The Musicorium

Sharing some music.

Archive for September, 2009

Basia Bulat – Oh, My Darling

Posted by David on September 29, 2009

Oh, My DarlingFor whatever reason, I sometimes have trouble making myself pay much attention to what I can’t help but vaguely call the ‘singer-songwriter’ genre of music. Since I usually don’t care that much about lyrics — which, I think, are often meant to be at centre stage in this genre — the relatively simple or understated instrumentation behind them isn’t compelling enough to get me interested in the song.

Basia Bulat’s Oh, My Darling, while singer-songwriterly, is a definite exception to this rule. Several of its tunes have each possessed my head for a solid day at one time or another. The key instruments vary from song to song, from guitars to string sections to autoharp, from clapping to a drum set to hand drums. A number of the songs are paced in interesting ways instead of following standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus format; there are bouncing, fast-tempo buildups and slow, sad waltzes. And her voice is lovely: it’s rich, melodious and quavers in a wistful way that perfectly matches the lyrics (which, sucked in by the music, I now notice and adore). Here are a couple of songs from the album, and her website also has up for download a song from her not-yet-released next album, which I’m quite liking the sound of too.


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The Five Corners Quintet

Posted by SP on September 29, 2009

The Five Corners Quintet: Chasin the Jazz Gone By (2005)

The Five Corners Quintet: Chasin the Jazz Gone By (2005)

A lot of really good jazz is coming out of Scandinavia right now, and one of the first groups that really hooked me in that recent wave was the Five Corners Quintet out of Helsinki, Finland.  These guys swing.  I mean, they swing.  While others in what one could arguably call their peer group saunter through bossa nova and lounge idioms, these guys play it like they mean it–just chopping the stage up into little bits. They’re thoroughly modern players whose performances breathe life and energy into what can seem–even to real lovers of jazz–like a fairly played out idiom with few places to go.  On first listen it’s going to be hard to listen past what will seem like pretty standard harmonies and horn parts, but if you want to hear what makes this group so special you’ll have to do some multiple listening.  My advice would be to pay special attention to what the rhythm section is doing–especially on the Hot Corner EP. Some of the drum lines are so complicated that they could fit right in to really technical drum & bass tracks.  It’s little realizations like that that make a group really fun to listen to for me.  Plus they just ooze cool, and did I mention they swing? 2005’s Chasin’ the Jazz Gone By was one of the freshest records I’d heard in a long time–it’s well worth a listen.  It’s a great high-powered mid-sized combo jazz in a classic post-bop style with those understated, distinctive, and amazing contemporary touches that reward multiple listening.  Solid from start to finish.  No gaps or weak tracks.  Though you can find their stuff in digital formats on the web, their preferred medium is vinyl.  If you can find it or are motivated enough to special order either Chasin’ the Jazz Gone By or  the more recent Hot Corner EP, you won’t be let down.

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Life After †: Some DJs

Posted by David on September 27, 2009

†In 2007, Justice descended into our lives like a humungous, golden, cruciform spacecraft from another world (France). Their album, †, is an extended study in ass-kicking, and should be heard by anyone with an interest in electronic dance music. I have been looking around ever since for other music in a similar vein; thankfully, their popularity also seems to have inspired a slew of new electro house-type DJs, almost all of whom seem to be French. I’ve found that good electronic music of any subgenre — good in the sense of having been interestingly put together, with some complexity, such that it can easily be enjoyed even in non-inebriated, non-club settings — is often very hard to come by, so I report some of my findings below.

Dilemn: I came across this guy’s EPs quite at random on iTunes and was immediately enamoured of his powerfully buzzing bass and in-your-face four-on-the-floor beats. There’s less of the funkiness and grandness that so endeared me to Justice, but Dilemn can certainly match them for amount of punch packed.

Golden Bug: His album is a bit less danceable and more electro-y, and I found much of it pretty tepid despite its aspirations toward electro-disco-fun-ness (aspirations for which I have great sympathy). However, a couple of the songs (“Rocket City” and “Back to Death” in particular) develop into something much more wicked, and if you’d like to hear them they’re in one of the music players on the above-linked Myspace page.

MSTRKRFT‘s sound is rawer than that of Justice or Dilemn. I’ve never found their more staccato synths and less layered-up style quite as compelling as the all-out blasting of the others. I also thought their previous album was marred by a bit too much straightforward repetition—my perennial beef with a lot of dance music. However, as of just now I am listening to their brand-new album, Fist of God, and some of it is actually sounding pretty good to me: more mixed-up. This is my favourite so far. (These guys are actually from Toronto and not France.)

The Bloody Beetroots: I actually have only listened to a smattering of their songs, and haven’t particularly liked any of them besides this rather kickass number entitled “Butter”. (Ok, and these guys are Italian.)

• I was just introduced to Yuksek and I’m liking him a lot. His debut album came out this year, and while it’s not as much of a constant rush as Justice’s, it’s quite pleasantly loaded with variation and still has a few good hard-hitting dance tracks. As an example of this variation, I give you the lovely, serene track, “I Could Never Be a Dancer,” which is not in the least representative of the rest of the album, but I think we’ve probably had enough boom-chish-boom-chish for one post anyway. (Don’t worry, he’s French.)

And that, I hope, will help to tide us over until Messrs. Augé and de Rosnay see fit to provide us with a new studio album.

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Shugo Tokumaru: Exit

Posted by SP on September 25, 2009

ExitHaving had more than my fair share of exposure to J-pop I can honestly say that it’s something I generally regard as not for me. But Shugo Tokumaru isn’t really the usual cookie-cutter J-pop. Basically, the kid is unbelievable. Not only is he an incredibly original guitar player, he’s an incredibly original writer and arranger too. I hit on the video for the single Rum Hee by accident (below) and quickly got hooked to it and the other videos available from Exit on YouTube. So I went ahead and bought Exit online. What a joy to listen to! There’s weird time signatures and chord changes, instrumentation choices that seem questionable at first but grow on you like crazy after a couple of listens (the vibes haven’t sounded this good in rock songs since Zappa), and all in all just great, interesting, even challenging–but at the same time sweet and unpretentious–pop songs. If you can speak Japanese the lyrics are a plus, but if you can’t, they’re not going to get in the way for you. This is the best surprise I’ve had in a relatively new artist in a long time. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

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The Herbaliser – Same As It Never Was

Posted by David on September 25, 2009

Same As It Never WasThe Herbaliser is a hip hop group from England, associated with the lovely Ninja Tune label (as is Kid Koala, come to think of it), whom I’ve enjoyed listening to in the past. So upon suddenly finding myself fiending for rap music the other night, I headed to the local online music store to see what of theirs I’d missed. It turns out that, since the last I heard, they’ve evolved from ‘hip hop, often funky’ straight through to ‘full-fledged 60’s/70’s soul/funk band’. There’s still a handful of rap songs interspersed through the track list of 2008’s Same As It Never Was, but they’re outnumbered by the very authentic-sounding throwbacks, including a few quite fun, funky instrumentals. The end result is a pleasant and groovy mix heralding back to a musical era that I generally can’t get enough of. In fact, if I have any complaint, it’d be that some of the tunes are too faithful to the established old genres and don’t bring as much novelty as they could. Anyway, it’s all still pretty solid stuff, and the frequent genre shifting means it never drags for me.

Anyone who enjoys their instrumental stuff as much as I do should also check out The Herbaliser Band – Session 1 & 2, two discs of only exactly that.

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The Slew: Kid Koala rocks out

Posted by David on September 25, 2009

The SlewWhen I went to Kid Koala‘s show in July, I was surprised. I had come expecting to spend all night staring in awe at the screen showing the turntable while he worked his virtuosic magic on it, with the usual clever scratching tricks and quirky samples. Instead, right off the bat, we were blasted with a huge, thunderous, danceable beat that he kept up relentlessly, carrying on it all manner of heavy, distorted guitar samples. I didn’t get the sense that anyone in the crowd objected, and the virtuoso scratching still made a few jaw-dropping appearances.

It turns out that his most recent album — apparently a collaboration with another DJ, Dynomite D, which began as the soundtrack to a now-defunct movie project — reflects this stylistic change. I’ve been enjoying it immensely. In the past, I’ve liked his albums, found them humorous and a few of the songs quite catchy, but I’ve never listened to them all that much, thinking of them more as a novelty. But rather than a set of delicately chopped-up jazz melodies and goofy samples, this one is a more or less non-stop party of blasting rock and hip hop drums, bass and gnarly guitar, with his scratching accenting the melody rather than taking centre stage. It is eminently danceable.

As it turns out, the Most Adorable DJ is also the most generous: he’s put the album up for free download, so there is really no excuse for not giving it a listen. I recommend playing it as loud as is feasible for you.

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Posted by David on September 25, 2009

Dear internet,

The purpose of this blog will be to share cool music in an organized way with whoever is interested. The idea is to write as quick and unpretentious a description as possible of something we like and what we like about it, and we’ll try to link to samples for you, at least, when possible. Perhaps things will branch out a little, but for the moment, that is our purpose. Recommendations from readers are always welcome. Hope you enjoy!


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