Archive for April, 2009

30
Apr
09

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

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The problem with growing old is that the older you get the faster time seems to speed up.  Today my girlfriend commented that the first decade of the new millennium was almost over, and I had to pause a second before I realized that she was right.

How in the hell did that happen?  It seems like the Bush-9/11 years went by in such a rush…not that I’ll miss them. I remember when I was young and a night could last indefinitely, a year as a lifetime and a decade was forever.

It makes you wonder if it’s time that’s changing or merely our perception of it, although I’ll  put my money on the latter…and no other artist that  I know of has been able to capture that feeling of expanded time quite like Bruce Springsteen did in his 1975 masterpiece, “Born to Run.”

Born in 1949 in New Jersey, Bruce had a hard time relating in school, but like most music legends of the time he heard Elvis Presley and knew he had to rock…getting his first guitar at age 13 for a whopping $18.  Three years later his mother would take out a loan to buy him a $60 Kent.  He languished in High School…never really fitting in to the point that he skipped his own graduation.  He spent some time in community college before deciding that school wasn’t for him and dropping out.  In 1965 he went to a local couple with a reputation for sponsoring new young bands, Tex and Marion Vinyard, who got him his first gig as head of a group called The Castiles where he was lead guitar…and soon became lead singer as well.

BY the late 60’s he was making waves with a power rock trio called Earth, where he earned his nickname “The Boss” for being the guy in charge of getting the bands money from the club owners and distributing it to the band.  Let it be noted that Bruce hates this nickname, so if you run into him try and refrain from calling him “The Boss” since he hates bosses. From 1969 to 1970 he played with a band called Steel Mill which included many future members of the E Street Band, but despite great reviews and a cult following in New Jersey Bruce was not satisfied.  He was a man in search of a sound who wouldn’t stop till he found it.

For the next few years he formed a number of bands as he hunted the sound and formed his core band…groups like Dr Zoom and the Sonic Boom, the Sundance Blues Band, and The Bruce Springsteen Band.  As word of his talent grew, he garnered the attention of Columbia records who signed him in 1972.

In the studio, Springsteen brought out the still yet to be named E Street Band to help record his debut album “Greetings From Ashbury Park, NJ” The album was a critical success, but was easily dismissed by many to be just another Dylan or Van Morrison knock off.  In 1973 he released his next album “The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle” with the songs getting bigger and better and the band hitting a more soulful R&B vibe.  But as much critical acclaim as he was gathering…commercial viability still alluded Bruce and it was slowly draining him.

But in early 1974 Bruce found a new ally in music critic Jon Landau, who after seeing the band perform declared “I saw the future of rock and roll, and it’s name is Bruce Springsteen.”  Landau became Bruce’s new manger and the producer who would help him finish his last chance album “Born to Run.”  Bruce was given a huge budget but had gotten bogged down in the studio searching for the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” feel. It took 14 months to record the album, with six of those months devoted to the title track alone.  A release of an early mix of the album to progressive rock stations was already beginning to grow the buzz, and Bruce was determined to get it right…becoming angry and frustrated by the fact he couldn’t translate the sounds in his head to the recording.  Steven Van Zandt came in the nick of time to help Springsteen polish his sound and get some of the sounds in his head on tape, but even the finished product didn’t please Bruce who chucked the album into an alley.

Luckily it didn’t stay there.  On August 13th, 1975 Bruce and the E Street Band began a five night ten show run at the Bottom Line Club in New York.  Broadcast on FM radio, the shows silenced any detractors once and for all and let everyone know that Bruce Springsteen was the real thing.  When the album dropped a few weeks later, the commercial success he had been searching for finally arrived with it.

I always knew I liked Springsteen, I just didn’t know much about him growing up because my sisters really didn’t listen to him and that was my only influx of modern music in the house.  Now after years of listening I feel safe pointing all non believers in the direction of this album because it’s such a pure example of  rock and roll.  I defy you to listen to it and not feel good.  Some may say “Darkness on the Edge of Town” was a better album, and I’d be inclined to agree with them…but it just doesn’t make you feel like “Born to Run.”

BTW: These videos are from Bruce’s performance at the Hammersmith Odeon Theater from November of 1975.  You should own that too.

I’m just sayin.

18
Apr
09

Kutiman – ThruYOU

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I was walking down second street with my lady the other week when we spotted this nutterholding a sign that said something along the lines of “REPENT!  GOD KILLS!”  Then there was some sort of website you could visit for more insanity I guess.

While I admired his guts to just stand on the street corner and let his freak flag fly, I was also amused with the flip side of the sign that read “Little Wayne is the Antichrist!”  Now, I can’t say I like Little Wayne’s musical stylings that much…but the antichrist?

Really?

You’ve probably heard me deride the current state of hip hop, and I think Little Wayne may be a part of said problem.  But as I’ve always said…DJ’s invented hip hop, and it’s the DJ’s who will save it.  And my newest DJ savior comes to us in the form of Israeli DJ Kutiman.  Yeah I know taht for most of the Internets, this is not new news, but for me this is what this site is all about.

See, original hip hop was all about taking something old and making something completely new from it.  That’s the essence of hip hop.  Now, I’ve been waiting for something like this to come along since I first heard of the advent of DVD turntables…and more recently the new video functionality on Serato.  But Kutiman gets the proverbial X-Prize for reaching the mountaintop first…with his groundbreaking work ThruYou.

Kutiman, real name Ophir Kutiel,  has been making electronic  music for some time now.  He grew up playing music …mostly classical jazz until college radio and a friend introduced him to AfrobBeat and Funk…I have his earlier work and it’s pretty funky. So anyhow he was hanging out…putting together some tracks, just chillin when he realized he needed a bass line.  Not wanting the prepackaged sounds of the music programs on hand, he decided to take a look on YouTube.

If you’ve spent an obscene amount of time on YouTube, you may have seen some of these videos.  Just some guy and a camera giving a music lesson, jamming solo or something of the like.  The site is lousy with em. So anyways, he finds his bass clip..and he’s pretty stoked on it.  Then he realizes he needs a drum track and heads back to YouTube when it struck him…

Why go anywhere else?  Here it all was.  Videos of people from all over playing, jamming, singing…and he had the editing software that could tie it all together into a cohesive whole!

Compiled and produced over the course of two months, it was Ophir’s secret project.  He planned on having a big debut, sending out links to only twenty of his friends.  But his friends were not good at keeping a secret…and once something is on the web…it’s pretty much there to stay.  Through Twitter, Facebook and email it spread.

For me, ThruYOU is more than an album, but in experiment in almost global collaboration.  He gave credit to every single artist he used…and so far none have complained about the attention. This album simply couldn’t have existed fifteen years ago…it couldn’t exist without YouTube and it couldn’t exist without the Internet. Even  as I sit here writing about it, I’m adding a little bit more to the project.

What’s more is that it’s an album that isn’t meant to be owned…it simply exists on the Internet.  It belongs to everyone.

ThruYOU is one of those things that arrives incidentally one day and shows you just how far we’ve come…and how much farther we have to go.  I hope it sets off a brush fire of new music and collaboration.  It can only mean good things for us all.

15
Apr
09

Lykke Li – Youth Novels

lykkeGood news for my living room!  the closet guy is here and installing my brand new closet as I write this!

This is great news for my stuff, since most of it has been living in my living room for the last month or so.  It’s even better news for me because i get my living room back!  Sure, I’ll miss the little trails I’ve made through the piles of crud, but soon that crud will be replaced by glorious, glorious space!

So, that’s one less thing to worry about I guess.  Next up, formatting my computer!

Yeah, that’s gonna be a hoot.

So I was thinking that I’ve been stuck in retro mode lately on the posts.  Not that old music is bad, but I feel like sping time is here and i should throw out some new ish for the folks…which brings me to our latest offering.  One of my top albums of 2008, Lykke Li’s “Youth Novels.”

Her real name is Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson (it’s a mouthful, I agree, but she’s Swedish and also a stone cold fox so I’m gonna let it pass) and was born in Sweden in 1986 to a painter mother and a musician father.  She moved around alot through her life, living on a Portugese mountaintop, Lisbon, Morocco and winters in India and Nepal.  All told it seems to have produced a well rounded young singer, although she says her sound was mostly influenced by the solitude in Sweden above all else.

In fact, growing up she didn’t want to be a singer…that came later.  All she knew was that she wanted to be an artist in something, and luckily for us she chose music.

She arrived in New York at age 19 for a three month visit and returned two years later to record this album under the production skills of Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John fame.  In 2007 she released the heavily slept on “Little Bit EP” that, if nothing else put her on the radar.  Of it’s four tracks, three ended up on “Youth Novels.”

I like a good pop female vocalist as much as the next guy, but really good new ones are hard to come by.  So when I picked up the album and tossed it into my play list for the day, I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did.  Dreamy vocals of liquid sunshine over sparse folksy beats make it as uplifting as it is intriguing.  You’ll hear dashes of psyche, electronic, rock  and indie sounds throughout the album…but the work still seems unified.

I’ve heard her compared to other Swedish imports like Robyn, but I kind of think she’s like a Swedish Feist more than anything else.  I’m gonna keep my fingers crossed she does a Sesame Street cameo as well…cause I love that shit.  Apparently Lykke Li is working on a second album at the moment, but says it’ll be a while before we hear any of it.

Until then I’ll be waiting!




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