Monday, April 12, 2010

B.o.B.-Don't Let Me Fall

Well god dern BoB. Since the last time the young Bobby Ray hit these pages, I think it's safe to say that he's certified blown up. His hit single, "Nothin' On You" (with its accompanying impossible game) hit platinum last week, a helluva feat for a 21 year old artist whose album hasn't even come out yet. It would be easy for BoB to put out an album with thirteen Nothin' On You clones and call it a day, but BoB is not that artist. As he demonstrated during the March 5th concert, BoB is not just a hit single, but is an artist with boundless talent who wants to use his music to push rap while expressing himself to the world.

Today's jamandahalf is the first song off of his debut album, "BoB Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray" and is both his introduction to the world, and a plea to ____ (a girl? his fans? his family) to not let him fall. The song starts off with an uptempo piano loop, eventually accompanied by the beat, and then finally by roaring guitar riffs. The jam acts as a showcase for BoB's talents: an effortless flow that switches from one verse to another, his singing skills on the hooks, dope word play with a heavy streak of honesty (mixing swagger with a hint of vulnerability), and a catchiness that never feels forced. These combine to make a heavier song than his first hit, but one that just feels just as good singing at the top of your lungs rolling down the highway. On the first song of his debut album, BoB also revels in his command of seamlessly combining rock and rap, as only someone who plays multiple instruments can (BoB plays the trumpet, guitar, piano, french horn). It's a bold, dope, follow up to "Nothin on You," and a sign that there are nothing but great things coming from the kid from Decatur, GA.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bob Marley - Guava Jelly

Music can get popular for any number of reasons, but sometimes the sound is so good you cant help but love it.  When I think of truly transcendental musicians one man always seems to come to the front of my mind: Robert Nesta Marley. Theres something about the sound, it always sounds right, always on time. Bobby and his band created something so pure and natural that its actually impossible to not feel the vibes. I'm pretty sure it's everywhere; I've heard it in grocery stores in Mexico, bars in Canada, pool halls in Argentina.  Amsterdam or Afganistan, I dare you to find someone who cant pick up what my boy Bobby is puttin down!

Now Bobs got a lot of classics, every one of them a jam in their own right, but this ones got a special twang.  Bob carries this measured passion, rollin along smooth like guava jelly.  Now I've never had guava jelly, but from what it sounds like that must be one sweet sweet jelly. When a Bob song strikes a chord with me its never a cognitive thing. I'm never stoked on the powerful message or flawless organ play. But something grabs me on an emotional level. Listen to the easy rocksteady flavor with Bobby layin the lovin on thick, backup vocals highlighting each line. It all blends together into the vibrations of the world, the sound that makes you feel like times are gettin better. And somehow it hits everybody with a powerfully uplifting spirit. Try it for yourself, put this one on, lie back a little, and roll with it. Sounds like things are lookin up.

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  Bob Marley - Guava Jelly by jamandahalf

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Aloe Blacc- I Need A Dollar

Sometimes we hear songs that we could have sworn we heard before. Like old friends, we hear them and right away feel at ease. Start grooving around a little bit. Might sing the chorus the second time it comes around. Those songs. This is that song. This jamandahalf is a funky combination of an old body with a new heart, a song that is so soulful you're sure it must have been made in a groovier era, yet so current that it somehow fits today's world perfectly.

Aloe Blacc, an artist from just round the ways in LA, has been around for a couple years, starting off as a rapper with DJ Exile, then joining a band, and recently returning to make it as a solo artist. But I'm guessing myself and most people first heard this jam as the intro to HBO's new decently entertaining Entourage copy, How to Make it in America, about two buddies trying to make it in New York. Although the episodes have been largely hit or miss, the intro, featuring this jamandahalf, is the closest thing in TV to a plate of ribs at Red Hill BBQ; it never fails to impress. 

Although dripping with a soul not seen in years, Blacc's lyrics reflect these turbulent times. Blacc sings about a man tough on his luck, laid off, and broke, with his only two friends being "whiskey and wine." All he's looking for is a little love, someone to help him, but if you can't do that, a dollar will do. The elegant simplicity of "I Need A Dollar" shines throughout the song. Although trumpets join in towards the end, I wouldn't blame ya if you missed them, entranced by Blacc's effortless crooning. 

For that dollar, Blacc has a story to tell. And it's tough to say which is more important, a story or a dollar (probably depends on how hungry you are); all I know is that at the end of the day I hope I have a couple more stories than dollars. But, if troubles come my way and I need a dollar, hope you're ready to hear a story. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Isaac Hayes -Walk On By

Some people say that there are times when music can mirror life as it whips and wisps its course.  If that is true I can only hope to have a moment as ridiculously funky as the one Isaac Hayes appears to have for 12 minutes of his life.  Now when Isaac Hayes is cheffin up anything on the mic you know the soul is gonna be spread thicker than syrup on Aunt Jemima's very own pancakes, but this is potent stuff man. This is soul music on the jam tip something serious. The band takes the incredible energy of a passing glance and magnifies it into an epic orchestral portrayal of emotion as a fleeting moment plays out. The beginning of the track is a flood of strings as violins and guitar tango the track up slowly. A beautiful and slow duel between the two drips with the sadness of a someone who has lost the person they loved.  A blues guitar comes in piercing but distorted like time against the smoothness of the violins and vocals, backed by a light beat, an easy base line, and a few weird space noises for good measure. But as the emotion builds, everybody wants in on the jam: the flute player moseys in and out, the horn section starts feelin the flow, and by the time the organ hits, its a wave of soul.

The groove rolls on like heady swells, up and down, rocking on a heavy sea.  Building and subsiding, jumping back and forth between the past and the future right over the top of the present.  While the song portrays a hurt that only love can make you know, the jam brings forth a rejuvenation of spirit in a culmination of funky jammin.  The closing half of the track is a celebration of what was beautiful in the past as a man walks towards his future; all in one tumultuous musical journey.  This epic cut is actually a transformation of the Dionne Warwick (amazing lady) hit from 1964, and appears on Hayes' 1969 album Hot Buttered Soul...yeah its that funky.

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Xavier Rudd-Messages

After a too-long break, we're back. An extended break from these pages has rejuvenated our minds, and we got jams for days to write about. Thanks for the continued support. We love you guys.

As my college days are wrapping up, I have started to notice more and more of the small things, things which I probably would have not thought twice about a year or two back. These little things have been as trivial as going to snack and spending the next 45 minutes talking to a random stream of friends, or skateboarding across campus and saying hey to every other student and professor who I cruise past. But most striking to me, every day I realize more and more how beautiful this campus is. Whether its a sunset I see from my balcony, the way the juniper trees were waving in the outfield today at the baseball game, or the way the dusk sky frames the mountains, I am incredibly lucky to go to a school which is not only as amazing as CMC, but also to do so in such a great location.

I feel like Xavier Rudd, the Australian singer, songwriter, and one man band, could write a damn pretty song about one of these socal sunsets, watching it fall while sitting on top of our roof with Moodawg. I got into Rudd a little while back when he kept popping up on one of my Pandora playlists, and one song immediately stuck out. "Messages" starts off with Rudd crooning over simple guitar chords, setting the stage for his message of embracing nature, and protecting that which is not ours to keep, but ours to cherish. He begins by talking with us, the listener, about our changing world, and in the second verse transitions to urging us "speak out loud/of the things that you are proud" before the things we take for granted disappear.  Rudd is a champion of many causes, using his music to highlight environmentalism and aborigine rights, and "Messages" is a simple but enchanting song about appreciating, and fighting for, the beauty around us before it's gone.

 02 Messages by jamandahalf