Home : Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Speaking of roots running into a different decade, my immediate attraction to "Home" was how much it sounded like something about forty years older than it actually was. And wow, singer Jade Castrinos has some pipes on her. This song came at a good time in January/February when I was shunning anything electronic. "Home" only served to reinforce my love of raw, rootsy, Americana. Listen

9. Go Do : Jónsi

Icelandic music (read: Bjork) has never really caught my fancy. I've had plenty of friends sing the praises of Sigur Ros, but again, I never got into them. Fast forward to this summer when Sigur Ros front man Jónsi released his first solo album and I found "Go Do" on a commercial for paint. Oh man. The juxtaposition of his delicate vocals and that pounding drum is really intriguing. Of course, I really like the sentiment of "Go Do." It comes off like an awkward verb translation but there's a certain purity of meaning. This gets the prize for most gorgeous song on the list. Listen

10. King of Spain : Tallest Man on Earth

Picking #10 was a doozey. In truth, I could have created a list of about 20 songs including Mayer Hawthorne, Jason Collett, Samantha Crain and the Spinto Band, but I finally decided to settle on a song that is definitely the most recent discovery for me, and one that I think I will pursue into 2011. With that, I give you "King of Spain" by the quirky little fellow who calls himself The Tallest Man on Earth, Kristian Matsson from Sweden. His voice sounds absolutely shot, but his guitar playing is as lovely as the poetry he spins. For that, he gets the final spot.

Here's to 2011.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stretch Your Face : Tobacco

Hip hop. Minimalist. Thrash. Labels cease to accurately describe anymore. Though if pressed, I'd classify "Stretch Your Face" by Tom Fec's (Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman) solo project Tobacco, just wicked, regardless of what their MySpace says.

Dirty electronic music is hard to describe. It can be difficult to pull apart what is an actual say, guitar, and what is some laptop-bred Caliban of an "instrument." Pitchfork reviewed Tobacco's sophomore album Maniac Meat, "Stretch Your Face" 's home if you will, and slung around phrases like "digital decay" and "rusty-hinged drum machines." The writer talked about lots of corrosion and fuzz, and was dead on.

It's odd that something described in such a way could be so absolutely infectious. "Stretch Your Face" has a machine-like quality that's weirdly groove-y. Bring in that random cool, female vocal and this song begs to played on loop.

Above I posted a link to a fan-made video. Can't say it does a whole lot to enhance the listening experience, but at least you get to hear it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas with Kanye

I have to admit, Kanye would have earned my vote for most unlikely to put out a Christmas song. And yet, he did. If you want to hear "Christmas in Harlem," Nah has a player on their page.

It's sure join the cannon of classic Christmas songs alongside Perry Como's "I'll be Home for Christmas" and Sinatra's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Money line: "I'm like bad santa, try to sit on my lap."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Broken Bells on Conan

Saw this post from Rolling Stone via Google Reader. Broken Bells (Danger Mouse and Shins' James Mercer) performed "The Ghost Inside" on Conan's new TBS show the other night.

For background, their self-titled album came out in the spring and I immediately got hooked on their song "The High Road."

Around that time they did a show with NPR's All Songs Considered and talked a lot about the strange instrumentation they used, like a bizzaro old mellotron, to create their ethereal, vaguely retro sound.

Not long after the release when they played South by Southwest, the All Songs crew was discussing how Broken Bells were going to tour and produce those sounds live– it sounded like that mellotron was on its last leg and they squeezed the remaining bit of life out of it.

I listened to the audio stream of the Broken Bells SxSW set and it sounded solid. Now several months later, we bring you video! Watch them pull it off.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vladimir Putin Sings

I figured I already made a "Vladimir Putin" tag a few years ago, and this was just too weird not to post. In this video, the former Russian Prime Minister takes the mic with his very own rendition of "Blueberry Hill." Dude's not exactly Fats Domino. We'll leave it at that, although TMI is happy to hear after all those years in the KGB, Putin has finally found his "threeel."

Heading Down The Beat 'n' Track

Cool logo, no? This is from the Nov./Dec edition with a fellow by the name of Brinley Addington

Writing the last post title reminded me that I'd meant to post about a project I started in August at the Belmont Vision. It's a monthly Q&A series called The Beat 'n' Track (I know, it's cute) that features Belmont artists.

A word about my university– everyone and their mother is in a band/plays guitar/writes songs– so why highlight a subject that everyone is undoubtedly sick of? Well, it occurred to me this summer that these artsy musician types can have some pretty interesting things to say when they're not directly talking about themselves. Hence, The Beat 'n' Track– my effort to showcase the fact that we've got some musical badasses at Belmont, but also get them off on tangents or less self-reflective ramblings. At least, that was my hidden angle. I didn't tell this to the folks I interviewed. Mostly I try to provide a set up and then let the conversation go where it may.

Given that we're a monthly publication, so far I've done four, but I plan on continuing through next semester. Also, I hope someone picks it up next year. That would be sweet. Check out what I've done so far.

August: The Beat 'n' Track with Miss B.
September: The Beat 'n' Track with Cody Fry
October: The Beat 'n' Track with Chase Foster
November/December: The Beat 'n' Track with Brinley Addington

Getting Back on Track

Alright kids, TMI's getting back on track after a few weeks of breaking news, exams and general busyness. We've got a few things in the works this season, including the annual The Musically Inclined's Top 10 Finds to 2010. Look for that in the next week or so.

For now, I wanted to bring your attention to the fact that Amazon is giving away one holiday song everyday until Christmas. The great thing is that if you miss a day, you can go back and download the tracks anyway. So far, Fleet Foxes and Mannheim Steamroller are two of the more notable giveaways, but hey, check out the twelve others and decide for yourself. Personally, I've been keeping up with them via Twitter.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving with Kanye

I made this.

In case you hadn't heard on this fine Thanksgiving Day morning, Kanye West is making an appearance on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. While I can hardly think of a stranger holiday match-up, I'm a little excited.

Looks like Tom the Turkey has competition.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Musically Inclined "Things," For Lack of a Better Word

Well folks, TMI's been laid up sick since Friday, and by TMI, I mean yours truly. In the spirit of not having the focus to write about one thing, here are a few items of interest that I thought were worth mentioning.

- Obligatory Beatles/iTunes post: We all knew it was going to happen at some point. There's just way too much money there. Though, before the news leaked or whatever last night, I was hoping the announcement had something to do with the fabled iTunes Cloud. Gizmodo did a funny post on the the matter.

- Avett Bros in unexpected places: There's a website called Design Sponge that I nothing short of adore, we'll say. While perusing my Google Reader this morning, I saw they posted about the Avett Brothers and upon scrolling realized they did an interview with Scott Avett about his artistic pursuits. Great stuff!

- Speaking of cool brothers: The Gregory Brothers turned up on the Today show recently. Points to the dweeb reporter for the stiffest, most out-of-touch explanation of Auto-Tune. Speaking of Auto-Tune, it couldn't even save the Today Show crew from the most painful a capella cover of "Dynomite."

- You Can't Tell Me Nothin': Apparently some guy put out a book with lyrics from rap songs, saying what fine poetry it is, without ever actually having listened to the songs. NPR sent him links to the songs on Youtube and had a conversation with him about his impressions and the relationship between the lyrics and beats/rhythms of rap. I just thought this was really interesting because for the most part, I always thought the rhythms were rap and hip-hop's saving grace. Then again, one of my mottos for a happy life is "quote Kanye whenever possible."

- Make it stop: Pop is so much better than it was in the 90s. Evidence: I can't get this song out of my head. I'm mildly ashamed, but mostly perplexed by why it works at all. Stupid Glee. I think I will be blogging about the value of a solid pop song very soon. Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Katy Perry-- your credibility will suffer death by cotton candy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise : Avett Brothers

Just to drop a quick line, I finally picked the Avett Brothers' last album I and Love and You this weekend. It's been on my list a while. I first heard about them in 2007 around the time their album Emotionalism came out. It was this summer though, that I really started to dig the North Carolinian trio. Their Bonnaroo performance (Not that I was there. Thank you Youtube and NPR.) was so energetic and so entertaining. I think I played it back a several times over the next few days. When cheap synth and poorly-used Auto-Tune threaten to overtake us all, it's bands like the Avetts whose sound keeps us grounded.

Anyway, here's a video they put out this summer for "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise." Take a look if you're not already quite captivated by these guitar/piano/upright bass/banjo-playing/foot-stomping fellows.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Sound of Settling : Death Cab for Cutie

As obvious as it may sound, the older I get, the more certain bands, albums or songs make sense to me. The National is a good example. Boxer is one of my favorite albums. I know I appreciate it more than I did as a freshly-graduated high schooler and I know I'll appreciate it even more when I'm 30. There can hardly be a better occurrence than a band that grows up with you.

Death Cab for Cutie works that way for me too, but maybe in a different way. Lord knows I've written about them ad nauseum, but its hard not to after repeated realizations that there's a line in a song that sums up perfectly what I'm thinking. (And no, I could not really use a wish right now.)

Example: These days whenever one of my friends get engaged, (and man, are they getting engaged) I like to have a ceremonial playing of "I Was Once A Loyal Lover," chiefly for the lines that say "All my friends are forward thinking, getting hitched and quitting drinking. I can feel them pulling away as I'm resigned to stay the same." Cheers, right? It's great stuff.

Today I figured out that a thought I'd been trying to condense into a tidy phrase was already hanging out in Death Cab's "The Sound of Settling." Partly, I think it's a testament to the songwriter. While the lyrics v. music debate rages on, I think I'll continue to put put my faith in words.

In any case, check out the video. 1:55 is probably the best part of any given music video I've ever seen.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tonight: Bob Dylan

The past several weeks have been downright stellar in terms of live music. Between the many bands of Next Big Nashville and The National, tonight's Bob Dylan concert at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashvegas will be the cherry on top.

Going in, I know that a Dylan concert isn't going to be like hitting shuffle on my small collection and sitting back to enjoy. I know its going to be more a matter of an auditorium of people crowded around this little old guy-- and we'll be infringing on his world.

I'm not expecting to hear "Like a Rolling Stone," at least in any recognizable form. I'm not even expecting to be able to understand what he's saying half the time. I'm expecting to see Bob Friggin' Dylan and his beady eyes peering out over the audience, and man am I excited.

Thought that was worth mentioning.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Walked : Sufjan Stevens

A quick word. Sufjan Steven's upcoming album The Age of Adz is set to be released Oct. 12 (Hey! That's tomorrow!) and I had a few fleeting moments at work today to hear it streaming on NPR. I didn't get all the way through, but I made it to "I Walked," which so far is my favorite track. Upon Googling, I realized that my alter ego-- the Hyde to my Jekyll, if you will, apparently downloaded it for free off his Band Camp site and immediately forgot. How do I put this-- song is fantastic.

It's definitely a different feel from Sufjan Stevens's other records. Stephen Thompson from NPR described the sound as being less "precious." I think that's a really good way to put it. It's more electronic-- drum machines and all that business. At the same time though, there are parts of this song that have that "precious" feel that we've come to know and love from Stevens.

While part of me is intimidated at the 25-minute track that closes out the album, I think I want to pick up The Age of Adz anyway. I'm just thinking that my collection needs these sounds in it. Guess we'll see.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Discoveries in The Basement: Keegan DeWitt

Here's my musical tip of the week. I've gotten to go to some shows for Next Big Nashville here in fabulous Nashvegas over the past few days. I've seen some pretty good acts. Yeasayer, for one was quite experience-- a potentially seizure-inducing experience, but enjoyable nonetheless. Only being mildly familiar with them, they were all kinds of unexpected. Kopecky Family Band also ripped it up pretty thoroughly Friday night at the Mercy Lounge. It was indie catharsis and they definitely busted out into the "Bed Intruder" song-- you can hardly beat that.

That said, one of my best discoveries from the past twoish days was Keegan DeWitt at The Basement on Thursday night. Sadly, I didn't get to hear the entire set with great attention because technically I was working (here's to journalism!), but what I heard was pretty fantastic. They brought a really infectious energy. Case in point: "Say La La." If you listen to nothing else on his MySpace page, listen to that song and just try to move on with your life. You will be back.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On a More Credible Note... More Dr. Dog

I had heard about Dr. Dog's video for "Shadow People," but hadn't actually seen it for myself until just now. It's pretty strange-- old people in a skating rink circling the band in the middle. The lesson here? Don't underestimate your grandparents, folks.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Floating VIbes : Surfer Blood

First heard about Surfer Blood around the time SXSW was getting going this spring. They're a five-person band from West Palm Beach, Florida. I really like their sound, it's mildly retro without being distracting. The whole song buzzes and floats true to its name. The video is pretty cool too, I mean I fully support making fun of bad local television. Nice to know that cheap lawyer commercials aren't exclusive to Nashvegas.

Monday, September 6, 2010

NPR Streams New Album by The Bad Plus

I always wondered, The Bad Plus what?

The Musically Inclined doesn't cover much jazz, but I feel it's worth mentioning that NPR's All Songs Considered is streaming the new album Never Stop by The Bad Plus. The Bad Plus is great. I first stumbled on their jazz rendition of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." What's not to love? I greatly love a lot of different types of jazz from different periods, but The Bad Plus meets me in a good place in current time. If you've never heard them, definitely give this new album a listen, it's pretty good.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Paste Magazine - A Lament

Yesterday was not a happy day. I was in the newspaper office when when I saw three words come through on my Google Reader. Paste is Dead.

Editor Josh Jackson posted this bare bones announcement on the website. After struggling to keep their heads above water, the debt was just too much, even after the incredible "Save Paste" campaign last year. The economy has been too bad for too long.

As a loyal subscriber for the last five years, losing Paste feels like losing a good friend. It's hard to explain getting so attached to a magazine, but as a journalism major raised around the magazine industry with hopes of someday writing for a music magazine, this is a tough blow. But forget me. From a new media perspective, you couldn't find fault with a thing Paste has done, from producing multimedia content and diversifying revenue streams, to carving out a place in social media. They did everything that's supposed to save us. A year ago, I shuddered to think of Paste folding because I felt that if they couldn't survive there wasn't any hope left for magazines.

Paste was the reason I started this blog.

They will be greatly missed. Every issue was so intelligent, outstanding on every level-- the writing, the page design-- even from a tactile standpoint, the matte cover was perfect for the magazine's aesthetic. Of course, there were all the bands that I heard about first from the pages of Paste, or from their expertly curated sampler CDs.

In the end, I don't have enough words to fully articulate was a loss this is for music journalism, how sad I am, how much I will miss receiving the issue, or how sick I feel for all the folks who no longer have jobs. No one is guaranteed fairness, that doesn't make it sting any less.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Shadow People : Dr. Dog

Apologies for the silence, I've been tied up in a variety of time-consuming activities including studying for the GRE. Trust me, it's been magical. Anyway, today I'm taking said GRE but couldn't help but post the song that played in my head on loop last night as I tried (desperately) to sleep. I should be mad, but this song is just too good. Check out "Shadow People" by Philadelphia-based indie rock band, Dr. Dog.

Friday, July 30, 2010

If You Have Free Time and Some Spare Silicone

If I had the time, energy, supplies, or guts to pour some sort of warm mystery mixture over my precious records, this would be an interesting experiment.

Gizmodo posted about how to pirate record-- not the easiest process in the world, and I'm sure the sound quality takes a hit, but it's kinda cool anyway. Will say this though, I bet it gets all those pesky dust particles out of the grooves. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Radiohead is Toying with Our Emotions

Good grief, we haven't had this sort of emotion turmoil and ambiguity since high school. Paste posted this article today, saying that Radiohead might not be ready-- oh, what were Ed O'Brien's exact words, "in a matter of weeks." Oops.

The band is stepping out of the studio until late summer-ish (they say that now), so expect... an album... maybe... at some point... in the future.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crossfire : Brandon Flowers

Let me see if I can explain this. So, Charlize Theron rescues Brandon Flowers, who's bloodied and tied up in this warehouse, but he's dressed like he just escaped from the 1890s, which is weird because she's dressed like Lara Croft. Did I mention the ninjas? Every story needs villains, I guess. Anyway, so there are ninjas, but Theron is such a b.a. that she beats them, three times in a row. How Flowers keeps getting abducted, I don't know. You'd think if Theron was that good at rescuing him, she'd be pretty adept at protecting him too. After all the trouble and sweat, the two share a dramatic glance as Flowers sort of smiles at her, but she just stares back. And at the end? They hop in her truck and drive (Flowers in the passenger seat, p.s.) off into the... urban decay, or something.

I'm sure there's a deeper, girl-power-type analysis in there, but the ninjas were too distracting.

Anyhoodle, all I know is that this song isn't bad and didn't dissuade me from wanting to purchase the album when it comes out on September 14.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Paint the Town Red... And a Ton of Other Colors

Came across this two-minute spot for the Let's Colour Project. It's pretty striking. A towns-worth of people paint all the buildings using just about every color you could think of. The whole thing was shot using time lapse and set to "Go Do" by Jónsi from the Icelandic band, Sigur Rós. (And you were wondering what the music tie-in was.) This is one of those cases where it's impossible to decide whether the visuals or the music make the spot. Take a look.


After posting this I decided to look up the full version of "Go Do." As I was searching it, I was thinking of how to explain Jónsi, and what immediately came to mind was that he's a strange bird. Then I watched the video. The universe is ridiculous.

In any case, it's a fine song. Give it a shot when you can.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

1901 : Phoenix

In the past few months I've heard so much hype for French pop/rock band Phoenix, that my initial reaction was to avoid them, or more like, casually just never get around to looking them up.

Two things changed that. First, they turned up on the cover of a magazine I like, and second, I caught one of NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts. It was watching said Tiny Desk Concert that I realized that the peppy, buzzy song playing underneath that Cadillac commercial from a while ago was Phoenix's "1901."

Commence song crush. It's a really great tune, and cool in the non-overused, generic, sense of the word. It's the type of song I want to be caught listening to. Definitely check it out.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"The Boom Box Stages a Comeback"

I really want this to be true (because it's ridiculous) despite the fact that it's contrary to most music-listening trends within the past... well, really long time. (Dawn of the Walkman?)

Wired posted a rundown of the latest boom boxes that will "have you jamming like it's 1989," and really, who doesn't want that? It's sort of a skeletal tech article-- no explanation for said comeback, but for some reason the idea is intriguing. Perhaps the boom box is at the point where archaic is morphing into novel and mostly ironic. It's a hipster dream. Clunky-chic, shall we say?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gogol Bordello Hit Up NPR

Because I can't pass up typing "gypsy rock" when the chance presents itself. Check out this Tiny Desk Concert from NPR's All Songs Considered. Sadly the video is not embeddable, but you can always click the link! I bet it would be a blast to play with these guys.

The set list is below.

01. Immigraniada (We're Comin' Rougher)
02. My Compenjara
03. Alcohol
04. Pala Tute
05. Start Wearing Purple*

*Sidenote: Heard this song for the first time in high school on the soundtrack to Everything is Illuminated. High recommendations for the soundtrack, the movie, and book.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Game of Love : Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders

When you wake up humming a song you haven't thought of in years, you sort of have to honor that strange occurrence, especially when it's a song as good "The Game of Love" by Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. It's just so wonderfully mid-60s-- the drums, the tambourine, the energy shift in the chorus-- if you haven't heard it, I'm pretty sure you can sacrifice 2:11 of your time.

In other news, if you're curious where I've been/why TMI's been slacking, check out where else I've been channeling my energies.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Adventures in Vinyl : The Record Player

Two weeks ago, I launched a blogging series of sorts called "Adventures in Vinyl." Going light on details, I promised future elaboration after a quick rant on the diminished value placed on listening to music as a sole activity. I explained that my main objective in this project is to change the way I listen to music, or rather, take it back to the way it used to be when I could listen to an album without feeling guilty for not "multitasking."

While not an end-all answer, I figured the best way to go about this would be diving into vinyl. In the past I avoided starting a record collection because certain members of my family may or may not already have enough to program a radio station. Recently though, I couldn't help but think of the warmth of an album not burnt onto plastic or stored somewhere inside a palm-sized slab of metal. Digital files are something novelty for me because they defy standard conventions of space, but at the end of the day I really want something to put my arms around-- a nice big, glossy, square, well-illustrated cardboard sleeve. I want to gingerly slip out the record like it's made out of crystal, like if something happened to it, I might never hear those songs again.

It's only fitting that something begging of that sort of care become the center of my attention at the expense of whatever else I should be doing.

That's where the record player comes in. With modern advances, there are tons of turn tables out there, loaded down with USB ports, radios, cassette and CD players. They can be cold, silvery devices aimed at serving multiple purposes, namely converting vinyl to MP3s.

I just wanted something to do what the record player was originally intended to do-- play records.

Meet the Crosley Traveler Turntable, a portable record player whose fanciest feature is a feeble lever that raises and lowers the needle. It's simple yet specific. When I turn it on, I know I'm going to be doing one thing, and one thing only-- listening to a record. Therein lies the point of "Adventures in Vinyl." You can't put a record player in your pocket. The music ceases to be about your uses for it and returns to being about you making the effort for the sake of the music.

Phew. Still with me?

Well, turns out picking out a record player was relatively easy. The hard part is building the collection. Could there be such a thing as a perfect 10-record collection? What would that look like, more importantly, what would it sound like, and how would you even put it together? Guess we'll see. Stay tuned for my next post, "Adventures in Vinyl : The Plan."


Friday, June 11, 2010

So, You're Not at Bonnaroo

First off, take a moment to note the fresh smell of the people sitting around you. Next, hop over to NPR's All Songs Considered blog. Starting this afternoon, they'll be streaming various shows, including The National's set tonight at 5:45 p.m. central. Check the link above for the skinny on which bands you can hear live-- or hear archived in case you can't get out of that hot date. (Yeah, we know how it is.)

If audio isn't your thing, Youtube is also streaming a ton of performances.

Here's what TMI's going to try and catch:

Michael Franti and Spearhead
The Avett Brothers
The National
Kings of Leon

Here's what TMI's going to avoid like hell:

Dave Matthews Band

Hey, never said the lineup was strong. Anywho, enjoy your air-conditioned, well-hydrated, clean-smelling, hippie-free (not that we don't love hippies, it's the dancing that's the turn-off) Bonnaroo experience.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Adventures in Vinyl : An Introduction


Auditory wallpaper. For the past two years or so, I've been rolling around that phrase in my head. Last March, it finally came to a point when I wrote an editorial for the Belmont Vision about committing to your music library, or rather the way we don't anymore.

The gist was that 5 days of music can fit on a hard drive the size of a cigarette case, but having a massive collection doesn't mean as much because we don't have to engage with it the way we would if it was a physical presence, say a shelf of CDs or vinyl albums.

Partly, I think the value we put on our music shifted when it became portable and digital, something completely on our terms, something that we could mold into our daily activities like cleaning the bathroom or getting ready in the morning.

Maybe it was nostalgia, maybe it was boredom, but I decided that I wanted to change the way I listen to music.

In up coming posts, I'm going to outline a plan I came up with involving getting a record player and crafting the perfect 10-album collection.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Devils in Boston : Samantha Crain

As much as I enjoy being drenched in dubiously-used synth, sometimes it's the simple and the stripped that really beats all. Evidence below.

Exhibit A

Samantha Crain
is a songwriter from Shawnee, OK who released her debut LP, Songs in the Night back in '09. What's great about her song, "Devils in Boston," is that it manages to capture a story and flavor from a bygone era, without feeling anachronistic. She sings pretty well, too.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Music Theory Lite

Here's a cool recent find of mine. While browsing the podcast directory on iTunes, I bumped into Pandora Presents: The Musicology Show. The Musicology Show is a series of short podcasts courtesy of internet radio provider Pandora, that cover a variety of musical topics from the "The Art of Sampling" to "Melodic Construction." They're basically pocket-sized music theory lessons.

Take the episode on "The Basics of Vocal Harmony." Host Kevin Seal and guests Greg Giles and Kelly Atkins from 20 Minute Loop, broke down types of harmonies including tutti harmony, unison singing, parallel and contrary motion, and call and response, with clear discussion and examples of each one.

The Musicology Show won't make you an expert, but it helps dial down the ignorance. The episode on guitar riffs was pretty slick. We all know what a guitar riff is and what one sounds like, but pinning down specifics and learning the language (definition: a repetitive melodic line apart from the actual melody) is helpful for articulating thoughts on a piece of music beyond, "that one part was pretty sweet."

Of course, the real goal is to be able to sling as many polysyllabic music terms as possible the next time you have a listening party with your friends.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Nashville and The National

Forgive the silence. Things have been a bit crazy here in Nashvegas. The heavens opened up two weeks ago and damn near drowned us. Mercifully we had an abundance of good folks to volunteer and start to get the city back into shape. We definitely did not have an abundance of media coverage, but to quote one of the many rallying cries in these parts as of late, we're handling it ourselves.

All this Nashvegaslove reminded me of "Nashville Cats," by the Loving Spoonful, a song that my dad put on a cassette for me back in the day. It has John Sebastian's characteristic, ultra mellow vocals, plus the springy, steady galloping guitar work that you don't really hear much anymore in country music.

Coming from a very different place in the musical spectrum, The National preformed with Sufjan Stevens on Letterman the other night. (Tip via Aaron Dethrage) Mostly, I'm just proud that three years after I first wrote about their network debut on Letterman, they're still going strong and sounding as classy and melancholy as ever. If you haven't picked up High Violet, definitely give it a try. It's no great evolution from Boxer, but why should it be?

And finally, back on the 25th, NME reported that Death Cab for Cutie will be hitting the studio in June and aiming for a Spring 2011 release. This corresponds with my 2011 release... from college.


"Tik Tok" (The Week at Belmont Remix)

Wondering where TMI's been? Here's part of the explanation. Check out the parody of Ke$sha's "Tik Tok" that I did with my team from The Week at Belmont.

Lyrics: Erin Carson/Cassidy Hodges
Directed by: Cassidy Hodges
Camera/Editing: Erin Carson
Recording/Mixing/Auto-tuning/Awesomeness: Ben Azevedo/Aaron Dethrage

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Music. Now.

Patience? Please. Here's a rundown of all sorts of albums you can hear before they actually hit stores.

High Violet : The National
- The album leaked and the band decided the best route to take would be to stream it on The New York Times website starting Friday the 23rd. Unlike the leak, High Violet will be streamed in its full quality. The album comes out officially May 10th.

Forgiveness Rock Record : Broken Social Scene - NPR's All Songs Considered has got the Exclusive First Listen right now, running through May 4th when the album itself hits stores/drops/other cool phrasing to say "is released."

Heaven is Whenever : The Hold Steady
- Can't say I'm not, hmmm.... how to put this, completely over The Hold Steady, but still it's probably worth mentioning. NPR also has the album streaming until its May 4th release date.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

EP Season

Here in Nashvegas the weather has finally gotten consistently warm and sunny. The days are longer and attention spans are shorter. That said, it's what I like to call "EP Season."

If you're anything like me, the good weather hits and I'm far less likely to commit to a 45-minute album, yet I'm still looking for the continuity and cohesion an LP can offer. The answer? EPs.

Here are three currently rattling around my iPod.

The Open Door : Death Cab for Cutie
- The follow up EP to their '08 release, Narrow Stairs, came out last April, but it's got such a great indie pop/rock lightness that it's sure to be a Springtime perennial.

Bobby Thompson Reels, Vol. 1 : De Novo Dahl - Here's a little taste of Nashville's non country side. The EP is built off samples from said Bobby Thompson, a banjo and guitar player who logged some serious hours playing with some really famous folks. He also happened to be the uncle of one of the guys in De Novo Dahl. Anyway, the EP is sort of a departure from their usual energetic, fizzy indie rock. Think spoken samples against cool, oddly-bluesy-for-being-electronic grooves. You can even download it for free courtesy of the band's site.

Harmonia Macrocosmica, Vol. 1 : Sunfold
- This one actually came in late last night thanks to my friend Aaron. It's a side project from the Annuals, apparently. I liked it immediately-- that's rare. The sound is rich and while it's pretty etc. you get a dash of something else sitting under the surface. Darker on the back end is usually intriguing. At least that's my impression so far! There are many more sun-drenched afternoon listens on the way.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dance Floor : The Apples in Stereo

I've never really listened to The Apples in Stereo, so the primary reason I'm posting is because Elijah Wood is in their latest video, "Dance Floor." Lord of the Rings aside (or maybe not), Wood has a record of picking off beat projects to be a part of, so when NPR blogged that he was in this music video, I figured it was worth watching.

Wood plays a middle school science department chair who messes around with a time machine of sorts, only to get sucked into an Apples in Stereo performance. He looks so wonderfully confused and out of place, I'd totally buy he was a stiff, mid level academic were it not for the fact that he's, well, Elijah Wood.

The song's not bad either. Actually, it's quite addicting. "Dance Floor" is off their upcoming album Travelers in Space and Time (anybody else getting a theme here?). Give it a world.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Last of the American Girls : Green Day

Here's Green Day's latest video venture, "The Last of the American Girls." It's okay. It centers around a day in the life of said American girl, and takes place in the middle of a desert. They definitely did a good casting job on the lead-- she just looks a like trouble, but the dancing blondes were a little off the mark. They probably would not have been missed. Anyway, check it out.

Question: How does one go about earning the title "natural disaster?"

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jackhammer : The Spinto Band

Found this song a while ago and meant to post it. The music video is pretty interesting, lots of fast-moving textures and quick cuts. It's reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's video for "Sledgehammer" back in the 80s. Coincidence? You decide.

Anyway, the Spinto Band hails from Delaware and has been around since '95. (Who knew?) The best part of this tune is definitely the dreamy, breezy guitar which makes for an funny juxtaposition in a song about a city, or getting out of one at least. Also, the song is delightfully short. Sometimes you don't need much.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bloodbuzz Ohio : The National

Carrying on in the land of free things, The National is offering a download of "Bloodbuzz Ohio," a song from their May 11 release, High Violet. And you know what? It definitely sounds like The National. You want sonic continuity? Give it a listen.

The Web site gives you two download options, though if you want the higher quality and the artwork you have to hand over your email address.

Tricky musicians.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SXSW Sampler from NPR

It's definitely a big week for music, and The Musically Inclined..... is not in Austin right now (sorry), but that doesn't mean that there isn't a little SXSW goodness to be heard back here. Mainly I just wanted to draw to your attention the free NPR Music at SXSW sampler that's available on iTunes. The track listing is as follows:

01. Written in Reverse : Spoon
02. The High Road : Broken Bells
03. I Learned the Hard Way : Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings
04. Canadian Girl : The Walkmen
05. Girl In Love : Smith Westerns
06. Airplanes : Local Natives
07. Everywhere I Go : G-Side
08. Cleo's Song : JBM
09. Achille's Heel: IV. Shur Landing : Brooklyn Rider
10. Hannah : Freelance Whales
11. Swim : Surfer Blood

The first two tracks alone make this worth the download. In somewhat related news, I have scattered thoughts on Broken Bells and will post soon. Anyway, the sampler is again, free, so I don't really know why you're still reading this. Have at it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Terrible Love : The National

We may be about two months (May 11) from the release of The National's new album, High Violet, but they're already hitting the late night television circuit.

Last night, the Brooklyn band played opening track "Terrible Love" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The power behind the song builds and bursts with fuzzy guitar and horns. Sounds promising. Check it out above.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wavin' Flag : K'NAAN

Last April I had the good fortune of getting press passes to Vanderbilt University's Rites of Spring Music Festival. One of the first acts that performed on day one was K'NAAN, a former Somali refugee who currently does a breed of hip hop (sort of but not really) infused with his ethnic roots that's pretty refreshing.

By far the best song he did was an extended version of "Wavin' Flag" that recounted the murder of his best friends in Somalia and his arrival in the U.S. He captured the audience and held them. It really was a fine moment.

Paste Magazine is offering a free download of the song. Definitely give it a listen.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Th National Name Album, Set Release Date

Winter '08 we heard that The National was heading back to the studio, so surely a new album was right around the corner, right? Just about a year later, we've got a name and a release date!

According to Drowned in Sound, expect High Violet on May 11th. TMI is pretty excited. Boxer was truly a wonderful album and I look forward to another cerebral, intricately layered production by the coolest self-aware-sort-of-adults around.

Check out the website they set up for High Violet.

Other than that, details are few. Stay tuned though, you'll find them here as soon as they trickle in.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This Too Shall Pass : Ok Go

I never got around to getting the new Ok Go album and I probably won't, but good grief if there was a video for every song on the album as crazy as this one, I'd drop this post and purchase that sucker. This is the most complicated Rube Goldburg machine I've ever seen-- really puts Sylvester the Cat to shame. Also, it looks like it was done all in one shot. If it wasn't, I don't want to know. Check it out.

Tech Fail.

Apologies for the long silence. My hard drive died last week and I'm finally with computer again, trying to get everything back to normal.

Until that happens, check out the latest Auto Tune the News from the fantastic people who are The Gregory Brothers.

Also-- NPR is streaming Frightened Rabbit's new album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks.

They're also streaming the new self-titled Broken Bells (Danger Mouse + James Mercer) album.

They are lovely people.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Worldsick : Broken Social Scene

This cover art from their '05 self-titled beats all.

Somehow I say that I never have enough time on my hands to really listen to Broken Social Scene. Today I decided this must change.

They're coming out with an new album called Forgiveness Rock Record on May 4, 2010. I always associate them with the Ryan Gosling movie Half Nelson-- they had several songs in the soundtrack, if I remember correctly. It's one of my favorite movies.

In the meantime, carve out 6:48 minutes of your day and listen to their new song "Worldsick." The guitar is wonderful.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

John Mayer at the Sommet Center

Last Wednesday I had the good fortune of getting press tickets to cover John Mayer at the Sommet Center in Nashville, TN for the Belmont Vision. I'd never seen John Mayer so I thought it would be really interesting to see him and his crazy guitar skills in person.

There was a twist though-- the concert was the same day the 'shit hit the fan,' as they say, regarding his Playboy Magazine interview.

Do I think his statements were horrendous? Yeah. At the same I reserve judgment about whether his "tears" that night were real or not. I really just want to talk about some of the things I didn't include in my write up.

For one, Michael Franti and Spearhead opened and they were terrific. I've been anxious to hear "Say Hey" live since I found it over a year ago. The energy was great. Franti bounced around the audience, letting people crowd around him. I thought that was neat because artists who play the Sommet are typically "too big" to allow that close contact with fans. Also, he brought up kids on the stage at the end and it was pretty cute. The entire set was wonderfully positive and upbeat in an non obnoxious or cheap way-- it was like a Jack Johnson album! That sort of vibe but a little less fluffy.

Mayer picked a good set list. I never officially reviewed Battle Studies, but I wasn't a fan. In fact, before getting my tickets, I'd listened to it under 3 times mostly because of my disappointment. The logical assumption was that he was going to go bluesier after Continuum, not backtrack into pop. He's done well with pop, but I thought that was over. I wanted to hear really killer guitar playing, but Battle Studies did not showcase his abilities to the degree it could have, or half as well as Continuum. Basically, more of the album should have sounded like "Crossroads," the Robert Johnson cover.

Take a song like "Assassins." He's not really talking about murder when he says "you get in, you get done and you get gone." Obviously, I mean-- wow. The metaphor is so contrived and so thin it's painful. Plus, the song just sounds like it was made in the '80s. I'd classify this as mostly a bad thing.

Regardless, Mayer quickly jumped into his older songs, hitting all the big ones and mercifully leaving out "Daughters."

"Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" was killer. It went a long way to redeem him in my eyes after my near total disillusionment.

Anyway, this is my review of Mayer's concert.