Archive for February, 2009


Fleet Foxes – ST


Can anyone tell me what purpose the Grammy Awards serve anymore?

I’m sure there was a time that they were kind of like the Oscars for music, giving out their trophies to artists and musicians who really pushed the boundaries and put forth some truly stunning works of art.  But now, not so much.

The Grammy committee  is the brain dead entity that nominates the worst or most mediocre in the music world…largely for their own self aggrandizing reasons. Lets take a look at what they awarded this year starting with Best New Artist, which went to  Adele.

Now I like Adele, and think she has a lot of promise, but Best New Artist???  In what universe?  I have to assume that those who did the voting didn’t listen to much last year…especially since they also nominated The Jonas Brothers.

Moving on to Album of the Year, Allison Kraus and Robert Plant’s collaboration “Raising Sand” took top honors there, proving to myself and the rest of the music loving world that the prerequisite age for voting is somewhere north of 50.  Combine this with the addition of worthless sub-categories like “Best Album Notes” and “Best Album Packaging” and you have an enormous waste of time dedicated to the industry’s love of patting themselves on their collective backs.

And one of their biggest crimes for 2008 was their complete omission of what was undeniably one of the best albums of the year…the self titled first full length from Fleet Foxes.

Singer/guitar player Robin Pecknold met guitarist Skyler Skjelset while both were attending Lake Washington High in the Seattle suburbs.  Bonding over a shared love of artists like Bob Dylan and Neil young, the two began playing together regularly during lunch hours and after school in the parents basement. In fact, it was the influence of their parents vast music collections that inspired their sound. But it wasn’t until 2006 that the music left the basement and made it’s way onto the Seattle music scene.

By then Pecknold had stepped into the position of singer/songwriter, and together with Skjelset began sifting through their already substantial catalogue of songs…trashing and rehashing until their sound began to cohere.  By then they had picked up a few extra personnel from the local scene with Casey Wescott on keys, Christian Wargo on bass, and Joshua Tillman on drums. Their sound caught the ear of family friend Phil Ek, who from the first listen knew he had something special, and he helped the band cobble together their first demo “Fleet Foxes” in late 2006.

In 2007, their popularity on the Seattle music scene and their mounting pile of songs led to the decision to record the now infamous “Sun Giant EP.” It was less of an album and more a CD to sell as they headed of on tour.  The tour began to spread the word of Fleet Foxes at places like SXSW and over the internet when they were finally signed to Sub Pop and began to record their first full length album. But time, and money was tight..and most tracks ended up recorded in members apartments or the infamous Pecknold basement.  The result was released shortly after the reissue of “Sun Giant” in 2008.

Filled with soaring melodies and ethereal harmonies, “Fleet Foxes” evokes a spirit of a bygone era of musical craftsmanship…think Crosby, Stills and Nash mixed with Animal Collective and a dash of old Neil Young.  Actually, upon listening to it, you’ll hear a lot of influences.  But Fleet Foxes manages to pull them all together into an organic woven sound that makes for a good listen.  Add to that the fact that this is one of the first albums that I’ve heard in years that sounds like it was meant to be listened to as a whole.

If you missed out on these guys last year, catch up now before their next album drops later this year.  That way you can act like you knew all along.



wowsserIt’s been a long week…and it’s gonna be a long weekend too.  Which is why I haven’t up posted this week. 

Sorry ’bout that…but I come bearing gifts!

In the meantime, help spread the holiday love with a free download of the Marvin Gaye classic “Let’s Get it On” from Amazon.  Yay Amazon!  Grab it now, cause it’s only free till Saturday night.

And for those of you who haven’t located a copy of that Vontel album, you might want to check my update!



Ozomatli – ST


I don’t go out to see bands that often…at least not as often as I should.  So when I got invited to check out the house band:  Ozomatli at Club Dragonfly back in the late 90’s, I almost didn’t go.

Luckily it was a couple of hot girls who invited me, so I ended up going anyways.  I had no idea who Ozomatli was and, if nothing else, I figured if I’d just sat through the band I might get some action.

Well, I never got any action since the girl I was hitting on wouldn’t stop bringing up her ex-boyfriend.  But what I witnessed on stage that night was nothing short of magic.  It’s only happened a few times in my life, where you see a group perform and say to yourself “Holy Shit!  These guys are going to be big!”  I think the only other occasion was seeing the early incarnation of the Black Eyed Peas…pre-Fergie.

I even bought a CD right then and there.

Let me break Ozo’s set down for you. The house lights go down, the house DJ shuts off the music and the band begins to play.  But not on stage.  No, the band starts off on the back patio.  Every member is playing a horn, banging a drum or shaking a shaker.  The whole group winds it’s way though the club, through the crowd to the stage as they play before they all take their places and explode into their first song.  They play an amazing set of pure Los Angeles Latin sounds, then make their way back out into the crowd where they form a drum circle of sorts and keep playing for another song or two with the whole crowd going nuts around them.  What’s even better is that I’ve seen them numerous times over the past ten years and they still do the crowd thing.

That only makes me love them more.

The band takes their name from the Aztec god of dance, fire, the new harvest and music…which is fitting considering their multi racial line up and sound. Originally formed to play at a labor protest, the band took in all the sounds of Los Angeles: Hip hop, Latin, rock, reggae, funk, salsa and cumbia to name a few.

If LA needed a band as diverse as it was, Ozomatli was it.

The six core members of the band are Asdru Sierra (lead vocals, trumpet), Raul Pacheco (lead vocals, guitar, tres, jarana), Justin Poree (rap vocals,percussion), Wil-dog Abers (bass, backing vocals), Jiro Yamaguchi (tabla, percussion, backing vocals) and Ulises Bella (sax, clarinet, requinto jaracho, keyboards, backing vocals). (Thanks WIKI!) From album to album though, the lineup fluxuates from anywhere from seven to ten members, with members and elements added and subtracted like a tide.

The line up I got to see in the beginning included Jurassic 5 members Chali 2-Na and Cut Chemist…both of whom left after the first album to pursue J5 related requirements. But even with the loss or gain of musicians, the band’s tone remained the same. They still rock the house, they’re still keeping up the social commentary and they’re still working hard to bring you the funk.  And the members who leave all seem to make a return sooner or later. The band’s website says they’re touring with Chali 2-Na again this spring.

That’s saying a lot considering how many acts simply fall apart after the loss of a few members, or how often the members leaving do so under negative terms.  But once you experience the energy that Ozomatli brings to the table, it’s kind of hard to imagine it being otherwise.

The CD I bought of the drummer on stage that night was simply a taste of the full length CD to come…simply titled Ozomatli. Filled with everything I mentioned above, it’s a party soundtrack for the kind of party where everyone wants to talk politics as much as they want to dance…and find a way to do both.

Even if you don’t like latin music, or listening to lyrics in spanish, this is the kind of album that might just convert you over.



%d bloggers like this: