Song for an old-fashioned Christmas: "'Twas the night before Christmas on Sesame Street/And the people were sleeping, ‘cause the people were beat/The snow had been falling for most of the day/And it lay over everything, sooty and grey..." -- as performed by Sesame's own David (lyrics) for the 1975 album "Merry Christmas from Sesame Street" (cover; inside artwork; back cover). Please join me (and Bert and Ernie and Oscar and Big Bird and others) in revisiting a holiday classic. [more inside]
If you've encountered delicately uplifting chimes and bells or a singing saw, seen the contributions of a string quartet in a Sigur Rós video, heard the last recording by Lee Hazlewood and noticed the gentle singing and music, or listened to Yukihiro Takahashi consider words, then you've possibly encountered the Icelandic band amiina. [more inside]
After dropping sweet synthwave tunes for two years, Le Cassette have released their first album "Left to Our Own Devices," available on (of course) cassette tape
If you were watching late-night television in July 1998 you may have seen the half-hour informercial parody that the Beastie Boys produced to promote their upcoming album, Hello Nasty. The ad features Mike D, MCA , and Ad-Rock taking on roles to shill everything from the services of phone psychics to get-rich-quick scams to a food processor that plays songs from the upcoming LP. (Warning: video auto-loads.) [more inside]
"The Yellow Album isn’t an album so much as the most dramatic test of a true believer’s faith since God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. The album dares Simpsons diehards like myself to make it through a harrowing 48-minute gauntlet of ill-considered covers, train-wreck collaborations (Lisa and P-Funk All Stars: oh, it happened), generic synth-pop grooves, and jokes that would be killed in Jay Leno’s writers’ room for being insufficiently edgy. " - My World OF Flops on the bizarre, unloved Simpsons cash-in, "The Yellow Album. " complete with sample tracks.
While best remembered for his starring role in a horrible movie, once upon a time, the man had some chops. A surprising mix of world-tinged fusion and straight ahead jazz from 1969, I give you:
"The Dudley Moore Trio"
"The Dudley Moore Trio"
Singer-songwriter Laura Marling will release her latest album, Once I Was an Eagle, this May. She's shared a first song off of it, "Where Can I Go?" [more inside]
Creating Art from Failure. Take one epochal album by one of rock's legendary bands (called "one of the dullest and most confusing albums I've heard this year" by Rolling Stone on its release.) Name it after the nickname the band has given the venues where they appear, and for which they had written a song, which they neglected to put on the album itself. And then there's the album cover ... [more inside]
On September 27, 1963, at the New Era Club in Nashville, Tennessee, Etta James rocked the house. The result was "simply one of the greatest live blues albums ever captured on tape". [more inside]
You might have seen the hours of music from Bloglin last year, but Мишка ("Mishka," or "bear cub" in Russian) has another treasure trove of music: free albums, anthologies, and mixtapes on Bandcamp. They started a bit slow with a single mixtape in 2009 from Ninjasonik, and 2010 wasn't too active. But in 2011 they had 9 releases, and already 14 in 2012, the newest being the debut album from 19-year-old nu-disco producer Cream Dream. A handy rundown of the releases to date below the fold. [more inside]
In the wake of their grunge-y breakout hit "Creep" and the success of sophomore record The Bends, Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead were under pressure to deliver once more. So they shut themselves away inside the echoing halls of a secluded 16th century manor and got to work. What emerged from that crumbling Elizabethan castle fifteen years ago today was a shockingly ambitious masterpiece of progressive rock, a visionary concept album that explored the "fridge buzz" of modernity -- alienation, social disconnection, existential dread, the impersonal hum of technology -- through a mosaic of challenging, innovative, eerily beautiful music unlike anything else at the time. Tentatively called Ones and Zeroes, then Your Home May Be at Risk If You Do Not Keep Up Payments, the band finally settled on OK Computer, an appropriately enigmatic title for this acclaimed harbinger of millennial angst. For more, you can watch the retrospective OK Computer: A Classic Album Under Review for a track-by-track rundown, or the unsettling documentary Meeting People is Easy for a look at how the album's whirlwind tour nearly gave Yorke a nervous breakdown. Or look inside for more details and cool interpretations of all the tracks -- including an upcoming MeFi Music Challenge! [more inside]
George Watsky ("Pale Kid Raps Fast") has released a new free 16-track mixtape. First single: Rich Girl, based on the Hall and Oates song of the same name.
Bands often don't seem to be able to play on stage the way they did on their album; and we accept that for a lot of reasons having to do with the conditions, the production facilities and the sheer number of takes that were probably involved. But for a whole generation of hit music, there was often a more basic reason: it wasn't them playing on the album in the first place.
For nearly a decade, if you were an L.A. producer and you wanted to record a hit single, you'd call in The Wrecking Crew. Members of The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and The Mamas and the Papas would step aside as The Wrecking Crew laid down the instrumental tracks. Then, the members of the main band would come back to add the vocals on top.The above link goes to the OPB radio story I listened to this morning, with an embedded player. Official site for the book.
Here (from NPR's All Things Considered, 2008) is Woody Allen's classic stand-up routine, the Moose Story. A few more, from YouTube: Science Fiction Film, Eggs Benedict (unfortunately with distracting animation), on the Jack Paar show. MLYT [more inside]
Bryan Hollon, better known by his musical handle Boom Bip, is probably recognized for two drastically different sounds: abstract hip-hop from his early Mush Records days, and his Mercury Prize-nominated Neon Neon collaboration with Gruff Rhys. Add to that a new inspiration: black magic from the turn of the 19th century. What does that sound like? Let Boom Bip walk you through his new album, Zig Zaj. Step behind the deep red velvet curtains for a peek at the history of Boom Bip. [more inside]
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! It's been nearly two decades since that glorious savanna sunrise, and once again The Lion King is at the top of the box office. It's a good chance to revisit what made the original the capstone of the Disney Renaissance, starting with the music. Not the gaudy show tunes or the Elton John ballads, but the soaring, elegiac score by Hans Zimmer which, despite winning an Oscar, never saw a full release outside of an unofficial bootleg. Luckily, it's unabridged and high-quality, allowing one to lay Zimmer's haunting, pulse-pounding, joyful tracks alongside the original video (part 2, 3, 4), revealing the subtle leitmotifs and careful matching of music and action. In addition, South African collaborator Lebo M wove traditional Zulu chorals into the score, providing veiled commentary on scenes like this; his work was later expanded into a full album, the Broadway stage show, and projects closer to his heart. Speaking of expanded works, there were inevitable sequels -- all of which you can experience with The Lion King: Full Circle (download guide), a fan-made, three-hour supercut of the original film and its two follow-ups. Want more? Look... harder... [more inside]
In their 25 year career San Fransisco-based Kronos Quartet might be most famous for creating the go-to dramatic movie trailer music but they've recently courted controversy with their latest album, 9/11, with Steve Reich (NPR First Listen). The album is another in a long line of collaborations with composers such as Phillip Glass, Terry Riley, and Pēteris Vasks. And like any good instrumental ensemble, they've covered Hendrix, Sigur Ros, and Tom Waits. Oh, and they've been on Sesame Street. [more inside]
Egg City Radio is what became of the great Post-Punk Junk blog [previously]. And it's still a treasure trove if you're looking for shared out-of-print albums and live sets--not only from Post-Punk but also many other genres as well. [ECR previously (via), -er, -est]
The movie Apollo 18 opened recently. The plot centers around a supposedly secret Apollo moon landing mission (the last actual mission was Apollo 17). But never mind the space stuff, what is up with the title of the mission? It's been used for a couple of non-space related music projects. They Might Be Giants used it for the title of their fourth album. Then there's a Korean indie rock band with the name, who won the Rookie of the Year award at the 2010 Korean Music Awards. [more inside]
Once upon a time, Van Morrison had a record contract with Bing Records which he wanted to escape. Since the contract required him to produce thirty-six original songs, Van Morrison sat in the studio for a single session and recorded a series of nonsensical non-tunes that are still in his distinctive style. Three of them are available here.
"Art is an invention of aesthetics, which in turn is an invention of philosophers.... What we call art is a game."
What If Your Favorite Album Was a Book? Rock classics from from Arcade Fire to Zeppelin, reimagined as book covers. [more inside]
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of his awesome abstract compilation album Miniatures, Morgan Fisher (of Mott the Hoople fame) has started going through the 51-track masterpiece from the beginning in, well, minute detail, updating readers on the current status of the featured band, providing relevant links, explaining his compilation process, and, of course, streaming each track. So far the first 7 tracks are featured, but start here with the bonus track added to the 1994 CD re-issue of Miniatures – "The Miniatures Miniature". [more inside]
Richard Amsel was a Philadelphian artist who created original and iconic illustrations and paintings found on posters for several popular 1970s and 80s American movies, including Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, The Dark Crystal, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The Sting. He also created unique artwork for TV Guide covers, as well as album cover art for Bette Midler and others. His Time cover featuring Lily Tomlin was added to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.
Interpol have a new, self-titled album coming out September 7 (the 13th in the UK). Hey, guess what! It sounds like Interpol, so this is the kind of thing you will like, if you like this kind of thing. "Lights" (and here in HD) already has me imagining doing a thousand-yard stare out of a bus window on a cold, late November night. The second video, "Barricade" is here (and here in HD).
Omar Rodríguez López of Mars Volta fame has released an album in collaboration with the wonderful John Frusciante which sounds exactly like you imagine it would. It's available as a name-your-price download (also for free) and any amount you pay will be donated to a good cause. Frusciante was also involved in López' latest production which is available under the same conditions.
The Answer, My Friend. Your own personal Best Bob Dylan Album calculator.
"I only listen to cassettes," Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore told CBC radio last summer: an article on the merits [or otherwise] of releasing new music on cassette. [more inside]
The Kleptones, mashup artists behind previously-posted albums such as A Night At The Hip-Hopera and 24 Hours, have just released their newest entitled Uptime/Downtime. In a word, it rocks.
9 Countries was recorded on location in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Tibet, India, Egypt and Greece between October 2005 and March 2007 by Tom Compagnoni. What you hear has been entirely assembled from these field recordings, no additional samples used.
A mashup / sound-collage / ambient / documentary album by Wax Audio.
A mashup / sound-collage / ambient / documentary album by Wax Audio.
Shareese Renée Ballard, or Res, put out an album in 2001 titled How I Do. Santi White, a.k.a. Santigold (formerly Santogold) helped out with the lyrics. A mix of R&B and rock, How I Do scored one hit single, "They Say Vision". Label politics stalled the release of her second album, so Res was let go from her contract. After touring with Gnarls Barkley and forming Idle Warship with Talib Kweli, Res continued to write and record. Putting together new songs with material from her unreleased album, she posted Black.Girls.Rock! on her website for free. (MP3 ZIP, PDF Booklet.) [more inside]
Westminster Gold reissued classical albums in the seventies. The covers could be racy [slightly NSFW], unusual, puzzling, irreverent, and employ national stereotypes, but my favourites are the literal puns like Pops Promenade and Allegri String Quartet.
"Hello, I'm Johnny Cash." On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash played two concerts at Folsom State Prison with June Carter, Carl Perkins, the Statler Brothers, and his band, the Tennessee Three. At Folsom Prison, drawn mainly from the first show, is often ranked as one of the best albums of all time and turned Cash's career around. Reporter Gene Beley covered the concert and recorded some songs from the audience. [more inside]
To promote their soon-to-be-released album, In This Light and On This Evening (coming October 27), British indie rockers Editors have made an interesting hack of Google Maps Street View. If you go to the Editors website here, you can wander through the streets of London looking for landmarks set out by the band. [more inside]
It's Seurat by me. Iconic album covers by the Beatles and the Clash. Mixed media (a metric buttload of Rubik's cubes shown in Dailymotion video). (via)
70s/80s Soviet album covers. Until today, I had no idea Soviet hair metal existed. Prepare for keytars, mall hair and proof that 80s cheese was not solely a product of degenerate kepitalist decadence.
Wilco has just started streaming their new album, Wilco (The Album) The band has done this since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and is asking those who download the entire thing to donate some cash to The Inspiration Corporation charity in Chicago.
Omaha rockers Cursive are selling their new album for just $1... No wait, it's $2... $3... $4... WTF?? In yet another twist on the whole, name-your-price (Radiohead), fan-financed (Jill Sobule), take-shrooms-and-cruise-hollywood (Josh Freese) tiered pricing experiment being carried out by what's left of the music industry, Cursive are increasing the price of their new record by $1 each day until its "official" release. Given the popularity of sites like Did it Leak (and the corresponding file-sharing forums that I won't link to here) it seems to me like this is a pretty good way to reward well-intentioned but impatient fans who might otherwise resort to less honorable means of getting the latest stuff from their favorite bands. Or maybe it's just another hare-brained scheme that will only hasten the end of record labels as we know them. Either way, they got my $1... And that was after I already got my hands on the mp3s!
“In the condition I was in, it assumed at the time the quality of a beacon, a light on the far shores of the murk; what's more, it was proof that there was something left to express artistically besides nihilism and destruction.” Lester Bangs on the topic of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks which began recording exactly 40 years ago today in Century Sound Studios NYC. [more inside]
Imagine if millions of people had seen you naked before you were old enough to say "embarrassing." That's the story of Spencer Elden. [more inside]
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