Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ida Maria Live

Part of going to SXSW (Jeez, will this guy ever stop talking about this fricking festival? I mean come on, is this the only thing he goes to each year and then milks it for everything it's worth? Well... yes.) is the ultimate disappointment of NOT seeing someone. It's a scientific fact. Equations have been calculated by Russian scientists laid off by a government that no longer cares to split protons and crush the American Way. So what better do they have to do than crunch data that says it you have 5 days and 24 hours per day with over 1.7 billion bands, you will miss some that you wanted to see. Google it, it's true.

Well, one of the artists I wanted to see there was Ida Maria. Went to one of the clubs she was supposed to be playing at, at the prescribed time, and some dude started playing. Not Ida. Found out later that she was delayed, perhaps because of visa issues in NY.

So I was happy to stumble across this live-in-the-studio recording of her, and hear that she sounds pretty darn good. Might want to wash her hair next time, though. let's just say that it was early, and that she washed it later and it was all silky smooth and wraarrrrr. This hair was a little more eeeeah, if you know what I mean. Ah, well, good stuff anyway. Enjoy "better when you're naked" and Stella":

Ida Maria (Live on KEXP at The Cutting Room Studios NYC) from KEXP RADIO on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

M83: We Own The Sky

I smell the fields.
The breeze is in my hair.
The electricity of the unknown is in the air.
I wish it was summer, and I could watch this in the middle of tall grass.

It is rare that a video completes a song. I think this is one of those rare instances.

"I like the atmosphere of it cause it fits perfectly to the music and the lyrics. It's exactly what I had in mind when I wrote the song."- Anthony Gonzalez, AKA M83

And it was done by some kids in LA as part of a contest. Thanks to ultra8201 for sharing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Have I Done?

I just downloaded the new Dave Matthews Band song for free. What little street cred I had is now officially gone.

And I kind of like it...

Oh, Lord, help me...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ray Charles: Crying Time

Today was a great day for me. Ray Charles' "Crying Time" was released digitally on iTunes, along with nineteen other old releases that had, until now, been only available on vinyl, if you could find them. 

The CD boom was really blowing up when I was going to school at SIU in Carbondale, Illinois. If you were selling a used CD it would easily go for $9. It was the new format that was all the rage. But of course, albums, those huge black stabs with grooves in them, were also still in vogue. I remember going into the Record Exchange there, always looking for new music, and I realized that I had no Ray Charles. But what to buy? I mean, the guy had a large catalog, and I wanted just the right album.

So I asked the old hipster behind the counter: If I were to buy just one of these albums from Brother Ray, which should it be? Ah, he smiled as he saw Crying Time. This is the one. So I bought it, and have loved this album ever since. Released in 1968, it won the Best Rhythm and Blues Recording 1968, and Ray’s recording of “Crying Time” also won the Grammy in the newly created category Best Rhythm and Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Male or Female 1968.

The song was a cover of Buck Owens and charted at #6 on the pop charts, #5 on the R&B charts, and #1 on adult contemporary. The whole album is a treat, as Ray does country as only he can. Here he is with Glen Campbell, singing the title song:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hide Your Dollar Bills: Living Things Coming To St Louis

You may have read my post about seeing the Living Things play an afternoon show at SXSW. They were very good, in the vein of T-Rex, or perhaps Louis XIV, and they were wearing all leather, even though it was a fairly warm Texas afternoon. The thing that got everyone talking was when singer Lillian burned a dollar bill in front of the stage, talking about how the government was taking his tax money for the rich no more. It was effective, but then when it was reported that he did the same thing at their next show, maybe a little less so.

But, hey, they really bring a good rock show, so it would be a shame to miss them when they come to STL. Even though they are from here, they haven't actually played a show here in years. They'll be at Off Broadway on May 12, and also playing a free show earlier in the day at Vintage Vinyl, at 4 PM.

As a little background, the Living Things formed in 2003 and consists of three brothers, Lillian Berlin on vocals and guitar, Eve on Bass, and Bosh on drums. Rounding out the group is Corey Becker on guitar, who is not related to anyone else in the band, and is NOT, contrary to the arbitrary rumor that I decided to start here, the love-child of Steely Dan's Walter Becker and gravel-voiced Marianne Faithfull. Their new release is Habeas Corpus, and they have toured with Velvet Revolver and the Vines.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lyrics Born: Funky Hit Record

Surprise! I like the old-skool hip-hop. And I like Lyrics Born, so it looks like somebody got chocolate in my peanut butter. Mmmmm, tasty:

Here's what Lyrics has to say:
Oh my GOD!

"Funky Hit Records" has been blowin' UP!!!

Last week the video for "Funky Hit Records" was featured on YouTube and we've had nearly 200,000 views in less than a week. On top of that people have been downloading the mp3 like crazy. We've even heard that Triple J Radio in Australia has been spinnin' the track.

If you go to his web site, you can download this little gem for free. Get on it.

Nirvana: Where Did You Sleep Last Night

It's hard to believe that it has been 15 years today that Kurt Cobain decided to end his life. In some ways it feels like it was just yesterday; in many ways it feels like another time, ancient history. This was my favorite performance from the MTV: Unplugged concert. I keep watching his face, looking for a sign of what was to come. The closest I come is the somewhat delirious wide-eyes that happen 4:40 in. But it's more than likely that Kurt is just caught up in the performance of the Leadbelly classic. This group defined a time, and that time is now gone:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Nat King Cole: Nature Boy

The greatest thing
You'll ever learn
Is to love
And be loved
In return

It's really a classic song, one that most people don't know any more, fading into the distant past. And that's a shame. I encourage anyone who loves music to open their ears to songs from all eras, it can be so rewarding. This was written by Eden Ahbez, one of the stranger stories in music (think about THAT statement), a basically homeless by choice man that at one point lived under the Hollywood sign. Heck, once Nat found out that he had a hit on his hands he had to hire some investigators to find the man so he could give him proper credit, and pay.

From Wikipedia:
In 1947, at the prompting of radio host [3] Cowboy Jack Patton, he approached Nat "King" Cole's manager backstage at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, and handed him the music for his song, "Nature Boy". Cole began playing the song for live audiences to much acclaim, but needed to track down its author before releasing his recording of it. Ahbez was discovered living under the Hollywood Sign, and became the focus of a media frenzy when Cole's version of "Nature Boy" shot to #1 on the Billboard charts, and remained there for 8 consecutive weeks during the summer of 1948. Ahbez was covered simultaneously in Life, Time and Newsweek magazines, and Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan released versions of the song. Ahbez also faced legal action from Yiddish musical composer Herman Yablokoff,[4] who claimed that the melody to "Nature Boy" came from one of his songs, "Shvayg mayn harts" ("Be Still My Heart"). The action was settled out of court.

Watch and listen to the guitarist. He has some excellent smooth riffs, and an infectious smile about 1:42 in. Just watching him again made me laugh for joy. When I say to you, dear reader, "Enjoy", I really do mean it:

A little digging on the guitar player casts a shadow on that smile. It seems his name is Oscar Moore and after 1947 he left Nat's group and his career did a slow spiral, until he finally moved to LA and became a bricklayer. He sure looked happy here.

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears: Sugarfoot

Another SXSW highlight, with an obvious musical cue from James Brown. But, hell, is there anything wrong with that? Black Joe needs to practice his lip sync, but other than that, this is a good representation of the band. And Ian "big show" Varley is fun to watch live on the keys. I'd say go see these guys if they come to your town.

They'll be here in the Lou on Friday April 24 at the Pageant opening up for Robert Randolph and the Family Band:

Redd Volkaert Plays The Country Blues

A few folks have asked me about Redd. Who is this guitar-playing cross between Santa and a plumber? He was a highlight of SXSW for me. A goal was to see as much Austin music as possible. There really seems to be an amazing amount of talent there, and a respect for music that has come before. Here he is playing with Cindy Cashdollar at the Texas Book Festival in 2008. It's my understanding that Cindy played with Ryan Adams on his release "Cold Roses". Sounds good:

And here he is doing "Home In San Antone":

Marianne Faithfull Covers The Decemberists On Letterman

How soon is too soon before someone does a cover of a song? Here's Marianne Faithfull covering the Decemberists' "The Crane's Wife" last night on Letterman. Her voice is cigarettes and whiskey. A strange selection: