Tuesday, November 29, 2011
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
Thursday, November 17, 2011
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
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
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 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).
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
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
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, 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
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'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