Archive for the 'Music' Category

Female MCs from London

2009 Feb 12

So I’ve been on a British hip-hop kick for a while and, since I got food poisoning from the Chinese chicken I had for lunch yesterday, I was up for most of the night and decided to browse YouTube for some new music. One of the coolest things I found was this video of 20 or so female MCs from the London area. The variety is great to see and many of them are clearly super talented. My favorites are probable No Lay, Mizz Teejah, Lioness, Freeza, Ria, and Sly. That, in turn, led me to this terrific music video by No Lay, who is sufficiently badass to spit rhymes while braiding a toddler’s hair. And, then there’s this incredible non-stop flow by No Lay and her boy Ghetto.

In Other Banjo News…

2008 Oct 23

Travis Stever, the guitarist of Coheed & Cambria, has an album out with his new band Davenport Cabinet and, while the vocals aren’t very exciting (that’s why he’s the guitarist), there’s a lot of banjo all over the place, which surprised me. I’m dropping in my “emo folk” folder, to join — the only other entry — Bright Eyes’ Lifted Or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground. Not bad company, really. If you just wanna pick up one Davenport Cabinet track, I suggest the first track, “Square One,” which is an instrumental that opens with that unmistakable twang.

Danger Mouse Does Banjo Funk

2008 Oct 23

Yeah, I wouldn’t have imagined it either, until I heard The Black Keys’ track “Psychotic Girl” while watching (coincidentally enough) Gossip Girl. So I looked it up and, yeah, produced by Danger Mouse. That’s a good way to earn my 99 cents, right there.

Here’s an iTunes link.

Still Crooked

2008 Jun 25

Crooked Still is currently the greatest acoustic band in the United States. They are astounding. Sure, their new ‘cello player isn’t quite as amazing as Rushad Eggleston, their previous one, but they made up for it by adding a violin player who is just insane. Such tone! Makes you want to cry.

Their third album, Still Crooked, just came out. You should purchase and listen to it immediately, as it is a feast for the ears equal to their first two albums. I can’t give a full review now, at 11:30 at night, but here are some samples:

The fourth track, Tell Her to Come Back Home, is a radio single in any just world, but this is progressive bluegrass, so it’ll never happen. It just jumps in your face and makes you want to get up and dance, while remaining slightly sad and mournful in all the mirth, being about a husband whose lost his wife.

Oh Agamemnon (what a title!) is a relatively traditional fiddle tune with a fairly funky rhythm and vocal line, which they milk to great effect. Very nice.

Oh man, Pharaoh is an African spiritual, or at least hails from that tradition, and is mercilessly slow, really grabbing you right in the gut and never letting go. Let my gut go, Pharaoh!

Florance is pretty close to being my favorite, just because it shows off the power of early church hymn structure. Most of these old hymns were originally Celtic ballads before they were brought to the New World and preserved up in the hills of Appalachia. They reemerged in 50s rock music of all things — remember “Where Oh Where Can My Baby Be?”-style teen car accident death ballads? yup! — but this has a bit of that doo-wop vibe while reaching back to something older.

So… Did You Sleep Well edged out to be my current favorite, after two listens. It’s got that classic murder ballad structure, but the thumping banjo in the background and the way the various lines of the chorus hang a bit before continuing (a Crooked Still trademark arrangement trick) is just delicious. Also, check out the slapping rhythm you can get out of upright acoustic basses! So good.

Go get it!

Sino-Tibetan Pop

2008 Apr 13

Sa Dingding is pretty cool. Her stuff in Tibetan is way better than the stuff in Mandarin.

Zendrum is Go

2008 Apr 13

Finally got my Zendrum to work (mp3) by hooking it up to Battery 3 and recording it through GarageBand. Hot stuff. Now I just have to learn to play it and create a sound set that I really dig.

Making Music

2008 Feb 1

Some friends of mine invited me to join this band project that they’re putting together, but since musical stuff isn’t really what this blog is about, I’ve posted about it in my livejournal, which has been untouched since September. Future updates about musical stuff will all go over there, since that’s where I’ve traditionally posted it. Right now, there’s just a sample track up and some thoughts on what we’re doing, but if you’re interested in the other parts of my creative life, check it out.