Back in the good old days, bands were up front about where they came from. Boston was from Boston, Kansas was from Kansas, Chicago was from Chicago, Europe was from Europe (Sweden, to be specific). It was simple, life was good. But what’s in a name has changed and you just can’t be certain about a bands’ origins anymore. I’m From Barcelona isn’t actually from Barcelona; they’re from Sweden. Architecture in Helsinki is only in Helsinki if they’re on a world tour, because they hail from Australia. The Japandroids are Canadian, unlike Boards of Canada, who are Scottish.
Boards of Canada also gets bonus credit for great song titles like “Under the Coke Sign”, “Turquoise Hexagon Sun”, “Oscar See Through Red Eye”, “Everything You Do is a Balloon”, “Sherbet Head” and “Pete Standing Alone”.
Happy Cycling – Boards of Canada
Although several genres, including Britpop, neo-swing, ska and the countless indistinguishable “alternative” bands attained a certain level of popularity in the 90’s, my experience has been that when most people think of “90’s music”, the conversation typically focuses on grunge. Given the way that Seattle’s grunge scene dominated the early part of the decade, that’s not entirely unreasonable, but while US audiences were looking to the upper northwest, UK music fans were starting to get excited about the happenings going on in Bristol where acts like Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack were at the forefront of the trip-hop movement.
Although they never experienced substantial commercial success in the US, all three acts placed albums in the top ten of the UK charts, with Portishead hitting #2 three times and Massive Attack placing four albums in the top six, with a fifth at #13. “Protection” is the title track from their second album, released in 1994.
Protection – Massive Attack
If you head over to Amazon’s mp3 store and look my seventh-ranked album of 2012, Ricardo Donoso’s Assimilating the Shadow, you’ll see that “Shadow Aspect” has a running time of 7:51. When you buy the album and import it into iTunes, however, it clocks in at 7:52 (or, more precisely, 7:51.562, which is then rounded up to 7:52). So instead of one of my favorite albums of the year (now duly noted), we’ll go with Jaga Jazzist’s “All I Know is Tonight”.
Jaga Jazzist rose to prominence when the BBC named their 2002 album Livingroom Hush as the best jazz album of the year. Stylistically, they’re have a more progressive style than the classical jazz that probably springs to mind and a track like “All I Know is Tonight” can help you see how the fine minds at Wikipedia would go so far as to classify the band as a post-rock act. One other fun tidbit: Jaga Jazzist joins Sondre Lerche as the second (and Last) Norwegian artist to show up on the list.
All I Know is Tonight – Jaga Jazzist
As a general matter, I have no idea of what’s popular or cool. It’s easy to forget that sometimes, since I tend to live in my own little bubble world where my tastes aren’t that unusual, but from the perspective of the world at-large, my circles are just a blip on the radar screen. To some extent, I’ve internalized this and harbor no expectations that other people will be interested in or even cognizant of the bits of culture from my life; I don’t expect obscure sci-fi television shows to come up at trivia and despite the inroads that indie rock has made in the world of commercials and television soundtracks, I don’t expect most of the bands in my library to be referenced anywhere.
So imagine my surprise when I’m shopping at Safeway one afternoon and I hear the Silversun Pickups come on the in-store music system. What?! Apparently, I missed the part where they broke out into the popular consciousness. Heck, they even garnered a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. But hey, every now and then, my little world becomes the cool thing and gets some recognition for a minute or two (see also, here). Even if I have no idea why or how, I’m fine with that.
… All the Go Inbetweens – Silversun Pickups
Remember a couple weeks back when I listed off all the live performances I’ve used this year? It’s not so much that I forgot about Santana’s live version of “As the Years Go Passing By” that was recorded in December 1968 as it was that I was saving it up as a special gift to my readers. So Merry Christmas to all!
As the Years Go Passing By – Santana
Posted in music
Tagged 366TAS, Santana
Danse Macabre is a composition most commonly associated with Halloween, but it’s here for Christmas Eve, and that’s just as well. After all, there is a certain element of mystery and spookiness inherent in the Christmas mythology. It was Christmas Eve when Jacob Marley was visited by a trio of ghosts in A Christmas Carol, the fantastical events of The Nutcracker take place on Christmas Eve and more modern Christmas stories, like the 2011 Doctor Who Christmas special are imbued with a certain sense of danger and magic.
Perhaps none of these stories blend the spirits of Halloween and Christmas quite like Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s available for instant streaming on Netflix right now, so if you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit, that’s a good place to start. Especially if you’re pairing it with “Danse Macabre”.
Danse Macabre, Op. 40 – Camille Saint-Saëns
As Hollertronix, Diplo and DJ Low Budget had been throwing successful parties in Philadelphia in 2003, so they decided to put out a mixtape. The New York Times named Never Scared one of the ten best albums of 2003. In retrospect, that’s surprising, especially for a mixtape. I’m not sure if that says more about the album or the year in music, but that’s what it is.
Never Scared – Hollertronix