The Beatles Catalog Available on iTunes

16 11 2010

FINALLY! What does it take to get one of music’s biggest bands available on the iTunes store? Apparently, all you need is love… and A LOT of lawyers. After years of tension and disputes Apple Corp. has finally allowed Apple Inc. to offer The Beatles’ complete catalog of work online. I get it. I do. But after all that concern over Apple Inc. branching out from computer technology to music distribution and possible conflicts of interest, the whole argument seems futile and moot. After all, we know Paul is down with it, as his music is already on iTunes . He even filmed a commercial for them. How long did it really take for the folks at Apple Corp. to realize that iTunes is clearly one of, if not, the biggest digital music distribution channel? I guess after all those years, today is the day of epiphany. Finally. Check out The Beatles on iTunes HERE.

So, at this point you probably already own every album in various mediums and have even digitized it yourself, but for those that have not… this your chance. You can cherry pick your favorite songs or grab the whole album(s). Or, you can just bite the bullet get the entire box set ($149).  Like any major product roll out, this comes with a lot of fanfare. One of the promotion items they are touting is the complete 1964 Washington D.C. performance in HD (well, as hi-def as I’ve seen). This video exists in snippets all over the internet, some of which has been featured here, but this is the complete unedited release. CHECK IT OUT HERE. There are also some other cool videos that you can browse through while on the band’s artist page in the store.

There are a few ads that the ‘Apples’ collaborated on for this launch. They are pretty straightforward and simple but, if you’re a fan, you will enjoy them nevertheless. You can see all 5 ads below:





Karen Elson | The Ghost That Walks

9 09 2010

For those not familiar with Karen Elson, simply put: she’s a very talented and beautiful  lady. To elaborate, albeit just slightly, she is a British supermodel who recently released an album on Jack White’s Third Man Records. Interestingly enough, this album has been getting a lot of attention, both positive and negative. The issue is that most people read something like that (“supermodel turned musician”) and immediately condemn the work regardless of it’s merit. For me, not only is the actual material important but the context is key to understanding where she is coming from as an artist. Only after considering both is it fair to opine one way or another. First, let me give you a little taste of the title track from her debut The Ghost That Walks. Then we get into the business…

Pretty good stuff, no? The girl has an excellent voice that is drenched in this moody folk meets gothic style. Here’s the scoop: Karen is a supermodel of significant notoriety (if you follow that world) but she has long been a singer/songwriter, using the guitar as her writing tool. The arts must be in her genes as her twin sister, Kate, is a film maker in her own right. Plus, it’s not like fashion isn’t a creative field. Sure the models tend not to contribute artistically but they need to “get it” as they are a large part of the atmospherics that collectively create a designer’s show.

That aside, She has actually been doing this singing thing for a while now. Many people don’t realize that she is a founding member of a political cabaret troupe in NY called The Citizens Band. Some might say cabaret is nothing but an arcane side show but that couldn’t be further from the truth. These girls actually put on an amazing show that transcends sex appeal covering songs by artists as diverse as The Velvet Underground, Kurt Weill, Elvis Presley, Mimi and Richard Fariña, Pete Seeger, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Marlene Dietrich. Not surprisingly, Karen is a strong talent that stands out amongst the others both with her fantastic voice and songwriting skills… ok, and the sex appeal too. Live footage of The Citizens Band is very rare but I was able to find this one performance of one of Karen’s originals called “Mouths To Feed”. It happens to be on the new album but it’s not exactly one of my favorite tunes. Not to mention that the video is very amateurish, literally as it was taken by an audience member, and it doesn’t necessarily capture the essence of their typical showmanship. But nevertheless…

This gig in The Citizens Band led to collaborations and supporting work with Robert Plant and Cat Power. But that’s not what produced this great great collection of material. Actually, it’s not what but who produced the work that is most responsible for inspiring her to take it to this new level. I casually mentioned earlier that Jack White was invloved but I purposely left out the details as I find this to be one of the more interesting parts of the backstory. Jack is just her producer, he’s her husband. Karen and Jack met while filming the music video for The White Stripes’ video “Blue Orchid”.

The video’s director, Floria Sigismondi, remarked that “you could sense the energy between them.” They married within the year and now have two kids together. An odd side note: They had a remote wedding on the Amazon River in Brazil where White Stripes manager Ian Montone was the best man and Jack’s ex-wife, Meg White, was Karen’s maid of honor. Anyway, while living happily ever after in their Nashville home Jack found Karen “hiding” away scrolling out these songs. He eventually persuaded her to show him what she had been working on and he was blown away with what he heard. With some more encouragement, she wrote a few more and, like that, the album was born.

White’s contribution is in sound design only as the producer but that is one of the most striking things about this album. It sounds richly organic. He very wisely blends a very gritty instrumental with her beautiful voice to create this fantastic combination that is strangely haunting yet alluring. All and all, I am please to say that she checks out. Her songs are good, her voice is great (so long as she doesn’t go too Stevie Nicks with vibrato) and artistically, there is certainly integrity there. Like many albums in this iPod era, this album is not a complete winner but there is definitely some good stuff there. If I had to pick just a few tunes, I recommend  “The Ghost That Walks”l, “The Birds They Circle”, “Thief At My Door” and this one: “Pretty Babies”

References: 

Karen’s Official Site

Karen’s MySpace Page

Karen on Facebook

Karen on YouTube

More info on Karen Elson

More info on The Ghost Who Walks

More info on Jack White

More info Third Man Records





Cee-Lo | Fuck You!

1 09 2010

This is some pretty  interesting $h!t… Cee-Lo Green, of Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley fame, released his newest single “Fuck You!” on YouTube. This first video is just the song with animated lyrics, but nevertheless received instant attention due obvious reasons: 1. the explicit title/lyrics and 2. the explicit pop-stickiness of the song itself. It’s true. It’s one of tunes that you embarrassingly catch yourself humming or singing, not unlike his Gnarls Barkley hit from 2006, “Crazy”.  So, this whole tactic is a relatively new concept. No doubt it’s inspired by the the current state of the recording industry, the ever-growing use of social media and the fact that this particular piece of work would be hard to release anywhere but the internet. He, rather wisely, is using YouTube (an extension of his social media) to promote his new album Lady Killer. At first, I didn’t think much of it but I got to thinking about how clever a move that is… and like that, I had forgotten about it. All of a sudden as of today, Green releases a more “traditional” MTV-style music video but this time via Facebook. The catch is: you have to “Like” his page. When I heard this I was at the same time both disgusted and impressed. All these little teasers actually seem to be working. People are talking about it and he is engaging fans (albeit a tad forcefully). I am only curious what the next step will be. At this same rate, it should only be another week or so ’til we find out.

Below is the original YouTube video with lyrics. Many will tell you that they can not yet offer the Facebook video as it is exclusive to Cee-Lo’s Facebook Page. Well, no here. I was able to obtain a copy and uploaded it as discreetly as possible so that you do not have to officially become a fan on FB. Before watching, I should tell you that this “Official Music Video” is not all that cool. Actually, it kind of reminds me of Pepsi commercial… and not one of the good ones. Check out, it’s the second video below.

References:

Cee-Lo’s Official Site

Cee-Lo’s Facebook Page

More info on Cee-Lo Green

Read more about “Fuck You!” @ PitchFork.com HERE & HERE





Sneak Peek: Weezer | Hurley

10 08 2010

Have you seen this new album cover for the forthcoming Weezer album, appropriately titled Hurley? It’s a hilarious picture of Lost character, Hurley (actor, Jorge Garcia).

When asked about it by Pitchfork.com, frontman Rivers Cuomo explained the rationale behind this odd choice, “We just wanted to use that picture of Jorge Garcia’s face on the cover. It’s such an amazing album cover, and we didn’t want to have any other words on it, so we just figured everyone was going to call it Hurley, so that’s what we call it.” I can accept that. Given a few of their other albums have just been self-titled and otherwise referred to by their colors (i.e. the green album, the blue album, the red album) this seems like a slight shift in protocol. Hurley comes out on September 14th but they released a single entitled “Memories” early to create a little buzz. Honestly, I like the picture of Jorge more than this song but I’m sure there are fans out there that are excited about it nonetheless. Below is a sneak peek of the new track for those loyal Weezer fans… I know there are still quite a few.

I’m more partial to their old tunes but I suppose they can’t just keep doing that stuff anymore. Anyway, it’s nice to see they still don’t take themselves too seriously. It is actually their sense of humor that I appreciate most about them these days. In fact, I think they might be getting sillier with age. Check out some of their music videos from the last decade+ below and tell me if you agree.

References:

Pitchfork.com Article/Inteview

More info on Weezer

More info on Hurley

Weezer’s Complete Discography





Berry Jones | Tonight

3 08 2010

This album from Philly-based Berry Jones is an extremely refreshing release from some young new talent. Tonight is a collection of works that honors two musical legends who spent their careers perfecting the art of the dance song: Quincy Jones and Berry Gordy. Released on a format I happen to think is ideal for today’s consumers (LP w/ free MP3 download), it’s one of my top Summer picks that will surely be great for late night parties and lazy beach days alike.

As I said, all of the music was conceived as an homage to two of leader Jim Thomas’ musical heroes. Creating something that stands up to such visionaries is quite a tall task but Thomas does it with great reverence while being sure to inject his own youthful sensibilities into the mix. The album is separated (rightfully so) into an A Side & B Side, true to vinyl form. The A side tends to showcase the aesthetic and appeal of mid-80’s Quincy Jones. Throughout you’ll hear all the electronic synthesized tendencies that ooze so tastefully from those great Michael Jackson albums of the era, along with a pulse that undeniably makes you want to move. The opening track “Bouffant Bangout” is, perhaps, the best tune on this side as it’s inclusive of all the elements that made Quincy an icon. “Philly Night” is also a standout but it’s difficult to narrow them down as each song has it’s own unique thing happening and all are equally enjoyable. The B Side is full of tunes that bring back that propulsive Motown sound. Wisely, Thomas doesn’t try to recreate the sound of Gordy’s famous Studio A. Instead, he focuses on the power of those old R&B  arrangements from yesteryear. It’s a style that has nearly been forgotten by young musicians but Thomas seems to be a long time fan who grew up listening to old Detroit soul music. Fittingly, there is a little inspiration from the Sweet Philly Soul days as well. As a native to the Philly area, it would be hard to ignore such influences like Jackie Wilson, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and even The O’Jays. As evidenced by songs like “Baby, Baby” and “Work It Out”, he definitely has a firm grasp on this 60’s soul thing. But, what is most interesting to me is how the sound and style of the contemporary singer/songwriter at the heart of Thomas’ solo work blends so smoothly with the material on this entire album. By design, it’s a concept album but in execution it’s much more. Each song is a testament to something old but they all seem so relevant and relatable for young audiences. As an album, it proves to be very accessible and may be just what the doctor ordered for the tail end of this long, hot Summer.

Here are a few of my favorites songs to sample:

“Bouffant Bangout”

“Philly Night”

“Baby, Baby”

“Work It Out”

These guys are pretty cool live too, although  as of lately you can only catch them in the local Philly area. Here is a video I captured from a pre-release gig a few months back. Right on par with Thomas’ typical musical tastes, they do a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s classic “Move On Up”. They were a horn or two short that night but the energy is still all there…

Below are some links to learn more about the album, artist and this interesting side project. Of course,  you will also find a link to sample the album and purchase it in either vinyl or digital format.

References:

Purchase Tonight Online

The Official Berry Jones Site

Berry Jones on Facebook

Berry Jones on MySpace

Berry Jones on YouTube

Blue Floor Records Site

Blue Floor Records on MySpace

More info on Quincy Jones

More info on Berry Gordy





Maps & Atlases | Pigeon

22 07 2010

I recently found this cool video of Maps & Atlases playing “Pigeon” live in the studio. In the first bit, lead singer/guitarist Dave Davison explains the moment the song came to him during a walk in their home city of Chicago. The story is pretty cool, although, he seems to have a hard time finding the words at some points (warning: there are a lot of “likes”). It’s actually very funny because he does not seem like the type. Nevertheless, the whole thing is really interesting and the performance is great. Their sound is quite cool, featuring some very technical playing but in a really organic manner. This song, from their recently released LP Pertch Patchwork, is a perfect example. This style reminds me a bit of Prog Rock in that it is pretty sophisticated stuff. So much so, that it is being called “Math Rock”… but don’t let that scare you away, it’s not calculus or anything.

References:

Maps & Atlases Official Site

Maps & Atlases on MySpace

More info on Maps & Atlases

Purchase Maps & Atlases Merch

More info on Math Rock





Miike Snow | Animal

20 07 2010

A friend recently introduced me to this year-old tune from Miike Snow (no, that double “i” is not a typo). This Swedish-born band is a trio made up of singer Andrew Wyatt, and the producing team of Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg (aka Bloodshy & Avant). Wyatt is actually an American who met his Swedish counterparts while writing a pop album for Britney Spears. The band name is an interesting one, which can be quite confusing, a-la Steely Dan. They came up with it as a spoof on a friend’s name, Mike Snow, but change the Mike to Miike as a reference to the Japanese film director Takashi Miike. “Animal” is the first single from their self-titled debut album, which includes 3 other singles to date, all of which have gained popularity by being used in various parts of pop culture like TV shows and video game soundtracks. One was even used in this year’s coverage of the FIFA World Cup. As far as I can tell the electronic world is a buzz about these guys as there are countless remixes of their material. Check out the video for “Animal” below. If you have not heard the song, you will likely become a fan.

In case you’re curious about their other stuff, you should also check out this video for “Black and Blue”. It’s a cool song and the music video is solid… I really love this bearded fella.

References:

Official Miike Snow Site

Miike Snow on MySpace

More info on Miike Snow (band)

More info on Miike Snow (album)

More info on Andrew Wyatt

More info on Bloodshy & Avant

More info on Takashi Miike








%d bloggers like this: