Saturday, September 29, 2012

Through The Pretty Haze 

This week's offering literally sounds like autumn to my ears.  It's the pretty, tuneful and low-fi 'So Hard To See' by New York based trio Violens, who sound is "influenced by such disparate elements as Zombies-style 60s psych-pop, early 90s shoegaze, post-punk, and Miami freestyle.  What I hear most is the 60s psych-pop and the trippy 90s shoegaze (which itself is trippy and psychedlic mutant dance music)...  

Violens, who derive their name from a combination of 'violence' and 'violins,' formed in 2007 and spent a few years focused on live shows while dabbling in remixing,  composing runway scores, and editing mix tapes.  Their tight debut album followed in 2010, but it's their sophomore release, 'True', that caught my ear.  It's the best album of its kind since Film School's miraculous 'Fission' in early 2011...

This group is new enough not to have a Wikipedia page - but I culled their bio data from Allmusic and the band's own website.

There's no video, alas, for 'So Hard To See,' but here's a pair of clips for equally strong recent songs 'When To Let Go' and 'All Night Low'.. Enjoy!

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weakness For Whimsy 

Is Scotland the El Dorado of wit and whimsy?  For years I've admired Glasgow-based sextet Belle and Sebastian, who've breezed, grinned, and twinkled their way through nine nearly flawless albums over the past 17 years.  Today's song, 'Just, Just So To The Point,' is a smart, jazzy, rhythmic tune by that group's lead guitarist, Stevie Jackson, from his amusingly titled solo debut, '(I Can't Get No) Stevie Jackson)

Jackson has steadily grown into B&S's second most contributing songwriter, after frontman and twee visionary Stuart Murdoch... One critic noted, aptly that  Murdoch's compositions 'tend to be shorter and less introspective, opting for catchy 60s-style pop more often that the folky melancholia that defined B&S's early releases' 

Speaking of B&S, they're, once again, long overdue for a new album.. Once every four years isn't nearly enough....

Here's Stevie, acoustic, performing his single, 'Where Do All The Good Girls Go?


Here's Stevie performing 'Try Me' in the rain at Indietracks 2012 festival..

There's no video for our SOTW, but you can listen to it here, while staring at the man's charming album cover.......

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Brother In The Land of Hip-Hop

And Song of the Week bounds in a sixth season with the sweet, plaintive 'Thinking About You' by hip-hop/soul wunderkind Frank Ocean, who is making waves (pun intended) with minimal radio play, widespread critical acclaim, and word of mouth.  I'm also determined to keep this weekly rather than every 2 or 3 or 4 weeks - this year got very busy, but priorities are priorities!

Like D'Angelo and Maxwell in the mid-1990s, Frank Ocean plies an artful, smart blend of soulful make-out music and hip-hop attitude, three parts Luther Vandross and one part Jay-Z, if you will.  What's new in this mix is that Frank recently announced that his first, most intense love was...  a man!  This is a seismic event, for hip hop, but its swift acceptance in the milieu is also a weathervane of changing attitudes even in the most macho corners of today's world (like the many NFL stars who've supported gay marriage this year...)  

Born Christopher Francis 'Lonny' Breaux in Long Beach, California and raised in New Orleans, Frank Ocean burst on the scene as a ghost writer for the likes of Brandy, John Legend, and even Justin Bieber.  Playing with alternative hip-hop collectives, he released a mixtape two years ago that became a critical sensation and led to a series of singles, 'Novacaine,' 'Swim Good', and the cut that caught my attention, 'Songs About Women,' from a 2011 best-of critic's list.   His stunning debut album, 'Channel Orange,' dropped two months ago and is certainly among the year's very best albums..

Here's the video for 'Thinking About You.; Enjoy!
A few earlier singles: 'Novacaine': 'Swim Good':

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Sunday, September 02, 2012

Time For Hoochie-Coochie :-)

 I have to stand up and cheer when a 50-something singer from three decades back records a tune that's both awesome and unique.  Hats off, then, to Gloria Estefan, who's hit a late-inning home run this year with 'Hotel Nacional,' which blends 40s swing and 90s techno into a catchy, witty, toe-tapping delight.

The tune wins me over immeidately with its curious opening call to arms: 'It's time for hoochie-coochie.'   This is a  wonderful wink at Charo, the scantily clad, buoyant and bosomy 60s and 70s talk-show staple who played the dumb Latin bombshell but was actually whip-smart and an accomplishment flamenco guitarist.  Charo was also a teenager married to septugenarian bandleader Xavier Cugat. 

Estefan racked up a #1 hit with this both in the clubs worldwide and on US Latin radio; the tune came to my attention when I caught it on Brazilian television...

Icing on the cake: the delightful video heavily spoofs 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' with slight hints of 'La Cage Aux Folles' and 'Some Like It Hot'... Enjoy!

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