Saturday, December 10, 2011

Steve Aoki feat. Rivers Cuomo-Earthquakey People (The Sequel) (Original Mix)

The picture is of an awesome Aoki shirt featured on Breaking Bad

Steve Aoki's live shows are famous across the EDM universe for, well, being alive. Hot, sweaty people, mixing with Aoki's trademark champagne showers all fueled by his relentless music are quickly becoming the stuff of legends, stories told the day after with a big grin. "Earthquakey People" is the perfect example of the fuel that Aoki uses to get his parties going, as well as the musical Red Bull you can use to get your night going on this fine December day, wherever you may be. Like the best roller coasters, Aoki knows that most of the fun comes from anticipation, and like his best songs do, this continues to build and build before deciding it's finally time to let ya get funky. Though Aoki's music isn't everyday stuff, when it works, it's undeniable. Hope this one gets your Saturday night going on the right foot.

Click here to download


Steve Aoki feat. Rivers Cuomo Earthquakey People (The Sequel) (Original Mix)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Anthem-Freek'n You


Anthm (previously known as Anthem) seems to be at an inflection point of his young career. Along with a recent name change (apparently due to paperwork; luckily he'll be easier to find on Google now), Anthem's online presence continues to blossom and he recently twice hit the #1 track on the Hype Machine's Twitter chart beating out much more entrenched artists like Avicii. Musically he also has been experimenting with different styles, subjects, and has been getting away from the "mold" which he fit so well in the tracks up to now. Before if I was listening to a new Anthm track (still doesn't feel right without the e) I pretty much knew what to expect (in a good way). Anthm would spit a couple of hot, smart, verses over a great beat. With Anthm's current streak of new songs leading up to the debut of his new EP (Joy&Pain coming soon!), he has lived up to what he touched on in the last interview we had. His new music continues to show off different facets of who he is, but like he told me half a year ago, "Everything that I do has to be an accurate reflection of some dimension of who I am." Check out a couple of his newer tracks below that show off different aspects of the man (along with the brand new "Freek'n You"), his first major video and into to the EP, and follow him on Twitter here

 Anthm Set by jamand1/2


Anthem - Fortuna from AMG Esquires on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Keys-Run Right Back and Little Black Submarine


Back to it. After a blip in the music universe where I wasn't really feeling anything and was revisiting old Outkast (always pleasantly surprised to hear Dre on each song) and A Tribe Called Quest albums, it's back to some new stuff. And this one is brand new, as in leaked to the blogosphere yesterday new. The Black Keys set an extremely high water mark for themselves with 2010's Brothers, which found itself near the top of almost every end of the year Best Albums list. El Camino, to be released in a week, might just sneak on a list too if it has its way. Though a shake less blues and a smidgen more soul than Brothers, El Camino still had my ears beaming this morning on my ever threateningly cold commute to work. Two standouts are "Run Right Back" and  "Little Black Submarine." The former tells the tried and true story of running back to an old flame on top of fiery guitar licks and an edge missing from some of the other songs on the album. The latter starts off like a mellow campside jam session (including a tambourine from that buddy who always brings it, just in case) and wraps up with some White Stripes-esque guitar licks sure to fill up the bigger arenas that duo are packing these days. Check out these two choice cuts, buy the album here, and enjoy.

Click here to download "Run Right Back"


The Black Keys Run Right Back

Click here to download "Little Black Submarine"


The Black Keys Little Black Submarines

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Muchachito Bombo Infierno-Siempre Que Quiera


You can't go to every show. That's the harsh reality (amazing situation) I'm finding out this year living in Madrid. Last year was a long hike through a musical Sahara; this year is finding myself in a oasis. If I try and drink all this delicious spring water, I'll probably drown. Over the past few weeks I've been lucky enough to see Aloe Blacc, Washed Out, and Rodrigo y Gabriela, but unfortunately had to skip this great band. Hailing from Barcelona, this at times 10 piece band kicks the theory that "most new Spanish music is pretty crap" right in the face. A blend of salsa, flamenco influences, rock and some other styles thrown in, Muchachito made a true jamandahalf with this track off of their debut Vamos Que Nos Vamos. Make sure you stick around for the superfunkybreakitdown right at the end. Check it out. 



Muchachito Bombo Infierno Siempre Que Quiera

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Coeur de Pirate-Blonde (Album Review)


The past few months in the music world have been defined by mega releases (think Carter IV, Watch The Throne, Mylo Xyloto, Take Care, etc). Released after months of speculation and hype, these albums will dominate the charts leading up to Xmas, though their actual qualities vary from "Ehh" to "Not Bad." A very quiet release from a diminutive French-Canadian artist, in my opinion, tops them all. Big personal favorite Coeur de Pirate (real name Beatrice Martin) recently released her second full album entitled Blonde. Martin pulls off something that lots of bands are trying to do these days-capture a sound from a bygone decade. With influences ranging from 1960's French Pop to western ballads, Beatrice seems to distance herself from the mainly mellow piano backed jams of her first, self-titled, album. Though nothing has the instant catchiness of "Comme Des Enfants," Blonde is a more mature, more nuanced album. Playing it the past few days reminded me somehow of a great, focused, soundtrack, much like the ones behind Drive and Amelie. In this case, Blonde sounds like the soundtrack to a simpler era. Though not flashy, bereft of big name producers, and probably not the springboard to a nationwide arena tour, Coeur has stealthily released what I consider to be one of the best album of 2011, so far.

Buy Blonde here

Click here to download "Cap Diamant"


Coeur de pirate Cap Diamant

Click here to download "Adieu"


Coeur de pirate Adieu

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bob Dylan-Don't Think Twice, It's Alright Live Town Hall NYC 1963


Some rare Bob Dylan recordings were recently put up on Youtube, and we're better for it. This one is of Dylan's incredible "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" sung live at the Town Hall of NYC in 1963. Probably my favorite Dylan song, his bitterness is truly highlighted in this version. Sung in all his nasally glory, the young Dylan sounds pretty damn down, though with that heartbreak comes a true sense of liberation. The video comes with pictures of Dylan with his ex-girlfriend (and inspiration for this song) Suze Rotolo. Apparently a profound influence on Dylan's music, Suze moved on and left Dylan to study in Italy. Dylan was left with a broken heart, and we were left with this song.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pretty Lights-Finally Moving


This is the ultimate warm, lazy summer afternoon jam. Unfortunately, seeing as I'm in the midst of a rainy Fall here in Madrid, I'll have to wait a little before I can test out my theory that this is the ultimate lazy summer jam. But in the mean time, I thought I should post it for all of you out there enjoying lazy summer afternoons (southern hemisphere stand up!). Pretty Lights has crafted a gorgeous, layered walk through the park with this one. Pretty much begging for your favorite rapper to lay a verse on it, "Finally Moving" lets you think a lot by not saying a lot, giving you ample space to breath while it meanders along through flutes, scratches, and funky sound effects. All in all a winner. Check it out.

Click here to download


Pretty Lights Finally Moving

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Aloe Blacc Concert Review



Aloe Blacc started off his magical concert on Monday night by reminding us of some of the greats of soul music: Green, Gaye, Wonder, Brown, clearly hoping that one day another name will be among that illustrious list-Blacc. If the show was any indication, it won't be too long before his hopes become a reality.

Throughout the hour and a half long concert that I went to with my girlfriend and a couple of buddies, Blacc seemed to be systematically working through a list of things which a great soul artist needs to have: a great voice, charisma, funky dance moves, glances that make girls swoon, a sense of joie de vivre. Playing largely hits from his most recent album Good Things, Blacc did all that and more. Although of course rehearsed a million times, Blacc gave off the impression that the crowd was witnessing something that had never been seen before, and the Madrileño crowd (not an easy one by a long shot) was loving it. Blacc was pitch perfect, sounding just at home on his slower tracks ("If I") as with his more upbeat ones ("Good Things"). He made sure that we all had a damn good time, at one point getting the crowd to split into two while urging us to start a "SoulTrain" dance line down the middle-turning random fellow concert goers into boogie partners. It was a great moment, but one soon eclipsed by him and his band playing "I Need A Dollar," a song that I have heard/taught/jammed to more than probably any other song. Real special moment for myself (thought I wish the battery on my phone would have realized what was going on and not have kooked out on me).


It was a night that started off with a surprise-walking in to the theater I saw none other than Exile warming up the crowd with the funkiest of DJ sets, playing nothing but old school funk and soul. Exile and Blacc had once formed a hiphop group (more on that to come), and Exile spent most of the concert recording everything from the side of the stage with a huge grin on his face. Luckily I got to meet him post-concert, pretty much telling him that he was the man. From the surprise warm up act to the vibrant main show, it was a helluva night for the crowd, for Madrid's music scene, and for soul. Luckily, Blacc will continue to grow as an artist and we can only assume will continue to knock on the door of the upper echelon of Soul.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lucky Dube-Slave


Some artists personify the dreams of an entire nation. Unofficial spokespeople of millions, they come to represent the hopes and feelings of a people at a certain period of time. And although I am by no means an expert on this, the music of Lucky Dube seemed to be that exact outlet for the majority of South Africans I met last summer.

Dube (pronouned doo-beh) got into reggae after releasing four albums in mbaqanga, Zulu pop music. Finding similarities in the political undertones of Jamaican reggae with the day-to-day oppression he noticed all around him in apartheid South Africa, Dube moved to reggae as the outlet of his messages. Quickly becoming wildly popular in South Africa, Lucky then went on to become one of the most beloved reggae artists in the world, breaking into the world music scene just as the apartheid system fell. While travelling around South Africa, we were told by almost everyone we met to check out his music. Although most of his songs couldn't quite meet the vast expectations we had by then, this song did and more. Perhaps it's the rocksteady beat, perhaps the vibrant steel drum. Might be the uplifting chorus. Whatever it is, this is a powerful jamandahalf, reflecting Dube's mindset, and by extension, that of many South Africans during that dark period of South African history.


Click here to download



Lucky Dube Slave (South Africa)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kaskade-Eyes


Not too long ago, being called the "Best American DJ" was kind of like being the "Best American Soccer Player." A great accolade no doubt, but yet one in something that most Americans don't care too much about. Things have changed. Despite the lists of top DJs still being dominated by Dutch, Swedes, and French, Americans like Diplo, Skrillex, and Steve Aoki have created a serious name for themselves and have opened up a space for their fellow Americans, just as American soccer players continue to make names for themselves in top European leagues. With the US continuing to be more and more of a fertile ground for EDM (Dirty South recently said it's his favorite country to play in), being the best American DJ is now a serious honor. Kaskade was recently voted the top American DJ, just in time for his latest release Fire & Ice and onn this new album is a banger which sounds like it's dying to be the song of Summer 2012. And like that guy who's early for the party (in this case many months early), it just wants to have a good time. "Eyes" has a throwback feel to it, devoid of any trace of dubstep. Instead it's pure electro goodness, with just enough sap to make it likable, and more than enough bang to make it an instant jamandahalf.

Click here to download

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Girls-Just A Song and Honey Bunny


Girls, the duo who make music much larger than seemingly possible for two people, have one of the surefire best albums of 2011 with Father, Son, Holy Ghost. A tapas meal of various sounds and influences ranging from Billie Holiday to the Beatles, Girls have something for everyone and do it all with two overwhelming qualities: an intense polish and a overwhelming sense of nostalgia. From the classic influences to the lyrics, Girls at times sounds as if they are alive in the wrong era and lead Christopher Owens' lyrics reflect that, at one point repeating "I wish it was yesterday." "Just A Song" and "Honey Bunny" reflect show different sides of Girls. The former is a dense, lush, sweeping seven minute jam that beautifully builds and fades. The former sounds like it would have the been the hottest twist jam of 1962, the one that you keep your best dance moves for. The myriad of influences are held together by the other quality which is so prevalent on the album-its polish. Each song is a perfectly crafted bite of sound and style, just like the best tapas are. Enjoy the songs and buy the album here.

Click here to download "Just A Song"




Click here to download "Honey Bunny"



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Captain Cuts-Dancing With Avicii (Avicii vs. The Knocks)


Waiting for a new Captain Cuts jam is a bit like waiting for a SuperSaver package from Amazon. You know it's on the way, you just don't know exactly when it's coming. And sometimes waiting just makes it that much better. Today's jamandahalf is a mix of Avicii's unstoppable jam "Levels" and The Knock's "Dancing With The DJ" by Captain Cuts, a group including my buddy Ryan McMahon. Although a bit "lazier" than other mixes by the Capitanos, the resulting mashup is a seamless blend that is sure to get ya feeling good. Captain Cuts continues to really bring a different sound to the at time over-saturated mashup genre. They are on a roll right now and I can't wait for their upcoming mixtape. Keep em coming fellas!

Click here to download


Captain Cuts Dancing With Avicii (Avicii vs. The Knocks)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Florence + The Machine-Shake It Out


Florence + The Machine's new album Ceremonials finds them in a very different place than their last EP Lungs. After conquering the indie world first then crossing slightly more into the mainstream with their star-making performance at the VMAs, there was some considerable pressure on the group (consisting of 25 year old (!) Florence Welch and an ensemble of band members). Luckily for us, songs like this jamandahalf follow step by step in the rich line of previous jams like "You've Got The Love" and "Dog Days Are Over." "Shake It Out" is nothing if not triumphant. Coming close to sonically encapsulating a primal fist pump, "Shake It Out" talks about an emergence from the dark, about putting the past behind you. Powerfully backing the lyrics, Florence's vocals are up for the test, and she positively sounds more alive then ever. I could go on and on, but I'll leave this one with a quote from Florence herself. Enjoy.

"So this song was kind of like, 'Shake yourself out of it, things will be OK,' " she continued. "[Because] sometimes I have to write songs for myself, reminding me to let it go. But then, the end refrain of 'What the hell' is really important as well, because you'll dance with the devil again at some point, and maybe it will be fun. I've heard he does a really good foxtrot."


Click here to download


Florence and The Machine Shake It Out

Friday, October 28, 2011

Youth Lagoon-Posters


Youth Lagoon is about as minimalist as you can get. Following in the same vein as Washed Out, Youth Lagoon made his first album in his bedroom, and it's telling because The Year of Hibernation sounds like a voyeuristic peek inside his life. Dropping out of college and quitting his job, Trevor Powers has embarked on a new life to show the world Youth Lagoon, which he says is small yet important part of himself. "Posters" is a jam that you can get lost into. While clocking in at a little under four minutes, it has a repetitiveness that sounds like it lasts a lifetime. The other day working on a project I only realized after a half-hour that I had had it on repeat. Stopping it felt like waking up from a long nap, a welcome siesta that I had no idea I needed. And that's kind of how the album feels in general-something that you really didn't think you needed, but you do. Check out my favorite track below-

Click here to download


Youth Lagoon Posters

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Juvenile-Ha


I recently got my hands on The Definitive Collection, Cash Money's attempt to define their long reign on top of Southern rap. Like a lot of people who grew up in the South during the 90's, I would have changed a few songs here and there, but the collection definitely brought back some memories. It also reminded me of how dated most of their music sounds. Other than a few tracks which have stood the test of time ("Bling Bling" "Loud Pipes"), most of the tracks sound empty and simplistic-both lyrically and sonically. But one thing that they do remind us is that what Kanye and Jay-Z were doing with Watch The Throne wasn't new, it was just another step along the evolution of bravado rap for which Cash Money did more than most to advance (though that's not necessarily a good thing). Today's jamandahalf comes from Juvenile, the king of the 90's era group, and was the song that really brought Cash Money to the national spotlight. While the crew split up years ago, they left an inedible mark on rap and over the course of almost a decade also managed to drop a few jamandahalfs.

Click here to download


Juvenile Ha

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mississippi Fred McDowell-Going Down The River


Listening to old school Blues takes you back to a different era, to an era where music was recorded on front porches outside, with nothing between the artists and the recording device but sun-baked Mississippi air. Mississippi Fred McDowell (no relation to another favorite, Mississippi John Hurt) was discovered by Alan Lomax, a folklorist on a tour of the South, who was trying to find some of the old timey legends whose unadulterated music sounds ancient yet resonates clearly in this troubled and murky time. McDowell, a poor share cropper who had up to that point had a tough life bouncing around picking cotton and working in various mills, was immediately recorded on his front porch, with his wife and a friend sometimes joining in on the jam session. After the recordings were published they became a hit, and McDowell rode an up-swell of popularity for the Blues, touring around the country and even having the Rolling Stones cover a song of his covered ("You Gotta Move"). The original recordings were recently remastered and are as close as possible as most of us will ever get to hearing a master of Blues just doing his thing.

Click here to download "Going Down The River"


Fred McDowell Going Down The River

Click here to download "Worried Mind Blues"


Saturday, October 22, 2011

BT & Adam K-Tomahawk


Let this one be the official song of your Saturday night. BT & Adam K do a little bit of electro genre busting, mixing up a few different styles and creating a jam which flows like trance, bangs like house, and rages like dubstep. The dubstep drop at about 1:42 comes out of nowhere, busting in the doors of this jam. While it goes on a little too long for my tastes, the duo don't ever let it dominate, and the last minute rides out in a combination of house/trance goodness. This track is nothing less than surprising, and in a genre which seems to sometimes attempt to see who can be the "most" pure, it's definitely a welcome turn of events.

Click here to download


BT & Adam K Tomahawk

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kanye West Samples


I can't believe I've never seen this before. This clip shows Kanye's samples throughout some of his greatest songs and though I've already highlighted two of my all time favorite samples he's used, seeing them chopped up in mixed together in this ratatouille style video really shows the breadth and depth of the samples Kanye has flipped. I've always wondered if he just has an insanely large music library or if he has all of his cousins' children listening to old _________ (any genre, any artist) all day long. Whatever it is, it's working. Check out the video below.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Twelves Concert Review


One of the greatest barometers in life is the Expected Joy&Happiness function whereby you rate the actual joy you got from seeing/witnessing/experiencing/watching something (with a simple 1-10 rating) and divide that by the expected joy that you thought you were going to get from seeing/witnessing/experiencing/watching something (continue the simple 1-10 rating). For example, my expected joy from watching an episode of How To Make It In America is about a 6 which, divided by the relative 6 joy I get from actually seeing it, means that How To Make It In America is batting a very solid 1.000. This rating takes into consideration that some of life's greatest joys come from being completely blown outta the water by something, while not discounting the feeling when an artist amazes you despite high expectations (Rodrigo y Gabriela were at a 9 for exceptions and a 10 for delivery).

Back to the review. I went to see The Twelves, an up and coming electro duo from Rio, who have been making some big waves on the blogocean recently and I was expecting something new, some edgy, something epic. My good buddy and trusted electroaficienado Brem had nothing but the best things to say about them and my expectations were soaring (a little naively perhaps) at an 8. What I got was about a 4, giving a pretty mediocre .500. Perhaps an off-night hit them at an unfortunate time for myself, but The Twelves were neither very dynamic nor very original. Songs rose and fell with lackluster transitions and none of the tropical spark that I was expecting. The Madrid crowd itself, which had put a great showing for itself the week before at Afrojack, seemed to be having a better time at the secondary DJ upstairs. With nary a raised head to check out the crowd, I was looking for a big slap-on-the-back type of night; unfortunately all I got was a weak handshake. 

EJH Rating=.500 (mediocre)

Check out their BBC Essential Mix here

Friday, October 14, 2011

Phantogram x Anthem - Don't Move (Joy & Pain Mix)


In the lead-up to him dropping his new EP Joy & Pain, Anthem keeps his growing base of fans happy by releasing something fresh. Over Phantogram's "Don't Move" Anthem gives us a taste of what's coming on his superdope new EP. Proving that he can really rap over anything and make it sound great, Ant seems to be musically living out this philosophy, continuously testing and pushing the limits of his talents. I've had the opportunity to listen to the EP and and it's safe to say that a lot of you are going to be blown away. Two songs on the six song EP gave me the shivers, and one features a sample that is going to surprise the hell outta you. Stay tuned for the full EP and in the mean time, check this jam out (and read an interview with the man here).

 Phantogram x Anthem - Don't Move (Joy & Pain Mix) by AMGEsquires

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Very Best feat. Baloji-Super Mom


Picture of Baloji I took at Womad Caceres 2011

Even though I, like most of yall I'm sure, go to blogs to get my music, there is still something fun about getting an email "direct" from one of your favorite artists. There's definitely a personal touch element, even though I know I'm on a list of thousands of people.

The best part about getting an email from an artist is when it's attached to free music. The Very Best continue to be among the most generous artists out there, constantly brightening up the days of their fans with a new dope song here, great mixtape there. Two days ago they sent a banging remix to a song originally on a mixtape they gave for free in early May, but this time featuring Baloji, a young Congolese rapper who I saw live at the Womad Music Festival. Though I can't understand his verse, he attacks it with the ferocity of a 2007 era Lil' Wayne, giving the upbeat jam a little bit of edge in the meantime. But like that one kinda sketchy looking dude who actually turns out to be the homie, Baloji does nothing but add to this party of a track. Check it out below.

Click here to download


The Very Best Super Mom feat Baloji

Monday, October 10, 2011

Nappy Roots feat. Big Rube-Legend Lives On


Nothing makes my ears warmer than a Big Rube feature. I've professed my (man)love for Rube before, and this track from Nappy Roots put a huge smile on my face the very second that his baritone came on. Like a wise uncle, Big Rube always seems to impart timely advice and this time is no different. Sounding right at home on the Organized Noise beat, Rube starts off the new Nappy Roots album "Nappy Dot Org" on the right foot. Completely produced by the previously mentioned legendary Southern producers, Nappy Roots show once again that their lasting presence on the scene is justified. While they haven't hit the same commercial success that they had with their debut Watermelon, Chicken & Grits, the group's southern fried take on life is still a pleasure to listen to, especially in a game where the Southern conscious rapper has seemingly disappeared in the last few years. Check it out for the Big Rube, stay for the Nappy Roots. Enjoy.

Click here to download


Nappy Roots Legend Lives On (Feat. Big Rube)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Jam Behind The Jam: Common-Blue Sky



Common, recently featured on these pages as a topic of the interview with Professor Adam Bradley, is putting out a new album, The Dreamer, The Believer on November 22nd. His first two singles have definitely done a great job of helping the faithful listener put the relative debacle of Universal Mind Control even further into the recesses of our mind. "Blue Sky," released last week, is one of those songs that is an immediate jamandahalf. The song feels, above all, large. Sounding like it would have fit right in on Kanye's last album, "Blue Sky" gives us Common as he is right now: successful beyond most people's wildest dreams yet still doing what he loves. Name dropping Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Obama, while talking about Prada and Aston Martin, Common risks at times sounding like every other rapper out there. His witty rhymes and uplifting message squash that fear.

What makes this song into an instant jamandahalf is the sample. His producer and longtime friend No I.D. (read about their friendship in Common's new memoir) deftly flips "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra into a banging beat. A Portland favorite, "Mr. Blue Sky" was written by Jeff Lyne, lead singer of ELO, in Switzerland after a bright blue day finally ended a bad case of writer's block and rainy weather. A trippy journey into happiness, "Mr. Blue Sky" has been a personal favorite for years now and I'm glad that No I.D. did the jam justice. The sample does raise a question, what's next for hiphop? When ELO is being sampled for tracks which are likely to blow up, what's the next frontier? Only time will tell. In the mean time, enjoy.

Click here to download Blue Sky


Common Blue Sky

Click here to download Mr. Blue Sky


Electric Light Orchestra Mr. Blue Sky

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tinariwen feat. Nels Cline-Imidiwan Ma Tennam


Though I have some changes planned for this humble blog, one thing that's not going to be different is the consistent smattering of world music featured on these pages, especially from the Sahel region of West Africa. I have been drawn to this type of music (from Mali especially) since I was a young child, listening to bootleg CDs of Ali Farka Toure that my dad often played.

Born in refugee camps in Libya, Tinariwen has a sound that feels like it's been baked in the hot sands of the Sahara. The Tuareg people of West and North Africa have always been a transient people, moving with their animals in search of water. The music of Tinariwen is a mix of the best of the two regions, drawing in elements from traditional Malian sounds with sounds more typical of the Arab world. Recorded completely in a studio built in the Algerian Sahara, Tinariwen (meaning "the sands") sing the desert blues, a blues thousands of miles from the Delta region of the US where it flowered around the turn of the 20th century, but yet unmistakably the blues. Born out of hard living, the blues has been the perfect medium to transmit feelings of pain, sadness, and strength all around the world. Tinariwen are the perfect example of that.

Click here to download


Tinariwen IMIDIWAN MA TENNAM (feat. Nels Cline)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Afrojack Live!



Even though I really enjoyed living in the small town of Don Benito, Spain last year, I definitely missed the bright lights of the big city. One of the main reasons is live music. Though my town did have some relatively decent places to see some good bands, it was just that the good bands were few and far between, the draw of playing in Don Benito somehow lost upon them. I did see this guy perform for all about two seconds though.

Now that I'm in Madrid, I'm going to be posting many more concert reviews. And I'm starting this year of reviews off with a bang. Afrojack came into town on Saturday and absolutely killed it. Over the past few years I've gotten the chance to see a lot of the heavyweights of electronic music: Diplo, Tiesto, Calvin Harris, Boyz Noize, David Guetta, 2manydjs, Pretty Lights...Afrojack puts on a better show than any of them. Coming on at about 2:30am on a Madrid night just starting to show the first teasings of fall, the Dutchman put on a show that few of us will forget for a long time. I went with a great international crew, and each time I started to fade I just had to look over at another person in the group who was clearly in the moment to get another crucial boost of energy. Obviously pumped to be playing in Madrid for the first time (a big WTF! moment for me when he told the crowd that fact), he brought a fierce energy to the club, not letting the crowd's energy drop below boiling point for even a few seconds. Although the crowd was smaller than I thought, they were clearly loving it. Afrojack played a great mix of some of his bigger hits, newer stuff, and, surprisingly, some bangers by Avicii, Alesso, etc. Completely in his element in a v-neck tee, Afrojack hit every drop with the force of a Terry Tate tackle. If he's anywhere need you anytime soon, do yourself a favor and check him out. Keep coming back for a wide range of reviews from all genres in these coming months.

Click here to download Bangduck


Download Afrojack Bangduck

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Interview with Professor Adam Bradley



Today is Jamandahalf.com's two year "birthday" and being able to post this is the perfect way to start off another year. Sophomore year of college I took a (now legendary) class called 20th Century Black Poetics after months of hearing about it from Moodawg's brother. The class was truly a highlight of my college career and Professor Bradley's lectures always had us entranced as he spoke about the great African American poets from Langston Hughes to Gwendolyn Brooks and Rakim. Professor Bradley became a mentor to Moodawg and myself, and although I rarely ever went to office hours in general, I loved stopping to chat with Bradley about topics ranging from upcoming essays to the newest Lil' Wayne mixtape. Professor Bradley has been prolific recently, publishing five books in the past couple of years. His most recent has been Common's memoir, One Day It'll All Make Sense. I am very grateful that Professor Bradley took the time to answer some questions for Jamandahalf, and couldn't think of a better "present" than this. Enjoy. 


How did the book come about? What was the writing process like between Common and yourself? In The Anthology of Rap you describe the change in Common's flow from his younger battle rapping days to the present. How hard was it for Common, a master of putting his thoughts and feelings into truncated bars, to further transition and express himself in a different format? 
I wish I could say that the book came about through some chance encounter or backstage meet-up, but it came down—as most of these things do—to agents. His agent talked to my agent and Common and I met up in LA. We hit it off well from the start. As for the process, it was so important to establish Common’s voice on the page. We all know what he sounds like on record, so it was my task to craft a voice that was true to that spirit. From there, it was just a matter of time—hours and hours of conversations, which eventually led to pages and pages of manuscript.

How does it feel to have been a huge part to a New York Times best selling book? How does seeing the book on the bestseller's list compare to other achievements during your career? 
As a scholar and a writer, you have certain explicit and implicit measures of your own achievement. Getting tenure, getting a book deal—stuff like that is measurable. Seeing your book in the front window display at the airport? That’s one of those intangibles. It’s a strange thing, but seeing my book at the airport meant just about as much to me as landing on the bestseller list.

From the time that the two of you worked together, what's the story that you're going to be telling friends and family in ten years?
Great question. Man, there were a lot of great ones. As someone who considers himself not only a hip hop fan but a student of the culture, the best times were in the recording studio. I remember one night Common and I went over there after dinner and met up with No ID (Common’s childhood friend who produced his first few albums and has since worked with Jay-Z, Kanye, a whole host of artists.) Then in walks Baron Davis—then on the LA Clippers. What followed was hours of rhyming, beatmaking, shit talking, and assorted other pursuits. A great night.

What's your favorite Common song and line? 
This wasn’t your question, but I love the entire Like Water for Chocolate album. That’s one of a handful of albums in all of hip hop that I can start from the top and listen to all the way to the end. As for lines, I’m still fond of his less mature, more playful rhymes from his first couple albums. I just love the way he bounced sounds around: “I express like the interstate, hyper when I ventilate. . .” That’s a coldblooded opening line to me.

In light of the controversy earlier this year surrounding Common's attendance of the White House's poetry reading, how would you characterize the mainstream (or more specifically the right-wing) media's perception of hip-hop music and culture in 2011?
We were fortunate that the whole dust-up went down just as we were going to press, so we had just enough time to include a lengthy section on the White House controversy in the book. The whole thing really exposed the silly, ad hominem nature of the conservative critique of hip hop. Common? Really? Jon Stewart had the best response, I think. “This is the guy who rapped with Elmo,” he said, or something like that. They really couldn’t have picked a less appropriate MC to brand as a “thug” and a “vile rapper.” Common said to me, “Hey, maybe now Sarah Palin will listen to my music. She might become a fan.” You never know. . .

In the past few years, the careers of some of the classic hip hop artists such as Snoop, Ice Cube, and Xhibit have taken turns that almost no one would have expected when they first started off. Where do you see Common's career going and how does this general shift bode for hip-hop as a genre? 
Common is moving increasingly into acting. Just next month, he’s starring in a new AMC series, Hell on Wheels. It’s what happens when the network that brought us Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and The Killing decides to tackle the making of the transcontinental railroad. I saw the pilot episode with him and he kills it. For those who are used to seeing him in romcoms with Queen Latifah, it’ll be a real eye opener.

Of course, Common’s still making music. I’ve had the privilege of listening to several of the tracks on his forthcoming album, The Dreamer, The Believer. This is a return to classic hip hop, a return to what we loved about his greatest albums: Resurrection, Like Water for Chocolate, Be. You get everything from story raps to battle raps, from clever wordplay to liquid flows. I think Common will be able to sustain this dual career as an actor and an MC for years to come.


Moving on to one of the biggest albums in hip-hop this year, what did you think of Watch The Throne? Although Hip Hop has always had an element of escapism to it, is the decadence that drips of ? On "Niggas In Paris" Jay spits "What's 50 grand to a muh'fucker like me?/Can you please remind me?" For a grad student like myself, do you think it's justified to not want to financially support Jigga with an apparently insignificant $14.99?
Haha. Yeah, I think he can probably do without your $14.99. As for the album, I loved it before I hated it before I loved it again. From the cover art to gilded similes, it’s a feast of opulence. It’s what you get when you combine two great lyrical talents with the best production money can buy. The dean of pop music writing, Robert Christgau, posted an interesting article on it recently.

What role do you see blogs having in the music scene in the coming years? Are there any blogs that you consistently check out? 
Blogs are the Hip Hop CNN—but also the History Channel, the ESPN, the WeatherChannel, the Home Shopping Network. . . They are the best way to keep your finger on the pulse of the culture. I’m a big fan of Ivan Rott’s blog, Hip Hop is Read. He offers thoughtful reflections on the more cerebral currents of the culture and he brings a real crate-digger’s sensibility to the music he features. I like Angelica LeMinh’s blog, Metrotextual. She’s based in Toronto, so she offers a north of the border view on things. Oh, and of course I follow a humble blog called Jamandahalf.

What's next for you? 
I have a few things going. We’re doing a classroom edition of The Anthology of Rap. I’m most excited, though, to start work on a new project: a book on the poetics of popular song that moves from hip hop to rock to R&B—even to country. I want to discover if lyrics matter more to some genres than to others, if there are certain things in the lyrics that make them pop regardless of musical style. I want to crack the lyrical code of popular music.

Friday, September 30, 2011

JamandaHalf-One Mo Gin


Longtime readers will have noticed that the jams haven't been coming as often as they used to/should. A move to Madrid, the start of my Master's program, and a serious job hunt (and I must admit, a lack of enthusiasm for music lately) have caused the jam river to slow to a trickle. But our 2nd year Birthday is tomorrow (whoot!) and with that comes new opportunities.

It's hard to believe that I started this little blog two years ago in my dorm room in sunny Claremont, California. I'm a long way away from there now, but this blog is even more special to me now. But like anything, it's not worth anything if it's not getting better.

First off to start a new year I'm posting an interview with the man himself, Adam Bradley, tomorrow. Distinguished Professor, noted hip-hop head, and prolific writer, Professor Bradley made a serious mark on my college career and recently hit the New York Times Bestseller's List by being a coauthor on Common's brand new memoir. To go on from there, I have a few things that I'm going to do a little differently this year:

1. Recruit new voices:If you know anyone that wants to contribute to these pages, let me know. JamandaHalf was originally supposed to be a forum where people could talk about the music they love. For that, I want anyone and everyone who wants to talk about the music that is special to them get involved.
2. A new focus: Most "big" blogs today have largely the same music, differentiated only by slight changes in genres. This year I want to continue to develop relationships with artists like Anthem, Blisses B, and J.Nolan, with a renewed focus on up and coming artists. I am also going to highlight some of the best street musicians from around Madrid who keep the metros, sidewalks, and plazas jamming. I want Jamandahalf.com to be a place that you feel you need to visit a few times every week, and a place where you know the jams will be fresh and different from your little brother's favorite blog.
3. A new look: I have a redesign in the works which will make it easier for people to share music and post whenever they get the feeling.

With Moodawg unfortunately not much of a part of this blog anymore, it's time to get new voices involved. So if you or anyone you know wants to talk about music that for some reason, you just know is a jamandahalf, let me know. And if not, hope you continue coming back for only the juiciest of jams. Thanks,

Leks

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Icona Pop-Manners (Captain Cuts Remix)


You know a remix is good when you hear the orginal and immediately think it's missing something. Captain Cut's remix of Icona Pop's "Manners" is an absolute banger of a remix. Completely blowing my "remix criteria" out of the water (1-the song has to be a complete remake of the original, and 2-the cover has to make you think at least for a half second that it's better than the original), the crew behind this jamandahalf (including my buddy Ryan McMahon) has made a song which eclipses the original in every way. A mix of hard-hitting house with a slight sprinkling of dubstep, the trio don't just give "Manners" a facelift, they pull the biggest facial switcharoo since this. Captain Cut's jams have been heating up the blogosphere for a few months now and you can find their tracks here. Enjoy this monster track and be on the lookout for their first mixtape coming out soon.

Click here to download


Icona Pop Manners (Captain Cuts Remix)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paul Simon-The Sound of Silence


I, like most people lately, have taken some time to think about what happened a little over 10 years ago. I remember when I first heard the news. I was on the Embassy bus on the way home from school in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and an American guy who was a few years older than me had printed off a picture of the two towers in flames; I didn't believe it. I spent the next few hours using our painfully slow internet connection to search for news. What's hard for me to believe today is that I didn't see footage of the planes bowling into the towers until over a year later.

So much has been said about what the attacks represented, how we responded, where we are now...As with any tragedy, music has a healing power that cannot be underestimated. With most major moments of the past 50 years, music has both shaped our insights and guided our opinions, and although I can think of no song about 9/11, many songs can be associated with it. Although somewhat overdone, seeing U2 at the Super Bowl halftime show with the running list of names was undeniably powerful. At Sunday's memorial, Paul Simon sang his classic "The Sound of Silence," originally written after the assassination of JFK. The song was pitch perfect for the memorial, its emphasis on the absence of human communication resonating with a tragedy that happened, in some parts, because of a perverse desire to send a message. Sung by the timeless Simon, this jamandahalf reinvents itself again, as only the best ones do.

Click here to download an acoustic version of "The Sound of Silence"



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Beirut-A Candle's Fire


Excuse the lack of posts lately. A combination of the internet cutting in Ghana, Vodafone's terrible customer service (I ended up driving the technician to my family's house and back) and a move to Madrid caused the jams to take a back burner. Well like always, it's back to the jams.

Beirut's newest album has been the official album of the move in, and what an album it is. A great combination of experimenting with expansive sounds while still sounding deeply personal, The Rip Tide has quickly shot up my list of best albums (so far) of 2011. "A Candle's Fire" is the perfect intro song. Sonically it's gorgeous, a delicate intertwining of horns, organs, and a tuba along with the strong yet bravado free voice of Zach Condon. This jamandahalf seems to be about love overcoming self doubt, about a man who has always lived within boundaries stepping out of them with the help of someone. Enjoy the jam and thanks for coming back.

Click here to download


Beirut

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tanya Stephens-It's A Pity


"It's A Pity" exudes longing like few others. On top of a grooving reggae beat mixed with some sounds that dubstep has gratuitously borrowed from, Tanya imagines a life with a man who already has a wife. "It's A Pity" sounds kinda like the Jamaican precursor to Adele's hit "Someone Like You," with Tanya Stephens smart lyrics baring her soul to this mystery man. You can picture her writing a long letter to her John Doe, with each verse varying from outright desperation to even diplomacy (Tanya admits that if she can't have him, she could share). The intensity with which Tanya delivers her lines borders on rapping and she conquers the beat like few rappers can, making it the perfect postman to deliver her letter of longing.

Click here to download


Tanya Stephens It's A Pity

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Justice-Audio, Video, Disco (Now with .mp3)


The new single for Justice's new album just leaked. Still don't know quite what to think. I think Justice will get a lot of new fans with this new sound, and it's not like the biggest names in electro haven't completely switched their sound up from time to time (see: Daft Punk). Not as rambunctious as Cross, but maybe that's not a bad thing. Anyway, listen and let me know what you think.

Click here to download


Justice Audio, Video, Disco

Friday, September 2, 2011

Royksopp-Shores of Easy


Been a while since Royksopp dropped some new tunes. But even in a rapidly evolving electronic music scene you can always seem to count on the continued consistency of the elusive duo. Hints are sprouting up across the web that a new album may be on the way, and I found this odyssey of a track today on NPR. Almost 14 minutes long, this one is definitely not for the clubs, but it is a great track to vibe too. Hope it holds us over until new tunes from the Norweigans intrigue our ears.

Click here to download


Röyksopp Shores Of Easy

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers-Brendan's Death Song


Growing up mainly in North Florida (with jaunts abroad), the Red Hot Chili Peppers were always something that was quasi-exotic. Familiar enough because, well, they sang in English and their style was immediately identifiable, but exotic at the same because that's what they listened to in "California," the idea of it more than the place. Years later I sang Chili Pepper songs as I washed dishes at Cold Stone, only weeks before I flew out to LA to start college.

The Chili Peppers have a new album out and while it doesn't compare to the gigantic Stadium Arcadium, it does have some very strong highlights. Among them is this jamandahalf. Dedicated to Brendan Mullen, the guy who gave the Chili Peppers their first break by booking them to open at the club where he worked at, this song is about death and passing. However, it never allows death to get in the way of showing the spirit of the band and Brendan. Apparently Brendan died in 2009 on the very same day that the Chili Peppers starting rehearsing songs for this new album, their first as their current configuration. After giving them their break, he became a close friend to the group and was writing a biography about them at the time of his passing. However sad his passing was, I can think of no better tribute to the man than this instantly timeless Chili track. Enjoy. 



Red Hot Chili Peppers Brendan's Death Song



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Party Supplies-Firecrackers


I've been big on Party Supplies since I first got a whiff of his banging Ed Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros remix about a year ago. I'm always looking forward to getting the emails from him announcing a new remix to see how playful he gets with the building blocks of some of the best songs from the past few years. I'm a little late posting this, but his first "mixtape" was released a few weeks ago, putting together some of the tracks I already love with some new ones. A great intro to his unique style, this tape is all you really need to play for your next shindig.

Click here to download Firecrackers

Click here to download "Momma Don't Go"


Party Supplies 08 - Momma Don't Go

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tha Carter IV Review



A few days ago Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV leaked, right on schedule. Though it won't officially drop until Sunday at midnight, the leak has predictably had the internet going nuts. Is this Weezy's grand return from a relatively tough few years for the Young Money front-man? After stints in jail and musical misfires (Rebirth)Tha Carter IV was Wayne's chance to advance the now borderline legendary Carter series. Unfortunately Weezy chose a safe, though still dope, route, forgoing the chance to make another classic.

After a few spins of Tha Carter IV, the one thought that keeps popping up in my head is that it doesn't match up to Tha Carter III. Everything from the cover (the little Lil' Wayne theme again) to the "the ladies are gonna love this song ("Lollipop" vs "How To Love') to the guest spots, in no way does it stand up to that behemoth of an album. When arguably the two best songs of the album (Interlude and Outro) don't even have Wayne rapping on them, you know something is strange. While Wayne exercises his outlandish creativity at points ("Abortion," "President Carter") you never feel like he's truly pushing himself. Listening to the album sometimes feels like watching Lebron put up an effortless 28-12-8. Inspiring at some points, amazing at others, but almost the entire time you have the thought in the back of your head, "what if?" The biggest "what if" I have with this album is "what if he hadn't gone to jail?" Because above all, Tha Carter IV feels safe. Feels like Weezy wanted to make an immediately likable album, which it is, no doubt. But after two albums which pushed rap rather than walked along side of it, I wanted more, and I think a lot of people out there did too. I do think this will sell beaucoup numbers, and, well, there's always Tha Carter V. 


Click here to download "Abortion"






Click here to download "Megaman"



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aaliyah-Are You That Somebody


Aaliyah died ten years ago at the age of 22. When people pass, I often find the best thing to do is to talk or think about the good times. While I of course did not know Aaliyah personally, I do have some random memories associated with her music. I especially remember way back in 5th grade (or was it 4th?) I was on a school trip to the local newspaper to sing Christmas carols for the (I'm sure) enthralled editors and journalists. One of my best buddies and I were going to sing a duo to "Little Drummer Boy," the brightest moment of my never to be heard of again singing career. On the way to the newspaper headquarters "Are You That Somebody"  came on the radio and the bus driver relented to the chorus of little kids telling him to turn it up. Back in Prairie View Elementary there were a few songs that every just knew, and this jamandahalf was one of them. Each kid on the bus sang it perfectly word for word, doing a much better job then at the concert we were driving to.

And although that was a pretty insignificant moment in my life, hearing this song always takes me back to that time. Although years older than we were then, Aayliyah is only a year younger than myself when she died. While the word "tragic" is often thrown around, the loss of the Princess of r&b at such a young age qualifies. While she's now been gone for ten years her music, and more importantly, the memories, live on.

Click here to download

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pause


While I take a day to process the inevitable leak of Tha Carter IV, just wanted to leave yall with this. This is Torrey Smith, special teams for the Baltimore Ravens. Apparently he was filming an ad for the University of Maryland when the earthquake hit. Epic reaction. Only question is, where the hell was he running to? See yall tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

e-dubble feat Kom-My Last Dream


e-dubble has been on his grind. From building an initial buzz by releasing an album quality track every week for a full year to now turning that into maintaining a constant presence on some of the best blogs out there, e-dubble has slowly inched his way to become an artist that you need to know about. I haven't posted his music until now but this one needs to be heard. "My Last Dream" features an incredible sample from "Weighty Ghost" by Winter Sleep and is the perfect intro track for those who aren't familiar with e-dubble. His deep baritone juxtaposes the chill beat with an intense flow, one that hasn't slacked off after years of continuing to push it, and the two rap about the temptation of dreams. While I'm sure he hasn't quite reached his dreams, e-dubble continues to chip away at that mountain in front of him. With tracks like this one, I'm pretty confident he'll get there.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Miles Davis-Old Folks


Sometimes I post songs because they're classics. Sometimes I post jams that I'm vibing to at the moment. Other times I post because I got a really fu%king cool picture. This is one of those times.

It's also an excuse to highlight the illustrious career of Miles Davis, the coolest cat that ever lived. Take a walk with the musical giant on this Friday night and start your weekend off right with this eternal song, "Old Foks"

Click here to download

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Tallest Man on Earth-Weather of a Killing Kind


Each new Tallest Man on Earth song sounds like another Tallest Man on Earth song. Is that a bad thing? Depends. After two albums, a few EPs, and a new random song every now and then, the TMOE has built a comfortable familiarity for fans of his music. While this jamandahalf does not break any boundaries for the young Swede, it continues in the same vein of beautiful storytelling and forceful picking which made him one of my favorites. A tale of a coming cold, the arrival of something unknown, there is a sense of foreboding in this track. Sung with a voice which gets stronger with each release, this track is a true showcase of his writing ability and the lyrics teem with subtle wordplay. Enjoy this track and stay tuned for his upcoming movie soundtrack with Idiot Wind.

Click here to download


The Tallest Man on Earth Weather of a Killing Kind