June 19, 2009

Peart, Bozzio, Heredia drum jam


Here's a cool long-form drum jam by Neil Peart (Rush), Terry Bozzio (Zappa, UK, Bozzio, Levin, Stevens) and Joey Heredia (Stevie Wonder, Herb Alpert).  This was filmed during a warm up session for a master class Neil was putting together. I love it when some of the greats collaborate!


April 30, 2009

5 albums that will transport you to another planet

Every once in while you have a listening experience that changes the way you think about music and what it can do.  Most of these albums had been out for quite a while the first time I heard them, but each had a huge impact on me both as a music lover and a musician.  Totally cosmic, man.

1) Yes - Close to the Edge

The first time I heard this album was the closest I've ever had to a religious experience listening to rock.  I remember sitting there, headphones on, my eyes closed, and just becoming completely enveloped by the music.  Amazing playing, complex, intricate arrangements, and Jon Anderson's soaring voice and weird/mystical lyrics.  Wow, what an eye-opener.

2) Queen - Queen II

The greatest thing about this album is that it is completely unique - nothing else sounds quite like it.  As with most great things, it is an acquired taste, and definitely takes a number of listens to appreciate. Queen made full use of studio technology with multi-layered guitar and vocals, and Freddie Mercury really starts coming into his own here.  Outstanding playing and arranging by the whole band.

3) Rush - Moving Pictures

Even though this album contains most of Rush's best known songs (Tom Sawyer, Limelight, YYZ) it never gets old for me.  I still remember hearing this album as a fledgling drummer and thinking 'Oh, I have a lot of work to do'.  Another awesome album to listen to with headphones in the dark.  Super tight playing and arrangements, and killer production by Terry Brown.

4) Allan Holdsworth - Metal Fatigue

The first time I heard Allan Holdsworth play, all I could think was 'how is this guy not massively famous?'  The answer of course, is that Holdsworth is a guitarist that only plays what he feels and doesn't pander to popular tastes or fads.  His music is beautiful, and his facility as a guitarist is almost unbelievable.  It also doesn't hurt that his band over the years has used some of the most amazing session players ever.  On a personal level, he is also one of the nicest, most humble guys I've ever met.

5) Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

Dark. Heavy.  Atmospheric.  Intelligent.  Porcupine Tree is finally starting to get some of the credit they so richly deserve.  Steven Wilson, the bands guitarist/singer/producer and primary song writer has created an amazing sound, mixing the psychedelic sounds of Floyd with some very dark, crunchy metal.  He also has a drummer that is arguably the best rock drummer playing today - Gavin Harrison.  Almost shocked me speechless the first time I heard it.

April 26, 2009

Coolest and lamest band names

There are some bands that I wanted to like before I ever heard their music because of how cool there name sounded. There are also some bands that I like but am ashamed to say so because their name sounds so lame. Off the top of my head...

Super cool:

  • The Smiths
  • Elvis Costello (technically not a band name, but not his real name either)
  • Pavement
  • Housemartins
  • Superchunk (helped by the fact that they have an album called "No Pocky for Kitty")
  • The Replacements
  • Travis
  • The Shins (named after the mayor's family in "The Music Man" supposedly)

Kinda lame:

  • Yes
  • The Beatles (so universally loved that I'm not embarrassed to say the name, but still pretty bad for the greatest band ever)
  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • Gorillaz (it's the "z" that makes me dislike it)
  • Barenaked Ladies (hate to include them, but it is a pretty bad name)
  • Steely Dan (especially if you know where the name comes from)

Anyone else have an opinion? Who did you want to like before you heard their music? Who are you ashamed to tell your friends you like?

January 28, 2009

Five first albums I really enjoy

There's something about first albums. They can really capture an energy and freshness that can disappear after an artist hits it big. Here are five first albums that I really love.

Bff Ben Folds Five by Ben Folds Five
Sounds like three friends recording on a four-track in a rented house (which was probably not far from the truth). "Philosophy" and "Where's Summer B.?" are standouts.
Ben Folds Five - Ben Folds Five

Fow Fountains of Wayne by Fountains of Wayne
This album feels like Saturday morning when you were a kid... probably because of the lyrics of the first song, "Radiation Vibe." "Survival Car" and "I've Got a Flair" are also really great.
Fountains of Wayne - Fountains of Wayne

Ec My Aim is True by Elvis Costello
Not my favorite of the great one's albums, but a fantastic place to start. My favorites are "Sneaky Feelings" and "Blame It On Cain."
Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True

Weezer Weezer by Weezer
"I've got the Dungeon Master's Guide. I've got a 12-sided die. I've got Kitty Pryde And Nightcrawler too Waiting there for me. Yes I do, I do." 'Nuff said.
Weezer - Weezer

Bnl Gordon by Barenaked Ladies
Energetic, quirky, funny. You can tell they'd been playing this material for ages in live shows. I especially love how the song "Grade 9" breaks into "Tom Sawyer" by Rush.
Barenaked Ladies - Gordon

What are your favorite first albums?

FotC Interview

Sorry, for posting about Flight of the Conchords for three consecutive posts, but here's an interview with an Australian reporter who asks why they give Australians such a hard time.

January 27, 2009

New single from Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the Conchords has released a really funny new single called Sugalumps. You can listen to it on the HBO website or buy it on iTunes.

Flight of the Conchords - Sugalumps - Single - Sugalumps

December 17, 2008

Careless Whisper duet by Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright