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:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shostakovich String Quartet Number 8 - 1st and 2nd Movements

This music is Dark. Angry, and jagged. I am going to say outright that you should listen to the whole quartet - from beginning to end, sitting in the dark with the music playing loudly over your speaker system, as even though there are separate movements, this is really one large piece broken into segments.

If, however you do not have the attention span to sit through 40 odd minutes of Shostakovich, then PLEASE do yourself a huge favor and listen to the first two movements.

This piece is angst-ridden, and is a fantastic example of the power that can be drawn from a string quartet. I believe that the power available from a string quartet is greater than that that one can obtain from an entire symphony orchestra. Today I am sitting in Melbourne, just about to go out and do some street performance and the weather is windy and dark. This piece seems perfectly appropriate.

Pay Attention to:
- The snap into the second movement. The first movement is gentle and reflective and it is truly shocking when the angular fast second movement begins.
-The introduction of the soaring melody half way through the second movement. The violin sails across the sea of the other instruments and transcends the tension of the other instruments.
-The incredible cello lines. Just WOW

Why you should be listening to this right now:
I have two separate versions of this string quartet on my laptop, a Famous Kronos Quartet version that is paired with Black Angels (and I think the Kronos recordning of Black angels is the Definitive Recording), and also a lovely recording by the Brodsky Quartet.
The Brodsky version is a much more sensitive recording, however today I am listening to the Kronos version as it is harsher and suits the mood I am in.

Listen to this piece because it is wonderfully dark, without being hedonistically so.

This piece goes well with:
Black Angels, (the cd is good fun to listen right through), Also some of the other Shostakovich string quartets, like the 7th. Also maybe some Prokofiev piano pieces, the toccata for example.

I have attached the Kronos version, however a few different versions are worth listening to.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ragged Wood - The Fleet Foxes

I first heard this song on the final episode of season 3 of skins. There is a montage as Cook is being contemplative, or something similar, I dont really remember. Anyway, what really struck me about this song was the beautiful opening chord progression.
There is a lovely sort of Dixieland groove (very similar to Jesusland by Ben Folds) and then the voice starts. The chord is E and then suddenly we get a chord change and the chord change is, rather unexpectedly to Bm., that is minor chord 5! Very pretty.

Like many Fleet Foxes songs, Ragged Wood departs from the normal pop song Verse-Chorus structure and instead is a sort of through composed binary form:

Verse - Chorus - Verse-Chorus then Bridge and then a time signature change into a lovely 3/4 waltz feel for the second half.

Pay Attention to:
- The vocal harmonies. The Fleet Foxes are influenced by Appalachian folk music styles as well as some bluegrass, and this comes through particularly in the vocals. They almost always sing in parallel harmonies and make use of their very high vocal registers.
- That beautiful B minor chord. The lyrics go : 'Come down from the mountain, you have been gone too long. The spring is upon us follow my only (i think..) song' and the word song is when the chord changes. It is just lovely.
-The organ in the waltz section. It is very subtle but the organ sits underneath the rest of the band and really adds to the fullness of the whole sound.

Why you should be listening to this right now:
The Fleet Foxes write songs that have a very strong American Folk element, and they hark to a sort of utopic rural lifestyle in America when everyone wandered around in the snow singing songs and watching as the woman of the woods goes by. They do the vocal harmony thing excellently and the other elements of the musical language are very gracefully done.

This goes well with:
Nice music where the voice is an element and the music is simply put together. Something like Paul Simon's Graceland or the groovier out put of Ani DiFranco would go down a treat.

Also here is the link to the Jesusland, very similar groove.