Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Consolação - Herbie Mann and João Gilberto

This track is some very smooth bossa nova.

Just flute guitar and a little percussion, this is as smooth as smooth gets. The flute, (to my continuing shame I cannot work out if it is bass or alto flute) is desperately smooth and silky and slinky and sexy and the guitar is light and beautiful. The percussion is unpredictably syncopated and very minimal.

Herbie Mann is a great great jazz flautist and this is off an album I have of his called 'Do the bossa nova' and it is just divine.

The tune here is so unhurried. It just floats along. The solos are also modal, in the dorian mode with a strong emphasis on the major chord IV occurs in that mode and this makes it so beautifully elegant.

Pay Attention to:
The graceful guitar solo at the beginning; it is elegance.
The smoky flute sound. When the flute finally floats upward to the top of its range, it is just the most gorgeous moment.
The subtlety of the percussion. No bar is accented the same as any other bar. Genius.

Why you should be listening to this right now:
It is the loveliest background music for a sleep afternoon or quiet/intimate evening and I love how raw this is. It is unassuming and not at all overproduced.

The youtube vid is not amazing quality, but it is still beautiful.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

No Such Thing - John Mayer

It is Friday afternoon and it is sunny and memory lane is just around the corner. Today had a smell that tugged on my memory; more specifically it dredged up recollections of the final days of the year at my first high school. I remember a smell that was a combination of dust and cut grass and sweat and excitement that came with the beginning of summer and the end of school and today I got a whiff of that exact smell.

The first time that I heard this song was when it was the soundtrack for a silly catwalk thing that a design student had organised, but the song stuck in my head as the soundtrack to a summer afternoon, or more specifically the Friday afternoon when school has finished, (which for me it just has...)

Ok - So I know a few of you might say...'But.. John Mayer?' with a tone of voice that would imply that he is not worthy of my attention. Ladies and Gentlemen this could not be further from the truth.

Mayer is first and foremost a quite dazzlingly good guitarist. You cannot deny this. He plays his parts and writes the songs and they are sexy..(listen to 'Neon' on the Room for Squares).
He also has that lovely smoky voice which really hits the spot, and unlike many guitarist pop song writers, his songs are interesting.

Mayer borrows a lot from jazz and blues and (I read in a recent interview) that his favourite guitarist is Stevie-Ray Vaughan, can't go wrong there.

I recommend listening to the whole of this album - each song is different and interesting.


Why you should be listening to this right now:
It is not so indie that it is too cool for daggy people like me (and you..)

It is not so poppy and over produced that all it is good for is taking your shirt off in a club to it

It is unassuming and easy to listen to and yet rewarding to listen to... there are layers of sound that reveal themselves with further listening.

Pay Attention to:
That cute little major 7 riff at the beginning
John Mayer's sexy voice
The lyrics... which actually have a somewhat impressionistic flow which I always like.

In the music video.. make sure to notice how Mayer does not look like he belongs to his own voice...


Friday, September 10, 2010

El Mañana - Gorillaz

Hey Blog buddies,

Today we are listening to Gorillaz. You probably all know this song, or at least one of the songs of this album.

This song is sad. The music is sad and the song has a certain poignant hopelessness. El Mañana means 'tomorrow' in Spanish, and this song seems to project a dystopic tomorrow where beauty is destroyed to make way for progress.

This is part of the Album 'Demon Days' which is quite inspired as poppy albums go. Instead of being a series of disconnected singles that are mass produced for quick sale, this album is a concept album. Almost a continuous track, the songs of the album lead into each other and seem to paint a portrait of a futuristic and possibly post apocalyptic world.

The band are well known for their habit of never appearing in their video-clips, but using their
invented cartoon personas. The video-clips for the whole album make use of common themes and characters; the floating windmill among others.

This whole idea seems to borrow from the Japanese anime tradition; it reminds me rather of a combination of say Nausica - Valley of the Winds and maybe one of the animated Highlander videos.

Anyways, El Mañana is one of the more depressing songs but the juxtaposition between the layers of syncopated and un-syncopated rhythms really give this song some groove.

Why you should be listening to this right now?
Gorillaz move within a very conventional music medium; namely electronic pop, and yet they make it interesting and really do approach the music from a very conceptual-artistic perspective - how many other pop bands create a fantastic world like this and then integrate it all into a concept album.

Pay attention to:
- The descending chord progression which contributes to the hopelessness.
- The beauty within this song. The contrasts of sounds and the male vocals really create a sort of delicate beauty; I have a mental image of something like; a bird flying over the carnage of a deserted muddy battlefield.

This goes well with:
Other Gorillaz. Japanese anime.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Telephone Song - The Vaughan Brothers

Many people say that the greatest electric guitarist of all time was Hendrix. These people are tripping balls.

The greatest guitarist who has ever lived was Stevie Ray Vaughan and while this is not my favourite track (that honour is taken by 'Long Way Home') the funk inspired blues groove just suits my mood right now, when by all means I should be feeling like Mozart's requiem.

Anyways! This song is so groovy and with the, at least, 3 guitars floating all across each other this should by all means be a confusing mangled mess yet the brothers manage to slinkify it into a place of clarity.

Now: this is basically your standard 12 bar blues... however they get all sneaky...

Verses: I____________IV__ I____V (all the same).. then! II7 (ie V7 of V) which goes to V!!! then back to I

Then the chorus:


Then there is a beautifully constructed guitar solo (read: Goes over 1 head and builds to a very effective climax, restrained virtuosity - no showing off)

Pay attention to:
The various layers of guitar sound
Stevie's awesome texas-accented voice
The cool chords at the end of the solo

Why you should be listening to this right now:
Best cure for Sundaynitis that I know of is funk-blues.

Goes Well with:
any other funk blues.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Golden Brown - The Stranglers

Woo. I am being evicted. Or ' we' are being evicted rather.

In a classic share-house moment I am sitting in my old man dressing gown, in the sun, on the kitchen floor, drinking wine and cackling at the world, while burlesquely hungover from last night. My housemates are 'keeping up appearances' and putting on a feast for a visiting relatives, after having received our (rather unjust) eviction notice via an email this morning. We of course will contest this as the grounds are ridiculous in the least....

But whne I am having such a moment, I think of 'He died with a felafel in his hand' the seminal work on Australian share-house culture. The song that comes to mind ('this is sydney, you gotta lighten up Fyodor..') is Golden Brown by the Stranglers.

Basically an ode to heroin, this song is way cool with it's neo-baroque use of harpsichord and epic time signature changes.

So let us cut to the chase, since I may not last much longer:

Pay Attention to:
-The cool time signature changes - 3/4 - 3/4 4/4 wooo
-The lovely guitar solo
- The lyrics, simple yet evocative. Never overt, they can be read as an espousal of heroin, or just as a sort of obscure dialogue on nothing

Why you should be listening to this right now:
Life sucks. Then you die. If you are lucky you will get to live in a share house in between. This is the soundtrack to share-house living, fun yet obscure. Arcane yet approachable. Any more babble from me and you may stop listening..!

This goes well with:
Centrelink 'on hold' music, Nick Cave and 4am. White wine and fish-fingers. Badly played guitar at 4 in the arvo.

Here is the youtube link

Ciao chickadees.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Shiksa Goddess - from 'The last 5 years'

Ok. Let me just get out that I do not like musicals.

I also do not like cats. Sometimes, however, an individual cat manages to win some affection from me. I still detest cats (plural) but I am prepared to engage with cat (singular and specific).

This goes for musicals as well.

The last 5 years is really just quite brilliant, and sadly it premiered unexceptional critical acclaim.

The musical is about a couple, Jamie and Kathy, who are a writer and an actress. They meet. They fall in love. They get married. They fight. They break up. This process takes 5 years.
What makes this musical stand out is the way that this is approached. Jamie and Kathy are the only 2 characters in the musical and they are only on stage together for one sequence; their wedding.

Jamie moves through the musical in a chronological fashion, but Kathy's experiences begin at the end of the relationship and move backwards (so the musical begins with Kathy 'still hurting' as Jamie leaves her and ends with Jamie saying 'goodbye forever' while Kathy sings 'Goodbye until tomorrow'.

The music is exceptional. Set for piano, guitar, bass, two cellos and violin, Jason Robert Brown does a fantastic job of making this ensemble stand out. He uses all different styles ranging through jazz and klezmer, folk and pop and everything else he can integrate skillfully.

This particular song is Jamie's first in the musical and runs directly out of the end of Kathy's wistful and heartfelt opening number. 'Shiksa Goddess' is Jamie saying how glad he is to have met a girl who 'is not from Hebrew school'. Originally titled 'someone like you' Robert Brown had to change this song after being sued by his ex wife Theresa O'Neill for basing the musical too closely on their relationship.

It is a sort of salsa inspired latin song which has everything a cheerful number should have. It is not musical 'cheesy' and has some genuinely funny lyrics. The music is great (particularly the piano part). This song is sort of the equivalent for Jamies character that 'Summer in Ohio' is for Kathy. It's a chance to really belt it out and also let loose a bit.

This musical is really quite tragic... but I love the way Jason Robert Brown sets this concept.

Pay Attention to :
The lyrics! 'if you came from spain or japan or the back of a van, just as long as you're not from hebrew school...'
The music - The chords are really great and give real momentum to this piece
The instrumentation - With minimal instruments the piece is still very strong. The strings are used superbly.

Why you should listen to this:
If like me you are being continually left high and dry by musicals then this is a chance to find something wonderful in this very very very overdone genre.
If you adore musicals then I shouldn't really have to sell this to you, right?

This goes well with:
Any thing else from this musical. I do not have any other jason Robert Brown stuff, but I am chasing it up!
Check out 'climbing uphill for

AS always here is a link to a youtube video:


Monday, July 19, 2010

Cubanb-Texas by Les doigts de l'homme

Ok. Now this track is quite impossible to watch on youtube, but it is amazing!

This band is a 4 piece from France: 3 guitars and a double bass and they are intense! - In this song one guitarist is playing banjo and it is the sort of banjo that would make Bela Fleck commit suicide.
It begins with a funky gypsy samba line and then the other instruments come in. Basically this is just a simple chord progression repeated over and over with a banjo soloing, but it is so unusual i Just had to share it with my blog buddies.
It is the soundtrack to my triumphant return to the internet, having just set it up over the space of 2 hours and 2 phonecalls to iinet (who were quick to answer and lovely..) it is done!
Groovy manouche-samba seemed the only alternative.

As this isn't on youtube I am also going to talk about another song by Les doigts de l'homme which is their cover of ol' man river.
It is in 14/8. Enough said!

Pay Attention To:
Cuba-Texas - The sneaky 7 bar phrases in the B part
- That awesome banjo
-The contrast between the guitar and the banjo sounds during the guitar solo
-The awesome banjo break where the banjo player sings his line

Ol' Man River
-The incredible lines played in thirds by the two different guitarists
-The cool way that Ol man rivers works in 14/8

Why you should be listening to this right now:
I have not encountered a band this skilled in a while. I bet you haven't either. This is where it is at and everyone doing anything even similar in Australia should lift their game. It is eminently listenable and it works as both background music and under intense focus.

This goes well with:
Cute gypsy jazz like Django.
However it is really more in the vein of Lulo Rheinhardt or Woohoo Revue. Maybe even taraf de haidouks?

here is the link to ol man river: