Denver’s Tennis (husband and wife Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore) released their debut album Cape Dory two weeks ago and it’s fair to say I’ve played it quite a few times since I picked it up. It’s come off the back of a big year for them, getting an awful lot of internet exposure and a couple of EP releases over the summer. Anyway, here’s what I think.
The album starts with the up-tempo ‘Take Me Somewhere’, showcasing the 50’s guitar and ambient surf sound that has become synonymous with bands such as Tennis, Beach House, The Drums and How To Dress Well over the last twelve months or so. The third song, ‘Cape Dory’ is an early delight; the vocal melody is unusual enough to be remarked upon and the backing is wonderfully lo-fi. I’ve been trying to place what Alaina Moore’s voice sounds like and I think I may have placed it. A little while ago I put up a song by a Sheffield band called Jack Rabbit and their lead singer, Olivia Neller, has a very similar tone. There, that’s one mystery solved! (If you want to listen to them, click here.) Click here for more…
Here we go… Another Music For Horses post from me. I was thinking of what to put on and it struck me that I’ve missed an absolutely classic song that should have been in there from the start. A Tribe Called Quest have written some of the best rap I’ve ever listened to. It’s got a sense of humour and a point, not to mention the fact that it’s incredibly jazzy. It’s Hip Hop the way it should be. And this is not only one of their most popular songs, but one of their highlights. It’s not my favourite (I couldn’t choose just one of their songs!) but it is one that I like to put on, dim the lights and put my feet up to.
This next song is a classic remix of a classic chillout song. The original was used on emotional moments in TV shows the world over and this remix has had a few spins too. The person who is responsible for playing it to me is one Lionel Vinyl, Click here to finish reading…
The self-styled ‘Turn-Table Soul’ music makers from North London have been making good music for over five years now. I say it’s good because it is… They rely on the great vocal chords of Katherine deBoer, Ricky Fabulous playing his guitar and Mr DJ Modest spinning the decks at the back. They are now three albums into what deserves to be a long and successful career, with their latest offering, ‘270 Stories’, released in October of 2010.
They signed to Tru Thoughts in 2007 and released their debut album that year to much critical acclaim. It’s a mix of breaks, soul, funk and electro that comes together to create something that is very different and very easily identifiable as coming from the Tru Thoughts roster.
In 2010 they released their third album, which has a more polished sound than their first. It’s more bass-heavy and arguably more pop-y, but that’s not to do it a disservice. It is still immensely listenable and Katherine’s voice comes to the fore more prominently.
Here are two very different songs for you. The first is a pretty recent rap song that got some heavy rotation over the summer. When I read that NaS and Damien Marley had put together an album I was tripping. NaS is one of the best East Coast rappers out there, and the fact that he was married to Kelis for two years (one of my favourite R&B/pop singers) only makes him that much cooler. The fact that the guy who wrote Illmatic and the most talented son of Bob Marley were releasing a record together was (literally) music to my ears. This is the lead single off that album, As We Enter.
And this is the original sample. It’s by a not-very-well known Ethiopian artist called Mulatu Astatke. While he’s been very influential in his native country, cross-over appeal has been late in coming. It was only really after the film Broken Flowers that he became better known. Anyway, this is a great song and a fantastic example of a good ‘world music’ song that’s been able to infiltrate modern pop music.
One of the lasting legacies of the Harlem Renaissance was that it gave African Americans a united culture. Previously, middle-class black people living in New York had tried to integrate with the local white population. What the literature and music gave them was a cultural heritage to be proud of. It blended the soul and jazz of the southern immigrants with the piano, considered a more middle-class instrument than the brass of the jazz band and a staple of the more affluent New York African Americans.
While it has its critics – they argue that the movement relied too much on the white establishment to be heard – the impact it had on drama, literature and music is too good not to be appreciated. Soul, Funk, Rock & Roll, R&B (the old kind) and Hip Hop, not to mention the Stax and Motown labels, all stem from the melting pot that was the Harlem music scene. Consequently the 80’s counter-culture music also exists because of the movement (or maybe that’s stretching it a little. I do like the idea that Nazi-Punk music exists because of what was going on in a black suburb in the 1920’s though…)
Any how, here are four songs that I consider to be among some of my favourites and that probably wouldn’t have been written without the cultural emancipation that the Harlem Renaissance allowed.
Every year my family has a tradition of taking us to the ballet. We’ve been doing it for about 5 years now and it’s great. Let’s face it, the scores to the Nutcraker or Swan Lake are classics in their own right, and for good reason. When you’ve got a group of incredibly talented dancers putting their all into turning the music into something more tangible, it’s difficult not to get swept up in the emotion of it all.
This year we didn’t spend Christmas in London, which meant going to the Royal Ballet was impossible. Instead we booked tickets to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre at the New York City Centre. I can honestly say I didn’t have a clue what to expect. My experience of the ballet is generally an older audience of well-off white people. Imagine my surprise when we turned up at the theatre on Christmas Eve to see that we were some of the few white people there. We filed in and took our seats (so close to the front we were practically underneath the stage) and were introduced to the first act, which was a brief history of the Harlem Renaissance. The music blew me out of the water and the dancing was superb. The whole story was narrated by one of the dancers and, being the history buff that I am, I took it all in. A combination of the music and the story piqued my interest, so here you go; a brief history of the Harlem Renaissance, as told by a 22 year old white guy from London… Click here to read more…
Here’s a quick video for you. It’s by a Canadian guy called Peter Myles who I heard about through my cousin (who’s boyfriend directed / starred). It’s a good fun song/video bundle and probably sums up more nights than I’d like to admit! Anyway, enjoy this and let us know what you think in the comments at the bottom.
Here’s a little something by a friend of ours, Alex Martin. He’s quite the fan of old blues and while on the phone yesterday we were discussing Bo Diddley. Anyway, he sent me a little selection of some of his favourites, so here they are.
I’ve always liked listening to original versions of songs made more famous by covers. All these songs have been made more famous by the likes of Rolling Stones, Hendrix and, err, Canned Heat.
Oh and then there’s a gem from Ray Charles (a cover no less) which I’ve put on here because it’s what I like to think the 60’s sounded like and can inexplicably imagine it being blared out of the Tannoy over Tracy Island.
Have a look at this. It belongs to a friend of mine who’s just finished studying music in Liverpool and he liked it so much he decided to stay up there. I know, why, right?? Well, there’s no accounting for taste. Luckily he likes good, interesting music and he likes to write about it: consolidationprize.tumblr.com
He also puts on gigs. So if you’re on Merseyside and you see the name ‘La Racaille presents’ you know it’ll be a cracking lineup.
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