Newly Nulabee

26 Jan

I am anti-Disney. I don’t understand people who insist on watching Disney movies repeatedly as grown adults, and never has that craze been so popular than with this Frozen nonsense. I might watch Mulan sometimes, but the only reason will be because there is a child in the room or because I am playing a Mulan drinking game. Something I can’t get enough of, though: Pogo. I only knew him as the Disney remix dude until I began working at my college radio station, then I realized he remixes much more than just Disney movies. The soft vocal cuts are like cotton in your ears, and the sounds he pulls together are so tender that everything he makes I just want to cradle in my arms. A new French artist, Nulabee, takes on the same idea, though does not aim to be so saccharine.

There is a certain weight in all three of Nulabee’s newest tracks. I’ve noticed a pattern where most of the lines end on a lower note than they began; this is apparent in the Holly Drummond remix, which also features somber vocals. Nulabee’s “Fade” is a great reinvention, with more layers than the original. Nulabee is adept at taking what he needs, highlighting it, and renewing it for his own gain. The samples of Kimbra’s “Settle Down” prove this point in “Down with Me.” Samples are strung together with a quick and coherent bassline in “Glitter,” though I can’t place their origin. That doesn’t make it any less his own, though, weaving his own signature into the bits that he’s re-appropriated.

Find more information on Nulabee on his Facebook, Twitter, and Soundcloud.

I went, I saw, I listened: Sego

23 Jan
There's a 'g' behind Petersen, I promise. S-E-G-O

There’s a ‘g’ behind him, I promise. S-E-G-O.

I have been to a number of concerts in the short amount of time that I’ve so far resided in LA, but I seem to always find my way back to the Bootleg Hifi. This past Monday I was drawn in by local apathetic indie rockers, Sego.

Sego has a brand of indie rock that is influenced heavily by their demeanor, and they come off as chill and carefree millennials. Vocals by lead singer Spencer Petersen are often only a step above glottal fry, but in their most notable track “20 Years Tall,” they bounce playfully with the bass and blah blah blah blahs. Petersen and drummer Thomas Carroll are the founders of Sego, and they have created a mighty beast of genre-defying musicianship. “20 Years Tall,” both recorded and live, is a testament to what kind of band Sego is, a loud and exciting yet monotone and contemplative one. Sego isn’t without its playful tracks, though, “False Currency” being one of my favorites, though that may have a lot to do with how much I love the lyric video they made. (Musta been hard to make with two righties.)

As far as their set at the Bootleg, I couldn’t have been more satisfied. I enjoyed the delicate melody that lead into “Wicket Youth” and of course chanting along with “Engineer Amnesia” (the latter of which gave me Modest Mouse goosebumps). The group is tight onstage, evidence of the amount of shows they’ve played in the past year to gear up for their big break. They will be playing a whole bunch more soon, like with Body Language in February in a few cities along the west coast. Get your tickets here.

Their Wicket Youth EP is out now. For more information on Sego, visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This is an anti-guitar stands show.

This show was strictly anti-guitar stands.

In The Jester’s Ear – Say It Mowgli

19 Jan

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Rudyard Kipling, the author of the Jungle Book series and creator of Mowgli, the feral child protagonist of the novel and namesake for the California-based alt/rock band, once said, “I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.” Before I even get to the song that is currently in my ear, I want to focus on Kipling’s quotation and the purpose of me placing it in the post. The 7-member Mowgli’s pair their wall-of-sound blend of Indie/Pop with a campaign to “Be a Mowgli” and do good deeds for other individuals – a social network of kindness. The Mowgli’s truly believe the best of everybody. The band also creates some tremendous tunes.

A few years old and only growing in popularity, The Mowgli’s employ a Grouplove-like Los Angeles sound that combines melodies and vocals together into incredible amalgamations of sound. “Say It, Just Say It” is a quintessential example of the band’s draw. The song begins with a chorus of voices – much in the same vein of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – over a smiling guitar riff. The band plays an infectious type of power indie/pop that bands like American Authors and Young Rising Sons has found recent success with. The Mowgli’s, though, just have so much people power, and it has developed such tremendous unity, almost like Polyphonic Spree. It’s like a family band. And the music is awesome. I love listening to it, and it is currently in my ear (and will be for a while).

Capitalism and the Legacy of Bob Marley: An Influential History

17 Jan

We have a special treat for you this Saturday morning on the Music Court. Guest writer, Beth Kelly, provides her take on the unfortunate commercialization of Bob Marley, whose final words were “money can’t buy life”.

 

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Even though Bob Marley died from cancer at the young age of 36 in May 1981, his legacy has lived on – though likely not in the way he intended. Born in Jamaica in 1945, Marley’s musical career began when he was just a teenager.

Playing a large role in the formation of his band the Wailers, he helped cement their success throughout upcoming decades. Going on to produce a number of reggae hits, their unique sound also inspired numerous international artists to adopt reggae styles within their own music. That influence is sustained today, giving particular consideration to the proliferation of ska record labels in the 1990’s, and the incorporation of reggae elements in genres such as pop, punk and rap.

Though the Wailers broke up in 1974, Marley’s solo career thrived until his death. Over the final years of his life, he created highly politicized music, perhaps highlighted by 1979’s “Survival,” which attacked apartheid in South Africa. Though he dodged death once in a politically-motivated shooting in 1976, Marley tragically lost his life to melanoma just five years later.

Marley’s Evolution

During the time Marley and the Wailers were together, his religion shifted from Catholicism to the religious beliefs of the Rastafari.

Marley’s beliefs inspired him to provide financial support to those less fortunate in Jamaica, as well as his ever-growing family. His benevolent approach to dealing with the ills of society was something that was ingrained in his psyche after growing up in poverty. Also, brought to anger by the lack of political rights for people in all levels of economic strata, he helped echo the words of the repressed through his music.

However, his religious beliefs also resulted in what could be considered a “tactical mistake” on his part, as they held him back from creating a last Will and Testament before his death.

The Price of Fame

Unfortunately, the philosophies espoused by Marley while he was alive have been soiled in the three-plus decades since his death. Yes, he is still revered as a countercultural icon, but his name and image have essentially been branded, and used as tools by shrewd businessmen. And perhaps even more unfortunately, much of this branding strategy has come from within Marley’s own family as they seek to cash in on his name.

Their attempts to merchandise their family member’s legacy contradict any rational understanding of Marley’s true beliefs, which definitely didn’t include an official merchandising company. Now, his name and notoriety help sell a variety of products that stand in stark contrast to his political leanings.

Headphones, an organic food line and watches are some of the contributions that have Marley’s name attached. Even worse, a Marley-branded “natural” drink helped make a group of schoolchildren sick in 2012. And given Marley’s connection to marijuana (again related to his Rastafarian beliefs), additional marketing inevitably includes the sale of cannabis-laced lotions and accessories, as well as a special blend of the herb where has already been legalized.

Looking at Marley’s legacy from a neutral perspective, commercial affiliations aren’t a complete surprise. Given the number of similar, supposedly socially-conscious rebels from the 1960’s and 70’s who have since sold the rights to their work to the same people they used to rail against, it seems like the allure of money gets everyone in the end. However, in this case, Marley isn’t around to offer his opinion. One could compare his estate to that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, in that family rifts have some of his children wanting to put a price on invaluable bits of history.

Remembering the Rastafarian Legend

In early February, the date that would have been Bob Marley’s 70th birthday, will pass. His absence continues to be felt not only in the musical world, but the ever-changing political landscape. His son, Ziggy Marley, offers some hope. Recently appearing on DirecTV’s Guitar Center Sessions, he has kept the spirit of his father alive through music – a much better tribute than cannabis creams and screen printed t-shirts. While Bob Marley will likely never disappear from the public eye completely; one hopes that his activist legacy will not be completely overshadowed by greed.

The Folky Skins of Anna Dobbin

15 Jan

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I have a great local release from the esteemed musical borough of Brooklyn, NY for you all tonight. Skins, an intimate 9-track release from singer-songwriter Anna Dobbin, is a delightful acoustic string of melodies with jazzy instrumentation and folky overtones. Most of all, though, it is the smooth Deb Talan-like vocals (for those Weepies fans out in the musical blogosphere) from Dobbin that carries this album, and, if you are looking for a serene soundtrack to listen to on this Thursday night, you have come to the right place.

Dobbin describes the album as a palette of a great variety of songs that she, with the help of a few other musicians, weaved together into a comprehensive piece. One of the reasons I am digging this album is its utter simplicity. Aside from the eclectic bassoon, which does fit perfectly mind you, the tracks are Dobbin, some light clickity-clack of a drum set, and the familiar sound of a comely acoustic guitar that is strummed creatively. Interspersed throughout the album is some lead guitar and keys, but it is done so tastefully that it does not shake the placidness the listener feels while first hearing this album.

Let’s take a listen to “The Trouble I Could Cause,” a quintessential Dobbin track (as my description above portrays). The song begins with a lightly strummed acoustic guitar next to flicked drum beat. Dobbin’s voice is filled with a blissful pulchritude that, while tranquil, still sounds worn. This piece specifically features some vocal layering that adds an echoing effect to the sound adding to the song’s power. The orchestral quality provided by the bassoon is refreshing and different; one might not think it would work, but just take one listen and you can hear how it does indeed help the song.

Another track that caught my attention on the album is a duet named “So Long” (co-producer and vocalist Austin Greenfield can be heard singing verses on the track). The acoustic features a segmented strumming pattern and trading vocals. It is as if Josh Radin or Peter Bradley Adams combined with JayMay or Ingrid Michaelson and the output was this piece. All in all, it is a pleasant song with consistently good vocals – controlled and calm.

Nice going! Listen to the rest of the album.  

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