Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Pops and Music

It's been three years to the day since my dad died. I miss him a lot and think of him every day. Every time I listen to some good jazz or blues I think of him. He played a good amount of music when I was younger and it's there that I first heard Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk. He would play Coltrane Live at Birdland or Ray Charles Live and at the time I didn't think anything of it. I didn't get those records out and play them when I was young but I think being exposed to that music left an indelible mark on my view of music. It influences all the music I listen to now.
When my dad was younger he would go to all black record stores because the stores by him didn't carry jazz or blues. He saw all the blues and jazz greats at clubs around Chicago.
He would take us to Chicago Fest, Jazz Fest and Blues Fest as well as The Taste of Chicago to see music legends there.
Pops gave me his record collection a couple of years before he died. My wife and I listen to the records from time to time. Our favorite is the Ray Charles Live album, still my favorite live album to this day. I also grew an affinity for Thelonius Monk and his disparate chords from those records. Coltrane, Sam and Dave, Mowtown, Mingus were all introduced to me on those records.
I also burned him my Ray Charles Box Set and let him listen to that on his portable cd player. His records and my cd's, 40 years difference in age and seemingly different, with the common connection of the great music held on them.
He was a great Dad and loved being a Grandpa. So I have put together a play list of some of his favorite songs and that's what I'll listen to as I remember him now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Album Review: Bekennerschreiben by Spheriot

Spheriot , is a great band I came across on Free Music Archive. It's a one man act, Luko, from Germany who records in his living room. There are elements of alt rock, electro and a bit of atmosphere in the songs on their album Bekennerschreiben (claim of responsibility) on WM Recordings. There is a delicate balance between the harder rock elements and the quieter electronic passages. The song order of the divergent sounds flows nicely and creates a balance that goes throughout the album.

David Bowie comes to my mind when I listen to they way Luko sings in and out of falsetto with the music backing of the fuzz guitar and electro. For someone who recently discovered independent music from across the globe, it's great that the sounds on this album could never come from an American band. Krautrock informs this album but Luko is not stuck in any one "genre'. It is melodic but the means to that melody is not through chorus chants and typical song structure.

Standout songs are Aufmarsch der Lemminge ,with it's climbing falsetto set against a muted fuzz guitar riff, and The Golden Circle with it's electro bounce and Bowie esque vocals, updated spacerock for the 2000's!

Other Spheriot albums: Living Room Orbits
Luko's side Jazz/improv group Zloty Dawai.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The House of Greg Dulli (concert report)

Greg Dulli lead singer of Afghan Whigs/ Twilight Singers/ Gutter Twins sings with the earnestness and urgency of a Southern Baptist Preacher but from an ideological standpoint, the gulf between them could not be further apart. After having seen him with the Twilight Singers and Gutter Twins repeatedly, I can report that Mr. Dulli could possibly be doing one or all of the following from the stage: smoking 3 or 4 cigs at the same time, sweating profusely, grinning like he stole money from the collection plate, delaying the start of the concert 2 hrs because 9pm is too early for a denizen of the night to start working, singing as if he were at the Crossroads trying to save his soul.
Greg walks on the dark side of things without really coming off as evil. He is a congenial host who will smile pleasantly before lighting into a songs about ladies of the night and drugs all the while gulping on almond colored liquor. The givens are that his band is always tight, that
Mark Lanegan is always hunching in the shadows waiting to waiting to slow the pace with his guttural whiskey wisened vocals and that a religious experience will be had by all. At all three concerts they played well past 2am, which is probably their optimal high energy time of day. The crowds at all the shows were well behaved and it doesn't hurt that Dulli doesn't have a "radio" song, so there can't possibly be a neophyte in the crowd requesting one. The leers and grunts from the stage, which are abound at Greg's shows, send the audience into a communal roar. The mere strains of the beginnings of songs elicit cat calls and howls from everyone looking up at the stage littered with candelabras. The audience is picking up on the Dulli vibe and responding in like kind.
And then Dulli and company are off to the next town where all of this will happen again. Greg will proudly strut up to the mic and wonder loudly whether "tonight's" crowd will be louder than the one in the last town...and Mr. Dulli will have them eating out of his hand from the start and the only real question is, how far down will he lead them?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Free Music Archive

I came across an article on Pitchfork about a new web site, The Free Music Archive. On this site they have labels, radio stations and large personal collections of music all free for download. The way the site functions is very easy. Signing up is free and they have an easy color coded system that will feed you to specific styles of music. You can donate to the artists page if you wish.
The styles on this site are eclectic. I have enjoyed downloading everything from German alt/electro rock band Spheriot's Bekennerschreiben , Kristin Hersh's (USA) new indie album
Speedbath to African guitarist Abdoulaye Toure and a series of collections called Netbloc 1 thru 21 where they cull artists from net-labels across the world. Other standouts for me on that site are meanwhileproject ltd , Germanpop/electro songs that feature male and female vocals as well as Mira Cook's catchy and inventive layered acapella songs. Learning Music's tribe mentality, up to 30 members, to making really good a indie pop music in the vein of David Byrne.
This is the site that music fans, like myself have been saying we deserve to have, which offers music for free in a way that incorporates artists, fans, labels and radio stations together in one place. Now we need people to help them grow by visiting, joining and downloading for free. What's you excuse not to?

Saturday, May 23, 2009 where you can archive your music for free.

The website is a great place to find new music. It's user friendly and allows you to join for free. They have a pretty extensive artist information with the ability to stream those songs for free. They also have web songs for 10 cents each that can only be played on lala but you can play the complete song as many times as you like. They have all of the other music site amenities such as friends and playlists. One of the great things is that you can listen to a song while searching the rest of the site and the player will continue to play until you turn it off or start a different song. I use this feature when checking out the new releases every week. As you scroll through new releases from page to page you can listen to the artists for as long as you like. Also the new releases can be viewed by style and whether its an album or single, this lets you search for exactly what you want.
Lala lets you upload your music and archive it there for free. No need for a back-up hard drive. I uploaded 18,000 songs. The only draw back here is that not every song and album will upload but i'd say about 95% of mine did. Even bootlegs. They have a Lalamover that facilitates the uploading of your music that you can set up to upload everything that is added to itunes automatically. These uploaded songs and playlists can be viewed and played by others. The uploads are able to be found by typing in the song or artist you're looking for or you can scroll list style both the artist name and album name. I wish itunes had that capability.
Lala sells mp3's as well. They have a good deal of music for 5.99 per album or less. They have a lot of the sales that amazon has but the Lala sells a lot albums for $7.50 that would be $9.99 on itunes and Amazon.
My screen name on Lala is the same as here, so if you end up joining there look me up.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jamendo, Jamendo, Jamendo!!!

I have been using now for a few months and I love it. It is a free creative commons website that lets you join for FREE, stream all of the music as well as download LEGALLY for FREE. It's almost too good to be true. The artists are not household names, you won't find Green Day albums here. (There is a Jamendo music player in the margin). What they do have is a website that is user intuitive. You can have the music player separate from the main Jamendo page and listen to one group while going to pages all over the site.
The acts are from all over the world and all kinds of music. When on the site all you have to do is click on the little flag in the bottom left corner and it will show all artists from that country. I came across a group from France called Clownage, that plays alt rock/hardrock. So I searched all their artists from France and have found so many other artists such as Lull(acoustic duo), Zero (hard rock) , ...anabase (rock), david(pop), fresh body shop(rock), Godon (hard rock), la curiosite tua le chat (alt rock), Lonah (rock/electronic), MITYX (alt rock), Silt (alt rock), Sortie 15 (alt rock), Sucrepop (pop). So far I have downloaded music from artists from these countries : France , Great Britain, China, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, USA, Brazil, Spain, Venezuela. You can make friends on this site as well and contact musicians.
The artists are paid money from the advertising the site does. You can donate to artists as well. This business model is the future of the music industry.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Transition : Dependant Consumer To Independant Consumer

I have been buying records/cassettes/cd's/mp3's for 25 years and am amazed at the constant evolution of the music business. We are on the verge of most music being a free download that we can then donate money to the artist if we so choose. This is the model on everything from Radiohead's site to some of my faves, Jamendo and Free Music Archive. Now most of these sites content is primarily unsigned unknown artists, but this is changing and in a few years most of the music will be available as free downloads and the big corporations will fund it with their advertising dollar. This is the dream of all music lovers. The artists can then make additional money by releasing for pay bonus material and live material that music nuts like myself will pay for gladly.
This is my first blog. Music is the only thing that I am knowledgeable about that I truly love. I have over 1500 albums and that grows daily now that I'm on Jamendo and Free Music Archive. At the beginning here i'll keep updates of my music finds on these as well as any cool free Web labels. If you want to do the same i'll check yours out too. That's the beauty of the direction the music bus is headed, it's now a collaborative effort of fans and artists alike! If you're in a band and want me to check out some music or do a review I'd love to, let me know!!