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.


Mister Lies - Hounded (from new album Mowgli)

Chicago based producer Mister Lies whose 6:20 song Cleam is certainly one of the greatest songs produced in the last year is back with a new single (Hounded featuring Exitmusic) and a full length out Nov. 26 via Lefse Records (free downloads).


Raekwon - Lost Jewlry EP (download)

Raekwon the Chef has released a new 12 track EP, Lost Jewlry in anticipation of a full-length LP, F.I.L.A. (Fly International Luxurious Art).  Production duties were variously handled by Statik Selektah, Vin Tha Chin, Roads-Art, Frank G, DJ Thoro but mainly Buckwild and Scram Jones with guest turns by Maino and Freddie Gibbs.  You can download the Lost Jewlry mixtape/EP here.


Trey Anastasio Band - Danforth Music Hall, Toronto (setlist)

Trey Anastasio Band, 01/18/2013
Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, Canada

Set 1: Cayman Review, Alive Again, The Land of Nod, Ooh Child*, Spin, Plasma, Last Tube, Frost, Burlap Sack and Pumps, Shine, Scabbard, Valentine, First Tube

Set 2: Money, Love and Change, Pigtail, Gotta Jibboo, Let Me Lie, Night Speaks to a Woman, Small Axe^, Drifting, Goodbye Head, Architect, Sand, Clint Eastwood#, Push On 'Til the Day

Encore: At the Gazebo, Sultans of Swing+

Five Stairsteps cover
Bob Marley cover
# Gorillaz cover
+ Dire Straits cover 

Trey Anastasio Band Tour 2013

Jan. 18 – Toronto, Ontario, Danforth Music Hall
Jan. 19 – Syracuse, N.Y., Landmark Theatre
Jan. 20 – Portland, Maine, State Theatre
Jan. 23 – Port Chester, N.Y., The Capitol Theatre
Jan. 24 – Port Chester, N.Y., The Capitol Theatre
Jan. 25 – Montclair, N.J., Wellmont Theatre
Jan. 26 – Albany, N.Y., Palace Theatre


Karriem Riggins - Alone Together

When you speak of J Dilla's protege, Black Milk is usually the character that comes to mind.  But certainly the accolade would be just as well suited to jazz drummer and hip hop producer Karriem Riggins.  Riggins, who moved to New York at the age of 19 from his native Detroit, joined the Ray Brown Trio in 1998. He has recorded and performed with Donald Byrd, Hank Jones, Mulgrew Miller, Milt Jackson, Oscar Peterson, Cedar Walton, Roy Hargrove, and Bobby Hutcherson and Paul McCartney.

(l to r) James Yancey (Dilla), Common, Karriem Riggins
The dulcid tones of his touring life as a member of Diana Krall's quartet contrast obliquely with his production work for hip hop artists including Slum Village, Erykah Badu, Common, J Dilla, The Roots, Talib Kweli, Phat Kat, Consequence, and Dwele.

Most famously Riggins completed production on J Dilla's post-mortem release The Shining which was 75% complete at the time of his death.  Hip Hop lore attributes to Riggins having found the Bobby Caldwell sample Open Your Eyes that became one of Dilla's most anthemic productions The Light from Common's Water For Chocolate.
Karriem Riggins released his first solo album Alone Together on Stone's Throw in 2012. The title is taken from a jazz standard by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz that begin with the words, “Alone together, above the crowd.” 
The songs or productions which range from 14 seconds to a little over three minutes bear a vein of similarity in both their audaciousness and alacrity to those of James Yancey's.  On J Dilla The Greatest his tools are fittingly a sparse Gretsch drum kit, a Rhodes synthesizer and an MPC 3000.  The New York Times described the release well as:
a collection of intuitive sketches made in his Detroit home studio, an unvarnished take on the sounds in his head. It’s ’70s-obsessed crate digger’s music, with tiny unnamed looping samples — he credits his digital gear, but not the song sources — from all kinds of soul and pop and Brazilian records, and other recorded sound. Beneath all that lie Mr. Riggins’s own synthesizer melodies and his programmed or live drum-set beats, slow and deep with delayed groove.



Aaron Freeman 2012 soundcloud demos (download)

Post Marvelous Clouds (an album of exclusively Rod McKuen covers) Aaron Freeman's first solo effort and first under his own name- having informed his management and fanbase of the demise of Ween and his persona Gene Ween- anyone who has followed his prolific career wants to know what comes next?

Briefly Freeman posted to his soundcloud page a slew of new songs which ranged from (largely) manipulated spoken word samples such as on Rivers where Freeman frames to melancholic effect and entire reading of the Langston Hughes civil war poem Rivers:

I've known rivers:                                                                            I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the                          flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.                            I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep                      I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.                   I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln                            went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy                          bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I've known rivers:                                                                                Ancient, dusty rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
Other songs such as Ribbit and most notably on Nature Man (an instant new Freeman classic) we hear the voluminous pop tunesmith singing about a frog and his long tongue and 'nature man' and 'nature girl' in streams of love with their boots on.  Instrumentals like Palmolive and Penny Whissle fizzle a bit but another ES-335 1 sounds reminiscent of something like Ween's Tear For Eddie without of course Dean Ween (Mickey Melchiondo's) sindering guitar line- a common feeling throughout the recordings although not lacking.

Any Ween completist will want to get ahold of these at times truly beautiful songs. A fan has captured the bulk of the songs barring Genene and made them available for download.  Songs like Stay With Me Daddy, More Than The World and the aforemementioned Nature Man fit easily and handily into the Ween/Freeman repertoire as some of his best songs to date.  Clearly sobrietry and fecundity are not mutually exclusive when it comes to the world of Aaron Freeman.

Aaron Freeman 2012 soundcloud demos

Life Force
Penny Whissle
ES 335 1
Stay With Me Daddy
Nature Man 
More Than The World
A Man Alone (home demo)
Mr. Kelly (home demo)
Doesn't Anyone Know My Name (home demo)
Signs Of The Transgression


Kung> Chalkdust Torture> Auld Lang Syne (Phish, MSG, 12/31/12)

For their ringing in the New Year theatric, an annual tradition, Phish this year staged an entire Runaway Golfcart Marathon during Chalkdust Torture.  They had opened the set apocryphally with Kung, one of the most obscure songs of their repertoire and more of a Spinal Tapish chant at that.  It contains the lyrics:

Can we stand?
Can we stare?
We can stage a runaway golfcart marathon!

Stand up
Stand up
Stand up on your heels and call
From the hills
From the hills
Given the popularity of golfcarts as mode of travel at their various solo band festivals the golfcart and the runaway golfcart marathon has a unique place in Phish lore.  This particular staged Runaway Golfcart Marathon, although played to the tune of a righteous Chalkdust Torture> Auld Lang Syne with a phenomenal balloon dropped that proceeded into cannons launching ping pong balls all the while what seemed like the cast of a community theatrical production did some sort of stage number involving golf clubs.  Regrettably Phish was joined onstage for Tweezer Reprise by one Carrie Manolakos and some (good) backup singers.  Dressed as an operatic diva Manolokos, who revealed in a recent interview she had no relationship to the band rather the 'gag's musical arranger Carmel Dean, sang in a high, wailing (and bad voice) apparently meant to emulate the Floyd song Great Gig Of The Sky.


Mike Gordon's Bass Rig Part 1 & 2

Mike 'Cactus' Gordon likewise displays his third Modulus bass and describes how much of his bass rig's set up is modelled after Phil Lesh whose tone he emulates (along with Bootsy Collins and John Entwistle).  How Gordon manages to play and project bass frequencies is a huge aspect of what is ineffable about the Phish experience.  Watching him break down his new rig, and talking about his old rig 'which was really wallowing in low end' needed to be replaced.

In part 2 we get what every fan wants to know how he makes so many of those distinctive phases and effects including 'echo space of god' then another device he calls 'the super-ego thing'.  Gordon explains definitive sounds from Harry Hood and how a meatball flanger is essential to Down With Disease's trademark sound.

Trey Anastasio explains his guitar rig, pedals & effects. Parts 1 & 2

Much to the delight of his fans Trey Anastasio a youtube video has been released explaining his guitar rig, pedals & effects.  The footage was played during the setbreaks of the 12/28 and 12/29 web streams of their vaunted shows at Madison Square Garden.

Anastasio begins with describing with glee his current hollow body Paul Languedoc guitar (the fourth from this luthier he has used throughout his career) with a beautiful Ocelot inlay referencing the song of the same title.  For casual fans it's nice to see a healthy and hale Trey excitedly taking his fans through his basic rig which hasn't as it happens changed too much over the years.