Monday, February 22, 2010

new turntable soul

Turntable Soul January/February PODCAST by TurntableSoul

The new "Turntable Soul" is out.

Like I have said before, if you aren't listening to these, you are about as cool as wearing a Radiohead t-shirt to a Radiohead concert.

For the uninitiated, turntable soul is a podcast that comes out every 2 or 3 months, where some genius mixes awesome Motown songs with awesome rap songs, in a way that makes you bob ya head.

Listen and groove,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

murphy's kids (plays all your favorite songs)

Disclaimer: most of what's below is a recollection of events that occurred before yesterday,
so the details will be entirely made up fuzzy.

 Kind of like Motown and AC/DC had a baby. With horns.

Murphy's Kids was the coolest band in my high school when I was growing up. I remember seeing them get the plug pulled at a high school talent show because of their excellent (and mostly true) song, "Everyone's an Asshole" (I still hear it in my head when I'm sitting in meetings). And getting the plug pulled on you at a high school talent show is actually cooler than playing a high school talent show. That band went from being high school heroes to one of my legit favorite bands.

Well, being a wannabe musician myself, I had a band in high school --- I was the guitar player for an 8 piece funk band.

I'm in yellow, using most of my brainpower to count to 4.

The band that I was in, the embarrassingly named "Graham Funk Railroad," (we were pandering to Mrs. Graham, the judge for talent show auditions), had a bass player and saxophone player that were in Murphy's Kids. In this small world, I got to know the other fellas from Murphy's Kids a little bit, but not really.

Fast forward to college. The aforementioned bass player, who had become one of my best friends, is writing music with me all the time, spending long hours in my basement with a crappy stolen microphone and whatever guitars we had. He was still playing bass in Murphy's Kids, and they were coming up to do a gig, but didn't have anywhere to practice, or stay for that matter.

I told them they could practice in our basement. Again, after this the details get fuzzy, so be warned that most some of this could be entirely made-up inaccurate.

A short while after I told them they could come practice in our basement, my roommate Dan came home with a keg and said, well, "KEG!"

This, my friends, is what we call the perfect storm for A GREAT MOMENT IN PARTY HISTORY.

Predictably, we ended up having a full-on rock show in our basement, featuring Murphy's Kids and as many people as would fit into our basement.
That PA speaker remained in the basement of that house literally until the day we moved out.

Since then, I have been the biggest of MK fans, and do my best to keep in touch with the band, who are now long-time brohams of mine.The current lineup no longer includes the aforementioned bass playing buddy, but rest easy - his riffs live on, and he was replaced with a long-time friend and musician extraordinaire. Long-time. Betcha didn't think I could get three in there.

Their latest album is "Departures," an album that's a perfect soundtrack for your house party / beach trip / BBQ needs.

The album is strong from start to finish with an obvious focus on rock songwriting, adding to their already fun ska sound. I Still Miss You (Alex Levine) has a Pink Floyd vibe at the beginning, and is one of the few songs you'll hear in modern music that has DYNAMICS, our long forgotten friend. This song has a clear buildup and climax, a very well composed song.

Hands On is a perfect driving-with-the-windows-down or grilling-a-burger song, a positive mood-changer for sure. Whenever I hear it, I want to do that high-knees, side-to-side rasta walk that you see white people do at festivals.

Me toil part-time at jah Cold Stone Creamery!

Plans is a good representative of the change in style, the "departure" if you will, from Murphy's Kids' long-time (that's 4!!!) ska sound. I hear jazzy chord voicings in here that give me the same thoughts I get when I hear any of my favorite guitarists: "How in the hell did he come up with that? And why didn't I?"

To me, this album is definitely "rock with horns," not "ska with rock," although the integration of ska and rock throughout the album is seamless. I am impressed with how much the horn section is brought into the riffing as well --- the horns aren't just there for accents, they absolutely drive the band. You'll hear what I mean.

I won't review the rest for you because I have work to do spoil the first listen - but I will say that I bet you'll enjoy it.

I would be remiss in describing the band if I didn't tell you that their live show is bad-ass. Nothing against their album, but their album compared to their live show is kind of like...a globe compared to THE PLANET EARTH.

This was 2 or 3 years and bandmates ago

Also, MK hosts an annual holiday charity event called SKALIDAYS that supports a charity that is "helping victims of domestic violence through advocacy, support and empowerment. Simply put, their goal is to help people with no other place to turn get the counseling, support (even housing in some cases!), and knowledge they need to become healthy and self sufficient."  This past year was the event's 10th. Ain't a damn thing wrong with that.

Are you with me?


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

He dead!

I'm back.

 Ctrl + Click this image to play the music that accompanies my triumphant return to a blog that 3 people read!

I used to do a lot of set-it-and-forget-it type of stuff at work. You know --- waiting for models to run, waiting for data to load, sending interns to find a basement that doesn't exist, etc., and I could drift away into writing about music and why I rule at everything. These days, all the work I'm doing requires my full attention, which makes the government run more smoothly day fly by, but it's killed my blog.

I'm not getting dumber, I just haven't had any free time.

Anyhow, let's get back to what TLA is about: music reviews. And my two cents. Dot com.

Deadwing was recorded entirely while brooding, on the banks of a lake, 100 years ago.

At Christmas, my brother-in-law gave me the Porcupine Tree album "Deadwing." I first found out about Porcupine Tree on guitar nerd forums, where my fellow guitar nerds were dissecting the band's guitar tone. So I YouTube'd some stuff and got really interested, because their riffs were tight. Not a euphemism.

The album is progressive rock, which, for the uninitiated, is best explained by this excellent article by Cracked, which states:

There is no clear definition of progressive rock, as it is not bounded by convention, structure, tradition or common sense. Progressive rock is like the anti-socialite of music; there are no rules or restrictions.
However, progressive rock bands have typically featured:
  • Extremely skilled guitarists, drummers, bassists and keyboardists
  • Okay singers
  • Huge egos
  • Tons of drugspiration
  • No sense of when to stop a song
Be sure to click through to that Cracked article. They even have a chart that plots prog rock album covers on a scale from "Dongs" to "Butts."

Porcupine Tree is smack-dab in the middle of Pink Floyd and Tool on the progressive rock continuum. I have to stop writing about prog rock now, because I would be repeating the Cracked article, which had me LMFAO.

On Deadwing, the first thing that stands out is the riffage. We are talking really bad ass riffs, the kind that play in your head when you get home from work before your wife and you imagine your house is a scene from an action thriller and you work your way through the house pwning imaginary henchman with various made up karate moves.

This has nothing to do with prog rock, Porcupine Tree, or house karate. I just felt like I needed a picture here.

The next thing I noticed was that it's not so far out there that non-music-nerds won't run from it. It's accessible, because Porcupine Tree don't get any of their progressiveness© from gimmick. Everything they do that pulls you in is just straight up good --- no zoo animal noises, no screaming, no playing guitar with power drills - just good ass music.

After my embarrassing gush over a band that was ALL gimmick (which I won't delete, because it's as funny as it is embarrassing), it's refreshing to get excited about a band that gives you the "holy shit!" with zero gimmick.

It's good to listen to all in one shot, as with most prog rock albums. Next time you have to go on a road trip or drive a ways alone, download this album and prepare to be a big Porcupine Tree fan.

I will be dropping more blog science on you TOMORROW!


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