Wednesday, December 12, 2012

10 Great Songs You Might Not Have Heard, Part I

I think I'm going to try this experiment out in a couple of parts, so here goes Numero Uno. There's a ton of great music out in the world, and most of it you'll never hear on the radio or SiriusXM, but it's important that it gets heard. This first collection of tunes is eclectic if nothing else, and is a good starting point for my musical ramblings. Some of these tunes you may have heard, some may even seem familiar, and some you won't have a clue about. But really, that is the point. So, open up your mind, sit back and throw on your favorite headphones, and get ready for some new music...

"...let there be songs to fill the air..." - Robert Hunter, 'Ripple'

1. Blue Sparkle Fade by Freshwater Collins

Now, these fellas hail from the great state of Wisconsin, and were a huge fixture on the Milwaukee music scene during the late '90's and early-to-mid 2000's. Their funky-rock style provided much entertainment for folks all over the country as they became increasingly popular, but alas, they are no more, like many bands in my collection. Here's a tune from their sophomore effort 'The Portable Atmosphere'. (and check out lead singer Chris Vos' new band The Record Company)

Blue Sparkle Fade

2. A Roller Skating Jam Named "Saturdays" by De La Soul

Definitely one of the most underrated hip-hop groups of all time, De La Soul had a sound and lyrics like no one else. This track, from the band's 2nd release 'De La Soul Is Dead', and featuring Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, is a funky, danceable tune taking us all back to when hip-hop was hip-hop.

A Roller Skating Jam Named ''Saturdays''

3. Discovering Japan by Graham Parker

I had never heard Graham Parker until about 6 months ago, when I inquired about who was playing over the speakers at my local record shop, The Record Exchange. Turns out, this tune from the 1979 album 'Squeezing Out Sparks' is awesome. It sure sounds like it's from 1979, but don't let that frighten you. Lots of good music came from the '70's, you can admit it, it's OK, you're among friends...

Discovering Japan

4. When Vegans Attack by Clutch

This band has been pumping out riff-heavy rock for a couple of decades now, and this track from their 2007 album 'From Beale Street To Oblivion' is no exception. Great guitars, pounding drums and Neil Fallon's signature growl make this band one of the best-kept secrets in the land.

When Vegans Attack

5. Nappy Heads by The Fugees

Everyone knows 'The Score' was a fantastic album from this fantastic hip-hop Haitian trio. What a lot of people don't realize is that that was their SECOND, it's true, I promise. The writing on my copy of 'Blunted On Reality' got so faded in high school, no one but me could recognize it. One of the most explosive, creative, important and overlooked albums of the mid-nineties, this is one song that will get you bouncing around the room.

Nappy Heads

6. El Caminos In The West by Grandaddy

This California-based American indie-rock band never really got the recognition they deserved before breaking up around 2006. While rumors of a reunion are abound, for now we'll just have to listen to this jam from their 2003 album 'Sumday'.

El Caminos In The West

7. Stew by Azz Kitchen

What can I tell you about this band...nothing legal. The 'Summer of '98' was a wild one, and these boys provided much of the musical backdrop. Another Milwaukee band, I was also the lucky one to grace the cover of their only album, 'The Liquid Pocket'. This tune has great instruments, lyrics and attitude. We miss you, fellas... (also check out the Kris Crow Band and Jimmy At The Prom)


8. Milquetoast by Helmet

After almost 20 years of waiting, I recently got a chance to see Helmet, and they did not disappoint. Sure, it wasn't the same lineup from the early days, but they still brought the thunder. 'Betty' always seemed to be downplayed a bit to me, especially after the mainstream success they enjoyed with 'Meantime' in the early 1990's, but this record is at least up to par with that one, if not a wee bit better. This song was one of 2 encores they played a few weeks ago, and it was worth the wait. Enjoy.


9. Gazzelloni by Eric Dolphy

Mr. Dolphy seems to get overlooked by the Miles Davis' and the John Coltranes' as far as jazz is concerned, but he could hold his own, and how. On his only recording for Blue Note Records, 'Out To Lunch!', his saxophone skills shine, and this piece is a prime example.


10. Plow by Dag

For the last track in this first installment of not-well-known songs/bands, we're going to take a look at Dag. Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, Dag created a mix of soul, funk, jazz and whatever else they wanted to throw in the mix. 'Righteous' was their debut album in 1994, and was well-received, but the band broke up around 1999. They left us with a great collection of music, as is exemplified here.


Now, like I said before, some of these tunes may not be new to you, some may be gems you haven't heard in a while, and some (most, hopefully) will be new jams you can add to your collection. Either way, I hope you enjoy all of these rad tracks, and stay "tuned" (hehe) for my next installment, coming soon...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Large Huge Enormous Big Gigantic

Boulder, Colorado's own Big Gigantic took the stage last Saturday night in Boise for one of the best sets of "jamtronica" witnessed at the Knitting Factory in Idaho. A mix of sampling, electronic beats, hip-hop, live drumming and live sax made for a vast array of sonic textures over the course of their 2-hour show, not to mention the ridiculous light show to add to the mood and feel of the evening.

Dominic Lalli's mixing and jazz-and-latin-influenced saxophone playing added great lead runs to a smokin' electronic backdrop, while drummer Jeremy Salken was absolutely relentless on the kit, as his longest break of the evening was roughly 16 seconds, if memory serves. These guys have been getting bigger and bigger on both the electronic and jam band scenes over the last few years, and from the sounds of it, they are not planning on letting up any time soon...

Big Gigantic 1

Big Gigantic 2

Big Gigantic 3

Big Gigantic 4

Big Gigantic 5

Big Gigantic 6

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Beautifully Grounded

This has got to be one of the most unique, interesting, beautiful and confusing films ever made, and it’s only 7 minutes long.


“One astronaut’s journey through space and life ends on a hostile exosolar planet. Grounded is a metaphorical account of the experience, inviting unique interpretation and reflection by the viewer. Themes of aging, inheritance, paternal approval, cyclic trajectories, and behaviors passed on through generations are explored against an ethereal backdrop.

Conceived and created by Kevin Margo, VFX industry veteran and CG supervisor at acclaimed blur studio, in collaboration with Barrett Meeker, this short film represents an investigation into the live action medium as a more intimate and efficient vehicle for realizing visions and ideas of a personal nature…an expression with greater immediacy, purity, and volume typically absent in an all CG approach.”

(click here to see ‘Grounded’ in its entirety and get more info)

(thanks to Kevin Margo and Barrett Meeker for the film!)

Beautifully Grounded

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Morning Jacket Rocks Boise

Last Sunday night, I was able to witness one of the greatest live shows I can recall seeing when My Morning Jacket hit the stage at the Knitting Factory in downtown Boise. After the dust had settled following their almost 2-and-a-half hour set, we had witnessed a superb blend of psychedelic rock, ripping guitar solos, tender ballads and everything in between, for a complete mind-melt of a show. Playing tracks from their newest album 'Circuital', their best (in my opinion) album 'Z' and some oldies but goodies from back in the day, MMJ brought the house down song after song and didn't relent for one moment throughout the performance. Even the slower songs seemed to have a majestic quality to them, building and building with layers of guitar and keys, until the crowd was so entranced that we were all bouncing and moving in one fluid motion to the rhythm.

Jim James is one of the best frontmen in music today, and he did not disappoint on Sunday evening. Donning a giant purple cape as the band took the stage, James had the crowd in the palm of his hand for the whole show, jumping onto the drum riser several times throughout the night, wildly flailing around the stage during his solos, and orchestrating the massive wall of sound that penetrated each member of the crowd to their core.

Below is a snippet of the final song of the set, 'Gideon', before they came back out for a jammed-out 2 song encore of crowd favorites 'Phone Went West' and 'One Big Holiday'. This is a small section of music and lights that will give a glimpse into the feel and tone the band displayed for the entire evening, and made us all hope their next stop back in Boise is not too far down the road. Enjoy.

(click here for complete setlist)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Microsoft, This Logo Could've Been Yours

After last month’s new “rebranding” effort by Microsoft, one designer apparently didn’t feel the look was up to par, and decided to do something about it. The look is so much sleeker, the new font looks more professional and the overall feel of Microsoft as a brand jumps up a few points with Andrew Kim’s updated design concept.

I’m sure that Microsoft is very comfortable with keeping their look the same, which may be part of the problem for the company. Innovation and driving your company forward is what gets people initially to your brand, and it’s a big part of what keeps them coming back for more. Let’s take a look at the evolution of the Microsoft logo over the years:

1975 Microsoft, This Logo Couldve Been Yours
1975 87 Microsoft, This Logo Couldve Been Yours
1987 2012 Microsoft, This Logo Couldve Been Yours
2012 Microsoft, This Logo Couldve Been Yours

While the new logo is certainly an improvement over the original logo from 1975, it just doesn’t say anything about the company’s willingness or desire to move FORWARD. If Microsoft wants to really try to give Apple more and more competition over the coming years, this design concept (or anything else that was somewhat original) would have been a great way to start out.

Now, take a look at Andrew Kim‘s entire concept for rebranding Microsoft, and be the judge yourself.

next Microsoft, This Logo Couldve Been Yours

As Alex Williams of TechCrunch says, “Windows is over. It’s outdated. It represents the past. Windows Phone and Surface are hindered by the Windows brand.” Alas, we’ll just have to see how their “new” logo works out…

(Thanks to Minimally Minimal for showcasing Kim’s design concept!)

Microsoft, This Logo Could've Been Yours