Posts Tagged ‘Doc Watson

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss at The Theater at Madison Square Garden

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Last week Robert Plant was quoted in the Village Voice as saying that America “needs to hear its music.” Leave it to a Brit to tell us what we need. Plant’s condescension aside, he is right. The former Led Zeppelin singer’s recent album and tour with Alison Krauss, which stopped at the Theater at Madison Square Garden last night, prove that he is doing more than just talking the talk. About halfway through the show, Plant, humble and gracious throughout, paid homage to those American musicians who came before, telling the crowd “If it weren’t for Chicago and Mississippi, I wouldn’t even be here right now.”

Plant gets it. All the amazing musicians who shared the stage with him get it. He is right though – more Americans need to get it.

It’s hard to claim that popular music today has largely forgotten its roots. How can any music become untied from its history when, consciously or not, it is a product, a direct descendent of that history? Take rap music for example. Where would rap music be without James Brown, Bo Diddley (think “Who do You Love?”), Muddy Waters, and even Elvis and his televised gyrations? But, is rap conscious of its ties to history? Despite heavy use of samples, the answer is largely, no. Popular music across the board has lost its ties to the deep past. This would be okay (after all innovation is a good thing) if it weren’t for the fact that American music’s original soul, the soul that makes it exceptional in the truest sense of the word, has been largely flushed out as well.

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The Friday Writers’ Bloc: May 2nd, 2008

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Download this week’s Friday Writers’ Bloc playlist HERE

Michael-Bradley’s Picks

1. The Misfits – Skulls

You’ve seen the Misfits logo everywhere. You don’t need to know punk all that well to recognize that familiar skull. It’s become such a logo for mischief, that I feel as if plenty of kids who don it haven’t even heard a Misfits song. But they should! The Misfits (straight out of Jersey!) are a really important element to punk. Their dark and sinister lyrics made themselves innovators of horror punk, and probably the prelude to goth rock. Though let’s not really even begin to pigeon-hole them with goth-I’m just speaking about dark lyrics. And anyhow, their songs are far too catchy for that anyhow! “I Want your Skullllllllllllllllll. I NEEEEEEEEED your skkkkkkkkkuuuuuuulllllllllllll.” And Danzig’s voice is amazing- he’s like a punk tenor!

2. Suicidal Tendencies – Institutionalized

All I wanted was just one Pepsi!……I feel like this is my 4th song I’m using from the Repo Man Soundtrack. Not sure if that’s totally true, but it might be. That soundtrack is legit! Annnnnyhow, Suicidal Tendencies are skater hardcore 4 life! Usually their songs are ridiculously fast, and ranting about either how depressing life can be as a youth or Reagan. I respect that. This song is pretty slow for them, except for the chorus. Maybe we can call it their ballad? I find that amusing. I’ve been feeling kinda crazy recently, so I went with this classic. I feel like this song is written for me….Listen to all the lyrics, they’re thoroughly amusing. [Here’s an excerpt: Sometimes I try to do things but it just doesn’t work out the way I want it to, and I get real frustrated and then like I try hard to do it, and I like, take my time but it just doesn’t work out the way I want it to. Its like, I concentrate on it real hard, but it just doesn’t work out. And everything I do and everything I try, it never turns out. Its like, I need time to figure these things out, but theres always someone there going “hey mike, you know we’ve been noticing you’ve been having a lot of problems lately, you know? You need to maybe get away. And like, maybe you should talk about it, you’ll feel a lot better.” And I’m all like “oh, nah, its ok, you know. I’ll figure it out. Just leave me alone, I’ll figure it out, you know? I’m just working on it by myself.]

3. Temple of the Dog – Hunger Strike

OK. After just going over the last two songs, I realize how ludicrous this song is. It’s like wuss central. I feel like I read somewhere (American Hardcore?), how this old punker couldn’t understand Pearl Jam, because it was everything he was running away from in the 70’s. But this song is classic. This is truly my generation of music. This is one of the most underrated songs of the 90’s. And I feel like the only reason for that is because nobody knows if it’s Soundgarden or Pearl Jam. Well it’s Temple Of the Dog- Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden) and Pearl Jam. But Vedder and Cornell share the vocal parts, which turned out just heavenly (Say Hello 2 Heaven!). This whole album is pretty stellar, but I’d say this is the highlight. Great riff and great vocals. What else can I say?

Jonathan’s Picks

1. Wiz Khalifa – Say Yeah

I got an email not long ago from an old DJ friend anxiously, but nervously, alerting me to the existence of this song. The motivation for his email had nothing to do with the quality of the track, but rather what it might mean to me. See, “Say Yeah” samples liberally from what I consider to be one of the biggest and most important trance records of all time, Alice DeeJay’s “Better Off Alone,” produced by Dutchmen Pronti & Kalamani. I happened to be in Paris in 1998 when “Better Off Alone” first dropped. (It didn’t reach the States for quite a while). And although I was already DJing at that point, playing mostly hip hop and reggae, this song was what made me fall in love with trance music, and I’ve never been able to shake the addiction, nor all the baggage that comes with it. Anyway, I scrounged as many copies as I could get my hands on from DJs and record shops all over Paris, and brought them all back to New York with me, proudly claiming “Better Off Alone” as my song to any DJ that would listen. And for a short time, it was. Now, ten years later, thanks to relatively unknown producer Johnny Juliano, it provides the infectious melody for Wiz Khalifa’s banger, “Say Yeah.” So with mixed emotions, here it is.

2. Plies Feat. Ne-Yo – Bust It Baby Pt. 2

The past few weeks I’ve used the Friday Writers’ Bloc space to make picks that were in some way related to whatever I’d written that week. This time around, I’m just selecting three new tracks — all hot — that I’m really feelin’, and that I think are going to be on everyone’s radar pretty soon. To be honest, my favorite thing about Plies other than his nonsensical stage name — what the hell does Plies mean? Anyone? — is his amazing real name: Algernod Lanier Washington. That’s right, Algernod. How he gets Plies out of Algernod I do not know. But I do know that when I first heard his debut hit, “Shawty” featuring T-Pain, last year, I liked what I heard. Since then Plies has moved quickly up the hip hop ladder, appearing on DJ Khaled’s “I’m So Hood” and Rick Ross’ official “Speedin'” remix, and going gold with his first album, The Real Testament. “Bust It Baby Pt. 2” is a surefire hit, with a ridiculous beat from the ever-popular Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem, and an perfectly catchy hook from Ne-Yo, whose nickname should probably be Midas by now. Oh, and did I mention Plies is incredibly handsome?

3. Tyga Feat. Travis McCoy – Coconut Juice

Since it was just about 80 degrees last week in New York, not to mention the fact that we’re into May, I’m starting to feel summer coming on hard. I’m also starting to think that we’re going to be hearing Tyga’s debut single, “Coconut Juice,” all summer long. It could be “that song” that just seems to represent summer, with it’s summery, tropical, umbrella-in-your-drink, party feel. And frankly, it could be worse: I seem to remember being stuck with with “Shake Ya Tailfeather” from Nelly, Diddy, and Murphy Lee during the summer of 2003 thanks to the release of Bad Boys 2. And that song was just insufferably awful. At least Tyga’s a young, new artist with a clever, and well-timed debut song. He may be 18 years old and straight outta Compton, but don’t worry — he ain’t hard: Tyga is the younger cousin of Gym Class Heroes MC Travis McCoy, who is featured on “Coconut Juice,” and is apparently friendly with Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. And we all know that just ain’t gangsta. Not even a little bit. Anyway, enjoy this potential summer hit, preemptively.

JustJake’s Picks

1. Doc Watson – Deep River Blues

It’s hard to pick out a single song that showcases all of Doc Watson’s talents. There are hundreds to choose from. “Deep River Blues,” off Doc’s 1964 eponymous album, is as good as any. Listen to the guitar style that strolls alongside you as you hear the words. This sound influenced countless young bluegrass and country pickers like Bryan Sutton, Tony Rice, and Norman Blake. Even if you look down on country music, it’s hard not to appreciate the unique sounds coming out of this blind man’s guitar.

2. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – Toothbrush and My Table

Over the past four years or so, this band led by the soulful, sexy, and supremely talented Grace Potter has become a staple on the jamband circuit. Don’t let that fool you though, they don’t really jam and have evolved into a full-fledged rock band. The band’s most recent album This is Somewhere left much of their soulful roots behind. But, this track from 2005’s Nothing But the Water is Grace at her best. Try and resist the song’s sultry groove.

3. Sufjan Stevens – Ring Them Bells

Every so often a song grabs me and wont let go. I’m usually blindsided and subsequently spin the tune until it loses all its luster. I’m sure I’m not alone in this regard. Well, for the moment, this song, off the soundtrack to the 2007 Bob Dylan biopic flop I’m Not There, has got me. Sufjan’s cover of the relatively obscure Dylan song from his 1989 album Oh Mercy is a bright spot on what is otherwise a fairly lackluster soundtrack. But, it’s more than that. It is a modern-day genius’ transformation of a song that, in its original state is mediocre at best. In spite of (or maybe because of) its religious overtones, the song transcends. Oh, and its got one of the best guitar tracks in a pop song I’ve ever heard.

roswellmueller’s Picks

1. Paul Simon – The Cool, Cool River

You may not like Paul Simon, and you may like Paul Simon from the 80’s even less – but thats probably because you never listened to Rhythm of the Saints. While it reached #4 on the charts when released, the album didn’t lend itself to heavy radio-play – only generating one successful single – and has since been undeservedly lost in the shuffle of the years. Aside from maybe The Soft Bulletin, I don’t think there’s an album I enjoy listening all the way through more often. For shear listen-ability and album cohesion I would have to rank it as one of my all time favorite records. Give it a try – it won’t disappoint.

2. Kraftwerk – Computer Love

I’m including this for several reasons. One, I love this song, album, and Kraftwerk in general. These guy’s invented a genre of music and since then, very few people – if any – have come close to doing it better. Two, I heard that abominable Coldplay song (Talk) again the other day and felt a moral obligation to share the original with those who haven’t heard it. Also, way to go on calling the melding of sex and computers all the way back in 1981.

3. Beirut – Nantes

After a friend’s mix-tape introduced me to the band last year, I’ve been getting into their latest album – The Flying Club Cup – over the past few weeks. This song is an early/obvious favorite and a good introduction into the vaguely nostalgic, slightly foreign, but decidedly interesting sound cultivated by Zach Condon across two albums and an EP in between. Any attempt on my part to go deeper would be a sub-par parroting of the pitchfork review, but I will caution that while there are high points on Beirut’s albums there is a certain over-reaching quality to the music – it almost relishes in its foreignness – that smacks of the worst kind of smugness. That said, this is a great song.

Download this week’s Friday Writers’ Bloc playlist HERE