Monday, August 27, 2012

A Journey though Spotify Apps

Music lovers who are into music discovery must try Spotify Apps.  I will discuss some of my favorites and how they contribute to my musical journey.  The great thing about reading reviews and playlists from Spotify Apps is the instant access to the track.

The Spotify Apps provide a wealth of information regarding new releases, reviews, trending playlists, and songs on the rise.  In addition to information that comes to me from various feeds and friends, I often come across that artist that appears in a variety of places.  I feel compelled to give those bands a listen.  At other times, the review is written in a way that makes you feel like you have to give that band a try.  And finally, other times it might be enough to know that if you like one artist then you might like this one.

My recent favorite comes from ANYDECENTMUSIC?  ADM surveys over 50 sources and compiles reviewer averages to compile its' listings.  Currently Bill Fay, Purity Ring, and Plan B top the list.  You can also find what is being talked about and direct links to reviews.  When multiple sources give stellar reviews, more often than not you are onto something good.

Rolling Stone Recommends provides users with various playlists, album reviews/links, and top rated songs.  Playlists include Best New Music to Ultimate Girl Group listings.  Occasionally, an artist will compile their own playlist to share.  Direct links to album and song reviews are provided.

The Classify app is great for anyone who would like to learn more about classical music.  You can listen my era, mood, theme, instrument, or composer.  Classify also provides recommended playlists.  It's a must app for anyone interested in classical music.

Pitchfork, The Guardian, and NME also provide Spotify apps with reviews, playlists, and new music highlights.  I usually check all of these to see if there are any cross listings.

For those who like to stream lyrics there is TuneWiki, just play a song a TuneWiki will stream the lyrics for you to sing along or to share.

There are plenty of other apps to help you create a greater social experience, listen to playlists by mood, keep up to date on concerts, make Top 10 lists and more.  What is your favorite Spotify App and why?

Here is Rolling Stone magazine's New Music Playlist (scroll to bottom of the playlist for the latest additions).

Bernie Worrell Orchestra

Center-Legend Bernie Worrell
On Friday August 17, our awesome local independent record store, Record Archive hosted an in-store performance by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member, Bernie Worrell.  When I first saw the event listed I remembered back to my college days when I went through my Talking Heads phase.  I had a distant memory of Bernie Worrell from the movie "Stop Making Sense."  Bernie is introduced by David Byrne at about the 4:48 mark in this videoclip.

This led me on a musical journey.  I did a bit more research to find out Bernie's inclusion in the Hall of Fame is for his work with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.  I saw P-Funk around 2006 at the House of Blues in Anaheim  California.  This show continues to be one of the strangest shows I've ever seen.  It's not everyday you get to see grown men in diapers on stage.  George himself made a very limited appearance and to my recollection, Bernie was not part of the band.

Upon further investigation, I found Bernie's story was told in a documentary available on Netflix (trailer) titled "Stranger-Bernie Worrell on Earth."  Bernie's influence is unprecedented.  A child prodigy whose work with the Moog synthesizer was both controversial and ground-breaking.  Bernie's description of his work and how it relates to sex and the spirit was recorded in another documentary simply titled "Moog," a 2004 film about Bob Moog's electronic musical inventions.

My last stop on this journey was a listen to DJ Logic's Global Noize release featuring tracks that included Bernie.  Once you know Bernie's sound, you realize his contributions are undeniable.  Dr. Dre is another artist to have been influenced by Bernie.  I haven't yet taken my journey down that road.  If you know of specific tracks that might link Bernie to Dr. Dre, please comment.

Bernie Worrell is a genius.  What is sad about his story is that so few know about Bernie's influence.  Sadly, some have said that Bernie's greatness will only be appreciated when he has long gone.  Bernie never concerned himself with the commercial side of the music business.  Bernie never benefited from a PR machine.  I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to see Bernie is such intimate quarters.  See Bernie heating up in the clip I recorded below, then take a listen to the Spotify playlist.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

August Journeys

Willis Earl Beal
"Cocaine Blues" by Escort was recommended by SPIN Magazine's list of the Best Releases of 2012 so far.  This track takes me back to my 70's disco youth and the early 80's club scene.  What goes around, comes around.  Also from the SPIN recommendations comes Willis Earl Beal's  "Take Me Away." The sometimes homeless, Willis Earl Beal pleads for someone to take him away.  If you write to him, he will make you a drawing.

Sometimes I will add music to a playlist so I can listen to new sounds when I have more time.  I maintain a Spotify playlist folder of 2012 releases that I often revisit.  The two tracks from Omaha based Icky Blossoms fit this description.  The self-titled release has 3 starred tracks for me, "Deep in the Throes" and "I Am" recently added.  Vocals by Sarah Bohlin on top of some heavy bass and electronic vibes.

I also took another listen to Neil Young's Americana's record.  While an interesting project, "Oh Susannah" is the only track I want to hear again.  The arrangement is the most original on the track listing.

Band of Skulls played a local show recently at the Water Street Music Hall.  While I considered attending, I didn't end up going to the show.  However, I did enjoy the track "Sweet Sour."
Flying under my radar for I don't know how long was Matisyahu.  Born Matthew Paul Miller in West Chester, PA, Matisyahu (his Hebrew name) brings a strong blend of reggae and hip-hop.  I love the hook in "Searchin." Yes, Matisyahu, "I've been searchin for you, I've been searchin far and wide..." "Crossroads" and "Fire of Freedom" are also strong tracks.  I also learned my 17 year old son is a big fan of Matisyahu when he recently traveled to Buffalo, NY to see Matisyahu and Dirty Heads.

Sharon Van Etten's Tramp has been in my 2012 list for quite awhile.  I caught her act at Lollapalooza (the live stream) earlier this month and thought I better give her some more air time.  "Serpents" was already a starred track but I've added "Give Out" to my favorites.  Rolling Stone lists her as a must-see act.

My next concert will be Florence + the Machine in Saratoga Springs, NY.  As I am sure many people do the same, any upcoming concert puts that artist in heavy rotation.  I am still surprised by how many people I talk to have never heard of Florence + the Machine.  I also caught her Stevie Nicks inspired set on the Lollapalooza live stream and I cannot wait to see her in a few weeks.

Finally, the DJ Logic track was discovered as a result of recently meeting the legend Bernie Worrell  This deserves it's own post in the near future.  Stay tuned.