Delving into electronic music…

Daft Punk Alive 2007

Now, this article is really for the uninitiated.  If you’re already a big EDM fan, you may know a lot of what I’m going to say, and you may not agree with what I say either, which is entirely subjective.  Personally, I can take or leave electronic music, but every great while some songs are produced that are just amazing.   Now, there are a lot of big acts that aren’t gonna be mentioned here, so if you’re expecting to see David Guetta, Tiesto, Avicii or Deadmau5, then you may be disappointed, but if you want to hear more artists outside of the basic four being played everywhere these days, then you’re in luck.  So without wasting any more of your time, here are the tunes:

1. Daft Punk- Robot Rock 

The kings of house music, this French duo has been at it for over a decade and a half and continue to be one of the freshest sounds in the house scene.

2. RJD2- 1976

RJD2′s fresh blend of hip hop with instrumentals makes his sound unique and noticeable.  He’s even gone on to have a song used as the theme for AMC’s “Mad Men.”

3. Miami Horror- Summerfest ’86

Australian upstarts Miami Horror have a fresh sound similar to Chromeo or Cut Copy, but this song stands on it’s own.

4. Wolfgang Gartner- Illmerica

Grammy Award nominated Wolfgang Gartner is at the forefront of the American house music scene and this is just one reason why.

5. Cut Copy- Going Nowhere

Another band hailing from Australia, Cut Copy has been playing around the world for the past decade and their second album “In Ghost Colours” was number 1 on the ARIA music charts.

That’s all for now, tune in next time when we’ll sample some Aphex Twin, Booka Shade, Calvin Harris, Chromeo and Younger Brother.

The Stones at 50:

Now, there are many adamant music fans who think you can’t be both a fan of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but quite frankly, that’s a load of horseshit.  Then and now, these were two entirely different bands without much in common except from being early British Invasion bands.  That’s like not being able to like the Zombies cuz you like the Kinks; it’s stupid.  The Beatles did something no other band before them did, but at the same time, the Stones took it further and did something no other band had done and continued to do it for 50 friggen years.  The Rolling Stones are what every rock and roll band since their inception have tried to emulate.  The sex drugs and rock and roll lifestyle, the swagger of Mick Jagger; I guarantee you there wasn’t a heavy metal band in the 80′s somewhat influenced by the Rolling Stones.

Here’s another thing, at the height of their popularity in the late 60′s, the highlight of  the Monterey Pop Festival was the fact the Stones’ guitarist Brian Jones was there..  He didn’t even play a single note, but that’s the most important thing to remember from MPF.  He may have introduced Jimi Hendrix, but even Jimi’s set, the Who, The Mama’s and The Papa’s last show, and one of the last performances from Otis Redding all paled in comparison to Brian Jones’ being there.  Now, without continuing my ranting, let’s get down to the music:

Monkey Man- Let it Bleed

Dead Flowers- Sticky Fingers

Emotional Rescue- Emotional Rescue

2000 Light Years from Home- Their Satanic Majesties Request

Salt of the Earth- Rock and Roll Circus

sorry, I couldn’t find the live video from RnR Circus on youtube.

I know everyone is thinking where’s Paint it Black and Gimme Shelter and all the hits you hear on the radio everyday, but this is my blog, and these are the songs that I relate to the most as a Stones fan.  I could go on and on, but then that’s just beating a dead horse.  so for reading this, I’ll leave you with one last favorite track of mine:

In Another Land- Their Satanic Majesties Request

My First Festival: Berkfest 2001

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In the Summer of 2001, I had just graduated high school and had started seeing various jambands locally and was excited to break my festival hymen at the Berkshire Mountain Music Festival.  Since Phish had played it’s last show the Fall before that, I had been spending the early half of 2001 branching out seeing all and any jambands that came to the area.  I had seen Trey Anastasio’s first non-Phish show at the Orpheum in Boston and a week later, saw my first moe. concert at the same venue.  I had also seen Gov’t Mule at Lupo’s in Providence and an aftershow featuring the Psychedelic Breakfast at the Met Cafe next door.  Yet, none of these shows would totally prepare me for my first festival experience.

My brother had gone to the Gathering of the Vibes earlier that summer and he was nice enough to call the house and leave messages on my answering machine of the Disco Biscuits and Les Claypool’s Frog Brigade sets.  Those minute long snippets on my answering machine had me as excited I can be to finally arrive at my first music festival.  Unfortunately,  the day that would happen, we were way behind schedule due to waiting to stockpile various substances, so we got there late on Friday.

We got to the festival grounds as it was getting dark and scampered to find a place in the back of a tent filled field to pitch our own tents.  We could hear Soulive on the main-stage, but duty called and we waited to finish setting everything up before venturing out to see music.  Fortunately for us, our first band we got to actually see was Leftover Salmon’s late-night set in one of the ski lodges.  Now, I did not know that at the time, but since then I’ve grown to find out that Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon is basically the Festival Master General in the jamband scene.  He got us pumped up for the music left to come for the rest of the weekend and supplied us with a late-night hootenanny get down.

Come the morning and the sunlight, I finally got to see the seedy underbelly that belied Berkfest.  Now Berkfest was put on by Gamelan Productions, the same company that brought us High-Sierra Music Festival, but if there are two things in common between these festivals, its that they are festivals and they have absolutely nothing else in common.  I made my way out to “Shakedown Street” to hear nothing but nitrous tanks running every hour of the day, people selling bags of cocaine out in the open, and even a camping area we affectionately referred to as the Heroin Woods.  People openly doing cocaine, heroin, and other drugs like “dust” was completely foreign to me.  Usually you had to do that kinda stuff on the down low, but not at Berkfest.  There were cops there, but honestly they didn’t do a damn thing so long as you didn’t get in the way of their horses.  I even saw someone I had met at a post-party for that summer’s Trey Anastasio Band show smashed over the head with a Captain Morgan bottle, but come to find out he was found stealing stuff from someone’s tent, so hippy martial law came into affect.

Now back to the music.  Luckily a friend of ours had his tent set up at the very top of the hill where the stage was at the very bottom.  So we mostly spent our afternoons, chilling out by our friend’s tent listening to the bands way down below.  This is essentially how I listened to my first Sound Tribe Sector Nine,  Spearhead and Yonder Mountain String Band sets.  I would make my way down the hill for various sets throughout the weekend including Strangefolk, The Word and Robert Randolph’s Family Band.  Occasionally we would make our way into the ski lodges to see sets from bands like the Psychedelic Breakfast and the Slip.

The highlight of the weekend was moe.’s 3 hour set on Saturday night.  We had set ourselves up a couple heads away from the stage during Strangefolk’s set and found a group of other moe.rons to get mentally ready for the headlining set with.  moe. took the stage and the mountainside seemed to be at capacity.  They led us off with a Plane Crash to get the crowd riled up, what would follow would end up being one of my favorite festival sets from any band, ever.  They were all business that night and didn’t stop for what seemed like forever.  Actually, the second half of the set consisted of a 4 song Moth sandwich that took over an hour and a half for them to finish.  By the time they had finished, I was dead tired, so we and our new moe. fan friends headed back to camp where we joked and consumed various goodies for the remainder of the night.

The highlight of Sunday’s lineup was Les Claypool’s Frog Brigade’s headlining set.  He came out in a giant green monster costume that had been patrolling festival grounds all weekend urging fans to clean up after themselves.  His set was they typical 2001 Claypool set starting with Thela Hun Ginjeet and including favorites like Highball with the Devil and covers like David Bowie’s Space Oddity and the B-52′s Planet Claire.  As the Berkfest Allstar Jam started(which included John Medseki and various other well known musicians): we packed up camp and made a run for it, so we could sleep cleanly and dry in our own bed’s that night, but forever that festival would leave a huge impact on me.

Berkfest only lasted a couple more years before being shut down by locals who complained of the seedy environment it brought.  They were right, even as an attendee, Berkfest could be a scary place, but the music made that all better.  It was a year before Bonnaroo started and didn’t have any giant sponsors, but the fans still came out in droves and the annual music lineups there were always top notch.  It certainly wasn’t for the weak at heart and the event t-shirt calling it “Berkfest of Champions” was more true than the designer probably assumed.  If you could survive that August weekend in the Berkshire Mountains, you truly were a champion.

Since, its already mid January and I haven’t blogged yet this year, I’m gonna start off with my list of favorite concerts of 2011.  Simple enough.

#5 Phish- Great Woods, Mansfield MA

#4 Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers- The Spot, Providence RI

#3 moe.- Lowell MA

#2 The Breakfast- Daniel Street (Founghoulish Freakout XII), Millford CT

#1 Erasure- House of Blues, Boston MA

This makes it two consecutive years that a foreign act(and 3 of the past 5) has taken top place.  The other two being Air in 2010 and Daft Punk in 2007.

The Best of John Lennon:

John

Now, I was born a couple of years after he was shot, but that doesn’t change the fact that his music has hit me deeper than pretty much anyone in the history of music.  Both during the Beatles tenure and afterwards.  My parents favorite Beatle was George Harrison and I get that.  I watched his HBO documentary about four times now, and love everything he has to offer and he had such a beautiful mind.  But when it comes to the Fab Four, nobody speaks to me quite like John did.  So in today’s installment, I’m gonna arbitrarily rattle off a random number of my favorite post-Beatles John Lennon songs:

1. Watching the Wheels

This one really goes without saying and should be on anyone’s top 5 John Lennon song list.  He just captured lightning in a bottle with this song and it speaks to any person of any generation on some wavelength.

2. Jealous Guy

An amazing song where he lets you inside his soul like no one else and boldly takes responsibility in the plight of love like not many men are willing to do.

3. Working Class Hero

This song is deep, way deep, and is more relevant now more than ever.  He just breaks down the expectations of societal life and drops the hammer on it like it’s his job.

4. Woman

I can’t even listen to this song without shedding a tear or many tears for that matter.  So Yoko may have broken up the Beatles, she did give us this, so we can at least respect her for that.

5. Look at Me

John waxing philosophical as only he can.  This is one of his simpler songs, but the message of wondering who you are and what your role is in the world hits me right at home.

There you have it for this week.  Clearly I left off some heavy hitters (Instant Karma, etc.), but to each their own.  If you have your own personal list of top Lennon songs feel free to comment with them below.  Until next time….

A few bands worth listening to(pt. 3):

Gogol Bordello

1. Gogol Bordello - These gypsy punk rockers fuse together Eastern European music with a modern punk twist.  They’re known for their exciting live performances and tour relentlessly.  Led by lead singer Eugene Hutz, his Ukrainian quirkiness helps to separate the band from most music out there today.

2. Miami Horror - Contrary to their name, Miami Horror hails from Australia.  They have an electronic sound that’s classified as disco-house and can be compared to bands like Chromeo, but better.

3. Yeasayer - I don’t think I’ve done one of these without at least one Brooklyn based band.  Yeasayer is a mix of middle-eastern sounds with electronic synth along with poppy soulful harmonies.

That’s it for this installment of a few bands worth listening to.  I hope you’ve come across something that piques your interest and feel free to recommend any bands to me for future installments.