Archive for February, 2013

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for bands that play hip-hop over live instruments.  Combine a smooth hip-hop flow with heavy rock/alternative/punk music and you get yourself a fan who will even write about your new album in his music blog.  Washington, D.C. based RDGLDGRN (pronounced Red Gold Green) has done just that on their new Red Gold Green EP.  Although RDGLDGRN’s sound is not quite as unique as they seem to think (see Gym Class Heroes), it does successfully combine their eclectic mix of influences which includes The Beatles, Vampire Weekend, Outkast and Bad Brains.  This sound has already caught the attention of music heavyweights Dave Grohl and Pharrell Williams who contributed to Red Gold Green during its recording at the legendary Sound City Studios.  Pharrell co-wrote and co-produced the track “Doing the Most” while Grohl was so impressed that he decided to play drums on all four tracks.  You can catch them this summer on the Van’s Warped Tour.

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Spotify has just released the exclusive “The Soundtrack of My Life” playlist created by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Legendary Music Industry Executive Clive Davis as an accompaniment to his recently released memoir of the same title.  What makes this different from other celebrity playlists is that each song is preceded by audio commentary by Davis himself explaining the significance and facts about the songs.  Did you know that Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” was originally an upbeat song titled “Brandy” that was changed because they wanted to release it as a single but there were 2 other singles titled “Brandy” out at the time.  Or that Clive Davis had to re-write the lyrics to Air Supply’s “All Out of Love” because the original contained too many Australian terms that the American audience wouldn’t understand.  The 20 songs themselves are a greatest hits of music collection by artists from Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen and Dionne Warwick to TLC, Puff Daddy and Alicia Keys that makes great listening even without the commentary.

Spotify playlists are proof that the Mix Tape is not dead.  Everybody should create their own “Soundtrack To My Life” playlist.  Mine already has 340 songs and each has a related story that I could tell about how I saw it performed entirely by the audience because the PA system crashed (Jane’s Addiction – “Jane Says”) or how I saw it performed on a street corner by an, at the time, unknown band who would win a Grammy 10 years later (The Roots – “Pass The Popcorn”) or how when I was in high school and feeling depressed I would pick myself up by putting on head phones and turning it up so loud that I’m surprised I still have my hearing (Metallica – “One”).  Cheers to Spotify for coming up with new ideas and this exclusive content that gives more reasons for people to subscribe.  Let’s hope that they continue to work with artists and other important people in music to create more of these “Storytellers” type commentary filled playlists.  And if they’re reading this I’m ready to create commentary for all 340 of my songs in the “Soundtrack To My Life”.  You know where to find me

Clive Davis’ “The Soundtrack of My Life” with commentary

My “Soundtrack To My Life” (Sorry no commentary yet)

On February 4, 2013 music lost an amazing and influential artist.  Jazz Master trumpeter Donald Byrd has passed at the age of 80.   You don’t think you know who Donald Byrd is?  Well I bet you do even if you are not a jazz fan.  His music has been sampled in over 100 hip-hop songs including Nas “NY State of Mind” and A Tribe Called Quest “Footprints”.  He has performed in traditional jazz, acid jazz, R&B, soul and hip hop groups.  He has performed with all of the jazz greats and was a teacher and mentor to artists such as Herbie Hancock.  Byrd began playing his hard bop style of trumpet in the 1950s and continued as a performer, band leader and producer for almost 60 years.  In the 1970s he adapted to the changing face of music and started the jazz-fusion, R&B group The Blackbyrds along with some of his students from Howard University with whom he had a Grammy nominated hit song “Walking in Rhythm”.  Admittedly I did not become a fan of Byrd until his 1993 collaboration with Guru on the album Jazzmatazz Vol. 1 playing a sweet trumpet backing to Guru’s smooth rap on “Loungin'”.  Byrd was an extremely well educated man who knew the importance of sharing his knowledge through teaching.  He had an undergraduate degree from Wayne State University, a Master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music, and both a law degree and doctorate in teaching from Columbia University.  Throughout the years he taught at more than 10 colleges including Cornell University, Rutgers University where he was the first jazz teacher, and Howard University where he founded the jazz program.  Although he is no longer with us, his legacy will live on through his own music as well as his influence on so many other artists (and samples in their songs).  I encourage you to spend some time exploring his works.

If you’re like me and don’t want to deal with the craziness of Coachella you can stay right here in Vegas and catch some of the highlight bands playing at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas during the Spring Concert Series (I prefer the unofficial name No-Chella) April 10-20, 2013.  Currently 7 nights of shows and 13 bands are booked.  We can only assume (hope) that one more big name (Lumineers? Jurassic 5? Modest Mouse? Gaslight Anthem?) is added to the currently open Saturday of the first weekend.  Show I’m most excited for: Of Monsters and Men with Local Natives.  Great job Cosmo.  You’re giving us hope for a solid summer lineup

4/10 – Phoenix with Mac Demarco @ Boulevard Pool
4/11 – New Order with Johnny Mar @ Boulevard Pool
4/12 – Vampire Weekend with Tanlines @ Boulevard Pool
4/17 – Of Monsters and Men with Local Natives @ Boulevard Pool
4/18 – Hot Chip with Four Tet @ Boulevard Pool
4/19 – Postal Service @ Chelsea Ballroom
4/20 – Band of Horses with Jake Bugg @ Boulevard Pool

It’s difficult for me to call The Mowgli’s new music because I have known them for quite a while as a part of The Collective CA along with my friends and family The Jane Does and D. Hollywood.  Although their debut EP Love’s Not Dead (Listen on Spotify) was released in fall 2012 they are just now starting to break out.  If you’re from the Bay Area you may know their single “San Francisco” as the unofficial theme song of the San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series run.  Soon many more of you will know them as they have been added to the SiriusXM Alt Nation rotation.  Expect to see them fly up the Alt-18 Countdown chart in the next few weeks.  They are playing fun, folk pop at the right time to follow in the successful footsteps of bands like Grouplove, Edward Sharpe, and Ball Park Music.  They also recently released the official video for “San Francisco” and they kick off a US tour along with Family of the Year on March 23 at the Spring Jam Music Fest in Charleston, SC.  Don’t be surprised to see their summer filled with appearances on the festival circuit.  If you want some happy feel good music, support the band by picking up their album and buying your concert tickets now.  And while you’re at it, check out the rest of the great The Collective CA bands.

Check out The Mowgli’s Spring Tour Dates here.  Let’s hope for a Vegas addition soon!

Everybody always writes about the Best New Music.  Well what about the Worst New Music?  I think I have officially found the worst “music” my poor ears have ever endured.  Spin Magazine just listed Pharkamon as one of the 5 Best New Artists of February 2013.  I would love to have seen the reaction in the room when this song was played as a suggested inclusion in the article.  And I would love to know what the editors were smoking, drinking, injecting, and popping all at the same time when they agreed that this could even be considered music let alone be considered “The Best” of anything.  As I write this article I am attempting to listen to the entire 12 minutes, 2 seconds of noise from the below YouTube video of one of New Yorker, Margaret Chardiet’s performances.  I am at the 9 minute mark right now and I can feel the warm trickle of blood pouring out of my ears.  I have chills, my stomach is turning and my head is pounding.  I challenge you to hit play and try to not to turn it off before you finish reading this.  I can only think to classify this genre as Electro-Noise-Scream.  Also known as What-The-Fuck-Is-This-Crap-I’m-Listening-To.  The most exciting part of the Spin Article was the explanation of how you cannot find her album anywhere because she has recorded it fully from scratch twice and (thank whatever Deity you pray to) has decided not to release it.   The only thing scarier than this music is the fact there are probably thousands of jet black haired, black eyeliner and black nail polished, black trench coat wearing Goth kids out there waiting impatiently for the album to be released.  If any law enforcement officials are reading this I encourage you to go to the comment section on YouTube and put every author of a positive comment on a watch list.  One of them will leave their parent’s basement eventually and kill multiple people with homemade explosives.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  The video has finally ended and my body is starting to recover.  I have found music’s rock-bottom and there is nowhere to go but up.  I think I will listen to a Nicki Minaj song right now because this is the only time I will ever enjoy hearing her auto-tuned, whiny voice.  “Ahhhhh……..Moment 4 Life” – thankfully signed, My Ears.