Archive | January, 2012

A Quick Post for the Road

31 Jan

I do not have much time to get a post in today. It has been one of those packed, busy days, but soon enough I will be on the road home. The “on the road” portion of this fact caught my attention for a brief song of the day. There are several options for “on the road,” but, since I would like to add some existential flavoring to my day, I’m choosing “Road to Nowhere” by David Byrne and his Talking Heads from their 1985 album Little Creatures.

The video above (so 80s) features constant movement and entrapment, eventually ending on a long stretch of seemingly endless highway. The video was directed by Byrne and Stephen R. Johnson, who also directed episodes of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” Also, just if you are interested in useless trivia, some of the shots were filmed at Stephen Tobolowsky’s house – who was Ned Ryerson in “Groundhogs Day” and, if you are a 14-year-old girl, Sandy Ryerson in “Glee.”

Not much else to say about the song besides that it is one of my favorites by the Talking Heads. Hope you enjoy the listen!

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A Taste of Two: The “Superartist” – New Jersey vs. New England

30 Jan

There are two things that throughout my life have remained constant about the Super Bowl. If you are an alien, the Super Bowl is a debaucherous culmination to the National Football League (just Wikipedia that) season where hordes of individuals gather around televisions and view gargantuan, physically freakish men, attempt to get an oblong-shaped, prickled ball into the opposing team’s endzone (a small section at the end of a 100-yard field), all while gormandizing and drinking large quantities of a fermented beverage that often makes you say/do stupid things.

First, this massive event always comes quickly – even though the football season is several months long. Secondly, my beloved New York Jets are not a part of the event and instead are Super Bowl viewers like the rest of us.

This year’s Superbowl features the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. Can you tell that I’m a little bitter? The New York Giants, the Jets’ cross-conference counterpart, play in the same stadium as the Jets and share a fan-base of downstate New Yorkers. The Jets, like the Mets in baseball, are the new kids on the block, and often have the reputation as the gritty, hard-nosed younger brother of the classic, old-school Yankees and Giants. The rivalry between the Jets and Giants is not as heated as it is with the Yankees. More Mets fans and Yankees fans dislike their cross-town rivals than Jets and Giants fans. Why is this case? I’ll leave that to those who would like to think on the matter. It doesn’t really matter to me. I do possess a strong dislike of the Yankees, though, but many of my good friends are Yankees fans and we get along just fine. I am often jealous of their success, though, and I find myself in the same situation with the Giants. They deserve the accolades for getting into the “Big Game” and I only hope the Jets find a way to win the Superbowl during my lifetime – and preferably before I am in diapers again.

That is my spiel about football. On to the music. Since we are in the Superbowl eve week, I thought I’d try for a creative Superbowl-inspired post. As you can probably deduce from the title, we are going to compare some sort of music from New Jersey (Giants) and New England (Patriots). While the Giants have New York in their title they play in New Jersey so we are going to use the state they play in for our selection. The New England region encompasses several states. The Patriots play in Foxborough, MA, a little south of Boston so we will pick from Boston because it is a major city with deep musical roots. New Jersey vs. Boston, MA. What are we comparing?

Well, we are going to compare the best rock musical artist/band to come out of the area and then put them back-to-back in a one-on-one match-up for superiority. Who is the better band? Who will win our Music Court Superartist?

The best musician to come out of both areas ever (despite genre classification) is Frank Sinatra (from Hoboken, NJ) – but that’s just my opinion. He wasn’t a rocker though.

I will post up a poll at the end of this article and the voting will end on Saturday with the results revealed prior to gametime!

New Jersey

Boston

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band vs. Aerosmith. Who is it going to be? The troubadour from the swamps of Jersey or the Demon of Screamin’? Before anyone cries foul, yes, Steven Tyler is originally from New York City and was brought up there, but, Aerosmith was formed after Tyler (originally Tallarico) moved into an apartment with friends Joe Perry, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, and Ray Tabano (replaced by Brad Whitford in 1971).  They are known as the ‘Bad Boys of Boston.’

I chose “Born to Run”  and “Dream On” to represent the bands because they were voted as the top hits from each band on www.the-top-tens.com. The songs were both released in the early-mid 70s and the musicians are of a similar age. It’s a good battle. So, folks, who wins. Bruce and the Giants or Aerosmith and the Pats?

Also, let us know in the comments who you are rooting for to win the Superbowl?

Mono/Poly – Forest Dark

26 Jan


Hi there everyone. My last semester at Binghamton University is coming up and I’m slowly preparing to be pushed out into the working world in an attempt to make a living. My time at this school has been very interesting to say the least. It was kind of like a personal social experiment. I would subject myself to various humiliating or mentally trying situations in order to see my own reaction. And of course I was only aware of it in hindsight, so as to obviously not upset the delicate nature of the experiments. I must say that some of the results were quite informative.

Actually, all that I really learned is to not mix large quantities of alcohol and magic. Weird things happen then. My results are also slightly inconclusive on that, because my notes become a bit fuzzy, so actually never mind.

To kick off this final semester I have but one amazing song. This time it is a song by Mono/Poly entitled “Forest Dark” off of his Manifestations – EP. Signed to Brainfeeder (Flying Lotus’ label), this LA based artist shook the foundation of the experimental trip-hop scene with this 2011 release.

The song begins in some rainforest with a deft synthesizer riff that sets a sort of neutral -1 mood. An outstanding setup for what is to follow: a dark explosion of hip-hop madness. Deep pulsating bass lines envelop your brain like slow vibrating tendrils while the main melody of a slowly stuttering synth distracts you.

This furious break skyrockets the mood to +8, pretty much right on the cusp of inciting riots. But Mono/Poly realizes this and in order to maintain the mellowness he initiates a sort of descent which creates an entirely unheard effect in the face of hip-hop. Basically the synths from the beginning make a miraculous return to calm everyone down, forgetting that all they really do is just set up another drop.

This time it’s even better, with a +9 to face-melting, the retriggering of the different instruments display the advanced level of beat making that this artist is on. Like some giant monster crawling out forest, this song is trying to eat you, but only to regurgitate you so that it can eat you again.

The last part is basically one giant softening and a return to neutrality. The monster threw you up a second time and has left you on the forest floor to ponder what just happened. It actually becomes very ambient and trippy towards the end proving that Mono/Poly has many different tricks up his sleeve. I recommend listening to the rest of this album and gazing at the pretty cover art:

Wish me luck as I try to find a job. I think I’m going to actually have to start going to company information meetings. I always thought those were some kind of jokes.

&)

-oko

P.S. Full Circle.

Beaming with The Widest Smiling Faces

25 Jan

Aviv Cohen

Aviv Cohen is a throwback. He is a consummate musician with a keen ear, laid-back skill, and an innate knowledge of what makes good music. It is always so refreshing being introduced to a musician who knows what they are doing and Aviv – who is the sole employee of the band The Widest Smiling Faces – has good reason to grin.

Aviv, who is based in Brooklyn, NY, has just released his second album Me and My Ribcage, and it features 12 tracks of ambient folk with a hint of medieval sampling and excellent guitar work. Most importantly, the music is light and breezy – like the sunny, cool New York afternoon that is just outside my window as I type this. It is a pleasure to listen to Aviv’s graceful melodies and you can tell that he – and Chris Wojdak, who added textures and assisted with arrangement, on the album – took care to make sure that the layers and sounds remained smooth.

The title track, “Me and My Ribcage” is the opening song on the album.The first minute of the song sends you soaring through light, immaculate clouds, into a denseless, gravity-less atmosphere. The weightless guitar sings a peaceful melody which at the one-minute marks pauses and leads into a soft acoustic guitar and Aviv’s low-fi, tender vocal. His vocal is actually a bit abstruse. I don’t know what to make of his calm vocal. It’s as if he is living in a different time, as if he recorded this back in 1930 – every word vibrates – similar to the way that John Darnielle plays with his voice even thought it is quite different. I actually do get a bit of the Elephant Six feeling as well.

British Progressive Folk groups like The Amazing Blondel played medieval-esque music back in the late 60s and early 70s, and the beginning riff of “Two Lips” followed by the multi-layered, accented vocal feels like this. I catch a little of Syd Barrett in the vocal. I also absolutely love the feeling I get when I listen to this. It is eccentric music – almost psychedelic (more in the Elephant Six way than the late 60’s way). Aviv is also a proficient lyricist and I would like to highlight the ending of the song:

“And two words sting my eyes with doubt brushed under skin and out of mouth (and down) he lied to feel our beating hearts it pulled us back to where we started.
In a way I had to grin we cut the hands from off of it and all his fingers red with stain will lead us to a house unfaded on the reeds.”

Poetic and well done

I am including “Lazy Boy” as my last sampling of Aviv’s music. I love the fullness of this song. Aviv’s music is relaxing and an absolute pleasure to explore. I suggest you take a listen to the entire album which is available here.

Lyric of the Day? Colin Hay Can See a Very Long Way

24 Jan

Colin Hay

Colin Hay has come a long way since co-forming and providing lead vocals for the men down under Men at Work in the 1980s. But you know what they say (okay, I don’t think anyone says this), a good vocalist is always appreciated in the music community. That is not so much an aphorism, but rather a fact that I hope to be true. For Hay, it is very true.

Hay has Zach Braff (who played J.D. in the popular medical comedy “Scrubs”) for a career revitalization. Braff is one of those guys who appreciates a good vocalist. He started using Hay’s solo material – which is a delicate blend of acoustic rhythm, deeply emotion lyric, and somber vocal splendor, in his work. Since a lot of young folk like Braff (and a lot of people in general loved “Scrubs”), Hay’s music suddenly found a new, younger group of listeners, like myself. I knew of Men at Work, but, I did not know of Colin Hay until I heard “Overkill” on “Scrubs.”

I was hooked. I did have in mind far loftier goals for a post today, but I have been quite busy. This, though, will certainly do. While I have not published a Lyric of the Day in what seems like forever, I think that some lines from “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin,” one of my favorite songs by Hay, would be appreciated by the masses. I am going to see Colin Hay at Town Hall in NYC in April, by the way, and I am PSYCHED!

This song was in “Scrubs” in case you were going, “where have I heard this song before.” My favorite lyrical part of this song is the beginning.

“Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I’ll keep checking the horizon
I’ll stand on the bow, feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down, down, down, on me

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in
But don’t you understand
I already have a plan
I’m waiting for my real life to begin”

Just listen to the song and let the waves crash down on you. The song touches on a hint of a grand existential wait. It does seem that our protagonist will forever be by the shore waiting for his ship to come in, but, perhaps there is some peace in this situation – some beauty in the monotony. Or, perhaps, I have been reading too much Camus. Any which way, please enjoy this song!

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