06 October 2006
OH AND EVERYBODY NEEDS TO READ THIS
Bowers Takes a Drag
THIS IS WHAT I GOT (RIFFS)
Please Leave Computer On
Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars
In light of the Beirut Man Man Devotchka and now I guess this band O'Death bloglines boner for all things vaguely Balkan / klezmer / gypsy-not-gypsy, the first thing that'll strike you about these Frank London guys is they're actually musicians and they can actually play their instruments. And one thing that actual musicians can do with each other is communicate almost telepathically, like one little head nod or a quick shot of the eyes will mean "let's go to the next section" or "let's cut the trombone solo a little short, trombone player" or "what do you think of my hat? do you like my crazy hat?" and everybody in the band knows exactly how to move their eyes to say "i can't believe you wore that fucking hat again." Frank London, who plays trumpet and wears hats, led the band what would seem very haphazardly, shelling out solo opportunities, playing with the tempos and the dynamics with no real sense of his next move. This is improvised music in the sweet clarinet solo sense, but also insofar as klezmer songs being more like a collection of related riffs, triggered in typically rigorous sequences but the lengths and moods are up to the band. So it's music that's extremely crowd-sensitive too, participatory in this weird passive-aggro feedback loop where the audience determines the song length by their motions, i.e. dancing. The first song was like 20 minutes long, so yeah it went over pretty well.
Now I don't mean to sound all klezmer purist about this stuff. The bands mentioned first sentence are pop bands borrowing a few tricks from some chosen people we don't normally talk about. I know very little about this stuff except for a few horahs I'd play so my jew friends could lift their jew friends in chairs, and my old harddrive has some MIDI versions of songs from Fiddler on the Roof. But seeing every one of these Klezmer Brass All-Stars kill their solos, then go back and work perfectly with the band and know their role ego-less like she's an arm and he's a leg, you realize how little the affects of klezmer/etc-- the modes, the instrumentations, the melodies-- that people call "klezmer" are actually klezmer. This is not news, just a general reminder to stop kidding ourselves.
Trail of Dead: "Naked Sun" [Download]
Especially coming off Wednesday's bit, I was amused to find out that the rock and roll band Trail of Dead completely ripped the melody from jazz standard (by Fake Book standards) "The Work Song" for this new song, "Naked Sun." Naked sun is practically an anagram of Work Song, so it's not like the band doesn't know what they did. In other news Conrad Keely knows how to sing now, and a bunch of songs on this album feel like Madonna songs playing major-label dress-up, masquerading as emo jams but still fine hardhitting 90s indie guitar rock from Austin.
But then I wonder if everybody's just had this band backwards. I remember all the crazy fucked up manifestos the guy would write, Keely, which read like those 60s pop holistic philosophy books that start with a half-baked, vaguely political, quasi-radical, totally unprovable assertion (e.g. "everybody knows") and end 180 pages later, with lots of Tim Leary quotes, lots of anecdotal evidence that reads like two twenty-year-olds listing the drugs they've used and what they thought about them. I remember reading them, and I remember thinking that maybe this band really actually wanted to be famous and write a bunch of tight-assed emo-punk songs they could perform on Conan O'Brien without looking like fucking twits, and I remember loving the fact that they failed at that, and that their quote failures included "Another Morning Stoner" and "Totally Natural," two of the best rock songs in the last ten years. There was a desperation in their music, and it's not there anymore because they're where they want to be today, and maybe it's OK if they don't make songs that I want to wake up to anymore. Bygones.
This Day in Riff Raff
A few days ago Matt Fluxblog posted a song called "Riff Raff" by Pipas, which reminded me that a little while ago I used to write a blog called Riff Raff for New York City's The Village Voice. I haven't read this blog in a while, but today I checked out what I wrote exactly a year ago: an extremely helpful visitors guide to the 2005 Country Music Awards in New York. I have to say I am quite proud of one extremely obscure reference I made to the guy who writes mixtape previews for SOHH.com. If you're that guy, and you're reading this blog, yes, the line "the name says it all" is my hilarious sendup of your hiphop-flavored style. Unfortunately my joke about confusing Dizzee Rascal with Rascal Flatts did not hold up well at all.
04 October 2006
JAZZ WEDNESDAYS EVERY WEDNESDAY AT RIFF MARKET
Download: Diddy: "Gettin' Off"
Past girlfriends can attest to my ways with the jazz music en route to sweet movies like Anaconda or classy dinners at the Ground Round. I liked a lot of trumpet player types because that was my gig pre the botched wisdom teeth removal, which meant I owned every Miles Davis album, even all the ones after In A Silent Way. My grandfather's dead so I can finally come clean on that one. I didn't have porn under my bed but I had Pangaea, and I had Live-Evil, which coincidentally did have some tittie action on the cover, which made it doubly dangerous. As far as Poppy was concerned, Miles Davis post-Silent Way was as bad as all those black men saying really fast words into microphones. As bad as, his words, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He always used RHCP as his go-to "why new Miles Davis was bad" example and it's only been since their new album that I've been able to understand why.
Anyway like the rest of the world I have been greatly anticipating the new Diddy album. This is the guy who first introduced me to Led Zeppelin, or at least showed me what the band was really good for, i.e. hiphop rap beats. He's also the guy responsible for LL Cool J's "Phenomenon," which is in the Top 50 rap songs of all time, and my guess is Diddy has a good deal of respect for Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way?" which is in the Top 100 rock songs of all time, and Top 80 if you count it with the video. Why Lenny, Diddy, and Cool J haven't started a team mp3 blog yet is beyond me.
Which is why I was bummed to find out that this "Gettin' Off" song has been left off the album. Its probable reason for exclusion is the same one that makes the song so awesome, which is that it samples the opening loops of Miles Davis's "Spanish Key," which was on Bitches Brew. There is a bass clarinet riff that bubbles out every eight or so, I think it was Maupin's, that is one of my favorite "scary" riffs, alongside some of the jams on the Spawn soundtrack. Spawn is actually a movie I took a girl to.
Granted just because somebody starts barking like James Brown over a Miles Davis sample, doesn't mean I'm going to accidentally think this song is as awesome as James Brown barking over "Spanish Key." Yet I will defend this song's relative greatness (Top 500 of 2006 easily), on the strength of the sample and Diddy's weird fable about listening to James Brown records on a Playskool record player, and then his mom tapping him on the shoulder and telling him to "get off." This is apparently the inspiration for the song. And you know what, I can see why. If Mom Diddy didn't see Baby Diddy standing on his brandnew Playskool record player, spinning around in a circle like it was a merry-go-round or something, Baby Diddy probably would have broken the motor.
02 October 2006
Riff Market Presents:
Status Ain't Hood: Quarterly Report: Riffs
Thanks, you know who.
September 24, 2006
Not too too many people showed up to this because the SR record came out earlier in the year, which means most people have already forgotten about them. As far as I'm concerned, very few bands have written as many good-to-great songs about or involving snakes, so obviously I was there. This is the best record about snakes this year.
Anyway the band does the uningratiating, "interesting" vocal deliveries and obtuse lyrics as praised by your Stosuys and as derided for ill-defined nihilism by your Ott (though I'll forever take issue with the Deerhoof jab, I happen to think that woman's quack is pretty damn mellifluous), which struck me, at this concert, and critically not at the Merc show a day after the Pitchfork review ran (I'm assuming, from the photos), as sort of telling: Are there bands that have uningratiating, "interesting" vocal deliveries and obtuse lyrics that people actually care about after bloggers have run out of MP3s from their album to post? The answer, at least here, was yes, there is still a small cohort of people, including myself, who think Spencer Krug is pretty compelling, notwithstanding what it means for this small cohort of people to think it means for them to think Spencer Krug is compelling. There was a guy who started pumping his fist in maybe the only part of any song on Sunset's album not worth pumping one's first to, which seemed to corroborate my theory. I'm thinking we might be able to extend this to all bands in general. So here is a list, off the top of my head, of bands people actually like and care about vs. bands that people don't actually like but care about people thinking they care about them:
Bands People Actually Like And Care About
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Tower of Power
Bands People Don't Actually Like But Care About People Thinking They Care About Them
Stevie Wonder (except "I Wish" and "Sir Duke")
If you have any suggestions let me know, but I think this is pretty much it. 68 RIFFS
snake's got a leg
Download: Peter Paul & Bjorn: "Young Folks" 82 RIFFS
Harvard Glee Club friends will be amused to know that lead Grizzly Ed Droste's grandpa is Doctor Elliot Forbes, the guy Bernie always talked about. As far as I'm concerned, any four schlubs can come together and start singing different notes at the same time and make it sound like something called indie rock. There's a whole Futureheads album as proof of this, and some of the shittier Beach Boys songs and some of the early Of Montreal albums, to say nothing of all of SMiLE. But what I noticed in this show was how Grizzly Bear actually pays attention to the shapes of their vowels when they ooh and ahh, all the "aah"s well-blended and none of the goat-bleat bullshit in the tenor parts, and the way the vocals led in their coos with light consonants, as opposed to just vomiting out the note and letting it crackle before it settled into tone. I'm wondering if these guys sang pop songs in a capella groups. I'm also wondering which guy had to make all the fart noises into the microphone. Gotta wonder about that guy. Four years of fart noises. Maybe, at the end of his senior year or something, they'll give him a headset. Criz, this doesn't apply to you because you actually have a great voice. I'm talking about the other fart guys. 72 RIFFS
Speaking of Bears
I don't even want to get started on this since I want to leave myself stuff to write about in the end of the week, but scroll down to the part about how people are supposed to act at a fucking rock concert and you have to wonder what's worse, what the guy's complaining about or the guy himself. I mean come the fuck on, you're still complaining about the guy who yells "Freebird"? Are you serious? That guy can't even buy a fucking ticket anymore to his favorite band Tapes N Tapes because of assholes like you. If he wants to get sloppy drunk at the Tapes N Tapes show, make out with five girls, talk during the opener, take off his clothes and yell "Freebird" seven times in a row, call up his bros about the uptight douchebag in front of him scribbling notes for his fucking concert etiquette post, then throw you at the band (this would be heckle), I'm all for it. 30 RIFFS
Mondo Kim's: Not So Mondo
These guys get enough shit from people besides me, and I happen to like Brad-- I think he's a pretty cool-looking dude who actually looks pretty good with long hair and a nice button-down. But if you make a big deal about how your DVDs are 25% off, you should actually sell your DVDs for 25% off. Instead, what Mondo Kim's does is give you 10% off then this line about how "Mondo Kim's prices are already 15% off the suggested retail prices"-- which means that they are about 20% more expensive than Best Buy. Additionally, Mondo Kim's have now hired this guy up on the second floor who just walks around the vinyl humming really loudly, something halfway between gospel-spiritual and the sound weedwackers make in thick brush, like he's his own anti-theft device, or the sonic equivalent of one of those "silent but deadly" farts. Nobody can steal anything.24 RIFFS
Assman, Crazy Carl, Jake the Snake
These guys have a new website that I'm really hoping actually takes off. The most current post takes an understandable swipe at me because I didn't run it five weeks ago like I said was going to. All of these guys have logged serious time in the Jazzmobile. 85 RIFFS
New respect for day jobs. The way they work, you show up, people pay you to do something, you do it, and then you have money for sneakers and dinners that aren't falafel. Pretty awesome. You can take girls out on dates and buy your bros some brewskis. I just bought a new pair of sneakers. Pretty great stuff. 77 RIFFS
Much Love For: Blogs
And in general, the two-blogger/one-blog system. It's win-win. Blogger #1 can include something highly invasive about Person #X in a blog post, something told to her in confidence, something that has absolutely zero to do with otherwise legitimate beef she has with Person #X. Then Person #X can see Blogger #1 at a party, Blogger #1 can tell everybody at the party that it was totally Blogger #2 who wrote the post, that she even protested, that she actually likes Person #X. Then Person #X can pretend that yeah, of course this is how it went down. No, Blogger #1, let me buy you a drink. 45 RIFFS
See you tomorrow?