Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Joris Voorn-Ringo

Electronic music continues to grow and artists and promoters seem to be locked into the sisyphian task of summiting higher and higher peaks-bigger shows, festivals, and sounds. Within this spectacular growth, however, seems to be an almost disdain for the understated. Cruise through the Beatport Top 100 list and there's nary room for any emotion other than raging. Commercial electronic music, the type that sustains gigantic music festivals, seems to be going through its teenage years and has grown to love flashy sounds and the same bass drop. I was surprised then to hear "Ringo" by Joris Voorn, a Dutchman in a long and illustrious lineage of them, on the same Top 100 list. "Ringo" flirts with being the perfect soundtrack to your life song, a jamandahalf that combines a mellowness with a repetitive precision to it that helps frame your thoughts. It keeps your mind busy while never getting in the way and is best heard on repeat. "Ringo" harks back to the some of the more subdued Deadmau5 and Aphex Twins tracks and is a welcome breather from the last gasps of summer's largest anthems. Check it out below!

Download Here

Download Joris Voorn Ringo (Original Mix)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Benjamin Clementine-Cornerstone

Cornerstone, the debut single of Benjamin Clementine, is raw. It's pure emotion. Cornerstone is one of my favorite songs of 2013 for this very reason. In an era of factory produced artists, bands, and singles, today's jamandahalf shines because it comes straight from the heart. Born from the life and story of a young Ghanaian immigrant who was discovered singing in the metro of Paris, Cornerstone is a bold statement and a fearless yet poignant"hello world". Showing that there is incredible musical talent all around us, Benjamin reminds us that sometimes true greatness is often easy to miss in a rush to your next destination. Luckily Benjamin was discovered and his face and the tears in his eyes at the end of his live performance in the video below seem to be a sweet, sweet combination of relief and joy. I feel like we're going to be hearing a lot of Benjamin in the next year. Keep an ear out and don't forget to throw a eurodollar or two in the bucket of the next busker you see singing his/her heart out.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thom, Spotify, and Balmorhea

Thom Yorke continues to go off on Spotify. Positioning himself as the (extremely well-off) David to Spotify's Goliath, Thom has repeatedly attacked the Spotify/streaming model of music consumption as the death of the music industry saying recently:

          "This isn't the mainstream, this is like the last fart, last desperate fart of a dying corpse." 

The interview was given to a Mexican site and they translated it into the "last breath," but whether the air comes from above or below is insignificant; Thom doesn't like what he's seeing. While this multimillionaire superstar, who got rich and incredibly successful off the "old" the model of the music industry, does always make some good points, I feel like we'll look back on his fart quote in 50 years and laugh, just as we do with other quotes from old rich white people, for example from an executive at Deccan Records who said, while describing his reason not the sign the Beatles:

          "Groups of guitars were on the way out."

While I do agree with Thom that the music industry is in many ways broken, I don't see Spotify as a symptom of the disease but rather as a potential solution to the problem. I believe that instead of being the great devil, the decentralized model of Spotify should be further embraced and artists should break free of the major record labels (whose business models I see as the primary player in the industry's "decline") and instead use every method available to take their music to the masses, whether it be Spotify, Rdio, Bandcamp, etc. The supply of music available at my fingertips has increased immensely in the past few years and unless an artist is harnessing every method of showcasing their music to potentials fans, they're playing a losing game. This model, of course, doesn't work as well with the big names like Kanye whose records and shows will always sell. But it does with bands like Balmorhea.

The other day I saw a post from a friend recommending that everyone she knows in Madrid should go to see the Austin, Texas based group Balmorhea when they came to town this past Sunday. I had never heard of them but was enticed by the recommendation, the concert hall, and the cheap ticket. I was immediately able to find them on Spotify and had their entire discography at my fingertips, legally. Each time I played their music I supported them financially (although a miniscule amount I know) but the main appeal was the instantaneous nature of me "finding" them. Fifteen years ago I would have had to go to a record store and hoped they had a Balmorhea album; ten, I would have probably scoured the murky hallways of Kazaa; five, I likely would have torrented a song or two and if I really really liked them, bought a song of theirs or their album. On Friday I browsed through a couple of their top songs on Spotify, realized instantly that man these guys are good, bought the tickets, and went to the show. 

And you know what? They're shockingly good live. Playing minimalistic progressive rock while engaged in an almost literal game of musical chairs, the six ultra talented musicians of Balmorhea constantly astonished the crowd with layers of lush sounds, at times switching instruments multiple times a song. Until recently the decision process would have been much much harder for me to go see them; with Spotify it was instant and effortless. I left the show with a great music buzz last night and  Balmorhea got two extra fans at the show and free press now. While perhaps Spotify doesn't make sense for the Thoms or the Kanyes, there is a world of musicians who, using Spotify and other such platforms correctly, can forge a sustainable path for themselves, adapting and embracing changing technology rather than fighting it. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Woodkid-Ghost Lights

"Ghost Lights" could sound right at home on a rainy day or as the marching song for an army of Lannisters. Both gloomy yet inspiring, "Ghost Lights" is cinematic above all. Created by Woodkid, a former music video director who decided to try his luck on the other side of the camera, this jamandahalf is immense yet extremely personal. Speaking of lost love, these ghost lights seems to mean memories of someone, someone who he lost yet promises to never forget saying "no matter what it takes, I'll try to save the ghost lights". Check this jam below and the rest of his great debut album The Golden Age

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Rapper Far Ahead of His Time: Deltron 3030

Rapper Del the Funky Homosapien, Kid Koala, and Dan the Automator form the mythical hip-hop group Deltron 3030. I thought that their career together was a one hit wonder and I rejoiced when I heard their interview on NPR. They have returned to the rap scene and I started fistpumping on the freeway.

Deltron 3030 was the self titled concept album released in 2000 about life in the year 3030. One of my favorite albums of all time, it is a creative masterpiece that changed the focus of hip-hop at a time when the majority of rappers only spoke about trifling materialism. The beats on 3030 were great (many were taken from contemporary French composer William Sheller) and its sci-fi lyrics touched on a new frontier of hip-hop. Deltron Zero, the album’s main character and Del’s alter ego, exists marauding through a dystopian universe.

Deltron 3030 Event II, the group's second album, has been about 9 years in the making. It takes place in the year 3040 and is a continuation of our protagonist’s commentary on life in the next millenium. Not much good has happened since the year 3030. Our hero faces a more disillusioned world than ever but manages to keep the listener engaged by weaving his engaging futuristic stories together.

The gems on the album are Talent Supercedes, Pay the Price, and Do You Remember. Both albums are on the playlist below.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Haiku Salut-Watanbe

I was looking for the perfect words to describe Haiku Salut's music and was coming up blank, blank for days. After a quick Google search to learn more about this band who seem to play to different sonical rules, I found that they describe their music as "Baroque-Pop-Folktronic-Neo-Classical-Something-Or-Other". In some ways this seems just right. Haiku Salut's music is the perfect playlist to put on when you need to work/study/focus on whatever it may be that you're doing. They layer melodies on top of one another until you have a skyscraper of hodge podge sounds, but every note seems to have its exact role. The songs never linger, and often race along furiously, but at the same time they let your mind breath, giving you enough audio stimulus to be able to think while never getting in the way of what you need to be doing. Check out my favorite song from their debut album Tricolore below and buy their album here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vieux Farka Touré-Mon Pays

In many West African cultures, the griot plays an important role at many different levels. Holders of histories, griots are storytellers, poets, and journalists, possessing both the ability to recount generations of history while immediately adding current events to that lineage as well.

Vieux Farka Touré's latest album Mon Pays effortlessly fits into Mali's rich music history while also presenting itself as a musical newsflash contrasting the turmoil that plagued the country in the last 18 months. In the griot tradition, histories and stories were passed down the generations through families; each griot passed his knowledge to his son, preserving cultural history. Vieux's father Ali Farka Touré has done just that. Although apparently he pushed Vieux towards a career in something else rather than music, Vieux is truly his father's son and rather seamlessly continues his father's musical legacy while also making a bold embrace of his country, his pays. Vieux links up with Sidiki Diabáte, son of Toumani Diabáte (who collaborated with Ali Farka Touré on the incredible In The Heart of the Moon album) and creates another stunning release which musically seems to acknowledge Mali's rich musical history while continuing to blaze ahead.

Buy Mon Pays here and listen to a sampler below:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Crystal Fighters-Live in Madrid (Concert Review)

Music sounds best live, a simple concept that Griff and I not only push on these pages but also are trying to use as the seed to build something even bigger. Live shows are defined by moments, sparks of inspiration by the band, chats with fans, moments that make the crowd go nuts, or touch you in a meaningful way. Crystal Fighters' show last Tuesday in Madrid had all of these and more, making them a must see act while having me convinced that they're on the very brink of blowing up globally.

Crystal Fighters' lead singer Sebastian Pringle entered the venue dressed in a jacket that seemed like it was designed by a kindergarten aged girl: all glitter and flash. Singing the intro "Solar System" with his face covered an even more glittery shawl, he first appeared to be toeing the line between properly lubricated and out of control. Sebastian soon rallied and his combination of strong vocals, funky dance moves, and love of rocking out on the ukulele quickly won my girlfriend and I over.

After his raucous entrance Sebastian and the rest of the band (Gilbert on the piano, Graham on the guitar, Eleanor on backup vocals) both brought energy and fed off of the crowd, both sides playing off of each other to create an almost perfect buzz in the sala. Memorable moments abound: the Txalaparta (the Basque instrument that the band is fond of) falling off the stage and hitting a fan in the head (he was fine); a fan sneaking on stage (twice!), the second time staying and singing along with Graham; the band trying their best Spanglish out...

Their unique brand of music reminded me of a more electronic Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and like Edward and his merry crew, Crystal Fighters are full of good vibes. While sometimes bordering cheesy, their two albums are hitting an incredibly high percentage of hits to filler, and combine that with a killer live shows makes the band one to watch from now on.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Choice Nugs: Joomanji

Joomanji is the Santa Cruz based collective that pumps out some of the most rootsy and soulful vibes known to (wo)mankind. San Diego’s Jonah Christian provides an inspirational pulse while he tickles the whites releasing a plethora of savory sounds. Joomanji’s sound has an upbeat, almost, happy-go-lucky feel that is laced with sweet vocals and conscious lyrics. One of the many highlights is hearing Devin the Dude rip a bongload and bless the mic on the track “Toasted.”

Expect big things from this epic band.

You can also purchase the album here. http://joomanji.bandcamp.com/album/manj

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Odesza-Summer's Gone (Album Review)

Even though Odesza's debut Summer's Gone came out in September 2012, it's the perfect electronic LP for August 27th 2013. Nights are finally getting colder here in Madrid, offering temporary respite from the blazing hot days and teasing cooler days to come. Today's jamandahalf is also the perfect wind down to a summer of bangers and big anthems. In some ways sounding like the sonical heirs to Röyksopp, Odesza's chill electronic jams leave you a warm smile on your face, dreading the imminent arrival of cold but confident that right around the corner will be summer again. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Odesza (a duo of producers who met in college) seem to be on the very tipping point of stardom. Recently touring with Pretty Lights, I can't wait to see what these guys have brewing. Check them out on their website where you can download Summer's Gone for free (check out the superb IPlayYouListen) or stream them below.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Choice Nugs: Skank

This post is about the dank band, Skank.  They have been putting out their good vibed reggae and mellow rock for over twenty years.  They were never my favorite band when I lived in Brazil but I seem to like them more and more.

Skank is from Belo Horizonte, which is Brazil’s third largest city.  Fortunately, when I listen to them, I often think about an epic journey that I took with Gator to BH.  However, Gator and I did not make the pilgrimage in honor of Skank.  We went to pay our radical friends a visit and we quickly discovered that BH is one of Brazil’s most fun and wild cities.  Our mates Thiago, Luiz, Matheus, Marcio and their amazing families showed us o melhor da cidade!  Our highlights included amazing family meals (a churrasco and an epic feijoada), epic Acai, enjoying um basiado na praca do papa, and a few over the top nights on the town.  My only regret is that we got our asses kicked playing footy at a local field.  I should have expected nothing less from Brazil.  Unfortunately, Skank’s music also reminds me of that fateful ass whooping.  Sometimes music can be bittersweet.

Obrigado Brasil!  Obrigado Amigos!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guest Review: Hunting Club – “Mosaic”

About a week ago I saw that Hunting Club had a new album coming out. I immediately remembered that about two years ago Andrew Archer came out of nowhere with a great review of their debut album Plaid Album. I wondered how he was doing and promised myself that I would check out the album. A couple of days ago Andrew (now a recently published author! [check out the link below]) once again wrote me out of nowhere with a review of Hunting Club's new album Mosaic. Thanks again Andrew for another firey review! You're always welcome on these pages. 

"Musical Concoctions"

I attended a Hunting Club show in the spring of 2012 at “Cause” in Minneapolis (after party was at “Effect”). After covering most of “The Plaid Album,” the instruments leapt into an awakening new track. Front man and infinite hipster—Eric Pasi (known to wear sunglasses on cloudy days)—had previously shared the unnamed song with me via e-mail, so I had some vague familiarity to the track.

I’m not sure if “Double Vision” is a dance or the dance created is the song? The hairs on my arms and neck gathered while I felt my bodily atmosphere shift. The feeling it invokes is between the one you get during a captivating speech and the moment you found out Steve Jobs died; it sort of comes out of nowhere with an auditory hurl, but parasitically implants itself. This shock never gets old. If you don’t at least tap your foot to the jam I would consult a physician about potential paralysis or other pseudo-neurological condition (e.g. blurred or double vision):

how can you pretend it’s super-stition?

knowing what is next would beat you senseless

After the 5 to 6 audience members left the venue, I slalomed to the front of the stage to catch up with Eric;

“That new [Double Vision] track is hot. It’s gonna be your hit single...I’m telling you, the Current [radio station] is gonna be all over that shit, you wait n’ see.” 

Hunting Club’s sophomore album opens with “Magic Bullet.”  The feel is something like running while you are stoned.

Tracks like “Skyscraper” exhibit the band’s true talent for uniquely-crafted yet stylistic jams that even inspire the most talentless of Caucasians to dance. My journalist copy was initially titled “THC 1,” which I was told did not refer to the band’s extra-curricular activities[citation needed].

“White Lies” has that hypnotic or transient, gritty sound that is like tentacles to the senses. The listener is held and it conjures an image of a benevolent octopus slow dancing with someone.

There is an omniscient—or at the very least—arrogant thread to “Hollywood (who cares?).” The lyrics are a nonchalant series of incongruent polarities:

blind faith black flag
line up get trashed
i know everyone
forwards backwards

The recursive track is ripe with satire depicting a Hollywood culture enveloped in the superficial. This commentary reaches the depths of that type of social complacency:

live in magazine
culture and wet dream
you know everyone
inside and outside 

The album finishes strong with the anthem and declaration, “Nothing Lasts Forever” as well as “More Than Games,” which takes aim at the romantic quest with existential annotations:

Deep in the sky I’m empty

[...] Dying for your apathy

The chorus grows incrementally as the song evolves into a remarkable ballad rich with emotional countenance.

I still can’t understand any of the words in the final song, “Suburban Bear,” but the fucking title is awesome!

This idiosyncratic collection of songs is an exploration of the shallow state of America. Songs like “Skyscraper” might be hinting at the capitalist ethos in general;

Living well on paper,

Living well on borrowed time

Or maybe I’m projecting... #studentloans

The album’s musical diversity is a concoction of jazz, hip hop and indie-rock. Despite the eclectic blend, the prodigious writing, instrumentation and swagger has left the audience with a musical composite that is creatively uniform; a "Mosaic."

-Andrew James Archer, author of the new book “Pleading Insanity”-

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tom Thum-TedxSydney Beatboxing

Beatboxing videos are a dime a dozen and generally range from mundane Skrillex covers to more "artistic" takes on the classics. The main feature they share is that they get old quick, the novelty factor of "wow he's making all those noises himself!" generally wearing out after a minute or so.

Tom Thum, however, is the Gandalf of beatboxers and keeps the TEDxSydney audience enthralled throughout this almost 12 minute long video. Hailing from Brisbane, Tom's talk goes from seeming out of place on a Ted stage to being the perfect Ted talk as it both entertains while making you wonder, and all the while he pushes the limits of the art of beatboxing. Take a break from whatever you're doing this summer Wednesday and check out a guy doing something he is really really good at. After you're done, get inspired and work on whatever will get you on that stage someday!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Kanye West-The Samples

Now that the music community's fickle eye has moved passed Yeezus to Jay Z's MCHG, it's ironically the perfect time to take a clearer look at Kanye's newest album. Now that all the instant reactions have passed and the reviews have been posted, the noise has died down and the music has a little space to breathe. But, before I post my thoughts, I want to take a look back on what has been one of the highlights of Kanye's music since his first mixtape: his samples. No matter what you think of Kanye as an artist, you have to appreciate his ear for music which ranges from the souliest Motown to Bollywood ballads. From what I can tell (after an excessive amount of time searching) all of these mixtapes aren't presented ANYWHERE else together online so so here are mixtapes of all (except Late Registration which seemingly doesn't exist) the samples from all of Kanye's six albums and a bonus mixtape from his G.O.O.D. Friday series. Enjoy the incredible variety of tunes! A full Spotify playlist of all these is coming soon!

Late Registration (Impossible to find!)

808s and Heartbreak (Video Only)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

alt-J -Breezeblocks (Live in Glastonbury)

I had another post all ready to go but it'll wait till tomorrow. alt-J just posted this video on their Facebook account and it put a big smile on my face. Performing at last week's Glastonbury festival, this show really seems to be the capstone on a tumultuous 18 months that has seen the band go from being virtual unknowns to attracting a crowd of tens of thousands at the biggest festival in Europe. I love seeing videos like these: although they have toured extensively you can tell that this is still special for them and their lead singer slips a "we made it" smile in at about the 1:40 mark. I wish nothing but the best for them and only hope that their taking time amongst the nonstop touring to work on their sophomore album (and it seems as though they are!).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Manu Chao: Live in Rivas, Madrid

With each "Hasta siempre Rivas!!" (Rivas being the town in the suburbs of Madrid where he played), Manu Chao and his merry band left the stage followed by the shouts and howls of the thousands in attendance. Four times they returned, stretching out a concert that I thought would be a little over an hour into a three hour marathon of amazing music: the funky sounds of when cultures intertwine, borders drop, and people come together. When we finally left the show, in the midst of a surprising May cold snap that had us shivering in the Spanish night, we were exhausted: legs cramping, vocal cords shattered, shoulders hurting from holding off the hordes. But even now I can still hear Manu shouting "Oy yo yo yoooo!", imploring us to keep up with his fierce energy.

Manu for me was a top two show I had to see, right up there with the indomitable Outkast. Manu's music was a big reason for me wanting to learn Spanish and, in some ways, for moving to Spain. Although he still hasn't made quite the same name for himself in the US, Manu's kaleidoscopic mix of different sounds have made him a legend in Latin American and many European countries.

After enjoying a few beers at the feria of Rivas before the show with my girlfriend and great buddy Tobes, we joined the masses to walk the quick jaunt to the gigantic auditorium of Rivas, a Spanish white elephant if there ever was one. What happened the next three hours is still a blur: a beautiful mix of different styles, influences, political messages, waved Western Saharan flags, and Manu. Songs took on lives of their own; the most obscure song would suddenly turn into a mammoth rallying call for the crowd to mosh with a passion. The only breaks Manu, his sound effect guy (another living legend), drummer, and guitar player took were the encore breaks, slight eyes of the storms of music and dancing. Jumping around from his monumental solo catalog and his work with Mano Negra, there is no song that I wish he had played but at the same time no song sounded exactly as I had heard it the hundreds of times before. The songs, rather, become notes in a amazing symphony that Manu was playing: each had its time to shine yet never became more important than the composition as a whole. The three hour symphony made us sing, dance, think, yell, and was a true musical experience-the closest thing this atheist will get to going to church-there with a couple thousand other music lovers, jamming at the alter of Manu.

For a taste of the show, check out Manu's live album from 2009, Baionarena! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tribute to a Funk Master: Rick James

I have a confession to make.  I think that Rick James is one of the funkiest musicians of all time. 

My brother Moose has been bumping his jams for years.  However, I never really liked him until last week.  When I thought of Rick James, I thought of the mythical song “Super Freak,” which I have heard about 10,000 times and I think really sucks. 

However, one song I do love is Rick James’ 1981 classic, “Give It to Me Baby.”  I know that most of the readers have already heard the song before because it has been featured in a few movies.  Back in the day, it reached #1 on the R&B charts.  However, I would like to use my bully pulpit (JamandaHalf) to implore you to give it another listen.  It is truly funky.

The first song on the playlist is “Give It to Me Baby” followed by a recording of Rick’s epic concert in Long Beach from 1981.  If I could go back in time, I would, if only just to go to that show.  It was a true party complete with a tribute to the late, great, Bob Marley, who had just passed away.  

"You paid too much money to come in here and sit on your ass!... Raise your left hand, raise it up high.  Now pretend its the KKK and smack the shit out of it!  Now keep the groove up!"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

JamandaHalf Interview: Kjel Keast and Isaac C

Kjel (pronounced “Kel”) Keast and Isaac C are two musicians from the south of England.  When this duo teams up, Kjel picks up the acoustic guitar and carries the choruses.  Isaac adopts a more central role taking responsibility for the verses.  Both Isaac and Kjel have separate projects and have only played together on a handful of occasions.  Recently, Kjel has spent his time playing solo gigs and bouncing around a number of bands, while Isaac has recorded a mixtape and just released a single entitled “Getaway” on iTunes.  Both are sick musicians but they are very different. And I think their contrast is what makes their joint project so special.

When the two get together, they cook up something quite pleasing. Isaac provides the main course of a great voice, conscious lyrics, and a polished flow. Kjel garnishes Isaac's verses with felicitous guitar rhythms and light, sweet vocals. The two styles stand in sharp contrast although when they come together they do so in surprising harmony. It is a zesty and refreshing combination to hear some rap without a thumping baseline.

I interviewed the garnisher, Kjel, a few weeks back and he enlightened me on a few topics.

Who are you and what do you do?
Me, myself, I was born in Cornwall, England.  So that makes me Cornish, English.  I'm a singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, engineer...
So, you're a music freak?
Well...yea...I like to get involved with it as much as I can.  I sing and I play the electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, drums, I do sound engineering...but now I am playing a bunch with my acoustic guitar.  It depends on my mood.  But I'm definitely a musician.  That is what I do.  On my Facebook it says 'musician slash entertainer.'
What are your musical goals?
If I sold out shows around the world I wouldn't complain.  But I would be happy if I could live off playing my own music.  To write music that makes me happy and makes other people happy.  Music connects on many different emotional levels and music makes people feel like nothing else really can.
How did you start working with Isaac?
I saw Isaac in this YouTube video, which features Isaac C with Michael Collings, a finalist on Britain’s Got Talent.  I know what I like and it is really hard to stand out in England because there is a lot of talent and I heard the song and I was like, 'this guy is really good.  I loved his tone, style and everything.'  So I saw that he had collaborated with a bunch of people and I sent him a message basically saying, 'hi, you don't know me but I'm a musician and live close by.  Would you want to meet up some time and play some music or do a song?'
And then I went to Turkey for a few months and when I got back I sent him another message.  It was a little bit iffy, we were gonna meet up and didn't.  Then one day we did.  Isaac told me that he wanted to play some of his songs from his mixtape in an acoustic setting and asked me if I might be able to do it with him.  And I said 'yea definitely.'  I took the songs home, listened to them, wrote all the chords for all the songs in one night and I sent it to him the next day and he loved it.  That was the second time that we had ever met.  We met a third time to practice and the fourth time we met was in the studio to record.  
[I wanted to switch topics so I decided to ask...] And what do you do when you are not playing music?
I enjoy being with my friends and having a good time, playing some football, a bit of sport, a bit of health...whatever.
[pause] A few....
A couple?
Well I like fruit more than vegetables.  I just bought some bananas the other day.  I like strawberries, grapes, pears, apples...
What about Brussels sprout, or cabbage?
Naaaaaawwww.  No.  I could eat a fruit salad....but I couldn't eat a vegetable salad.  I guess I don't really like all vegetables....I do eat some vegetables, I just don't eat every vegetable.
Especially not in salad form?
Well I love onions!  I love onions....I don't mind a few carrots....But I cant really do cucumbers.  No green and leafy, ewwwuuuggghhh.
Did you know, that cucumbers are actually fruit, technically.
Is it?  Is a cucumber like a tomato?  But you wouldn't have a cucumber in a fruit salad, would you?

We shot the shit for a good while, laughing about this and about that, but the bottom line is that Kjel and Isaac's project is good.  It is refreshing and new.  Kinda like taking a bite out of a fresh fruit...maybe even a cool cucumber.

Both Isaac and Kjel are currently running around trying to make a name for themselves. However, I feel like, together they have struck gold.  I hope they realize it too.  The duo plan to head into the studio in June to finish the album…and we will be waiting.

In the mean time here is a sample of what Kjel and Isaac do.

Talk Too Much


Friday, June 7, 2013

Stuff-Live at Montreux '76

Whatever you're doing today, whether it's counting down the minutes at work while the weekend beckons or hurtling your way through a paper which should have been written a week ago, it's never bad to have something that helps you carry that load. Let today's Bastaixo for you be the funky sounds of the band Stuff. A work buddy of mine (and a gnarly bass player himself) passed me along this video of a live set of them playing at the Montreux (Switzerland) Jazz Festival in 1976 and it's the perfect way to make an hour fly by today. Based in NYC, Stuff were great musicians in their own rights and had five albums go Gold in the US (and one went Platinum in Japan!). They were also sought after backing musicians and played with artists from Paul Simon to Aretha Franklin and John Lennon.

Stuff show off their incredible musical range and dabble in classical jazz to funk to jamband while sounding amazing the entire time. While you listen along, keep track of the audience. The frigid Swiss at first appear to be a hostile crowd yet eventually find themselves unable to deny the funk. And finally, it doesn't hurt that their drummer reminds me of this guy when he gets going.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Daft Punk-Doin' it Right

Like the ribs at RedHill BBQ in Rancho Cucamonga, California (my favorite BBQ spot in the world and a must visit if you ever find yourself lost in the concrete madness that is the Inland Empire) I musically let the new Daft Punk album smoke gently for hours. Good things come to those who wait and the perfect example is BBQ: only after a seemingly endless amount of time do the subtle flavors of the wood and marinade come out. Like a lot of you I followed every masterful video and teaser, all those subtle hints that turned an album by a (relatively little known 5 years ago) French electronic duo into the biggest album release of the millennium. After managing to ignore almost every preview and first impression post that plagued the blogosphere for those first weeks after the album dropped, I let the album do the talking and I think I can finally taste it: that subtle sweet tang of a track that will stay with me for years.

"Doin' it Right" is most likely the simplest track on Random Access Memories: a repetitive, echoing, loop based jamandahalf that is guaranteed to change this face as Ricky Rubio once said. Building and fading, "Doin' It Right" never loses that undeniable quirkiness that will have me going back to it for years, just like those innumerous trips to RedHill during our college years. 

Download Daft Punk Doin' it Right

Monday, June 3, 2013

Win One Month of Spotify Premium and JamandaHalf Stickers! (Updated with a winner!)

Thanks to everyone who participated! The winner of our first raffle (picked by random), out of 135 total entries is...Miriam Psychas! Email us at Jamandahalf.com for your free month of Spotify Premium. Be on the lookout for more raffles coming soon. 

Spotify and other music streaming applications have changed the way people consume music as well as the face of this blog. Coming up with the playlists for our around-the-world trip posts would have been impossible even ten short years ago and would have likely involved digging through the cruddy back alleys of sites like Kazaa (shudder). With Spotify you have the world's music at your fingerprints, and although it still has a little while to go (especially when it comes to search and organization), it's safe to say that it's changed the way that Griff and I listen to and discover music. To celebrate the end of the "trip" and the beginning of a new era for JamandaHalf, we're running a little contest to give the best that Spotify has to offer: one month of Spotify Premium, a month of unlimited ad-free music, everywhere you go (with their mobile and desktop applications). To sweeten the deal, we'll send you three JamandaHalf stickers (wherever you may be). To enter this contest, you have various options below to get "raffle" tickets by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, tweeting about this contest, writing to us about who you think should appear in the next JamandaHalf post, and adding a comment to this post. This contests runs till 5/31 and we will announce the randomly picked winner then! Enter to win in the widget below and good luck!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fauré and Xzibit: A Classic Sample

A few weeks ago, I went with my lady friend to see the Basque National Orchestra at the Kursaal.  It was great to hear some quality live music in a city whose music scene consists of people playing the Txistu or Txalaparta and the occasional jazz band playing in a bar that looks like a cave.  That is not to say that there is not some cool music in the Basque Country because there most certainly is.[1]   Nonetheless, the show was much appreciated.

My favorite part of the show was when they played Pavane, Gabriel Fauré’s opus 50.  It lasted six minutes and I was bouncing and bobbing in my seat the whole time.  From the get-go until its end, the elderly couple sitting next to me must have thought I was having a sort of seizure.  I was in the groove and even busted out into a little rap from time to time.  The reason for my antics was that Pavane was sampled in the classic Xzibit song Paparazzi Live and Video.

Two great jams and one great moment for me, although I think that I creeped everyone else out. 

[1] Future JamandaHalf post pending

Thursday, May 23, 2013

JamandaHalf Does South Africa

Gator is one of the most potent DJs I have ever known.  Today, he graces JamandaHalf with an epic playlist as well as some knowledge about South African music and culture.  The Young Geezuz spent half of 2011 in his usual style, living like a king in Cape Town and studying African drum rhythms.  This is what he learned.  Thanks brother and much love!
If the United States is the melting pot of different cultures, than South Africa could be referred to as the pressure cooker.  With 11 different official languages recognized in the constitution (English being the 5th most-spoken), the people of South Africa are truly an amalgamation of different cultures, each bringing its own values, beliefs, and music styles to the incredibly diverse modern state of South Africa. 

South African music reflects the country's muddled past, with artists combining different styles and techniques to create something new.  Many famous South African artists draw from the traditional techniques of the great native cultures of South Africa, such as the Xhosa, Zulu, and Sotho.  Other modern artists have been inspired by their European side, with house and techno vibes infused in their club thumping jams.  Most South African artists, however, have grown up listening to a wide variety of different genres and styles, and incorporate a bit of this and a bit of that to create something fresh.  This playlist ranges from Techno Pop songs to the traditional hymn that was used in The Lion King, so if you don’t like one jam, just go on to the next.