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Good Music

“She’s a Rainbow” a farewell to Kristin Wiig on Saturday Night Live

by on May.20, 2012, under Good Music, Video

I have not updated here in a while because, frankly, I don’t care anymore. But I still want to share stuff that moves or irritates me. And this definitely moves me…

That’s the farewell to Kristin Wiig on last night’s Saturday Night Live. (After seven years, she is leaving the show with Jason Sudeikis and Andy Samberg, as well.) As you can see, everyone in the universe was there. Mick Jagger, The Arcade Fire, the Foo Fighters, Amy Poehler, Jon Hamm, Jeff Beck, Steve Martin…I don’t even know.

It’s really good to see this kind of emotion on network television.

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The Chase Empire vs. The Four Tops – “Christmas Delight”

by on Dec.12, 2010, under Good Music, Video

Being around the holidays, I simply cannot resist posting this classic from PerlePictures.

The music is from the Four Tops.  The video was created by the generally very amusing Chase Empire.  You may also recognize the guy with the beard as Jeff Maynard.  He was the musician / songwriter behind The Standstill and Skippy and the Bellbottoms.  Also, the dude with the guitar is better known as DJ Modifi or Simon Belmont.  Be sure to download his Chrismix from a few years back.

Be sure to pass this one around for the holidays!

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Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear – Washington D.C.

by on Nov.01, 2010, under Good Music, Video

Yeah.  So I went.  A LOT of people did.

It was kind of silly, very innocent and ultimately quite prolific.  There were a ton of musical artists involved.  Let’s see if I can remember them all.  The Roots, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Ozzy Osbourne, Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples, Sheryl Crow, uh…Kid Rock, The O’Jays.  Even Colbert and Stewart did a little musical number with Jeff Tweedy.  Sam Waterson, R2D2, a seven year old girl,  and a giant, armed, Stephen Colbert monster also made appearances.  There were a few others which are hazy to me and I don’t feel like looking it up.

Anyway, here’s some really decent amateur footage of some of the amusing shit they did with some of these guests:

So yeah.  “Peace Train” ended up a decently dressed cliche.  Other music / performance art / comedy type of goodness ebbed and flowed over the three hours.  I’m not going to say it was all totally awesome musically, but it was definitely well rounded and well paced. That’s all I really have to say about it from a strictly entertainment point of view. It was lovely, for sure.

I’m hoping Comedy Central reruns the broadcast.  However, see it or not, at least take with you Stewart’s closing statements:

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of Montreal – live at Bonnaroo, Manchester, TN – 6.13.2009

by on Sep.12, 2010, under Good Music, mp3

So the new of Montreal album, False Priest, comes out in just two days! Click here to order, as you should.

To celebrate this fantastic news about one of my favorite bands, I have decided to post their set, in it’s entirety from the 2009 Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, TN. It’s not without its flaws, but certainly worth a high volume listen.

MP3: of Montreal – live at Bonnaroo, Manchester, TN – 6.13.2010

And here is the setlist:

01. MC Intro
02. Band Intro
03. Nonpareil of Favor
04. Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider
05. Id Engager
06. Rapture Rapes the Muses
07. The Party’s Crashing Us
08. Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse
09. October is Eternal
10. A Sentence of Sorts in Konsvinger
11. Beware Our Nubile Miscreants
12. Girl Named Hello
13. For Our Elegant Caste
14. Touched Something’s Hollow
15. An Eluardian Instance
16. She’s A Rejecter
17. The Past is a Grotesque Animal

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Eminem – Recovery

by on Jul.05, 2010, under Good Music

When we last heard from Eminem, he was feeding us shit.  Not in the way we had come to appreciate from him, either.  With Relapse, we dined on a hallow man’s self loathing shit.  We topped it off with shitty, uninspired beats.  As someone who had previously looked upon Eminem as a mighty figure with the potential to spark a tangible revolution, I was crushed.

When I read that he had planned to release Relapse 2, I figured it might be time to end my fanship with him.  It seemed like the most sensible thing to do for both of us.  I still checked in from time to time to make sure he was holding up.  I read that Relapse 2 was not coming out the way he had anticipated, musically.  Poor guy.

But maybe not.

Relapse 2 was so different from the initial intent, that it ceased to be Relapse 2.  Rather it mutated in Recovery. I had to listen.  I just had to sample a few tracks at least.  Okay.  I just decided to start at the beginning and let it roll.  As the music pressed on, we become acquainted with  a new Marshall Mathers – one who has had a massive weight lifted from his shoulders.  With the inclusion of strong beats, experimental departures and lyrics that are as positive as they are cutting, I felt that a massive weight had been lifted from me as well.  His lyrical denouncing of Relapse also helped.  In any case, Eminem has now returned to his rightful place in my heart.

The growth between Relapse and Recovery is immense and multifaceted.  He acknowledges a rock bottom he has known well and I mostly believe him when he reminds us of his Phoenix-like escape from that pit.  He has regained his ability to be direct, lucid and cognizant.  I think we all like him so much better when he is on top of his game.

The music, too, is far more expansive than that on Relapse or its predecessor, Encore.  There seems to be a greater focus on detail.  The occasional melodic lifts and song-singy vocal cadences give the impression that this album was designed with music in mind – not just beats.  Indeed, these songs do sometimes channel some eclectic musical greats.  “You’re Never Over” sounds fresh, triumphant and synthed out, similar to the style of B.o.B. “25 to Life,” at least musically, sounds like an outtake from Andre 3000’s The Love Below“Cinderella Man” smacks of something we may have heard from Kool Keith – or is that Gil Scott-Heron?  Oh…and listen to “Space Bound.” Isn’t that a fucking Flaming Lips song?

Don’t get me wrong.  They are not all winners.  It’s irritating, too, because it could have been a perfect offering, but for it’s girth.  Rappers just don’t trim the fat these days.  Instead they would rather fill up an entire 70+ minute CD with every single thing they possibly can, quality and consistency be damned.  I know a lot of teenyboppers and sports bar morons will disagree with me, but Eminem really really really really really really really should have cut “No Love,” a track featuring Lil Wayne.  (Yes. I am aware the inclusion of Lil Wayne guarantees this track will not only not be cut, but will likely be the next single. Groan.) If Wayne’s boring, monotone, machismo “rapping” is not enough to put you off, consider that the whole track relies on a sample of “What Is Love” by Haddaway.  That’s barely excusable in the name of irony, let alone “serious” music production.  This is easily the worst “song” of the album and perhaps 2010.

I’ll let it go, though, because most everything surrounding that turd island is purposeful, if not brilliant.  Quite possibly as good as Idlewild, the last one from our beloved Outkast (though Outkast did utilize a better array of guest appearances, with Lil Wayne in common.) There are no skits on this disc, either.  While Eminem’s skits have generally always been concise and amusing, he was correct to keep them away.  He’s a bit more serious this time, and it suits him well.

Recovery makes me cheer for Marshall Mathers yet again.  I am genuinely happy that he is doing better and I hope it only lifts up from here.  Evolved, he can now affect an audience in new ways – far beyond shock, entering into additional realms of unabashed enlightenment.

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Air – Love 2

by on Dec.06, 2009, under Good Music

You know what brings the new Air album together? The drums. You read right. Not the beats. The drums. And Joey Waronker is the guy playing them on Love 2, the newest offering from the band.

You probably have heard of Waronker before. Aside from being a major contribution to Beck’s studio sessions and live shows, he’s also put in time with Smashing Pumpkins, Elliot Smith and R.E.M. among others. He’s recently been part of Air’s touring band so it seems natural that he would be the new, specialized, pseudo-secret weapon built on to their new album. And natural it does, indeed, feel as Waronker aids in lifting the band to organic new heights…at least on disc.

Of course, Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel, the founding backbone of Air, are also doing their part in this regards. There are some nice touches of vibraphone and brass that do well to emphasize the electronics, without feeling like electronics themselves. More importantly, though, is an abundance of rather fluid piano that seems to meander more than its rigid equivalent on their past releases. Throw in some dirty guitar and it becomes well clear that Air has matured beyond mere programming.

Of course, anyone who knows anything about their live show could argue that this evolution occurred with the band a long time ago. Considering the scope of these live performances, I wouldn’t argue with that. Now, however, we are finally privy to witnessing them exercise a few more detailed caveats in the studio. Whereas on prior Air records, things generally felt compartmentalized and distinct, here we have something that seems to extend out in a multitude of curvy, uneven directions. It almost feels like an album of improvisation.  Almost, I say.

They play well beyond the typical Air fare that we’ve come to love over the years. They still have they’re classic cheese (“Tropical Disease”) and it would be a shame if ever they lost that completely. (But they won’t because they are French.) Their creepy, lost-in-space kind of stuff is also here (“Do the Joy”) but it feels more expansive, particularly because of Waronker and that aforementioned dirty guitar. New to Air on this go around is the way they seem to touch on some very soulful combinations of sound that seem to resonate similarly to African-American music of the 60s, 70s and 80s. They channel Prince on “Missing the Light of Day,” The Sugarhill Gang on “Night Hunter” and the Delfonics on “Sing Sang Sung.” Pretty impressive for guys as white as France.

All of this comprehensive writing and arranging, floating effortlessly across the top of Waronker’s mellifluous pulse, makes for what may very well be the best offering from Air yet. Of course, that’s always going to be a relatively difficult thing to determine with this band. It’s like trying to pick a favorite Beatles record. You think Abbey Road is probably the best, but how can you really know? The fact of the matter is that their entire catalog is so colorful and unique that making definite choices of preference within it is pretty much moot.

Still though…

Joey Waronker on drums. That’s gotta count for a few gold stars at least.

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Lavoisier – Fake Rappers

by on Nov.29, 2009, under Bad Music, Good Music, Video

I haven’t been updating during this holiday weekend, obviously. However, I can’t leave people hanging, either. And so, please enjoy this insightful lecture from Lavoisier regarding fake rappers.

It gets the rare categorization of both good music and bad music. Good for Lavoisier…bad for radio rap. Enjoy!

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The Ott Band – Love Me

by on Nov.21, 2009, under Good Music

ottbandlovemeSo. The OTT Band. I was weary. Much like freesoulJAH, this one, too, underwent an evolving perception with me. The difference is that freesoulJAH is freesoulJAH. He is what he is, and it’s unexpected, but in the end, it really kind of works in some weird way. The OTT Band, on the other hand, has taken a very dire marketing misstep here.

I open up this London band’s CD and holy shit. This album art is terrible. It appears to be the equivalent of those over-the-hill American singer/songwriter guys who play in shit ass cover bands full time while pushing out the occasional disc of basement recordings that might have been good fifteen years ago before their ideas were so outdated. You know, cynical bastards that have nowhere to go but the sports bar? The OTT Band’s CD cover has a group of people, who I presume to be said band, in a cheap, candid, pulled back snapsot. The whole thing is soaked in the color orange, and stamped with fonts that apparently were included in Microsoft Publisher 98. How the fuck was I going to review this? If this band truly is comprised of those sports bar frequenting, cover band playing, old wankers, I can’t point all this out to them. I have sympathy for those guys, after all. Is the destruction of their rock star dreams not enough? Now they’ve got to take a verbal ass kicking from some punk ass snot shit American sitting comfortably behind his computer?

I’m happy to report that no…they do not. Hence it is confirmed that one truly cannot tell a book by it’s cover.

The vocals on the opening track, “Don’t Know,” are the last difficult hurdle to get over, but once you make it past, this is a very rewarding listen. It’s not any kind of style that is considered new. However, it is a style that is so difficult to properly execute, there are only a small handful of bands out there that have ever been able to pull it off…and nowadays no one even tries. I’m talking about the music of the 80’s. But not the 80’s you’re familiar with. Not that kitschy, coked out radio discomfort that you know in such forms as Dead or Alive, Thompson Twins or fucking Madonna. The Ott Band is tapped into something far more creative, pure and interesting. It’s that part of the 80’s that the cool kids were into. The early part that bled with the end of the 70’s and was more focused on an innovative, worldly and artistic sound. Music for music and change…not music for money and drugs. The OTT Band resonates loudly with the sounds of The Specials, The English Beat or Sandinista! era Clash.

Those are all UK bands. Maybe this is just a difference in form between the United Kingdom and America, where I was stuck. Maybe they take for granted this kind of sound over there. I just don’t hear anyone doing it anymore. Fortunately, The OTT Band relishes in it. They touch on that blessed sound that is not quite reggae, not quite rock, a little bit closer to dancehall, and strangely uplifting. There is a good use of what sounds like full choirs of people here. There are watery electronics, very notably applied on “Six Million Miles,” that serves as a testament to the detail put into these songs. The range of what they do with the music is also nicely expansive. On one end we have the head bobbing, ska-before-ska-was-ska, “Sending in the Lions,” mixed with odd modern notions of “getting bling.” It’s a playful antithesis to “Special,” a dubby, introspective gem of night music. Everything in between is a carefully laid landscape of pianos, guitars, horns and whatever else was needed to make these songs complete.

The only other complaint I can voice about this band is their website where they have a section called, “Who the **** are The OTT Band?” To this, guys, I gotta recommend that you just type out the “fuck” word. I mean, it’s 2009. Everyone knows what four asterisks mean and most people really enjoy the word “fuck” anyway.

As for the album cover, just ask me next time. I’ll work you up something more fitting…free of charge.

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Charlotte Gainsbourg & Beck – “Heaven Can Wait” video etc.

by on Nov.19, 2009, under Good Music, Video

Just in time to combat the soul depleting evils of Beyonce and Lady Caca, Beck and Charlotte Gainbourg have released this stunning video on Beck.com:

The song is called “Heaven Can Wait” and it’s the first single from Gainsbourg’s upcoming release, IRM, which was written and produced by Beck. Judging from this track, there are some very good things around the bend. January 26th, specifically…in the states, that is. December 8th everywhere else, damn it.

Also in Beck news, later today Beck will also release a new track entitled, “Harry Partch,” a tribute to the late composer of the same name. The song will apparently employ Partch‘s 43 tone scale. That, too, will be delivered on Beck.com.

Lastly, in Beck news, and again on Beck.com, they are releasing videos and goodies to commemorate the ten year anniversary of his Midnite Vultures.

And you thought the Record Club was it? Pshaw. (Though it’s about time he started releasing the Skip Spence stuff he did with Wilco!)

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Nellie McKay – Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day

by on Nov.12, 2009, under Good Music, Video

The evolution of Nellie McKay has been one of the more intriguing stories to follow in the world of music. Her first record, Get Away from Me, is a critically lauded classic, considered the antithesis of Norah Jones’ release at that time, Come Away with Me. Initially, Get Away from Me was to be a single LP but became the first double disc debut ever released by a female after McKay charmingly, but forcefully, schmoozed Columbia record execs into seeing it her way. She tried the same thing with the follow up, Pretty Little Head, but with far less success. This lead to a long delayed self release of what also ended up being a double disc, and then a subsequent reissue of the discs back on Columbia where she started. The on-again/off-again relationship produced a final product that had some definite gems, and more good songs than bad, but also a few tracks that really maybe should have been left on the cutting room floor. She took these lessons well for the release of her third and finest album, Obligatory Villagers. It was concise, raw, and very in touch with her jazz roots. Alongside of Montreal’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? and Rufus Wainwright’s Release the Stars, it was easily one of the three best albums of 2007. Musically, she was exactly where she needed to be. So what now?

Well, now is the release of her fourth studio venture, Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day. As the title implies, the disc is comprised primarily of songs once sang by Doris Day (with one original). As to be expected for something like this, McKay’s volcano has cooled since Obligatory Villagers. Everything is nice and minimal, laid back and soft. While this may be off putting for the Nellie fans among us who were hoping she would grow her balls bigger and bigger, rather than chopping them off completely, it’s still an intricately touched, beautiful collection of songs.

Let’s be clear. This is technically a jazz album. From the album art to the actual content of the disc, it smacks of Susannah McCorkle or…well…Doris Day. At its heart, however, McKay makes these songs her own and wears them well. She is, after all, not just a vocalist, but a musician as well. This gives her an additional connectivity to the music that a vocalist alone might not always have at her disposal. The result is a collection of pointed arrangements that accomplish a lot within a small amount of space. Yes, this is technically a jazz album…but it sounds like something just slightly beyond the genre.

The two more upbeat tracks, “Crazy Rhythm” and “Dig It,” are infectiously swingin’. She visits Sioux musical interpretations on “Black Hills of Dakota.” She seems to border on surrealistic dreamscapes of sound on “Meditation” and the quaint “Send Me No Flowers” while tapping into something darker, but more awake on “Close Your Eyes.” The sole original, “If I Ever Had a Dream,” fits seamlessly among these classics. The whole meal is peppered with ukulele, brass, violin, mostly light percussion and some masterfully dizzying guitar by Jay Berliner.

From here, I’m hard pressed to wonder if McKay will continue in this vein, or move back toward more irreverent and monumental musings. While I have always hoped for the latter in the past, I can now delight in the knowledge that, really, either direction would be just fine. It seems that young McKay’s golden touch gets a bit stronger with each passing year, anyway. Of course, it’s doubtful that she would follow an album of covers with another album of covers next time around. (But wasn’t it doubtful that she would follow a double disc with another double disc, too?) So while her take on more classic notions of music is so very welcome and so wonderfully executed, no matter where she ventures next with music, I definitely look forward to hearing her rattle off a few swear words.

Here is some video of her being all cute and talking about the new album…

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