Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Is Music All About Sex? What Do You Think?

A somewhat intriguing article about music showed up in an odd place this past week: The Economist magazine. What do you think? Is music's evolutionary purpose all about sex, including signaling reproductive fitness? Maybe I'm biased, because the man I chose to spend my life with has many talents, of which none involve musical prowess. I think the social bonding and emotional mirroring/regulatory benefits of music (and dancing) are the more essential functionality.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If You Need Another Holiday Gift...

for just about anyone... I *highly* recommend the new dual disc live recording of Buena Vista Social Club's legendary 1998 Carnegie Hall performance. Here's a preview:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Passion Pit

It's a happy bop bop day! Have you heard of Passion Pit yet? I'm a bit late on the trigger lately as we all know, but I just learned of Passion Pit from The Fader, and I'm really digging them. This music - along with Los Campesinos! who I am going to see Feb. 14 at the Bowery Ballroom (yay!) - has my blood moving despite the frigidness going on out there.

p.s. you can download the song in the video here for free.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Asher Roth

Yep, he sounds a lot like the other white rapper. And as a self-respecting female, I can't endorse many of the photos on his myspace page. Still, he's got something. Apparently Akon agrees.

p.s. Thanks to Herman for the inadvertent tip on Facebook!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy 40th Anniversary of the White Album

Why does John Schaefer keep calling it a mess? Blasphemy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

P.S. McCain Is Not a Bad Guy

I've never thought he was a bad guy. He's an American hero for sure, and I believe he deeply cares about our country. I don't agree with his policies or his choice for VP. Still, Senator John McCain is a good guy. This class act concession speech is a testament to that.

Yes We Did!

I don't think I've ever been more proud to be an American.

I know the hard work truly begins after Obama's inauguration, but I DO believe. I do have hope for a better day. We're seeing the start of it. We DID elect our President not based on the color of his skin, but on the content of his character. And we CAN work together - across all kinds of divides - to pull our country through these most challenging times and make this, yes, a more perfect union.

This speech is brilliant; this man and this new administration have so much potential. I'm committed to doing my part to help them help us move this country forward. YES, we can!

Sam Cooke, A Change is Gonna Come, 1964

It's been a long long time coming, but I know
A change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Barack Obama, Grant Park, Chicago, 2008

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rox's Friend Made This Obama Day Mix

I dig it.

A Change Is Gonna Come

I sure hope Sam Cooke was predicting this election...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thelonious Monk's Birthday

... was on Friday. He would have been 91 if he were still alive. He was such a genius. The silence between the notes means as much or more than the notes themselves. Dissonance is more than tolerable; it can be so satisfyingly beautiful. Two profound metaphors for life that I'm still working on fully actualizing. Check out 'Round Midnight:

Jazmine Sullivan

Love this Philly girl! Her debut album is full of heart, good song-writing, nods to Lauryn, motown, Alicia, even Whitney (the old Whitney - the one I used to love). I'd love to see her live. Thanks to Jon Caramanica's NYTimes review to clue me in to checking her out (I'm so out of it these days...)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Austin City Limits

The 2 days we got to spend at ACL were great!! Gnarlz Barkley & (a clearly pregnant!) Erykah Badu were probably the highlights for me musically... Gnarlz Barkley switched up a lot of their songs with much success (they made them a little more rock and yet a little less noisy - interesting feat to pull off). And I just never get tired of Cee-Lo's voice (even while hoarse from 4 months of touring!). Erykah Badu is a little bit stark raving bonkers (out of touch with reality) politically (even for liberal me), but she too has an awesome instrument in those vocal chords of hers. I always think she's better live than on records (typically jazz in that way), and I really like her latest album to begin with (New Amerykah). The highlight of her set was "The Healer/Hip Hop" - she did Dilla proud.

You know, I always say I like all kinds of music -- and I do , but lately you really got to have some soul if you want to truly snatch me away for a while. I keep thinking about this great piece on what's missing these days in indie rock by Sasha Frere-Jones.

So, among the sets I saw were...
Drive-By Truckers -- loved them. Lead singer told a really crazy/classic story about his mom getting swept away by a 350 pound tough trucker dude who later got cancer but then beat all the odds in order to get back in his beloved 18-wheeler. Southern rock is alive and well. Their last album was especially good - but they were great live too.

Tristan Prettyman - I like her enough. Surfer-turns acoustic guitar-wielding singer-songwriter chick. She has a pretty voice. She's not the best/most consistent songwriter ever, but she was fine. Love, Love, Love is by far her best song.

30 seconds of MGMT before RMW decided we just could not handle the crowds. It felt like all 75K there on Saturday were trying to see them. We heard a little bit of Electric Feel, my favorite song of theirs - it sounded not very different than the recorded version, which was a little disappointing to me.

Stars - they were good. I think the festival setting isn't ideal for them since you couldn't really appreciate their tight harmonies.

Xavier Rudd - His voice sounds a lot like Dave Matthews, his music/guitar playing recalls Robert Randolph & the Family Band meets the swamp funk of Mofro... and the latter part is pretty interesting considering he's a white Australian. Super talented multi-instrumentalist.

Foo Fighters - I wouldn't ever put this band on a list of bands I truly care about, but I have to say Dave Grohl is a true professional and the band put on a great show. I was entertained.

Jose Gonzalez & Iron & Wine -- both good, but again, not the right setting to fully appreciate them.

Nachito Herrera & his band -- Awesome! Nothing like good Cuban jazz, esp. good Cuban jazz piano. I think I even saw RMW's hips move.

Beck -- good set, but I was a little disappointed. I don't know why; I felt like he wasn't that into it. I couldn't take much issue with the songs he chose for the set (Nicotine & Gravy, Loser, Nausea, and Where it's At were all included). I would have liked to hear Debra, but oh well.

Thanks for hosting us, Emily & Peter!!!!!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Joshua Radin's New Album Simple Times

I love Joshua Radin's first album, We Were Here. Now his second album is out, and for some reason, I'm a little disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high? Maybe my life is too busy these days for his elegant simplicity? I still recommend it, but Simple Times is just a little too sweet for me right now. I am going to listen to it more, and I feel almost guilty that I tend to latch on more easily to music that is just a shade or two darker. Radin deserves to be happy and write happy, carefree songs.

This criticism is especially weird from me since I bet a lot of people would say I can come across as "too sweet/happy".

I do love the song featured live below, "They Bring Me to You" - careful, it tingles.

Nas, The World is Yours ft. Ahmad Jamal Sample

I think it was a week ago or so that I heard an NPR interview of Ahmad Jamal. Dude is 78 years old and still rules the keys live regularly (and has a new album). It was so funny, the guy from Soundcheck was asking him what he thinks about hip hop in general and hip hop sampling his music in particular (jazz piano). He kind of dodged the question saying there is good music and there is bad music, no matter what the genre. Soundcheck played a clip from Nas's classic song "The World is Yours" (from his album Illmatic), and then asked Jamal if that song was "good music". Jamal said something like "Well, he [Nas] chose a great song to sample [I Love Music]" but when pushed on whether he liked the song in particular, he was like "No Comment". For real??? I love Ahmad Jamal's music, and I also love a lot of Nas's music. I was so surprised to hear that Jamal doesn't like "The World is Yours" -- I love that song and love the way the sample was used! Wonder if he's just bitter b/c apparently he has lawsuits out about properly compensating him for sampling...

Like Everyone Else I'm Addicted to this Song Lately

The Daft Punk, Coldplay & U2 influence is of course there, but then I swear there's also a little bit of Beirut when the drums really kick in there right around the 1 min. mark(see below for Beirut's awesome song/video Postcards From Italy):

I also truly admire Kanye's boldness - producer turned rapper turned vocoder-singer with not a rap in there??? He could care less what 50 Cent and the rest think. Inspirational.

Since The IceChewer Misses Me

I will blog, even though I feel out of it music-wise these days. Thank you for missing me, Ice Chewer!

I feel like I have a new life these days - I've been busy trying to find my own rhythms within it. People keep calling me Professor, and I'm always rushing around trying to get prepped for my classes. Any free time I have lately has gone to trying to train our puppy Jasmine (wish I had more time to do that). This is what my days sound/feel like:

I had to put my guitar lessons on hiatus because I have no time to practice. But I will! I will! Things already feel better compared to two weeks ago.

My one major break of the semester comes this weekend, when Rich and I are going to the Austin City Limits music festival. Should reawaken the always-searching-for-great-new-music nerd in me...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Daby Toure

Rich and I checked out his show at Joe's Pub earlier this month, and it was beautiful. It was a rainy Saturday night, and I don't think they announced it very early, so the place wasn't packed. It really should have been. This is my favorite song of his - "Banta" (he actually jovially made us all stand up and turned it into a sing-along even though I really have no idea what the actual words are). Maybe someday I'll learn how to finger pick it out. :) Not all of his songs are as quiet as this one - the guy actually jams (and turns his guitar into a conga)! He mixes elements of his native West African style with Western jazz and pop, and the result is very cool... if he got enough publicity, I think he could become pretty popular here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Kanye West & His Spaceship: The Musical

Kanye West & His Spaceship: The Musical (my title for the Glow in the Dark tour) was definitely memorable. Special effects were very cool, his stamina was impressive, as was the seamless integration of all his song into a narrative. I still can't decide how I felt about the 5 minute lecture we at MSG got at the end of his show (esp. since the night after us got Jay-Z instead), or the fact that he wouldn't share the stage with a single other animate being. But, I can't deny the face that I seriously enjoy Kanye's talent and music. Lupe Fiasco was very good too, and N.E.R.D. was fun (go Pharrell for bringing up Diggy Simmons to dance onstage - RUN'S HOUSE in the house).

It was also cool to hear Esthero's voice as the voice of the spaceship.

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Learning guitar is HARD!! I knew it was before, but I didn't have full appreciation until now. Right now, I can barely strum through the main chords in Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls and am working on finger picking with Dust in the Wind by Kansas. I still can't change chords so quickly without screwing up the rhythm, but I'm getting better slowly by surely, thanks to my great teacher - and time & practice (never enough of either). My fingernails are gone. My fingertips are hardening. Don't think I'll ever be a guitar heroine, but hopefully I'll be competent enough at some point...

Sorry I've Been Gone So Long

I don't know where the past two months have gone. I've been so busy with working on the new apartment, playing with the new puppy, trying to play the new guitar... I don't know how I haven't managed to post a thing.

More coming soon...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Our New Bathroom

RMW & I are closing on our new apartment next Tuesday. Plans for transforming the bathroom are still in the works... happily, we got great ideas from the smart people on this week, though. Want to see what people have been saying and/or give us some of your own ideas?

Here's the link to the apartmenttherapy post incl. pics of our bathroom and details on our design dilemma...

Adele at Highline Ballroom June 11, 2008

She played for just under an hour, leaving everyone wanting more of that voice... wow, is this one talented. Every bit of power, alternating warmth and edginess in tone, and perfect pitch (and pitch bending) that you hear on her album sounds, if anything, even *more* flawless live. I know all her lyrics, but she actually shut me up last night. (and if you know me and my involuntary tendency to sing as much as possible, you'll understand what a feat that is). I just was commanded to focus all my energy on listening.

I can't wait for Adele to develop further as a songwriter and as an artist. At only just barely 20, she's got such a long career ahead of her!

p.s. she was pretty adorable in terms of stage presence - she kept saying (as on this clip) how nervous she was -- but then would just belt out these songs. I didn't hear any wobbliness in her voice whatsoever, so I can't imagine what her voice sounds like NOT nervous. She also was so cute in her responses to the crowds' cheers... she would be all serious into the song, and then, see someone cheering (or recognize someone), and this huge genuine grin would melt her face, and then she'd be back to intense focus -- all the while her voice never once betraying any distractions. I found it so charming - she just looked like she was thrilled to be performing for us.

p.p.s She said she was apartment shopping in Brooklyn! :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Awesome. Bilal. Robert Glasper.

GREAT show at the Blue Note last night. Bilal's falsetto live is ridiculous. Robert Glasper is sick on keys too.

It's easy to hear why Bilal's voice is all over hip hop's great albums - from Jay-Z to Clipse to Common... but when he's center stage live, he's even better.

Here's a clip from a show in Amsterdam:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My New Martin 000-16GT

I am so excited. For my graduation, my dad finally gave me his mid-life crisis purchase of 5 years ago that I knew he would never use. Guitar lessons are in my future! Anyone know a good guitar teacher in NYC?

NYTimes Article on Cool Research on the Healing Power of Music

From today's NYTimes science section article "Claudius Conrad: A Musician Who Works With a Scalpel":

Like many surgeons, Dr. Conrad says he works better when he listens to music. And he cites studies, including some of his own, showing that music is helpful to patients as well — bringing relaxation and reducing blood pressure, heart rate, stress hormones, pain and the need for pain medication.

But to the extent that music heals, how does it heal?...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Another Reason to Sing

Singing makes me happy. I have never really considered all the reasons why. The most obvious one is that music makes me happy, and singing is part of my everyday ritual for expressing gratitude for the miracle in my life that is music.

In yoga this weekend, though, my instructor Maggie commented that singing and chanting is also a great, easy way to release stress -- for more physiological reasons. Singing forces you to breathe deeply, and breathing deeply transforms your autonomic nervous system, relaxing you. Of course!! Somehow I never thought about that before.

As IF I needed another reason to sing, but hmmm... I wonder if my dissertation committee would mind if I started my defense tomorrow with a group song - ?

Friday, April 25, 2008

NPR Story Corps

My alarm this morning spoke in the voice of 10 year-old Rasheed McKenstry, interviewing his mother, Rhonetta McKenstry, for NPR's Story Corps. Today my heart leapt out of bed before the rest of me. I could listen to these Story Corps recordings all day long. I think once I'm officially all done with my PhD I will.

Here's the text of today's interview featured on Morning Edition. It's better if you listen to it live, though.

Morning Edition, April 25, 2008 · When Rahsheed McKenstry, 10, and his mother Rhonetta McKenstry entered the StoryCorps booth in Memphis, Tenn., he quickly found his own interview style ... a style that uncovered hard truths.

"OK, Ms. Rhonetta McKenstry," he asked, "what are some of the biggest lessons that you learned during your childhood?"

"I feel like I'm at a job interview," she replied.

"I had a very good mother, which is why I think I'm a very good mother," she said. "She used to fix me breakfast in the morning whenever she could. She gave me kisses like I do you and your brother. And she yelled at me... It means she cares."

He asked, "OK, so why are you not still married?"

"Because my ex-husband was horrible," she said.

"Was he violent toward you?"


"Was he violent toward anybody else?"

"You and your brother, which is why I won't let him see you."

"How does that affect you?" she asked.

"It affects me because I'm inquisitive. I want to know everything and he's my father and I should know more. It kind of makes me feel depressed and mad. Not depressed, but kind of mad that those things happened to my mother," he said.

"What kind of man do you think you're going to be?" she asked.

"A very great man — better than my father, for sure."

He asked, "How do you feel about [my brother] Chris and I?"

"See, now you're trying to make me cry," she said. "You have to understand I'm proud of the two of you. Y'all have different personalities. Chris is happy-go-lucky, but you ... I'm just in awe of you sometimes. Y'all keep me going. Everything I do is really for the two of you."

He asks his mother, "Why is your nose turning red?"

"[Because] I'm about to cry," she said. "How many times have you ever seen me cry?"

"Three times. This is my third," he answered.

"I love you, Rahsheed."

"I love you, too, Ma. Thank you for answering all my questions."

Rhonetta McKenstry will be entering law school this fall. She plans to specialize in family law to help women who have suffered from domestic violence.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Estelle + Lots of Special Guests

I'm listening to Estelle's new album "Shine" today (stream below). It's really solid. I wonder how much of it is due to smart executive production, though,(good job, John Stephens/Legend) b/c the best songs are the ones where she shares the spotlight with big names. You probably already know "American Boy" (ft. Kanye) and "Wait a Minute" (ft. and produced by Will.I.Am). "Shine" (produced by Swizz Beats) is my latest favorite. I'm also loving the way "No Substitute Love" (Wyclef shares production credits) plays with George Michael's "Faith".

The only song I really have to skip from boredom is "Back to Love", which sounds to me a lot like a mightily watered down version of John Stephens/Legend's "Again". (and disclaimer: I liked "Again"!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Warning: Lykke Li is Addictive

I have been out of my usual scouring-the-web for new cool music mode ... blame it on the dissertation defense next Tues. (!). But Julianne mentioned that her office is addicted to this song "Little Bit", and now I've got it on repeat too.

I also really like Lykke Li's song "Dance Dance Dance" (see video below) Can't decide which of the two I like better.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I love this music and Umalali's new album. It's music from the Garifuna communities of Central America, that has all kinds of cool influences. Umalali is performing at Symphony Space tomorrow night too - maybe RMW will be convinced to check it out. Thanks WNYC's Soundcheck!

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Cirque du Soleil's Beatles LOVE show.

I'd honestly see it like 5 more times, and I still don't think I'd have had enough.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Adam Duritz Was at Passing Strange Tonight

He was just being a normal guy, enjoying his favorite songwriter's show.

We dug it too.

The theme of the week is ART=LIFE.
Tonight's incantation is ART>LIFE.

If it were any more real, it'd be fictional.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Carly Smithson Was Finally Great!

And she didn't sound like Celine Dion!

back to dissertating... argh.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ignorant Shit

Let's stop the bullshittin'
Til' we all without sin,
Let's quit the pulpittin'

--Jay-Z, "Ignorant Shit", American Gangster album

Art=Life... (The Wire, RIP). Somehow I don't foresee Spitzer as able to pull a Clay Davis with this one.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Rox and I Feel Electric Feel

Thanks Roxanne! This is definitely the best song off MGMT's album:

America Gets It Wrong Again

I didn't vote, so I guess I can't complain. But I would have booted Luke Menard, Kady Malloy, and Amanda Overmyer, in addition to Jason Yeager. I actually thought both Alexandrea and Alaina had a lot of potential. And Robbie Carrico - yes, there's his wig controversy, but he sings pretty well.

NYTimes Review of Passing Strange

Charles Isherwood really liked it! Yeah! Adam Duritz gushes about Stew, had him open for him a handful of years back (on the tour the Counting Crows did in '03? w/ JM?), and anyway I heard 30 seconds of some of the melodies (see below) in this show & was on my way to buy tickets. RMW and I are going on March 15. Can't wait.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

American Idol Loves RMW

Haha, he's away so I could actually watch tonight. Here's my quick 2 cents - this probably isn't going to come out in the right order.

Michael Johns: He was sadly flat through much of the song. The judges let him off easy.

Jason Castro: Ehh. Judges were right; the song was lame. He wasn't as bad as they said, but he wasn't so great either.

Luke Menard: I pretty much hate it when anyone on A.I. sings anything by Queen. Blegh.

Robbie Carrico: Solid voice and performance. I was thinking that Simon would be all over him this week after the bit about Robbie's drag racing, given that Simon is into racing (or least pretended to be with Anderson Cooper).

David Hernandez: Yeah. He got soul.

Chikezie: Ditto! (I love that American Idol (e.g., Ruben Studdard, Elliot Yamin) seems to be on a mission to repopularize Donny Hathaway)

Danny Noriega: He's ok. Can still do better. He must be seriously gorgeous in drag.

Jason Yeager: Poor guy. He's just way too corny, even for American Idol. And not talented enough. He's not good at those instruments he was playing either. SELF-TAUGHT. Um, ok. Self-taught and AVERAGE.

David Cook: Word to my fellow word nerd. Good vocab is hot. And, yeah, he could be on pop radio as a pop rocker. Not my fav, but he'll do ok probably.

David Archuleta: Little Kevin Arnold was great. I dug the arrangement, and it's surprising how well he could pull that off. That could probably be released as a single. Still, the aww shucks routine (don't leave me here alone on stage with all these swooning girls, Ryan!) is starting to get annoying. You know you're thinking it too.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Life has gotten insanely busy lately, but I'm glad I made time to go see U23D this weekend on an IMAX screen.

The movie is really cool -- and not just from the perspective of being like you're at the show live, with the best seats ever (though that would have been enough). This film was carefully thought out to be more than that - to say something about the role of rock & roll in our lives, the relationship between rock stars and their fans, ... maybe even something about globalization and the meaning of the ONE message.

The camera angles let you flirt with the perspective of what it would be like to be Bono or the Edge or Larry Mullen Jr. or Adam Clayton themselves -- and, even from the audience perspective, on this screen w/ 3D, they look both larger-than-life AND incredibly HUMAN. Bono is short and wears shoes that give him extra height on stage! And he looks out to an ocean of crazed fans, literally freaking out over him.

And they're not even Irish or Americans! It's a South American audience -- English isn't even their first language! He's just a man. They're just a band. The power artists have over people is incredible. Kudos to Bono and U2 for having from day one always been trying to do something meaningful with that power. I've also never been more aware of how much artists depend on people falling hard for them. I kept looking out at the crowds, thinking, in all those people, there are probably so many "rock stars" in their own right, in their own lives -- if only they could see how silly they look totally losing it over this band and this show, bowing down and dying to get a bead of Bono's sweat dropped on them or better yet, a msec-long touch of the man himself.

But, then again, I know I totally fall for music and what I dream up about the people who make the music I love too. What does that say about me? Should I be embarrassed or proud that I totally get sucked into believing in the possibilities I imagine when I listen to certain artists/songs, stand in crowds at certain shows? Why is Bono more inspirational than he is corny? Is it just because he's/U2's so good, musically? (footnote to conversation after the film with JL, SO, & RMW) Is it because his confidence makes you respect him? Is it because he can be as serious and realistic as he is optimistic?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

This Just Pains Me

?uestlove's blog post today

Sam Sparro "Black & Gold"

Arik sent me this with the following note: "Hey, Here's someone who I think will do a 'Scissor Sisters' - i.e., an American artist who's huge everywhere but the US - what with the flashy clothes, lisping and all... A great song, though..."

It really IS a great song - I actually like this SS's music better than most of the Scissor Sisters' music. (I know they are the queens of performance though).

For the record, I did a little research and this guy's actually not American by birth - he's an Aussie, but he's spent a lot of time in Los Angeles. He's like D'Angelo soul (listen to "Cottonmouth") meets Prince funk and gender play meets Hot Chip hipster electronic/pop. I actually disagree about the US prediction -- this has a much better shot of being big in the clubs here than the Scissor Sisters every will, b/c of the funk/hipster edginess.


Sam Sparro - Black & Gold - Watch the best video clips here

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"In Love With A Girl"

First single off Gavin DeGraw's upcoming album. Hmmm...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Please Don't Forget to Vote!

"But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope."

Monday, February 4, 2008

Adele - 19

RMW was gone in Europe all week last week. :( However, the one good thing about that was that he filled my order for the UK release of Adele's debut album, 19!

You've likely heard Hometown Glory and Chasing Pavements by now if you read my blog, but what about the rest of the album? Well, I like it! I worry that she's getting a bit overhyped before she even officially debuts in the US -- 19 is not the best album of the year. However, it's a darn good debut. Adele has a mighty alluring voice. Her songwriting is a bit inconsistent and probably has some maturing to do, but it shows promise for sure. She's got a lot of different musical influences -- I love the track below called "My Same" which is modern, bluesy jazz and sounds like Peggy Lee's "Fever" reincarnated. Two other good songs, which are more retro motown are "Melt My Heart to Stone" and "Right as Rain". I'd like to hear her record more jazz (but realize the business peeps probably fear that'd be a commercial risk...). If anyone can make jazz hot again with a more mainstream audience, though, it just may be Adele.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Yes We Can!

Many thanks go to the ice chewer, Yuval, for letting me know about this fantastic, inspiring video. See for a larger, clearer version too.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ma ma se ma ma sa ma makossa

(from MJ's Wanna Be Startin Somethin & Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music) Ever wonder where it came from?

This is random, but I somehow JUST discovered Cameroonian legend Manu Dibango today through my streaming. I am loving his music. Sadly though I had set to "non-hits" only, and one of the songs I like best - "Ami Oh!" cannot be found anywhere (itunes, amazon, etc.). Bummer. But his crossover hit above influenced SO much popular music, it's crazy. In case you're wondering, "makossa" means "I dance" in the African language Duala.

p.s. The new 25th anniversary version of "wanna be..." featuring Akon and Will.I.Am is good. Hit MJ's myspace page to stream it, but I think it's on itunes now. I can't wait for the whole 25th anniv. Thriller album to come out. Thriller was my first record! I am feeling old that it is 25. Oh wait, here's a youtube of the song: = intriguing

You tell them what your mood is (or what you want it to be) and pick genres and eras you want. They generate a tree of streamable songs that match your mood. I haven't hated anything they've recommended yet! (impressive)

I'm big fan of musical therapy in general. I use music to change my mood all the time. Try it - it really works!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rosey's Voice Is So Cool

"It's a Ruse" - I think this will be on her album that comes out this spring. Her song "Love" has been in my Itunes for years, and I have yet to get sick of it. She performs all the time in LA for my socal people. See or for more

Must Be The Water - Marc Broussard

Marc Broussard has a new EP coming out mid-late Feb. This guy can sing. See him live - he gives like 150% and has a lot of fun performing. Glad to see this commercial shining a light on New Orleans!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Honoring Dr. King

I really like what the Brian Lehrer show does to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. They ask listeners to do a little homework and call in or post a one-minute reading by/about any other ethnic group than their own. Read some postings here.

I have two readings to share. The first is a passage from a book by one of my favorite authors ever, Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison's language is music for me; her words strip my own from reach, and quietly, nonconsciously sink down into my chest and make my eyes swell.

From Beloved:

"Something in the house braced, and in the listening quiet that followed Sethe spoke.

'I got a tree on my back and a haint in my house, and nothing in between but the daughter I am holding in my arms. No more running- from nothing. I will never run from another thing on this earth. I took one journey and I paid for the ticket, but let me tell you something, Paul D Garner: it cost too much! Do you hear me? It cost too much. Now sit down and eat with us or leave us be.' ...
Her back was to him and he could see all the hair he wanted without the distraction of her face...
'What tree on your back? Is something growing on your back? I don't see nothing growing on your back.'
'It's there all the same.'
'Who told you that?'
'Whitegirl. That's what she called it. I've never seen it and never will. But that's what she said it looked like. A chokecherry tree. Trunk, branches, and even leaves. Tiny little chokecherry leaves. But that was eighteen years ago. Could have cherries too now for all I know.' ...

Oh! I wish I could type out a few entire pages from this passage for you. The tiny details of the scene are so important to receiving the full weight of the story, the nuances of the interaction between Sethe and Paul D. Please read Beloved if you haven't already. I think I'm going to start re-reading it tonight.

Here's one other thing to share. You've probably heard it before, but it's so powerful that it's another one that merits re-reading. It's by the German Pastor Martin Niemöller:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Excited for Nikki Jean

I think I first heard of Nikki Jean (and her Philly band Nouveau Riche) from ?uestlove's blog a couple years ago. I like her sound *and* her spirit outside of the music, and so I was really excited to see that Lupe Fiasco put her on his new album (which is really pretty good overall if you haven't heard it yet -- better than Food & Liquor). Anyway, check out Nikki Jean's reaction to Lupe's album coming out. This is what I mean about how likable she is!!!

It's You! It's Me! And There's Dancing!

TGIF! courtesy of Los Campesinos!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Morning Jacket Announce Release Date, Shows

Thanks for this good news, Pitchfork. I've missed My Morning Jacket. Z was awesome.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I Like That He Cut Out His Face From the Video

The man can play guitar, and he has a great ear. JT's "I Think She Knows Interlude" really is "ultimate sonic bliss...awesomeness". It's just JM's faces/his stupid mouth that make me ill. So this video is cropped perfectly! (and miracle of miracles, he doesn't say/sing a word through the whole 2+ minutes!) Enjoy the guitar.

From his blog:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's Getting to the Point Where I'm No Fun Anymore

I heard this song in the movie We Are Marshall last night, and it was like I had forgotten it existed and felt so grateful to be reminded. Actually it was more like randomly running into one of your best friends from your suburban US hometown while in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain (that happened once too).

And the opening lyrics couldn't have been more appropriate for how I have been feeling.

I used to listen to this over and over in high school and early college. It's my favorite CSNY song. When my Aunt Lynn passed away, I got a lot of her cds. Music was my deepest connection to her. She used to listen to WXPN in Philly, and it opened up my mind to something beyond Q102 and Power 99 and Y100. All the CSNY albums I own were hers. And she wasn't just into older music from her youth. She also appreciated Alanis Morissette before I could feel safe singing along to some of those early angry lyrics without watching my back for my dad listening. Ahh... my fearful, careful adolescence. But, that's another post.

Anyway, thank you, Aunt Lynn. Thanks for being a lasting positive influence in my life.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Adele = WOW

Kanye gets credit for cluing me into this amazing new artist out of the UK too (man, this week is all about British female soulful voices for me, isn't it?). She has an album coming out later this month (in the UK). You can get a free mp3 for this song "Hometown Glory" if you subscribe to her mailing list via her website. See Mr. West's blog again for a cool video she has for another new song, "Chasing Pavements".

American Boy - Estelle Feat. Kanye West

Check out this song posted on Kanye's blog. Estelle is the first artist John Legend (Stephens) signed to his new label, Homeschool Records.

I really dig this song. It's Will.I.Am produced (which makes it more pop crossover than typical hip hop or soul) and is the perfect combo of 80s/Euro pop sound (happy bop bop for RMW & Arik), jazzy/funky vocal styling, amusing/catchy lyrics (from both Kanye & Estelle actually)... just a really cool concoction of influences from probably every talented person involved (Estelle herself, John Legend, Will.I.Am, and Kanye at the least). I don't always like Will.I.Am stuff so much b/c some of it gets really boring in its commerciality. When he gets it right, though, he gets it really right, and this one's a hit for sure.

UPDATE: You can download a copy of this song here, thanks to!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It's Okay, Fellow Obama Supporters

Since music is political even (maybe especially?) when it's not at all explicitly so (see this if you need further convincing), I hope you'll forgive me for hijacking this music blog for a quick political comment. The NH election is on my mind, and for anyone who's curious about how I've made sense of the surprise results, I wanted to direct you to my reply to my friend Julianne's (different) reaction.

p.s. in explicitly musical AND political news, I love that Obama digs Jay-Z & his great American Gangster album (he's just like me! ;) ).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Live "Love Like This" - Natasha Bedingfield

She sang this on one of the NYE shows, and it was so good. I can't stand how they computerize her voice on the studio version, and I don't really think Sean Kingston adds much to that version, frankly. It's better with drums/a full band than completely acoustic/bare like this version, but still, check out this voice and melody:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bubbles & Omar Are Back Tonight

To get even more excited than you already should be for tonight's debut of The Wire Season 5, read Julianne's awesome blog on the premiere party Fri. night.

FYI: Time Warner Cable NYC is running a special right now where you can get HBO free for a month. Don't miss out on the best show on television (ever?).

P.S. NY mag has a couple of short little interviews w/ Bubbles, Omar, and Marlo too.