First Lady Michelle Obama joins James Corden for a drive around the White House grounds. [more inside]
In June of 1979, a song called "Ready 'N Steady" appeared on Billboard's "Bubbling Under" chart and persisted there for three weeks, struggling up to number 102 before vanishing into a legendary obscurity. For the next 37 years, music historians were unable to find any other evidence of the song's existence—no recordings, no memories of airplay, no band or label information. This month, the mystery of the "phantom record" was finally solved: "Ready 'N Steady" exists, and you can listen to it here. [more inside]
Michael Friedman is engaged in an unusual form of journalism. The composer, who has worked on shows including “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play,” is travelling the country talking to voters about what’s on their minds in this election, and then turning his interview transcripts into original songs. “The New Yorker Radio Hour” has been documenting his work. In California, Friedman spoke with a network-news producer whose jaded feelings about political coverage was shocked by Donald Trump’s hijacking of politics for entertainmentPresidential Campaigns Are Like Wildfires...
from The State of The Union Songbook
Henry Rollins reports that Alan Vega, vocalist for legendary proto-punk band Suicide, has died.
With profound sadness and a stillness that only news like this can bring, we regret to inform you that the great artist and creative force, Alan Vega has passed away. Alan passed peacefully in his sleep last night, July 16. He was 78 years of age[more inside]
"We live in the Genius age, where every line of text and every bit of information is now annotated, searchable and definable. The digitization of music has served as a mass cataloging project for anyone interested in dissecting a track down to its molecular makeup. Supernumerary sounds on records, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can usually be traced to its source." - Who Was the Baby on Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?”
Culture, not biology, decides the difference between music and noise. “Consonance seems like such a simple phenomenon, and in Western music there’s strong supposition that it’s biological... But this study suggests culture is more important than many people acknowledge.” Study originally published in Nature.
I'll mount the air on swallow's wings, to find my dearest dear. And if I lose my labour and cannot find him there, I quickly will become a fish to search the roaring sea; I love my love because I know my lover he loves me.
Using just the saxophone, violin, and their voices--and with no looping--saxophonist Colin Stetson and violinist Sarah Neufeld create incredibly layered and engrossing aural landscapes on their 2015 album Never were the way she was. Their video for "The rest of us", directed by Dan Huiting, is cinematic in its own right, but it's the driving gallop of the music that will stick with you. [more inside]
Bury It, the latest track from CHVRCHES, featuring Hayley Williams and with an outstanding video by comics artist Jamie McKelvie.
In the 1990s, a group of Australian misfits who made anti-rave music [NSFW audio, present elsewhere, too], influenced by their local Newcastle industrial heritage and the international sounds of gabber. In 1994, they bashed out some tunes and pulled together enough money to make 102 hand-stamped records, officially starting Bloody Fist Records. The label gained recognition world-wide, but abruptly closed shop in 2004, and a decade later Bloody Fist was celebrated in Newcastle with Fistography, an exhibit to the history and legacy of the label. If you missed any of this the first time around, you can stream and buy much of the label's catalog on their Bandcamp page. [more inside]
Ma’agalim, a bitter-sweet music video by the Israeli band Jane Bordeaux [Youtube]
(N.B.: first link includes sketches and models.)
(N.B.: first link includes sketches and models.)
Devil Is Fine is the second album by Zeal and Ardor, a.k.a. Birdmask, a.k.a. Manuel Gagneux. For a taste of its "spiritual black metal blues," have a loud listen to "Blood In The River." The vocals are so gritty and authentic that he was accused of using unattributed samples from Smithsonian field recordings. [more inside]
[Soda_Jerk vs The Avalanches] Jerry Seinfeld, Daria, Jay and Silent Bob and many more rub on-screen shoulders in The Was, an eye-and-ear-catching 14 minute collage short. The visual remix splices together scenes and characters from 129 different films and TV shows, and is made by NYC-via-Sydney art collective, Soda_Jerk. Fittingly, the short appears to be soundtracked by audio sampling maestros, The Avalanches, using tracks from The Avalanches' recently-released album Wildflower and alternative mixes. [more inside]
David Lee Roth's No Holds Bar-B-Que, long only available in bootleg form was released on Roth's youtube channel recently. Featuring surreal covers, low rent effects work, Benny Hill-esque skits, and Japanese sword arts. Dive in and get a taste.
Making a Robot Dance to Music Using Chaotic Itinerancy in a Network of FitzHugh-Nagumo Neurons "We propose a technique to make a robot execute free and solitary dance movements on music, in a manner which simulates the dynamic alternations between synchronisation and autonomy typicallyobserved in human behaviour."
While OK Go's progression from treadmill to unicycle to zero-gravity has broken all kinds of ground in ambitious, creative, music video, the new video for LA band AJJ's Goodbye, Oh Goodbye takes the form to entirely new places. Planned and choreographed over the course of six months, and shot in a single take in an LA warehouse, the video centers around a judicious use of... well, it's best left unspoiled. (Here's a making-of video, for the curious.)
A list of extremes of conventional music notation. "Conventional Western music notation is far more complex and subtle than most people think. In particular, it does not have well-defined borders; it just fades away indefinitely in all directions."
In 1997, Björk interviewed musicians Alasdair Malloy, Mika Vainio, Tommi Grönlund, and Arvo Pärt in a two-part BBC documentary entitled Modern Minimalists - part I | part II
Breakestra is a funk band from Los Angeles. A sampling: Come On Over ft. Afrodyete • Getcho Soul Togetha • Joyful Noise • Cramp Your Style • Lowdown Stank • Family Rap • On-air jam at KCRW [via L.A. Taco Radio]
Tweedy is Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and his 18-year-old son Spencer. The father-son duo's debut album Sukierae, released in 2014, features 20 songs written by Jeff Tweedy with Spencer playing drums. Radio National's live music team caught Tweedy's recent Bluesfest sideshow at the Melbourne Recital Centre. [more inside]
If you look at nothing more than album titles, you'll get the impression that the duo of the brothers Andreas and Simone Salvatici, who record and perform as Clorinde, pull in a diverse set of sounds, from The Gardens of Bomarzo, named for the Italian park of stone monsters, to The Poetry of Charles B., with song titles pulled from Bukowski. If that's too vague, "Imagine an orchestral and oriental Efterklang reworking “Selected Ambient Works” by Aphex Twin." [more inside]
Amber Galloway Gallego is an ASL-based music interpreter who has worked with Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Destiny's Child, Paul McCartney, and many more rappers, R&B stars, and rock bands. Her YouTube channel is chock full of music interpretation for deaf audiences. [more inside]
If You Do That, The Robots Win: Glenn McDonald, music critic and creator of Every Noise At Once talks about how algorithmic music recommendation happens:
So now I work at Spotify as a zookeeper for playlist-making robots. Recommendation robots have existed for a while now, but people have mostly used them for shopping. Go find me things I might want to buy. "You bought a snorkel, maybe you'd like to buy these other snorkels?" But what streaming music makes possible, which online music stores did not, is actual programmed music experiences. Instead of trying to sell you more snorkels, these robots can take you out to swim around with the funny-looking fish. And as robots begin to craft your actual listening experience, it is reasonable, and maybe even morally imperative, to ask if a playlist robot can have an authorial voice, and, if so, what it is?[more inside]
What do you get when you give the directors of such music videos as DJ Snake & Lil' Jon's Turn Down for What [previously] or Manchester Orchestra's Simple Math [previously] a movie to direct? You get Swiss Army Man (trailer). And when you have a movie that features the magical, flatulent corpse played by Daniel Radcliffe, how do you promote it online? With a virtual swiss army man (warning: possibly NSFW for optional* full-screen video bikini-clad women and a .. helpful erection) [more inside]
Route One is a 24 hour live broadcast by Icelandic state television RÚV of a drive on the Ring Road, which goes all the way around Iceland. Underneath a procedurally generated 24 hour remix of a new Sigur Rós song called Óveður will be playing. It starts now.
TRONICBOX (twitter) makes 1980s versions of current day pop songs including an absolutely spot on version of Justin Bieber's "What Do You Mean."
Performers have had it with your shit: your phone is getting locked up.
Arena-folk rockers Mumford and Sons toured in South Africa earlier this year, where they took two days to record new music. The result is their Johannesburg EP (YT playlist with live and studio tracks), with Senegalese singer and guitarist Baaba Maal (documentary playlist), South African pop trio Beatenberg (playlist of live videos), and the team of Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya with British production/DJ duo Radioclit as The Very Best (their original mixtape). More music from the collaborators inside. [more inside]
The first rule of calling Smash Mouth a one-hit Shrek-coattail-riding wonder is do not call Smash Mouth a one-hit Shrek-coattail-riding wonder. The second rule of calling Smash Mouth a one-hit Shrek-coattail-riding wonderis do not call Smash Mouth a one-hit Shrek-coattail-riding wonder.
The origins of Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Free Bird' are pretty brief. In this 1970 demo (source), you can hear a short version, with the opening question but no piano intro and extended jam at the end. Though they recorded a long version for their debut album, they also cut a short version for the single. But people want "guitar sagas", such as "Whipping Post," by the Allman Brothers Band,and "Smoke on the Water," by Deep Purple, or maybe it was a silly thing to heckle Florence Henderson and other uncool cats. Decades later, people are still yelling "Freebird!" Sometimes people snap back, like Bill Hicks (NSFW), and sometimes people oblige, like Bob Dylan recently. In case that's not enough, there's (always) more! [more inside]
All Tomorrow's Parties, the independent festival organisation, is shutting down with immediate effect. [more inside]
- Band practices in the woods, cop appears and decides to join in
- Mom takes the drums for a cover of Wipe Out
- While waiting for Green Day to appear on stage, crowd entertain themselves by singing Bohemian Rhapsody
The Art of Conducting: Great Conductors of the Past - The Art of Conducting: Legendary Conductors of a Golden Era - The Art Of Piano: Great Pianists Of The 20th Century - The Art of Violin [more inside]
Ken Downie, Ed Handley and Andy Turner were mates back in the day, digging into b-boy stuff as it came into England, mixing in sounds from Chicago and Detroit, acid and techno, and making it their own. They released three EPs on their own, and joined Warp Records in 1993 with the iconic album, Bytes, which already showed a fractured nature to the group, with eight different entities attributed for the album and individual tracks, but they wouldn't formally fracture for a few more years. Ken Downie kept The Black Dog, which he named in part for his battle with depression, while Ed and Andy became Plaid. With Plaid's newest album, The Digging Remedy, each now with 11 albums to their names. Read on for more history and tunes. [more inside]
Happy Birthday Cole Porter! In 1990, Red Hot + Blue, an AIDS benefit album was released featuring covers of Cole Porter's music by an electric array of performers accompanied by a TV special with music videos from the likes of Jim Jarmusch and Wim Wenders. Notable tracks include "Miss Otis Regets" by the Pogues and Kristy MacColl (video Neil Jordon) "Don't Fench Me In" by David Byrne "You Do Something To Me" by Sinéad O'Connor (video John Maybury) "Have You Evah" by Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop (video by Alex Cox) "From This Moment On" by Jimmy Somerville (video Steve mcclean) and "Ev'ry We Say Goodbye" by Annie Lennox (video by Ed Lachman)
So one of the great musical surprises of the year was Autechre dropping elseq 1-5, an... album, I think? - comprising five parts, FOUR HOURS in total, of uncompromising, intricately programmed algorithmic music. Not to editorialize, but it's really something. A challenge of an album by any measure, but also deeply rewarding and unutterably gorgeous. While they are usually pretty hermetic, Rob and Sean of Autechre have occasionally proven surprisingly open and willing to explain themselves. In 2013 there was an enormous, 1,500 question AMA on the music site WATMM, and on the heels of the new album, there's a long, wide-ranging interview on Resident Advisor covering their entire history, philosophy, method of working, and much more (spoiler: they'd probably work with Kanye if he called). It's fascinating. Dive in! [more inside]
The Djangobot. (Skip to the end if you just want to hear a computer improvising like Django Reinhardt (and Gonzalo Bergara, Stochelo Rosenberg, and some other gypsy jazz players)).
Koo Koo Kangaroo is one of the strangest bands I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their music video, or why. [more inside]
What do you get when you combine the lead vocalists for Public Enemy, Cypress Hill and Rage Against the Machine? Why, you get the brand new supergroup Prophets of Rage. And now with their inaugural show at Whisky A Go Go last week behind them, they've now announced a touring schedule. First stop? Cleveland, July 19th.
The True Story Of The Fake Zombies. In 1969, the English psychedelic pop band The Zombies had a surprise hit in the States with "Time of the Season". Since they'd broken up two years earlier, the obvious thing for a promoter to do would be to recruit a bunch of young Texan blues-rock musicians in cowboy hats (including 2/3 of the future ZZ Top), call them the Zombies, and send them on tour. And that wasn't the only fake Zombies band out there.
Whyte Horses are a fantastically jangly, spacey psych-pop group from Manchester, headed up by cratedigging 'B-music crusader' Dom Thomas. They've just (re)released their debut album called Pop or Not and it sounds like nothing else, shapeshifting 'from Turkish psyche to Brazilian trip music, from acid house to electronica to punk rock to guitar classic in a heartbeat'. It stars underground 'no-fi' musician Lispector, who left the band between recording and release. Try out choice cuts The Snowfalls, La Couleur Originelle and Natures Mistakes and if you like what you hear, there's another fourteen great tracks on the album.