Archive | March, 2010

Track of the Day: Selena- Como la Flor

31 Mar

15 years ago today I was living in a suburb of Corpus Christi, Texas when absolute pandemonium broke out over the news that the Tejano Mega Star Selena had been shot, and was being rushed to the hospital. In that part of the country at that time there was no bigger star, and when the news hit the world seemed to stop, school was halted, the news stations interrupted pretty much everything, radio stations cut shared their broadcast with the news stations, people everywhere were in tears and when the news broke that she had passed the feeling in that area was that they had lost their great hope.

Of course at that time I was nothing more than an 11 year old kid that barely understood Spanish, and was unnaturally obsessed with Prince, so the whole thing seemed odd to me, until later when I witnessed the outpouring of support for her family at her funeral. It was as if she had lain in state for a week, the streets were flooded with people coming to get a glimpse of someone they loved, and that is what will last, that fact that someone who had to be taught spanish to sing it could string together a couple of hits, could have such a cultural impact speaks volumes for the plight of the people of South Texas, for one short period of time many saw a girl who had risen from nothing (literally nothing, her father worked the chemical plants with many of my family members throughout the 70’s and 80’s) come so close to taking it all by storm. And, when she passed they mourned, but they never felt sorry, they canonized her, and grew from the lesson learned.

You can find an connection between the actions of the Mexican American communities’ reaction to Selena’s death, the reaction of White america to the death of Princess Diana and the actions of the African American communities’ reaction to the passing of Micheal Jackson,  in the way they celebrated, and in the way they locked in on the good. We really are closer than perceived.

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Mining my Inheritance 1: Neil Young “Harvest”

30 Mar

Recently while on “vacation” in South Texas, I found myself going through some old boxes of my father’s with an uncle of mine, when we happened upon what looked like a few records. Upon closer inspection we discovered that my father’s long-lost record collection was in fact completely intact, though perilously stacked and exposed to less than ideal conditions. After spending some time discussing the actual ownership of the albums, a decision was made that I would take the albums and do my best to restore/transfer the albums digitally. After pondering this for some time, it dawned upon me that while my knowledge of my father’s taste is there, I didn’t truly know everything he liked.

So, I have decided to listen to each album that’s salvageable while at the same time tracking down the history of the album, and writing my own thoughts on it. This should take a while, as there are at least 150 albums, and I plan on only doing 2 a week. Please join as I work my way through my musical inheritance.

History: After spending most of the 60’s and the 70’s being a part of (at last count) 4 seminal bands, Neil Young found himself setting off on his own in 1972 finding himself in Nashville with a group of country session musicians he dubbed “The Stray Gators”, working on what would be considered one of his greatest achievements. Upon its release in 1972, Harvest found almost instant success, as “Heart of Gold” struck number 1 (the only time Young would do so) and “Old Man” reached number 31. Harvest would end up being the best-selling album of 1972, and would find itself included on numerous “Best of” lists to this day, despite a decidedly unfavorable review from Rolling Stone that featured this kiss off from critic John Mendelson, “…ultimately managing to come up with only one happy thing to say about it: Neil Young still sings awful pretty…”.

Neil Young- A Man Needs A Maid

Neil Young- Heart of Gold

Neil Young- Old Man

Thoughts: I won’t claim to be a Young novice, but I would never try to pass myself off as a Young scholar; so I found myself approaching the album with both a fondness for the work, and a curiosity as to what I would experience. The first two tracks, “Out on the Weekend” and the title track “Harvest” both sound like typical Young songs of the period, heady think pieces buffered by intricately crafted country rock (“Out On The Weekend” being one of my all-time favorite Elliott Smith covers). Upon hearing the third track “A Man needs a Maid” (the first of two tracks done with the London Symphony Orchestra on the album) I immediately found myself understanding where the undying love for the man comes from. It is hard to find discontent in the lyrics of a man who seems so genuine in his singing.

“Heart of Gold” deserves better than any description I could give it; let’s just say upon listening you realize why that track is so lasting, and why it captivated so many upon its release. The soundtrack-loved “Old Man” hit especially close to home giving the nature of this project. My father didn’t see me reach 24, and the constant reminders/tellings that I am very much my father’s son leads me to believe that had I been able “to go home”, a swelling of pride would rise in his eyes.

“There’s A World”, the second LSO-backed track on the album, feels a bit like filler, though it’s understandable that a musician “pitching” a shut out would be willing to gamble a bit with a track, or two. “Alabama” further confirms this, as it feels a lot like a re-do of his “Southern Man”, and may have been nothing more than another stab at the racial politics of the state (Lynyrd Skynyrd sure seemed to think so). The album ends strongly with the live track “The Needle And The Damage Done” being an outcry against a vice that was claiming so many great artists of the time, and the unusually orchestrated “Words (Between the Lines of Age)”.

Honestly, Neil Young sure does sing pretty, and makes one hell of an album when he feels like it.

Rundown: 3/29 to 4/4

29 Mar

Well that was a nice little break, let’s review what we missed.

NX35 was a success to most, SXSW damn near killed us, a new video blog showed up, Dear Human & Spooky Folk dropped their albums,GvsTape Deck is now all labelly, we decided to re-design (under construction), we got flooded by a set of trolls, we met with some people about doing some politically active shows, we met with some people about doing something on record store day, we decided to add a few new ongoing articles to the site, and we decided hinting on these things were better than just announcing them, cause you know “drama”.

It’s good to be back, we’ve missed you….some of you.

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Track of the Day: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings–I Learned the Hard Way

29 Mar

By Jesseca Bagherpour

Once again, I won’t be accused of scooping other music blogs with this free mp3, as many of them posted this in February. But that doesn’t make it any less of a fantastic song. And I’m sure some of you haven’t downloaded it yet. NPR is currently streaming the entire album, also called I Learned the Hard Way.
If you haven’t already given it a listen (or stolen it on the Internet … shame on you), you should. The album comes out on April 6 and I highly recommend it. This group makes beautiful, old school soul and funk music and they deserve all the acclaim they get.

Get a taste of their music and you’ll understand:

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings–I Learned the Hard Way

I have yet to be fortunate enough to witness one of their live performances, and I recently missed out on catching them at SXSW, but from what I hear they are life-altering. For those of us who don’t know the wonders of a live performance from Sharon Jones, we at least have the magic of YouTube. Here’s the group performing “Let Them Knock” from 100 Days, 100 Nights:

Andrew Tinker: Suburban Asshole

29 Mar

Fun story: I was told that young Mr. Tinker decided to load in to his showcase at a festival late, and then immediately leave so as to not have to be around the other bands. Once arriving back he callously derided the person working as liason at the venue because the pool of free beer provided for the artists was gone, and then threatened to walk if his demands weren’t met. After finally getting on stage, he played to a crowd of family and friends, claiming that he had been there “partying all night!” and now it was time to “rock”.

This is our fault. We’re partly to blame for inflating the ego of a moderately mediocre talent, whose press clippings have gone directly to his head. Yes, Mr. Tinker, you are adored by a few outlets around town, and yes you can pretty much get any show you want, and yes it is true you are an asshole. Local success does not allow you to treat people badly for something that is not their fault. In fact, you should be striving to grow your fan-base locally, as those are the people who supported you in the first place, and will support you in the future. Your behavior was not appreciated, and your ego is laughable. But, hey, keep writing Christopher Cross-lite pop music and you should be able to shit all over more people in the future.

Then again, we’re just the little people, and can only hope that one day we too will be able to self-edit our own wikipedia page.

How Sweet Apple (nearly) Saved My Week– A belated SXSW Review

26 Mar

By Jesseca Bagherpour

Remember last week when Jaime posted something that said we would be posting SXSW updates because we would actually be seeing music there? Well, I, for one, ended up seeing far fewer shows at SX than I did at NX. Most of our time there was spent preparing for shows, running shows, fixing disasters at shows and walking around aimlessly trying to get to shows (many of which were packed by the time we got to them).

There was an incident with Jaime’s car which I won’t go into, but I will say it ended with me in tears, which I was already on the brink of after missing Superchunk. Also, I was sick the whole time with a sore throat, congestion and a horrific cough (on top of physical ailments I deal with on a daily basis). Basically, I should have stayed home.

But I did catch one great live show which, despite my having to stand outside in 35-degree, cloudy weather to watch it, almost single-handedly erased my bad memories of SXSW. That glorious band is called Sweet Apple and almighty guitar god J. Mascis is the driving force behind it. Though J. doesn’t front the band (he covers drums, guitar and vocals on the record), it’s Dinosaur Jr.-esque–complete with infectious hooks and a delicious combination of hard rock and power pop. But the band is different enough to hold its own. Continue reading

Vacation

23 Mar

So after two festivals back to back, and all the issues that come with those, we’ve decided to take the week off. Now, does that mean you won’t get some random writings? Most likely not, but the truth is we’re tired, and a bit sick, so we’re gonna take this week to recover/maybe redesign/strategize for the future.

We love you all, and want you to go to the Dear Human release show.