Friday, February 18, 2011

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet

Radiohead new album, streaming (the whole thing! This is the only place I could find it, everyone else just has the new single and video) HERE

Our favorite Bittersweet artist, Richard Ashcroft, is coming out with an album AND touring in the US, new track and video HERE

Tiny Desk Concert from NPR Music, of the Swell Season HERE

Awesome, awesome blog post from NPR Music about Hallelujah, and its many covers HERE

And a song of the day by: Stutter by Yuck HERE
Just give it a listen, I promise you'll like it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bittersweet Symphony

It's hard to know where to begin with this song.  It is at once profound, uplifting, depressing, and significant in a way that gets into your head and under your skin, never quite leaving.  Its also been the subject of controversy.  The story of Bittersweet Symphony can be somewhat hard to piece together, because it doesn't quite have an end, and doesn't quite have a beginning.

It started with the band- The Verve.  The Verve formed in England in 1990 and was originally made up of Richard Ashcroft (lead singer), Nick McCabe (guitar), Peter Salisbury (drummer), and Simon Jones (bass).  By the time Urban Hymns was released, they'd already recorded and released three prior albums.   Originally, The Verve was just known as "Verve".   Due to an already existing jazz label called "Verve', however, a name change was in order, at which point they added the "The".  

The song itself is where the real story lies.  I first noticed years ago when I randomly looked up in iTunes  under "composer" and was surprised to see "M. Jagger, K. Richards, Lyrics- R. Ashcroft."  After some digging, all I could find at the time was some info claiming that The Verve sampled The Stones, who then sued and gained all rights (or so I, and many others, thought).   The Stones song in question was "The Last Time."

Take a listen and see what you hear:

Its kind of a stretch, to say the least. So how did this happen?

Turns out, The Verve did NOT sample the Rolling Stones version of "The Last Time"- they sampled a piece of music that was composed by Andrew Loog Oldham.  Andrew Loog Oldham was once the manager of the Rolling Stones who also had a musical side project called the Andrew Oldham Orchestra.  The Andrew Oldham Orchestra recorded orchestral versions of songs, including "The Last Time."

Here is the Andrew Oldham Orchestra's version of The Rolling Stones' "The Last Time":

Ah. And there we have it.

But how did Andrew Loog Oldham take "The Last Time" and turn it into this orchestral piece?  How does one take "The Last Time" by The Rolling Stones and transpose it into something that, to the naked ear, sounds completely different?  I am not sure.  And I am not sure we will ever know.  But it is because of this piece that the story has taken on a life of itself.

Most people believe The Rolling Stones sued The Verve, but it was actually a man named Allen Klein.  Allen Klein was a one-time manager of the Stones, and it was his company, ABKCO, that owned the rights to the Andrew Loog Oldham orchestral arrangement that The Verve sampled from.  The Verve got permission to sample from this arrangement, however legal battles ensued, and it was determined that The Verve had simply used too much.  As a result, The Verve settled with Allen Klein's company.  The settlement required The Verve to fork over the copyrights of the song, as well as relinquish songwriting credits to the songwriters of the original- Jagger and Richards (although Ashcroft retained credit for writing the lyrics).

To add an additional element of intrigue to the saga, there are rumors that The Stones drew inspiration for "The Last Time" from a 1950's gospel recording by The Staples Singers, called "This May Be The Last Time":

While The Stones song was supposedly based on The Staples Singers version of this song (most likely copyrighted by The Staples Singers), the song itself is an old traditional song.  In addition to this, its also mentioned on a Bittersweet Symphony forum that, while its a bit of a stretch, there is a traditional Lithuanian folk dance with some (slight) remnants of the strings:

This folk dance, and the old gospel song The Staples singers drew inspiration from are both considered traditional music, which means simply that no one owns the rights.  In other words, these traditional songs that possibly served as the birthing place for what eventually evolved into Bittersweet Symphony are a matter of public domain, owned by us all.

Another thread of Bittersweet Symphony is the video.  The video The Verve shot for Bittersweet Symphony got its inspiration from a video by Massive Attack- for a song called, appropriately, "Unfinished Symphony".

Despite it all, the song gets into your conscience not just because of the sampled strings, but because of the brilliant poetry in the lyrics.  I think Richard Ashcroft says it best.  Check it out here, stripped down to its core:

If this whole story is indeed true- that The Verve sampled ALO, who was inspired by The Stones, who were inspired by The Staples Singers, who were inspired by traditional music, which NO ONE owns, then it is fitting, because this song is truly everyman's song.  People are inexplicably drawn to this song and this is the only path it could have possibly taken to get where it is today- still living, breathing and existing in our current consciousness.

Simply put, it has a visceral meaning to those that love it.  What's it mean to you?

Noteworthy Performances and Covers:

Richard Ashcroft with Coldplay at Live8:

The Verve Live at Glastonbury:

John Mayer cover Live at the Hollywood Bowl

Live acoustic by Richard Ashcroft:

Noel Gallagher of Oasis, Cover

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet

Thought this was a pretty cool/different (way different) version of "Crazy" by Seal. Like the indie rock version of it, HERE

Eminem grants an interview to a local girl. Awesome. HERE
(I suggest clicking through to the Detroit Free Press story at the bottom.)

Radiohead's 20 Greatest Songs HERE

A bunch of cool songs from NPR HERE

50 Best Bob Dylan Covers from Paste HERE
My favorites from this list:
Van Morrison/Them's cover of "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" (HERE_
Sam Cooke doing "Blowin in the Wind" (HERE)
Tracy Chapman doing "The Times They Are A-Changin" (HERE)
Indigo Girls doing "Tangled up in Blue" (HERE)

The Swell Season, live in concert from the Newport Folk Festival in 2010. HERE

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet

Ray LaMontagne performs on Conan HERE

A list of past awesome Grammy performances by Consequence of Sound HERE. I'd also add THIS performance to the list.

Adam Duritz from Counting Crows covers "Rainbow Sleeves" by Tom Wait HERE.

Adam Duritz from Counting Crows does "You Might Think" by The Cars HERE (and manages to take a super pop-y song and turn it into a somehow...bittersweet moment)
In fact, at this link on the right hand side of the page are some links to other tracks with Adam.

Arcade Fire acoustic, on KROQ HERE

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet

Adele in Concert! Live concert from earlier today....or yesterday...either way, doesn't matter because it is now streaming on NPR Music HERE

More Adele, also from NPR Music... hear her new album, "21" in its entirety- HERE

Friday, February 4, 2011

Songs I Am Obsessed With At the Moment

People always like to talk about what crap music is these days, but I beg to differ. Especially now that music is so freakin easy to find, you'd be surprised at how much good stuff is out there. It's just not on Top 40 radio! (....except for Bruno Mars...that cat can SING!)

Here are my current obsessions, share yours below.

Modest Mouse, Ocean Breathes Salty

The National, Bloodbuzz Ohio

Passion Pit, Sleepyhead

30 Seconds to Mars, Closer to the Edge (except Jared Leto talks way too much! Who does he think he is, John Mayer??)

Rolling Stones, Can't You Hear Me Knockin  fully realize this isn't 'new', but its so rocknroll I had to post it. It basically encapsulates everything that is awesome about rock. It's been in my head lately for some reason.  Also, who doesn't love to watch Mick like this?

Zac Brown Band, Colder Weather

Bon Iver, Stacks So. Beautiful.

Crystal Castles feat. Robert Smith, Not In Love This is one of those songs that gets better every time you listen to it.

Sleigh Bells, Rill Rill

Adele, Rolling In The Deep

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet

First and foremost, seeing as U2 is one of my all time favorite bands, I'm likin THIS

And this- a performance of a 'new' song, Every Breaking Wave-  dare I say, this sounds like the U2 we all know and love?

The Music Media Daily has some cool videos posted, like this version of Tangled Up In Blue but with Bruce Hornsby and Bela Fleck. Veddy innnnterresting:

And last but not least, Rolling Stone Readers Name Top 10 Greatest Dead Rock Stars, complete with audio that RS dug up. Check it out HERE. My favorites are #1 and #10. Also, Keith Moon died in the same apartment as Mama Cass?? Who knew?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Beginning

Do you remember your first concert?  I do, and I'll never tell (coughNKOTBcough). But I was 11. Add 5 years, and I went to the first concert that changed my life.  It stayed with me for days.  You know what I'm talking about- the concerts that you just can't seem to shake. The ones that make you feel like you were put on this earth to see THAT artist on THAT night.

That's the beauty of live music.  It will never be performed that way again.

The first concert that changed my life was Billy Joel at the (old) Boston Garden.  Live Billy is incredible. You feel like you are at your local bar sitting around the jukebox with 18,000 of your closest friends.  Here is some Live Billy.

The second was The Who. I did not grow up with The Who. My parents did. But good music is good music, and I always had a rule- any chance you have to see a legend, ya gotta go, whether you are a fan of the music or not. So I went. And it stayed with me for weeks.  Here is The Who Live

U2 still does it for me every time, every tour.  Check out this clip.  I hate to say it, but the older I get, the 'concerts that change your life' become fewer. I'm not sure if that's because I go to fewer shows, or because the music is getting worse. Maybe both. But the good ones stay with you forever. Like this one. Crappy audio footage, but exactly to the point.


What was the last concert that really got to you?

Sa-vor (v) - To appreciate fully

Recently I was on a long car ride.  I did not have satellite radio with me at the time, I forgot my iPod at home, and thus was forced to sit and listen to good ol' fashioned FM Radio. (Yes, they still make that.)

After flipping through I kept coming back to the same classic rock station.  They were playing whole album sides, on vinyl, with the crackling and far-away feel coming through my car stereo as I sat in traffic.  The DJ's described their own experiences with certain albums and artists, and the whole experience left me nostalgic for the days when one would actually sit and do nothing else but listen to great music.  Remember when the listening experience was about driving to the record store on a Tuesday to get that album you'd been waiting for, and the excitement of ripping through the packaging, and sitting back and just...listening? I'd sit there forever just listening and reading the liner notes as if the meaning of life itself were buried within. Do they even make liner notes anymore??

Now, I am allll for the ease of finding and listening to music now, but I admit, I don't take the time to just sit and listen like I did on this day. But being stuck in my car for 6 hours on a California freeway was a good way to remind me how nice it is.  A lot of it had to do with the fact that my nose wasn't buried in Angry Birds or half-talking to someone else while half- listening.  It was me, in my car, and that was it. Also, I discovered some old new music. I had no idea I even liked Dire Straights till they played an album side. Maybe its something about the vinyl. Who knows.

I don't recommend sitting in California gridlock in order to remember what it's like to TRULY LISTEN- I do recommend taking some time to do so. If you want to check out the station I was listening to, it's 100.3 The Sound in LA.  Unfortunately, their Album Sides days aren't available for streaming online (gotta listen to old fashioned airwaves for those days!), but you can stream the station online most other times on their website HERE.

What was the last time you just sat back and listened?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet

New Rihanna video for her song "S&M" HERE.

The girl who wrote “Love the Way You Lie” sings it. Great version—check it out HERE.

Hype Machine Radio, 2011 Zeitgeist Special with Mark Ronson HERE.

Article about how Google might be launching a cool sounding music service this year. Favorite quote?
"The timing looks right to challenge Apple's iTunes. While iTunes is still the music industry's Michael Jordan, the service increasingly looks more like the slower, pudgier Jordan of the Washington Wizards era."  Oh no he didn't. Right HERE.