#tinyjoys

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Yes, it’s a slightly naff hashtag, but the sentiment is perfect: in these dark times, we need to try to find comfort and relief where we can, to fortify ourselves for the struggle ahead. One of my #tinyjoys this week is the fact that my aubergine and Pimiento de Padron seeds are germinating – there’s always a period of nervous uncertainty, as peppers and related species take so long to sprout (and I’m still waiting for any sign of life from the habaneros). The other is the discovery of someone in Finland who improvises Lego sculptures to jazz albums; see @AjuArchIdiot on Twitter, but also this quixotic project to get Lego to produce an actual kit of the ECM studio, complete with Pat Metheny Group…

Weird and Wonderful Covers

 

It’s been a while since i’ve done a Best Cover Artist ever post, and i’m not going to do one now either.  But i did stumble on this Track of the Day blog on The Atlantic, which it bills as “the most transformative cover songs”.  Many will be familiar to those of us around these parts, but there are many that are new to me.  Fell in love with this cover of one of my favorite CSN songs.  Other faves from the blog – The Gourds’ Gin and Juice and Blue Man Group / Venus Hum’s I Feel Love, Aztec Camera’s Jump.  They take submissions too.  (maybe look away from the Sisters of Mercy  cover, Beth)

More a link than a post! (Is it rock yet?)

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I stumbled across one of those lists of songs that preceded and maybe anticipated rock n roll. A much better and more comprehensive one than many I’ve seen. Nice introductory article too. What it was doing on a schools-choosing website I am not quite sure but well worth a perusal.

Some of the videos they posted are no longer available so I’ve made a Youtube playlist of my own for any who would like to have a listen.

Here’s the link to the site itself:

http://www.thebestschools.org/magazine/birth-of-rock-and-roll/

And here is the playlist.

 

 

I’ll Be Frank

sinatraSinatra. Whenever I thought of him – which was not often, until a few months ago – he appeared as a symbol of cultural and moral decadence, the essence of a Las Vegas that was the essence of a particular smug, moneyed ghastliness; smooth self-satisfaction with an edge of thuggishness and an all-pervasive atmosphere of sexism and casual racism; showbiz in the worst possible sense. More prosaically, when I was growing up he seemed like the dark heart of Radio 2 in the days when Radio 2 was the antithesis of everything exciting and wonderful about pop and rock and soul; something like Big Band Special felt quite harmless, albeit laughable, in its wish to pretend that the 1960s had never happened, whereas Sinatra was reactionary nostalgia weaponised. The dinner suits, the cocktails, the notion of suave, the eau de Playboy (even less appealing when adopted by the likes of Robbie Williams). Bloody My Way – the Sid Vicious deconstruction felt, to my father as much as to me, not only brilliant but necessary. Yes, I did like Guys and Dolls, but for Damon Runyon and the songs, more or less despite Sinatra; I would at the most grudgingly admit that he played a sleazy lowlife pretty well, and feel that Miss Adelaide would be better off with more or less anyone else… Continue reading

Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea – A Week with Myself (Feat. Guest DJ Panthercub)

Scholar

Last week I had a research paper/book chapter thing to write, so I took the week off work, set up a desk by the window in the warmest room in the house overlooking the garden, and settled down to work. For someone like me who spends most of the day out of the house, has a young family and a partner not terribly au fait with the concept of compromise (not to mention taste in music on the slightly noisy side) this opportunity to be by myself and listen to whatever the hell I wanted to all day for a week was a very rare and precious thing indeed.

Over the course of the week I listened to about 50 of my own records and despite the mental taxations of the task in hand had one of the most enjoyable weeks in a long long time.

Finding even more time to myself to put it all together to make a podcast was pretty impossible, so I enlisted Panthercub as my official selector and made a fun game of it on a rainy afternoon. It ended up completely different to what I had in mind (I was thinking more noise and less electronica), but there you go, it was out of my hands!

ALL NEW PODCAST – Enjoy!

New Snarky Puppy album

Described as “led Zep meets P-Funk” in a recent review, here’s the flagship video release from Snarky Puppy’s new, live recorded album We like it here. An astonishing level of coherence, fantastic control of dynamics, compositional complexity and damn funkiness characterise this band’s performances, which just get better and better.
They are on tour in Europe again this year, unmissable for anyone with the slightest interest in the funkier side of the musical spectrum.

Grammy for Snarky Puppy

It’s always good to see an independent band getting some long-deserved recognition in a mainstream awards show.

Texas/New York based Snarky Puppy won a Grammy award last night in the category best R&B performance for their collaboration with Lalah Hathaway, Something, from their latest LP Family Dinner vol. 1.  It’s a phenomenal track, for Hathaway’s astounding vocals as much as Snarky Puppy’s trademark compositions which switch seamlessly across dramatically contrasting moods and tempos.

Something will probably be getting considerably more air-play in the coming months so here’s my favourite track from the same album, Gone Under featuring Shayna Steele, a revitalising blast of gospel-drenched soul jazz.