HAIM sisters Days Are Gone engulfs influences (biography)

The fraternal bond is more often played out in pop music than the musical sorority.  Not that they're altogether absent.  HAIM (rhymes with rhyme) it turns out are 3 sisters: eldest Este, middle Danielle, youngest Alana. Their major label debut Days Are Gone scoops up, engulfs and eclipses the influences worn brashly on their sleeves.   The album, which has only been out since Sept. 30, is impossibly good and the sense that the girls came out of nowhere understandable. 

Their debut Forever EP topped out the BBC's Sound of 2013 music industry poll for promising new acts, coinciding with and leading to a who's who of support slots: Florence and the Machine, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Ke$ha and Mumford & Sons (not together).  In the same period they've collaborated with Major Lazer, Kid Cudi and live, backing Primal Scream at Glastonbury. 

The album is indomitably hooky.  For lack of a better distillation it's 80's style songwriting through the lens of 90's R&B production (in particular girl groups like TLC and Destiny's Child with whom the sisters directly identify).  It's the same terroir that Solange Knowles is treading but with songwriting chops more on par with her sister.  On the matter of their chops- which are considerable- their upbringing is illustrative.  Once in a family band Rockinhaim fronted by father Mordechai, Este and Danielle then toured with the Valli Girls ( "inspired by Pat Benatar, Blondie, Gwen Stefani, The Pretenders and Queen")  whose epitaph was a single 'Valli Girls' that got on some Nickelodeon shit. 

Days Are Gone seems to play through refracting each listener's reference points.  There's a Joni-ish thing at times, some say it sounds very Kate Bush, overall the enterprise is painted with the kind of bucolic, lovestruck and unabashed grace that was the hallmark of so many 80's anthems.  Silver linings without a touch of grey.

Honey & I  from Days Are Gone is one of their more lasting songs.  It's got that Joni thing too or whatever you want to call it. The original is a whip sharp piece of production, which acoustic (here on a Daytrotter session) lends to a more plaintive quality.  On record the opening chord progression effectively samples Pete Townshend's Let My Love Open The Door, which they borrow from liberally in the overal melodic conceit and mood.


Furthur w. Trey Anastasio perform Workingman's Dead (SBD mp3)

(l to r) Bob Weir, Trey Anastasio, Fake Jerry, Phil Lesh

Furthur 9/7/13 Lockn Festival, Arrington VA

Set 1: Uncle John's Band*, High Time*, Dire Wolf*, New Speedway Boogie*, Cumberland Blues*, Black Peter*, Easy Wind*, Casey Jones*^, Bertha^, Truckin^, Other One^, Viola Lee Blues^, Scarlet^ > Fire^

* from full album "Workingman's Dead"
^ with Trey Anastasio
all highlighted links to mp3's


Dumpstaphunk - Toronto, El Mocambo setlist (09/13/13)

(l to r - Nick Daniels III, Ian Neville, Tony Hall)

El Mocambo
September 13, 2013

Betty Davis
Everybody Want Sum
They Don't Care
Reality of the Situation
Lt Dan
Dancing to the Troof#>

E: One Nation Under A Groove 

*Band leaves stage Nikkie Glasper drum solo and rap breakdown including Jay-Z's Public Service Announcement.  Nick Daniels joined for a drum and bass breakdown that culminated in Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song.
#Ivan on guitar

Ivan Neville
Besides Ivan Neville (son of Aaron Neville, nephew of Art and Cyril - The Funky Meters) being the name it wouldn't be fair to call Dumpstaphunk, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk.  It may have started that way, with a pickup band for a NOLA solo gig that remains almost intact to this day: Nick Daniels III (bass), Tony Hall (bass), Ian Neville (guitar).   The newest member (replacing original drummer Raymond Weber) is the impressive Nikki Glaspie, a Maryland native and Berklee College educated musician whose skills (like Ivan's cousin Ian's) betray their years. It's clear now that this is a group enterprise- not bandleader and sidepeople. Ivan said as much in brief conversation before their barnstorming performance at Toronto's historic El Mocambo: "We all write, we all sing, Ian doesn't sing, we all write parts together."


D'Angelo: R&B Jesus

This writer is happy to admit that there are blank spots in his musical education and filigree.  Happily, despite a particular enthusiasm for what is dubbed 'neo-soul', I purchased today for the first time D'Angelo's pivotal Voodoo album - a landmark of important albums of the 1990's, envisioned in hindsight as an artistic tour de force.

Recent reports of D'Angelo's live shows this summer, after a grim baker's decade that left him at very least a shadow of his former self, have devotees slowly whipped up to the stiff peaks of a funk merengue.   With a ?uestlove produced album apparently forthcoming (the wait for Voodoo was apparently just as lagging) that same producer is hesitant to decry D'Angelo as a modern-day genius of the ilk of Prince/Gaye/Wonder/ Clinton given his sheer lack of actual output. It's worthwhile to note that the Dean of American Rock Critics Robert Christgau (who mind you articles the Kinks Waterloo Sunset as something like the greatest song of all time) who was not a definitive fan of the Voodoo album became so enamoured with his live performances (modelled undoubtedly after Prince's setlist's which he knows encyclopediacly) that he's come to refer to him as R&B Jesus:

Jesus Saves

I was at Radio City for Q-Tip, who didn't show. R&B Jesus I was just checking out. D'Angelo isn't a songwriter, not really; the Marvin comparisons are the exaggerations of r&b faithful yearning to be led out of the wilderness, and the ridiculously long-aborning Voodoo is self-indulgent and riddled with blank spots. This boded poorly for his stage ethos. Well, I joshed, at least he'll take off his shirt.
D'Angelo did take off his shirt, but I doubt even the girls who went crazy truly needed it on top of two-and-a-half unfailingly generous hours. Blank spots were nonexistent--songs averaged well over 10 minutes, and when they ended the audience had a harder time catching its breath than a band that included superbassist Pino Palladino, Roots drummer ?uestlove, three backup singers with their own lives, and appropriately breathtaking brass: trumpet luminaries Roy Hargrove and Russell Gunn, widely traveled trombonist Frank Lacy, and a sax man from Martinique who spieled in French and looked like Chris of 'N Sync.
I name these sidepeople because the best funk band in the universe deserves some props. On Voodoo, "Devil's Pie" is a touch hokey; with Pallodino vibrating the chandeliers, it instantly established that this was going to be some night. Slow ones started warm and turned torrid; "Chicken Grease" and "Spanish Joint" and "Shit Damn Motherf*cker" were seismic from jump street. D'Angelo sang and danced and preached and flexed and crooned and humped the floor and covered Roberta Flack and snapped a mike stand in two and danced and sang and sang some more. Everything meshed; all stops were pulled out. It was already the greatest concert I'd seen in years when Redman and Method Man propelled the climactic "Left and Right" through the vaulted ceiling. I flashed on P-Funk's "Sadie," Apollo 1981. What a privilege to experience such a thing again.
I saw Marvin Gaye at this venue shortly before he was murdered, and it was no contest. Gaye was fine, but self-indulgent and riddled with blank spots. Totally committed, D'Angelo betrayed neither weakness nor ego--and gave so much Thursday that Friday he canceled with a sore throat I absolutely believe was the truth. He was r&b Jesus, and I'm a believer. Travel to another city to see him now.

Village Voice, Mar. 28, 2000


Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia (August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995)

Thursday August 10 - there was open casket viewing of Jerry at the St. 
Stephan's Episcopal church in Belvedere CA.  Jerry was reportedly 
dressed in a black t-shirt and sweatpants.

Friday August 11 - funeral service at the St. Stephan church in Belvedere
starting at about 4pm.  The officiant Matthew Fox was the pastor who 
married Deborah and Jerry last year.  The church is small only holding 
200 to 250 people.   Many people gave eulogies including Bob Weir, Steve 
Parrish, Robert Hunter, John Barlow, Ken Kesey and Anabelle Garcia 
(one of Jerry's daughters).  Hunter recited a poem he just wrote (see 
below).   Musicians in attendance included band members, Bruce Hornsby 
and Bob Dylan.  A very small grave site service was held, it was 
primarily for family and the band.

Sunday August 13 9am - a memorial gathering is scheduled for Golden
Gate Park.  No musical acts (though they are rumors :-) have been 
announced at this time.

It is suggested that memorial donations be directed to:

Rex Foundation
PO Box 2204
San Anselimo CA 94979

An Elegy for Jerry (by Robert Hunter)

Jerry, my friend,
you've done it again,
even in your silence 
the familiar pressure
comes to bear, demanding
I pull words from the air
with only this morning
and part of the afternoon
to compose an ode worthy
of one so particular
about every turn of phrase,
demanding it hit home 
in a thousand ways
before making it his own,
and this I can't do alone.
Now that the singer is gone,
where shall I go for the song?

Without your melody and tase
to lend an attitude of grace
a lyric is an orphan thing,
a hive with neither honey's taste
nor power to truly sting.

What choice have I but to dare and
call your muse who thought to rest
out of the thin blue air
that out of the field of shared time,
a line or two might chance to shine --

As ever when we called,
in hope if not in words,
the muse descends.

How should she desert us now?
Scars of battle on her brow,
bedraggled feathers on her wings,
and yet she sings, she sings!

May she bear thee to thy rest,
the ancient bower of flowers
beyond the solitude of days,
the tyranny of hours--
the wreath of shining laurel lie
upon your shaggy head
bestowing power to play the lyre
to legions of the dead

If some part of that music
is heard in deepest dream,
or on some breeze of Summer
a snatch of golden theme,
we'll know you live inside us
with love that never parts
our good old Jack O'Diamonds
become the King of Hearts.

I feel your silent laughter
at sentiments so bold
that dare to step across the line
to tell what must be told,
so I'll just say I love you,
which I never said before
and let it go at that old friend
the rest you may ignore.


Phish 07.22.2013 - Toronto, ON (Molson Canadian Ampitheatre) setlist

Phish, Molson Canadian Ampitheatre, Toronto, ON  07.22.13

Set 1: The Moma Dance, Chalkdust Torture, Undermind, Army of One, Halley's Comet> Twist*, Bouncing Round The Room, Stash, Yarmouth Road, Tube, Ocelot, Suzy Greenberg

Set 2: Down With Disease> Also Sprach Zarathustra> Free> Piper> Tweezer> Silent In The Morning, Backwards Down The Number Line> Cavern> David Bowie

Encore: Loving Cup, The Squirming Coil, Tweezer Reprise

* Oye Como Va tease

There is a good review of this show on Jambase.com

One commentator known simply as funkbeard described the show as such:

This show is a perfect crystalization of what Phish have been working towards all these years. Actually makes many of their previous great performances drop into the shadows of obscurity. I don't believe I've ever heard them achieve this level of creative lucid clarity at any previous time in their career. A monumental musical achievement here. Way to go!


Phish 07.09.2013 - Toronto, ON (Molson Canadian Ampitheatre) setlist

Phish, Molson Canadian Ampitheatre, Toronto, ON 07.09.13
show cancelled and rescheduled due to 97 mm of rainfall the previous day and partial power in the venue.  This is only the second time in Phish' history that they've cancelled a show.  The first was 20 years ago due to low ticket sales.

The show has been rescheduled to:

Phish, Molson Canadian Ampitheatre, Toronto, ON 07.22.13

Phish 07.07.2013 - Saratoga Springs, NY (SPAC) setlist

Phish, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY 07.07.13

Soundcheck: Beauty of a Broken Heart 

Set 1: AC/DC Bag, Back on the Train, Divided Sky, Free, ICE, Mound, Maze, Limb by Limb, Walls of the Cave

Set 2: DWD > Ghost > Piper^ > Velvet Sea* , Antelope# > Meatstick > YEM

Encore: Loving Cup

^ DEG teases
# With "Meatstick" keyword and lyrics replacing Antelope with "meatstick"

Phish 07.06.2013 - Saratoga Springs, NY (SPAC) setlist

Phish, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY 07.06.13

Soundcheck: It's Ice, Architect, 20 Years Later

Set 1: Crowd Control > Chalk Dust Torture, The Wedge, Funky Bitch, Heavy Things, Bug, Bouncing Around the Room, Tube > Julius, Split Open and Melt

Set 2: Backwards Down the Number Line > Tweezer > Sand > Carini -> Architect*, Wilson > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Possum

Encore: Show of Life > Tweezer Reprise

* First time played

Notes: Online response to the second night (in particular the second night) at SPAC has been tepid.  Although these critiques were coming from individuals streaming the show on 'couch tour'. 

all links to HD, high quality audio youtube clips from this show

Phish 07.05.2013 - Saratoga Springs, NY (SPAC) setlist

photo and setlist courtesy of LiveMusicBlog

Phish, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY 07.05.13

Set 1: Kill Devil Falls, The Moma Dance > Sample in a Jar, Roses Are Free, Birds of a Feather, Yarmouth Road[1], Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane, Army of One > My Friend, My Friend[2] > Cities -> David Bowie

Set 2: Energy[3] > Light -> The Mango Song[4] > 46 Days -> Steam > Drowned[5] > Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: Character Zero[6]

[1] Debut.
[2] No “Myfe” ending.
[3] Apples In Stereo cover.  First time played.
[4] Light teases from Trey.
[5] Divided Sky tease from Trey.
[6] Jean Pierre tease from Trey.
Notes: After Birds of a Feather, Page pointed out Ian in the crowd from “Ian’s Farm” fame and waxed nostalgic about playing there while also noting that SPAC was one of the band’s favorite venues.

One of the more knowledgeable and long term reviewers of Phish - Mr. Miner (of the blog PhishThoughts) - in a long review titled simply Umm has heralded the first night at SPAC as nothing less then one of the finest shows of the modern era and anticipates this summer tour going down as one of legend.

"Phish has raised the bar again. On only the second night of Summer Tour, the band threw down a mind-boggling second labyrinth that blew anything they’ve played in this era straight out of the water. In fact, with a more macroscopic lens, the second set of SPAC was one of the finest musical statements that Phish has ever performed. Period. Playing with as much bravado and confidence as their mid-90s selves, while pulling sonic elements from all of their staple eras, the band wove the an incredibly fresh and unconventional musical odyssey that belongs in the loftiest of conversations."

Phish 07.03.2013 - Bangor, ME (Darling's Waterfront) setlist

Photo courtesy of James D. McCallister (full review here)
Phish,  Darling's Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor, ME 07.03.2013

Soundcheck: Blues Jam, Corona, Funky Instrumental, Yarmouth Road (new Mike song debuted at SPAC), Frost, My Soul, Jam (15+min)
Set I: Possum > Runaway Jim, Stash, NICU > Wolfman's Brother, Rift, Theme From The Bottom > Chalk Dust Torture, Mike's Song > Silent In The Morning > Weekapaug Groove
Set II: Golden Age* > Twist > Backwards Down The Number Line, Ocelot, Rock And Roll > 2001 > Cavern > Run Like An Antelope
Encore: Harry Hood#
* TV On The Radio cover, Manteca tease
# Divided Sky Tease

all links to HD, high quality audio youtube clips from Darling's Waterfront


Phish Halloween '96 - Talking Heads Remain In Light (complete show)

As a band Phish were/are known for their penchant of course for improvisation but also for all manner of tricks to have a laugh with and sometimes at their audience.  There is their secret language of musical cues (the Simpsons theme is followed by the audience going "Doh!") which they would employ in their early days mid-improvisation presumably baffling those who weren't in on the trick.  Then there became their series of traditions including their Holiday Run of 4 shows leading up to a 3 set New Years Eve, their self-mounted elaborate festivals - Clifford Ball, The Great Went, Lemonwheel, IT and finally Coventry - their return to Vermont and dismal soaked, half baked and wet exit from their touring and foreseeable recording life.  This is now referred to as the 'first hiatus'.  Some wonder whether Phish (post-'second hiatus') is something more like Phish 2.0 - a really good nostalgia act covering the material (with the identical band members!) of their more prolific and far more sober younger selves.  In particular Trey Anastasio seems to be thriving in his personal recovery and there's ample evidence to show that is spilling over into their current live shows which showcases music from throughout their career but delivers often pared down versions (still with ample improvisation) of songs coveted from their songbook by documentarian fans.

Their other tradition and perhaps finest has been turning their annual Halloween concert (since 1994) into a 3 set affair with the second set being a complete cover of a classic rock album ostensibly chosen by the fans and the band.  The first years White Album floored audiences for its intricacy, I gratefully was metres from the horn section in 1995 when they launched into the opening montage of the Who's Quadrophenia demolishing the upper risers of Chicago's then Rosemont Horizon.  Then in 1996 during the setbreak between the first and second set no one could have had any clue what the opening notes would be.  AC/DC's Highway To Hell appeared in the first set (as Michael Jackson's Beat It had the previous year) as a sort of Trick or Treat for the addled minds of their evening's attendees.  It's hard to convey the level of sheer exhilaration and expectancy that surrounded the band's chose of songs during those days and the sense of rareness and being 'in on something' which that conveyed to the band's core adherents.

Remain In Light, as you can see and hear, proved to be the perfect foil for the band's predeliction for note-perfect renditions of artists that inspired them.  For all of the comparisons to the Grateful Dead, and there are many, largely in the similar nature of their diverse repertoire and fanbases, Phish has always had a lot in common with the Talking Heads (as drummer and namesake Jon Fishman has remarked himself in interviews).  The concert which took place at The Omni in Atlanta, Georgia on of course Oct. 31/1996, required some additional personnel in the form of percussionist Karl Perazzo (of Santana's band) who joined the group for a string of dates on that fall tour and longtime collaborators Gary Gazaway (trumpet) and Dave 'The Truth' Grippo - members of the Giant Country Horns essentially Phish' horn section in the early days.

This as most all of Phish' performances have been recorded for posterity by their fans (with permission and taper tickets allocated by the band).  This performance, the groups personal favourite Halloween concert got a proper live release as Live Phish Volume 15.

From the opening notes of Born Under Punches into Crosseyed and Painless (now a staple of their repertoire at large) it was clear the material and it's peculiar union of David Byrne's and Brian Eno's orbits lent itself well to the bands style of fluid, modular improvisations.  By Houses In Motion it became clear that the group had given themselves some license to improvise the outros of the songs and create segues from track to track.  On Seen and Not Seen guitarist Trey Anastasio takes over bass duties as bassist Mike Gordon took over vocal duties (whilst rocking in a lazyboy chair) capturing perfectly the sardonic wit of David Byrne's lyrics:

He would see faces in movies, on T.V., in magazines, and in books....
He thought that some of these faces might be right for him....And
through the years, by keeing an ideal facial structure fixed in his
mind....Or somewhere in the back of his mind....That he might, by
force of will, cause his face to approach those of his ideal....The
change would be very subtle....It might take ten years or so....
Gradually his face would change its' shape....A more hooked nose...
Wider, thinner lips....Beady eyes....A larger forehead.
He imagined that this was an ability he shared with most other
people....They had also molded their faced according to some
ideal....Maybe they imagined that their new face would better
suit their personality....Or maybe they imagined that their
personality would be forced to change to fit the new appear-
ance....This is why first impressions are often correct...
Although some people might have made mistakes....They may have
arrived at an appearance that bears no relationship to them....
They may have picked an ideal appearance based on some childish
whim, or momentary impulse....Some may have gotten half-way
there, and then changed their minds.
He wonders if he too might have made a similar mistake


Bob Weir Collapses Onstage during Unbroken Chain (Furthur, Capitol Theater, 4/25/2013)

Bob Weir longstanding rhythm guitarist and rhythm vocalist for the Grateful Dead collapsed on stage with the post-Grateful Dead ensemble Furthur (with bandmate Phil Lesh and various members of top-tier Dead cover bands) at their engagement Thursday night at the Capitol Theatre. 

While playing one of the rarest and most coveted songs in the Grateful Dead repertoire, also a rare strong vehicle for Phil Lesh's distinct singing voice, the band seems not to mind whatsoever while Bob Weir stumbles, then falls (about 0:56).  Uncannily the band just tallies forth while various stage manager and roadie types scoop him up and have a quick chat then shockingly put out a chair for him where he manages (perhaps not shockingly given his collective history for playing beyond what any reasonable person would call 'impaired') to reinsert himself (relatively speaking) into the improvisation (around 2:03). The thing about it is if you were just to listen to the recording itself without the footage you wouldn't really think anything untoward had happened- the version sounds solid if not a touch inspired.
This incident along with what was billed as an inadvertent dosing incident at the Nokia Theatre (7/28/2010) have raised questions about Weir's health, whether alcoholism (which Lesh has battled successfuly in the years since his Hep C diagnosis), or a combination of drug addictions has contributed to his ill health.  Relix magazine is reporting that:

Weir had been experiencing issues throughout the night and during “Unbroken Chain” a chair had been provided for him. Then after a brief break the show resumed, with Lesh indicating that Weir had injured his shoulder in a workout. It is believed that the guitarist took a muscle relaxant which ultimately inhibited his performance. Following his departure the group closed out the run with a pass from “Stella Blue” into “China Cat Sunflower” and then “I Know You Rider” before a "Built To Last” encore.

What's telling about both episodes is how the band seemed perhaps unfazed is not the right word but they seemed to have a contingency in place - suggesting the behaviour had become not unordinary.  Also in both instances known Psychonaut Phil Lesh - who has after all consumed Herculean amounts of LSD and was once described by Warner Brothers records as impossible to control- suggested prescription drugs were to blame.  At the Nokia it was a 'prescription drug reaction on an empty stomach' at the Capitol it was 'shoulder injury and a muscle relaxant'.  Historically the Dead as an organization, who has made a giant money spinning enterprise out of hundreds of thousands of individuals drug experiences, have spun their own (often drug and alcohol induced) health problems to their liking; when Garcia slipped into a diabetic coma in '86, it was chalked up to exhaustion and undiagnosed diabetes- not alcohol, opium or a stroke. Spin control is understandable but treacherous and more than just a little bit Machiavellian from a band that once thought nothing of dosing unwitting record executives to say nothing of a thwarted plan to paint the walls of a hall with liquid LSD in advance of a Republican convention.

Bob Weir


Richie Havens (January 21, 1941 – April 22, 2013)

Although known entirely for doing renditions of folk and pop songs written by others Richie Havens was undoubtedly one of the signal performers of the 20th century.  He owes a strong place in the cultural psyche to his opening three hour set at Woodstock where Havens worked through his whole repertoire as delayed artists made their way towards the stage.  Improvising an old negro spiritual Motherless Child, which would later become the song Freedom, bore an indelible place in the minds of music lovers everywhere.

Live and in performance Havens was an incredibly giving performer who peppered his set, such as in his version of Dolphins- made famous by Tim Buckley, with callings of the zodiac.  His version of Here Comes The Sun rivals Harrison's own - which was written at a time when the Beatles communicated more through lawyers and creative waters ran dry like winter's streams.  Known for his rhythmic almost plodding style of guitar work (often in open tunings) he was almost always accompanied by some sort of hand drum on albums such as Live At The Cellar Door, Mixed Bag and Collection. Likewise Fire And Rain, a staple of the rock radio canon, shed circuit, and a personal song of loss made common was made anew through Richie's tender artistry. 

Richie will be remembered for the blessings of ease he bestowed on his audience and an uncommon clarity of purpose.


Shuggie Otis & Frank Zappa (Rare Acoustic Jam 1970)

We can't say we've ever even heard Frank Zappa play guitar acoustically so the mere fact that Shuggie Otis engages with him for the better part of ten minutes seems like something short of a hellfire miracle.

Otis who's quoted in a recent interview revealing that for all of his efforts to remain out of the limelight offers came in from bands including: Rolling Stones,  Blood, Sweat and Tears, Spirit, David Bowie, and Buddy Miles notably all black ensemble.

As to the opportunity to collaborate with FZ:

"Great experience. First of all, he was really easy to work with. Friendly guy. He and my father spoke for what seemed like hours after the session. And I got to play his guitar. I met him the first time when he interviewed my father for Life magazine. He invited dad over, so I went with him. That night, we jammed in the basement."



Zeus covers Stone Temple Pilots Vasoline (download)

The Toronto based rock quartet Zeus have defined such a distinctive sound for themselves that even the notion of them performing a cover seems somewhat beyond their fiercely self-produced ethic.  Still what's a band with their own studio, still flogging the deluxe edition of their singular Busting Visions LP, to do between European tours then put out an album of covers (the Covers EP is available April 2 exclusively through GalleryAC.com).

While they've played the Gabriel era Genesis cover That's All as a staple of their live show from their earliest performances this is an engaging development for a fiercely independent band whose influences are as hard to peg as their distinctive sound.

Following the spirited choice to cover Big Star's Ballad of El Goodo as part of a Q107 DisCOVERy series, a number of the new covers leave longtime fans wont for more.  As a teaser to the full release they've posted a downloadable version of their cover of Stone Temple Pilots Vasoline.

Zeus Covers EP tracklist

Who Is It? (Michael Jackson)
Vasoline (Stone Temple Pilots)
The Ballad of El Goodo (Big Star)
Ignition (Remix) (R. Kelly)
That's All (Genesis)
Without a Map (Sam Roberts Band)
Fight Test (Flaming Lips)


Northern Heads passes 30,000 visitor mark

Thank You United States, Thank You Canada, Thank You UK
Thank You Germany, Thank You Russia, Thank You France
Thank You Netherlands, Thank You Sweden, Thank You Ukraine
Thank You Australia, Thank You Brazil, Thank You Malay(sia)
Grateful Dead New Years Eve 1984


Toronto guitarist Donna Grantis new guitarist for Prince

Prince is handily the most vociferous enforcer of his own copyright as well as a pioneer of developing new (and at times) excruciating techniques for exacting tithes from his loyal followers.  His recent release post-Grammys of a new video Screwdriver  drew buzz and matching snickers at the $1.77 price tag charged to view the new video.  Prince appeared with his new all-female ensemble, apparently called 3rd Eye Girl, on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (3/1/13) performing Screwdriver and even let Grantis take the solo.
Toronto native Donna Grantis studied jazz at Montreal's McGill university before embarking on a formidable career as a session musician.  Her own personal aesthetic in her previous ensembles such as The Donna Grantis Electric Band (a psychedelic fusion trio with drummer Roger Travassos and bassist Steve Zsirai, the group’s debut album, titled Suites, is available worldwide through iTunes and donnagrantis.com) has leaned towards an open improvisational spirit:

“creating music in the moment, reacting to each other on stage, exploring musical themes for extended lengths of time, and utilizing effects pedals to broaden the tonal pallet of the music. The creative intention is to be free and continuously challenge each other on stage. Hopefully in doing so, we can create an experience for listeners and take the audience on a musically engaging journey.”

She lists her inspirations ranging from Bill Frisell to Billy Cobham, Jeff Beck to Jimi Hendrix.  Given her visual appeal and rock solid chops she's an obvious match to come on board the New New Power Generation.


Unknown Mortal Orchestra - So Good At Being In Trouble

Unknown Mortal Orchestra are songwriter Ruban Neilsen (guitar, vocals), Riley Geare (drums) and Jake Portrait (bass).  They came to initial attention by releasing the song Ffunny Friends to their bandcamp page without revealing the artist.  The crossposting and attention that the single gained led to the revelation that the work should be attributed to Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Regrettably Pitchfork has a strong read on how this song operates today in relation to let's say the history of R&B:

"So Good At Being In Trouble" doesn't catch the shit it might have in the past. This is what "indie R&B" used to mean-- old-fashioned white boy Muscle Shoals homage, the kind that would have raised a few eyebrows in a less fractious time.
Indeed this song really does sound like what might come out of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio today if it weren't so danged lo-fi and if you could scrape the impression that they made it in an egg carton stapled closet out of your mind.



Shlohmo & How To Dress Well - Don't Say No

Perhaps even instrumental music is better described in French than in English.  Shlohmo (Henry Laufeur) is deeply influenced by DJ Shadow as well as Amon Tobin and M83.  Another key influence is the Low End Theory parties and sound associated with Flying Lotus (and his labelmates and collaborators Gaslamp Killer, Daedalus etc.).   He's been making beats since 14 but only with precision since he was 18.  He's established a fairly substantial and consistent collection of EP's and LP's in that time (SHLO-Fi EP, Fine, Thanks, Bad Vibes (2011) and recently the Vacation EP (2012) .  It makes sense that he'd be big in France for they're the only country that's bothered to write a wiki on him- and an artful one at that:

"The tracks are linked with consistency and fluidity disconcerting, each adding a delicate stone building. 
<< L'oreille, jamais agressée, se laisse envahir par les nappes voilées et se pelotonne au creux des basses moelleuses>>.  
The ear, never abused, is invaded by groundwater veiled and curls in soft hollow bass."
There are no better words in English to describe the pensive sound of Shlohmo.  While his material rarely by it's nature reaches for the piste or heights of sound his most recent collaboration with How To Dress Well (Tom Krell) on Don't Say No adds vocal peaks and rivulets of sound that shake Shlohmo a bit out of his sedimentary drift.


Rocketnumbernine biography (Ben and Tom Page)

Rocketnumbernine caught a windward tack and have been riding it leaving precipitous acclaim in their faint wake.  Brothers Ben (keyboards) and Tom Page (drums) drew prominent electronic musicians in with their 'live aesthetic' (also called playing their instruments deftly).  Having hacked it out as a live duo for six years they initially caught the attention of auspicious benefactors like Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) who released their first single Matthew and Toby (straight live cut, one run through, no overdubs) on his Text imprint.

Throughout 2010 they toured with Hebden gaining a much broader platform through a live session for Gilles Peterson's as well as a performance at Gilles Worldwide Awards (TM).  It was their followup EP however the fittingly titled Lone Raver that cemented their concrete appeal.  The fraternal bond in music, when it plays to the strengths of the individual players and the time, can often become something that exceeds the sum of its parts as in the live clip below.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise then that Four Tet is sounding his most re-invigorated, in anticipation of the decade anniversary of Rounds (with a deluxe edition forthcoming), in this collaborative cut simply titled: Roseland

Church Remix - Slum Village, Skyzoo, Focus prod Young RJ

With two of three founding members of Slum Village passed (Baatin and Dilla) and Elzhi no longer fleshing out the new lineup these days Slum Village= T3.  And frankly T3 is a goof.  This is not simply a personal opinion, beyond his vaguely passable flow there is a sense in various interviews that T3's lazy style was a source of frustration to the more serious members of the group particularly Dilla. 

Here the highlight is the production of the consistently deft and melodic producer Young RJ (at one time half of BR Gunna with Black Milk) and Focus' verse deserves a nod too.


Rick Danko and Rolling Thunder Revue - What A Town/ It Makes No Difference (Hartford, CT, November 24, 1975)

The Rolling Thunder Revue tours took place in late 1975 and early 1976 with the release of Dylan's Desire album (1976) falling between the two legs.
Among those featured in the Revue were Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Kinky Friedman and Bob Neuwirth. Neuwirth assembled the backing musicians, including T-Bone Burnett, Mick Ronson, David Mansfield, and Steven Soles, and, from the Desire sessions, the violinist Scarlet Rivera, the bassist Rob Stoner, and the drummer Howie Wyeth
On this date from Hartford, CT The Band's Rick Danko joined his former compatriot for a rendition of his own song What A Town and his definitive rendition of It Makes No Difference.

Jerry Garcia Band - Sugaree (Capitol Theatre, 03.01.80)

Sugaree was the first song out of the gates at the early show of the Jerry Garcia Band in Passaic, NJ, March 1, 1980.  The show broadcast for radio featured JGB staple John Kahn on bass and rotating members Johnny de Fonseca on drums and Ozzie Ahlers on keys.


Waajeed (DJ Jeedo Dilla Tribute) Live From Dallas 02.8.13

Waajeed (arabic for 'finder' or 'seeker') born Robert O'Bryant is strongly connected to J Dilla and the career of Slum Village. An art student prior to becoming a DJ and producer (which he came to relatively late in life) - it was Waajeed who designed the cover of Slum Village's Fantastic Vol. 2.  He also introduced the group to their fourth member Elzhi and produced a handful of cuts for their third album Trinity (Past, Present, Future).  Waajeed is best known as one half of Platinum Pied Pipers.


The Perro Sessions (Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra)

The confusion surrounding 'the Perro sessions' is understandable.   Perro, or PER&RO (Planet Earth Rock & Roll Orchestra), refers to a loose agglomeration of players in the San Fransisco Bay area who gathered around Wally Heider's studio during a time of great flux in their respective bands including: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.  Deadheads in particular enjoy the material due to the lack of live recordings documenting the musical relationship between Garcia and Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson/ Hot Tuna). 

A definite high point on this portion of the tape is at 30:24 as Mountains v. 4 reaches its apex (a phenomenal passage in it's own right), when the band led by Jerry starts coaxing out a proto version of  Loser and a brief reprise of Deal including a pause to recapitulate the chords.  Then there is a cold cut in the tape and Jerry plainly recounts the chord progression: C-Em-Am-G-Am.  At which point they go into Deal proper.

The Perro Sessions tapes give us a glimpse into these and other sessions that were never mixed or saved for posterity, the recordings engineer Stephen Barncard is central to the conservation of this material- though perhaps he did not pack the actual pipe of marijuana that was discovered along with the sessions when unearthed.

Planet Earth Rock & Roll Orchestra collaborations have resulted in many songs and formally in two releases; the first credited to Jefferson Starship was the album Blows Against The Empire; the second was David Crosby's solo debut If Only I Could Remember My Name.


David Crosby – guitar, vocals

Graham Nash – guitar, vocals
Paul Kantner – guitar, banjo, vocals
Grace Slick – piano, vocals
Jorma Kaukonen – lead guitar
Jack Casady – bass
Jerry Garcia – guitar, vocals
Phil Lesh – bass
Bill Kreutzmann – drums
Mickey Hart – percussion
David Freiberg – viola, vocals

PERRO Discography
1970 Blows Against the Empire by Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship
1971 If I Could Only Remember My Name by David Crosby
Songs for Beginners by Graham Nash
Sunfighter by Paul Kantner and Grace Slick
1972 Graham Nash David Crosby by Graham Nash and David Crosby
Rolling Thunder by Mickey Hart 
1973 Baron von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun by Kantner, Slick, and Freiberg
1983 Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra by Paul Kantner

An excellent narrative on the discovery of the 4 reels of 2 track mixes made in 1971 and the genesis of the sessions (along with the original tape box notations) can be found here.

The roots of PER&RO go back a lot further than 1971. 1 guess it had its inception in the early years of the '60s (prior to the Airplane, the Byrds et al) when Kantner, Crosby and Freiberg used to hang out, play music, get high and rap together around Venice Beach. That was the initial bond, the start of it all...
Later, when they were in bands of their own, there were occasional points of interaction - like Garcia sitting in on the 'Surrealistic Pillow' sessions, like Crosby giving "Triad" to the Airplane when he couldn't get the Byrds to record it, like Kantner, Crosby and Stills writing "Wooden Ships"....  
As Grace recalls, "These sessions were like 'Uh, do you wanna play guitar on this one?' 'No, man, I have to go to the bathroom.' 'Okay, David, you wanna play?' 'Sure'. Whoever felt like doing something did it. Parts interchanged, people interchanged."


Thank You Jay Dee Act 3 tracklist (mixed by J. Rocc)

In appreciation of the birth of James Yancey, celebrated this 7th of February now and forever after, there have been many world celebrations on what would have been his 39th birthday.  A handful of interesting new developments have taken place with regards to the Dilla estate, Ma Dukes attempts to conserve that estate (including Yancey' record collection and rare test pressings finally retrieved from a storage locker) through selling individual records from the collection (lacking historical  value) on Ebay with a certificate of authenticity from Maureen Yancey herself.

Likewise label Stones Throw has released a 4 track EP Lost Scrolls Vol. 1 which contains Dilla rapping on Dewitt To It.  While Donuts represents the heights of Dilla's instrumental efforts since his passing the most thoughtful representation of his ouevre has been from long-time collaborator J. Rocc and his Thank You Jay Dee Act 1-4 mixes released as Stones Throw podcasts.  J. Rocc is well known for his established place in turntablism (Beat Junkies), for being the third live touring member of JayLib (Jay Dee and Madlib's collaboration Champion of Sound) and a spirited contemporary in the world of abstract contemporary hip hop.  Originally conceived as a three act suite Rocc ultimately produced a 4th which serves as a denouement for the late career of the icon.

There seems to be some international confusion about the actual tracklist for Act 3 at the moment.  It is as follows:

Thank You Jay Dee Act 3 tracklist

"Les Mogol - Sunset In Golden Horn" (original sample for Welcome 2 Detroit Intro (0:00)
"Welcome 2 Detroit Intro" (0:48)
"The Other Side (Instrumental)" (0:51)
Beat (2:35)
Beat (3:48)
Beat (?) (5:19)
"Gobstopper" (3:20)
"No $ No Toke" Original/No EFX mix. (6:06)
"The Oxtopuss" (7:23)
Beat (8:58)
"The Message (10:30)
"Show Me What You Got" (12:06)
"The Rhyme (Slum Village Remix) (13:50)
"Thought U Wuz Nice (Instrumental)" (15:30)
"Stakes Is High" (18:04)
"Stakes Is High (Remix f/Mos Def & Truth Enola) (18:22)
"His Name Is Mutty Ranks (Instrumental)" (19:10)
"Payback Is A Grandmother (Instrumental)" (19:45)
"It's Goin' Down" (20:14)
"Somethin' That Means Somethin'" (20:40)
"Start It Up (Instrumental)" (21:00)
"Word Play (Instrumental)" (21:12)
"Find a Way (Instrumental)" (21:20)
"1nce Again (Instrumental)" (21:24)
"Keeping It Moving" (21:30)
"That Shit" (21:49)
"Conant Gardens" (22:18)
"I Don't Know" (23:03)
"Beej N Dem" (23:39)
"2U4U" (Original Version) (24:22)
BLEND "2U4U" Instrumental w/ "Climax" (25:22)
Fantastic Mix (All four "Fantastic" interludes from Slum Village's "Fantastic Vol. 1" plus the intro from FV2) (26:14)
"Hold Tight" (OG & RMX) (28:13)
"Orignal beat tape version of Jaylib's "D 2 LA" (29:33)
"Pillz" (30:11)
"Reckless Driving" (30:30)
Beat (31:12)
Jaylib Interlude (31:22)
"Make Em NV" (32:08)
"Let's Grow (Instrumental)" (34:19)
Beat (35:50)
"Signs" (Full Version) (36:44)

Thank You Jay Dee Act 2 tracklist

Thank You Jay Dee Act 1 tracklist


Four Tet - The Track I've Been Playing That People Keep Asking About And That Joy Used In His RA Mix And Daphni Played On Boiler Room

The Track I’ve Been Playing That People Keep Asking About And That Joy Used In His  RA Mix And Daphni Played On Boiler Room - KH

It seems the only thing particularly interesting about Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet's recent dancefloor cut (credited simply to KH) is the title and the story behind it.   Essentially the sparse track is composed of kick drum, high hat, cowbell with no melody barring the African tribesman vocal sample.  The interest around the track stems from Daphni (a new perhaps organic moniker for electronic artist Caribou) playing it noticeably in his Boiler Room internet DJ set.  And for Joy Orbison incorporating the song into his popular Resident Advisor mix (October 1, 2012).  The fascination with the track began with Caribou's own excitement and how he was able to use it (along with countless other tracks) into his new Daphni mixes reflecting his having "fallen back in love with moments in small, dark clubs when a DJ puts on a piece of music that not only can you not identify, but that until you heard it you could not have conceived of existing".

Some such as Stereogum suggest that the significance of the track/title is the inference to how people are consuming electronic music i.e. in their homes rather than clubs.

There’s a lot of buzz going around the Internet about how referencing Resident Advisor mixes and Boiler Room sets means people are consuming dance music via the Internet instead of in clubs.
Don't get us wrong it's a pretty shite track all on it's own- which is more to the point.  Many electronic tracks- perhaps not those of the oftentimes supremely melodic Four Tet- do not function well as standalones.  But KH's use of the present perfect tense (the track I have been playing) suggests exactly that 'playing' it live in a club to an engaged audience generated all the interest in the first place.  Perhaps there is still hope for "live" "electronic" "music".


Page McConnell explains his rig

After Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon gave comprehensive tours of their own rigs, pedal arrays, racks and amps (originally aired during the setbreaks of the webcast from their 12/28 and 12/29/12 Madison Square Garden Holiday Run, pianist/organist and chief groupie taster Page McConnell takes us through his own keyboard rig.


On tour, McConnell plays a Yamaha C7 piano outfitted with hammers from a German Steinway. A Helpinstill pickup run through an Avalon U5 direct box, plus an Earthworks Piano Mic system, feed the P.A. Then there’s the Hammond B-3, Hohner Clavinet, Rhodes, Moog Little Phatty, and Yamaha CS-60. “Since I did my solo record, I’ve been out with the Little Phatty and I really like it,” says McConnell. “Before the Phatty, I used a Moog Source. I’ve had a few different keyboards occupy that particular spot.” His Clavinet got quite a workout at Festival 8 on songs like “Down With Disease” and “Ghost.” “People like the Clav,” he says. “It’s funky and it makes them dance.” The CS-60’s flavor comes in handy for certain moods. “I use it more for the spacious stuff and the ambient or spacey sounds. Pads and textures — I really like the texture of Yamaha’s analog synths. I’ll start with one of the presets, like the flute or brass sound, and mess with it.” However many vintage keyboards he owns, McConnell keeps his live rig tight: “I try not to have more than six keyboards with me.” - KeyboardMag


Dirty Projectors cover Usher's Climax

Not since Apollo Sunshine covered R. Kelly's Ignition Remix has an indie group rendered a modern R&B classic so thoroughly as their own. Listen to the Dirty Projectors re-invent Usher's breadwinner for one male and three female vocalists- truly stunning.  The Projectors performed on Like A Version, a segment on the Friday morning breakfast show of Australia's Triple J radio station.  It involves Australian and international artists playing live, acoustic versions of some of their favourite songs. This segment's popularity has led to, so far, the release of eight compilation CDs.


Mister Lies - Cleam

Mister Lies released Cleam on the Hidden Neighbours EP in 2012.  When you read that he's a Chicago producer, you think to yourself 'oh he must be the Second City's answer to James Blake'.  Sometimes you'd rather not know he's a 19 yr. old named Nick Zanca studying dramatic writing and Philosophy at Columbia College.  Further proof that the Singularity is nigh.

Cleam captured the zeitgeist of 2012 in a way that seemed improbable given the density and variety of releases.   It opens with a plaintive melody and the sound of rainfall that continues intermittently throughout. This Rashomon rainfall is somehow redemptive, while the melody suggests a vague melancholy striped with hope.   It's delicate stride and time stretched quality endear it to the now but the vocals, very slow seemingly male pose a question (if you can make it out): Make a move, it's only human (has been what my ear has always heard). "Make A Move" suggests both stasis and opportunity.  In a move that's past-ironic it turns out Zanca found the moral heart of the song from a brief sample of Brandy flipped to his device.  So it is that Brandy's 1994 Atlantic release  I Wanna Be Down which contains those lyrics became a part of the spirit of the ages:

That your the kind of guy that I should make a move on
And if I don't let you know
Then I won't be for real
The Brandy sample appears at :43 seconds into I Wanna Be Down and at :44 seconds into Cleam and throughout.