How to get through these trying times

The legendary Mavis Staples. Read the rest

A highly scientific fictional approach to ranking musical artists using math

The Internet is always finding arbitrary new ways to compile ranked lists of musicians and their songs. Sure, the content mill demands it, as seen on Pitchfork, AV Club, Ranker, and so many other sites that have built their reputations on such systems. But it's our fault, too— we, the music-loving audience that we are, so eager to compare our preferences to others. No list is ever quite right; even our own personal Definitive Musical Rankings may change over time. Perhaps that's why we consuming new music lists every year, in hopes of finding that one true objective arbiter of our sonic truth.

That search ends today. Because David Steffen has finally found the answer, in his delightful new piece of epistemological fiction about the Horowitz Method, a metrics-based approach to ranking musical groups:

But what mathematical measure? If we were talking about comparing one song with another, it might be easier, for the music itself is inherently mathematical–meter, tempo, time, number of notes, pitches. But a single musical group could have any number of songs, and the number could grow every day—what particular songs would one use to judge a group? Their newest? The whole body of their work? And some bands release songs so regularly that any conclusion drawn would have to be re-examined very frequently. And that’s not even to speak about what particular measure to use which, we know from personal experience, becomes a dispute of its own.

No, if we are going to compare musical groups and expect a somewhat stable outcome, we must not compare their songs, we must compare traits of the group themselves.

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Fatboy Slim mashes up Greta Thunberg's UN speech

Greta Thunberg's Joan of Arc-grade tongue-lashing to the world's leaders at the UN makes for some incredible mashup possibilities: it's not merely that her excellent delivery lent itself to death metal, but also her use of the phrase "right here, right now," was tailor-made for insertion into Fatboy Slim's track of the same name -- hence Fatboy Slim himself playing Twitter user David Scott's remix at a gig in Gateshead. Read the rest

How to invite someone out for a lovely afternoon

We'll find a cloud to hide us We'll keep the moon beside us Read the rest

Kurt Cobain's "Unplugged" cardigan up for auction

The green cardigan that Kurt Cobain wore during Nirvana's classic MTV Unplugged performance in 1993 (see above) will be on the auction block at the end of the month. The sweater last changed hands following a November 2015 auction, selling for $137,500. This time, the minimum bid is set for $200,000 and it's expected to go for more than $300,000. It has not been washed.

“It’s very important that we don’t wash it,” Darren Julien of Julien’s Auctions said in Rolling Stone. “The stains are still there. There’s even cigarettes burns that you can see on the sweater.”

From Julien's Auctions:

The Manhattan brand sweater is a blend of acrylic, mohair and Lycra with five-button closure (one button absent) with two exterior pockets, a burn hole and discoloration near left pocket and discoloration on right pocket. Size medium. The sweater was obtained from Jackie Farry, a close friend of the Cobain family, and is accompanied by both a handwritten letter and a typed, signed letter from Farry.

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Fantastic marching band tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing

In celebration of this year's 50th anniversary of the first humans on the moon, the Ohio State Marching Band staged this wonderful performance on Saturday.

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A favorite 'Hotel California' cover

Alabama 3 has long been a favorite and is never long out of rotation. Read the rest

Posters that mash up Talking Heads songs with pulp covers and vintage ads

Todd Alcott -- purveyor of "Cultural Mashups" and "Ephemera Set to Music" -- created this incredible set of six posters that mash up vintage ads, pulp covers, and posters with Talking Heads songs, which leaves me both excited at the thought that these will soon grace my walls (they're available as giclee prints ranging in size from 11" wide to 48" wide, at prices from $33 to $300), and enraged that apparently the artist has been eavesdropping on my most deeply held obsessions. Get out of my head, you magnificent, mindreading bastard! Read the rest

Video: Violin performance by Gaelynn Lea

Enjoy this performance by violinist Gaelynn Lea. Her body is different than yours. So is her talent. Read the rest

Listen to this compelling mash-up of 50 songs from 1979

As The Hood Internet, Chicago producers Aaron Brink (ABX) and Steve Reidell (STV SLV) have been cranking out compelling mash-ups since 2007. The clip above cuts up and recombines 50 songs from 1979. They intend to release several more single year mash-ups this month. This one features:

ABBA, AC/DC, Anita Ward, Billy Joel, Blondie, Boomtown Rats, The Buggles, The Cars, Charlie Daniels Band, Cheap Trick, Chic, The Clash, The Cure, Donna Summer, Doobie Brothers, Earth Wind & Fire, Electric Light Orchestra, Fleetwood Mac, The Flying Lizards, Gang of Four, The Gap Band, Gary Numan, Joy Division, Kiss, The Knack, Kool & The Gang, Lipps Inc, M, Michael Jackson, Pat Benatar, Pink Floyd, The Police, The Pretenders, Prince, Queen, Rainbow, Rupert Holmes, Sister Sledge, The Specials, Squeeze, The Sugarhill Gang, Supertramp, Talking Heads, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Van Halen, The Whispers, Wire

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Interview with founder of Sahel Sounds, a West African music label

Sahel Sounds is a record label, a recording project and artist collective focused on the culture in the West African Sahel. While based in Portland, Oregon, founder Christopher Kirkley frequently travels to West Africa to locate, record and work with musicians in that area. 

Sahel Sounds publishes a unique array of artists and genres including Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar, electronic synth composer Hama who plays modal, quarter tone “Arabic scales” on a Yamaha electronic keyboard, the sinuous singing and lilting melodies of Les Filles de Illighadad and a handful of other compelling artists.

Kirkley also writes extensively on the artists, how he met and recorded them as well as illuminating what makes their musical approach so distinctive. Also, the record label’s YouTube Channel features over 450 videos of the Sahel Sounds artists. 

Founder Christopher Kirkley took time to speak with Boing Boing to share his insights on the Sahel Sounds project. 

How and when did you start the label?

It was originally a blog that was kicked off in January of 2009. Simultaneously, I started the blog while I was traveling around West Africa to do this project of field recordings. But it was my own project and wasn’t financed by any external sources. 

What was the initial interest in this region of West Africa?

I heard some music from that part of the world and was really fascinated by it. However, I couldn’t find out enough information on that particular West African music online. I felt like I really need to go there myself and find out about it.  Read the rest

Puddles covers Crazy Train

Puddles' voice is that of an angel. An angel in clown make up, but sure.

I love this guy. Read the rest

Lizzo vs The Aristocats

Mike Lake's mashup of Lizzo's "Truth Hurts" with "Scales and Arpeggios" from Disney's 1970 animated feature "The Aristocats" is plain fabulous. Lizzo plays the scene far better than Eva Gabor ever did. (via Kottke) Read the rest

'I was born without my right hand and use duct tape to play guitar'

Abby is a one-handed guitar slayer and drummer, and she can really sing. Read the rest

Just This Banjo: free/open banjo instruction for an angry moment, because you can't be sad while playing the banjo

For years, I've been covering the career of Patrick Costello (previously) a deaf, copyfighting, open access banjo player and teacher who is responsible for a bounty of instructional books, videos, and meetups for would-be banjo players. Now, Patrick has finished a new book called Just This Banjo and made it open access, in the name of fighting the malaise and terror of our precarious moment. As Steve Martin has proved: you can't be sad while playing the banjo. Read the rest

Beautiful electronic easy listening music from the USSR (1960)

Theremin virtuoso Konstanin Kovalsky (1890-1976) performs with Vyacheslav Mescherin's Orchestra of Electronic Instruments, USSR, 1960. From Discogs:

The Ensemble of Electro-Musical Instruments directed by Vyacheslav Mescherin was founded within the music department of the State Radio of the Soviet Union in 1957. For more than thirty years, from the Fifties up to the Eighties the music of Ensemble Mescherina could be heard on radio and TV, in radio plays and cartoon movies almost every day. The ensemble managed to compose more then 700 pieces of music until 1990. Some of Mescherins compositions are public domain by now and can be hummed by everyone in Russia. One example is the track 'On the chicken farm', which was used in the very popular cartoon series 'Rabbit and Wolf'. In 1959 the Soviet government asked Mescherin for an electronic sound recording of 'The Internationale', to be sent to outer space on board of the first sputnik. Mescherin also designed and built many electronic instruments himself. Balalaikas, accordions and guitars, which he amplified, now sounded as if played on another planet. Mescherin and his ensemble were more or less the only experimental musicians in the field of electronic music in the USSR up to the Sixties.

(via r/VintageObscura) Read the rest

Exploitative news clip about London punk squatters in 1983

A short, exploitative 1983 news clip about punk squatters in the London Borough of Islington, complete with an uninformed, patronizing narrator: "What they lack in grey matter between the ears, they make up for in color on top."

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

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