Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Oldies - Jukebox Classics

When I was only knee high to a cow's hoof my family moved to a verrrrrry small town up in Northern California. The town is mostly unimportant, but the fact that it was a rural country town is. As such the inhabitants of that small town listened to quite a bit of country. Garth Brooks in the morning, Garth Brooks in the evening, and then another helping of Garth Brooks during our break at school.

Now you may be thinking, ah, it's a country episode. Well check the title again folks. I grew up, not on country but on Jukebox classics. My mother, the egalitarian woman she is, ha! refused to have country played in her home or in the small cafe she owned. She demanded an entire jukebox be put in the shop, not of current 80's rock or pop music but of Malt shop 50's and 60's Motown.

I learned to dance, not to Pat Benatar, but to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Supremes, The Angels and 'My Boyfriend's Back.' I cut my eye teeth on The Big Bopper, Little Richard and Dion and the Belmonts, doo-wop'ing my way back in time.

The upbeat poodle skirt pop rhythms of the day were my basis for my love of music. A fun happy bip bop of bouncing energy or a low sultry sway of warm nights to keep you serene. I was young, so I hadn't yet realized that they were almost entirely sexist or misogynistic but the underlying beat gave me steady rhythm to dance to and allowed me to grow accustomed to moving to songs that were both happy as well as catchy.

Sadly as the years went by it became almost impossible not to listen to the words, and as such of my initial love has since passed with many of the songs such as 'Sha-boom,'"Hang on Sloopy" and 'Wishin' and hopin' that have rather unfortunate views on women. But to this day, even though I can't pull off a pencil skirt to save my life, Rockabilly and the Jukebox Classics are still where my heart lies, and I will still pick up my heels and dance with the best of them when they're played.

One of my favorites in particular will always be Jan and Dean, essentially pre Beach Boys before they were famous. 'Little Old Lady From Pasadena,' will always be a song that makes me smile, simply because it's just so cute. But just as that song makes me smile, 'Dead Man's Curve' does not, as Jan was in an particularly bad car accident a couple years after they became a hit, thus keeping them from ever becoming as famous as they should have been.

A fate Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers know all too well with their "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" hit. But a year after it came out Frankie's voice changed, losing that indescribable draw he had as a young boy. Michael Jackson would continue on from his boyhood career with later fame but Lymon, who was black and had the wonderful audacity to dance with a white girl on live TV would not.

And that's my favorites from the fabulous 50's and 60's folks! Check back next week for an all new genre and all new artists!
Left out but not forgotten:

Santo and Johnny
Thurston Harris
Randy and The Rainbows
Sheb Wooley
Lloyd Price
The Monotones
Jackie Wilson
The Four Tops
Danny and The Juniors
Bobby Day

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Goth Industrial - Club Mix

After moving to the city I met a pretty haired boy who took himself far too seriously. He dressed all in black and wore enough velvet to choke a cat. And yet, he had the largest impact upon my love of music I'd seen for quite awhile. He my dears was a self appointed goth.

During my much under-appreciated youth I found solace in my angry slightly off kilter industrial music choices. Much of which was created by the latest Bride of Chucky album. A little Monster Magnet, Kidney Theives and Type O Negative (rest in peace). This brought about a bit of Stabbing Westward and Nightwish (Halestorm's less angsty stepsister) as well as NIN (hey it was the mid thousands) which after a year or so faded and was mostly left forgotten until I started dating a manic-depressive scene kid.

On our first date I discovered Apopgytma Berzerk and after subsequent dates his ipod dump brought me Evans Blue and Breaking Benjamin. The line between mainstream success and sell out toed it with those two. After our very hurried relationship ended and I'd deleted the bulk of his crap off my ipod I met the pretty haired boy who finally found my taste in goth music to be under utilized.

He by way of the dance club I'd often gone to, but with no real regularity started me on a diet of the classics, Depeche Mode, Peter Murphy, Ministry. The new but not so new they were played often loves of Placebo, Covenant and Daft Punk.

But this was right when Muse hit the scene. An album where almost every track was a hit and played four or five times a night. Whose timing and electronic lick slid past the candy coated posts of Silversun Pickups and Shiny Toy Guns to edge into the epically naughty epicenter of your brain. And lived there, begging to be fed.

The band didn't take themselves too seriously and even became known for an epic practical joke, but after six months of consistent play time went like She Wants Revenge and were soon played out. The clubs had a slot to fill and by and large there entered Faderhead for a little industrial dance high with the ever awesome Wolfsheim for a little slower and lighter balance.

Wolfsheim was chippy where Faderhead was electro, complimentary where they were bash your face in pre-dubstep, essentially the goth Simon and Garfunkel of their day. Plus you could always count on a bit of Postal Service and TV on The Radio to lighten up the heavy industrial nights the goth clubs started to adhere to. Which was around the time I stopped going.

Quite a bit of the music that's played now is dubstep. Artists like Skrillex and Bassnector have taken over where the classics once roamed edging them out. But truthfully making way for many of these 90's cult classics to be given their own night, a night where real goths can go, swirl and remember a time, oh such a time! when music had words.

Artists loved but not mentioned:

Assembledge 23
Siouxsie and the Banshees 
The Gits
Necessary Response
Echo and the Bunnymen
The Parlor Mob
The Frozen Autumn
Massive Attack
New Order
Peter Shilling
The Presets

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Singer Songwriter - Folky Edge

I adore music. Light, slow, hard, jangly, it doesn't matter. My iTunes Library (when it stops freezing) showcases artists and genres many who hear my playlists are surprised I like and even more surprised they love and have never heard of.

So I decided to start a blog showcasing the artists I love and people who hate looking for music never tend to hear. A blog where whatever you're into you can find a companion artist for something you absolutely adore.

First up, my Singer Songwriters.

I was a Brandi Carlile fan from way back to '05. She was one of my 'Fav's From Myspace' as I term them, back before iTunes was huge and you couldn't find random artists on Youtube. The best way back then was to 'Favorite' an artist, listen through Myspace and hope someone upstairs signed them so they could put out a cd you could buy. In the years following Myspace's sudden downfall I found artists I'd loved through Myspace making an emergence to Mainstream music, Tristan Prettyman with her 'Love, Love, Love' ending up in movie credits, Matt Wertz and Matt White signed and coming out with a cd. Everywhere you saw the impact Myspace had on the world, and on music all together.

Sadly Myspace and it's downfall came, but so did the emergence of a new way of finding music such as Pandora. Pandora and it's interface allowed you to type in a song and find others like it, or so it professed. It was akin to the radio, with little to no choice as to who you listened to and commercials every few sets. With Pandora, bands like the Damwells, The Daniel Ross Band and Dave Barnes popped up and you were given a glimpse into music that was considered to sound like your favorites, even if it actually didn't.

About this time iTunes became popular. You could purchase single's instead of full cd's, testing out each song for a few moments before deciding to buy it. 99 cents was a bargain when you were used to being forced to spend 15 dollars for a cd of songs, half of which you most likely didn't want. Also around this time came Wikipedia, where you could search for a genre page and have a list of artists pop up, one by one searching for each on iTunes until you found an artist you liked.

Ah, the good old days.

But then, in came Genius, the iTunes response to Pandora and slowly all started to become right in the world. Genius made up for where Pandora lacked. A simple list of songs that might compliment a favored track with a button for a short test before purchase. This coupled with Wikipedia is currently how I discover my music. It's time consuming, it's rife with bad (and not in a fun way) music but it's currently the easiest way for me to feed my music addiction, because ladies and gentlemen, it's an addiction.

Where Brandi Carlile came off, Antje Duvevot, Chris Pureka and Adrienne started. Women singer songwriters with a touch of something, something that gave their songs staying power. Of course all musicians can't replicate lightning constantly but I find there are some whose voices just lend towards a weight that's hard to describe, beyond possibly the word 'awesome' of course.

When I discovered Nervous But Excited I was surprised at the depth I found in their music. One vocal artist had a voice that I inherently knew I would not like alone but paired with the second she kept the music from growing stale, from becoming too much of the same thing, repeated over and over. One singer changed the entirety of a band, a fate The Shondes know all too well.

In The Shondes music they have two distinct singers, one whose voice I simply cannot stand for long periods of time, and other who lends a deep credit to the harmony. She takes their lyrics, concentrated in meaning and history and gives them the space to hang squarely in your mind. A message hidden within beautifully sung tones. For you can hear everything in music, the feelings, the heart, the soul.

And that's just on a Tuesday :D

The final band I truly love, and not simply because their voices don't really match their visual persona's is The xx. While The xx are less on the folky side of Singer Songwriters and a bit more electronic the male vocal artist has a deep weight to his voice that pulls you in like taffy and sticks to your insides. This paired with the lighter breathy match of his bandmate creates a push pull rival to the Silversun Pickups but entails a loner vibe that firmly sets them in the Singer Songwriter category for me.

So that's it folks, that my fav Singer Songwriters of the moment. Next week check back for the next genre I'll be covering. I just haven't decided which one yet...

Other artists unmentioned but unforgotten are:

Brendan James
Christopher Jak
Holly Long
Meg Hutchinson
Lucinda Williams
William Fitzsimmons