Thursday, January 31, 2013

blue train

John Coltrane kicked his addictions and recorded the hard bop harmonics of this classic jazz juggernaut. After being fired by Miles Davis in the Spring of 1957 from his "First Great Quintet" because of his problems with heroin and alcohol, Coltrane locked himself away in his room for four days to detox. He would later consider: "During the year 1957, I experienced by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in my gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music."

Coltrane played with Thelonius Monk's quartet for a while; but was unable to record with them due to contractual problems. Coltrane was signed to Prestige; but they gave him permission to honor his verbal agreement with Blue Note founder Alfred Lion to do an album for the label. Lion produced the sessions at Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, New Jersey that became 'Blue Train'Coltrane's tenor saxophone is backed up by trumpeter Lee Morgan, trombonist Curtis Fuller, pianist Kenny Drew, and the rhythms section from the Miles Davis Quintet: drummer Philly Joe Jones and bassist Paul Chambers.  'Blue Train' was his only album for Blue Note.

Coltrane would later explain his musical approach:   "About this time, I was trying for a sweeping sound. I started experimenting because I was striving for more individual development. I even tried long, rapid lines that Ira Gitler termed “sheets of sound” at the time. But actually, I was beginning to apply the three-on-one chord approach, and at that time the tendency was to play the entire scale of each chord. Therefore, they were usually played fast and sometimes sounded like glisses. I found there were a certain number of chord progressions to play in a given time, and sometimes what I played didn’t work out in eighth notes, 16th notes, or triplets. I had to put the notes in uneven groups like fives and sevens in order to get them all in. I thought in groups of notes, not of one note at a time. I tried to place these groups on the accents and emphasize the strong beats—maybe on 2 here and on 4 over at the end. I would set up the line and drop groups of notes—a long line with accents dropped as I moved along. Sometimes what I was doing clashed harmonically with the piano—especially if the pianist wasn’t familiar with what I was doing—so a lot of times I just strolled with bass and drums."

'Blue Train'
full album:

Side one
1. "Blue Train" John Coltrane 10:43
2. "Moment's Notice" John Coltrane 9:10
Side two
1. "Locomotion" John Coltrane 7:14
2. "I'm Old Fashioned" Johnny Mercer, Jerome Kern 7:58
3. "Lazy Bird" John Coltrane 7:00

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

white light / white heat

The Velvet Underground cranked up the volume and cranked out the dark and seedy visions of this avant-garde proto-punk tour de force with its intense experimentation and improvisation in only two days. After breaking away from Andy Warhol and Nico, the band went into the studio with the intention of capturing the energy and intensity of their live shows. 'White Light / White Heat' was recorded at Scepter Studios in New York City with producer Tom Wilson and engineer Gary Kellgren and featured John Cale on vocals, electric viola, organ, bass guitar, and medical sound effects; Sterling Morrison on vocals, guitar, bass guitar, and medical sound effects; Lou Reed on vocals, guitar, and piano; and Maureen Tucker on drums and percussion.

Morrison remembers: "There was fantastic leakage 'cause everyone was playing so loud and we had so much electronic junk with us in the studio—all these fuzzers and compressors. Gary Kellgren, who is ultra-competent, told us repeatedly: 'You can't do it—all the needles are on red.' And we reacted as we always reacted: 'Look, we don't know what goes on in there and we don't want to hear about it. Just do the best you can.' And so the album is fuzzy, there's all that white noise...we wanted to do something electronic and energetic. We had the energy and the electronics, but we didn't know it couldn't be recorded...what we were trying to do was really fry the tracks ... We were all pulling in the same direction. We may have been dragging each other off a cliff, but we were all definitely going in the same direction. In the White Light/White Heat era, our lives were chaos. That's what's reflected in the record."

Cale considers: "Distortion was something we were very interested in. In that day it was tube distortion and you had a variety of things you could do. I had a little bit of electronic juice from working with LaMonte. But we had far more opportunities with the Velvets to use that stuff. It was really a musical attempt to take those words and make them more novelistic...There were a few overdubs. Backing vocals. That's what Tom Wilson managed to bring to it: we isolated the voices. We didn't really know what he was doing. Everything just sounded so much better and we were very excited...Gary Kellgren was the engineer. He and Tom had to deal with a fairly disorganized unit at that point — we were all at each other's throats. We didn't have time and we didn't care, we hadn't rehearsed anything. He still managed to get some good things, like the backup harmonies on 'I Heard Her Call My Name'. I remember those, when he played them back. He nodded sagely and said, 'Yes, you sound very commercial.' We were 'Woah'. The first album was a year of slog, every weekend, and the second one was just kind of slapdash ... We turned into a rock’n’roll band of the worst kind: a touring band who couldn’t stand being around each other, forced to face situations we didn’t want to be in and, really, given so much attention that we couldn’t deal with it. We got a bomb of publicity from Andy and I don’t think we were ready. The internal dynamics were insecure to begin with but when Lou decides one day he’s going to fire Andy and doesn’t tell anybody, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute...’ Then when difficulties came with what direction the songs should take after ‘Sister Ray’, I knew the strange arrangements were what would keep us where we were, keep us in the future a bit... But at that point, I don’t think Lou was interested in doing that kind of work anymore. There were so many chemicals floating around the atmosphere that it really didn’t lend itself to that, let alone rational thinking. And the sense of propriety, you know: ‘This is mine. This is mine. This is mine.’"

Tucker says: "It turned out that my attitude to drumming fitted in perfectly with their music. I'm totally untrained as I'm sure you know, I couldn't do a roll for nine dollars, which in my case has been a benefit because that's not the kind of drumming they wanted. In the beginning we used to do all sorts of improvisations for 30, 40 minutes - or three minutes, whatever happened. One of the idiosyncrasies would be that Lou would take off in one direction, John would take off in some other direction, all at different tempos, I would be keeping the beat so there was something for them to come back to. That's how I always looked at my role, to keep the beat, to keep them organized."

Reed reflects: “It’s just like, where can you go past ‘Sister Ray’? ... We took the energy thing as far as we wanted to go...We didn’t put things in, we took things out, which is kind of the reverse of the way everybody else works. We never add instruments, we don’t bring people in for sessions, we don’t basically do anything that we can’t reproduce on stage.”

'White Light / White Heat' charted for two weeks on the US album chart, peaking at number one hundred and ninety-nine. It was the last album recorded with Cale.

The title track mimics the experience of amphetamines with a driving burst of demented doo-wop. Reed has expressed an interest in eastern healing which involves “a way of giving off white light … I’ve been involved and interested in what they call white light for a long time.”

White light, White light goin' messin' up my mind
White light, and don't you know its gonna make me go blind
White heat, aww white heat it tickle me down to my toes
White light, Ooo have mercy while I'll have it goodness knows
White light, White light goin' messin' up my brain
White light, Aww white light its gonna drive me insane
White heat, Aww white heat it tickle me down to my toes
White light, Aww white light I said now goodness knows, 
Do it
Hmm hmm, White light
Aww I surely do love to watch that stuff tip itself in
Hmm hmm, White light
Watch that side, watch that side don't you know it gonna be dead in the drive
Hmm hmm, White heat
Hey foxy mama watchin' her walk down the street
Hmm hmm, White light
Come up side your head gonna make a deadend on your street
White light, When I moved in me intween my brain
White light, White light goin' makin' you go insane
White heat, Aww white heat it tickle me down to my toes
White light, Aww white light I said now goodness knows
White light, Aww white light it lighten up my eyes
White light, don't you know it fills me up with suprise
White light, Aww white heat tickle me down to my toes
White light, Aww white light I tell you now goodness knows, now work it
Hmm hmm, White light
Aww she surely do moves me
Hmm hmm, White light
Watch that speed freak, watch that speed freak everybody gonna go and make it every week
Hmm hmm, White heat
Aww sputter mutter everybody gonna go kill their mother
Hmm hmm, White light
Here she comes, here she comes, everybody get 'n gone make me run to her

side one:

1. "White Light/White Heat"
2. "The Gift"
3. "Lady Godiva's Operation"
4. "Here She Comes Now"

"I Heard Her Call My Name" was my first exposure to the Velvet Underground; and when that explosive feedback hit my ears I was gone gone gone.

"Sister Ray" was recorded in one take with the band improvising in the studio. Reed reveals: "'Sister Ray' was done as a joke—no, not as a joke—but it has eight characters in it and this guy gets killed and nobody does anything. It was built around this story that I wrote about this scene of total debauchery and decay. I like to think of ‘Sister Ray' as a transvestite smack dealer. The situation is a bunch of drag queens taking some sailors home with them, shooting up on smack and having this orgy when the police appear ... The engineer said, 'I don't have to listen to this. I'll put it in Record, and then I'm leaving. When you're done, come get me.'"

'White Light / White Heat'
full album:

All tracks written by Lou Reed, except as noted.

Side A
1. "White Light/White Heat" 2:47
2. "The Gift" Reed, Sterling Morrison, John Cale, Maureen Tucker 8:18
3. "Lady Godiva's Operation" 4:56
4. "Here She Comes Now" Reed, Morrison, Cale 2:04
Side B
1. "I Heard Her Call My Name" 4:38
2. "Sister Ray" Reed, Morrison, Cale, Tucker 17:28

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

youth novels

Lykke Li (pronounced lick-eh lee) carved out a place for herself in the indie scene with the stark and symphonic heartbreak grooves of this captivating coming-of-age. Li Lykke Timotej Svensson Zachrisson comes from an artistic Swedish family.  Her father Johan Zachrisson (Zilverzurfarn) is a member of the Swedish prog band Dag Vag and her mother is Kersti Stiege who started Swedish female punk band Tant Strul.Lykke (a Danish name that means happy and lucky) was born in Sweden and spent much of her childhood living in various countries like India, Portugal, Morocco,  Nepal, and New Zealand where her mother's work as a photographer took the family.  When she was nineteen, she went to New York City for three months looking to score a record deal; but with no demo tape, she was not able to do so.   Back in Stockholm, she contacted Björn Yttling (of Peter Bjorn and John):  “I convinced him to work with me, ’cause I was a nobody, and he worked with all these big bands in Sweden, so I just nagged.”

'Youth Novels' was produced, engineered, and mixed by Björn Yttling and Lasse Mårtén  in Stockholm, Sweden at Atlantis Studio, Decibel Studios, and Högalid Studio.  The sessions featured Lykke Li on vocals;  with Björn Yttling on acoustic guitar, piano, synthesiser, vibraphone,  snare percussion,  electric bass, percussion, drums, harpsichord, string arrangements, keyboards, mandolin,  foot stomp, rocksichord, celesta, organ, flute, trumpet, backing vocals; John Eriksson on drums, percussion, cymbal, and Mellotron; Lasse Mårtén on percussion; Johan "Zilverzurfarn" Zachrisson on acoustic guitar and foot stomp; Erik Arvinder and Andreas Forsman on violin;  Henrik Söderquist on cello; Erik Holm on viola; Per "Ruskträsk" Johansson on saxophone and flute;  Markus Ollikainen on trumpet; Walter Sear on theremin; Neil Lipuma on tambourine; Lars Skoglund on drums, percussion, cowbell, and hi-hat; and Mapei, The Suzan, Lissy Trullie, Dylan Von Wagner, and Peter Morén on backing vocals. 

Lyyke says the songs were inspired by one "really weird relationship...It's been and off for three years. We've never called each other boyfriend and girlfriend – but, I mean, we've done everything else...Some guys have their heart broken and they never open up again. He just wants to party and I'm so over that. We were on different pages in life and we had this really strong connection. I have a really hard time finding anybody that I like; this loneliness I express on the album is because it sometimes feels like everybody has somebody."

'Youth Novels' charted at one hundred and forty-three in France, one hundred and twelve in the UK, seventy-five in Ireland and the Netherlands, fifty-six in Belgium, thirty-six in Norway, and peaked at number three in Sweden (where it also made its debut).  It also charted on the "heatseekers" album charts at number eighteen in the US and number seven in Australia.  'Youth Novels'  was nominated for five Swedish Grammys:  Album of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Live Act of the Year, Composer of the Year (for Li and Yttling), and Lyricist of the Year.  She won the P3 Guld award for Newcomer of the Year and was nominated for Pop Artist of the Year.  Li confesses:  "Everything I write about in the album – all the heartbreak – has really happened to me. I wanted it to capture a time in my youth that was reflective, but it is recorded in a way that is fast and instant. I wanted to get my music out there without dwelling on it for too long...This world consists of having to go to parties and talk about the weather. I can't do that and it is very hard and it can be very lonely for me. I struggle with myself every day – I am a lonesome person. I talk to my family – and I connect to some people deeply along the way – but I am a restless soul. Singing is the most immediate relief. It allows me to be free and you can touch people with your voice. It feels good – like crying, almost...I talk about things people don't expect me to talk about. I wish I didn't think so much. I wish I was happy and dumb. When you look at me I look like a twelve year-old girl with this baby voice who hasn't been through a thing in her life, but it isn't true."

1. "Melodies & Desires"  

Follow these instructions
Do exactly as I do
Lean your shoulders forward
Let your hands slide over to my side
Move your body closer
Let your heart meet mine
Love is the harmony
Desire is the key
Love is the melody
Now sing it with me

2. "Dance, Dance, Dance"  

Having troubles telling how I feel
But I can dance, dance and dance
Couldn't possibly tell you how I mean
But I can dance, dance, dance
So when I trip on my feet
Look at the beat
The words are, written in the sand
When I'm shaking my hips
Look for the swing
The words are, written in the air
I was a dancer all along
Dance, dance, dance
Words can never make up for what you do
Easy conversations, there's no such thing
No I'm shy, shy, shy
My hips they lie 'cause in reality I'm shy, shy, shy
But when I trip on my feet
Look at the ground
The words are, written in the dust
When I'm shaking my hips
Look for the swing
The words are written in the air
I was a dancer all along
Dance, dance, dance
Words can never make up for what you do
Dance, dance, dance

3. "I'm Good, I'm Gone"  

Steppin', stormin'
I'm all gone
Give me a tone and I'm all gone
Yeah, I'm walkin' by the line
I hear that in my mind
I'm workin' a sweat
But it's all good
I'm breakin' my back
But it's all good
'cause I know I'll get it back
Yeah, I know your hands will clap
Yeah, I'm workin'
Yeah, I'm workin'
To make butter for my piece of bun
And if you say I'm not OK
Then that's the goal
If you say there ain't no way that I could know
If you say I aim too high from down below
Well, say it know 'cause when I'm gone...
You'll be callin' but I won't be at the phone
And you're hanging around 'til it's all done
You can't keep me back once I've had some
Wasting time to get it right
And you will see what I'm about
Yeah, I'm workin' a sweat
But it's all good
I'm breakin' my back
But it's all good
'cause I know I'll get it back
Yeah, I know your hands will clap
And if you say I'm not OK
Then that's the goal
If you say there ain't no way that I could know
If you say I aim too high from down below
Well, say it know 'cause when I'm gone
You'll be callin' but I won't be at the phone

4. "Let It Fall"  

5. "My Love"  

6. "Little Bit"

7. "Hanging High"

8. "This Trumpet in My Head"

9. "Complaint Department"

10. "Breaking It Up"

11. "Time Flies"

12. "Window Blues"

bonus tracks:


"Everybody But Me"

'Youth Novels' 
full album:

All music composed by Lykke Li and Björn Yttling. 

1. "Melodies & Desires"   Li, Nils-Erik Sandberg 3:52
2. "Dance, Dance, Dance"   Li 3:41
3. "I'm Good, I'm Gone"   Li, Yttling 3:09
4. "Let It Fall"   Li 2:42
5. "My Love"   Li 4:36
6. "Tonight"  Li 4:13
7. "Little Bit"   Li 4:33
8. "Hanging High"   Li 4:07
9. "This Trumpet in My Head"Li, Sandberg 2:36
10. "Complaint Department"   Yttling 4:32
11. "Breaking It Up"   Li 3:41
12. "Everybody but Me"  Li 3:18
13. "Time Flies"   Li 3:21
14. "Window Blues"   Li, Sandberg 3:59

Monday, January 28, 2013

boogie with canned heat

Canned Heat served up some loose psychedelic rock with righteous rhythm and blues for this sweet and syrupy home style electric jam.  'Boogie With Canned Heat' was produced by Skip Taylor and Dallas Smith at Liberty Studios in Los Angeles with Bob “The Bear” Hite on vocals; Alan Wilson on slide guitar, vocals, and harmonica; Henry Vestine on lead guitar; Larry Taylor on bass; Adolfo de la Parra on drums; with Dr. John on horn arrangements and piano.  

Wilson explains:   "Toward the beginning, my first thought was to try and combine the two diverse styles of postwar blues: single-string lead guitar, of which B.B. King is the daddy (T-Bone Walker you could argue, but I think B.B. King is the daddy) and Kings Albert, Freddie, and Al, all the Kings and the rest of them – try to combine that thing, which almost exclusively had been done with horns as harmonic background, and add it to the modal-type feeling of the more primitive style of Mississippi-born Chicago guys like Muddy Waters. In other words, basically it was playing Henry against myself in terms of the two-guitar setup. That was the original idea I had. Most of our early arrangements, and this is reflected on the first album, combine thee two factors in the same song, whereas now we have become somewhat more of a blowing band, in person anyway. We still do a few of those older items but we do a lot more improvising now, and some looser structures. This would be like the boogie [Fried Hockey Boogie] on our second album, where everyone takes a solo.  We feel that recording blues can be approached successfully sometimes by using the tricks of the studio – over-dubbing, multitracking, and the like. At first we were very leery of this – except for Larry. He, from the beginning, wanted to do this, and the rest of us were primarily very afraid that it would create a situation of nonspontaneity. What we discovered, however, is that it can actually create more spontaneity  because there need be no concern by the soloist that if there’s an excellent rhythm track laid down and his solo is sub-par the whole thing must be junked and done over again. Every aspect can be blocked off one at a time.   Also I find it difficult to argue against a system that allows one person to appear five or six times on a record if necessary. For example, on 'On The Road Again' [second LP] I appear in six different capacities – three tamboura parts, harmonica, vocal, and guitar, all recorded at different times. The tamboura we had to work with was one of the poorest I’ve ever seen; it had no buzzing quality whatever. To put together a good drone it would not have been sufficient to play it once, so to get that buzz-type of drone that is characteristic of the instrument we overdubbed this low-grade tamboura two additional times to create the proper tinkling sensation. If we had done it only once you would have heard individual notes being plucked, which makes for a lousy tamboura drone.  At first I had philosophical objection to playing harmonica at the same time I was singing, because that seemed unreal, but I was prevailed upon to try it and it certainly did come out better. Four Henrys appear on 'World In A Jug' [second LP] at one time. Actually, it’s three Henrys and one of me in certain sections. In this new album, generally speaking, Henry appears both in the rhythm track and the solo. We found that the result was more spontaneous sounding than was the case on the first album."

'Boogie With Canned Heat'  went to number sixteen on the US album chart due to the huge success of 'On the Road Again'.  It is the biggest selling album of their forty-eight year career.  

"On the Road Again" was a worldwide smash hit.  It charted at number sixteen in the US and number eight in the UK; but was a number one seller in many markets.  Wilson adapted it from 'On the Road Again' by Chicago bluesman Floyd Jones 
who had adapted it from 'Big Road Blues' by Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson.  Bob “The Bear” Hite considered:     “The public here [in the UK] and in the States haven’t bought ‘On The Road Again’ because it’s a blues record – but because its a different sound. But it is a blues and it’s good that they will accept a number that’s blues-based...We are not knocked out because it’s a commercial success, because commercial acceptance isn’t what we are aiming for. But thank the Lord, they are buying it and listening to it and it may bring a few of the kids, who are nurtured on rock and pop, into the blues camp...It’s nice, but if the next single doesn’t happen, it’s nothing to worry about. Our concern is the music, not the money.”

Well, I'm so tired of crying
But I'm out on the road again
I'm on the road again
Well, I'm so tired of crying
But I'm out on the road again
I'm on the road again
I ain't got no woman
Just to call my special friend
You know the first time I traveled
Out in the rain and snow -
In the rain and snow
You know the first time I traveled
Out in the rain and snow -
In the rain and snow
I didn't have no payroll
Not even no place to go
And my dear mother left me
When I was quite young -
When I was quite young
And my dear mother left me
When I was quite young -
When I was quite young
She said "Lord, have mercy
On my wicked son."
Take a hint from me, mama
Please don't you cry no more -
Don't you cry no more
Take a hint from me, mama
Please don't you cry no more -
Don't you cry no more
'Cause it's soon one morning
Down the road I'm going
But I ain't going down
That long old lonesome road
All by myself
But I ain't going down
That long old lonesome road
All by myself
I can't carry you, baby
Gonna carry somebody else


"On the Road Again" part 1

"On the Road Again" part 2

Woodstock Boogie

 'Boogie With Canned Heat' 

 full album:

01 00:00 "Evil Woman" (Larry Weiss)
02 02:56 "My Crime" (Canned Heat)
03 06:57 "On the Road Again" (Floyd Jones, Alan Wilson)
04 11:57 "World in a Jug" (Canned Heat)
05 15:26 "Turpentine Moan" (Canned Heat)
06 18:22 "Whiskey Headed Woman No. 2" (Bob Hite) 
07 21:17 "Amphetamine Annie" (Canned Heat)
08 24:51 "An Owl Song" (Wilson)
09 27:36 "Marie Laveau" (Henry Vestine)
10 32:51 "Fried Hockey Boogie" (Larry Taylor) 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

wide open spaces

The Dixie Chicks let 'er rip and hit the majors with a new lead singer and a new sound that struck a balance between traditional country and pop music. Sisters Martie and Emily Erwin had started the band almost a decade earlier with Laura Lynch and Robin Lynn Macy playing bluegrass and country music. Macy left after the band's second independent release 'Little Ol' Cowgirl' saw them moving toward a more contemporary sound with session musicians. They recorded one more album 'Shouldn't a Told You That' with Lynch taking lead vocals before replacing her with Natalie Maines, the daughter of session guitarist Lloyd Maines who had played on two of their albums. They were the first group signed to Sony's new version of their aquired Monument Records. 'Wide Open Spaces' was recorded with a stable of producers: Jim Burnett, Mark Capps, Tony Castle, Blake Chancey, Erik Hellerman, Clarke Schleicher, Ed Simonton, and Paul Worley. The sessions featured Natalie Maines on lead vocals; Emily Robison on acoustic guitar, banjo, dobro, and vocals; and Martie Seidel on fiddle, mandolin, and vocals. Studio musicians included: Mark Casstevens on acoustic guitar; Bobby Charles, Jr. on bass; Joe Chemay and Michael Rhodes on bass guitar; Billy Crain on acoustic guitar; Lloyd Maines and Tony Paoletta on steel guitar; George Marinelli and Tommy Nash on electric guitar; Matt Rollings on piano and Hammond organ; Billy Joe Walker, Jr. and Paul Worley on acoustic and electric guitar; Tom Roady on shakuhachi, conga, and tambourine; and Greg Morrow on drums.

'Wide Open Spaces' was a smash success, becoming the best selling country album ever by a group. It charted at number thirty-five in Australia, twenty-nine in the UK, sixteen in Canada, and four in the US. It went to number one on both the Canadian and US country album charts. 

'Wide Open Spaces' won a Grammy for Best Country Album (they were also nominated for Best New Artist). It has sold more than twelve million copies worldwide.

"I Can Love You Better" went to number seventy-seven on the US pop chart, seven on the US country chart, and number three on the Canadian country chart.

"Wide Open Spaces" wandered up to number forty-one on the US pop chart, and number one on the Canadian and US country charts.

"There's Your Trouble" hit number thirty-three on the US pop chart, three on the Canadian country chart, and number one on the US country chart. It won a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

"You Were Mine"  charted at thirty-four on the US pop chart, and number one on the Canadian and US country charts.

"Tonight the Heartache's on Me" hit forty-six on the US pop chart, six on the US country chart, and number four on the Canadian country chart.

"Let 'Er Rip" 

"Am I the Only One (Who's Ever Felt This Way)" 

'Wide Open Spaces'

full album:

"I Can Love You Better" (Pamela Brown Hayes, Kostas) – 3:53
"Wide Open Spaces" (Susan Gibson) – 3:44
"Loving Arms" (Tom Jans) – 3:37
"There's Your Trouble" (Mark Selby, Tia Sillers) – 3:10
"You Were Mine" (Emily Erwin, Martie Seidel) – 3:37
"Never Say Die" (George Ducas, Radney Foster) – 3:56
"Tonight the Heartache's on Me" (Mary W. Francis, Johnny MacRae, Bob Morrison) – 3:25
"Let 'Er Rip" (Billy Crain, Sandy Ramos) – 2:49
"Once You've Loved Somebody" (Thom McHugh, Bruce Miller) – 3:28
"I'll Take Care of You" (J. D. Souther) – 3:40
"Am I the Only One (Who's Ever Felt This Way)" (Maria McKee) – 3:25
"Give It Up or Let Me Go" (Bonnie Raitt) – 4:55

Saturday, January 26, 2013

vampire weekend

Vampire Weekend channelled their ivy league intellectualism and classical roots into the indie Afro-pop of their conspicuously catchy cross-cultural commencement.  The band formed while studying at Colombia University and played around campus before recording their eponymous debut themselves after graduation at basements, apartments, a barn, and Tree Fort Studio in Brooklyn while some of them worked full time jobs.  'Vampire Weekend' featured Ezra Koenig on lead vocals, guitar, piano, and hand drum; Rostam Batmanglij on organ, chamberlin, piano, harpsichord, guitar, vocal harmonies, drum and synth programming, shaker, production, string arrangements, engineering, and mixing; Chris Baio on bass; and Christopher Tomson on drums and guitar; with Hamilton Berry on cello; Jonathan Chu and Jessica Pavone on violin and viola; Jeff Curtin and Joey Roth on hand drums; and Wesley Miles on vocals. 

Batmanglij recalls:   "We all had a strong feeling about the band from the early days.  We had this opportunity to be really out there and avant-garde, but also commercially successful...As a songwriter and producer in our band, I get to be the composer I always envisaged for myself. I get to sample M.I.A. There probably are a bunch of contemporary composers who wish they could do that but don't have the balls."

The band jokingly describes their sound as "Upper West Side Soweto".  Koenig says:   "We'd known each other for a long time.  We'd worked on music together and knew each other's interests, so it just seemed like it would be exciting to start a band with rock instruments – even though we wouldn't really call ourselves a rock band – to get something together and start playing live. African music is definitely something that influenced us from the very beginning. We had a compilation of music from Madagascar that we were very excited about when we started. I listen to all sorts of stuff, though, like the New York New Wave scene of the late Seventies and early Eighties – that's a sound I really like."

Batmanglij considers:   "The African influence comes from being interested in different sorts of music, and just going out to find it. Discovering it, and saying, 'This is something interesting and new to us, so let's try to bring it together in a way that hasn't been done before.'"

Koenig adds:   "We bonded over things we were interested in and we were all pretty much uniformly agreed on the things we didn't like. Of course, we don't want to make difficult music, because we also like catchiness and pop appeal. But it was important for us not to be using the same rhythms, the same styles of playing that so much rock has used. When you hear the same drumbeat in five songs that are really popular, it's kinda like, 'What's the point?' You have to go try your own thing."

 'Vampire Weekend'  generated extensive internet buzz and the group was voted "The Year's Best New Band" by Spin magazine before the album was actually released.  They also drew criticism for what was perceived as their appropriation of African music.   'Vampire Weekend'  went to number forty-four in Sweden, thirty-seven in Australia, seventeen in the US, fifteen in the UK, and number one on the UK indie chart.  

1. "Mansard Roof"   2:07

2. "Oxford Comma"   3:15

3. "A-Punk"   2:17

4. "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"   3:34

5. "M79" (Batmanglij, Koenig) 4:15

6. "Campus" (Batmanglij, Koenig) 2:56

7. "Bryn"   2:13

8. "One (Blake's Got a New Face)" (Koenig, Slinger Francisco) 3:13

9. "I Stand Corrected"   2:39

10. "Walcott"   3:41

11. "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance"   4:03

bonus tracks

12. "Ladies of Cambridge [a.k.a. Boston]"   2:40

13. "Arrows"   3:04