Sunday, August 29, 2010

A music post.

Hi! So, over on The Twitter earlier, I mentioned, as I always do, that Amazon is having a sale on MP3s. A whole buncha albums for $5 each. Why do I do this? Is it because Amazon pays me a royalty fee when I pimp there site? Why, no, it's not! I get Jonathan Shit (that's the formal version) for doing it! Really, I just do it because I love music, I love deals on music, and I love sharing those deals with you, The People.

So Amazon has a deal every single day. It's called the Amazon Deal of the Day. They're so clever over there, with the naming and stuff. I guess that's why they got so big. Anyway, today's(Sunday's) daily deal is a group named Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I don't know shit about them, other than they look like one of them new breed of faux hippies that seem to be spreading over the indie scene like a bad case of dandruff. Not that I have a problem with hippies. Of course I don't. I live in Berkeley. I'm something of a stealth hippie myself, if you must know the truth. Anyway, I'm not going to buy the record, because it doesn't sound that interesting to me, even though, after watching a YouTube video by them, I've determined that the brunette female singer is totally adorable. But that's something that wouldn't really come through on my iPod, so fuggit. The point is, if you were the type who liked that band, the album is only $2.99. That is ridiculously cheap for an entire album. That's cheaper than they were when I was buying them in the 1970s, back when there were real hippies. So this is why I go to that site every day. Because of deals like this. If you like music, and you like music deals, you should go there too. Here's the link:

Okay, so. In addition to the daily deals, Amazon also has monthly $5 deals. And this month they have 1,000 of them. Ay caramba. That's a lot of deals. I think we can all agree on that. A lot of them are just total no brainers if you don't own them already (like Radiohead's "OK Computer") so I'm not even gonna bother recommending those ones. You certainly don't need me to tell you that you should own OK Computer for $5, do you? Wait--I don't even want to know.

Here's some other no-brainers from that list, okay? Let's just pretend I didn't even bring them up, because I'm assuming you know this already:

Jimmy Hendrix's Band of Gypsys
Belle and Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister
Outkast's Stankonia
Air's Moon Safari

You could argue a whole bunch more out of that 1000 belong in the no-brainer category, I suppose. Or you could remove, say, Belle and Sebastian if you don't like twee stuff. Which is fine with me. This is a democracy after all. These are just suggestions.

Anyway, what I really wanted to do was just suggest a few that you may not know or otherwise find. The alt/indie rock and hiphop and electronica is all stuff that you hepcats are all familiar with anyway. I'm late-to-the-party on half that stuff anyway all the time, because I'm old that way. (But okay, get the Black Keys' Rubber Factory and Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest if you don't own 'em yet!)

So here's stuff that an old dude wants to recommend that you may not know. I swear by all of these. And if you buy them and they suck to you? Well, I guess you're out that money, which pretty much sucks for you. That's what you get for listening to the recommendations of a guy you don't even know! HA-ha!

Little Feat's Feats Don't Fail Me Now - Classic 1974 blues/funk/rock from an awesome white-boy blues/funk/rock band, led by Lowell George, who just absolutely killed on the slide guitar, and a rhythm section as tight as The Meters. If you like stuff like early Ry Cooder, you can't go wrong here.

Buzzcock's Singles Going Steady Essential, killer 1979 collection of singles from one of the great first English punk bands. Listening through a 21st century filter, it practically sounds like pop, it's all so catchy. So it's hard to remember that at the time this would have been impossible to hear on the radio because it was considered too "raw." And even though it's a compilations, every song is so damn perfect, and it's all sequenced so well, that it's considered by many to be one of the best punk rock albums ever. Including me.

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
Coltrane at his most luscious and romantic and accessible, accompanied by the beautiful baritone voice of Hartman. Some may find it "corny," but, if so, I suggest you unsnark yourself from the age of irony and just listen. Coltrane's solos are masterpieces of understatement and control and emotion. When my wife and I got married, this was the first record we played at the wedding. It's music as love, love as music.

Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers Moanin' It's hard to recommend jazz, mostly because most people don't like it, are unfamiliar with it, or don't know where to start. This is one of those great "starter jazz" albums, but that doesn't make it any less awesome than it is. Smoky, smooth jazz from 1958, Moanin' is quintessential "hard bop," the kind of jazz most people tend to think jazz is, and I'd contend that if you don't like this, you're probably never gonna get jazz at all (which is okay). The title track alone makes the whole damn record worth it--especially Lee Morgan's trumpet solo, which, when I first heard it, convinced me to put down the trumpet forever. And if you don't know what else to do when trying to listen to this record, hang on to Art Blakey's drumming, which drives this whole thing along with amazing force. (There's actually a bunch of great jazz on this list. Others I'd recommend: Grant Green's Idle Moments, Coltrane's The Ultimate Blue Train, Cannonball Adderley's Something Else, Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder.)

Rodrigo Y Gabriela's 11:11 You will not believe that this is just two acoustic guitars. Well, okay, minor exaggeration. You will believe it, you'll just be amazed and delighted that two acoustic guitars can kick this much ass. If you told me a year ago that one of my favorite records of the year would turn out to be from a Mexican flamenco duo, I would have coughed politely and then quietly taken leave of you. Now I try to push this one on everyone who will listen. Catchy, joyous, and technically mind-blowing.

So...that's it. And shit, what the hell do I know? Half my friends know more about music than me. I just make up this stuff as I go along. And I'm still learning and exploring too, and always will be, because music is one of the things I live for, that inspires me and informs everything I do.

Here's hoping some of this stuff does the same for you. Happy listening!


Zidan said...

Good recommendations, Jeff. I think you're right about the Magnetic Zeros, but they are at the very least fun to listen to. Lots of good energy there.

John said...

Yo on the jazz front have you checked out Soulive? They've definitely modernized their sound (for the better imo) but their first few albums are like a funkier harder Grant Green organ trio setup. Their guitarist is Jimi Hendrix + Stevie Ray + Grant Green. Their keys player has the funkiest left hand I've ever heard.

Definitely check out "Turn It Out" on itunes.

Although my personal favorite is their self titled live album "soulive".

cgb777 said...

I found this from The Tallest Man on Earth. So wonderful. Once you get past (or not :) the tone of his voice. Wonderful song writing with even better guitar.

Can't stop listening to the album. $5 is a steal!

Anonymous said...

Gotta throw Midnight Marauders from A Tribe Called Quest in there! One of the greatest hip hop albums of all time.

Thanks for the post Jeff, good stuff.

Aaron said...

Just picked up Gravity X by The Truckfighters and Midnight Boom by the Kills, both of which were new to me and I'm loving them.

Jeff said...

I appreciate the recommendations as always, and I would chime in with Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More.

I'm pretty much a pusher for this album as I recommend it every time I can.

Anonymous said...

But should an unemployed guy be spending at Amazon - and in particular should he be buying a record and announcing his affections for the female brunette singer of the band.

Presumably, Unemployed Guy's wife is paying for this music?

Sallie said...

Seek thee out the NPR pages for questionable bands. Magnetic Zeros have a Tiny Desk concert, and it may sell you on them (or at least on the brunette, Jade).

Skyliner said...

Aww, Jeff, right on with the Art Blakey recommendation! Absolutely gorgeous, it stirs up old memories of when I was a kid and my parents would drag me and my sister to live jazz places. Of course, I hated it then, but now I can listen to jazz and get all warm and nostalgic. Sounds like big city style jazz to me, but I can hear a little Kansas City jazz in there.

Music excellence. Gotta wait for a rainy day and pull a chair up next to an open window for this album..

Mitch said...

I really hate to be the guy who misses the point of the post and say "hey, you misjudged this thing I like, and I'm going to assume that you didn't give it a chance because you don't like it like I do," but here it goes anyway.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes are pretty fantastic, and not as dirty-hippie-ish as they appear to be. (Trust me, if they were I would have the same misgivings).

From what I understand, the band is actually "playing" a nuveau-hippie band (Although that might make it worse, I haven't decided), and this 'fake' band released a concept album. I think.

But it's not the layers of detached irony that makes them great. There are a few songs on the album I tend to skip over, but even if the rest of the album were unlistenable, it would be worth the purchase for "Home." Maybe it's just a matter of that song hitting me in a certain place, but it just explodes with unironic and unabashed joy. It has a largess that makes it feel exuberant rather than grand and booming. (God, I sound pretentious there.) In somewhat less douche-tastic phrasing, "It happy make-smile music."

There are also a few others worth listening to on the album (Namely 40 Day Dream and Janglin'), but Home is the one that really does it for me every time.

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