Missed Music

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The weekend mix: Happy days are here again

2011 is shaping up. I landed a job I applied for late last year. It looks like a good one, too. So at last I’m leaving the ranks of the under-employed and I’ll be making some money. Things are going swimmingly with my girlfriend too. (What is the genesis of that odd expression, anyway? Swimmingly?) I’m going to a posh wedding tonight that promises to be fun. All in all, I’m feeling pretty damn good.

Working again and pretty happy about it.

On that note, I put together a mix of songs that are either about good times or have happiness in the title.

  1. This Will Be Our Year – OK Go
    You remember their treadmill video for ‘Here It Goes Again’ and you might remember their awesome Rube Goldberg machine video for ‘This Too Shall Pass.’ These guys are about a lot more then gimmicky videos, though. They are about joyful, inventive pop music like this.
  2. It’s About Time – The Lemonheads
    I’ve always been a big Evan Dando fan. He writes the most pleasing melodies and he has a great vocal delivery.
  3. Finally Made Me Happy – Macy Gray
    A lot of people took notice of Macy Gray’s debut album and then she faded a bit, but I don’t thing she’s lost a step. I always check out her albums when she releases one. This is from her 2007 release, “Big.”
  4. Joyful Noise – Derek Trucks Band
    This aptly named nearly-all-instrumental composition is such a high-energy, upbeat song. This is a good live performance, too. Trucks is an amazing guitarist and a heck of a bandleader.
  5. Happy Hour Hero – moe.
    Go out and pick up “Tin Cans and Car Tires.” Oh, and go see moe. next time they come to your town. Give a listen to the lyrics in this great Rob Derhak tune.
  6. Awesome – Satellite Party
    Satellite Party is a Perry Farrell project. This is a surprisingly pretty love song. It’s almost cheesy, but somehow Farrell sells it to me.
  7. Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy – The Kinks
    Vintage Ray Davies. Thank you once again to John Cusack for turning me onto this great song I may not have found otherwise.
  8. Stupidly Happy – XTC
    I love XTC. This is nearly a silly filler track for them but many songwriters would kill to be able to generate infectious guitar riffs and vocal melodies that they seemed to toss off so effortlessly.
  9. Joy – Bettye LaVette
    LaVette has been in the business a long time and has come to mainstream success comparatively late in life. Check out this live performance and you’ll wonder why it took us so long to notice her.
  10. Happy Feet – 8 ½ Souvenirs
    These guys play fun, jazz-influenced music with a throwback feel, kind of in the mold of Squirrel Nut Zippers, but more polished.
  11. Action Figure Party – Action Figure Party
    This is the title track to one of the coolest party jazz albums I own. Listen to the great lyrics as you groove to the funky jazz.
  12. Wonderful Night – Fatboy Slim
    I have never heard of Lateef the Truth Speaker, but he really lays it down on this track. The energy is great, but watch out for the lyrics, parents.
  13. Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
    This song has been used in many TV shows so you’ve probably heard it before. If not, though, don’t miss it. Honestly, I think it’s better than Judy Garland’s version of ‘Rainbow’ and as good as Satchmo’s version of ‘Wonderful World.’
  14. Happiness – Built to Spill
    The fantastic slide guitar on this track makes it my favorite from Built to Spill’s great release, “Ancient Melodies of the Future.” As always, Doug Martsch gives a great vocal performance, too.
  15. I Hope You’re Happy Now – Elvis Costello
    No one did bitter like Elvis Costello. The instruments play an upbeat, poppy song, but the lyrics contain sarcastic gems like, “But you make him sound like frozen food, his love will last forever.”

You may have noticed that I only got two posts up this week and the “Friday Mix” got posted on a Saturday. I think I’m going to be busier now that I’m working. I will still try to get up a least a couple album reviews during the week, but I may start calling these the Weekend Mixes instead so I can get them up on Saturdays when I will have more time. Enjoy this mix with a glass of champagne and let the good times roll.


January 22, 2011 Posted by | Classic Rock, Jam Bands, Jazz, Mix CD, Popular, R&B, Rock | Leave a comment

Insanely good instrumental afrobeat/funk/soul from Menahan Street Band

Today I hope to turn you on to a kind of supergroup. The Menahan Street Band is an 11-piece instrumental ensemble featuring an absolutely sick lineup with members of Antibalas, El Michels Affair, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, and the Budos Band. Yeah, go back and read that list again. It’s crazy. In 2007, Thomas Brenneck of the Dap Kings pulled the guys together for this project, which released their debut album, “Make the Road by Walking,” in 2008.

The album's name was inspired by a community center below founding member Thomas Brenneck's apartment in Brooklyn.

If you are familiar with the bands these guys come from, you can imagine the sound they achieve. They pretty much meet at the dead center of the Dap Kings’ new soul, Budos Band’s funk, and Antibalas’ afrobeat sound. They sometimes lean one way or the other and even stray into jazz occasionally, but by and large it is an interesting exploration of the intersection of those three sounds. Fellow Brooklynite Jay-Z sampled the title track for his hit “Roc Boys (and the Winner is…).” Oddly, Rolling Stone Magazine declared the Jay-Z song the #1 single of 2007, but “Make the Road by Walking” was released in October of 2008 so I’m not sure how that happened. Apparently, the single was released before the rest of the album or something.

Anyway, the music is unpolished but accomplished, funky, and beautiful. Check out my 4 favorites.

  • Make the Road by Walking – Flanged guitar and glockenspiel create an oozy groove for the horns to play around in. After a mellow intro, it jumps up into an energetic passage that you would expect from Antibalas.
  • Home Again! – This features a pleasing horns melody and percussion that reminds me of ‘Groovin’’ by The Young Rascals.
  • Karina – The Band gets a little more jazz-oriented on this track and the result is wonderful. Clearly, these guys are all monsters on their instruments, but they all lay back in service of the song, trying not to be too flashy.
  • Birds – Delicate keyboards back up fat (or maybe even phat) and ambitious horns. You can occasionally hear the trumpet miss a note, but they’ve left it in to keep the spontaneous, first-take feel of the sessions.

All of these guys have their own other things going on. I hope they had enough fun and success with this project to do another one.

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Funk, R&B, Soul, World Music | Leave a comment

The Wednesday mix: Love Beats Hate

Someone organized a blogging event today called “Love Beats Hate.” I’m down. I wanted to blog about love today. Romantic love, brotherly love, family love. There is a lot of hate and fear in the world but though hate can win some devastating advances, I truly believe love triumphs.

"Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT: a mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich..."

I usually do a mix on Fridays, but in participation with this great event, here is a collection of songs about love and peace. I hope you enjoy them, but more than that I hope you are inspired to make more room in your heart for love, respect, tolerance, and peace.

  1. Love’s in Need of Love Today – Stevie Wonder
    Stevie is a spiritual and peace-minded musical genius who just wants to increase the peace. “Hate’s going round breaking every heart. Stop it, please, before it’s gone too far.”
  2. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) – George Harrison
    And speaking of peace-minded musical geniuses…
  3. Better Way – Ben Harper
    Harper is a modern preacher of peace and love. He feels it, he believes it, and he makes you believe it too with this beautiful song.
  4. Any Love – Massive Attack
    Good old Massive Attack leaves behind the dark and ominous vibes they often lay on us for this upbeat pop song. “Any love that you feel is for real.”
  5. Peace – Los Lobos
    I am the biggest Los Lobos fan I know. This is from a kind of breakthrough album for them, “Kiko.” David Hidalgo is a great songwriter and he penned a great song here about bringing peace to the world through love.
  6. Border Song – Elton John
    Eric Clapton does a pretty cool, rollicking cover of this song, but John’s original version is gorgeous and more moving.
  7. Love in a Trashcan – The Ravonettes
    So this one is here mainly because it’s a great song. My point, though, is that the worst love you can think of is better than any hate at all.
  8. Message of Love – The Pretenders
    Chrissy Hynde lays it out for us. “And the reason we’re here as man and woman is to love each other, take care of each other.” Can I get an “amen?’”
  9. P.S. You Rock My World – Eels
    This is a beautiful love song all about living in the moment and living for love and if someone wrote this for you or even if they just dedicated it to you it’s a good, good thing.
  10. Funny How Love Is – Queen
    Some seriously vintage Queen, from their second album in 1974. Freddy sounds like he’s 12, but the harmony vocals and May’s buzzing Red Special are there. Listen to Deacon’s work on bass as well. It’s a little saccharin, but God help me, I like this song.
  11. Give Me Every Love You Got – Gravity Wave
    This is kind of oozy and a little strange, but I like the vibe and I love the lyrics. “Give me one of every love you got. Have you got the one with youthful courage, blowing off tomorrow’s test?”
  12. I’m Always in Love – Wilco
    Wilco has put out some amazing, deep, and textured albums, but I think my favorite remains the sunny “Summerteeth.” Here’s a typical uplifting pop song from the album.
  13. Crazy Love – Van Morrison
    When Van fell in love, he got it bad. This is as sweet and gentle a love song as you could ever ask for.
  14. Love Is Best – World Party
    This seems to be a sad and pretty song of loss, a cautionary tale by a man who has realized that love is the most important thing.

I didn’t put any John Lennon on here, but you could have picked any one of a half dozen songs. If there was ever a musician more dedicated to increasing love in the world, I don’t know who it would be. Anyway, enjoy this mix with a glass of milk and some cookies for dunking, because I love that.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Classic Rock, Mix CD, Popular, R&B, Rock | 3 Comments

Rootsy R&B/Blues from G. Love and Special Sauce

G. Love (born Garret Dutton) formed Special Sauce in Philadelphia, PA in 1993. When you hear him speak or sing, he sounds like he would be a great guy to hang around with and maybe share a few beers. Their music is relaxed and bluesy, though they don’t confine their sound to the 8 or so traditional blues chord progressions. They incorporate R&B, soul, and some hip-hop influences into their sound. They play sloppy without sounding crappy. Their music is more about feel than polish. That gives them a lot of freedom musically to take chances and they do, usually to good effect.

The sauce is particularly special on this one.

In 1999, they released “Philadelphonic.” I have a friend who is a huge G. Love fan – really rabid about him – but he isn’t crazy about this album. It might be his least favorite, in fact. For me, this is my favorite G. Love album I have heard. I like G. Love’s loose and sloppy sound, but on “Philadelphonic” the production is tighter and the grooves are catchier. There is infectious joy in a lot of the songs and I always like hearing songs from this album come on. Check out my favorites.

  • No Turning Back – This is a great opener with the percussion and stand up bass intro. The energy is great and it really gets you up for the rest of the album
  • Dreamin’ – “Dreams are like fish: you got to keep on reelin’.” A great R&B/funk riff is spiced with singing rap and a bit of scratching.
  • Rodeo Clowns – Jack Johnson wrote this song and eventually released it himself on 2003’s “On and On.” I like this version he did with G. Love in 1999 better.
  • Numbers – For all the sloppiness of the guitars, the vocals are polished and beautiful.
  • Do It for Free – The best part of this song is the warm harmony vocals at the chorus, but for some reason they don’t get to it on this sample.
  • Kick Drum – This is a peaceful groove with sweet harmony vocals and foul lyrics (almost).

G. Love played a part in the rise of Jack Johnson after they became friends when surfing. I actually haven’t heard their last two albums, released in 2008 and 2009. Hearing this stuff again makes me want to look them up.


October 18, 2010 Posted by | Blues, Popular, R&B, Rock, Soul | 2 Comments

The Friday mix: bringing the funk

I woke up in a bit of a funk today. It’s complicated. And yet, as it usually does, music transformed my mood. I find a good cure for being in a funk is listening to funk. The energy is infectious. Here is a mix of some funk to help take your mind off your troubles.

This stuff will make you dance, no matter how you felt when the song came on.

  1. Righteous (City Pain) –  Dag
    My brother is a musician and he likes him some funk. He sent me this disc, “Righteous,” years ago and there is indeed some great music on it.
  2. Lovely Jane – Dag
    In fact, there is so much great music on “Righteous” I’m going to give you a double shot of Dag to kick off this funk mix. These guys are fantastic. It’s funny to see the vocalist in the video. His is not the face I pictured all these years.
  3. Use the Force – Jamiroquai
    You might remember his great song (and video) for ‘Virtual Insanity.’  He’s a great funk artist, carrying the sound forward. I remember seeing him on Jamie Oliver’s cooking show a few years back, which nearly created a coolness singularity.
  4. Who is He (And What Is He to You)? – Bill Withers
    Me’Shell Ndegeocello does a brilliant cover of this song, but I went with the original. The bass line alone is enough for any funk mix.
  5. Cramp Your Style – Breakestra
    Horns! Love ‘em. There ought to be a law requiring them, as far as I’m concerned.
  6. Tell Mama – Etta James
    OK, so this is Motown/funk. Etta James is the bomb. Heart wrenching at will, funky as hell whenever she likes.
  7. When Love Comes Home – Ivey, Chet & His Fabulous Avengers
    I had some trouble finding a link to a sample. It’s busy and brilliant, so I hope you can find the track, if you like it. You can buy it here for only £0.84, however much that is.
  8. Night Train – James Brown
    The Godfather of Soul. The hardest working man in show business. He had it going on, that’s for sure. This is from 1963 and it’s wonderful. I saw him at Bonnaroo in 2003 a few years before his death at age 74. Honestly, it was a little sad. You could see what a brilliant performer he had been in his prime but at 70 he simply couldn’t do it anymore.
  9. Promised Land – Naomi Davis & Sugarman Three
    Busy percussion, speedy horns, and jangling guitar back Naomi Davis, who has a somewhat manly voice, I have to say, at least in this track. It’s a cool song.
  10. Pick It Up, Lay It in the Cut – Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
    If you haven’t yet bought Sharon Jones’ entire catalog, give this one a listen. She is the new queen of funk.
  11. Gamera – Action Figure Party
    This is the intersection of jazz and funk. If you’re a regular reader, you know I like the intersection of jazz and anything. ‘Gamera’ is no exception.
  12. World Keeps Spinning – Brand New Heavies
    These guys are frequently listed among the top 50 funk bands. I found this one on the Truth About Cats and Dogs soundtrack, which is why I like to buy soundtracks.
  13. Musicology – Prince
    Prince has always drawn a lot of inspiration from funk music. Every now and then he doesn’t innovate with it, he just plays it straight up. Here is a busy mix of a nearly instrumental funk song.
  14. Serpentine Fire – Earth Wind & Fire
    These guys are frequently listed among the top 3 funk bands of all time. If you don’t remember them, or if you don’t remember songs by them you like, check this one out. The bass is crazy.
  15. So What the Fuss – Stevie Wonder
    No one plays funk like Stevie did and still does, as it turns out. This is from Stevie’s new album and it is fantastic. I saw him perform this at Bonnaroo this year and I wondered, “Why haven’t I heard this before?” Because it is new.
  16. Green Onions – Booker T. and the MGs
    A great instrumental. It’s probably not the funkiest tune they ever did, but it is my favorite and it IS funky.

I was looking for a funky drink and googled it. I’m not sure I got the definition of funky I intended. I couldn’t decide between the Stinky Weasel or the Stinky Pinky. Enjoy the mix with whichever strikes your fancy. Have a great weekend.

September 24, 2010 Posted by | Funk, Jazz, Mix CD, Popular, R&B | 2 Comments

Amazing alternative pop from Danish duo The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour is a modern alternative pop duo from Denmark consisting of vocalist Mette Lindberg and producer Lars Iversen. Well, they are a duo in the studio, though they bring more musicians with them on the road. They got their big break when Amy Winehouse heard their demo tape and asked them to open for her in Copenhagen. After that, the band had a song picked for an iPod commercial and now they seem to be on their way.

You just have to trust me on this one.

I have to confess, I picked up their debut, “Fruit,” from the library with low expectations. I didn’t know about the iPod commercial and had never heard their name. The cover is a bit goofy and even as the disc began the opening few bars only revealed that the singer has a peculiar voice. As the album progressed, however, I heard creativity, superior production, great arrangements, and just all-around solid songs. I find I am constantly reminded of other bands when I listen to this and I drew some of those comparisons in the descriptions below. So some of it is derivative, but that is not necessarily a bad thing in itself. The sounds they borrow are fresh and not nearly played out, and they bring something of their own anyway.

I know some of you are reading this and saying, “Strange and derivative Danish pop, eh? Oh, boy.” But really, the variety of sounds they play is almost Beck-esque and the conviction and courage with which they play even their stranger songs makes them work. I ripped 6 of the disc’s 12 tracks so I’m giving this a whole-hearted thumbs-up. Give these a listen and see if you don’t agree.

  • Lady Jesus – The first verse just has acoustic guitar and hand claps backing a simple but appealing melody that is gang sung. Eventually, keyboards and horns come in and it bounces along irresistibly.
  • The Sun Ain’t Shining No More – The funky groove reminds me of “Walking on the Sun” by Smash Mouth. The main differences, in fact, are strings instead of keyboards and female lead vocals instead of male.
  • Push the Envelope – Great big, crushing keyboards and power chord guitar back Lindberg singing a brilliant vocal melody. This is not a track that makes you want to get up and dance, but it is powerful and cool.
  • Satellite – The verses remind me a bit of The Breeders because of the thin, slightly weird guitar line and the vocal melody. The chorus is straight up mainstream pop, though.
  • Hero – This is a mellow and slightly oozy love song with sparse occasional horns. This one reminds me a little of Macy Gray, actually.
  • Inner City Blues – OK. This is a fantastic cover of this Marvin Gaye song. Fantastic. This is Cat Power meets Zero 7. If you follow this link, make sure you stay for at least 2 minutes until the song gets going.

“Fruit” came out just under a year ago in September of 2009 (in Europe, October in the U.S.). One hopes they are hard at work on a strong sophomore effort.


September 20, 2010 Posted by | Alternative, Popular, R&B, Rock | Leave a comment

The Friday mix: Love in the Fall

It’s starting to feel like fall where I live. We’re getting comfortable days and just starting to see some color in the trees. I’m psyched. From here through Halloween, this is my favorite time of year. Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “In the spring a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love.” I always found fall to be a more romantic season. What could be lovelier than hiking in cool autumn air with the leaves looking like stained glass above you? The holidays loom ahead. It’s starting to get cool enough at night to build a fire. No. Fall is the season for love.

I wish this for everyone.

With that thought, I put together another mix of love songs, this one with more modern music. I hope you like it, particularly any readers who find themselves falling in love.

  • Think I’m In Love – Beck
    Beck is such a genius, especially when he writes honest songs about his life. Don’t get me wrong, I love his funky, fun songs, but stuff like this and songs from “Sea Change,” for example, are moving. This is what it’s like when you’re first falling. “I think I’m in love but it makes me kind of nervous to say so.”
  • Fresh Feeling – Eels
    E gives us a mellow and wholesome strings-laced groove about those first few weeks of love.
  • Satisfy – Me’Shell Ndegéocello
    When Ndegeocello is angry she writes emotionally charged, strident songs that can be jarring. When she is in love, though, she writes gorgeous ballads like this.
  • Hold You In My Arms – Ray LaMontagne
    One thing you know about Ray LaMontagne if you listen to his music: he loves his woman to pieces. He has an absolutely beautiful voice and this song almost hurts.
  • Sweet Thing – The Waterboys
    This is, in my opinion, the best cover anyone has ever done of a Van Morrison song. I might even like it better than the original, and that is saying something. The mandolin and strings are a perfect foil for the whining vocals. I have read that the ‘Blackbird’ homage at the end of this song was a studio ad lib. Wow.
  • Lovin’ In My Baby’s Eyes – Taj Mahal
    The versatile Taj Mahal gives us a mellow, bluesy love song. And it’s a little prettier than ‘Big Legged Mommas Are Back In Style.’
  • I’ll Make Love To You Anytime – J.J. Cale
    The man who wrote ‘After Midnight’ and ‘Cocaine’ for Eric Clapton performs his own music now (and occasionally collaborates with Clapton). This is a cool love song.
  • Into Your Arms – The Lemonheads
    I always liked Dando’s songwriting and especially his voice. This one takes me back to college, which may be why it speaks to me.
  • How Deep Is Your Love? – Jonatha Brooke
    Brooke is fantastic. I always thought she was going to break through and be huge. This is a funky groove with an oozy chorus and great, bending vocals.
  • Gift – Rocco DeLuca & The Burden
    OK, so I wrote this up just the other day. It is a beautiful love song and I really wanted to include it in this mix. This one is all about the great vocal melody and how it fits with the lyrics.
  • Passion – Dionne Farris
    And speaking of talented women who I always thought would break through and be huge… Give a listen to this great track. Her vocal performance is inspiring and the lyrics lay it right out there. You really can feel the passion.
  • Weight of the World – The Samples
    I honestly don’t know if anyone outside of the Denver/Boulder area is familiar with The Samples. I heard them a lot when I lived out there and I always thought this was a beautiful pop song.
  • Here In My Room – Incubus
    They didn’t coin the phrase “Love is verb” but I like they way they use it here with solid piano and wailing guitar.
  • The World Exploded Into Love – Bob Schneider
    I have followed Bob Schneider for his entire career, starting with Joe Rockhead almost 20 years ago. He continues to grow as a songwriter and a few years ago he came up with this gem. People are already covering it.
  • Joy Inside My Tears – Stevie Wonder
    Stevie has brought a lot of joy himself, but this one is to his wife, who brought him joy. Like most of the songs on “Songs in the Key of Life,” this one is laid out in the first few minutes, but goes on for several more minutes of fantastic riffing and soloing.
  • Transatlanticism – Death Cab For Cutie
    I couldn’t pick another song as a closer for this mix. Sometimes these guys lose me, but this love anthem is perfect. I like how he repeats “I need you so much closer” over and over again before the big layered vocals at the end demand “So come on! Come on!”

Enjoy this mix with a hot toddy. Have a great weekend.

September 10, 2010 Posted by | Alt Country, Blues, Classic Rock, Mix CD, Popular, R&B, Rock | 3 Comments

The Friday mix: refreshing chillout and electronica

As I listen to music in my car, I occasionally tag songs on my iPod as something I want to share with readers. Then, the next time I synch with iTunes I have all these songs with a 5-star rating to put in mixes. Lately, I’ve been getting into a lot of chillout and electronica and that is what I found today when I synched and started looking for a mix theme. If you usually just read on Fridays, try following some links today. I love this stuff.

Nothing but the very finest.

  • Misunderstood – Common
    Great use of a Nina Simone sample. Common’s flow is outstanding and whoever mixed this one for him has a gift. It’s tough to know for sure because no less than 8 guys got a producer credit on this album, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this one was mixed by Kanye West.
  • In a Silent Way (DJ Cam Remix) – Miles Davis
    Miles Davis was a pioneer throughout his life. He continued stretching himself and staying relevant until his death in 1991. This remix reminds me of the music from his last release, the hip-hop-oriented “Doo Bop.”
  • 9×9 – Marco Benevento
    This dreamy chillout piece is in 5/4 time and features some cool percussion as a result. Check out the sample above, or this live performance to hear the whole thing (the song starts about a 90 seconds in).
  • Big Calm – Morcheeba
    It takes a minute for this song to get rolling, but when it does the whining synthesizers, jangling guitar, and shuffling percussion come together behind a smooth but pretty profane rap.
  • 3 Libras (All Main Courses Remix by 3D of Massive Attack) – A Perfect Circle
    Remixing this song was inspired. 3D did a great job of it too, taking away the mathematical structure of the original and making it eerier and more challenging to the ear.
  • Slip Inside This House – Primal Scream
    The percussion and piano combine in this song to create a nearly irresistible dance groove. I’m reminded a little bit of the Stone Roses.
  • You Make Life So Good – Rashaan Patterson
    You may wonder what such a poppy R&B track is doing on this mix. I don’t have an answer for you beyond it seems to fit. This hook caught my ear and I just love it.
  • Poetry – The RH Factor
    I have written this disc up
    in the past, but if you missed it, check out this smooth, jazzy tune on which Roy Hargrove gets some help from Erykah Badu AND Q-Tip. I would like to have been in the studio that day.
  • About Her – Malcolm McLaren
    This one comes from the Kill Bill soundtrack. The original was cool, but I like this update much better.
  • Tinsagu Nu Hana Dub – Ryukyu Underground
    Here’s a little world music vibe for you. This is from the “Rough Guide to Music of Okinawa,” which has some strange stuff on it. This, though, is very Western-accessible chillout dub.
  • Chica Bonita – Shaggy
    Sometimes Shaggy lays it on a little too thick for me, but the muted trumpet and Caribbean vibe is fantastic on this track.
  • Puppy Toy – Tricky
    The piano riff is great and Tricky’s trademark throaty whisper is cool, but neither can hold a candle to the dirty guitar and Alex Mills hollering at the chorus .
  • UNKLE (Main Title Theme) – UNKLE
    This might be the coolest song on this mix. This is from UNKLE’s first album, when DJ Shadow was in the band. Check out the crazy list of samples used in this song.
  • The Margretville Dance – The Prize Fighter Inferno
    You don’t get to hear the chorus in this sample, but you do get a sense of the quiet, keyboard-centered groove.
  • Regiment – Brian Eno & David Byrne
    When these two met to collaborate, I’m surprised they didn’t collapse into some singularity of weirdness. There IS some weird stuff on this collaboration, but they managed to keep it together for this song at least with just some Qawwali wailing and cool rhythmic work on bass.

Enjoy with an ice-cold dirty martini or something else refreshing but a little edgy. Have a great weekend.

July 16, 2010 Posted by | Chillout, Electronica, Mix CD, Popular, R&B, World Music | Leave a comment

The Friday mix: Music to share with your children, part 3

For the Friday mix today, I am presenting the third and possibly final installment of music I love to share with my daughter (for the other two, check the category named “Children” to the right). Like anything else you enjoy – favorite foods, cool old movies – sharing great music with your kids gives you a chance to sort of appreciate some of your favorite songs for the first time again. And you get the added benefit of not having to listen to thin, shallow music that is aimed at kids. It makes sense, really. The cartoons you loved most as a kid weren’t the ones made for kids; they were the ones made for adults. Music is the same way.

It's good for families to enjoy music together. Usually.

On my iPod, my daughter’s mix is at over 300 songs and counting, but I think the three posts I have written on this topic give you a good flavor for it and some good suggestions. Perhaps after I have accumulated another hundred songs on her playlist, I’ll put together another mix for all of you.

  1. I Wanna Be Like You – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
    An energetic cover of the Disney song from The Jungle Book. I never thought I’d say this, but I like the BBVD’s take on this song more than Los Lobos’ version.
  2. Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
    If you can stand to hear this one anymore, you will make your kids happy.
  3. Mahna Mahna – Cake
    Those Nettwerk Records people know their business. Cake’s take on the Jim Henson classic is as much fun as the original.
  4. Lie in Our Graves – Dave Matthews
    OK, so the title is grim. The song is a celebration.
  5. Your Song – Elton John
    I sang this song to my daughter dozens of times when she was an infant. Not surprisingly, she likes it now.
  6. Apple Scruffs – George Harrison
    This is from his first post-Beatles release in 1970. The harmonica work is so sunny and the song is fun.
  7. The Way I Am – Ingrid Michaelson
    Michaelson professes her love because “you take me the way I am,” which is a great message for kids.
  8. I Wanna Stay Home – Jellyfish
    Everyone can identify with feeling this way, even little kids.
  9. Fool in the Rain – Led Zeppelin
    A fat piano hook, the danceable bridge, Robert Plant wailing a love song… heck, it even has a police whistle. Of course kids like it. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp (written for Robert Plant’s dog) is also a winner.
  10. Guantanamera – Los Lobos
    My daughter’s mix has over 20 songs by Los Lobos, but their version of this classic Cuban song is perhaps her favorite.
  11. Say Hey (I Love You) – Michael Franti & Spearhead
    A new and infectious song about love at first sight.
  12. Mamunia – Paul McCartney & Wings
    Paul could always write a pleasing melody and this is a straightforward song about appreciating rain.
  13. Bathtub Gin – Phish
    This song is just wall-to-wall fun, from the funny lyrics to the goofy end.
  14. Groovin’ – The Rascals
    You like this song. Why wouldn’t your kids? I actually recommended this song last week on another mix, but my daughter likes this song and I didn’t want to leave it out.
  15. Birdhouse in Your Soul – They Might Be Giants
    Like ‘Istanbul (Not Constantinople),’ this is absolutely irresistible to kids.
  16. The Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens
    “Ee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee um um a weh.  A-wimoweh a-wimoweh a-wimoweh a-wimoweh a-wimoweh a-wimoweh a-wimoweh a-wimoweh…”
  17. Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) – Us3
    The loops and samples in this are so much fun and the rapping just about the music itself.
  18. I’ve Seen All Good People – Yes
    I don’t think my daughter is ready for the ponderous prog rock of “Tales from the Topographic Oceans,” but this song has a sunny beginning, a funky bridge, and grows to complexity by the end.

Interestingly, my daughter also really enjoys my world mix, which has more than 100 songs from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, South America, the Pacific, etc. Like me, I think she enjoys hearing songs that strike my Western ear funny, but are undeniably beautiful or cool. Maybe that will be the next mix I put together.

In any event, I hope you have enjoyed these and that you play music for your kids that isn’t mindlessly produced for kids (think Kidz Bop) or is hopelessly bland pablum (think Raffi).  I’m sure you will find their lives and yours are richer for it. Enjoy with a tall orange juice. Like quality music, it’s good for you and almost everybody likes it. Have a good weekend.

July 2, 2010 Posted by | Children, Classic Rock, Mix CD, Popular, R&B, Rock, World Music | 1 Comment

The Friday mix: Old school love songs

Back in May, I compiled a mix of Songs for the Dumped. Kind of a sad topic, but I thought it was a pretty good mix. I may return to the topic too because I only had to go through about half of my music to find those tracks. I probably have another mix that size waiting to be plucked from my collection. Today, however, I want to go in the opposite direction and bring you a collection of love songs for the start of your next relationship.

See? That's what I'm talking about

People are still writing great love songs today, obviously, but to my mind nothing sets a romantic mood like old love songs.  I’ve pulled together some 50s, 60s, and 70s R&B, a few 40s crooning tunes, and some newer stuff that borrows heavily from these traditions.

If you’ve ever seen As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, this mix is like Nicholson’s tape labeled “For Emergencies Only.” Use it with care.

  • Satisfy My Soul – Paul Carrack
    This was the only song I could pick to kick off the mix. Carrack’s wailing, heartfelt intro is perfect and the gentle percussion, plucking, and harmony vocals set a nice mood.
  • Make It Good to Me – Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
    The Kings lay down a nice groove for Jones to sing about love and longing. The arrangement is great, with oozy horns and sweet strings.
  • Give It Everything – Al Green
    The Reverend also got a spot on my Dumped mix. What can I say? The man sings straight to your heart. Love the horns, too, of course.
  • Sure Hope You Mean It – Raphael Saadiq
    The album this comes from was one of my very first posts when I started this blog. This Motown revival song has a wonderful vibe.
  • I’ll Come Running Back to You – Sam Cooke
    Cooke was great at crafting evocative songs like this one (remember ‘Chain Gang?’). This sweet love song is from 1957.
  • At Last – Etta James
    I have recommended this song before, but I simply can’t put together a mix like this without including one of the most beautiful, stirring love songs ever.
  • I Only Have Eyes for You – The Flamingos
    This 1934 song has been covered by Al Jolson, Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Bette Midler, The Temptations, Jamie Cullum, Frank Sinatra, Carly Simon, Rod Stewart, and that’s not even half the list. The winner, though, is this unforgettable version by The Flamingos.
  • Fool for You – Branford Marsalis & The Impressions
    Curtis Mayfield’s original is great, but I really like the update Marsalis puts on this song. It’s got funky percussion and horns but the chorus still has beautiful piano and vocals.
  • Groove Me – King Floyd
    This song has a fun feel like the early days of a relationship, though he’s talking about marriage.
  • Love Makes the World Go Round – Deon Jackson
    It starts with light keyboards and almost whispered vocals, but horns and backing vocals dress up the great payoff pop hook at the chorus.
  • People Gonna Talk – James Hunter
    Like the Raphael Saadiq song above, this is a relatively new song with a throwback feel and, in fact, I wrote these two albums up on the same day.
  • Old Fashioned Way – Ken Boothe
    OK, so the lyrics are about heartbreak and loss, but it still fits the romantic mood, I think.
  • Knock Me a Kiss – Louis Jordan
    Jordan croons the goofy lyrics with the muted trumpet and brush snare behind him. It just can’t miss.
  • Groovin’ – The Rascals
    Another pretty simple song. Mostly harmonica, harmony vocals, tambourine, and a little piano but the lyrics are sunny and full of hope and promise.
  • Your Precious Love – Marvin Gaye
    Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell produced several great duets, but this one is far and away my favorite.
  • I Can’t Imagine – Aaron Neville
    I’m not usually a big Neville Brothers fan, but I found this one on the Truth About Cats and Dogs soundtrack and it is undeniably a winner. Aaron’s sweet alto is well suited to this kind of couples skate ballad.

Enjoy on the couch with a glass of wine for each of you. White wine, I think. Have a great weekend.

June 25, 2010 Posted by | Mix CD, Motown, Popular, R&B, Soul | 1 Comment