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Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Time To Realize (Lemaitre)

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on May 31, 2012 at 9:00 am

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Dance it up to this fresh track from Lemaitre, a Norwegian indie-beat duo comprising of Ketil & Ulrik. Off their Relativity 2 EP, “Time To Realize” is a catchy dance tune with some soft and smooth synths to fill out the sound. In other words, it makes you want to move without tiring you out with intense wave-synths that drone on in your ear. No, this track is silky and breezy and still dance-worthy.

Not only is it a sweet dance track, the lyrics have subtle suggestions that maybe, just maybe, its about the infamous North Korean political regime. Not what you first expect, right? “I’m born in 84, or 83, whatever, who the fuck knows”, is a pretty sneaky reference to how little we know about Kim Jong-Un, but when you combine that with the military-interrogation themed video, which you can watch below, it is a little more obvious.

It sounds heavy, but Lemaitre keeps the tune light. The dancer in the video suggests that we shouldn’t take it too seriously, even if it is a real sentiment written about the North. Without seeing the video and listening too carefully, you would have no idea.

Check out this track and let me know your thoughts!

Return of the Mambo (S. Strong)

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on May 30, 2012 at 9:00 am

The only think I know about S. Strong is that he is lives in Athens, Greece, his name is actually Stelios Strong, and that this is a kick ass track that I think has officially made it to my Summer 2012 playlist. The playlist for the car, bus, beach, or house when cleaning.

“Return of the Mambo” is a nice, groovy contemporary mambo track that you can play and get a little energy infused into your body, just from listening. And of course, if you feel the need…bust a move. Enjoy.

#105 – Rocket to Russia (Ramones)

In 124-100, Top 150 on May 29, 2012 at 10:35 am
Cover of "Rocket to Russia"

Cover of Rocket to Russia (released on November 4, 1977)

Listening to Rocket to Russia was my first experience with the Ramones. They are distinctly different from anything I’ve listened to so far on my list.

I hear the Ramones as a Beach Boys influenced punk-rock musicians. Aside from the surfing references,  you can hear similarities in the simple harmonies and melodies that the Ramones bust out on “Rockaway Beach” and “I Can’t Give You Anything”. There is definitely a sense of rebellion on this album (which in my own opinion, tends to go hand in hand with punk-rock). Tracks like “I Don’t Care” capture that rebellious spirit with a little more of a hard-rock sound.

Without doing too much research on this, its clear that the Ramones are known for their influence on what was becoming slightly monotonous pop music in 1977. In other words, they tried to do something a little different after so many people emulating the typical successful rock and pop styles of bands like The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Rocket to Russia is a simple but energetic American-punk rock album that is definitely worth a listen. I don’t really want to write more about it, not because I don’t like the album, but just because I feel like I can see and hear the uniqueness of this album and I am ready to move on to something a little different! I hope you enjoy this one, though!

Locked Down (Dr. John)

In albums, current listenings on May 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I have been reading about this album for a while now, so when I heard it was released I was really excited to pick it up on iTunes. Dr. John’s album Gris-Gris is one of the first albums I listened to on the RS150. I can clearly remember listening to it for the first time, hearing the swampy voodoo sounds that are masterfully intertwined with the melody of every track, and I remember how surprised and interested I was…and to be honest, a little turned off. But once I listened to that album a few more times, my view changed and I gained a new appreciation for Dr. John’s vision.

Locked Down is a beautiful (can I call it that?) re-activation of Dr. John’s creative, bad-ass, New Orleans grunge. What really got me excited for this album in the first place was hearing that Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys was producing the album and leading the band. In fact, Auerbach searched out Dr. John ‘The Nite Tripper’, aka Mac Rebennack, to get his funky-ass groove back in action. And it is a huge success.

The tracks on this album are phenomenal. I am not saying this lightly. I think this is one of my favourite albums to be released in a long time. Its got the voodoo essence of Gris-Gris with even more attitude and in-your-face musical stylings. The first two tracks of the album, “Locked Down” and “Revolution” set the tone for the album with layers and layers of sounds that make me feel like we are walking into a contemporary ceremony of the underworld (and who knows what’s going to happen). But the layers are perfectly mastered, with slightly-off-key choral vocals and some really heavy guitar and keys. To me, this is a historical album.

There’s some serious attitude behind the lyrics and music on this album that make it that much better, too. In the digital booklet of Locked Down, there is a short piece of writing that explains the story of this album, which is one of “tricknology”, is really about the coming together of two brothers, Mac Rebennack and Dr. John, who really is the musical persona created by Rebennack “during a parole exile in 1960s Los Angeles”. I’m not kidding when I say Dr. John is a bad-ass.

And as he says at the end of the writing:

“This is Mac and the good Doctor. Together, they are the last of the great tricknologists and stronger than they could ever be apart.

This is the sound of tricknology, children. Coming up behind you, fading no more.

And tricknology is HEAVY.”

I mean, come on! Who writes things like this anymore? Its phenomenal. The inspiration behind Dr. John is out of this world. This album has so many sounds and stories behind every track. You can keep listening over and over and hear a totally new sound. Even the album insert knows this, too! It perfectly captures all of these aspects as “an invitation to do a dirty grind in a backroom bar at 3 AM and a call to go to church the next day; it’s a fierce burst of salvation and an apocalyptic warning; it’s a seductive come-on and an initiation; it’s  candle-burning jams rubbing shoulders with ecstatic odes to the great mystery.” Seriously. And its so spot on its crazy.

Every track starts with an entrancing new riff, from the simple and strong guitar on “Ice Age” which gets complimented with some tribal drum sounds, to the heavy-key intro on “Getaway”.

If you are looking for a phenomenal album that is different than your standard rock album, check out Locked Down, pour yourself a drink, turn on the music, and let it take you on a wild ride.

Float (KO KO)

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on May 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm

There’s only two ways that tracks with whistling can go: really phenomenal, or really, really phenomenally bad. In general, I’ve gotta say, I love whistling and I think most people do (its jovial and fun and light-hearted). In fact, my good friend recently decided to improve his whistling skills so he literally worked on it for a few months. You’ll be happy to know that his whistling has improved.

But back on track: KO KO starts off this beautiful and breezy track with some whistling that sets a nice little melody in motion. Its repeated throughout the song, although the whistling isn’t always there. I can’t find much information about KO KO except that they have a Bandcamp page with three songs that I really enjoy. One of these songs, is “Float”. Its a catchy pop song with a simple and intimate feeling that touches on life issues, both personal and career-related. It gives me this feeling of being in an “in-between” kind of state. There is a sense of determination, mixed with some insecurity about achieving different goals in life. I love the sound of this tune with its relentlessly light and easy hook and dream-like feeling that the synths create. This is a great Summer song if you are loving the sunshine but feeling a little bit introspective.

As far as I can tell, KO KO is made up of two California brothers, Ryan and Taylor Lawhon, with the assistance of other musicians in their area. If you like “Float”, you’ll probably like their three-track release on Bandcamp. They’ve offered it up for free download a few times in the past, so keep your eye out and it might just happen again!

Sending you all some Tuesday love…

#106 – Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964 (Sam Cooke)

In 124-100, Top 150 on May 14, 2012 at 1:34 pm

A few years ago “You Send Me” and “Cupid” sung by Sam Cooke and I immediately loved his soulful and simple style. It was really great to see that this album was on the Top 500 list by Rolling Stone. Its a totally different style than anything on the list so far, but if you’ve listened to Sam Cooke, you know that he is truly a legend, like the album name suggests.

Cooke’s easy, smooth and soulful sound is flawless. There is an ease to the sound of this album that is unique to Sam Cooke. Of course, tracks like “You Send Me”, which was later sung by Aretha Franklin, and “Twistin’ The Night Away”, which Rod Stewart later performed, are iconic and now, timeless.

Most of the tracks are 50s-style love songs, which are all pretty sweet, romantic, and innocent. “Wonderful World” and “You Were Made For Me” are great examples of this: “As sure as there are stars above / You were made for me”. I mean come on, this kind of love song isn’t written anymore! The music of Sam Cooke has timeless themes and sentiments, but most artists nowadays don’t articulate themselves the way Sam Cooke does…which makes sense, because the music of Cook is from 50 years ago!

Sam Cooke had 29 Top 40 hits in only seven years, from 1957 to 1964.  That’s a pretty huge achievement. Not only that, Cooke was significant because he is one of the first black performers of the time  to take care of the business side of his career, along with the performance side.

If  you want some quintessential Sam Cooke, check out Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964. Its captures Cooke’s greatest hits before his controversial death in 1964. To me, this album is a 27-song time capsule that transports me to the 50s when I listen. And I love it.

I Wonder Who She’s Kissing Now (TV Girl)

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on May 10, 2012 at 9:00 am

TV Girl has yet to release a full album, although they have released a 15 song “mix-tape” as they say. Included on that mix-tape is the groovy-smooth track “I Wonder Who She’s Kissing Now”.

Its got a few samples mixed with an easy and smooth riff on the keys and some equally as easy fill guitar. And to round out the sound on top, the simple and slightly pitchy vocals of Trung Ngo, who is the singer and also plays the keys, add level of humility to the song.  I love these tracks that sound innocent and easy and smooth but have this bitterness underneath. This track isn’t really subtle though, hence the line “then remember that you’re the cancer to my soul”. Oh geez. And next, they start singing about a Shaman helping him with his love troubles! So epic for such a laid-back song!!

You can download their mix-tape, which is called The Wild The Innocent The TV Shuffle on their Bandcamp page. I haven’t given it a listen yet, but I might put it on a little later and see what I think. Anyway, enjoy this tune. Its nice and easy for a laid-back Summer afternoon…

Nothing Is Anything (Without You) by Wintersleep

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on May 9, 2012 at 10:41 am

While cruising on the Hype Machine this morning I found this new track (or at least new to me) by Wintersleep, the Canadian indie rockers who brought us great songs like “Weighty Ghost” (remember that one?) and received a Juno award in 2008.

I have to say that it always excites me to learn about great Canadian musicians, and also to see their success and be able to share some of their talents with whoever chooses to read earphone adventures.  It makes me proud of Canada!!

Anyway, back to Wintersleep. These rockers have a new LP coming out mid-June – only a month away! Their sound is fresh on this new track but they also sound familiar, possibly because you can hear similarities between the sound of  “Nothing Is Anything” and their older material. It has a breath of fresh air though, and makes me think of a warm Summer day with a cool breeze. I picture myself blaring this tune while I drive across the mountain on Jeju with the windows down and the sun shining. Or maybe during a Canadian West Coast road trip through the Rockies? Mmm. Sounds great to me.

Check out this track and let me know what you think. Wintersleep releases Hello Hum, their new album, on June 12th and also has a free track for download on their website right now. I also embedded it below for you :)

Muchos love, music fans.

#107 – Hunky Dory (David Bowie)

In 124-100, Top 150 on May 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Hunky Dory is the fourth studio album from David Bowie, released in December of 1971. As much as I love some of Bowie’s stuff, this is the first album that I’ve actually listened to and I feel like it was a full theatrical experience. It has a very showy feel to it but it is so easy and fun to listen to.

Starting with “Changes”, which is an anthem for Bowie’s own re-invention and continually developing style, the album is a start-to-finish success. It reminds me of the combination of Queen, Elton John and The Beatles…that is, if I were to compare Bowie to other artists. There is a very explorative feeling to this album. Its almost like Bowie wants to take us all on an adventure, and when the album starts, its just the vehicle warming up to take us on a fast-paced, dynamic, wild ride through the mind and feelings of Mr. David Bowie.

The reason I haven’t posted about this album for so long is because I feel like I really don’t know how to write about this album and do it justice. Even after reading about Bowie, I feel like I don’t know that much about him, but I feel like there is a really focused sense of artistic and personal expression on this album. So part of me was thinking “Gosh, what do I even do with this?”.  But I think that’s part of this experience for me, is listening to these records and being honest with my reactions.

I’m listening to the album right now as I’m writing this, and “Kooks” just came on.  I feel like this song captures the overall spirit of Hunky Dory. It’s upbeat, and a bit hokey – sounds a lot like a showtune to me. But that’s just it, I think that the idea of a show or facade echoes is just a guise, and acts as a vehicle to share some of Bowie’s deeper thoughts about how the world works, which he sings about in “Quicksand”. He seems to be confused by religions and “bullshit faith”, among other things, and so his thoughts are like quicksand, that he is sinking into. Much deeper than Hunky Dory sounds! So although Hunky Dory is a name that evokes the idea of happiness, the album is much deeper!

Bowie amps up the beat again with “Fill Your Heart”, which is a perfect contrasting song to follow Bowie’s over-confused thoughts in “Quicksand”. And its pretty clear, he literally suggests filling your heart with love because it will “clean your mind and make you free”. The best, right?

There are also two shoutouts to Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan on the album via the tracks containing their names. In particular, what I loved about “Song for Bob Dylan” is that Bowie emulates Dylan’s vocal patterns and style in parts of the song, particularly the beginning, as he sings “Here it is, Robert Zimmerman”. Doesn’t that sound like a melody Dylan would sing?

I love the diversity of this album. I’ve been listening to it for weeks and I still feel like there is so much that I haven’t given enough thought or attention to, but I’m ready to move to the next album, so I’m going to leave Hunky Dory alone for now.

If you haven’t listened to any Bowie, this is a GREAT album and I am so happy to have listened to it! I think there is another Bowie album on this list, so I look forward to working through that soon!

I want to hear your thoughts about this album. I know some of you out there love David Bowie, and if so, I want to hear more! What do you think about this album?

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