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Monday, February 26, 2007

Bad Music Radio

Suppose your friend says to you, "This is really disgusting - try some." If you're one of those people who doesn't hesitate to taste the vile concoction being offered, then you might enjoy this streaming radio station, Bad Music Radio. Covering the spectrum from the obscurely bad to the violently bad, there's something here to bother everyone. A disco version of Ethel Merman singing "There's No Business Like Show Business"? William Shatner covering "Rocket Man"? Actually, I kind of enjoy that one.

The ironic thing is that I'd much rather listen to Bad Music Radio than most any of this pablum.

(via mefi.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars



Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars


This is a really great album of Afrobeat and Reggae recorded by refugees from the hideous, long running civil war in Sierra Leone. Recorded in refugee camps in Guinea, it really captures the raw power of this music in its purest state.

Buy the Album

You can hear the songs streaming from their website: refugeeallstars.org

There is also a documentary about the making of the album available on DVD which has one a bunch of awards.

This award winning film chronicles the life of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, a group of six Sierra Leonean musicians who come together to form a band while living as refugees in the Republic of Guinea. Forced from their homes in Sierra Leone, the members of the band represent the thousands of untold stories that exist amongst the survivors of the Sierra Leonean civil war.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Song For Valentine's Day

I have a very important Valentine's Day message for all you lovers out there:

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Professor Murder

Professor Murder is my favorite new band. The Brooklyn-based four piece makes highly energetic, danceable indie-rock - music to party to. They are rhythm-centered, featuring a spotlight on percussion (much cowbell, oh yes), two bass-players, keyboard, and no guitarist. One of their bassists also plays a mean melodica. Good points of reference are !!! (kind of) or even the classic post-punk band The Fire Engines. Though they describe their music as "happy hardcore" - not a totally inappropriate label for the music if you can forget about what is usually meant by "happy hardcore" - I'd call it post-punk drenched in dub, infused with funk and a little hip hop.

The dub influence, widely felt in the original post-punk movement, has gone largely unacknowledged in the post-punk revival of late. Especially here in the Bay Area, the things that "reggae" has come to signify (hippies in a dorm room playing those same 14 songs from Bob Marley's "Legend" over and over, for example) are so well established that most indie-rock hipsters I've met wouldn't touch anything Jamaican with a ten-foot pole (or maybe I'm just bitter about the cold reception my record collection has received since I moved to hipster-infested West Oakland). This is why I'm excited to find a band like Professor Murder that embraces it.

It's not just melodica playing reminiscent of Augustus Pablo, or the emphasis on songs anchored by the bass and drums. "The Mountain", the third track on "Professor Murder Rides The Subway", actually lifts its lyrics from a dancehall tune - Red Rat's "Tight Up Skirt":
Hey you girl inna di tight up skirt
Ya mek mi head swell til mi blood vessel burst
Hey you girl inna di tight up shorts
Ya speed up ten more beats to mi heart
Hey you girl inna di tight up blouse
Everytime ya pass mi, ya get mi aroused
Hey you girl inna di jeans
Look pun dat gal deh
See what mi mean
They wisely do away with the patois for their repurposed lyrical quotation, and it works quite well in the new context. After all, the words evoke a sentiment easily applicable to any scene. You can hear a live version of "The Mountain" here, though the studio version on the EP sounds better.

For two cuts from "Professor Murder Rides The Subway", head over to this Pitchfork review and grab "Champion" and "Free Stress Test" at the bottom of the page. This EP is really solid, five (well four, one track is a brief acapella throwaway that works nicely as a bridge) rumbling, chugging, ass-shaking songs, well produced but still with a ton of dirt (much like my favorite dub). It came out last July, but in my defense I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse of Brooklyn's indie-rock scene. There's also a 2004 recording of theirs going around (a demo?) from before they shed their guitarist which is more straight-ahead punk. Check out "Chinese Checkers". This track is rather unlike the music on "...Rides The Subway". But it still kicks my ass and makes me want to dance like a violent fool.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Medly Remix Contest

Last year I reviewed Medly, the debut album by PTR pals Medl. Now they have announced a remix contest, using the excellent ccmixter as the platform. Raw multitracks of their whole album are available. Check out the announcement on the Creative Commons weblog for information on how to enter. The deadline is June 1.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Free Classical Music Archive

Phonoarchive has a large and random collection of classical music available to download, mostly in MP3 format. I know what you're thinking - you don't know very much about classical music. Why not sample some for free? I'll make just a few recommendations.

They have all 16 Beethoven String Quartets (my favorite is No. 13, Opus 130 in Bb). If you're up for something a bit challenging, Bartok's Music for String Instruments, Percussion and Celesta is well worth hearing. If you prefer something more contempletive, you can't go wrong with Bach's Das Wohltemperierte Klavier. In the mood for something melodramatic? You really can't beat Verdi's Requiem for sheer bombastic choral spookiness. If you'd like something fluffier, Haydn wrote a huge number of symphonies which all pretty much sound the same to me, but they are pleasant enough on the ears. I am especially fond of Schubert so I'll recommend his Death and the Maiden quartet as a good starting point. His Piano Sonata Opus 143 in A Minor is also quite beautiful, and you should hear what is probably the most famous of his lieder, Der Erlkonig. Finally, skip Vivaldi's overplayed The Four Seasons and check out his Oboe Concertos, which are a lovely example of baroque delicacy.

Perfomance matters a lot in classical music (the reason I'll often have three or four different records of the same piece) and these recordings are of unkown provenance. But you can't sneeze at free music!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Western Film Nerds Every Where Rejoiced

Ahh-eee-ahh-eee-aahhhhhh....


Heads up, Fresh Air is doing a bit about the new Ennio Morricone box set:

Appreciating the Music of Ennio Morricone


Gimmie, gimmie...

When Your Favorite Bands Are Playing

iConcertCal is an iTunes plug-in that scans your mp3 collection and generates a personalized calendar of upcoming dates bands in your collection are playing your town. Most critically, this means I'll never miss another Gogol Bordello concert! Only works in the U.S. right now, but the next version, which will supposedly be out in a few days, will support international searches.

(via mefi)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

How Vinyl Records Are Made

These came across The Witness Exchange a while back, but I just got around to watching it... a really good short doc on how Vinyl is made.