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Monday, May 13, 2013

Dance Floors Of Futures Past

The great Steve Miller once said, "Time keeps on slipping, into the future."

It's true, One instant we experience something, the next instant the experience is in the past. No matter how fresh and new an experience is to you at some time in your life, it will be old news.

Which got me thinking about music. Some music sounds futuristic. When we listen to a group like Daft Punk, it seems like we are listening to music from a world that doesn't exist yet, if it ever will exist. Our music today may sound like some of the futuristic music of the past.

This mix is a selection of songs that I feel fall into that category. Old songs that sound up to date or futuristic. New songs that sound futuristic while at the same time sounding vintage. It's the type of look at music that would make a Doctor Who fan giddy. They would say something like timey-whimey or something like that.

This mix features new music from Daft Punk, and Robin Thicke. Classics from Roberta Flack, and Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. There are some old school underground treats for those in the know and with keen ears. And there are some recent songs that probably haven't gotten the attention they deserve.

Enjoy.

Dance Floors Of Futures Past
The Rapture - Never Die Again
Glass Candy - Miss Broadway
Kraak & Smaak feat Ben Westbeech - Squeeze Me (Original Mix)
Mayer Hawthorne - Designer Drug
Jazzanova feat Ben Westbeech - I Can See
Roberta Flack feat. Donny Hathaway - Don't Make Me Wait Too Long (LP Version)
Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye - My Mistake (Was To Love You)
Edwin Birdsong - Cola Bottle Baby
Daft Punk feat Pharrell Williams - Get Lucky
Monkeyrobot - Ybmj
Michael Boothman feat Charmaine Ford - What You Won't Do For Love
Robin Thicke feat Pharrell and T.I. - Blurred Lines
The Strokes - Welcome To Japan
Karen Young - Hot Shot
Breakbot feat Ruckazoid - Fantasy
Black Science Orchestra - New Jersey Deep
Major Lazer - Pon De Floor
Taana Gardner - Work That Body


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Commander Chris Hadfield - Space Oddity

I started following Commander Chris Hadfield on Twitter shortly after he joined the crew of the International Space station. Being a lifelong lover of outer space since I first saw Star Wars Episode IV during its original run, how could I not? Here's a guy tweeting from outer space! He was sending us tons of pictures of what the Earth looked like from space! How cool was that? My inner nerd was jumping up and down and had a new hero.

This guy became an internet rock-star. He was receiving tweets from William Shatner and Hadfield was answering him back like he was talking to Captain Kirk!




He was then contacted by Leonard Nimoy and George Takei was posting about him on Facebook. Nerds and geeks everywhere withdrew their proposals to Neil Degrasse Tyson and was now down on one knee in front of Commander Hadfield.

I was watching NASA TV one night (See, I told you all! I really am a big nerd.) when they were conducting an interview with Commander Hadfield. They asked him what personal items he brought with him to the space station. Hadfield said he brought his guitar! *Swoon!*

I knew he loved hockey and we had that much in common but now I knew he was a music fan too.

Monday, May 13th, Hadfield returns to Earth. He'll get to see his family for the first time in about 5 months. He'll get to watch the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He'll return to Earth a hero of the space, science, and science fiction loving community!

Going to outer space is now no big deal, not like it used to be anyway. There was a time when families watched every launch. When talking with people in orbit was broadcast on network television. Now, American Idol trumps whatever happens in space. But Chris Hadfield brought sexy back to outer space like he was Justin Timberlake. Now that his mission is over, I'm a little sad that I won't be seeing pictures of Earth anymore but I am glad to have witnessed what he was able to do through the power of the internet. It couldn't get much better. ... At least, that's what I thought.

Today Hadfield released a video. A music video. He covered David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and produced a music video...ON THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION!!!!

ROCK STAR!!! This guy is a ROCK. STAR.

No one else has ever done this! So here it is people. Enjoy!

The Stepkids - "Suit And Tie" and "Sweet Salvation"

I caught The Stepkids when they passed through Georgia on tour with Mayer Hawthorne. Prior to that I had heard them on Gilles Peterson's "Worldwide" radio show on the BBC. I also had a track from them that came on one of the Label Love compilations I had gotten my hands on.

None of that prepared me for what I experienced when they took the stage. They hit the stage wearing all white with a movie screen behind them. The room went pitch black. As the music started the stage was filled with a psychedelic light show. The music was incredible! Full of harmonies, melodies, and funk. By the
end of their performance, I was sold. I headed out to the lobby to buy the album before the Mayer started up. I only bought the album but they could have sold me on anything they had if they had tried. Instead I convinced Dan to take a picture with me.

I played that album non-stop for about a month. It sounded like what I figured a song written by Bootsy Collins for The Beatles would have sounded like.

More than a year has passed since I saw them live. Almost two years has gone by since their self titled debut album was released in 2011. News from the land of The Stepkids had become pretty sparse. So when I saw a tweet today saying check out The Stepkids covering Justin Timberlake's "Suit And Tie", I got excited!

I got even more excited when I hit play and realized they covered it in the style of swing jazz!



Amazing how covering a song in a Jazz style can class it up a bit, huh? And now you also understand how much fun these guys are!

Well, not to just leave you hanging, I also found out that they recently released a new single and a video for it. Their upcoming album, Troubadour is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2013. The video for "Sweet Salvation" has the crew traveling through space in what was more like the idea of space travel during the 60s and 70s. Pretty fun stuff.



Now, I'm excited about hearing the new album this fall.

Roger

PS: Dan was a really funny guy.

Prince and Apollonia 6 - Manic Monday

I love Prince's music. Well, let me be more specific. I love Prince's music from his 1995 album The Gold Experience, back to his 1978 debut For You. To be honest there were a few albums in the 90s prior to The Gold Experience that I could have done without but I let those slide when I think of Prince's golden era of creating music.

And that's only HIS albums. It doesn't include the countless B-sides that we're only released as the backing cut on a single back when people still bought records. Nor does it include his side projects with other bands (The Time, Apollonia 6, Vanity 6, Madhouse, The Family), or the songs he wrote and/or produced for other artists.

You can get lost in the hunt for song that he wrote and produced for other acts because so often he published the songs or produced under several different pseudonyms. There's Jamie Starr and The Starr Company, Joey Coco, Alexander Nevermind, and Christoper.

One of the most successful songs he has written for another group is the Bangles' 1986 hit "Manic Monday", which gives the writing credit to Christopher. Any die hard Prince fan knows that's a Prince song. It sounds like one of his songs from that era in so many ways. The difference is that it's being sung by a group that had no known connection to Prince other than that one song. The reached the #2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, being held back from #1 by Prince's "Kiss". Critics were mostly impressed by the performance as well as Prince's writing ability, and many compared the song to the stylings of The Mamas & The Papas.




I have always wondered if a Prince sung demo of the song existed. I wanted to hear it. It had to exist, right? Well for years I never ran across it. Then today on Twitter a tweet from The A.V. Club came across my timeline saying, listen to Prince and Apollonia 6's original demo for "Manic Monday".

I was like I had hit triple 7's on a slot machine! Here it was, the demo I have wondered about for years. Prince wrote the song in 1984 and recorded it with Apollonia 6 for their album. However he pulled it from the album before it was released. He didn't feel like it worked.

After listening to it, I understood why.



 
It's a terrible version of the song after hearing the Bangles sing it right for years and years. Let me say, after hearing the beginning of the first verse, I was extremely nervous about how that bridge was going to come across. Be honest, weren't you?

So often when you finally hear Prince sing a song that he had written for someone else it sounds better. Think about "Nothing Compares To You", made famous by Sinead O'Conner, or Tevin Campbell's "Shhh! (Break It Down)" when you finally heard Prince sing both of those songs you instantly knew Prince sang it better and felt like you wish he had just done it in the first place!

This time, there was no satisfaction like that for me. I felt much like I did after I watched the Star Wars prequels. I went my whole life wanting to see the story that I knew existed before the Star Wars Trilogy and once I saw it, I wished it didn't exist because what I had built up in my head was a better version of it.

Well, Prince is still the god of the 80s for me. I won't let this demo tear that down. He had the presence of mind to pull it from the Apollonia project and give it to a group who could do it justice.

Kudos to The Bangles.

Roger

PS: Who knows how long that demo will exist online. Prince is notoriously known for having his music taken down from online, so listen while you can.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Rolling Stones w/ Tom Waits - Little Red Rooster

I've never seen The Rolling Stones perform live. I wish I could say that I have but to be completely honest I just really learned to appreciate The Stones in about the last 7 years.

Now that's not to say that I hated them. There were the few songs here and there that I thought were cool, but I never really dug into their catalog. As the years went by and my tastes expanded and changed, all the while I kept running across songs that I was like, "Wow! This is The Stones, huh?" Because it's impossible to love music and avoid them. They are everywhere. That's why, and because, they are one of the greatest Rock and Roll bands of all times.

So now if the opportunity for me to see them live arises, I will jump on that chance with the enthusiasm of a drunk girl jumping on a frat boy in salmon colored shorts (And while I'm talking about guys in salmon colored shorts, I just found out that if you see 5 or more guys together in salmon colored pants or shorts, the group is called an "unpleasantry". For example, "I went into a bar earlier today and couldn't get to the bartender because there was an unpleasantry of fellows drinking Miller Lite in the way.")

But back to The Stones...

I would already be as excited as could be just by seeing The Stones live. And while I know hearing the hits is fun, I would be thrilled if they reached back and grabbed a few rarities. So if they went into Little Red Rooster, I would be beside myself. I'd be useless. BUT if TOM WAITS came out on stage and sang along with them I would probably just end up falling out on the floor.

I've never see Tom Waits live either and I am a huge fan of his. About ten years ago I was turned on to him with Nighthawks At The Diner being my first album from him. It's still my favorite. The story telling along with that voice. That's a man's man's voice. If I had to choose a voice other than my own (and believe me I am quite fond of my voice. I sound like a sexy 70's soul song's rap about how we should stay together.) I would happily pick Tom Waits' voice.

So when this video hit the web with the great Tom Waits joining the mighty Rolling Stones on stage to sing a song, I was hooked!



The Stones seemed to be in a comfortable place playing this Howlin' Wolf cover. And while I question if Waits remembers the song very well, he didn't disappoint. He was as strange in his movements as he was powerful with his voice.

Ahhhh...live music. You never know what you're going to get.

Roger

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lauryn Hill - Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)

Lauryn Hill has been in the news a lot lately, and not in the way I would prefer for her to be. We learned that Hill plead guilty to not filing taxes from 2005-2007 and had close to a million dollars in income tax debt that needed to be paid off. She was facing jail time when her lawyers asked for time to pay back some of the debt since she had just signed a new deal with Sony.

While that news is terrible, some of us said, "Wait...a new deal with Sony? Does that mean new music?"

It sure did mean new music!! I woke up this morning to find a link on Twitter to a new song from Ms. Hill titled Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix). After waiting years for some new music from her, this happened incredibly fast. One day we're hearing that she's in some legal trouble and it seemed like the next we have a new song. Incredible!



I really like this. So often you see artists get away from making music and when you hear something new it seems like an imitation of their former selves, or contrived, or trying to hard to be new.

Lauryn Hill jumps all over a drum heavy, electronic beat, and we suddenly remember how good of an MC she was. It's like she never missed a step in the rap game.

And she didn't let us down by putting out a cheap love song or a fluff piece. You will never be able to say she "sold out" with this song. She makes some strong commentary on the state of society. I've long missed rap music that makes you think.

Welcome back Lauryn Hill. I hate that it took the law to put a fire under your butt, but it looks like that did the trick. Maybe the urgency gives just the right edge to this song.

Roger

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Daft Punk Action Figures Exist. Why Don't I Have Any?

 David Bowie announces a new album and music lovers go crazy. What could possibly trump talk about the new Bowie album? Daft Punk announces their first album in 8 years and Bowie is left alone looking around with his hands in the air saying, “What happened?”

Random Access Memories has created a circus in the world of music media. The talk of the new album has been non-stop. There have been rumors flying, the official release of a single, well timed leaks, and most recently, a select group of music writers were invited to hear the new album. I've heard reviews that said the new album was everything from “Total bonkers” to “bold and daring” to “a touch frustrating”.

Well, what we do know for sure is that the first single, “Get Lucky” featuring Pharrrell Williams is an absolute winner and is already being hailed as the song of the summer.


The video above is in true Daft Punk fashion. If you stare at it long enough, you are treated to a brief moment where the silhouetted figures begin to groove when the break down of the song drops in.

We also know for sure that the new album will be released on May 21st and it features Pharrell Williams from N.E.R.D., Nile Rodgers from Chic, famous Disco producer Giorgio Moroder, Julian Casablancas from The Strokes, and Paul Williams. … Wait, what?

Yeah, Paul Williams.


Hey, you think of Paul Williams how you want to. I think of him as the special guest on The Muppet Show.

Now, I don't want to speculate on the album. I don't know what to expect since everyone's opinion is different, I can't go off of what those lucky few who heard it think. I doubt there will be an early leak of the album since it has been reported that the lone copy of it is kept under lock and key. Plus I wouldn't spoil the excitement by listening to a bootleg anyway. Excitement like this over the release of an album rarely happens anymore with the digital age upon us.

I will say, I am probably most excited about the song with Giorgio Moroder. He was such a brilliant producer in the 70s, using the brand new electronic sounds of that era to create songs the likes of which had never been heard before. What happens when you team up the master of the past with the masters of today?


Yeah, Moroder produced that song. It was a huge hit for Donna Summer and imagine what that had to sound like when people heard it for the first time in the 70s. This is probably the most important collaboration to happen to electronic music.

You know what, I'm not going to get myself worked up over this. I'm not even here to talk with you all about the album anyway. I really wanted to talk with you all about Daft Punk action figures.

When I heard about the release of the new album, for some reason I started thinking about how cool Daft Punk action figures would be. I loved Star Wars and G.I. Joe toys when I was growing up and I still have to swing through the toy department anytime I am out shopping. I will even buy something if I think it is cool enough.

A couple of Daft Punk action figures on my mantle would be straight swag. Well at least for me. Maybe I'd be the only one impressed by that but hell, they'd be in MY house so I'm the most important person to impress.
Bandai's new figures
I searched and found out that Japanese toy maker Bandai is making some 15cm figures to coincide with the release of Random Access Memories. They are decked out in black leather to look like they are from the Human After All era of Daft Punk. They will most likely be reasonably priced in the $40-$70 dollar range.

What, you think that's kinda high priced for a toy? Well check this out.

$600, people!
Remember seeing Daft Punk in the most recent Tron movie? (For the record that was the only part of that movie worth seeing. Don't get me started on how I paid $30 for two people to go see it in 3-D.) Well action figures were made to look like they did in the movie. You can find them for about $600 for the set or about $200 a piece . These rare figures were made by Real Action Hero and stand about 12” tall. I nearly choked when I ran across them.

Kubrick
How about these Daft Punk Tron Kubrick figures? Similar to Lego figures, a pack with both figures will run you roughly $140 at Amazon !

How about this. Trendy Japanese toy maker Medicom has made Daft Punk figures for their famous line of Bearbrick toys. They haven't been released yet but Amazon has them
Medicom Bearbrick
listed at almost $400 a piece . A PIECE!!!

Now folks, I ain't got no money. I write a music blog and that don't pay me a dime. I can't afford these toys. I don't even know anyone who can afford them AND would enjoy having them. So I am really pulling for Bandai to release their figures at a reasonable price. I would be all over those.

And for anyone who has been wondering what to buy me as a gift, see the above figures.

Roger