Archive | October, 2011

Old School Pop

31 Oct

The pop music played on the radio years ago wasn’t as bad as today.  Turn on your average, everyday pop station and you’ll hear Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne and Bruno Mars multiple times per hour.  Like K$sha?  Me neither.  But she’s still played 42 times a day like she has some sort of deal with the devil and I’m not talking about the good kind, like a Robert Johnson or Led Zeppelin type deal, but one that someone talentless would make, say Vanilla Ice, to stay relevant.  Well, maybe I just have an over romanticized vision of the whole thing but at one point real musicians ruled the airwaves.  Sure, not all pop acts were great (cough Barry Manilow, cough), but enough to make me reminisce of days long before I was alive  where driving in a car didn’t require satellites or an iPod cable to get cool tunes.

The Beatles were the ultimate pop band and while their later albums added to this sound, they never really lost their pop sensibilities upon breaking up.  Paul McCartney went on to form Paul McCartney and Wings famous for such songs as “Maybe I’m Amazed” and my personal favorite, “Band on the Run”.  George Harrison development as a songwriter continued with the sound he developed in the later Beatles albums (compare “Here Comes the Sun” and “My Sweet Lord”).  You can’t forget John Lennon who came out with almost a prayer for peace with his seminal work, “Imagine”.  I really feel bad about being like everyone else and leaving out Ringo but then again, I can’t really pick any of his music out by name.

I didn’t realize how long this article would become so stay tuned for some non-Bealtes pop music from back in the day in a future post.

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Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport

30 Oct

Hey everyone. I am at a mental loss today. No fancy intro. Not much information about the song or band either. I’ll play it off as a minimalistic post.

Fuck Buttons are a UK based experimental electronic group. The following two songs are from their album Tarot Sport. I saw them live in Brooklyn about 2 years ago. It was full or hipsters and almost everyone was on magic of some sort. The scene was one of the best.

This song is flying in a ship the size of the most massive suns, through a space were light is something which you can touch as well as change your perception of, at will. “Surf Solar”

This song is wind surfing through snowy desert dunes in a sand storm, were the previously mentioned light reacts brilliantly to your movements as well as the particles of snow and sand caught in the wind. “The Lisbon Maru”

This band makes exalting music, something you listen to when you simply want to exist in other worlds. The songs are minimalistic in my opinion because they change very little over the course of what seems ages, and I believe that this sort of minimalism is what allows the mind to roam free and create.

Sort of like meditation.

&)

-oko

P.S. Exaltation. Aptly named “Olympians”

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And the “Watch the Throne” Tour Begins

30 Oct

When hip-hop powerhouses Jay Z and Kanye West announced that they were collaborating on an album last year, heads across the country exploded. Now with their album “Watch the Throne” long released, the duo have kicked off their tour, starting in Atlanta. Part of the setlist includes obvious staples from their album together (“Otis”, “Who Gon Stop Me”), as well as clear solo hits from the past (Ye’ performed a bit of “Jesus Walks” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”).

Its not really bling unless it causes Scoliosis.

Obviously, Kanye and Jay Z don’t need the money at this point (pan to Kanye’s entire bottom row of diamond teeth)-they are touring because they actually want to. With a fair share of dramatic entrances and heartfelt encores, the tour should definitely be a successful pursuit.

Here’s a single off their album, “Otis”

The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance: Indie Pop

28 Oct

I know that I’ve not always held indie music in the highest regard simply because it’s indie.  Indie means deviation from the norm, something different then what I’m used to and that doesn’t always entice me.  However, indie is how pop should really sound.  It’s not even worth apologizing to Lady Gaga or Katy Perry because let’s face it, your music is called pop because there is no “bad music category.”  As catchy as pop music sounds and as much as I may kid about the artists that produce such noise, there are certainly bands that get the short end of the stick when it comes to radio play and popularity.

In the movie Garden State, Natalie Portman turns to Zack Braff and says a certain song will change a certain someone’s life and while I can’t claim such transcendence from The Shin‘s “New Slang,” I can claim a restored faith in pop music.  The Shins finely craft melodies and catchy hooks without losing the thing that separates them from mainstream artsits.  Katy Perry talks about California Girls in bikinis and Lady Gaga says we are all born special, yet the Shins leave their lyrics open to interpretation as  they talk in metaphors and speak without judgment or  expectation.  My first Shins album, Chutes Too Narrow, was given to me in high school and I listen to it to this day because no two songs sound the same or deliver the same message.

I also love the band Vampire Weekend.  Just like The Shins, they have an unconventional musical and lyrical style.  Musically, lead singer Ezra Koenig’s voice’s tone is not only  unconventional, but also just plain different and the band incorporates such diverse elements as African rhythms into pop songs.  And yet, the band always makes sure to add pop hooks to such an eclectic mix that their music always comes out surprisingly catchy and lyrically engaging to merit another listen and another listen after that.

Thoughts on Last Night’s Baseball Classic – The Beauty of Baseball

28 Oct

Last night, the Texas Rangers were within an out of capturing their first World Series title, twice. For those of you apathetic or unfamiliar with baseball, I will keep this simple. The Rangers should have won and they should have won twice.

But they didn’t. The Cardinals fought back. First, on a ball that should have been caught in the ninth (to end the game), and second on a single in the 10th. Then finally, the hometown hero, David Freese, won the game on a walk-off home run in the 10th, capping off a comeback that will forever be remembered  as an immutable classic, a moment of sheer amazement for the Cardinals and one of pure anguish for the Rangers.

This was only game six, though. Back in ’86 after the Mets pulled off an unbelievable game six comeback, Vin Scully, who was broadcasting the game, said that the Mets were not only alive, but they were well, a line that has always stuck out to me because of its simplicity and candidness. Jack Buck, after Kirby Puckett’s walk-off home run sent a series to game seven twenty years ago, said to fans “And we’ll see you tomorrow night.” Buck’s son, Joe, was broadcasting last night’s game and repeated his father’s frank sentiment. Only in baseball, right?

The question of where this game will rank among the always discussed “greatest games ever” will be directly affected by the result of tonight’s game seven. That’s what is so utterly awe-inspiring about the game of baseball. If history has told us anything, the Cardinals will beat the Rangers and capture the crown, sending a downtrodden Ranger’s squad, who have never won a World Series in the history of their franchise, back home to Texas. But who knows? Maybe Texas comes out angry and wins by six. Unlikely, yes, but possible. Hey, anything is possible, even angels in the outfield!

Baseball is a game of thought, patience and momentum. Momentum has shifted to the red birds. It can be squashed, but it will be tough. If the Rangers win tonight, last night’s game six will still be looked at as a classic, but its heaviness and aura of ‘destiny’ will be replaced with the ineffaceable disclaimer ‘the cardinals lost to the rangers in game 7.’  It may never top Mazeroski’s game 7 series-winning home run for the Pirates in ’60 or even Gonzalez’ game seven walk-off base hit against the Yankees in ’01, because both of those hits won the world series for their respective teams. But the sheer greatness of the Cardinals’ comeback may raise it on a different pedestal more equal to the Mets’ ‘amazin’ ’86 game six.

Even though this sounds trite, history will decide. What I do take from last night’s game, is that baseball is still America’s pastime and, despite my almost equal love for football, I feel more of a connection to the diamond. I share memories with baseball that are indelible. I have actually somewhat learned patience, resilience, love, and misery through watching the Mets. It may sound sad, but it’s not. Baseball, and all sports, are steeped in their ability to make people come together and, despite their social economic status or party affiliation, root root root for the home team. Baseball is tradition and patience. It is euphoria and cold defeat. And, as my dad most aptly suggested, it goes by no clock of fixed time limit. The game persists in a tie. It does end, though. But it never truly does, does it? One game may end, but another one begins. It is the constancy of the sport that has captured our youthful vigor and awe. It keeps us young and full of hope, insatiable hope, unruly hope, seemingly never-ending blind hope, but hope.

As the great Babe Ruth said, “Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world.” That appears even truer this morning.

Now for your listening pleasure, here is the original version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” This song, which has become synonymous with the seventh-inning stretch, was written by Jack Norworth (lyric) and Albert Von Tilzer (music) in 1908. Yes, the song is over 100 years old. Enjoy.

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