Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Matt & Kim-Cameras

I'm still packing for my orientation in Caceres, Spain tomorrow. Don't have time for a full post right now, but still want to give you guys something. This is the first "jamito-y-medio," Spanish for "little jamandahalf." This deserves to be up here like all other jamandahalfs, but time is tying my hands.

Matt & Kim are one of my musical guilty pleasures. I love music with a message, music with a story, music with some serious meaning; but, I also love music that's fun and makes people happy. Matt and Kim do just that. I've seen the unbelievably peppy duo play twice-once in Pitzer's annual musical festival, Kohoutek, the other at Coachella, playing in front of an audience at least a fifty times as large as the one they had on Pitzer's lawn. Both times they two were energetic with no end, and put on an incredible live show.

"Cameras," the first single off of the duo's follow-up to debut
Grand, continues the good times, but with a little more musical sophistication, with perhaps an extra layer of sonical fun. The two have progressed slightly past the simple keyboard and drums of the first album, but not too much, and promise to bring more music that I'm kinda embarrassed to like, but not really. Hope you enjoy.

Matt & Kim-Cameras ( by jamsfordays

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jamandahalf Presents: Musical Pilgrimage #1

There are a few real musical pilgrimages out there. Walking across Abbey Road in London. Visiting Graceland in Memphis. The Grateful Dead house in The Haight, SF. Woodstock. These are places that will always have a deep emotional connection to us fans, as they are places where fans like all of us can feel closer to the artists that we love.

One of my all-time favorite albums is Manu Chao's Proxima Estacion: Esperanza. Released in 2000, Manu's second album is top-to-bottom jam heavy, featuring classics like "Me Gustas Tu," "Merry Blues," and "Mr. Bobby." Moodawg introduced me to Manu when I came back from my semester abroad, and in some ways, his music became the soundtrack for my last year and a half at college. Like every Manu album, Proxima Estacion is best listened to straight through, and repeats various themes, noises, and sounds throughout its seventeen tracks. Overall, its an amazing album, with a mix of influences and rhythms that showcase Manu's eclectic music.

One recurring sound in Proxima Estacion is an ubiquitous beep, followed by a man saying "proxima estacion" and a woman following up with "esperanza." Familiar to anyone who has been in the Madrid Metro, the duo announce every upcoming metro stop, and Manu Chao takes this sample of the two announcing a real metro stop and mixes it into the album, playing off of the fact that it translates directly to "Next Stop: Hope."

With my girlfriend, I made the long trek today to the "Esperanza" stop in Madrid's suburbs. After waiting for 14 stops to get there, we finally heard the sound that had been played so many times in my headphones and speakers. It was a real treat, and although for most people on that metro, the stop was just one less before they made it home, for me, it was a real musical pilgrimage.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mississippi John Hurt-Salty Dog

I remember when my family first got a cd player. My parents were in starving-student mode for the majority of my childhood, and we had a hulking black tape/radio player until I was about seven or eight. From that point till my mid-teens, a few cds dominated my household, a random medley of gifts and albums of bands we saw live at the nearby University of Florida Center for Performing Arts. We played these albums over and over, with a patience for listening to the same songs that I seemingly lost years ago, replaced by an itch to always find something new. Among the few albums that were on constant repeat was the Best of Mississippi John Hurt.

Mississippi John Hurt is about as classic as they come. Just an oldetimey blues man, singing on stage with a guitar, John Hurt’s songs are about the simple things-his hometown, the Monday morning blues, problems with women-the sounds of regular life on the delta. What makes the songs unique is Hurt’s extraordinary voice. Thick, gravely, and aged with the years, Hurt’s voice is a weathered instrument that plays an amazing duet with his guitar. The two together sound even better live, and the album that this jam is on is the very essence of live, with Hurt making a mistake or two alongside the laughter and clapping of the audience. But in the end, it just adds to the realness of the track. I never did know what a Salty Dog, and still don’t, but Hurt makes everything sound so good, that after listening to this jamandahalf a few times, it’s hard not to want to be someone’s salty dog too.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

JamandaHalf Presents: JamsforDays Vol. 1

Hey everyone...In celebration of us hitting 100 posts with yesterday's writeup, I wanted to do something a little special for our readers out there. We here at jamandahalf, along with our guest contributors, love music and most of us are on the constant hunt for jams, whether they be old or new. I get a little nuts, and am on a daily hunt for great music, or as Moo would say, am always hacking the mainframe. To thank all of you who have stuck with us since day one, and those who just discovered us, I made this little mix of some of my all-time favorites, along with some new tracks that I've been jamming to. I really hope you like this little compilation, and let me know what you think in the comments. This will become a semiregular feature, where we share songs that we love, but might never write about. Thanks again guys, and keep checking back for the next 100. 

Track List:
1. Hot 8 Brass Band-Sexual Healing
2. Brenton Duvall-Against A Mad World
3. The Tallest Man on Earth-The Dreamer
4. Stevie Wonder-I Believe (When I Fall in Love)
5. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones-Big Country
6. Arcade Fire-We Used To Wait
7. Lupe Fiasco-Go To Sleep
8. Kanye West- Devil in A New Dress
9. Bedouin Soundclash- 12:59 Soundclash
10. Julieta Venegas-Limon y Sal
11. Q-Tip-Renaissance Rap (remix)
12. Paul Simon-Born At The Right Time
13. Manu Chao-Minha Galera

Download Here (You need a free program like 7-Zip to unzip it)


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros-Home (Party Supplies Remix)

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have gone from being a tiny little indie band to now being on a nonstop tour that is seemingly intent on reaching every town in the US by the end of this year. If they come anywhere near you, see them. The joy of living that appears in their songs can not hold a candle to the sight of the new-age hippies dancing and singing on stage. The seemingly countless Zeros put everything they can into a show that was my favorite of Coachella 2010, and one of the most fun concerts I've ever been to.

But you will likely only see the merry band once, maybe twice, in your life. And no matter how good "Up From Below" was, songs get old with time and relentless replays on the ipod. My favorite memories to the album have been on road trips with friends, funky dance parties, and listening to it in my room, big smile on my face. Good times. Because that's the type of music Eddy Sharpe and the Zeros make. Music that makes you feel good.

This remix by Party Supplies should make you feel good. Make you wanna dance. Make you wanna walk down the street with a little more bounce in your step.The bass line remains the same, the whistling is there, the trumpet, but other than that, this remix is a complete flip of the original, breaking the original into a fragmented kaleidescope of a song. But somehow, it manages to completely capture the essential essence to "Home" which has made it so popular. Although many remixes want to drown out the original, this remix lets the original shine. And although it's impossible to top the original, this jamandahalf doesn't try to, but glistens regardless.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nas-Doo Rags

After reading that Nas was going to drop Lost Tapes 2, then seeing that it got a release date, I came to a sudden and sobering conclusion. Despite our humble music blog preaching that it's about the world's best music, and having Nas heads as some of our closest buddies and family members, not a single Nas song has graced these pages. And that's a damn shame.

Nas is one of the all-time greats. From his classic debut, Illmatic, to his most recent collabo album, Distant Relatives, with Damian Marley, Nas has been putting out jamandahalfs for 16 years now. Although Nas has stuck true to his roots, he never sounds stale, and almost every Nas bar reflects both a lyrical mastery and technical delivery that puts Nas at the tops of almost every top-10 dead or alive rapper list. Nas's truthful accounts of life growing up with nothing never gloss over the harsh realities, but neither does Nas shine away from remembering the good times and laughs. In both his flow and his subject matter, Nas finds an uncompromising balance from which he delivers his message.

The first track off of the classic first Lost Tapes, released in 2002, "Doo Rags" is a story about enjoying life's ride while not forgetting its tough truths. On the second verse Nas raps about a laundry list of problems facing inner cities across the US and the world: guns, drugs, crime, murder, crooked cops. But in the third verse, he flips it and flows about the good times: turning nothing into something, treating your body right, finding a direction. On "Doo Rags" Nas shows off the balance that makes him so unique, and does so with an unforced ease solely fueled by his authenticity. It's been a long time coming but I can't think of a better first Nas jam on these pages than this one.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ratatat-Bob Gandhi

It's hard writing about music without words. I'm no doctor, and unless it's one of my all-time favorites (like this one or that one), writing about a song without words is what I would imagine writing a book review on only one-half of a book would be like. Would the end of the book make it better? Would adding lyrics make the song better? Some songs don't need words, most do. Ratatat, the New York based duo, get too funky for words on their tracks. The pair met in college, and since then have been making dope electronic music, with a heavy hiphop influence (check out their two remix albums). 

On "Bob Ghandi" (off of their most recent album LP4), Ratatat weave different sounds and influences together while pushing their genre higher than Yao Ming's top hat. Like a classical music piece, the track progresses in movements, alternating between the in-your-face blaring of their trademark whiny electric guitar, melodic string solos, and peaceful piano playing, all over Taiko drums. "Bob Gandhi" waxes and wanes, gradually building up to a powerful crescendo at 3:04. With heavy Indian undertones reflecting the tongue-in-cheek title of the jam, Ratatat show why electronic music is becoming such a force on the music scene. Unlike tinkly techno jams of the past, electronic music has become layered, complex, musical. "Bob Ghandi" is a great example. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Marvin Gaye-I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Ains, a soulful brother if there ever was one, comes by with "one of" his favorites. Find him at a nearby bar, singing motown greats like this jamandahalf. Thanks Ains, you're the man.

Why is it that when we discuss the things we love, people are so quick to throw out the term “favorite"?

Can we not just converse about the music, books, or works of art that find a way to move our soul without having to give just one the almighty rank of “numero uno”? Are we not, as human beings, constantly evolving? As we experience changes in ourselves, do these “favorites” not similarly change?

Perhaps this concept has always bothered me because whenever I’m asked to name my “favorite” movie, band, or book, I consistently hedge my bets with a throw-away line: “Well if I had a gun to my head I’d guess I’d have to say….” (Die Hard, The Stones, Everybody Poops).

I’ve specifically struggled with this term when it comes to the question of my “favorite” song. Everything inside me wants to pick something obscure, something that only “true” fans of music would appreciate, but I just can’t do it. With this there can be no hedging. From the tender age of five, when I could be found running around my living room in He-Man undies and abusing my dad’s copy of The Big Chill soundtrack, nothing has ever managed to move me like "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."

Everyone knows Grapevine (or at least everyone I want to know), whether it be Gladys Knight’s gospel foot-tapper, Creedence’s eleven minute bayou jam session, or “I know we’re cute, but please eat us” version turned in by the California Raisins. However, none of these can touch the sheer heartfelt force of Gaye’s proclamation of romantic deception. From the piano line (which manages to chill your spine while it moves your hips) to the silky smooth wail that seems to come straight from a lover’s trampled heart, Marvin all but guarantees that no one will sneak behind his back again. Grapevine is one of those classic tunes that can instantly snap you out of whatever funk you might happen to be in. It’s as if a zombie-version of Gaye is patting you on the back and letting you know he feels what you’re going through, but now it’s time to boogie.

Truth be told, I chose Grapevine as my next jam-and-half for the same reason I chose (and will continue to) my previous entries: it makes me want to jump on a table, shake my ass, and sing as if I know what I’m doing. As anyone who’s ever shared a drink (or six) with me can attest, each sip I take is just another tick on the clock before I bust out into song. And who knows? Maybe my next one will be my favorite.

Click here to download

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wyclef Jean-Baby

Oooooo. Now this is a jamandahalf for all you lovers out there. Before he was trying to run to be Haiti’s president (up there with the worst jobs in the world), Wyclef Jean was making jams for days and days. Starting off with the legendary Fugees, Wyclef’s solo career has somewhat surprisingly eclipsed Lauryn’s (drugs and a hatred for white people) and Pras’ (not too many recording studios in jail). Starting off with the classic The Carnival, Wyclef has been consistently been putting out dope albums for years, and never shies away from getting funky in different genres and languages. Wyclef also puts on the livest show you’ll see. Two years back a big group of us saw him at the House of Blues in LA. He got the crowd to take their shoes off and Moose hit him in the face with a sock. Wyclef loved it, and soon was drenched in a sock storm and played the rest of the night to a sockless crowd. But that’s a story for Moose to tell.

Today’s story is about “Baby,” a song that is rich in the tradition that is baby-making music. In his best falsetto, Wyclef lets his baby know that they are going to get down to Marvin Gaye, the Isley Brothers, Teddy Pendergrass, Smokey Robinson-the greats of this timeless genre. But this song isn’t just about talking about the greats; this song is about taking the genre to new heights. Dripping with cheesy lines crooned over an instantly timeless beat, “Baby” shows Wyclef talents of taking a genre, making it his own, while always staying true to the original sound. Sing this one out loud to your baby, you won’t regret it.

 Wyclef Jean - Baby by jamsfordays

Friday, September 10, 2010

There's no better way to listen to music than live. Surrounded by your best buddies, after a few beers, everything sounds better: the drums hit harder, the bass rattles more, the emotions are more raw; there's simply no comparison.

Luckily over the past years Moodawg and myself have seen some really dope shows in and around LA, but most of the time, we would luck out and happen to hear from a buddy that one of our favorites are coming to town. Two years back, the official Rock the Bells press conference was held in the small Hip Kitty lounge in Claremont and had performances by A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jay Electronica, Raekwon, Pharcyde, MC Supernat, Wale...Had no idea until I grimly watched videos from it on the blogosphere the next day.

The first inaugural WebsiteandaHalf was made to help with that exact problem. With Songkick, you can add your favorite artists to your profile or let it do the work by downloading a small program that searches your itunes. You tell it what cities you'd be willing to travel to, and it will give you a personalized calendar of when every artist in your Itunes is coming anywhere near you. No need to check ticketmaster every few weeks, the site keeps you updated until December, and also will email you when new concerts come up. There aren't too many shows in Extremadura, Spain (where I'll be teaching English this year), but through Songkick, I found that The Tallest Man On Earth is coming to Madrid December 1st. Buckets. Check it out at

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Luis Prima-Buona Sera

Only eight lines long, Luis Prima's "Buona Sera" manages to both tell a story, exude raw emotion, and capture the sound of an era perfectly. Telling the quick story of a man proposing to his lady in Naples, Luis Prima injects so much energy and life into the song and lyrics that its hard not to want to pull your signorina close to ya and cut a rug to this jam. If only a simple story about love, this song wouldn't make it what it is. But throw in a mean trumpet solo, the best backup singers this side of the I Threes, and an infectious joie de vivre, and you got yourself a jamandahalf.

I only knew "Buona Sera" as a standalone jam, but reading into Prima's history, you really get a sense of who the man behind the jam is. Prima, a Sicilian-American, was a presence in the music scene for five decades and adapted to rapidly changing musical styles. Impossible to think of today, Prima had a jazz band in the 1920s, a swing outfit in the 30s, a big band in the 40s, a Vegas show in the 50s, and a pop band in the 60s. All the while, Prima infused whatever he did with a gregariousness that is easily apparent on the track. Prima also dabbled with movies, making appearances in Hollywood flicks with Bing Crosby, and women (Prima had five wives). If you think you've heard Prima's voice before, it's because you probably have: he was the voice of King Louie in the Jungle Book, a classic flick if there ever was one. A man who seemingly lived a life of relentless energy, Prima made a bonafide classic with this track.

  Louis Prima - Buona Sera by jamandahalf

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ceu - Grains de Beaute


Willy is a master of style and wit.  He has honed his craft meandering the lost jungles of Boliva, hustling the gullies of South East Asia, and most of all keeping it really real on the streets of his hometown in Boston.  Old Willy Dimes is currently a working as a freelance journalist and writer.  Much love to Will and may we hear from him again soon.

Let me begin by saying that Brazilian artist Céu’s saucy, sultry voice is hauntingly good; she lays down that hot honeylava that seeps into your very soul. The São Paulo native came onto the scene in 2005 when she released her self-titled debut album. While Céu was unreal—and at a discounted $6.99 on iTunes, quite a steal—Céu’s second album is even more polished and even more mind-blowingly good. This time around, her second effort, Vagarosa (2009), is so consistently superb throughout that you’d be hard-pressed to select any single track as superlative to the rest. With an easy confidence, Céu navigates the diverse sounds of jazz, bossa nova, and Brazilian soul, often integrating into a single track the myriad genres she’s already mastered.

As a testament to her ever-increasing celebrity, Reuters published a 2007 Céu interview beneath the headline, “Singer Ceu brings sexy back to Brazilian music.” Now, I was completely unaware that Brazilian music ever lacked sexiness, nor that it was in great need for a sultry new voice on the bossa nova scene—but if that was indeed the case, then Céu has certainly upped the ante. Her voice simply oozes sex, and her tunes are as alluring as a young Elaine Benes.

Not unlike that of her contemporary, Bebel Gilberto, Céu’s lilting voice brings to mind all of the obvious clichés: sipping caipirinhas beachside, at ease in a warm sea breeze, as you watch dark skinned Brazilian beauties float on by from behind dark shades. But all clichés aside, her tunes are something more complex – a soundtrack suitable for a weekend affair in Rio with one of the aforementioned dark skinned beauties.

On certain tracks — or Jamandahalfs, if you will — her voice is so soulful it pains. On Grains de Beauté, the Brazilian songstress drops an effortlessly mellifluous melody set against a minimalist bass line and punctuated by sporadic horn bursts. Céu’s haunting vocals range from the deeply sensual to the softly-moaning-high-pitched-whisper, replete with melancholy lust throughout. In Grains, she asks her lover to trace and connect each of body’s spots. Now, my Portuguese is somewhat limited, but Grains transcends translation because desire is, apparently, universal.

Wilson "Che, Boludo, Machete, Gatao, Dimes" Nichols

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ben Harper-The Three of Us

Master lyricists have complete control over their flows. Master musicians push their instruments to the upper echelons. But only a few performers out there can make their instruments sing.

On “The Three of Us,” Ben Harper pushes his slide guitar to sing a soulful tune, a tune so beautiful that words would only weigh it down. In place of lyrics, Harper builds a canvas that we project ourselves onto. “The Three of Us” can feel as somber as any out there and can mold itself into a sorrowful lament; or its powerful picking can project confidence and inspire strength. The interplay of the two guitars towards the middle of the two and a half minute song really makes this a jamandahalf. The two guitars dance together so well, it is almost as if they are the same magical instrument; one setting the pace, the other pushing its boundaries, together holding the song in harmony.

Once I wrote a paper while listening to this song on repeat. It was hard to tell when the song began and ended and began once more. In some ways, it became a jam that we all hope for. The one that never ends.

  Ben Harper - The Three Of Us by jamsfordays

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Kanye & Jay Z-Power (Remix)

Some rappers find a niche. A groove. Make the same sounding music for years and years. Talk about the same subjects, stick to the same flow, have similar beats by the same five producers. They ride comfortably for years until they finally fade into rap oblivion. They say do what you do best, and rappers like Juvenile and Busta Rhymes have done just that, and made careers of it.

Say what you will about Kanye, regardless of whether you like him or not, but he is anything but predictable. Whether it be his videos, award show wearits, or style, Kanye has shown an almost ravenous pursuit of doing what is not expected of him. With his classic debut album College Dropout (just gets better and better with age), Kanye introduced himself to the world as a  rapper/producer who has the ability to chef up dope beats from classic soul, blues, and jazz samples (even reworking a jamandahalf by a gay British guy and making it his own). Three albums later (including his experimental 808’s and Heartbreaks) Kanye is at a crossroads of his career.

Luckily all signs point to great things from Mr. West. On his untitled fifth album, Kanye has worked with everyone from Jay-Z to Bon Iver, experimenting with his own talents, and shifting hip hop’s direction at the same time. The “Power” remix is Kanye pulling off his gloves and taking it to the rap game. Proving his point that he can “rap with Jigga,” Kanye drops three fire verses with three different flows, a lyrical roulette. On the third verse, Ye gets crazier than a Tea Party convention, flowing on top of a frenzied beat with a classic Jock Jam sample. From a rapper who easily could have easily taken his millions and made ambient autuned tunes the rest of his life, seeing his fire and drive is refreshing.

  Power (rmx) f. Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz by jamsfordays

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Tallest Man on Earth-King of Spain

Tapas, sangria, and churros are dancing around my head right now, grooving to the sounds of a symphony of acoustic guitars playing at the subterranean Meson de la Guittara near Plaza Mayor in Madrid. A year and a half since I left Madrid (where I studied for a semester), I’m going back to Espana (hola gordi!) on Monday, and will be teaching English in a public middle school through a Spanish government program. Maybe that’s why this song sounds so good to me right now.

The Tallest Man on Earth, real name Kristian Matsson, is a 27 year old Swede. Echoing a nasally young Bob Dylan, the TTMOE really comes into his own on his second album, The Wild Hunt, which I have been listening to nonstop since my good buddy, and one time contributor, AMitch, played me some of his tracks. A one-man band, Kristian is a master guitar player, and weaves vivid imagery in between his deft picking and powerful strumming. Like the Scandinavian countryside where I am this week, his songs are sparse, but full of life; understated, yet complex.

“King of Spain” is a joyous shout, a childish dream, a quick-paced checklist of places, things, and experiences that the young Kristian wants to see and do. A song about growing up and finding out who you are, TTMOE sings that the only difference between him and the King of Spain is a change in name, a difference in their days. Littered with images of the country, this song feels like a welcome return to a magical place.

    The Tallest Man on Earth-King Of Spain by jamsfordays