2008 wasn't that long ago, but creative hindsight is still 20/20, and it's now easier to see the creative music we missed 5 years ago. that was the year that two fascinating artists/groups released albums that are still hard to categorize, and still sound fresh and classical at the same time.
juno reactor (left) is brit ben watkins and an ever-changing ensemble of musicians, percussionists, and electronica. most famous for part of "the matrix" soundtrack (and others), their 2008 cd "gods and monsters" was an amalgam of electronica, trance, world music, and avant guarde vocal mixes.
released in the same year was "cartographer" by e.s. posthumus ("e.s." stands for experimental sounds), a 21-century classical, electric ensemble of musicians, originating from l.a. brothers helmut and franz vonlichten. they've done music featured in "minority report," "lord of the rings," and others. but the music stands on its own, as more than background vibes for frodo's adventures.
classical music rocks on in the 21st century.
snoop dogg says he was led by spirit to immerse himself in the spiritual culture of jamaica, and he was reincarnated as snoop lion. the result: a creative, melodic, reggae cd; with nary an r-rated word. i feature several songs from the cd--released last week--and they are wonderful. you'll espcially love "fruit juice," "rebel way," and the surprisingly sweet: "the good good." miley cyrus joins snoop on "ashtrays and heartbreaks." but beware: snoop's not some born-again milk toast; he still has an edge, but he's added lots of love.
also released last week was the soundtrack to "the great gatsby," featuring artists like will.i.am, beyonce, andre 3000, and the xx.
i'll also play 2 tracks from the new cd by vampire weekend: "step" and "diane young" (ie, dying young).
here's a list of all the songs you'll hear.
just when you thought you'd heard the last of todd rundgren.... he surprises and delights you yet again.
my son eric occasionally runs into todd in kauai, where they both live. once i asked him how todd seemed, how he looks these days. eric said, "dad, he looks like an eccentric rock star." and i thought, "good, that means todd's still got it." and indeed he does, as most of his new album called "state" shows. he records it all himself, with a beautiful female vocal added to the beautiful song "something from nothing."
i've also got new tunes by alabama shakes, david bowie, the yeah yeah yeahs, and the artist formerly known as snoop dogg, who went to jamaica, and was so inspired by the smokey air there, that he did a brilliant and sometimes sweet album of reggae and became reincarnated as snoop lion. it's an amazing cd, which i'll feature more of next week.
thursday tonight...you'll be going into a trance...if you're driving, pull over to the side of the road...if you're at home, put on headphones...and breathe...
this week's show: new roots music. what're the roots? the roots of americana musica: irish and british folk, country, bluegrass, lush harmonies, personal stories, and acoustic guitars. among other things.
some of the best new roots artists are not from america (mumford & sons, robert plant [yes, that robert plant]), but most have grown up with the sounds, vibes, and influences (musical and otherwise) that you can only get by absorbing life in these disparate yet united states.
even though the sound is rural, authentic, and acoustic, some of the best new roots bands hail from nyc (the lone bellow, grisly bear), and la (edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros). guess the big cities have finally caught up with us poor strummers and harmonizers.
this week's playlist is here: roots
there are some great guitarists making music these days. weirdly, as eric clapton's crossroads music festival showed last weekend, most of them have grey hair and prefer to play in rocking chairs. and who can argue with the results.
but there are some other great guitarists soloing in the same musical traditions, like uli jon roth, including some women who rock like nili brosh, and orianthi [left, the greek/new zealand guitarist who you may remember from michael jackson's farewell video concert], and the accoustic duo gabriela y rodrigo.
this week i'll also play some interesting international takes on the guitar, with an indian slide guitar player, and musicians from egypt, israel, germany, and sweden.
sunday morning's show: secret bliss...
50 years ago heard the wave of surf music, the early voices of soul, and the schmaltzification of most music on the radio. i'll finish my sample of the former, and go easy on the latter.
but i can't ignore the wonderfully sexist advice of jack jones' "wives and lovers" (one of burt bacharach's brilliant embarrassments), kyu sakamoto's campy "sukiyaki," and brian wilson's [yes, that's him in the photo on the right] "surfer girl" and "surf city."
those were cute, but here's some of what you'll be feeling well after my show: freddy scott's (original) "hey girl," smokey robinson and the miracles' "you really got a hold on me," and marvin gaye's "can i get a witness."
the music of 1963 was on the cusp of radical changes (remember, great britain was already rocking out, but the beatles hadn't yet hit the states).
enjoy the last chill sounds of winter, as i help raise the spring...
you've heard them in movies, the simpsons, futurama, and in various contexts in the last 25 years. they've released dozens of cds, won 2 grammies, been nominated for 7, and put on one of the most entertaining live shows you'll ever see.
they're brave combo, the electric, eclectic polka, tejano band from texas. and if you've missed hearing them all these years, it's time you finally did.
they capture the original polka energy, with an spirit and style that is modern and timeless.