February 10, 2011

Eek! Sorry.

I figure I might as well do it while my blog is still small and starting off- I’ve relocated. Sorry for the trouble! If you want to know why, it’s because I’m a very vain and poor person and WordPress layouts do NOT satisfy me aesthetically. I can’t edit the CSS at all unless I pay. At first I decided I would, but then I decided I would just go to a place where I had a wide choice of themes to choose from and free hand to edit them. My blog has to have a certain look! Ha are you all judging me now? Perhaps.

My new music blog address is http://culturemotional.tumblr.com/

I hope to see you there. It will be more of what was going on here. New location but same attitudes & tastes & content.

February 8, 2011

Cee-lo Green – Fool For You (alternate version)

The album cut of Cee-lo’s “Fool for You” was already flawless. A highlight of a very solid album (Lady Killer). How do you do it baby / keep it coming indeed. I didn’t think having Philip Bailey of Earth Wind and Fire on the track could be topped, but this alternate version with Melanie Fiona has a wonderful, sexy give-and-take that I’m also digging.

Cee Lo Green – Melanie Fiona – Fool For You (Radio Rip) by melaniefionaworld

(Heads up from Pretty Much Amazing)

February 4, 2011

Eric & Magill

[mp3/stream] Eric & Magill – Should We All Wake Up
[mp3/stream] Eric & Magill – Grandpa’s Pink Wine

You might not have heard of Eric Osterman and Ryan Weber, the low-key duo known as Eric & Magill, but you need to know. This is honest, heartfelt music they’re making. Weber, a talented multi-instrumentalist, corralled the support of his friend Osterman and a variety of other musicians he knew from Shearwater, The Dirty Projectors, Volcano Choir, Collections of Colonies of Bees, Pele, Owen, Joan of Arc, Cap’n Jazz, American Football, Via Tania, Headlights, Sufjan Stevens, and Maritime to put together All Those I Know. Pretty impressive, right? The praise for the results is not obliging, however, but richly deserved.

All Those I Know is an album to be spun at dusk, outdoors, which makes the album cover literal in a way most actually aren’t. You can file it under “electrofolk” or “awesome”. The lead-in title track sets up the album’s provisions- misty, stomp-along acoustic pop- nicely. On “Should We All Wake Up”, the muted, weary vocals served up over simple acoustic guitar manage to compel, especially when Lussia Kamberian Weber’s lilting voice chimes in. With “You Make It So Good”, the band veers left just before shoegaze territory. Echoed voices and percussion add to a calming, dreamy affect. “Grandpa’s Pink Wine” and “Pontoon Boats” just might be my favorites, the former with its fuzzy tones and plethora of synths, the latter with gorgeous vocals and whistle, but it’s hard to say on an album this precisely, consistently moving.

You can download the entire record at no cost (or support them however much you can) at their Bandcamp site. AT NO COST. There is no reason you shouldn’t be listening to them.

February 4, 2011

Lupe Fiasco – Words I Never Said

It’s so loud inside my head / with words I should have said / as I drown in my regrets / I can’t take back the words I never said

This track completely BLEW ME AWAY and I wasn’t expecting it at all. It’s not that I dislike Lupe, though I notice that seems to be a trend lately (?) even with his record label, holding this album up for years, but… wow. He is on point here in verse and delivery. I feel like there are scorch marks on the side of my face now. This is music that is pointedly saying something even as it lays an inescapable hook on you. And Skylar Gray is used to great effect here, I love the chorus (interestingly, I’m unmoved by the chorus of  Diddy Dirty Money’s “Coming Home”).

They keep you on the bottom then tease you with the upper-crust

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February 4, 2011

The Dears – 5 Chords

Basically, a ripping hook-laden pop-rock singalong track off of the upcoming Dears album. I cannot get enough of it. It feels a little vintage Arcade Fire to me, and that’s not a bad thought at all. I am always horrible at identifying actual instruments used in a song, and this is definitely an instance where I wish I wasn’t because there are so many interesting sounds here. Well, what I am pretty sure is a synth makes a cool ZONG ZONG sound over the verses. It’s such a full track, something you can sink your teeth into.

We should be home tonight / We’ll hold each other tight / I will with all my might

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February 4, 2011

Formative Fridays: Keeping It Real w/Paul Weller

Every Friday I’d like to highlight an (older) artist that had an incredibly powerful, formative way with my listening habits and general music sensibilities. We’re talking Ultimate Emotional Impact. I’m not going to start this week with the first time I ever remember falling in love with music (for the curious, that was in 2001, while taking in Eric Clapton on his Derek and the Dominos sidetrack “Layla” with my new headphones & Sony Discman) or even my favorite band (that would be Blur and there’s much that’s going to be said about them elsewhere) but rather, focus on another influence that looms large over me even now.

It’s not much of a secret to the people that know me, this unpopular opinion: the Style Council is my favorite of Paul Weller’s musical efforts. That’s far more than British national treasure The Jam (they’re too… incoherent for me personally, I don’t know) and even his solo efforts, though I do find Wild Wood unbearably lovely because it throws into highlight my favorite thing about Weller- his voice. He can snarl like you’d expect Weller of The Jam to snarl, but he can also be impeccably tender on his own. The Style Council is like a weird experiment that falls in between the two poles of pub rocker and father of … mod pastoral soul, whatever it is they like to refer to Wild Wood as.

The Style Council’s overall output is an ultimately messy compilation of Paul’s influences- interests and whims- the band borrowed freely from soul, jazz, rhythm and blues, incorporating different styles and flavors before eventually taking a heavier synth-bent (it was Britain, and the 80s, that’s to be expected). Someone once said to me, “when the Style Council were bad they were very bad, but when they were good they were brilliant”, and I think it’s a pretty apt summary. I tend to overlook the embarrassing alleyways of their legacy because my favorite tracks are so affecting. Paul Weller himself believed in them- “I had a total belief in The Style Council. I was obsessed in the early years. I lived and breathed it all. I meant every word, and felt every action.”

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February 3, 2011

Goodbye White Stripes, Hello Again Strokes

Despite my header, my mother always told me to start with the good news first, so let’s talk about the new album release from my teenage dream band (okay, everyone’s teenage dream band), The Strokes. The rumor swirled for a while that there was new Strokes on the horizon for 2011- did Julian ever confirm that officially last year? I can’t remember, but anyway, Pitchfork informs us that the new album Angles drops March 22nd and the first single is called “Under Cover of Darkness” (tracklisting at the link as well).


I’m trying to remember how I felt about the Strokes in 2006, call back those dizzy-headed feelings for rock songs where dancing was appropriate, but the sort of dancing where you swayed your shoulders to the left and right lackadaisically, and there wasn’t enough room on the  floor for more than that anyway. I remember being kicked in the head by a crowd-surfer for the Strokes in 2006, back in New York, when I was still an undergraduate and I was halfway back from the stage and Julian was wearing a leather jacket and singing “I don’t wanna waaaste my time” in that peculiar half-sleepy intonation. Strokes songs always sound like they are pressing down on his voice trying to make him be quiet, maybe because they were having so much fun before the record started drinking in some seedy Brooklyn bar. It’s actually really easy to envy the Strokes for the seemingly natural looseness, it benefits their tracks so greatly that the songs never overreach themselves past four minutes, or in any sense. You are jumping up and down for the right amount of time. The grooves are comfortable. Let’s hope the upcoming record holds to a good groove too.

The Strokes – Someday

When we was young oh man did we have fun / Always, always

Yesterday it was all over the music blogosphere: WHITE STRIPES CALL IT QUITS. When I first heard, it wasn’t a DELUGE OF EMOTION that resulted or anything. I let it settle for a few hours.

If you go to the official White Stripes website right now, you will be greeted with this message:

It really doesn’t come as a massive shock. Actually, it makes a lot of sense given the myriad of “side” projects that eventually brought a sense of extremity to the White Stripes. A door has closed now, for us and them. I can’t help but feel bummed (though I feel the whole process to be done with class and like I said, it’s not shocking), solely for the fact that we won’t get any new material from them- they could be counted upon to revitalize the rock scene with every new release and the rock scene does need revitalizing.

I am really interested to read commentary on the White Stripes’ place in music from this new position of retrospect in the weeks and months (and years) to come. Right now, my thoughts are along the lines that their worth doesn’t come from doing anything groundbreaking. Their situation was quite the opposite- they did not shape and influence other rock outfits that were their contemporaries. They may have popped out from the rest of the pack as zany red-black-and-white outsiders with vintage hearts on their sleeves, but the White Stripes were the influenced, not the influences. They offered a rich messy vigorous churning of the roots that formed more traditional rock n’roll outfits, roots that seemed distant from contemporary single-oriented rock radio.

It’s true though, that for me never did sloppy-seeming, raw from-the-garage energy have such impeccable results. There was such unique spirit there- old-fashioned showmanship, but with a modern-era vitality. Oh man, Jack and Meg, keep on keeping well.

White Stripes – Blue Orchid

White Stripes – The Hardest Button To Button

February 3, 2011

Preview Review (James Vincent McMorrow’s Early in the Morning)

James Vincent McMorrow’s debut album Early in the Morning, which finally receives stateside release this January, comes at you largely in a whisper that could be mistaken for Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. For the listener to make that assumption however could be critical- for them, not McMorrow. The singer-songwriter probably owes a greater debt to Crosby Stills Nash and Young, or Donny Hathaway, whom he confesses lured him away from hardcore music for good, though does have a higher register similar to Vernon. Early in the Morning also features a haunting homespun sound, stemming from the album’s recording in isolation at a house in Ireland by the sea. McMorrow is overspilling with his own softly-strummed talent however. Early in the Morning achieved chart-topping success in Ireland in 2010 and deserves the full attention and praise critics have to offer here.

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February 3, 2011

Emotions: Critical!, Volume One: For the Internet Era

Every so often I will make a post about a few songs that center around a very select and specific feeling. Not an official mix or playlist, not anything like that, just a handful of tracks. A small selection. I say that music causes me to have an emotional reaction, and it’s true, but sometimes we listen to music to reflect the emotional reaction we’re already having. Like, when you’re sad because someone dumped you, and you sit in your car and cry along to “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. That Emotions: Criticial! post would be “songs that reflect a time you were in your car crying ’cause it was over and you were having a total eclipse of the heart”. Brought to you loosely by Plutchik’s wheel.

Today, it’s

the kind of calm yet tragic exhaustion when I know should be sleeping now but the glow of my laptop is so alluring

Surely this has happened to you before if you are a member of my age group. Probably many times. It’s three in the morning and you could wonder “why am I awake” but instead you’ve achieved a kind of strange, semi-exhaustion fueled zen, a unique calm, like hypnosis, in front of the soft bluish glow of your computer screen. You could play these three tracks as you surf Pitchfork’s Echo Chamber and your head feels like it floated away from your body, a black balloon.

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February 2, 2011

Dan Black, You’re My Only Hope

Everything Dan Black touches turns to pop magic, including this track by Sydney dancefloor princes Chris Stracey and Jack Glass aka Bag Raiders. Check it out after the jump.

When I see your face, it’s like sunlight dripping…

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