Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

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 Friday (late) mix: More wonderful world music

My Orchestra Baobab post the other day got me listening to my world music playlist. I thought it was time I shared more of my better discoveries with you.

It's all good.

  1. Alento – Luisa Maita
    I joined an iTunes Facebook group that gives away free music occasionally. This was one of their free tracks and it’s a winner. Good energy, good melody.
  2. Sona Moyo – Richard Bona
    Richard Bona came up one day as a recommendation if you like Mino Cinelu, which I do. Bona is a little more smooth jazz-ish, but he occasionally hits on a really nice groove like this one.
  3. Strip Tease – Serge Gainsbourg
    I knew of Charloette Gainsbourg, but I was unaware of her more famous father until a reader turned me on to him. This collaboration with Warhol Superstar Nico has a great, smoky Parisian nightclub feel.
  4. Ab-I Hayat – Mercan Dede
    There are a couple different traditions represented here. It’s mostly Middle Eastern, though I hear some western percussion and some didgeridoo.
  5. Ku’u Pua Lei Mokihana – The Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band
    Hawaiian music isn’t for everyone, but this is a textbook example of the tradition. It’s what you think of when you hear the words “Hawaiian music” and it’s good.
  6. Aba Alem Lemenea – Abyssinia Infinite
    The soul of this track is African, but the keyboards are very American and the saxophone sounds straight off a vintage Van Morrison album.
  7. Toura Toura – Cheb I Sabbah
    This version is cool. There is also a great remix by Medina (?) that I found on “La Ghriba: La Kahena Remixed,” but not on YouTube. I believe this is a traditional song but Sabbah gives it a modern treatment.
  8. Sandesa – Swati Natekar
    This live performance shows that they captured the vibe pretty well in the studio version I love so much on “Tandava II.” It’s a beautiful song.
  9. Hava Nagila – The Barry Sisters
    Some geek decided to set this song to clips from Start Trek, but this is a fantastic authentic version of the classic Jewish song by The Barry Sisters. It is, in fact, the best version of this song I’ve heard, though I’d be tickled if someone could point me to a better one.
  10. Rafiki – Zap Mama
    I was actually looking for ‘Allo ‘Allo but it was disabled on YouTube. This one is also cool. Contrary to what you would think from the heavy African influence in her music, Zap Mama is Belgian and want to bridge European and African music. She does a fine job.
  11. Yashanti – Yael Naim
    There is a lot of gorgeous music on this album. ‘New Soul’ was used in a MacBook Air commercial. The music is sad but hopeful and completely beautiful. After some looking, I found a translation of the lyrics and it turns out it’s just sad.
  12. Sakura Sakura – Jean Pierre Rampal
    Rampal is a famous French flautist who shares my love of Japanese music. This track opens the disc and is my favorite. Listen to this sample and the rest on this album and you may decide to find it. The whole disc is simple and wonderful.
  13. Laulutytto – Varttina
    Check out this live performance of this song. It’s just a carnival. It looks like every person at the show is having a blast. It’s a great, high-energy closer.

Enjoy this mix with a Cosmopolitan. Why not? Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

December 12, 2010 Posted by | Mix CD, World Music | Leave a comment

West Africa meets Cuba, old school style by Orchestra Baobab

I always love music that results from the collision of two traditions. Jazz and hip-hop is a favorite. I like regrooved classic recordings, alt-country, things like that. I almost always like the collision of two national traditions, like when Western artists collaborate with Middle Eastern ones. Today, I want to recommend a brilliant mash up of western African traditions and the music of Cuba.

These guys really dig in. The shortest song on the double album is 6:44.

I have a friend and fellow audiophile who used to manage a book/music store, back when such things could be run profitably. A few years ago, he handed me a disc saying he thought I might enjoy it. I thought he was handing me something he knew and loved, but it turns out he had only read good press about it. Either way, he was right on target. The disc was “Pirate’s Choice,” a kind of comeback album by multinational band and international hit Orchestra Baobab.

Orchestra Baobab is a Senegalese band who were famous in Africa in the 1970s for combining African musical traditions with Cuban rhythms. I was too young and too far away to have ever heard of them back in the day, but apparently they were a pretty big deal over there. By the late 1980s their popularity flagged and the band broke up.

Their last recording in the 80s enjoyed a revival in Europe when it was re-released in 2001. Facing the prospect of eager audiences and their dollars, the band re-formed. They have released 2 more albums since their reunion and are still making new music more than 20 years since they broke up.

“Pirate’s Choice” was the last of their recordings before the breakup and it is my favorite of the ones I’ve heard (though, admittedly I haven’t heard them all). Listen to these to get a flavor for this double album.

  • Coumba – This is typical of their sound. Clean African guitar, Cuban percussion, and engaging harmony lead vocals. You will get a good feel for the whole album from this track.
  • Ledi Ndieme – The Orchestra sounds more traditionally African on this track, particularly the meandering and expressive vocal line.
  • Ray M’bele – And here is a very Cuban sounding track all the way through. The Latin vocal style and saxophone are no more important to this song than the percussion, which dominates the groove. Contrast this with Ledi Ndieme M’Bodj and you get the two ends of their spectrum. Their genius is that they blend these two traditions at varying levels depending on the song.
  • La Rebellion – This one starts out sounding like it will be a beautiful sounding ballad but it quickly gains momentum. Eventually, stirring saxophone and some exciting and energetic percussion dominate the song.

I was lucky enough to see Orchestra Baobab at Bonnaroo in 2008. See them if you can; the sound is a lot of fun.

December 9, 2010 Posted by | World Music | Leave a comment

Gorgeous organic and ecclectic pop from Cibo Matto alumnus Miho Hatori

I wrote up “Stereotype A”  by Cibo Matto back in April. It was a great album that featured some cool beats and beautiful melodies. The band didn’t put out a lot of work together – just 2 albums and 2 EPs – so I started looking for work the artists put out after the band broke up. In addition to the prolific and well-connected Yuka Honda and the son-of-a-Beatle Sean Lennon, the band featured the talents of Miho Hatori. Hatori has done some interesting projects, like showing up as a character on an Xbox game and voicing the character Noodle on Gorillaz’ eponymous debut. She released her only solo album in 2005, an interesting project called “Ecdysis.”

Ecdysis is when bugs moult their shells, like cicadas do. Okay. I get it.

Ecdysis” is full of music that I almost want to call ambient or electronica, but the instruments are so often organic that it doesn’t fit. The percussion in particular features handclaps, bottles, and other natural sounds. The whole project reminds me a little of early Bjork, in that the arrangements are often sparse and the melodies are dreamy, but the singer’s voice is so beautiful, strange, and compelling the package works very well. There are several ballads on the album and a few up-tempo pieces, but the album hangs together well without any jarring transitions. If you liked Cibo Matto, you will not be disappointed by Hatori’s solo release. Listen to my favorites.

  • A Song for Kids – Hatori sings this in Japanese which just makes it more appealing to me. We get vibes and some keyboards, but Hatori’s voice is the star.
  • Barracuda – I wish I had found this video for my Halloween mix. It’s mostly dark and creepy, though it ends happily enough. The instrumentation is typically spare, but I love Hatori’s harmony vocals.
  • Today Is Like That – This song is delicately constructed with what sounds like gentle accordion and percussion played on bottles and put lids. Despite the mix of instruments, Hatori’s voice makes this pensive track beautiful.
  • River of 3 Crossings – Hatori’s voice is hypnotic as horns, piano, and vibes noodle occasionally behind plodding percussion. This one in particular reminds me of a Bjork tune.

Now if she would just get back into the studio and release a few more.

December 1, 2010 Posted by | Electronica, Popular, World Music | Leave a comment

The Friday mix: on the road again

For the Friday mix this week, I wanted to hit my travel theme again because I found a bunch of songs that fit and I love a lot of the music on this topic. This week is more locations. Give a listen because this is some great music.

Seeing things that I may never see again.

  1. Streets of Calcutta – Ananda Shankar
    The Rough Guide folks came through for me again with this rock-influenced Asian song. Sitar, flute, and clean electric guitar. It’s a cool mix.
  2. Brazil – Antonio Carlos Jobim (from “Stone Flower”)
    This is my favorite version I have hear Jobim or anyone else do of this song. It’s quiet but completely groovy.
  3. Back to Africa – Aswad
    Reggae has roots in West African music and this tune takes us and reggae back there.
  4. Commerce, TX – Ben Kweller
    This fellow has a bright future in pop music. It’s not necessarily fresh, since it sounds exactly like Weezer, who are themselves derivative of other bands. That said, I really like this track.
  5. Say Goodbe to Hollywood – Billy Joel
    Maybe it’s because I’m old, but I really like Billy Joel. And I think this track is superior to the Eminem song of the same name.
  6. St. Petersburg – Brazilian Girls
    My love of Brazilian Girls is welldocumented. This has a simple, catchy melody and the best whistling since the Andy Griffith theme song.
  7. South of the Border – Chris Isaak
    Many people have chosen to do this song, but I really like Isaak’s Orbison-esque crooning and the Hawiian-sounding guitar.
  8. Mushaboom – Feist
    Mushaboom is a rural community near Halifax in Nova Scotia and an irresistible little song from Feist. I think this was used in a car commercial or something.
  9. Back in N.Y.C. – Genesis
    Hey, kids! Have you ever heard of Peter Gabriel? Phil Collins? Well, they used to be in a band together and back when Gabriel was doing more drugs than your average audience at a Phish show, he wrote this brilliant concept album. This is my favorite track on that album.
  10. Trains to Brazil – Guillemots
    The kids in this video don’t seem to be digging this 80s throwback pop. Or maybe they’re staring at the hot bass player.
  11. Lookout Cleveland – The Band
    I also have a great version of this classic by Jackie Green.
  12. Guayaquil City – Mano Negra
    This is perhaps my favorite song on today’s mix simply because of the fantastic horns.
  13. New York Hustle – Mick Jagger
    This is from the Alfie soundtrack. You wouldn’t believe this was Jagger because he barely sings a note on the album and it’s full of really cool music like this one. No offense intended, but I honestly thought Jagger’s best years were behind him. The old boy’s still got some juice left in him.
  14. Baton Rouge – The Nixons
    Southern rock meets grunge and the pairing is good.
  15. Taj Mahal – Sam Roberts
    Ringing piano, a Donovan-esque melody, and fat harmony vocals can’t miss me.
  16. Cayman Review – Trey Anastasio
    Trey’s 2002 solo album, recorded during “The Hiatus,” has some great songs and some fun music, like this one.
  17. Back to Basom – Ween
    Basom is apparently a tiny little hamlet in New York. Ween is often weird and frenetic, but I think this patient, evocative tune is simply beautiful.

Enjoy this mix with a tequila sunrise, because I’ve only ever had this drink on vacation. Have a great weekend.

August 21, 2010 Posted by | Classic Rock, Jazz, Lounge, Mix CD, Popular, Rock, World Music | Leave a comment

Tradition meets technology in a mix from DJ Rekha

If there is one thing I like more than traditional indigenous music, it is traditional music blended with modern, hip-hop inspired production. The use of synthesizers, looping, drum machines, and effects on world music just really reaches me. As I have said before, the really interesting ideas are born at the collision of traditions. I came upon just such a sound in a collection compiled by DJ Rekha called, “Basement Bhangra.”

Bhangra is a traditional form of music from the Punjab region of Northern India and Pakistan. It was born as music for folk dancing that celebrated the coming of the harvest in that region. It shares a lot of elements with qawwali music, which I love. The Middle Eastern instruments, language, and chord progressions are interesting to my ear. Bhangra music, though rooted in traditions, has not stood still. Many artists have brought the living music with them into the 21st century. DJ Rekha usually brings this music to clubs in New York. This time, he thoughtfully pulled together a fine collection for our enjoyment.

By way of disclaimer, I will say that bhangra is like raw garlic: I love a little bit, but I can only do so much at one time. I would be unlikely to spin this disc in my living room. On the other hand, I will be delighted to have these tracks pop up at random on the world music mix on my iPod.

  • Gur Nalon Ishq Mitha – Malkit Singh
    Most of this song is a pretty standard dance beat and Bhangra singing, but there is some cool keyboard and synth work from time to time. Also, this is the finest video in the history of ever.
  • Bhanghall – DJ Rekha & Dave Sharma
    Rekha and Sharma treat us to some tribal drumming and chanting with some plucked tumbi (a traditional bhangra stringed instrument) with just a little synth thrown in around the edges.
  • Akh Mastani – Tigerstyle feat. Labh Janjua
    The traditional percussion and bhangra singing are augmented by polished violins and synthesizers. It’s a very danceable track.
  • Panj Bindiyaan – Ominous DJs
    Ominous DJs set up a great groove through the percussion but periodically cut out portions of the beat. This creates a negative space that really highlights the great vocal performance in this song.
  • Teri Sadi – Subs vs. Apache Indian
    All of the traditional bhangra elements are there, but the interest in this song all comes from the work on synthesizer and production. The vocals are mixed in different ways and  looped and occasional synthesized effects make the track shine.
  • Aaja Nachiye Boliyan Paiye – Gunjan feat. Tigerstyle
    The percussion is bouncy and the vocals provided by Gunjan are energetic and pretty. I like the arrangement of this song as well, with a nice variety of sounds and several different passages.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | World Music | Leave a comment

The Friday mix: going places

Last week I put together a travel mix for my friends who have been on the road. Those songs were about the act of traveling. I had songs about airplanes and hailing taxis and driving. I have a different take on it this week. The titles in this week’s mix are full of places you can go. These theme mixes don’t always hang well as a mix and I haven’t made an effort to sequence it, as I often do. However, all of these songs are on my iPod and I like them all. I hope you do too.

I want to go cool places...

  • Expo in Tokyo – Alan Moorehouse
    Jazzy Hammond organ and guitar playing that classic “oriental music” riff all the cartoons used when we were kids. This is a cool tune.
  • Pay Back Africa– Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra
    From “Who Is This America?” This is the original song that TV on the Radio had Antibalas play on ‘Things You Can Do’ from “Return to Cookie Mountain.” In fact, I thought TV on the Radio had ripped this song off, until I learned Antiballas was playing with them. Stick around for the end of this sample. That’s what most of the song sounds like.
  • Fake Tales of San Francisco– The Arctic Monkeys
    The Arctic Monkeys play some extremely cool music. This is a simple guitar riff, but there is a lot going on lyrically and there is enough energy to power a city block for an evening.
  • Mauritania – Ben Allison & Medicine Wheel
    This is a smooth track from my favorite Ben Allison album. You can hear a bit of African flavor in the theme. Horns and flute play a pretty melody, but the soloing work is virtuoso. Ben’s bass solo explores odd corners of the groove; the trombone solo is nasty and beautiful; the flute soars and flutters.
  • Oklahoma – Bob Schneider
    Schneider is an incredibly prolific pop singer/songwriter who I have been following for decades. He actually dated Sandra Bullock for a minute (she likes bad boys). I like the syncopated percussion, the lyrics, and the kind of hopeful, inspiring chord progression in this song about the end of the world.
  • Walking to New Orleans – Buckwheat Zydeco
    An absolutely classic zydeco recording but it’s about as slow and deliberate a zydeco tune as I have ever heard. In spite of its plodding pace, it’s a joyful song.
  • Seven Years in Tibet – David Bowie
    If, for some reason, you stopped listening to Bowie, keep listening. He never quit writing interesting music or taking chances in the studio. Listen to the oozy verses and powerful, industrial chorus in this song. Dude is older than my dad and still writing kick ass rock ‘n roll.
  • Can’t Go Back to Jersey – G. Love
    This is about a douchebag (sorry, G, if this is autobiographical) who pocket dialed his girl while flirting with someone else. She is kicking his ass out and he’s faced with being homeless and having to go back to Jersey.
  • California – Gomez
    Gomez takes two full minutes to get this song going, but man it is worth the wait. The funky percussion fits perfectly with the busy guitar riff and harmony vocals. I love this song.
  • Amsterdam – Guster
    This video gives us a pretty literal take on the line, “Are you getting somewhere or did you get lost in Amsterdam.” I always thought “Amsterdam” was a metaphor for drugs in this song.
  • Little Japan – Los Lobos
    If all you know of Los Lobos is “La Bamba” you should really dig deeper. Check out this sophisticated but appealing love song.
  • Sailing to Philadelphia – Mark Knopfler (feat. James Taylor)
    OK, Taylor AND Knopfler? How bad can it be? It’s one of Knopfler historical songs, this time about Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, who mapped the Mason-Dixon line to settle a border dispute. Add Taylor’s honey sweet voice to Knopfler’s perfectly expressive guitar work and you have gold.
  • Nebraska – moe.
    Click the link and listen to the first few seconds of this song. It’s a great intro for a cool song.
  • Syracuse – Pinback
    There is something mathematical about their approach to pop. Not that it has complicated time signatures, like math rock. I just think they play very precisely and hit the downbeat most of the time, rather than syncopating anything. That doesn’t mean it’s simple, just clean.
  • Houston – Soul Coughing
    I still like Mike Doughty, but I was sorry he left these guys. Their music was edgy and weird and all of them were monsters on their instruments. Here’s a strange minimalist groove with Doughty’s cool as hell lyrics.
  • Shanghai Noodle Factory – Traffic
    I listened to a lot of Traffic in college and I always liked this track. The footage is interesting here, too, of a chef actually making noodles. I didn’t realize there was so much body English involved.
  • Santa Fe – Virginia Coalition
    VaCo plays sunny, candy-like pop that reminds me of some of Blues Traveler’s most broadly appealing songs. It’s not dark or complicated, but there is definitely something to be said for the pure pop song.
  • Birmingham – The Wolfgang Press
    Aspects of this remind me of Soul Coughing. The band is a three-piece, and the guitarist adds depth to the sound by playing atonal and rhythmic noises. In fact, if Lou Reed played with Soul Coughing, it might sound like The Wolfgang Press.

Enjoy this mix with kumis or something else you can’t get where you live. Have a great

August 6, 2010 Posted by | Classic Rock, Electronica, Jazz, Mix CD, Popular, Rock, World Music | Leave a comment

The Friday mix: my latest finds from around the world

It’s been some time now since I put together a mix of world music and I collect it all the time so I have some real gems for you today. In my endless quest for music that sounds fresh or breaks new ground, I can always count on world music. The collision of traditions and cultures is always rich with great new ideas, and even if it is some traditional, indigenous music it is often new to me.

Now, somebody get this guy a drum machine.

  1. Jijy – Big Blue Ball (feat. Arona N’Diaye, Rossy, Jah Wobble)
    This is one of Peter Gabriel’s many interesting projects. Artists from all over the world contributed, including Sinead O’Conor, Karl Wallinger,  Gabriel himself, and many others that I didn’t know (but Gabriel did). It was in production literally 18 years before being launched in the U.S. in 2004. This is a relentless groove that will make you dance like magic shoes.
  2. Mala Suerta con el 13 – Calle 13/Mala Rodríguez
    I speak a smattering of Spanish, but these guys are rapping too fast for me. I believe, though, that these are some explicit lyrics, so you may want to watch out blasting this one. Either way, great track.
  3. Bethe Bethe Kese Kese – Gaudi & Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
    A beautiful song, modern production, and the best Qawwali singer ever make this a relaxing and uplifting groove.
  4. Eh Mustapha – Hamsa Lila
    This sample is only 82 seconds of this 7-minute song. After a few minutes of this chillout groove, the percussion picks up and we get a frantic and beautiful flute solo in an entirely different, high-energy vibe.
  5. Ayyu-Ha S-Saqi – Oren Bloedow and Jennifer Charles
    I’m not sure what Jennifer Charles brings to the table here. There is nothing western about this track at all. It’s a rich and gorgeous interpretation of a traditional Middle Eastern song.
  6. Morro Não Tem Vez (Favela) – Karrin Allyson
    This has a jazzy, French lounge feel, complete with a crazy vibes solo, and Allyson gives it a spirited, airy delivery.
  7. Maria Jose – Kinky
    Sometimes this Mexican techno 5-piece loses me, but not on this one. They keep the rhythm danceable and don’t do anything too weird. Other than this trippy video.
  8. Salla – Makale
    We get some full on Turkish hip-hop from this Turkish/Swiss/Italian act out of Sweden. I absolutely love to hear this western music form completely retrofitted to pull samples from an entirely different tradition.
  9. Jind Mahi – Malkit Singh
    The folks who assembled the Bend It Like Beckham soundtrack found this one for me. Singh’s Bhangra singing is backed with western percussion and accompanied throughout the song by soprano sax. The energy is uplifting and the hook is compelling.
  10. Ya Habibi – Malouma Mint Maideh
    I found this one on a compilation called “Holding Up Half the Sky: Voices of African Women.” It’s a slow and lovely song where Maideh and saxophone take turns. The whole 6-minute song sounds like this and it couldn’t be more soothing.
  11. Guayaquil City – Mano Negra
    This track brings the energy back up a little bit. I love the harmonizing horns and the whole ska-in-Africa feel of the song.
  12. Pikrodafni – Mode Plagal
    Mode Plagal play a funky fusion of traditional Greek music and jazz. I once again offer my thanks to the folks at Rough Guides, this time for turning me onto these guys.
  13. Ana Baashaq el Bahr – Nagat El Saghira
    El Saghira sings a traditional-sounding Egyptian melody, but the violins, keyboard, and what sound simply like guitars update it a little without losing its national identity.
  14. Oriental Wind – Wax Poetic
    They take several minutes setting up this quiet, speedy groove, but eventually we get some really cool klezmer clarinet and trumpet solos. It never becomes full on klezmer, though. It stays cool and jazzy, if a little ominous. The song is only 4:13, but this video’s poster looped it to show more footage of his vacation in Venice.

I hope you enjoy these and that you go out and find a few of these discs. If, by the way, you have a favorite world music album, please please leave me a comment so I can enjoy it too. Thanks in advance. Enjoy this mix with a cosmopolitan. Have a great weekend.

July 23, 2010 Posted by | Chillout, Hip Hop, Jazz, Mix CD, World Music | Leave a comment

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