Thursday, January 19, 2012

And as I said, I slept as though dead, dreaming seamless dreams of lead.

The Lovely Joanna Newsom

After checking out the instrument exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts recently, which was eye-opening, the discovery of a modern folk Appalachian, yet medieval, harpist sparked my interest. Joanna Newsom, aside from being incredibly talented, original, and independent, has captivated thousands with her soothing, sometimes bizarre, voice and poetic lyrics. Raised in Nevada City, California by two doctors that would not allow her to watch TV or listen to the radio, Joanna discovered music through her parents' personal musicianship. From a very young age, Joanna began playing the piano, followed by the harp. Describing her harp as "an artificial wheelchair or limb," it seems that through the harp, Joanna found an extension of her soul, a quality easily palatable with one listen. Since she began recording in 2002, Joanna has gained considerable recognition. She has also had the honor of having her original compositions covered by other well known artists, such as The Decemberists, M. Ward, and Young Canadian Mothers. Recently, she was chosen by Jeff Magnum, lead singer of the band Neutral Milk Hotel, to perform at the "All Tomorrow's Parties" festival in England. After watching her perform, it will suffice to say that she is a breath of fresh melodic air. And on a side note, she must have a good sense of humor, because she is currently dating SNL's favorite goofball, Andy Samberg.

My favorite song of Joanna's that I have heard thus far:
Clam crab cockle cowrie

Peach plum pear

And this kind of intrigued me, kind of freaked me out...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Music survives everything, and like God, it is always present. It needs no help, and suffers no hindrance.

Standing around during a set break at Dark Star Orchestra a month or so ago, I was having a nice leisurely conversation with this guy, probably in his mid forties. As DSO walked back over to their mics, the guy leaned over and said to me, "There are no good bands anymore. Not since the Dead. No one plays like this ... it's sad, but the good music is all gone." I stood beside him and stared at the band for a moment. Really? Wait let me think about this... Of course 107.9 flashed through my head with Kei$ha, Britney, and tired-out Black Eyed Peas tunes, which would surely fit under his description of music being washed up. But then I thought about The Blind Boys of Alabama, Avett Brothers, PHISH, Derek Trucks Band, Susan Tedeschi, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Drake, String Cheese Incident, Jay-Z, Umphrey's McGee, Blue Scholars, and good lord so many others my head went a-twirling. With the music starting again, I quickly replied, "I've got to tell you. I don't think you could be any more wrong. There are so many game-changing bands out there these days, I can HARDLY keep up. And I average like 30 concerts a year, maybe more." At this, he looked at me, eyebrows raised, eyes wide, with a huge gappy smile, and said "That is the most reassuring thing you could have possibly said." Then we interpretive-danced our way away from each other, giving an enthusiastic high-five and returned to our own groups of friends. The End.

Moral of the story: Here are some bands playing NOW that are marvelous. Yeah, they may not be the Grateful Dead, but we live in a different time. The ebb and flow and evolution of genres does not mean that talent is disintegrating. The commercial market is not swallowing every good musician up and turning them into a drone. The truth is that awe-inspiring music will prevail as long as human beings have access to sound.

I hope this doesn't freeze your computers... I have a few to share...

This new album, "Who Kill" by tUnE-yArDs is getting a LOT of recognition. Be sure to look into it further beyond what I post here today (thanks Rafael)...

Raphael Saadiq -Stone Rollin'

Beautiful. Little Dragon- Twice (Thanks V)
Twice by Little Dragon

freaky deaky... and entertaining... and catchy (thanks Will)