Elton John explains Tiny Dancer as he plays it for a TV crew in 1971

Elton John, then around 23, takes a TV crew through the structure of "Tiny Dancer," a song with lyrics written by John's longtime writing partner Bernie Taupin about his girlfriend (later wife) Maxine Feibelman who at the time was the Elton John Band's seamstress.

(via Laughing Squid) Read the rest

Trailer for new documentary about the 60s-70s Laurel Canyon music scene featuring Tom Petty, Cat Power, Jackson Browne, Norah Jones

In the 1960s and 1970s, Los Angeles's Laurel Canyon neighborhood was flowing with sex, drugs, and folk-rock and roll. Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, Jackson Brown, Carole King, the Mamas & The Papas, and countless other musicians made the scene or had homes in the hills. Echo in the Canyon is a new documentary about that magical moment and the influential sound that emerged. The trip back in time to this "legendary paradise, as Tom Petty called it, was directed by Andrew Slater with Jakob Dylan as executive producer.

“The best test of songwriting is that it transcends its moment in time,” Dylan said in a statement. “And there is no doubt that the songs we explore in this film are as powerful today as they were in 1965.”

Echo in the Canyon will see a national release in June.

(Rolling Stone) Read the rest

Watch The Cure's Robert Smith brilliant start to a red carpet interview

The inimitable Robert Smith on the red carpet following The Cure's induction last week into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Here's their performance:

Read the rest

Skrillex song messes up mosquitos' attacks and mating according to scientific study

A new study reveals that the Skrillex track "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" reduces mosquitos' success in foraging, host attack, and sexual activities of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that spreads dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika fever, Mayaro, and other nasty diseases. According to the researchers from the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and their colleagues, it's all about that bass. From their scientific paper published in the journal Acta Tropica:

Sound and its reception are crucial for reproduction, survival, and population maintenance of many animals. In insects, low-frequency vibrations facilitate sexual interactions, whereas noise disrupts the perception of signals from conspecifics and hosts. Despite evidence that mosquitoes respond to sound frequencies beyond fundamental ranges, including songs, and that males and females need to struggle to harmonize their flight tones, the behavioral impacts of music as control targets remain unexplored. In this study, we examined the effects of electronic music (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites by Skrillex) on foraging, host attack, and sexual activities of the dengue vector Aedes aegypti. Adults were presented with two sound environments (music-off or music-on). Discrepancies in visitation, blood feeding, and copulation patterns were compared between environments with and without music. Ae. aegypti females maintained in the music-off environment initiated host visits earlier than those in the music-on environment. They visited the host significantly less often in the music-on than the music-off condition. Females exposed to music attacked hosts much later than their non-exposed peers. The occurrence of blood feeding activity was lower when music was being played. Adults exposed to music copulated far less often than their counterparts kept in an environment where there was no music.

Read the rest

Listen to David Bowie hear a touching birthday message from Scott Walker

On January 8, 1997, David Bowie became quite emotional after hearing happy birthday message from the pioneering pop/experimental musician Scott Walker, who died yesterday. It was a touching moment then and even moreso now that both of these inimitable forces of avant-garde art/music are gone. Turns out that Walker's birthday was the following day:

"I'll have a drink to you on the other side of midnight. How's that?"

Read the rest

Lead Belly sings about Mr. Hitler (1942)

My favorite blues singer Huddie William Ledbetter (1888-1949), aka Lead Belly, sung about traditional blues topics like relationships, prison, and poverty, but he also wrote about current events and newsmakers of the day, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jean Harlow to the Scottsboro Boys. In 1942, Lead Belly wrote this tune, "Mr. Hitler." Here are the lyrics:

Hiltler started out in 1932 Hiltler started out in 1932 When he started out, he took the homes from the Jews

We're gonna tear Hitler down We're gonna tear Hitler down We're gonna tear Hitler down someday. We're gonna bring him to the ground We're gonna bring him to the ground We're gonna bring him to the ground someday.

When Hitler started out, he took the Jews from their homes When Hitler started out, he took the Jews from their homes That's one thing Mr. Hitler you know you done wrong.

We're gonna tear Hitler down We're gonna tear Hitler down We're gonna tear Hitler down someday. We're gonna bring him to the ground We're gonna bring him to the ground We're gonna bring him to the ground someday.

You ain't no iron, you ain't no solid rock You ain't no iron, you ain't no solid rock but we American people say "Mr. Hitler you is got to stop!"

We're gonna tear Hitler down We're gonna tear Hitler down We're gonna tear Hitler down someday. We're gonna bring him to the ground We're gonna bring him to the ground We're gonna bring him to the ground someday.

Read the rest

Scott Walker, pioneering art rock singer, RIP

Legendary singer Scott Walker, whose journey as a musician took him from blue-eyed soul to baroque pop to heady avant-garde experimentalism, has died at age 76. Walker counted the likes of Radiohead, Pulp, Julian Cope, and Sunn O))) as fans and collaborators. From an obituary released by Walker's record label 4AD:

Noel Scott Engel (later known as Scott Walker) was born in 1943, the son of an Ohio geologist. He began his career as a session bassist, changing his name when he joined The Walker Brothers. The 1960s trio enjoyed a meteoric rise, especially in Britain, where hits like 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore’ attracted a following to rival that of The Beatles.

But the superstar lifestyle and fame was not for Scott. As an only child, he had grown up in the kind of rich, slow solitude in which imagination could flourish, and he retreated from the limelight, returning as a solo artist to release a string of critically acclaimed albums, Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3 and Scott 4. He disappeared until the late 1970’s, when The Walker Brothers re-joined for their last album together and then a solo album in the 80’s.

Another long silence and Scott then re-emerged in the 90’s and onwards with lyric-driven works that deconstructed music into elemental soundscapes. Drawing on politics, war, plague, torture, and industrial harshness, Scott’s apocalyptic epics used silence as well as real-world effects and pared-back vocals to articulate the void. Sometimes gothic and eerie, often sweepingly cinematic, always strikingly visual, his works reached for the inexpressible, emerging from space as yearnings in texture and dissonance.

Read the rest

Hello World

Enjoy Louie Zong's sweet song, just perfect to start the week with. Zong used a 2006 app called Virtual Singer. Read the rest

Robocopyright: Dan Bull's rap anthem for the defeat of #Article13

Just in time for a continent-wide day of street demonstrations against Article 13 and the new Copyright Directive, British rapper Dan Bull (previously) has released a furious, amazing new song about the regulation: Robocopyright. More than a 100 MEPs have pledged to vote against the measure on Monday, and it's not too late for you to contact your MEP and tell them that you expect them to vote to defeat it. Read the rest

Spanish pop-goth performance featuring Freddy Krueger in high-waisted jeans

The singer is María Olvido Gara Jova, aka Alaska, performing with her band Dinarama. Along with singing in another electro-pop-goth band Fangoria, Alaska has hosted a children's TV series, appeared on a comedy sketch show, and starred in an MTV Spain reality show. This number is titled "Mi novio es un zombi" ("My Boyfriend Is a Zombie").

(r/ObscureMedia, thanks UPSO!) Read the rest

Stranger Things 3 trailer improved with cheery old-timey music

The Stranger Things 3 trailer with a delightful original score by Michael Hearst of "Songs for Ice Cream Trucks" fame.

"Survive, pack up your synths! Hearst, crank up the calliope!"

Read the rest

Mario theme performed on violin at four levels of expertise

Level two, "Amateur", sounded so good that I suspected a joke was afoot. It was, but only the sort of joke a virtuoso like Rob Landes could pull off. Read the rest

Relaxing music video: 'Can't Help Falling in Love' on kalimba, with dog, in nature

You need this. Read the rest

Ten year old son of the late, great drummer, Dennis Davis, interviews Tony Visconti about his father's work with Bowie

This is so wonderful. Hikaru Davis is the son of the late session drummer, Dennis Davis, who died in 2016. Among many others, Davis played with Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Roy Ayers, and Iggy Pop. But he is most famously remembered as one of David Bowie's drummers, playing on Bowie's 70s records, from Young Americans to Scary Monsters.

When Davis died, his son, then ten (now 13) decided that he wanted to know more about his father and what made him a great drummer by interviewing friends and fellow musicians who'd worked with his dad. The result is HD Projects, a YouTube channel presenting these interview videos as they're finished.

In the most recent upload, Hikaru interviews producer and longtime Bowie collaborator, Tony Visconti. In the video, Tony breaks down Davis' drumming on Bowie's Lodger track, "Look Back in Anger."

Here is Hikaru's statement about his documentary project and interviewing Tony Visconti:

After my father’s passing, I didn’t want to hear anybody say his name. It was not because I wanted to forget about him. It was my way of mourning. It made me sad, angry, and depressed to hear his name from someone. I wanted to keep him only inside of me. Maybe I was too selfish. But I was only 10 years old.

After a while, I started looking at social media to see what people were saying about my father. And I saw an article in Rolling Stone Magazine about Dad’s death. That’s when I saw Mr.

Read the rest

First, Angélique Kidjo paid tribute to Talking Heads; now she's honoring Celia Cruz, the Queen of Salsa

Angélique Kidjo is a three-time Grammy-winning musician and activist from Benin; for more than a week, all I have listened to is her tribute to Talking Heads' 1980 album "Remain in Light," an album so great I bought tickets to see Kidjo perform it live about ten seconds after hearing it. Read the rest

Review: What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book

Two years ago, I reviewed Andy Partridge and Todd Bernhardt's highly-recommended Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC, a collection of deep-nerding conversations between these two musicians about beloved XTC tracks. While that book was a wonder, it understandably focused on Andy and his contributions to the band. While deepening my admiration and appreciation for the band, it left me hungry for more.

Enter What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book. I didn't think I could love an XTC book more than Complicated Game, but this book just keeps inspiring and surprising me every time I poke my nose into it. This is a delightful and dizzying collection of XTC exploration, analysis, and devotion that should stoke the soul coal of any hardcore fan of the band.

Put together by Mark Fisher, editor of Limelight, the 80s XTC zine, this book is a collected conversation between dozens of musicians deconstructing XTC songs, interviews with ALL of the band members (including their Spinal Tap-worthy causality list of drummers), kids and young music students reacting to XTC music, home studio recording tips from Andy Partridge, Andy on music theory (or lack thereof) and songwriting. Contributors include Rick Buckler (The Jam), Chris Difford (Squeeze), Debbi Peterson (The Bangles), Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies), Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa), Peter Gabriel, and many more.

Also included are a piece on drummers breaking down some of Terry Chambers more brilliant moments, members of XTC tribute bands around the world talking about their music, a cultural studies professor on the genius of Colin Moulding's lyrics, a piece about a German YouTuber who's covering his way through the XTC catalog, and the (apparently) obligatory photo tour of Swindon, England (the band's beloved home town). Read the rest

Legendary surf rock guitarist Dick Dale, RIP

Dick Dale, the "King of the Surf Guitar," has died at age 81. RIP, maestro. Dale's pioneering sound was inspired by his Lebanese uncle who played the oud and taught his nephew the tarabaki, a goblet-shaped drum. Dale's 1961 instrumental "Let's Go Trippin'," recorded with his band The Del-Tones, sparked the vibrant surf rock scene that spawned the Beach Boys. Dale was shredding right up until his death. RIP, maestro. From The Guardian:

Born Richard Anthony Monsour in May 1937, Dale developed his distinctive sound by adding to instrumental rock influences from his Middle Eastern heritage, along with a “wet” reverb sound and his rapid alternative picking style.

In 2011, he told the Miami New Times that the hectic drumming of Gene Krupa, along with the “screams” of wild animals and the sound and sensation of being in the ocean inspired his sound.

Read the rest

More posts