Archive for February, 2011

A Hawk and a Hacksaw – Délivrance

Posted in Folk on February 24, 2011 by

Indie Folk; 2009


A Hawk and a Hacksaw is a two-piece band from New Mexico that plays a combination of Balkan Folk and Western Indie Pop that’s much more Balkan than Indie in comparison to Beirut and DeVotchKa, and just short of being entirely traditional. It was formed by Jeremy Barnes, the drummer for Neutral Milk Hotel before they split up. NMH, of course, released the legendary In the Aeroplane Over the Sea that you have to hear if you haven’t yet, and this is quite an evolution of his sound and style. On the album he plays drums, naturally, along with accordion and the vocals. Heather Trost, who he enlisted a while after starting the band and is the other official member of the band plays violin and viola. There’s a bunch of other instruments common to gypsy music used but they’re played by session musicians. Most of the stuff is instrumental but the two songs where Barnes does do some singing happen to be my two favorite songs on the album: Kertész and I Am Not a Gambling Man. Intentionally or not, his voice exudes quirk. Kertész is an equally quirky composition, possibly the fastest on the album. The song almost has no melody, the verses where Barnes sings are backed by, of all things, a cimbalom (imagine hitting a piano’s strings with a fork) soloist and the interludes, an instrumental chorus if I had to call it anything, have a brass riff that’s short and driving and more of a bridge or interlude between verses than anything. Meanwhile, the accordion is incessantly huffing rhythms in the background. The song is practically impossible to not tap your feet to. In contrast, I Am Not a Gambling Man is mostly accordion-focused. It’s fantastic hearing the accordion as a lead instrument, I’m so used to it providing rhythms. Songs like this are why I’m gonna get an accordion and master it. The song is mixed so the vocals stand out. I haven’t bothered to figure out what the lyrics are about. “There will be no hunting season this year/ all the hunters have been poisoned by an old deer.” It’s a simple jig, but a blast to listen to, with a great coda to seal the deal.

This album isn’t nearly as accessible as Beirut and DeVotchKa, but if you heard and liked them and wanna get more into the roots of their gypsy music influence, this will probably be the last Western album you listen to before you’re completely ready for a Serbian brass orchestra. Of course, don’t let lack of prior experience stop you from being adventurous – for a lot of people, this could be pleasantly shell-shocking. It’s such a brand new sound, something so many people haven’t heard before. Which is unfortunate.

1. Foni Tu Argile
2. Kertész
3. The Man Who Sold His Beard
4. Hummingbirds
5. Raggle Taggle
6. I Am Not a Gambling Man
7. Turkiye
8. Zbiciu
9. Vasilisa Carries a Flaming Skull Through the Forest
10. Lassú

Stand-out tracks:
I Am Not a Gambling Man
Vasilisa Carries a Flaming Skull Through the Forest


Vladimir Ashkenazy – Shostakovich: Piano Works

Posted in Classical on February 17, 2011 by

Classical; 2004


^My own upload

It’s a fact. Russians just do Classical music better. Here we have one of the most legendary Russian composers (on par with Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff) played by one of the greatest Russian pianists of all time. It’s not a collection of all of Shostakovich’s piano pieces. It includes his second Piano Sonata, the Three Fantastic Dances and Five Preludes suites, 5 different pieces Shostakovich wrote for films, and the entire Aphorisms suite.

Just about any 20th century Russian work is necessarily dissident. Shostakovich’s music is frequently called “grotesque.” The word has a negative connotation. It means more than just “disgusting” though, especially when applied to art. In this case it really applies to a lot of the dissonance you’ll hear listening to this. Melodies in different keys and scales appearing at the same time are common. I’m not gonna pretend I understand the theory behind such complex pieces, I barely know enough to wrap my head around the technical aspects of popular music. And since it’s all played on one instrument, I can’t exactly describe very many different sounds. So as much as I hate to revert to this, the best advice I can give is to listen to it. The first movement of the Sonata is one of the best things you’ll ever hear.

[The tracklist is listed in suites with the number of pieces in the suite next to it]

Piano Sonata No. 2 in B minor (3)
Three Fantastic Dances, Op. 5 (3)
Five Preludes (5)
Dances of the Dolls – Lyric Waltz
The Gadfly (2)
The Limpid Stream – Nocturne
Aphorisms (10)
The Golden Age – Polka

Stand-out tracks:
Piano Sonata No. 2, 1st Mvt.
Five Preludes – 3. Allegro Moderato
The Gadfly – Spanish Dance


Activity and comments

Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2011 by

Hey all. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who’s been continually checking this thing I’m doing. Yesterday I had my most views ever in a single day, 117. That beats February 3rd by one view. My average for the past two weeks is probably around 65-70 views a day. So I’m slowly going up on traffic and I’m really glad to see that. One thing I’ve noticed though is that as my activity goes up, the number of comments on my posts has been going down. I really love hearing what everyone has to say about the blog so I’d just REALLY appreciate if you left a comment every now and then. It’s nothing drastic or anything, I don’t need a comment on every single thing I post to have some level of fulfillment but for stuff like that Valentine’s Day playlist, I intentionally leave the track list out of the post to surprise people and I love knowing how they react to it. If there’s an album you hadn’t heard of but really liked, lemme know. If there’s a genre you want a recommendation for and I haven’t posted something from it in a while or just not at all, ask and ye shall receive. Stuff like that.

But really, thanks for reading and I hope you’ll keep coming back. I’m enjoying this. Hope you are too.


Funkadelic – Maggot Brain

Posted in R&B/Soul/Funk on February 13, 2011 by

Funk; 1971


“Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time. For ya’ll have knocked her up. I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe. I was not offended. For I knew I had to rise above it all or drown in my own s**t.” The title track opens up the album with a meaningless “rambling” by George Clinton. I decided to see what some other people thought by checking for what people were saying. Only one person offered up any ideas (most of the discussion was about how Eddie Hazel was tripping when he played this) and even he admitted at the end that he might just have been reading into it too much. This 10 minute guitar solo, one of the most influential of all time, will blow your mind. It’s almost not worth listening to the rest of the album after it. Not because it’s a bad album but because Maggot Brain is the highlight of the album. I’d suggest listening to it last. Can You Get to That (which Sleigh Bells samples in their song Rill Rill) would open the album if you follow my advice.

Funkadelic is possibly the most influential Funk band of all time. On, all 7 of the songs on this album are in their top 8 most played songs. So it’s a safe assumption that this is the most influential Funk album of all time. To be honest, I had to expand my definition of Funk to include this album. Before I had listened to much of it (I still haven’t), I envisioned it as being driven by bass lines, nasally singers, and lots of muted strumming on the guitar. It would almost be easy to confuse some of the songs on here for Rock.

I notice heavy cowbell on several songs, particularly where the drummer uses it to count the beat for the ENTIRE song, although near the middle it becomes harder to hear because of a spacey sound effect that’s played over it. It’s been said that cowbell is the epitome of everything Metal but first it was the epitome of everything Funk. And it just sounds better used in Funk (Low Rider, for example.) Wars of Armageddon and Super Stupid also have epic guitar solos but neither of them really live up to the bar set by Maggot Brain, another reason you should listen to it last. I have to admit, the guitar work in Can You Get to That is much more simple but I think I prefer that riff to most of the solos.

1. Maggot Brain
2. Can You Get to That
3. Hit It and Quit It
4. You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks
5. Super Stupid
6. Back in Our Minds
7. Wars of Armageddon

Stand-out tracks:
Maggot Brain
Can You Get to That
Super Stupid


Valentine’s Day 12-song mixtape

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2011 by

This one’s not as big as the Christmas mixtape because it has a much more specific theme. Enjoy. I’ll definitely put another great album tomorrow.



Gojira – The Way of All Flesh

Posted in Metal on February 6, 2011 by

Technical Death Metal; 2008


Just a quick story, I was listening to Oroborus as I was starting this review and one of the guys in the hall I live in walks in to borrow one of the Aaron Rodgers pictures that are hanging around all over the walls. One of my roommates is a huge Packers fan. He says “Are you listening to Metal?” I say yeah and a huge smirk appears on his face. I was like “what’s so funny?” He replied “It’s funny cuz you’re a classical pianist.” I laughed pretty hard at that.

This album was on a list of 62 albums that I was supposed to review in a single month. I never finished that challenge but I’m glad this was pretty early on the list. I listened to about 30 of the albums and this was, if I recall correctly, my 5th favorite. Other amazing albums I got from that game were I Hate Myself – 10 Songs and Sleigh Bells – Treats.

Gojira is a French band that’s a bit hard to place in a single genre although I feel Technical Death Metal really is very accurate. Listening to the intro of Oroborus, it’s possible to get suckered into thinking this is a Melodic Death Metal band since it starts off with a great bass line and some melodic trills on the guitar. The drummer has a really clean bell sound to one of his cymbals and uses it frequently, that sound is one of my favorite things a drummer can do. He also does another one of my favorite things a drummer can do in The Art of Dying, which is snare accents in really odd timing. The intro to that song is SUPER impressive and makes me wonder how much rehearsing they had to do to get everyone counting right.

The songs range in tempo throughout. The slower songs, Yama’s Messengers for instance, have a Doom Metal feel to them and the guitar just feels a little heavier. They’re used as outlets for some of the best sounding double bass anywhere on the album and riffs that lack a good bit of melody, but still have just enough. Midtempo songs like Toxic Garbage Island and Oroborus vary the most in sound. Oroborus is the most melodic song on the album and Toxic Garbage Island might be the most atonal and The Art of Dying is just… the best. Really fast songs are a bit more rare on the album but they make appearances. Namely All the Tears and Esoteric Surgery. All the Tears has more Metalcore style screams as opposed to the really dark (on some of the songs it almost sounds like the vocals are technologically enhanced. This is DEFINITELY true for A Sight to Behold but I can’t exactly tell for any of the other ones), heavy screams on most of the other songs. Definitely an album for any modern Metal fan.

1. Oroborus
2. Toxic Garbage Island
3. A Sight to Behold
4. Yama’s Messengers
5. The Silver Cord
6. Adoration for None
7. All the Tears
8. The Art of Dying
9. Esoteric Surgery
10. Vacuity
11. Wolf Down the Earth
12. The Way of All Flesh

Stand-out tracks:
The Art of Dying
Yama’s Messengers


Sean Paul – The Trinity

Posted in Reggae/Ska/Dancehall on February 4, 2011 by

Dancehall; 2005


So Dutty Rock is the biggest Sean Paul album. It’s got Gimme the Light, Get Busy, Like Glue, International Affair, and the best song on the album, Jukin’ Punny, which was a total sleeper. Sean Paul was HUGE when this one came out, if you remember We Be Burnin’, Give It Up to Me, and especially Temperature getting radio play that could rival Justin Bieber. But by the time the actual album came out, the singles had lost some steam and he was forgotten pretty soon after. He actually released an album after this one, in 2009 if I recall correctly, and it basically got ignored. It wasn’t as good anyway.

So the reason I picked this over Dutty Rock is mainly the consistency and the nostalgia. Both albums have their ups and downs but I feel like The Trinity had more good songs. So fewer bad ones as well. If you haven’t heard Sean Paul (shame on you), he’s pretty simple. No lyrical profundity here. We Be Burnin is about smoking weed. Yardie Bone is about how many women enjoy his large penis. Never Gonna Be the Same is about Jamaica and how much he misses his old life there. But besides that. Party lyrics and party beats!

Again, if you have a problem with his voice, don’t give up, just keep listening until you understand it.

When I was in, like, 7th grade, before I knew a lot about OutKast, Sean Paul was basically the only music I listened to. When I found out about Limewire I got a bit more music. I started listening to Sean Paul and OutKast. I basically listened to like a bunch of Dancehall (Sean Paul, Shaggy, Damian Marley, Collie Buddz, Elephant Man, etc.) and then OutKast. And that was it. For quite a few years. I’ve matured exponentially since then as far as music, but I still love all the stuff I first loved. So that’s why Sean Paul is awesome.

…aaaaaaaaaand… that was a lazy review.

1. Fire Links Intro
2. Head in the Zone
3. We Be Burnin’
4. Send It On
5. Ever Blazin’
6. Eye Deh a Mi Knee
7. Give It Up to Me
8. Yardie Bone feat. Wayne Marshall
9. Never Gonna Be the Same
10. I’ll Take You There
11. Temperature
12. Breakout
13. Head to Toe
14. Connection feat. Nina Sky
15. Straight Up
16. All On Me feat. Tami Chynn
17. Change the Game feat. Looga Man & Kid Kurup
18. The Trinity

Stand-out tracks:
We Be Burnin’
Never Gonna Be the Same
Yardie Bone