Monthly Archives: November 2012

BREAKING: Allie Finally Enters 2012

I think most of us would agree that electronic music is the type of tune-age that’s been gaining the biggest holding this year. It’s a genre that intimidates me. I really don’t know why, but until recently, I was utterly convinced that I was too uncool to like music with so much synth, music I might otherwise classify as “unnatural” or just not worthy of mentioning because I was sick of hearing it at sweaty parties. Thus, I tend to return to my safety blanket of favorite albums, most hailing from circa 2008.

Some anonymous promoter prompted me to decide that it was time to face my fear and listen to some frighteningly electronic music from 2012. About a month or two ago, I finally made the musical foray into this year – The Year of Electronic Music – thanks to an email that included the song “Ritual” by Blood Diamonds. I want to bow at the feet of Blood Diamonds – hell, I want to bow at the feet of the promoter who floods my radio inbox every week. I listen to this song non-stop. I know  n o t h i n g  about this kind of music, except that it is perfect.

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Another recent fix comes from Cherub, with “Doses and Mimosas.” A friend sent me this song during my radio show on Thursday, and even as I was playing Sharon Van Etten on air, I cranked the volume of this track in the studio and had a one-person dance party. I will never be able to decide how I think this compares to “Ritual,” but I will say that it prompted me to find Cherub’s entire discography.

The song starts a bit slow, but it becomes real amazing real fast.

Catching Up – You Gotta Hear This.

It’s been awhile. And sadly, I don’t have nearly as much time as I need in order to write about all the music that deserves to be shared. I’ve sorted through my current faves, though. It’s all off the charts of the ol’ AMPlifiability scale, so brace yourselves for awesomeness.

From cloudfront.net.

1. ZZ Ward. We hosted this up-and-coming bluesy-pop gal at WGTB on Saturday. Many of us were apprehensive because she’s trying to make it mainstream, and that’s not how we really roll at WGTB. ZZ killed it though. The general consensus seems to be that her recorded music is overproduced and artificial and that her live performances are so authentic and rich. I think she’s still trying to figure out exactly what she wants her sound and her image to be, but she’s well on her way to becoming queen of a new kind of pop.

Songs you can’t miss: “Move Like U Stole It” (Yeah, I know. The “U”. But it’s been stuck in my head for the past 48 hours.); “Home”; “Til the Casket Drops”; “Put the Gun Down”

Image from silverdisc.com

2. Kronos Quartet. Yes, this is technically classical music, but don’t blow it off so fast. Probably the most famous string quartet in the world, these people are four of the most loved, hated, talented, and innovative musicians out there. The lineup of Kronos has changed numerous times over the years, but their specialty has always been contemporary classical music, often with international influences. Of their 43 studio albums, only a handful of which I’ve heard, my latest musical squeeze is Pieces of Africa. The album is as old as I am, but every time I listen to it, it sounds more fresh and invigorating and is just the coolest blending of genres. With compositions written for Kronos by several African composers, Pieces of Africa was controversial for its mission, but the music, to me, is a no-brainer in its grandeur, scale, and evocative sound. Listen for the percussiveness of the pieces, provided both by actual drums and by the strings.

Don’t miss: “Mai Nozipo (Mother Nozipo)” by Maraire; “Ekitundu Ekisooka (First Movement)” by Tamusuza (you can find it on Spotify); “White Man Sleeps #2” by Volans

3. Cover songs. I chose not to publish Friday’s column for the guide on here this week. I wrote about cover songs, but I think that’s a category that cannot be adequately addressed without some actual demonstration. So, take a chance and get right into it by listening. I’ve got an 8tracks mix of 25 covers ready for your ears. Apparently other 8tracks users are fans of it. I haven’t even publicized it, but judging from the number of likes, people are into Florence Welch covering Drake, Grizzly Bear taking on Hot Chip, and a whole bunch of songs from the 60s that you might not have known are covers.

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AMPlify Radio Playlist – November 1

For my radio show last Thursday, I decided to counter the possible lady-overload from the previous week with a male-dominated playlist. It was mostly folk and alt-country, but there was a pretty wide variety within that, along with some surprises.

As for why I chose to open with Sharon Van Etten, well, I just couldn’t help it. “All I Can” became my new favorite song of as of late after seeing her at the 9:30 Club on October 25.

Enjoy!

  1. Sharon Van Etten – “All I Can”
  2. U.S. Royalty – “Fool to Love (Like I Do)”
  3. Dr. Dog – “Lonesome”
  4. Ryan Adams – “Shakedown on 9th Street” (8tracks wouldn’t allow this track to be uploaded.)
  5. The Shins – “Girl on the Wing”
  6. Neil Young – “Out on the Weekend”
  7. Bright Eyes – “If the Brakeman Turns My Way”
  8. The Smiths – “Half a Person”
  9. Nick Waterhouse – “(If) You Want Trouble”
  10. The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
  11. The Avett Brothers – “Paranoia in B-flat Major”
  12. Mumford & Sons – “Holland Road”
  13. The Temptations – “Under the Boardwalk”

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As a side note, thank you to whoever has been listening to my 8tracks mix called “Classy.” I had no idea it would get over 200 plays!

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Left in the Dark by Feist’s “Graveyard” Video

I’ve spent a solid third of my life loving the music of Feist, the Canadian musician who I featured a few posts ago when it was just emotions taking me over. Until today, I’d been convinced that both as a solo musician and as a member of the larger collective of Broken Social Scene, Feist could do no wrong. She’s cool, smart, talented, and one of the queens of her genre, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t spent more than a few hours contemplating what it would be like to be her.

Unfortunately, there comes a time when we realize that the people over whom we geekily obsess can indeed do wrong. That time for me with Feist came earlier this morning, when I watched her new video for “Graveyard.”

On Pitchfork, Feist offers some explanation for the video, discussing the desolation and big-picture thoughts that accompany grief. I understand what she was going for; I’ve lost a number of people in my life, and I was pleased to read that she and the director chose not to interpret “Graveyard” so literally.

Yet when I actually watched the video, I was thrown off both by the cinematography and the connection the video was supposed to have with the song. I get that the stillness of the frames represents the stagnation that grief elicits, that the musicians popping into the scene as the song builds are like spirits or ghosts in a graveyard. Forgive my lack of cinematography vocabulary, but the sliding shots? The butterfly? The fuzzy quality of the video? Those elements make the piece seem all at once cliché and pretentious. It’s exactly the type of thing Pitchfork goes gaga for while the rest of the world tilts their collective heads sideways and thinks what the actual f*ck is even happening here?

Though clearly Feist and director Keith Megna weren’t aiming to gain the mass appeal of “1234,” this clip seems like a total cop-out. Call me crazy or a grandma or an uncultured square, but it looks more like a low-budget project for a film class than a professional music video.

What do you think? Am I totally missing the mark in my interpretation? Or are you also disappointed by “Graveyard”?

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