Monthly Archives: February 2013

Glasper Plays Wonder

In this amazing recording, Robert Glasper covers Stevie Wonder’s “Golden Lady.” If what I’ve posted about Glasper hasn’t gotten you’re attention yet, then this surely will. The recording, aesthetic, and most importantly, the playing, makes this video a constant return for me.

Often, the easiest way for listeners to appreciate Jazz music is to listen to interpretations of popular songs. Essentially, this could be seen as a main reason for the use of standards in the highly intellectual and virtuosic performances of bebop musicians in the 40s’ – present.

Using the familiarity of the original pop song and comparing it to Glasper’s interpretation, the use of new harmonies, inventive rhythmic concepts and the overall uniqueness of the arrangement for piano and bass are more easily visible.

This is the original version

Now for Glasper’s Version

Reggie Watts. The Music of Laughter

Reggie Watts is an artist who I have unfortunately just discovered. His comedic stylings are accompanied by a level of musical talent and maturity that sets him leagues ahead of all the other “comedy singer/songwriters,” while displaying a level of intellectualism that both demands a cultured audience and simultaneously pokes fun at itself in a very honest way.

His onstage setup is humble, consisting of a popular lineSix effects pedal/looper and small mixer which he uses to layer his constantly varying vocal lines into short dense medleys that are at once technically jaw dropping and hilariously and satirically representative of a variety of genres.

All together, Reggie Watts is a mega-performer who displays mastery of multiple idioms that combine to create an expression completely unique to him and him alone.

The Waves Around Us

This documentary covers the importance of how various frequencies affect the human body as well as the effects of the modern technological revolution on our psyche and physical/emotional health. Although one may study operations and basic science behind audio, acoustics, human perception, and creative applications, it is very important to understand that each of these fields are not widely pursued or researched to a great extent, currently. Any and all research from these areas are of great significance, though, and I hope this documentary will illustrate that point.

 

Google Glasses Demo – Don’t be Evil

Don't be Evil Google...

Don’t be Evil Google…

When Google first started getting big, and the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin realized that they were off to becoming very wealthy individuals, they decided it was time for a company motto.  The motto they decided upon, as submitted by one of two Google employees, was “Don’t be Evil.”  Basically the motto is pointed towards other tech companies for simply using, nay exploiting their users as tools towards profits and information.  While the motto is not an official one, the founders did in fact mention the “don’t be evil” philosophy of their mega-corporation in a 2004 letter before the company’s stock went public and solidifying them as billionaires

Hmm . . . I’ll leave it up to everyone else as to how you think Google is doing in maintaining that “don’t be evil” philosophy, more than a decade on of its officially unofficial proclamation.  Now before you rush to judgement though, perhaps you should see the demo (spoof) video below, of Google forthcoming Google Glasses:

Google Glass Workplace Demo from Serious Lunch on Vimeo.

My two cents?  Well, I can’t quite bring myself to think that those spectacles are 100% good – perhaps Metallica can some it up best with their 1983 song, “Am I Evil?”  Yes you are Google, and apparently in the not too distant future (2014), not just Big Brother will be watching, but so will little sister, Mom, Dad, your neighbors, and that creepy dude at the supermarket, as well as countless other perfect strangers will be too.  Yeah, that sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?

The Modern Grooves of Dana Hawkins

If you’ve never heard of Dana Hawkins before, don’t worry, he’s just another one of those prodigal musicians who is making waves without gaining the attention you would expect from someone of his caliber. Coming out the tradition of Gospel drumming and coming through the Berklee School of Music, its safe to say that his chops place him at the highest level of virtuosity. However, he’s mature; his playing is tasteful and his extreme levels of speed and dynamics come into play only when they serve the music. Serving both the funk and jazz idioms he displays mature and intellectual concepts in a way that is completely accessible to the average listener. Starting to gain popularity and attention at Berklee I originally found one of his college videos of a jam session where he displays some incredible, though overzealous, drum shredding. However, the whole aesthetic involving such high level playing at a Berklee afterhours jam will attract most musicians who witness it. Several years later and we see Dana Hawkins performing with a wide range of notable artists including Jeremy Pelt and Meshell Ndegeocello. His current playing is polished, creative, and mature.

The first video is from the Berklee Jam session.

These next two videos are recent, showing a good contrast from where he was to where he is now.

FM Gem is Seeking Beta Testers

FM Gem claims to be a new and a fast and easy way to create & share commercial interruption free YouTube music playlists.  You simply search for music, and then drag and drop the videos you want to see in the bar at the bottom of the screen, or simply select play all and enjoy:

FM Gem

 

If You’re an Indie Music Lover

happenin_logo

Hey guys, if you, or someone you know is an indie/college music fan, then may I recommend that you visit Happenin Records website?  No, we are not being compensated by this record label, it is just that I was directed there by a fan of the band Plains, which I wrote about in the post titled “They Come From Alabama?” and this label represents that band, as well as eight other bands.  If you like music that is not of the mainstream then I think you might find a little something right up your alley there.

Here is a list of who Happenin Records currently represents (each link takes you to a page where you can play a sample song from each band):

Nudity
ant’lrd
Vacation Club
Nightmare Boyzzz
Nowhere Squares
Drew Price’s Bermuda Triangle
Holy Youth
Horrible Houses
and of course Plains

Here’s to finding new music, and feel free to share other sources, bands, etc., etc.

Dolphins Give Each Other Names?

dolphins

I think it is a pretty safe assumption that the vast majority of us humans recognize that dolphins are extremely intelligent animals.  Some believe dolphins are the second most intelligent creatures on Earth, behind us humans (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy ranks humans as the third most intelligent, with the dolphin still being second); so yeah, the dolphin gets some pretty mad props for their brain power.

Okay, so we can train a dolphin to jump through hoops, and all sort of other tricks, but you know what?  You can, by and large, train a tiger to do similar things; does that mean a tiger is as smart as a dolphin?  Well, since I am no intelligence measuring scientist I don’t really have an answer to that question, but my intuition tells me no, tigers are not as smart as dolphins.  So, what makes many people believe that dolphins are the 2nd most intelligent animal on Earth?  To put it in the most elementary of terms it is language.

Scientists have been studying all of those squeaks, clicks, and whistles that dolphins make for sometime now, and they believe that all of those sounds equate to words used for one dolphin to communicate to another.  The studies have even led scientists to discover that dolphins in different locales even have different dialects, just as people do.  Well, scientists continue to study and analyze all of those clicks, whistles and squeaks, and they have come to an interesting new discovery.  That discovery is that it appears that dolphins have “dolphin language” given names.

According to a recent study published in the Royal Society of Biological Sciences, researchers found that dolphins have the ability to call out for lost loved ones, when separated, using a specific whistle.  This whistle seems to be the dolphin equivalent of a name, as it only ever refers to that one individual.  Let’s see (or rather hear) a tiger do that.

Okay, so most researchers and scientists agree that all of those sounds made by dolphins equate to some sort of language, and now they believe that dolphins have their own dolphin given names, but sadly they don’t know what those names are, nor do we know the “words” that they are saying.  Hopefully, before all of them leave as in Hitchhiker’s Guide, we will one day find out what all of the dolphins are saying, and of course we will then know their given names:

I think this one said there are some who call him…Flipper?

The Skins – What Teen Music Once Was and Still Should Be

The Skins

The Skins

Okay, I am now well beyond my teen years, so I guess that should be taken into consideration about my thoughts regarding “teen music.”  I put teen music in quotes because I suppose it can be argued that it isn’t really a genre, however I stand on the side of that argument that Disney is the creator and perpetuator of a genre of music that is geared and targeted directly at preteen and teen ears – thus “teen music.”

My preferred genre of music is rock and roll, I do have preferences in rock and roll, but, by and large, I am a fan of the genre on the whole; and let’s not forget that rock and roll blew up out of the mouth and sound of a nineteen years old Elvis Presley.  Almost immediately upon Elvis’s success, there were teenagers throughout the world who bought guitars, gathered in garages, or basements, and created bands.  While many of the early rock and roll music is decidedly tame, by today’s rock standards, there was always an element of teen angst in the music, so much so that many adults of the day thought rock music was dangerous, leading some radio stations to outright ban rock and roll music from their playlists.

Today’s “teen music” is decidedly lame, lacking much of that teen angst, and decidedly gooey in its prepackaged, mass marketed, overly managed and over-produced products (Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, pick a “boy band,” The Jonas Brothers, Justin Bieber, etc., etc.).  That isn’t to say that any of them are not talented, because they are, hell Justin Bieber is quite a talented musician, and The Jonas Brothers can play their own instruments too.  Nor am I begrudging them their success, more power to them.  It just seems, to me, that few of those products offer much in the name of real substance, and are like almost everything else in today’s world – disposable.

I imagine a room of executives in a product planning meeting, putting together demographics and spreadsheets, directly targeting the pre-teen and teen markets, hiring song writers, and studio musicians; then holding auditions for who the next star is going to be … That’s a far cry from forming a band in your parents garage and struggling to land gigs, and earn a little coin and make a name for yourself, isn’t it?  I think all of that prepackaging, over producing, mass marketing, focus grouping, over managing is one of the biggest issues that is hurting rock and roll specifically, and the music industry in general – music shouldn’t be created in a boardroom; but that’s just my opinion.

So, back to the title of this post.  Just as I (and I am sure many of you at this point) was sure I had reached the point that everyone reaches, where I just don’t get “it” anymore; much like my Dad didn’t get the music I listened (and still listen) to; just as I was willing to throw in the towel and be too old to understand, I heard The Skins.

The Skins is a Brooklyn Based band, comprising of siblings Bayli, Reef, and Kaya McKeithan, along with Daisy Spencer, and Russell Chell; recording on the Wreckroom Records record label; but none of that is what surprised me.  The thing that surprised me is this – The Skins range in age from 13 to 19 years old, and I can assure you that they do not make “teen music.”

Listen to their song “Surf,” and tell me that it is something that a Disney boardroom committee came up with:

Aside from the powerful vocals, and the decidedly fusion of funk, surf, and classic rock of their sound – did you happen to catch the homage to Black Sabbath’s 1971 song “Sweet Leaf,” in the guitar riff at the 3:03 mark?  That wasn’t sampling, that was knowing beyond their years – other than all of that they are just another teen band right?

Now listen to their song “Killer:”

The tightness in their sound and rhythm belies their age, as does their apparent knowledge of “older” sounds.  THAT is what “teen music” should sound like, not whatever some giant media conglomerate focused grouped and forced fed to us (or rather teens).  So, this “old,” out of touch dude just found a little ray of hope for the future of rock and roll, and their name is The Skins.

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