Articles and Interviews
Here’s a nice profile by Houston music journalist Joey Guerra of hip-hop artist, Sabyn (who is Dolly Parton’s nephew!). He did a wicked remix of his auntie’s 9 to 5 song. By the way, I really like music videos that put words onscreen to highlight certain lyrics.
nice article by Joshua on the influence of Aaliyah.
Ted Goia asks, Did Music Create Human Rights? We need to reevaluate how we define a political song. When most people hear that term, they conjure up images of antiwar chants at student protests, or defiant workers singing union anthems. What they don’t realize is that even the gentlest songs of introspection are potentially political songs—the same today as back in ancient Egypt—and have repeatedly laid the groundwork for every significant expansion in personal autonomy and human rights.
Youtuber Rick Beato on how he sold a million records. Beato is a songwriter and producer who analyzes many songs. He tells the story of having written songs for Brett Smith (who formed the group Shinedown). His point is that the song writers often produce one version of a song for the demo, and then when the label likes it, they produce it again using a totally different producer. I’ve watched several videos of Beato before. He’s a fun and knowledgeable music insider, with videos on all kids of topics likely to interest only musicians (while laymen like me can still enjoy it). Examples: Insane Story of his #1 song
- Ребята нашего полка by Любэ. 4.99, 79 minutes, 21 tracks. Compilation of wildly popular Russian pop band who sing songs with an army theme. Goofy, sorrowful, beautiful, energetic, you never know what to expect from them.
- Further by Intimate Stranger (4.99 for 17 tracks, 72 minutes). Incredible synthpop/dreampop band described as “gritty, dirty, calm and ethereal at the same time, with beautiful vocals”. This is a compilation of several albums and excellent overall. Tessie Stranger is the English/Croat vocalist, but the guitarist is Anglo-Chilean. I also liked Above which has many songs in the same style.
- HiiDe by Babii, 9 tracks, 3.99. (bandcamp).
- Pasca Hipnotis by It’s a Different Class. 4.49, 10 tracks, 48 minutes. Every song here is a delightful surprise; these songs have a cheerful, dreamy quality. Singing is great, and the arrangements are always clever and appropriate. The songs feel progressive or jazzy or sometimes even bluesy. HEY BIN is a really rousing song….
- Zhnivo by Shuma. 10 tracks, 43 minutes, 4.49. Really beautiful and ethereal dreampop by a Belorussian girl’s group. Much much in the same territory as Ukraine’s Onuka or Russian/Kazakh singer Linda. This remarkable early album mixes the primitive folk with high end club electronica, with lovely folk-style singing by Rusia. Similar to Onuka, except that Shuma is all electronic and sampling. Later albums are slower & more meditative, but this album is a great introduction to their sound.
- Spill out by Mytbe.
- Two albums by Welsh folk singer Mary Hopkin (of “Those were the Days” fame). Here’s a great Live at the Royal Festival Hall 1972 (5.99, 13 tracks, 49 minutes) and Painting by Numbers (a later album with original songs). Also, here’s her website for the latest.
- Sulinys by Babadag. 10 tracks, 57 minutes. Another gem from Karrot Kommando label (from Poland).
- Tourists by Psapp, 13 tracks, 43 minutes, 5.99.
- 7 Bidaderi by Naif (a very well known Indonesian band).
- Kubizm by Paweł Mańka Semiotic Quintet (a jazz band from Katowice Poland) , 19 tracks, 3.99, 46 minutes.
- In Search of Sunrise 15 by Markus Schulz, 3.99, 5 hour long mix.
- Ratatat by Malka. 34 minutes, 10 tracks, 4.99.
- Lenine in Cite (Deluxe) by Lenine. 99 cents, 79 minutes, 20 tracks. This live jazz album won an Emmy!
- Quando Brinca by Bel, 8 tracks, 26 minutes, 3.49.
- EPs from Moya Michelle (Моя Мишель): Дура (Deluxe Version) (5 tracks, 2.49) and Наивность. Часть 1 (3 tracks, 99 cents). Minor but lovely recordings by a young Russian pop singer before signing onto a major label. Here’s two vids here and here
- Several eps by 9T Antiope. (bandcamp & website) These experimental music duo (from Paris and Iran) make eerie & distraught soundscapes that employ voice, violins, electronic glitch and environmental sounds. The most decidedly classical is Grimace (1.99, 24 minutes) which despite being “constructed” seems most to resemble a conventional performance of classic music with some electronic noises occasionally throw in. Ithmus sometimes devolves into mindless/distracting world of electronic glitch, but it’s balanced by the singer’s lovely voice and the incessant energy of the violin. Placebo (1.49, 40 minutes), feels more glitchy and droney, with much less emphasis on voice except as distant background. (I think the vocalist Sara Bigdeli Shamloo is reciting a poem). Everything blends very well. I’m less impressed by the other albums which seem louder and more glitchy, but I like this group so much I might get them later.
- Percepcao by Poty, 99 cents, 38 minutes.
- Posguerra by Dafne Castaneda, 7 tracks, 26 minutes, 1.49
Have you ever heard of Fat City? Me neither until yesterday. They were a folk rock duo consisting of Bill Danoff and Taffy Danoff who did stuff with John Denver (indeed, they wrote John Denver’s biggest hit Take me Home, Country Roads and sang the background — indeed, on the hit record, Fat City was given equal credit. (Here’s a 1973 concert for BBC they did with John Denver in 1973). I’m not saying the punch line. Bill & Taffy did Fat City for a few years, and then hit it big — I mean really big — when the pair teamed up with another pair to form the Starland Vocal Band. That led to the song Afternoon Delight –which people laugh at today. But as someone who obsessively listened to 1976 pop music — it was the awakening of my musical consciousness, Afternoon Delight just sprung out of nowhere and hit the world by storm. I remember the first time I heard it on the radio. I remember thinking, what is the name of that remarkable song — and I immediately bought the record. (The sexual innuendos totally went over my head — hey, I was 10 years old!)
The song was relaxing to listen to, syrupy, full of hoaky sound effects (fireworks!?) but the harmonies were just soaring. There’s a little James Taylor, a little country twang, a little pop. This was the pre-disco, pre-Yacht Rock, pre-heavy-metal era. Glen Campbell was really big that year, so was Hall & Oates, Captain & Tennille, Fleetwood Mac, Barry Manilow, Elton John. The chart toppers was Paul McCartney’s Silly Love Songs and Elton John’s Don’t Go Breaking My heart. That’s not to say that other styles weren’t developing in the wild.. But that bland, mellow, wholesome pop style was still the rage, with syrupy arrangements, lots of violins, everything blended and sounded so relaxing on the radio.
Of course, we all know that Starland Vocal Band disappeared from pop music — even though they had a TV variety show (which happened to be hosted by David Letterman — his first show ever!) Who knows why they disappeared from the public eye? After 3 Grammy Nominations, both couples split up, well I guess it was bound to happen. Back when they were Fat city, they produced two albums: Welcome to Fat City and Reincarnation.
Freegal & Library CDs
- Jar of Chains by Alice in Chains.
- Battle of Los Angeles by Rage against the Machine
- Various tracks by Elza Soares.
- Fat City (selected tracks)
- Mid-Century Sounds: Deep Cuts from the Desert (compilation).