Archive for the 'Rock' Category

…And We’re Back

If it serves as any indication of just how long it’s been since this site has been updated, I actually had to reset my wordpress password because I’d forgotten it. Like the other contributing members of this music community, as curator I too have been pretty sidetracked with life as of late (like…studying in Argentina, for instance). However, I was inspired to resurrect the blog after a couple of recent occurrences prompted me to action, namely the due recognition a friend of mine is receiving for his excellent new blog – – along with some coincidental inquires about the fate of this blog. Well…it IS still here! (Ironically, the site received thousands of hits in its months of inactivity. Why thank you, Google.)

That being said, how about turning to the business at hand: Music. And what an exciting time its been since the last post I made in May, 2010. Rather than the exhaustive process of covering all that’s happened, I’m going to focus this post on two emergent artists that I strongly feel are going to have significant breakouts in 2011: Tame Impala and Toro y Moi.

Tripped Out, Mate

Let’s start with the Aussies. Based out of Perth, Tame Impala is one of the newest members representing the neo-psychedelia movement taking place in Western Australia, along with other bands like Parades, Red Riders, and Wolf & Cub. While they’ve been fairly well known in their own country since their EP release in 2008, it was only recently with the release of Tame Impala’s debut LP “Innerspeaker” early last year that they began generating serious chatter in the US. I first stumbled upon the band while cruising around last year and was immediately drawn to the group’s vintage psychedelic sound. Listening through the tracks’ grooving, washed-out guitars and deliberately crafted synth riffs harkened mental comparisons to Cream’s Disraeli Gears. Indeed, Impala’s achievement of such a classic 60’s sound made more sense when I learned that the band recorded the album in a strictly analog studio. Now that’s doing it right. And lyrically, the band’s spacey and cryptic song-writing adds additional intrigue. There is one line in particular from the track “Solitude is Bliss” that I think helps sum up their sentiments quite nicely; “There’s a party in my head and no one is invited.” Although paradoxically, Tame Impala’s 11  track odyssey gives us listeners ample opportunity to spectate. Enjoy the vibes and be on the look out for the hype to surround this artist in the months to come. I suggest checking out the singles “It’s not meant to be” and “Lucidity” for starters.


Too Hip

Completely switching gears, I’d also like to draw attention to the emergent artist Toro y Moi. Toro y Moi is the stage name used by electronic artist Chazwick Bundick, who at just 23 years old is one of the rising stars in experimental electronic music. A South Carolinian native, Bundick draws much of his influence from his parent’s multi-ethnic Phillipino and Black heritage, especially in the extensive vinyl and tape collections they amassed while being part of the underground NY music scene in the late 70’s . Upon listening, it is transparent that Bundick has a talented ability to fuse together a rich pallet of diverse elements, making his music a bit hard to singularly define (although it has been associated by some critics to the chillwave movement of summer 2009). For me at least, the ambient nature of his music broadly sounds like a flowing mixture of Passion Pit’s pop aesthetics (at least lyrically) with the laid-back background textures of Bonobo and some of the pulsating syncopation of Flying Lotus. If that sounds intriguing, that’s because it is. Toro y Moi’s debut 2010 album Causers of This is an excellent debut effort. From the beginning of the first track, “Blessa,” Toro y Moi’s Causers of This takes on an almost dream-like quality, perrfect for some late night listens. But enough of my attempting to abstractly describe what it sounds like, you’re just going to have to experience it for yourself!



*Note: I realize many of the links below have stopped functioning; I’ll work on updating them in the next few days

The King Khan & BBQ Show // King Khan & The Shrines

I love The Beach Boys. I love Otis Redding. I love Iggy Pop. Many a night I have laid in bed, dreaming of how glorious it would be if they had a threesome and miraculously produced one singular musical entity. My dream has come true. I give you: THE KING KHAN & BBQ SHOW aka KING KHAN & THE SHRINES.

Originally from Montréal, QC (and called ‘The King Khan & BBQ Show’) but currently based in Berlin and called ‘King Khan & The Shrines,’ — you know what, on second thought, I don’t really have anything to say about them or their history. I listened to these albums on vinyl at my friend’s house last weekend, and I just managed to get copies of them for myself today. Their music tells a completely different history than that of the musicians themselves. I don’t want them to be from Berlin or Montréal. I want them to be from a garage in 1962 Detroit.

I’m too excited about this right now to write anything poignant, but I also don’t think this music needs any great words to describe it. It’s low-fi, it’s full of soul, and it makes you feel good inside — that’s really all that needs to be said.

The King Khan & BBQ Show (2004)


Invisible Girl (2009)


The Supreme Genius of King Khan & The Shrines (2008)


Long live soul.


Selling Out

I can’t stand Supertramp. Well, that isn’t entirely true…I just can’t stand the Supertramp that most people know. You know, the “Dreamer” and “Breakfast in America” Supertramp. I mean there are a couple popular songs that are pretty decent, like “School” and “Rudy,” but for the most part the band created nothing but crap after 1970. The reason I’m going on this tirade? Supertramp is THE biggest sell out artist I know.

In 1970, there was a band called Supertramp that released a self-titled debut album that was incredible. It was a raw and unique pioneer in the relatively new genre of progressive rock. Its songs featured intelligently structured and stimulating instrumental breakdowns with powerful and driving lyrics. Now, compare this album to the band’s highly produced and often cheesy 1974 release Crime of the Century. The albums sound like they came from completely different artists. Cementing this fact is the coincidence that Crime of the Century was actually released in the United States before the 1970 debut album. When Supertramp- the album was finally released in the US in 1975, people hated it because they had grown accustomed to the band they knew from Crime of the Century. Two entirely different bands. Because that’s basically what happened. Supertramp gave into their producers and morphed into a band that wrote music that sold rather than unleashing their true musical abilities. That’s why I can’t listen to the studio bitch “Supertramp” everyone knows, because it’s not really supertramp.

Supertramp's 1970 Debut

Just look at that album cover – totally retro and definitely not aiming towards being commercially successful. I love it. In this self-titled debut, you can hear a young band pushing themselves towards new musical boundaries, leading an obscure and uncharted progressive movement along with other artists like King Crimson. It is a strange world to be sure, at times serenely subdued and at other times angry and aggressive. But most importantly, it feels right – a group working from their true roots and reveling in the music they are creating together. Sit back and enjoy a treat not many are even aware of. Highlights include “It’s a long road,” “Maybe I’m a beggar,” “Nothing to show,” and “Try Again.” It’s a unfortunate and sad story when artists sell out but at least there’s always that all-too-short period when their music was authentic right?



Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak

Ted Leo

Ted Leo may be one of the best accidental secrets to hit the rock scene in the past decade or so. While he has successfully evaded much mainstream attention (with the possible exception of single “Me and Mia”), Leo continues to pump out album after album of great, catchy, pop-driven rock sing-alongs. Having dabbled in dub reggae, alternative rock, folk, and other genres, Leo has mastered the art of constructing well-written melodies into undeniable anthems.

This is largely evident on Hearts of Oak, the band’s third proper album (although their first release [tej leo(?), Rx / pharmacists] was largely a solo effort). Here, we get to see Leo’s potential as a songwriter and a one-man music machine, proving the power of a singer’s voice paired with a jangly guitar. With one listen to “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?”, you’ll be hard-pressed not to get your toes tapping. Go ahead, try it out.

“Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?” by Ted Leo & The Pharmacists

With a constantly-growing number of fans, it’ll be a miracle if they’re not playing to massive crowds in a couple of years. Until then, Ted Leo and crew will keep rocking the basements and smaller club shows for those lucky enough to experience it.


If you’re interested, I’d recommend checking them out on tour in the coming months (dates posted below), and don’t forget to keep an eye out for the new album, The Brutalist Bricks, due out March 9th.

3/11/2010 Cleveland OH Grog Shop
3/12/2010 Pontiac MI The Crofoot
3/13/2010 Chicago IL Bottom Lounge
3/14/2010 Madison WI High Noon Saloon
3/15/2010 Minneapolis MN First Avenue
3/19/2010 Seattle WA Neumo’s
3/20/2010 Portland OR Doug Fir Lounge (21+)
3/21/2010 Portland OR Doug Fir Lounge (all ages matinee)
3/23/2010 San Francisco CA Great American Music Hall
3/27/2010 Los Angeles CA Troubadour
4/4/2010 Atlanta GA The Masquerade
4/5/2010 Carrboro NC Cat’s Cradle
4/7/2010 Philadelphia PA First Unitarian Church
4/8/2010 Washington DC 930 Club
4/9/2010 New York NY Irving Plaza
4/10/2010 Boston MA Paradise


Jeff Buckley – “Live at Sin-é”

Jeff Buckley. I honestly have no idea where to start – there’s so much you could say about his music, but it would be like describing food: you can tell someone in great detail how something tastes, but it doesn’t come close to capturing the experience of eating a perfectly seared filet mignon. Jeff Buckley is that filet mignon.

This is a genius who died young. He only released one studio album before his untimely death in 1997, at the age of 30 (he drowned while going for a swim in the Wolf River in Memphis, TN). Beyond a shadow of a doubt, 1994’s “Grace” is my pick for best album of that decade; it’s absolutely flawless. His distinct and incredible vocals soar on each track, his guitar work and composition is insanely original yet familiar, and he manages to go everywhere from a 1504 Middle English hymn to crushing grunge. His recording of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is one of the most iconic and emotional recordings of all time; you’ve heard it before, trust me. All in all, “Grace” is a perfect studio album in every single way.

This is not that album. I’ll write about that album some other time, but this is Jeff Buckley, the man, captured on two discs.

“Live at Sin-é” is a recording of a gig he played on July 19, 1993 at a café in New York’s East Village called Sin-é (Irish for “That’s It”). The most endearing thing about Jeff is the rawness and conviction of his voice, and there’s no better setting for it or recording of it than this album. No band here; just Jeff strumming a borrowed Telecaster in a small café. Most of the tracks from “Grace” are performed here in their early states, along with covers of everyone you’d never think of: Van Morrison, Nina Simone, Billie Holliday, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Led Zeppelin. His guitar playing is simple, emotional, and controlled, while his vocals will send shivers down your spine. He sings a traditional Pakistani Qawwali devotional, in Urdu, for God’s sakeI feel that Jeff Buckley was always at the peak of his short-lived career. This recording, then, captures him at the very top of that peak.

If this doesn’t give you goosebumps, I give up.




Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton

I just recently found this gem and I know a few of you classic rock lovers on here will really appreciate this…

In 1963, John Mayall — one of the most influential blues singer/composer/instrumentalist in history — decided to form John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, a talented group that included John Mayall on…more than one instrument, John McVie on bass, and Hughie Flint on drums. What made this group great though was when legendary Eric Clapton decided to leave the Yardbirds for his love of blues, and thus this album: Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton.

“Apart from being one of the most overall influential albums in blues-rock history, it was likely the first time anyone had heard a Gibson Les Paul guitar through an overdriven Marshall amplifier; this unique sound would become particularly influential. The re-introduction of the Les Paul by Gibson was largely fueled by the blues boom that so often featured it. Clapton’s incendiary playing inspired graffiti saying “Clapton is God” on the streets of London around the time of the album’s release.” – wiki 🙂

Not to mention if you like this album, then check out the rest of this band’s discography as well. After Clapton left, Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac joined in, then Mick Taylor of Rolling Stones to name a couple.

Hope you all enjoy this classic. It’s got such songs as “All Your Love”, “Hideaway”, “Another Man”.

aka "The Beano Album"

Download Here



Decided to throw out another interesting trend that’s been brewing in England (and elsewhere) and that’s math rock. I know, it sounds strange and probably brings back bad memories of your elementary school teachers attempting to make learning the multiplication table fun, but it’s actually pretty cool. Math rock is an experimental style based on complex rhythms and variable tempos- usually driven by guitar and drums. Unlike most rock music, which uses 4/4 time signatures, math rock prides itself on incorporating unconventional time sigs like 11/8 and 13/8 and then throwing them in unique groupings. Some bands (I dont think foals does..) even use equations and scientific formulas to structure their music. Interesting stuff to be sure.

Foals is a newer project of Jack Beven and Yannis Philippakas, who together used to head the cult math rock band The Edmund Fitzgerald. The album I’m posting is Foals’ debut Antidotes, which came out sometime in 2008. It’s among the more stylistically interesting experiments I’ve heard in the last few years and I had a fun time (failing) to pick out the time signatures. Not a fan of every song on here, like “Cassius,” but there are some great tracks like “Heavy Water,” “Big Big Love,” “Red Sock Purgie.” So here’s some music all you science majors can enjoy.  -Chris


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