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?"

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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.

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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.

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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!"

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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.

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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.

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Four great SoundCloud songs you've probably never heard

I use Apple Music for the majority of my music listening. It works well and lets me add most of my favorite songs, but there’s a lot missing from it. From what I’ve heard, it takes a little bit of work to get your songs up on iTunes/Apple Music. Unless an artist is well known and doing well in their music career, oftentimes, it’s simply not worth it to publish to Apple Music.

SoundCloud, on the other hand, provides extreme simplicity when it comes to publishing music, and makes it easy for listeners to find your songs. So, lots of artists get their start on SoundCloud, which entices me to use it alongside Apple Music. Yeah, there's a popular and pretty true idea floating around that SoundCloud is full of mumble rappers, but this isn’t about that part of the site. If you look, it’s easy enough to find a lot of gems on SoundCloud.

Here are four good songs I’ve found on SoundCloud that have less than 10,000 listens at the time of posting this.

1. "Decadence" by Gr._.ff

The lack of attention to this song has astounded me since I found it. It starts off with a pretty sweet melody but completely switches mood halfway through, and I love that about this song. I’ve had a few friends who judged this song before it was even a few seconds in, but I think that you have to listen to the entire song to fully appreciate this one. Age of song: 3 years old Listens: 7,332 Likes: 174

2. Read the rest

Spotify's antitrust complaint against Apple is a neat parable about Big Tech's monopoly

Spotify has asked the EU Commission to intervene in its business relationship with Apple, citing the fact that Apple takes a 30% vig on all customer revenues from people who join the service or buy songs through an Iphone app, while Apple's own competing Itunes store does not have to pay this commission. Read the rest

Listen to Tame Impala with Justin Timberlake

Take 'em to the bridge. Read the rest

Save the ARC, the largest popular music library in the United States

New York City's ARChive of Contemporary Music (ARC) is a cultural treasure packed with actual treasures. Inside the walls of this not-for-profit private research library in TriBeCa are 3 million physical audio recordings, many on vinyl records. The ARC's founder, Bob George, is also a cultural treasure -- warm, obsessive, kind, committed, and a walking encyclopedia of popular music -- from obscure folk to the avant-garde. In recent years, Bob's been working closely with the Internet Archive to digitize many of the ARC's scarce 78s for broader access and, yes, preservation. Bob launched ARC in 1985 when his own record collection outgrew his apartment. Now the ARC needs help. They've launched a GoFundMe to raise $100,000 to keep the ARC alive. From Rolling Stone:

Far from the kind of crackpot hoarding that sometimes happens in cities, George’s archive has been supported by powerhouses in music and entertainment. It houses Keith Richards’ blues collection. Their current board is varied enough to include both Youssou N’Dour and Paul Simon (Lou Reed and David Bowie were both once members). It consulted for Tom Hanks on the making of That Thing You Do. It’s the go-to repository for album art for everything from Grammy exhibits to Taschen books... George’s commitment is dogged. When Martin Scorsese wanted an obscure Italian song in Goodfellas, George roamed Little Italy humming the tune until someone recognized it (“You can solve every problem in New York if you just walk through it,” he says).

At a time when some in the city were scrubbing Keith Haring murals off subway platforms, George was welcoming every genre, including then-unpopular punk and hip-hop (among the archive’s greatest collection is a trove of punk 45s).

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