Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksween SHUT DOWN!

Well I have officially hosted my first holiday and I think it safe to say it was a resounding success. More than just a day of being thankful it was more of a whole weekend celebration. My bff no J/k Samantha came down from Boston for five days. We kicked it off right Wednesday night straight from the train station we went to see my friend Jeremy's band Pink Skull play at the Barbary. I have seen them before and they are simply fan-fucking-tastic. The first time I saw them the crowd was weak and no body was dancing. Thankfully, Wednesday was a totally different story. Pink Skull plays what I would call spacey dance band eletronica. A strong percussion foundation (provided by Jeremy) is funked up by Julian Grefe's drum contribution. Grefe is a key figure in the Philly electronic music scene he has been the co-driving force behind Making Time a ginormous Philly dance party. He clearly has a gift for the dancable beat and his partner in crime Justin Geller (who does mixing and lights) makes it even tighter. Mike Hammel and Sam Murphy round out the act and provide the spacey guitar and bass elements. They are at their dancey best when they are just jamming and despite some lame dead weights in the middle of the dance floor Sam and I, joined by a fine bunch of my Philly friends danced like crazy people.Even after Pink Skull left the stage and the DJ stepped in the dancing continued. I can't imagine a better way to kick off Thanksween.

Thursday JT and Marley, two fine souls from my college days, rolled into town at 12 and Thanksween officially commenced. Because this is a blog aimed at the music that colors such times I am going to avoid going into too great of detail about what antics we got into. Instead I'll stick to the tunes that were discussed, played and obsessed over. Beyonce's Single Lady Video was the central talking point. If you haven't seen it watch it NOW!

She is beyond furce in this video. The choreography respects the dance hall beat and she looks hamazing bringing it to life. Jenny Lewis was also looped a few times. Her latest release takes the bluesy alt country sound of Rabbit Fur Coat to a new level. Its got soul its got beautiful harmonies and is varied anough to keep your ear interested through out. Instead of writing at length I will simply refer you to Billy's posting on our house blog Whats Rockin Watkins. Other albums that got play: Fleet Foxes Winter White Hymnal Frightened Rabbit The Midnight Organ Fight YeaSayer All Hour Symbals plus a ton of random tracks.

We worked off the day of lounging and eating with a night of Soul/R&B/Funk again at the Barbary. Sam and I, as we are prone to do, got our dance on with Melinda, Keegan, Matt, Ashley & Dan as well as some other excellent booty shakers. The DJ's were supurb playing a little of everything from Otis Redding to The Stones. I think it is beyond safe to say a good time was had by all.

Yesterday we kept it low key some good heads came over we ate, watched movies and played with aminal (I'm watching my friend's bunny Morris and cat CrabCakes who were the mascots of the festivities). On the whole I must say this was by far the best Thanksween ever and hopefully the beginning of a fine new tradition.

Pink Skull Get Inside (My Tiny Pyramids)
Beyonce Single Ladies
Jenny Lewis Sing A Song For Them
Otis Redding Try A Little Tenderness

Monday, November 24, 2008

Birthday Noise

So there have been a slew of birthdays lately. Some I have been able to celebrate adequately (ahem Yakatori awesomeness for Ms Sklar) others I wish I had done more. Alas, I've been busy with work and getting ready to take some time off for baking, eating and general chilling over the holiday. But I thought I would put together a dedication mix for you folks who have conquered another year. So, here is to you Drew, Papa and Sam...

Townes Van Zandt If I Needed You
Graham Lindsey Shit On A Shovel
M Ward Story Of An Artist (Daniel Johnston cover)
John Mellencamp Cherry Bomb

Zaki Ibrahim You Choose
A Tribe Called Quest Check The Rhime
Flaming Lips Do You Realize????
The Little Ones Boracay

Get Cape Wear Cape D*A*N*C*E (Justice cover)
Matt & Kim Yea Yeah
Hospital Ships Bitter Radio Single
Takka Takka Everybody Say

With Love Emz

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Very Happy 3 minutes 34 seconds

My friend Shannon made this video for some friends and has managed to wrench some smiles from far more bluish faces. Click the link and watch the videos (Shannon's is the first)

Dance white boy DANCE!

Depeche Mode

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Aaaah ngst

There is this great scene in the movie Broadcast News when Holly Hunter (who plays a strong woman in the male dominated world of eighties well broadcast news) goes into her office, shuts the door and starts crying. When her boss walks in mid-sob session she collects herself and explains that she allows herself one cry a day to keep her sanity. I have ascribed to a similar ethic myself. On particularly rough days I allow myself a little break with some terribly sad songs to recognize the bluishness and indulge the inner angst but then move on. I find it keeps things in perspective while still allowing a lil bit o' outlet. As a nod to the great Broadcast News the songs assembled below are in the vein of the imperfect version of love and relationships it captured as well as standard go-to's for those pity breaks.

"I would give anything if you were two people, so that I could call up the one who's my friend and tell her about the one that I like so much"- Albert Brooks "Bubba" Broadcast News

The Everybodyfields Lonely Anywhere
Bon Iver & Sarah Siskind Lovin's For Fools
Jeremy Messersmith Beautiful Children
Slow Runner I'm Gonna Hate You When You Go
Wakey!Wakey! New Partner (Bonnie "Prince" Billy cover)
The Piano Creeps Hey Love

The Everybodyfields
Bon Iver
Jeremy Messersmith
Slow Runner
The Piano Creeps

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Mountain Goats

A week later I finally have time to give the run down of the Mountain Goats show I saw last week at the TLA. It was kind of an interesting crew I convinced my friend Tom/Sebastien to join me and we met up with Ashley and her fella Dan as well as another friend of hers. A random bunch, yes but, fun all around.

The show was all ages and at the TLA two variables that generally mean an influx of non-city dwellers and this was no exception. Kaki King was the opener and beyond saying she could be the poster child for "only one good album" and "much better recorded" cliche definitions I am not going to waste my energy on expressing how totally horrible she was for the entire hour and half she played [a set time rivaling those common during shows from my Jam Band phase]. The single redeeming factor was the sound board guy who played trumpet and some digital instrument that looked like the love child of a Casio keyboard and a bong from the back, apparently too shy to join them on the stage.

Anyways, the Mountain Goats made a quick switch of gear and got off to a rollicking start. I have been a fan from afar for a while but in the last few months I have really come back to some of their stuff, in particularly live recordings. So, seeing them live was a priority. For someone with Aspebergers John Darnelle is pretty fantastic on stage. His anecdotes were short and entertaining and got right back to the music. He even satisfied a request from the audience to play "Thin Lizzy" -- only after pointing out it was generally in poor taste to ask for a cover by shouting out the other band's name and not the song title -- and it was a fine cover of a eighties pop standard. They kept to their peppier stuff Fall Of The Star High School Running Back and Pirates and No Children the lyrics to which are some of my favs. The crowd (after the Kaki fans went away) was a fun dancy high spirited bunch singing along to Darnelle's often quirky lyrics.

The only low point was Kaki's return to the stage, and I really am not trying to hate on her too much it was just the weak point honestly, and their duet on the Snake Song they have recently released. I'm pretty sure that's not even the real name but its not one I like too much and seemed to go on for too long.

Kaki stuck around for another song but then the rest of the Goats came back on stage and finished the set. The show finisher, for me at least, was This Year. The one song I was really really wanting to hear. He sang it with a sincerity I hadn't heard in previous recordings, perhaps due to a year that he led by mentioning was one of the hardest he has ever experienced. I didn't stick around for the encores I was stupid tired at that point (1:12 am) but I heard it was excellent. On the whole not the best show I've seen but certainly not the worst and I will definitely catch them once the opportunity again presents itself.

The Boys Are Back In Town
This Year
Dance Music

Other People's Music

Covers, I love them. There is just something about hearing a song, whether they are familiar or not, done by two different artists that gets my musical brain revving. Comparing two musicians/groups styles, lyrics, delivery, spirit, voice etc is at is purest and most satiating when done on the same song. There is also something refreshing when you hear a song you know and, maybe have grown just a little too comfortable with, done in a way you would have never anticipated. I will probably be tossing out cover features pretty regularly as I have a ton of them and I'm always adding more. So without further ado...

Glen Hansard Everytime
(originally by Britney Spears) In its original form, from Ms. Spears' Toxic album, was a guilty pleasure in its truest sense; I rarely played when anyone else was around and certainly didn't sing along when they were. But I just really like the lyrics so when I heard this version by Glen Hansard (of Once[the movie]/The Frames/Swell Season) fame it gave me a legitimate addition to my public playlists. It definitely falls into the "better cover than original" category. Sorry Brit.

Harry Nilsson Always Look On The Bright Side of Life
(originally by Monty Python) I always think of my cousin Sam when I encounter Monty Python material. He went through a phase when he was pretty plus'd by the brilliantly humorous comedy troop. This cover is still infused with the pep of the original, perhaps a little too much so. I usually prefer when the cover artist adds their own twist. None the less the I thought it worthy of sharing.

Deer Tick Beautiful Girls
(Originally by Sean Kingston) I haven't encountered other Deer Tick music before so I will avoid generalizations about their overall abilities but I really like their take on this pop tune. When SK's original hit the scene I was still listening to radio and, while I liked the mellow soulish song on first listen, it was soon overplayed and incredibly annoying. Deer Tick have resurrected it for me in a muy indie ballad kind of way. I'll have to do some further digging into their rep.

Vampire Weekend Everywhere
(Original Fleetwood Mac) On the whole I am a fan of Vampire Weekend. They are catchy and smart and their combination of poppy percussion and paul simonsish vocals translates really well to this Fleetwood Mac classic. More than adding their own twist they make it their own. Its Everywhere a'la Vampire Weekend, not ironic or bastardized. Clearly done with fun and respect.

The Arcade Fire Brazil
(Original by Ary Barroso on the Brazil sdtk) First, let me share with you the following Wiki facts: the song was written on a "pluvious night" in 1939, is considered Brazil's most famous song and ushered in that oh so popular era of "exaltation samba." It is also the one song, done in various arrangements that provides the soundtrack to the movie Brazil which I recently watched and found um, interesting. The Arcade Fire's take seems to be a homage of sorts and I love that I am no longer the only one championing the return of exaltation samba.

(Originally by Feist) My adored Julie was the first person to introduce me to the, now viral, youTube music video of the lady feist and all of here primary colored friends dancing in sync. And it seems like everyone has done a take/remix/mash up of the song, including Feist herself cutting a Sesame Street version. Bikini's count is electronic fun and v. distinct. Keeping to what they do well this is a great intro to some of their own work (check out Oh Girl Get On The Floor).

Wakey!Wakey! Maps
(Originally by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) Wakey!Wakey! is one of many groups putting out cover projects lately -- Denison Witmer is another indie scenester doing other peoples work worthy of your time. For the most part their versions of Foo Fighters, Beach Boys and even Alicia Keys songs are straight from the sheet music to your ear with a slight saccharine coating. But in this case the sugar treatment on an previously reserved recording is actually kind of interesting.

If you like their versions of other people's songs you can find more here...

Glen Hansard (The Swell Season)
Deer Tick
Vampire Weekend
The Arcade Fire

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Apathetic No More

I have long feared my generation would be remembered as the apathetic generation. But today as I biked past lines wrap around the block, saw "I Voted" stickers adorn the bags and chests of nearly everyone I passed and listened to reports of historically high voter turnout I have hope that we will be remembered for much greater things. Regardless of this evening's outcome I hope you remember what it was like to have participated in this sea change and don't loose faith in the value of your words, the power of your actions.

To complement yesterday's list of classic political songs here are some of today's voices not willing to let current events go unnoticed.

Nappy Roots Good Day
Green Day We Are The Waiting
Rustic Overtones Letter to The President
James William Roy Donuts & Bacon
Steve Earle Rich Mans War
John Mayer Waiting On The World To Change
The Flaming Lips Yeah Yeah Yeah
Ben Lee We're All In This Together
Twista Hope
Novel (ft. Talib Kweli, Ben Folds & Spredd Wilson) I Am

Your Song

On the eve of what promises to be a truly historical Presidential election I am choosing to look back at political musical statements that have defined other historically monumental times. Musicians have often given voice, drawn attention and channeled power to people and events lacking the soapbox or eloquence to capture the essence of their struggle. Thanks to a life long awareness of political/social music, from gospel to Woodstock, provided by my mother it was tricky to choose which tracks to include in this post. Dylan was essential, of course, but I didn't want to travel the predictable road and I think the final playlist manages to cover some quality music history plot points.

It takes an exceptional degree of awareness, empathy and talent (not to mention serendipity) to create music that can inspire millions to act, or at least pause and reconsider their reality. And I will always respect, share and appreciate this music. I ask you to listen, think and ACT. You may not have what it takes to write the next great social anthem but you do have the power, the RIGHT to vote. Go out tomorrow and be part of history. Play your part and your song will be sung in the returns declaring Obama and hope the victors.

Jackson Browne I Am A Patriot
Allen Toussaint Yes We Can Can
Bob Dylan The Times They Are A Changing
Sly & The Family Stone Stand!
Robin Williams & Bobby McFerrin Come Together
Blind Boys of Alabama Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen
John Mellencamp This Land Is Your Land
Matt Nathanson The Wind
Ben Jelen Talkin Bout A Revolution
Anthony David Whats Goin On

An interesting list

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Phantasticly Phun iPh not Phrfeaky Phillie Phriday

It was crazy fireworks in the street, planters destroyed, bikes lit on fire, cars flipped, dj's spinning on top of buses. Combined with Halloween yesterday was a strange day in Philadelphia. In honor of the absolute chaos that overtook this city I share with you a tune I grabbed from the MadDecent blog.