Friday, October 28, 2005

Bullfrog - Turning the prince into a frog

In my humble opinion, the world needs more bands like Bullfrog. Unfortunately, due to the amazing skill of the members of this band, I don't think this is really a viable possibility. The cast members of note are as follows:

Eric Sans (aka Kid Koala) - You may or may not know who Kid Koala is. But in all likelihood you've heard something Kid Koala has done. Through his work with Gorillaz, he hit the main stream from behind the curtains. He also worked on Deltron 3030 if you're a underground hip-hop head (essentially the Gorillaz with more emphasis on Del and less on Damon Albarn). On his own he's released some VERY experimental turntablist albums (not recommended for the faint of heart), but to see him live on the turntables is an transcendental experience, especially when he puts the headphones away and keeps spinning the wax.

James Sobers (aka BluRum 13 aka The Killa Platypus) - Not known in many circles, his slow smooth rhymes are among my favorites of ANY rapper. I put him on par with Del and Chali 2na, but that's just my opinion. The newest release apparently does not include James, but he's still in the Bullfrog fold.

Mark Robertson
- Mark brings the funk, and is the guitarist and helm of Bullfrog.

Other variable members - Peter Santiago, Massimo Sansalone, and a few others.
Bullfrog makes music that fits somewhere in between funk, jazz, hip-hop, and electronica. Basically, the greatest party music EVER created. Koala's cuts fit perfectly into the mix, without overshadowing the funk. BluRum 13's vocals are amazingly witty, funny, and well placed.

Their self titled release on Rope-a-dope records is a great album, with a stand out song in "Reverse Psychology", however to get the real experience you'll need to wait until the band gets back together to tour again. Hopefully they'll be doing so soon, and hopefully BluRum 13 will be with them despite not being on their most recent release "Deeper Shade Of Green". Below I have supplied links from their website for two songs off the new album (Mark on vocals) and one off their self titled album (Mark and BluRum 13 on vocals). I have also included 'The Bullfrog Theme' thanks to the link on Rope-a-dope records.

Bullfrog - Deeper Shade Of Green
Bullfrog - Winter Song
Bullfrog - Nice Try
Bullfrog - Bullfrog Theme

Thursday, October 27, 2005

How I learned to stop worrying and love Blockhead

I will be the first to admit, in protest to the RIAA's hard line stance against file sharing I have greatly reduced my CD purchases in recent years. I spend most of my time downloading free LEGAL mp3s released by bands, and occasionally buy a used CD here or there or a CD from a band I have just seen in concert. I hate the industry, I love the artists. I would rather go without their albums then hand money to the 'man'. However, when my favorite record label (Ninja Tune) releases a new CD by one of my favorite DJs (Blockhead) with a bonus DVD and I get to listen to it in my local independent record store (Pure Pop), I lay down the $13 and walk out happy.

Blockhead is best known for his production work with Aesop Rock, but he has really shown in his solo work. His debut was Music By Cavelight, a DJ masterpiece easily on par with the best work of RJD2, DJ Shadow, or UNKLE. You've Got Maelstrom is THE SONG out of my entire collection I have listened to the most since over the last year, and I'm still not tired of it. Now to the new album, Downtown Science.

Here's what you'll get when you buy Downtown Science (currently on backorder if you try to get it directly from Ninja Tune):
1. An Amazing Album
2. A DVD covering 3 visual work ups to accompany Music By Cavelight. The visuals vary from bland to inspired, but if you don't already have Music By Cavelight, its like getting two albums in one.
3. As usual with Ninja Tune the artwork is well done and fitting for the artist.

Now to the music. Blockhead continues to grow now that he's been released from the shadow of Aesop. The tracks are sweeping, emotional, and extremely well layered. The use of samples is well placed, and the increased use of blazing guitar doesn't take away from the feeling of the album. Instead, the guitar injects the album with a slight tinge of post-rock. I think this is an inevitable move in this genre, and I can't wait till the exploration goes even further.

Blockhead - Carnivores Unite

Blockhead - Insomniac Olympics (Video)

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Tiny - Big music

The Tiny is my favorite band I've recently discovered. I say this about once a year (1 Mile North was the last winner). I am tending to lean more and more to 'post-rock', but the more orchestral and less dissident versions of 'post-rock'. The beauty that can be found in combining the sonic masterpiece which is classic music with rock has just begun, and is something to behold in its fledgling state. Oddly enough, the Tiny barely fit into this category. They don't have enough guitar to fit into the 'traditional' idea of post rock (when did the stupid term post-rock get to be traditional...?). Instead, this 'tiny' trio consists of a cello, an upright double bass, and the haunting vocalist on the piano.

I guess the best way to describe this band is to put Portishead's general sonic landscape in a blender with Sigur Ros' mastery of sound and Bjork's 'the world is dying but that's no reason not to be happy' attitude. They haunt my mind, and I can't listen to them enough. I HIGHLY anticipate the next time they tour through the US, and if you have any info on when this will happen PLEASE post a comment.

Thanks goes to Paul Irish over at Aurgasm for introducing me to the Tiny and supplying the link for Closer I have listed below. Thanks to the Tiny for the Christmas version of No Money. Merry early Christmas everyone!

The Tiny - Closer

The Tiny - No Money (Christmas Version)

(Coming tomorrow - a review of a WHOLE album - or How I learned to stop worrying and love Blockhead)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Cranes - Beauty is haunting

So I came across the fact that this band had toured with the Cure recently. Anyone that Robert Smith picks to open for him is worth looking into. And this band definitely is. They've been around for a while (they've released 6 albums), but they are an independent band and rarely cross the pond to do US tours.

The sounds are haunting. They seem soft and soothing, yet concurrently dark and ominous. The sonic imagery brings thoughts of Belly, Portishead, and Lamb to my mind. Far Away is a particularly amazing piece.

Like all other bands I will be promoting for the time being, they have the mp3 samples right own their own homepage. Thanks guys! Come to the US some time soon, I'd love to see the magic in concert.

The Cranes - Don't Wake Me Up

The Cranes - Shining Road

The Cranes - Tangled Up

The Cranes - Far Away (Live)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Mike Doughty - Life after Soul Coughing

The master of nonsense words and melodic non-sequitur (more like ranting) is back... despite the fact that he never really went away in the first place. Mike Doughty was the lead singer of Soul Coughing, a seminal band of the nineties who brought a fusion of rock, jazz, drum and bass, and non-sequitur to the 'main stream'. They put on an amazing show, and I feel very lucky to have seen them before they disbanded.

Mike Doughty has plowed on since the end of the band, working back up from the bottom, selling his CDs out of the back of a van, and working hard to get signed as a solo act. Initially, this was an entirely solo effort, and in this venue Doughty seemed hit and miss. When he was on, he was on fire. When he was off, I would walk away from the show wondering where Yuval Gubay was and how I could finagle getting Soul Coughing back together.

Now, Mike Doughty has finally come into his own. He's picked up a backing band, he's honed his songwriting skills (moving away from the non-sequitur but not leaving the nonsense behind entirely), and he's been signed by the label ATO and is finally getting some station recognition again.

M. Doughty is still at his best when the lyrics really don't make any sense (Ossining on Rockity Roll) and when they make little sense (27 Jennifers on Rockity Roll) but now the heartfelt ballads like 'Grey Ghost' and the amazingly insightful 'Looking At The World From The Bottom Of A Well' from 'Haughty Melodic' work into the mix, bridging the sound of Doughty on his own with the sounds of the 'coughing. Take a look at his homepage (I'm linking to it for the MP3s... thanks Mike!). It's a well designed site, has a ton of info, and you gotta love the Flash paint by numbers portrait on the bio page.

Mike Doughty - Looking At The World From The Bottom Of A Well

Mike Doughty - Your Misfortune

Mike Doughty - 27 Jennifers

Mike Doughty - The Only Answer

Friday, October 14, 2005

Blues Traveler - They have their moments

Blues Traveler has got to be the band that proved that the record industry can't keep a good band down. After years and years of touring and hundreds of shows, they finally hit the charts big with Run Around. The amazing thing about the band is that their best work came out in the days before they hit it big, working the grind of the road and the emotional turmoil of a man who grew up like so many of us, unpopular, picked on, and alone. Instead of a bunch of depressing and angry songs, his songs were of love, happiness, and the beautiful tragedy of life. John Popper (lead singer and harmonicist) was the ying to Kurt Kobain's yang. He was never given the looks, or the instant popularity, but he was given an amazing talent at the mouth harp, and prevailed despite the many obstacles our society gives to those that aren't deemed pretty or popular.

Travelers and Theives is one of the greatest albums of all times. I'll just leave it at that, if you disagree write me a comment. Four was a slight let down, but its what put the band on the charts. After Four was released, the band basked in the glory of their popularity. Then they faded away, with a lackluster album which several people I know contend they stole the title of from Percy Hill.

Now, John Popper has reinvented himself, lost weight (thank god, I was always worried for his health), and the band is definitely back on top of their game.

Many thanks go to Blues Traveler for making these WONDERFUL b-sides available on their website. And thanks to the 13 people who came to the site yesterday, proving I'm not just writing to myself.

Blues Traveler - The Path

Blues Traveler - 12 Swords

Blues Traveler - The Traveler Suite

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Harvey Danger for President (of the RIAA)

So I'm still procrastinating on my original plan to start this blog with the center of my music collection. In fact, I've been totally dragging my feet on doing regular updates. Mostly, this has been due to the fact that ONLY 35 people have visited this blog since I started it. So in response to this, the new policy is that I will do a new post each time one of the two following scenarios happens:

1. I receive a comment on my post (advertising and SPAM do NOT count)

2. 10 or more unique people come to the page on one day. This has only happened once, on September 6th, and it was 20 unique visitors (more than half the total site traffic I have so far. I need to figure out the reason for the spike.)

So once I'm sure I'm not just posting for myself, I will either post a song or set of songs from the epicenter of my music collection (if I can ever figure out a good free server for mp3s) or I will do like today, and post something new and important.

Almost everyone in the nation knows Harvey Danger's breakout hit single (or one hit wonder), flagpole sitter. A great uptempo song with upbeat macabre lyrics and a penchant for insanity. It hit the airwaves in a big way in the late 90s, and managed to even break into just about all the various types of radio stations I listen to. The song was great, and despite the amazing amount of play time I never really got sick of it. Then they fell off my radar.

Now, they are back, robbing from the rich (the RIAA) and giving to the poor (the public) in hopes that the quality of their music will bring them in the front of public consciousness. And I think they just might succeed. Think of their music as similar to the Refreshments but with a darkness and occasionally sonic arcs that pull them into the territory of REM. They even occasionally throw in some politically charged lyrics. Enjoy their new album, direct from the source itself. I wish all bands were this cool.

Harvey Danger's new album, Little By Little