Monday, December 31, 2012

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti – "Baby"

Here's the original. There's a wild story behind this one.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ravi Shankar‪ – "Raga Ahir Bhairav"‬

RIP. It would be hard to overstate Ravi Shankar's influence on introducing world music… to the world. He was an excellent musician, a true master, and also a good composer. I'm fond of his work with Phillip Glass, he did the music for early films of the great Indian filmmaker, Satyajit Ray, and Beatles fans are well aware of Shankar's influence on George Harrison. Still, for all the fusion and crossover work he did, much of it very good, it's his traditional music that may be the most, well, transcendental. I haven't been able to authenticate it, but he allegedly said something I love about education and learning being an ongoing process: "One does learn the sitar – one studies it." He leaves behind an amazing legacy.

Here are the obituaries from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times (also an appreciation), The Washington Post and the AP (plus another piece, "Sitar maker says Ravi Shankar’s legacy will inspire another generation of musicians"). Other appreciations abound.

Shankar was ridiculously prolific, and YouTube features a great deal of his music, including a playlist or two.

Local KCRW DJ (and world music guru) Tom Schnabel will be doing a Ravi Shankar tribute show this weekend. (I'll update the link for the specific show after it airs.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dave Brubeck Quartet – "Blue Rondo à la Turk"

RIP. I have several Brubeck albums, and the man had a great run, performing 'til he was 88. This tune is one of his most famous, and also one of his best.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

School of Seven Bells – "Night"

The band solicited fan videos for this song, and this one was the winner. More information here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – "This Land Is Your Land"

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings do Woody Guthrie? Just about the best pick possible for this week. (We ran with some other classics back in 2008.)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bob Dylan – "Not Dark Yet"

I saw Bob Dylan last week at the Hollywood Bowl. Mark Knopfler, who opened, delivered a fantastic, celtic-flavored set (I'll have to pick up his latest album). Dylan's voice, alas, was pretty much shot. It was never conventionally pretty, but it could quite expressive. Some of the arrangements were great, though, including a pretty one of "Desolation Row." (The set list was mostly old classics: You Ain't Goin' Nowhere, To Ramona, Things Have Changed, Tangled Up In Blue, The Levee's Gonna Break, Make You Feel My Love, Cry A While, Desolation Row, Highway 61 Revisited, Love Sick, Thunder On The Mountain, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Like A Rolling Stone, All Along The Watchtower and Blowin' In The Wind.) I've only seen Dylan live once before, about 13 years ago, with Brian Setzer opening. Besides some classics, Dylan heavily featured the songs from Time Out of Mind, his latest album at the time (it's become one of my favorites). Some friends also attended, and one of them, who was a major Dylan fan and had seen him twice before, said it was the best of the three. Anyway, this is probably my favorite track from Time Out of Mind.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Belle Brigade – "Belt of Orion"

With the vocal blend on those harmonies, you might guess that the singers are related, and you'd be right. The core of The Belle Brigade is Barbara and Ethan Gruska, who come from a musical family (their grandfather is composer John Williams). Here's a live version.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Family Of The Year – "Hero"

This is a local L.A. band. I've had this song stuck in my head for the past week, so I decided to learn it (the chords are pretty easy). You can also hear the studio version or this stripped down one.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Warren Zevon – "Werewolves of London"

This is one of my favorite Zevon songs. It's appropriate due to the London Olympics, and also because this recent NPR story (which received plenty of letters). Here's a live version.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Best Coast – "No One Like You"

Not to be confused with "No One Likes You"...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Of Monsters and Men – "King and Lionheart"

Here's a live version by this band from Iceland.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Electric Guest – "Troubleman"

This one's been running through my head for the past couple of weeks. Here's a live version from their KCRW session. (It's good, but I prefer the stronger harmonies on the studio version.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Elton John – "Rocket Man"

One of John/Taupin's best songs, and supposedly partially inspired by a Ray Bradbury short story.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Doc Watson and Jack Lawrence – "Tennessee Stud"

RIP. Erik Loomis has a nice post up and some other clips and links.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Levon Helm

RIP. These are probably my two favorite songs by The Band. Both clips are from Martin Scorsese's doc, The Last Waltz. Levon Helm was quite a talent.

(Side note: I played trumpet on a version of "The Weight" in high school.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Heartless Bastards – "Only for You"

Here's a version from a live radio session.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

First Aid Kit – "Emmylou"

This one keeps getting stuck in my head. Every time I hear that chorus, I think, wow, the scansion of "Gra-ha-ha-ham" is terrible, but damn, that's one hell of a come-on. Plus, the band is two Swedish sisters, only 22 and 19 years old, mostly doing their own songwriting, and writing and performing in a second language, not to mention an American genre. Overall, I'd say they're pretty impressive, and their best work is hauntingly gorgeous.

I feel it all comes through in the song itself, but here are their comments on this one:

The artists we mention in 'Emmylou' are some of our all-time favourite singers and songwriters. They have inspired us endlessly and in a way this is a tribute to them. When they sing together it's an otherworldly power. You can hear the love seeping through those vocals chords. The song is about the intimate connection you get when you sing together. Johnny and June were obviously married and although Emmylou and Gram never were an official couple there are certainly rumours. To us the song is saying: 'We may not be able to be together, but at least we can sing together.'

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012


RIP Robert Sherman, a prolific provider of catchy silliness.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mark Ronson – "A La Modeliste"

This is from the Re:Generation project. This particular tune is based on a playground song. Mark Ronson, who arranged it, is joined by Erykah Badu, Trombone Shorty, Mos Def, Zigaboo Modeliste, and members of the Dap Kings. He also dropped by KCRW.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Etta James – "At Last"

RIP. This is the obvious pick, but there's a reason this is her most famous song. Then there's her duet with Mike Finnigan, "You Gonna Make Me Cry."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Boogah Man" – The Phantom Blues Band

"Phantom Blues Band in the first music video from their new record, Inside Out. Group members are Tony Braunagel, Mike Finnegan, Larry Fulcher, Darrell Leonard, Johnny Lee Schell, and Joe Sublett."