Keaton & Adams: Two American masters finally combined

Buster Keaton footage cleverly edited with the brilliant and satisfying Fearful Symmetries, by John Adams--it works so well:

 

Video is by Jérôme Bosc (parts 2 & 3 after the jump). If you're curious at all about my calling Buster Keaton an American Master, you must watch Tony Zhou's episode "Buster Keaton - The Art of the Gag" from his amazing Every Frame a Painting series.

Continue reading "Keaton & Adams: Two American masters finally combined" »


Pick of the Week: Daft Punk

This week's pick is "Doin' It Right" by Daft Punk. I am not so disillusioned to think you haven't heard of Daft Punk. From "One More Time" to "Get Lucky", Daft Punk is the kind of group that it's hard to avoid, even if you wanted to. Most of their overwhelming popularity stems from their sense of mystery: the two Frenchmen wear robotic looking helmets to hide their faces, they rarely perform live, and they release music very sporadically. (They also collaborate with big names, past and present, and they have a merch line that would make any electro-hipster drool.)

Beyond all this, they make exceptionally great music. This is all well known--what you may not know are some of the other amazing tracks on their albums that did not become one of their beloved singles. "Doin' It Right" is one of the last tracks on their latest album, Random Access Memoriesand is an incredible auditory experience:

 

Continue reading "Pick of the Week: Daft Punk" »


Pick of the Week: Bonnie Raitt

Hey everybody, I'm back for another Pick of the Week! This pick focuses on the Bonnie Raitt classic, "I Can't Make You Love Me". Now, I'll admit, this is some cheesy stuff...but sometimes cheese is a good thing: think about it as a nice brie as opposed to Velveeta. You might know Bonnie Raitt from her 1991 hit "Something to Talk About", a standard, upbeat, Shania Twain-esque 90's pop song. In contrast, "I Can't Make You Love Me" is very intimate and personal. While it has broad appeal, it comes across as a song that was written for personal healing, not for record sales. 

 

Continue reading "Pick of the Week: Bonnie Raitt" »


The History of Punk, Pt. 1: The Velvet Underground & Nico

This is the first episode of a three-part series we've been recording about the history of punk music. A musical style often derided for its simplicity and unpolished nature, punk is actually quite seminal and important, and for part one we look at one of the earliest punk albums, The Velvet Underground & Nico, and consider the music, what ideas informed it, what impact it had, and so on--the usual stuff. What we found was surprising to me personally (I've mostly regarded punk as something akin to day-old garbage: not quite stinky and gross, but not desirable at all, either), and has really changed my estimation of this music and social movement. It's a fun exploration of a musical style you may not have considered very seriously before, but should. 

Playlist after the fold....

Continue reading "The History of Punk, Pt. 1: The Velvet Underground & Nico" »


Putting dots on paper isn't the only option

I'm becoming more and more fascinated by graphical, software-based music composition tools. A well-known, simple example is ToneMatrix, a pentatonic step sequencer (if you've never played with this before, you're welcome).

If you find that one interesting, give these a try (flash plug-in required, sorry):

  • Online Sequencer: straight-forward, most resembles traditional organization of musical ideas.
  • Drumbot: a bunch of cool tools: several drum sequencers, chord charts for discovery and composition, practice tools, and more.
  • Otomata: a generative musical sequencer.
  • Seaquence: my personal favorite, Seaquence adopts a biological metaphor, allowing you to create and combine musical 'lifeforms' that will then interact, resulting in unpredictably evolving compositions.

 


How TV Can Solve the Music Crisis

From Ted Gioia at the Daily Beast is a great article detailing what the continually faltering and failing music industry can learn from what TV, as an industry, is doing right. His framing makes a powerful point: not only is TV thriving by selling content via a profitable subscription model, as an industry it is taking a product that was long given away free and convincing people to pay for it.

Read it here: Five Lessons the Faltering Music Industry Could Learn From TV. (Gioia's writing about music is always interesting, btw.)


Pick of the Week: Portugal. The Man.

Happy Monday everyone! I'm back again for my Pick of the Week!

This week I'm highlighting "AKA M80 the Wolf" by Portugal. The Man. This track is a throwback for a group that has gained most of its popularity fairly recently (recording since the early 2000's, the band released an album produced by Danger Mouse in 2012, which has understandably brought them much more attention).  I first encountered their music before they were all big and famous (FIRST!), back in the days when they only had one album - Waiter: You Vultures!They specialize in a what I like to call 'trippy-rock', music that sounds both familiar and foreign at the same time.

 

While their new music is definitely cool, it all just made me want to come back and listen to their early stuff, which brings me to "AKA M80 the Wolf". One of the main tracks from their first album, this is, simply put, a fantastic rock song. It evokes the sounds of bands like The Mars Volta, and features a steady groove with light, haunting, tenor male vocals, sweet keyboard parts, and a psychedelic guitar line. Their sound varies a lot from song to song, and they can get really crazy (see "Chicago"), but I enjoy how this song seems to age so well and how I find myself regularly drawn back to it. I also appreciate the odd yet beary entertaining music video.  Enjoy!


Composers are people too!

The tumblr Composers Doing Normal Shit features photographs of exactly what you'd expect. I love things like this because, hey, amusement, but also because it's an important and interesting exercise to humanize those whose accomplishments we really admire, who seem much larger than life. It reminds us that they are just people, too, and that their lives were filled with mundanity, just like ours, and that those accomplishments were mostly because of diligent, focused and consistent work, not magical art-making powers.

My favorite at the moment is probably Dmitri Shostakovich playing cards with his kids:

Shostakovich