Archive for July, 2011

Vladimir Ashkenazy – Prokofiev: The Five Piano Concertos

Posted in Classical on July 30, 2011 by

 Classical; 1997


I’m just a kid that tries to listen to as much music as I can and I write about it for fun. I’m not gonna mar these masterpieces with my unprofessional, juvenile opinions. Just listen to them. It’s 5 piano concertos on two discs, the 1st, 4th, and 5th are on the first disc and the 2nd and 3rd are on the second disc. In chronological order they’re in D flat major, G minor, C major, B flat major, and G major. Not even gonna pick stand-outs. Really. Listen.


Prince Nico Mbarga & Rocafil Jazz International – Sweet Mother

Posted in Folk on July 24, 2011 by

 Highlife; 1976


You have to hear this. I’m gonna stick it in the Folk section because it’s traditional music, which (and people tend to forget this) is what Folk is. It’s music of the people for the people. Not Iron & Wine. Not DeVotchKa. Not Mumford & Sons. They play a genre. Folk has become one, but this is it in its purest form. Nationalist, unique, positive, it is a labor of love dedicated to a people and their ways of life, their beliefs, and all the other quirks that make up a culture. This is a paradigm of music f0r a culture – a paradigm of Folk. It is Nigerian and you’ve probably never heard anything from this genre before (I’m kind of a hipster. I bet you didn’t know Highlife was a genre). This is the music Vampire Weekend and Paul Simon and whatever Afropop-inspired Western stuff you can think of ripped off. The guitars are driving and they’re a number of them playing harmoniously at any given time. Not to mention most of the vocals are harmonized, in a way that’s different and better than most of the harmonizing we hear in our every day Rock & Pop. The songs are long, joyous (even the sad ones, which I’m not sure if there are any on this one but as an example listen to Lake Nyos on their Sweet Family album), and cover topics from respect for one’s mother to the fact that nobody knows what tomorrow may bring. Each song is sung in very broken English, except for Christiana which is sung in some native language I haven’t looked up the name of. Is Nigerian a language? Honestly, his apparent lack of competence with the English language and the tone of some of the songs makes a few of these tracks mildly comical. But this is feel-good music. Laugh during it, laugh at it, it doesn’t take away from the quality.

I’m quite interested in the music theory behind these compositions. This is a VERY unique genre. Even Folk music from various regions of the world can tend to sound similar. For instance the heavy brass instrument focus in both Mexican and Balkan Folk leaves them sounding similar on occasion and yet they’re culturally very different. But African Folk is like nothing else, in other traditional music or in any modern music, except for the stuff that blatantly steals ideas from it. Instrumentally, the guitar players seem to be talented. These long songs have several guitar solos, and the trumpet solo in Shakara School Girl is the first instrument solo that comes to mind that’s not guitar. There might be more.

Sweet Mother is one of Africa’s most popular songs.

1. Sweet Mother
2. Wayo Inlaw
3. Peace Movement Social Club of Nigeria
4. Aki Special
5. Christiana
6. Shakara School Girl
7. Olu Ugbo (Operation Feed the Nation)

Stand-out tracks:
Sweet Mother
Aki Special


Cassie – Cassie

Posted in R&B/Soul/Funk on July 17, 2011 by

R&B; 2006


The opening track and most popular song on this album, Me & U, is a profound commentary that understands on a human level (as opposed to the not so human relationships many singers’ lyrics are about) how relationships between two people with different views on the amount of physical intimacy allowable at certain stages of this relationship are able to play out and how the two compromise because of the love they have for each other.

Just kidding, it’s really about how good she sucks dick. I didn’t realize it was something to be skillful at. You wouldn’t expect it to require much more than competence. You do remember this song right? Everyone had heard it when it came out. With its minimalistic production (done by Ryan Leslie, who’s featured in two of the later songs) and perfect harmonizing. Unfortunately, she kind of disappeared after that single. Not many people heard this album, I’d wager. We can blame Diddy and Bad Boy Records for this. Their signees get almost literally 15 minutes of fame and then fall off and don’t make it to a third album. Did you know she has a new album coming up? Yeah, me either, until I heard Me & U being played on the radio at some store I was in and decided to look her up after I realized I loved the song. I’m listening to it in its entirety for the first time as I’m writing this. It’s got all your modern female R&B/Hip-Hop staples. The ballades. Spelling “you” with a single letter for no apparent reason. The song that’s blatantly about sex even though it’s trying it’s hardest to pretend to be a metaphor about sex. The song where she raps a verse. The song where a featured rapper raps a verse that has nothing to do with what the song is about (also Yung Joc rhymes “ish” with “fish” in it). The autotune song. The Latin influence song. The song that sounds like sunshine and happiness. Every song is produced as minimally as the first, maybe because Ryan Leslie is a crappy musician or maybe because he’s got a brilliant ear. None of these songs sound blank. There is space but there is no emptiness.

Obviously she’s no hugely talented singer. She would be just another Bad Boy signee if Me & U wasn’t so freaking amazing. Her second album is coming out and maybe I’ll be one of the few people to care about it. She’s got a good voice and a good producer. I’m worried about her next album because it won’t have Leslie doing every track. Honestly he makes this album more than she does. Also the bass line he wrote for Miss Your Touch is fantastic. I should listen to more of his production.

1. Me & U
2. Long Way 2 Go
3. About Time
4. Kiss Me feat. Ryan Leslie
5. Call U Out feat. Yung Joc
6. Just One Nite feat. Ryan Leslie
7. Hope You’re Behaving (Interlude)
8. Not With You
9. Ditto
10. What Do U Want
11. Miss Your Touch
12. When Your Body Is Talking
13. Can’t Do It Without You

Stand-out tracks:
Me & U
Just One Nite
Miss Your Touch


Amesoeurs – Amesoeurs

Posted in Metal on July 11, 2011 by

Post-Black Metal; 2009


Hey. Sorry it’s been 10 days. To be honest the first 8 of them just went by without me thinking about it, and then the last two I’ve had a lot on my mind but finally found some time (and some will) to do this. I’ve noticed I haven’t been listening to very much Metal lately, which made me kinda sad, and I still haven’t but this is an album I’ve known about for a while. I really haven’t listened to Metal since Nadja. I oughta find some new stuff. Anyway. This is French, as you’ll be able to tell by the song titles. The genre is one you may not have heard of but it’s fairly self-explanatory. It combines Post-Rock and Black Metal. Well. It can be argued that the album is mostly Post-rock with certain tracks containing HEAVY Black Metal influence. Track 7 (I won’t bother with the title) for instance is clearly a well-produced combination of the two genres whereas a lot of the tracks on the album contain minimal Metal influence, only taking the most melodic bits of Black Metal (lol?) to use. That’s ok though, Post-Rock is better than Black Metal.

This is another good female singer, I’m noticing I like more of them than I thought. The growled vocals that only appear in one or two songs are done by a guy and the rest are sung pretty sweetly in French by this girl. It’s actually a fitting language for the music, like I can’t see English working with these instrumentals, at least not as well as French. This is pretty upbeat for either of the two genres, it’s nice that this isn’t a generic genre combination. They bring something unique to the table. They’re a hard band to describe. In fact, I think I’ll just leave you to it.

1. Gas in Veins
2. Les Ruches Malades
3. Heurt
4. Recueillement
5. Faux Semblants
6. Trouble (Éveils Infâmes)
8. Video Girl
9. La Reine Trayeuse
10. Amesoeurs
11. Au Crépuscule de Nos Rêves

Stand-out tracks:
Au Crépuscule de Nos Rêves


Th’ Corn Gangg

Posted in Hip-Hop on July 1, 2011 by

This isn’t an album post. This is a “you need to be aware of this band even though they barely exist” post. The Unicorns. I fell in love with them when I heard them. Busdriver. Same reaction to his music. After I had had my share of Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone (the only album they released, if you look at it in a certain way) I decided to look at their EPs and Demos (a band has to be REALLY good for me to look into their EPs and Demos) and what they did after they broke up. Two bands were formed. One of The Unicorns went on to form Clues with an ex-member of Arcade Fire and some less important people. The other was Th’Corn Gangg, which was a Indie Pop / Hip-Hop crossover supergroup featuring the two Unicorns (and other instrumentalists) on instruments and rappers Busdriver, Subtitle, and Vic Booz on mic. It’s simultaneously bizarre and beautiful that this stuff exists. Unfortunately, however, it’s impossible to find studio recordings of their stuff anywhere. Th’ Corn Gangg were short-lived, and eventually those two members of the former Unicorns transformed into Islands. The Islands debut album has a track called Where There’s a Will There’s a Whalebone that was originally played by Th’ Corn Gangg and features Subtitle and Busdriver on it. That’s as close as we may ever get to a studio recording of Th’ Corn Gangg’s songs (although Wikipedia claims they exist, I’ve found ZERO evidence and the article it cites 404s when you click the link). Another Th’ Corn Gangg song, Swans, was turned into the opening track of Islands debut album but the rap parts were removed. It’s all Indie Pop. I think I’ll post that album soon, it’s fantastic. But anyway I have links to a live performance of that song, of the studio version of Where There’s a Will, There’s a Whalebone, and of a live version of an unknown song that’s my favorite of all the videos I could find of these guys making music together. Enjoy.