Camera Obscura: KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic Session, July 19, 2006

Good to know Camera Obscura is finally get some good attention in North America. Like most of us, this is one of the bands that Pitchfork brought into my life with their review of the fabulous Underachievers Please Try Harder. It's also great to see that many naysayers are finally abandoning the lazy Belle and Sebastian comparism, which wouldn't exactly be if they were not a Glasgow band.

Come Back Margaret
The False Contender
Let's Get Out Of This Country
Tears For Affairs
Dory Previn
Modern Girl (Sheena Easton Cover)
Lloyd I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken

Buy the stellar Let's Get Out Of This Country.

Nina Nastasia: Pt. II

As promised, here's some more Nina Nastasia, this time from her Peel Acres Live Session on 4th July 2002. Just in case you wonder, Peel Acres was John Peel's home in Suffolk. Enjoy.

Treehouse Song
This Is What This Is
Deck In Vegas
All Your Life
Too Much In Between
Ugly Face

And more later.


Making good on their threat to cover Radiohead's OK Computer, New York dub artists Easy Star All-Stars have unleashed Radiodread, a reggae treatment of the classic album. I don't know if OK Computer is really reggae friendly, but these guys don't seem to care, seeing as they already did Dub Side of the Moon (you guessed it, Pink Floyd!). Anyway, judge for yourself - here's a cut from Radiodread.

No Surprises


Live Kraftwerk, New Faux Pas: Electronic Justice

Step One: Enter the Kraftwerk!

If this post does not keep you off "office porn" today, I don't see what can. You might as well tell your boss he's a "fuckwad" and quit. Vintage Kraftwerk grabbed from my Singaporean friends (the best international place for exquisite bootlegs if you ask me). Apparently, this is a set performed live at Gondel Kino, Bremen, Germany on June 25, 1971 and broadcast on Bremen Radio sometime that same year. The notes accompanying this inform me that apart from original founders Ralf and Florian, the lineup included Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger, yes, those guys that brought us NEU!

Heavy Metal Kids
K2 (Ruckzack)

What's not to love, I say? Btw, if you haven't heard Minimum-Maximum, go straight to the market and buy it now. When it arrives, unwrap it quickly, salivate visibly, and quickly jam "Autobahn". Then come back here and thank me.

Step Two: Exit the Kraftwerk , Enter the Faux Pas

That's right, I fully endorse Melbourne electrolyte, Tim Shiel, a.k.a. Faux Pas, as the next logical listen after a bout of Kraftwerk. Here's two of my favorite tracks from his debut album, Entropy Begins At Home (available on iTunes). Indeed, entropy does begin on this release, and there's enough flailing melodies, thumping registers, and mesmerizing percussions to keep you interested from start to finish.

Tema De Cristina
Water Into Wine

Go here for more downloads.

Rude Boy Mix

Do you know what it means to "skank to the beat"? Have you ever watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High and wondered if Spicoli was a Specials fan because he wore checkered Vans? Do you know there is a difference between Dub, Reggae, Rock Steady, and Ska music? If you don't, that's alright...that's why I'm here. I'm about an un-Jamaican as they come, but ever since I heard The Clash's "Rudie Can't Fail" I've been hooked on that ska beat. Ska gets a bad rep because of its so called "revival" in the mid-90's. After No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom went as Platinum as Gwen Stefani's hair, all kinds of bands cashed in on the ska trend without actually appreciating the original ska masters of the 1960's. So if you dislike Less Than Jake and all those pseudo ska bands that rode the trend train to nowhere, this mix is for you. I love ska, but I've very picky about the ska I get into. I guess you could say I'm a ska snob...but not in a mean way.

If you know anything about ska, you know there were 3 main waves of ska. Although, tracings of ska go back to the 1930's, the first official wave of ska originated Jamaica in the 1960's, and was a fusion of calypso, rhythm and blues, jazz, and swing music. Usually with full horns and slightly slower tempos than second wave ska, which was punk influenced. I don't have too many first-wavers on this mix, just The Skatalites and The Blues Busters.

This list is compiled of mostely 2nd and 3rd wave ska. 2nd wave ska was brought baack in the late 70's/early 80's. The most prominent and well loved ska band from this period was the Specials, hence the reason I featured a song by them and a third-waver's cover of their tune "Little Bitch." Other 2nd wavers on this mix: Maddness, The English Beat, The Selector, and The Clash.

The rest of the tracks are from newer 3rd wave ska bands. This is where the mix got tricky. I could have been tempted to include Sublime and No Doubt into the mix, but I prefer to root for the underdogs. The bands that not many appreciate, but that have just as much talent if not more so than the bands that made it big. Check out the punk influenced Catch 22, the ragtime flavored Mad Caddies, and of course the cool jazz inspired Hepcat. Hepcat is actually a newer ska band, so maybe there will be a 4th wave of ska coming up...I just hope they learned their lesson that you shouldn't make ska music unless you get goosebumps when you hear a good trumpet solo, and you understand that just because you put the word "ska" in the title to your song does mean the kids will "skank" to it the way they could do the funky English Beat (otherwise known to the English as The Beat).

Guns of Navarone by The Skatalites (1st wave)
On the Radio by The Selector (2nd wave)
Brain Damage (Pink Floyd cover) by Bim Skala Bim (3rd wave)
Out All Night by Pietasters (3rd wave)
One Step Beyond by Madness (2nd wave)
Monkeys by Mad Caddies (3rd wave)
Shame and Scandal by Blues Busters (1st wave)
Twist and Crawl by The English Beat (2nd wave)
Left Behind by Slow Gherkin (3rd wave)
Concrete Jungle by The Specials (2nd wave)
2 Tone Army by The Toasters (3rd wave)
Rudie Can't Fail by The Clash (2nd wave)
What Goes Around Comes Around by Catch 22 (3rd wave)
Super Rad by The Aquabats (3rd wave)
Little Bitch (Specials cover) by Big D and the Kids Table (3rd wave)
Skankin' to the Beat by Fishbone (2nd wave)
Spy Market by Let's Go Bowling (3rd wave)
Train to Skaville by Hepcat (3rd wave)

Ska Terms (wikipedia excerpts)

1st Wave of Ska: When New Orleans-style R&B fell out of favor by 1960, Jamaican artists began recording their own version of the genre. The ska sound is known for the placement of the accented guitar and piano rhythms on the upbeats. Some believe that the early jazz and rock 'n' roll broadcasts from American radio stations were misinterpreted by an eager Jamaican music audience, hence the off-beat rhythms that almost mimick the breakup of weak radio signals that hit the West Indian shores. Others consider ska not a misinterpretation, but its own response to American music. The upbeat sound of ska coincided with the celebratory feelings surrounding Jamaica's independence from the UK in 1962, an event commemorated by ska songs such as Derrick Morgan's "Forward March" and the Skatalites' "Freedom Sound".

2nd Wave of Ska: The Two Tone (or 2 Tone) era was named after the label 2 Tone Records, founded by Jerry Dammers, keyboardist of The Specials. The Two Tone sound combined Jamaican ska rhythms and melodies with punk rock's uncompromising lyrics and aggressive guitar chords. Two Tone recordings are characterized by faster tempos, fuller instrumentation and a harder edge than original 50's and 60’s ska.

3rd Wave of Ska: By the early 1990s, "third wave" pop-ska bands were appearing throughout the USA and many other countries. An enormous growth of the third wave ska movement occurred after the The Mighty Mighty Bosstones signed with Mercury Records in 1993 (following the hit "Where'd You Go?"), and the release of No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom' in 1995. By the late 1990s, however, mainstream interest in ska had waned almost completely, after having first been supplanted by the swing revival.

Rude Boy: Rude boy, rudie, rudi or rudy is a subculture that developed in the early 1960s in Jamaica. The term rude boy came from Jamaican slang for "cool" or "hip," as the rude boys, in the dancehalls and daily life, always dressed in the latest fashions. The term rude boy may also have something to do with an extremely potent rum-based drink called "Rude to your parents," which was served at sound system parties. It may also be related to "rudeness," a term used in 1950s and 1960s Jamaica to refer to sexual intercourse.

Skank: Skanking is a form of dancing found in the ska, ska-core, hardcore punk, and metalcore scenes, though known in the latter two as 'two-stepping.' It originated in the 1950s or 1960s at Jamaican dance halls, when ska music was first played. British mods and skinheads of the 1960s took these types of dances and altered them. The dancing style was revived during the 1970s/1980s 2 Tone era, and remains popular around the world, wherever the appropriate music is played.

2 Tone: The term 2 Tone was coined by Jerry Dammers of the Specials, and summed up the West Midlands scene at the time. The name had a double meaning: it referred to the black and white outfits worn by ska-loving rude boys and skinheads, and to the solidarity between blacks and whites at a time when racial tensions among the British working class were high.


Bob Dylan: Between Saved And Shot Bootleg (Shot of Love Studio Sessions & Outtakes), Pt. 1

I have become some kinda Dylan posting freak lately - too much of anything is never good but how can you resist this one from Mr. Zimmerman's Alleluia days? These songs are works in progress from the Shot of Love sessions and were mostly recorded from March to May 1981. Enjoy.


Shoegazer Mix

Video Link: I Want to Touch You by Catherine Wheel

Wanna get lost in some swirling sheets of sound? Wanna be embraced by entrancing vocals and crunchy effects pedals? I thought you might, so I decided to revist a music genre that has kind of faded into obscurity with the revival of the pseudo 80's emo/"punk" bands of late. I decided to compile a chronogical list of music from one of my favorite musical areas: shoegazing. What is shoegazing exactly? Its hard to classify, but I can give you a brief description from wikipedia if you'd like:

Shoegazing is characterised by a self-deprecating, introspective, non-confrontational feel. Generally employed are distortion and the fuzzbox, droning riffs and a Phil Spector-esque wall of sound from the noisy guitars. Another way to describe the guitar effects would be "lead-guitarlessness", typically with two distorted rhythm guitars interweaving together and giving an exceptionally muddied sound. Although lead guitar riffs were often present, they were not the central focus of most shoegazing songs.

Vocals typically are subdued in volume and tone, but underneath the layers of guitars is often a strong sense of melody. While the genres which influenced shoegazing often used drum machines, shoegazing more often features live drumming.

I first got into shoegazing when I, on a brief whim of destiny, decided to pick up a copy of The Verve's final album, Urban Hymns. I bought this back when when the top 40 radio still found its way into my life...I have to admit that when I heard the gorgeous and melodies and guitar wall of this band, I didn't want to go back to that sh**. So if you are new to this genre, this mix should be a good start. Even if you've been a fan of shoegazing for awhile, I know most of you probably haven't heard of The Drop Nineteens. The song I included from them, "Delaware," can only be found on their out of print 1992 album, Delaware. Trust me, if you want to buy a copy now (used of course), it will set you back at least 30 American dollars. Its probably worth the money though, since the little I've heard from them has completely knocked my socks off.

So yes, remember...this list is mostly chronological, starting with the earliest shoegazing band to the nu-gaze of today. Definitely check out The Engineers track I put on there; it will excite you to know that not all the newer bands have forgotten about shoegazing.

Here She Comes Now (Velvet Underground cover) by Galaxie 500
Vapor Trail by Ride
Come In Alone by My Bloody Valentine
Rave Down by Swervedriver
Delaware by The Drop Nineteens
I Want to Touch You by Catherine Wheel
Claire Hates Me by The Lilys
Some Velvet Morning by Slowdive (Lee Hazelwood cover)
Lazarus by The Boo Radleys
Weeping Willow by The Verve
Jennifer by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Shade of Blue by The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Turnstyle Blues by Autolux
Let's Just See by The Engineers

Nina Nastasia: Peel Sessions 2002-2003

New York chanteuse and Peel favorite, Nina Nastasia, is not the sort of musician everyone knows. Or should know. But those who do usually go to great lengths to proclaim her majesty. Take the late John Peel for example. After listening to Nina's 2000 very indie release, Dogs, he was quite taken with it and would give it regular spins on his BBC Radio 1 program. Peel's move helped garner demand for the album which was already out of print at the time. Nina recorded six Peel sessions from 2002 - 2004. And there's Emma, who left me this comment here today:

"hello, i've just now seen the old post about the peel sessions mp3s and wondering how i might possibly ask/beg/convince/etc you to send me the nina nastasia sessions. she is my favorite artist, and i've been dying to hear those tracks for years. the gratitude would be eternal."

Emma, here you go, here you go.

June 4 2002 Session

Beautiful Day
Albert's Song
Every Time

January 9, 2003 Session

Party Favour
Heavenly Heartache
A Dog's Life
Cry Baby

More later.

Buy Nina's records.