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Posts Tagged ‘youtube’

A few requests for splendid soul music have come marching in , so I guess it’s time for YouTube to make a rare appearance in its full glory.

(clears throat)…just in case you haven’t already visited Souled On to whet your appetite for afro-centric music, here’s a gentle reminder why…nah screw it, just listen to Aretha Franklin coax her soul to take a stance on While The Blood Runs Warm

Mahalia Jackson is everybody’s mother when she sings.

Do YouTube these gorgeous women of soul more often.

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BradMehldau01I came across Brad Mehldau while scouting YouTube for Radiohead covers. So, he is this post-bop jazz pianist who makes music for Nonesuch Records, a label that boasts of many wonderful, eclectic musicians. Brad Mehldau’s pretty friggin great, as well. Wikipedia says that Mehldau’s “signature techniques is to create an ostinato in his right hand whilst developing a motivic idea in his left hand” and supposedly this is very, very cool. I’m sure I’d agree if I understood what that meant. With my meager knowledge of jazz music, I’ll try slightly better than just drooling and holding a placard that says “sounds awesome matcheee”.

See, I think appreciating jazz is very much like loving a lady. It can never be love at first sight. You need to become familiar to her. Before taking her out, you’ve got to smell her hair, go through her music collection, visit the hospital in which she was born, find out what moves her and then decide if she moves you.

I guess that’s why I easily got into Mehldau’s versions of Radiohead tracks. Despite the strange transformation of Nineties mod rock into exquisite lounge-y piano pieces and Radiohead’s not-to-be-fucked artistic merit, it was the familiarity in melodies that had me nodding my head in approval. The notes flow like sad little droplets of water in each song with Tom Yorke’s wailing inconspicuously absent during moments of manic crescendo.

So here it is then…a toast to discovering jazz and a tribute to one of her obscure lovers, Brad Mehldau.

Download

Brad Mehldau – Exit Music (For A Film)

Watch

Brad Mehldau – Paranoid Android

Brad Mehldau – Knives Out

Brad Mehldau – London Blues

Buy

Brad Mehldau’s Elegiac Cycle

Tidbit

Other artists who make music for Nonesuch Records: Philip Glass, Thomas Newman, John Zorn, Kronos Quartet, Shawn Colvin, Magnetic Fields, Black Keys, Emmylou Harris, Viktor Krauss, Jonny Greenwood, Youssou N’Dour and Brian friggin Wilson!

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When I quit the liquor scene, I unintentionally gave up on good ol’ southern rock. Face it, some shit sounds better when there’s a couple of lagers inside of you. I mean, Lynyrd Skynyrd is a great, great band, no doubt about that…but when confronted by sobriety, Gary Rossington’s white-hot solos sound tamer than you’d expect them to. Gulp down a couple of Glenfiddich shots and you’d be truly humbled by the sheer amount of asskickery those solos incite.

gov't muleOver the weekend I got myself reacquainted with Gov’t Mule. I used to be one of their e-roadies; getting people introduced to them through peer-to-peer applications, chat messengers and a highly temperamental lazy eye. Led by the ‘real‘ king of good times (screw you, Kingfisher) Warren Hayes, Gov’t Mule made music that you could groove to until Gloria Estefan throws a hissy fit and tells you, “haha the rhythm got you”. At that point you should probably ask her to leave, turn the volume on tracks such as 30 Days In The Hole and walk the fine line between dancing and rioting.

The guitar tone is almost always fantastic and when interspersed with rhythmic percussion blasts and a low bass riff, they could easily driven that one imaginary song on the Almost Famous soundtrack that had balls.

warren haynesNot everything is up-tempo and unruly in a fun sort of way. Quite understandable given the tendency of southern gentleman to talk bout their women over a guitar riff. “Beautifully Broken” is one of those epic ballad rockers you hear every once in a while that is unbelievably better than November Rain. The live version on YouTube starts off with a slight nod to Prince’s When Doves Cry and sometime around the 1.40 min mark; a beautiful solo lifts the song into a soulful landscape where Syd Barrett drank bear instead of dropping acid.

Given the sheer length of the concert performance, you’d probably ease up on hearing the whole track.

Now imagine if you had done the same for Skynyrd’s Free Bird.

Yes, that’s how good Gov’t Mule can be.

Watch

Gov’t Mule – Beautifully Broken (Live)

Gov’t Mule – Thorazine Shuffle (Live)

Download

Their live performances on beemp3

Of course I’d much rather you buy

Govt Mule’s Live At Roseland Ballroom

Govt Mule’s Dose

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sideways-4Sideways ended up being my absolute favourite movie of 2004. With Alexander Payne’s storytelling coupled with Paul Giamatti’s sketchier-than-thou character, the film almost seemed to feverishly mutter to itself when confronted by visuals of rare beauty. Like an author on painkillers recording a soliloquy for YouTube…without the self-indulgence, of course. The film had a lot more going for it. Thomas Haden’s jabs to your funnybone, Sandra Oh’s quizzical expressions, and every single scene that was fortunate enough to have Virginia Madsen smile on its behalf.

The spotlight stealer, as far as I’m concerned, was Rolfe Kent’s original compositions for the film’s soundtrack. When Miles (Giamatti) stays over at his mom’s dainty duplex, we are treated to an exquisite instrumentation (“Slipping Away As Mum Sleeps”) that ominously peers over Miles during one of his moments of utter desperation. The sound revisits the film briefly much later when Miles hears about his ex-wife’s wedding. He grabs a bottle of wine, guzzles it down while running downhill, closely followed (almost comically) by Haden asking him to get his life together. Miles comes to a screeching halt when he looks around at the vineyard that has outgrown his path. He tenderly holds a piece of grape between his fingers and looks at it with a delicate balance of admiration and despondency; the strings pour at a sweet melody and cinema, as I know to be, lifts itself to another level.

“Asphalt Groovin” is seductive as hell, with a killer carnival-esque folk sound always luring the listener in with tender force. “Constantine Snaps His Fingers” is a slight variation of the previous one, sort of reminding me of the liberties that Kronos Quartet took with the soundtrack of Requiem For A Dream; the way they shaped and shifted a singular tune into many variations with each one being a haunting memory of the other.

“Lonely Day” is mesmerizing and almost delirious it its treatment of Miles’ sadness. Very, very trippy. It also would have been the album’s finest song if it weren’t for “Los Olives”. I am not going to say anything about this instrumental, but I do beseech you to listen to it. You have no soul, if you aren’t moved by it. Either that or you absolutely have no inclination for jazz, which merely means that I can no longer be your friend.

rolfekent-cuRolfe Kent has also composed music for About Schmidt, the deadly Silence Living in Houses and Adrian Brody’s finest hour – Oxygen. IMDB tells me that he has crafted original compositions for Freaky Friday, Legally Blonde Mean Girls, but thanks to the Ultra Max, Kryptonite-fueled, Amnesiac Art Filter (there’s a discount too if you order it online) that I have installed in my medulla oblongata, I’ll be keeping an ear out for his sounds in the future.

(Mp3 versions will be available sometime during the weekend)

Watch

Rolfe Kent – Asphalt Groove

Rolfe Kent – Constantine Snaps His Fingers

Rolfe Kent – Lonely Day

Rolfe Kent – Los Olives

Rolfe Kent – Miles’ Theme

Note: In other news, one of the members of the colLeague of Extraordinary Carnivores at my office has decided to blog…er spit venom. You can read it by clicking here.

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250px-rezso_seressWhen it comes to appreciating art, I have the attention span of a twitchy goldfish. Sometimes it’s a good thing…especially when it imbibes in me a glorious urge to explore all genres of music. But sometimes it prevents me from discovering the roots of all the sounds and noises that have so far shaped my aural tastes. For instance, about a year ago when I stumbled upon the legend of “Gloomy Sunday”, I posted an entry and promptly forgot about it. For those who don’t know, Hungarian composer Rezső Seress recorded Szomorú Vasárnap – the original version. Pretty soon rumours started circulating about how hordes of ill-fated lovers were committing suicide after listening to the song. Years later, of course Billie Holiday covered it in 1991 and gave it a soul twist like only she can.

456px-ladydayHowever, after reading about its dubious origins, I downloaded the original version of the song and…well, I would have given my left arm to know what inspired the composer to delve so far into his messed-up psyche. While Billie Holiday’s version remains the most easily accessible renditions of one of history’s darkest symphonies, it certainly wasn’t the most potent. Even Rezső Seress’s original composition wasn’t the most chilling version.

At least it was until yesterday.

Last night, as I was searching for Big Maybelle on Youtube, I came across a heap of versions of “Gloomy Sunday”. Included in the list of musicians who have been inspired enough to cover the song were Elvis Costello, Diamanda Galás, The Smithereens and others. After spending a good hour listening to as many versions as I possibly could, I have decided that renditions put forth by Bjork, Cathy Davey and Marie-Louise Damien were the finest of the lot.

bjork2Bjork has a way with music that lends her to toy with its permutations, without ever having to cultivate the annoying habit of being different just to be different. There is something so attractive about her craziness that you almost want to stuff her into your shirt pocket and show her off at jazz festivals. This version – released as a live cut in the year 2000 – is a stunning yet scary hypothesis of what might have happened if Bjork was born in Chicago during the 1920s when jazz was hot as the burning sweat that trickled down the foreheads of those playing it in blues bars and soul kitchens. It was more than just haunting; it was the stuff that angels with fractured jaws and salty tears were made of.

3700368441022I was really surprised to find French singer Marie Damien’s 1936 version of it on YouTube considering how bloody rare it is. Renamed as “Sombre Dimanche”, it was an operatic tribute to the original version with a couple of tenors on background vocals. While not as good as the ones that followed it, this song was probably the first cover of the tune to remain faithful to the 19 Century gothic vibes of the original.

Very little is known about Irish singer Cathey Davey;cathy-davey-blog I, for one, had never even heard of her existence until last night when her live version of “Gloomy Sunday” put me to sleep with it’s gorgeous melody. The song starts off with twinkling sounds reminiscent of tiny baby toes gently stepping on a xylophone. She sings the lyrics with a sort of a depraved innocence that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Oliver Twist. I am definitely sure that we all need to nurture a healthy obsession with Cathey Davey.

If that’s too much to ask for, I at least hope that you obsess about music…period. While doing so, dig deeper into the roots of what you love…I’m telling you, you’d be surprised.

Download

Marie-Louise Damien – Sombre Dimanche (Gloomy Sunday)

Bjork – Gloomy Sunday

Cathey Davis – Gloomy Sunday

Buy

Cathy Davey’s Something Ilk

Bjork’s Vespertine

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Obscurity in art has died. There’s always this dude sitting in front of his computer under a glacier in Quebec who has some messed-up death metal / hip-hop version of that Lynyrd Skynyrd B-side track. I used to pride myself in flipping through the back catalogues of Landmark’s music section, hoping to find an Entombed album or that John Frusciante solo album. Hell, I even thought that merely purchasing Marilyn Manson’s Last Day On Earth entitled me to some sort of a cool status.

b0006u4uau01_sclzzzzzzz_Obscurity has died with the dawn of bittorrents and peer-to-peer technology. No longer are underground musicians shrouded in mystery with their albums falling prey to cobwebs and dirty fingers of ignorant cassette storeowners. They are available for your listening pleasure on mp3 blogs, torrent softwares, YouTube and such. And now inaccessibility to rare music exists in theory and it is more attributed to the laziness of people unwilling to scourge through music review websites and find reasons to persist with YouTube until they get what they are looking for. I have been obsessing about discovering new music ever since I read Mark Pytlik review of LCD Soundsystem’s Sound Of Silver on Pitchforkmedia and then promptly downloaded the blisteringly hip “North American Scum” on through the Hypem blog search engine.

soul_coughing-band-1994Much like LCD Soundsystem, Soul Coughing is another one of those brilliant rock bands that MTV never bothered to promote during its heyday. Led by folk savant Mike Doughty, Soul Coughing whipped up a frenzy of sound that borrowed as much from improvisational jazz as it did from razor-sharp alternative rock music. With Mark De Gli Antoni on samplers, Sebastian Steinberg on bass, and Yuval Gabay on percussion and drums, they even experimented with hip-hop and folk psychedelia. I first heard of these guys on the Spawn’s soundtrack album but it just didn’t cut the mustard for me. The song “A Plane Scraped Its Belly on a Sooty Yellow Moon” (in collaboration with Drum n Bass artist Roni Size) paled in comparison to the awesome tracks by Slayer, Atari Teenage Riot, Crystal Method, Filter and gasp, Silverchair. Soul Coughing’s debut studio album – Ruby Vroom – was an entire beast altogether. It was a maniacal collection of infectious grooves sprinkled with acoustic harmonies and sample-based loops of erstwhile legends such as Toots and the Maytals, Howlin’ Wolf and even the father of freestyle jazz – Thelonious Monk.

Screenwriter’s Blues” is probably the finest of the lot, with it’s spoken word stream of consciousness against a groovy horn section. As Doughty recites what seems to be an ode to the decay, decadence and dystopia of Los Angeles.

rubyvroomI am going to Los Angeles to build a screenplay about lovers who murder each other / I am going to Los Angeles to see my own name on a screen / Five feet long and luminous / The radioman says it is 5 am and the sun has charred the other side of the world and come back to us / And painted the smoke over our heads an imperial violet

Despite bearing close resemblance to one of Jack Kerouac’s LSD flashbacks through lurid suburban streets, the spectacular wall of funk sets the song apart from a horde of beatnik-inspired music. I have also included a remix of one of the songs of their last studio album – El Oso. “Circles” is a truckload of fun; the Propellerheads remix is even better. “I don’t need to walk around in circles, walk around in circles,” mumbles the singer as the post-Big Beat electronic duo weaves together a sea of sweet-sounding turntable jams all around it. It’s the kind of summer funk that Sugar Ray has been desperately trying to conjure up without sounding like absolute morons.

Wikipedia starts off its description of Soul Coughing as a band that “found only modest mainstream success, but had a devoted following and largely positive responses from critics…” I guess that is pretty much a fair description of most of the Indie bands out there experimenting their brains out, hoping that enough people will take notice. Too bad, not many out there pay attention to what the lack of fuss all about. Twisted irony, considering that finest works of art often end up escaping the mainstream radar of roving eyes and heavy wallets.

So today, I sit here, a victim of wanderlust and indulging in frivolity such as searching for the keywords “rare music” on YouTube and seeing what turns up. I almost feel as though I have formed a Faustian pact with bands such as Soul Coughing.

I feel a bit uneasy quoting Elton John but hmmm maybe “that’s why they all it the blues.”

Download

Soul Coughing – Screenwriter’s Blues

Soul Coughing – Circles (Propellerheads remix)

Buy

Soul Coughing’s Ruby Vroom

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Opinions on Metallica’s new album Death Magnetic have preceded its release into the consumer market. With a few of the songs available for download in YouTube and certain torrents-related websites, both erstwhile and hardcore fans of the band have stormed the forums, message boards and personal blogs with their two cents.

It seems that half of them are bemoaning the downward spiral that the band have fallen into with the other half praising the latest effort as being one of their finest post-Black album.

So far I have heard three songs from Death Magnetic and my opinion remains unchanged.

Ulrich, Hetfield and Hammett need to recreate the finer moments of Reload rather than trying to “Kill Em All” with their inconsistent appetite for all things – loud, heavy and hostile. As for Robert Trujillo, I think he needs get back to recording with Jerry Cantrell.

The Day That Never Comes” is flat out annoying; with its dastardly riff patterns that would not have been out of place in St Anger. And that’s not a good thing.

Cyanide” does not induce violent fits of vomiting, but neither does it inspire me to indulge in moshing. Maybe tropical cocktails with tiny umbrellas dangling from the rim would go well with this song.

My Apocalypse” is good since it brings back the ferocity that these guys were once known for. The percussion blasts are nowhere near as good as those found on “Master of Puppets” or “Ride The Lightning”, but the rest of band pulls along rather well. Kirk Hammett is a beast on this track.

All said and done, even with seven songs yet to be leaked out, I am pretty sure Slayer’s new album will blow this off planet Thrash.

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