The Musicorium

Sharing some music.

Archive for October, 2009

Holy Fuck

Posted by David on October 31, 2009

Holy Fuck LPHoly Fuck is a pleasantly unique electronic band from Toronto. Their shtick, apparently, is to play every last thing live instead of letting pre-programmed tracks do the work during shows. That’s pretty cool, and probably makes for a great show. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing them yet, so this is largely immaterial to me — synthesizers sound like synthesizers regardless of when you record yourself playing them — except that their drumming is clearly done on a real live drum set, by a talented drummer, and so is wonderfully without the staleness that afflicts most drum machines. The drums provide a perfect backbone to some intense and lively music.

I’m finding their first, self-titled album a bit murkier and less engaging — I can imagine loving to see these songs put together from scratch at a show, but as just a stream of audio I don’t find them consistently interesting. Conversely, their second one, LP, is snappier and catchier and I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. Behold, a couple of the best songs from the latter:


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José González

Posted by David on October 29, 2009

José GonzálezJosé González is a Swedish singer-songwriter who makes guy-singing-while-playing-a-guitar music. I thought I’d tired of this particular genre a little while ago, having overdosed a bit on Iron & Wine and Nick Drake and others, but this guy unexpectedly quite got to me. There’s more of a driving, energetic quality to his tunes, rather than being predictably folksy-countryish. He has a cool voice which gives it all a sort of airy, wise tone. I was particularly drawn in by his style when I heard his cover of Massive Attack’s already excellent “Teardrop”. He stays playing pretty much the same simple melody the entire time, but the way the one interval is played gets more and more intense in sound as it progresses — a little like “Boléro”, I guess. Well, just listen to it, and feel free to enjoy the trippy music video while you’re at it. And another good one is “Killing for Love” (embedding disabled on both, apologies).

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Ukulele Force

Posted by David on October 24, 2009

Ukulele ForceIf ever something belonged to the ‘novelty’ tag, this is probably it.

Behold the inexplicable Ukulele Force Star Wars Best Covers, a compilation of various Japanese musicians playing music from Star Wars with, for the most part, ukuleles. Recorders also feature heavily. It is really so great — starting right off the bat with the 20th Century Fox opening, with brass switched out for enthusiastically strummed ukes. It’s always fun to hear music that is so very familiar getting reinterpreted and played on (thoroughly) strange instruments. Unfortunately, though perhaps unsurprisingly, the Youtubes do not seem to have any of the music from this album. All I can find is a live performance of the Imperial March, which is not one of the standout tracks, but it’ll have to do.

Truly, I have not felt such affection for a piece of Star Wars tribute music since the unfathomably epic disco medley by Meco.

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The Acorn – Glory Hope Mountain

Posted by David on October 22, 2009

Glory Hope MountainGlory Hope Mountain is an album by Canadian indie folk rock band The Acorn. I like it a lot, but, as these things sometimes go, I’m not quite sure how to talk about it. So here are some words I’d use to describe the moods tapped into by the songs: thoughtful, intrepid, peaceful, wistful. There is lovely harmonized singing, folksy drumming, a bit of slide guitar; some tracks are slow and pensive and some are upbeat and rockish. They also have a couple of pretty cool music videos, one of which is right under this text right here:

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A couple of wicked Justice remixes

Posted by David on October 20, 2009

These guys!

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Kaki King, and some revelations about David’s attention span

Posted by David on October 18, 2009

Dreaming of RevengeKaki King’s first album, Everybody Loves You (2003), is just her playing solo on an acoustic guitar. Her songs have great, compelling melodies, are pleasantly varied, and she quite nimbly blends into her playing all manner of slaps, beats and harmonics. Much of the time, I could easily lose interest when casually listening to one person play one instrument over a whole album, but she has the skill, and her compositions have the quality, to totally pull it off, and so Everybody Loves You impresses me plenty.

But her two most recent studio albums (Until We Felt Red of 2006 and Dreaming of Revenge from 2008) are dearer to me, and are what really drives me to post about her. In them she branches out from her solo guitar in the best possible way, bringing in drums, bass, electricity, strings, and her own characteristically soft, simple, almost childlike vocals. The new layers complement and build on the style of the lovely, progressive guitar tunes of the first album, rather than replacing that style with cookie-cutter pop music or what have you. I’ve found the results endlessly listenable. Supposedly, the new sound has been called “post-rock” — a rather nebulous label that I’ve heretofore seen applied mostly to extremely lengthy and repetitive, usually instrumental, occasionally pretty boring music*. Some of her stuff, conversely, is close to what I’d like to imagine “post-rock” would sound like: not too bound by genre clichés of instrumentation and pacing, not always plastered with a star singer’s vocals (many of the new songs are still instrumental) — and still engaging, punchy, listenable… But some of it is just rock (e.g. “Pull Me Out Alive“), and that’s ok too.

From album #1.

From the 2008 album.

Ok, one more, from the 2006 album. Sadly, no non-live version on all of mighty YouTube.

*Sorry, I mean, I find it boring. Some of it. I have not listened to all of the post-rock. I don’t really know what the term means and I claim no authority. I just got this foreboding sense of pretension about the whole business. And then I tried really hard to like Explosions in the Sky, and it still really bored the crap out of me, and then, you know, my prejudices were fully formed. But I totally like some stuff by GY!BE and I think Mogwai might be pretty cool and I still haven’t listened to much and yeah. This Is Not a Blog of Judgement.

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Posted by David on October 15, 2009

SoulhackForss (a.k.a. Eric Wahlforss of Sweden) is one of the coolest electronic musicians I’ve heard in a while. I don’t even know exactly where to categorize him. The songs on his album, Soulhack, range from slow, groovy acid jazz to crashing big beats, with bits that approach drum and bass. Each song is lavishly layered with complex little tweaks and twitches and samples and fills, most strikingly in “Flickermood,” which is basically just one bar of funky beat being deliciously stretched out, abused and twisted in every which way for three minutes. He also expertly conjures up atmosphere, running the gamut from sinister to playful to other-worldly. Not only is the production rewardingly complex and interesting, but the songs themselves are just extremely catchy. He hosts the entire album and a number of remixes for listening and download on his site — although it looks like the ‘download’ link gets you an uncompressed .aiff file, so maybe you have to ‘buy’ to get an MP3, if large files bother you. Regardless, give him a listen.

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Posted by David on October 14, 2009

BTKWay back in the 90’s, I saw this video on Much Music and loved it:

At some point, I think during the Napster days, I acquired an mp3 of “Peppyrock”, and continued to love it. I held onto this mp3 for a very long time until I realized, maybe just this past year, that I should probably go see if the rest of the album was equally good. And it was! BTK’s one self-titled album is tremendously infectious fun throughout. Watching that video again, I cringe a little at their 90’s white boy rapper looks and endless “We smoke weed guys!!!”, but I think the music has aged quite well. This one is probably my other favourite from the album:

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Nicola Conte: Jet Sounds Revisited

Posted by SP on October 6, 2009

Nicola Conte: Jet Sounds Revisited

Nicola Conte: Jet Sounds Revisited

Nicola Conte is a guy who really gets something that a lot of people miss about jazz. Before the culture at large started looking at jazz as coffee house muzak or something to buy upscale furniture too, jazz was party music. It was club music; dance music. It was meant to be played loud and meant to shake booty. Nicola Conte gets this completely, which is why his melding of Brazilian rhythms, classic West Coast cool vibes and house music works so incredibly well where so many other “acid jazz” artists produce music that’s turgid, generic sounding and completely forgettable.

Nicola Conte’s blend works, I think, because he stays true to his background as a jazz guitarist even when he’s DJ-ing, because he has a first rate understanding of how rhythm works in dance music regardless of the culture it comes from, and because he knows how to create the kinds of aural textures with voices and instruments that makes the golden age of exported Brazilian bossa and samba in particular is so famous. His tunes are built from the inside out around fidelity to rhythm, not slapped together in an unstable mash up of varying influences. For all its craftsmanship though, it doesn’t feel forced or pretentious the way that some otherwise really good house music does at times. Conte keeps it light and fun, quoting from film soundtracks, adding in the odd spoken vocal sample here and there, and just generally showing a great sense of humor about the whole thing.

It’s jazz music for people that like house music, or house music for people that love jazz. I challenge you to put on Jet Sounds Revisited and not be shaking your hips, keeping time, or dancing around your house at least once before it’s over.

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Kind of Bloop

Posted by David on October 4, 2009

Kind of BloopHave you ever been listening to Kind of Blue and thought to yourself, “As much as I’m fond of Miles Davis, I really wonder what it would sound like if my NES had performed this music instead”? Well, wonder no longer. A group of chiptune artists took it upon themselves to recreate the classic jazz album track by track, and the result is Kind of Bloop. There was maybe a five or ten minute period between me seeing a link to this, listening to the samples, and giving in to the urge to spend $5 on downloading it. I haven’t regretted it for a moment — I think they did a fantastic job of balancing note-by-note faithfulness to the original tunes with the occasional period of gloriously 8-bit rocking out. Recommended to anyone whose fancy this sort of thing might tickle.

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