Wang Chung - "To Live And Die In L.A."

With his 1985 film, "To Live and Die in LA," William Friedkin brought out the best in William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow, John Turturro, Dean Stockwell and, yes, Wang Chung.

"To Live and Die in LA" is a legitimate masterpiece, one of three directed by Friedkin. Wang Chung's soundtrack is equally masterful. Both stand up to repeat viewing and listening 27 years later.

World Party at Amoeba Records in San Francisco

Moments ago, I had the pleasure of chatting with Karl Wallinger (aka World Party) after his in-store performance at Amoeba Records.

Karl played guitar and was accompanied by David Duffy on violin and mandolin. They sounded wonderful. Now I'm even more excited, if that's possible, about seeing the band play at Great American Music Hall later tonight.

Here are a few pictures. I'll post more in the next day or so, along with some I took of Karl and the Party at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival a few years ago.

Party on.

[VIDEO PLAYLIST] Pitchfork's Best Albums of 2012

Now that we have Thanksgiving gluttony and sloth out of the way, it's time to look back and reflect on the year in music. And it's been a very good year.

First up, I'll be listening to Pitchfork's Best Albums of 2012. The video playlist above includes a track from each artist's album below. I've also created a playlist on MOG which includes all but one of these albums.

  1. Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d. city
  2. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
  3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
  4. Grizzly Bear - Shields
  5. Beach House - Bloom
  6. Tame Impala - Lonerism
  7. Swans - The Seer
  8. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel
  9. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
  10. Japandroids - Celebration Rock
  11. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Tangerine Kitty - "Dumb Ways to Die"

I can tell I'm getting older, and less "hip," by the number of plays a YouTube video has by the time I finally see it. This one has 8,468,506.

Tame Impala - Live at Lollapalooza, August 3, 2012

Australia's Tame Impala hit the US festival circuit -- god, I love the fact that there IS a US festival circuit -- this past summer to promote the release of their highly-anticipated sophomore album, Lonerism.

I saw them at this year's Outside Lands Festival and was totally blown away. For sheer face-melting rock, Tame Impala outdid much bigger bands that weekend, including Metallica.

The YouTube video playlist above includes most of Tame Impala's set at this year's Lollapalooza, everything but "Solitude Is Bliss," and "Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind?"

If you're a fan, I recommend checking out Tame Impala's 2011 live performance at KEXP's studio while you're at it.

I'll be seeing Tame Impala at The Fillmore in San Francisco this week. Can't wait.

Bonus: here is New York City's PS22 covering "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards." Awesome. Thanks to Brooklyn Vegan for the tip.

Calexico - "Splitter"

Calexico performs "Splitter," the first single off their latest record, Algiers, in The Current's Twin Cities studios.

I'll be seeing Joey, John and the rest of the collective tonight at the historic Fillmore in San Francisco. If the spirit moves me, perhaps I'll share my review afterward.

In the meantime, click here to listen to Calexico's setlist from a recent show.

Radiohead - "The Daily Mail" (Bonnaroo)

Via Spinner: Here's a video for Radiohead's "The Daily Mail" directed by Matt Ornstein shot during Bonnaroo, featuring time-lapse footage leading from the grounds to Radiohead's live performance on the main stage.

City and Colour

Since catching too little of his set at Bonnaroo, I've had City and Colour, aka Dallas Green, on repeat.

The first video below, directed by Marc Ricciardelli, gives you some insight into Green's creative process and how he and his band recorded their latest album, "Little Hell."

The second video, posted on YouTube by camille93, is City and Colour's entire set at 2012 Bonnaroo.

If you're a fan of Ryan Adams, Jeff Buckley or Neil Young, as I am, I'm willing to bet you'll dig City and Colour, too. Check 'em out.

Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers - I Can't Go For That (Hall & Oates cover)

Here's an idea. Get your band in the van, mount a camcorder to the rear view mirror, sing some of your favorite covers and post the videos to the interwebs.

That's exactly what Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers have done. This one is my favorite. You'll find others here.

Another Crappy Music Festival

Yeah, we've all been to this one...


R.I.P. MCA, aka Adam Yauch

Beastie Boys' MCA, aka Adam Yauch, passed away this morning after battling cancer since 2009.

I learned of Yauch's passing on Facebook, but knew his illness was serious when I read that he didn't attend the Beastie Boys induction into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year.

R.I.P. MCA. You'll be missed, but your legacy will endure.

Gil Kaufman writes for MTV ("Adam Yauch Of Beastie Boys Dead At 47"):

With his gravelly voice and laconic rapping style, Adam Yauch stood out in the [Beastie Boys], whose other members tended to have faster, more nasal flows. He formed the B-Boys in 1979 while still in high school as a hardcore punk band, but their sound progressed over the years until they emerged as one of the most successful rap groups in history. After getting signed to Def Jam in 1984 they released the smash Licensed to Ill, which included such hits as "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right To Party," "Brass Monkey," "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" and "She's Crafty."

Their next album, the psychedelic 1988 release Paul's Boutique set a new high-water mark for the art of sampling and stands today as one of the finest examples of the art.

Like their label mates and friends in Run-DMC, the B-Boys excelled at seamlessly interweaving their vocals, trading off lines and verses at lightning speed. Amid the barrage of verbal gymnastics, though, Yauch's voice stood out for its world-weariness and unhurried cadence on tracks like "High Plains Drifter" and his tongue-twisting, double-time disco breaking showcase midway through the 12-minute Boutique epic, "B-Boy Bouillabaisse."

Though all three Boys emerged on the national scene with snotty, party hardy attitudes, it was Yauch who grew into the most centered and serious member of the group. In addition to playing bass, he also directed many of the group's videos under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower. Rarely seen in public, Hornblower made a legendary appearance at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards, bum rushing R.E.M. as his alter ego after they took the Best Direction award over Beastie pal Spike Jonze for his landmark work in their cop-show spoofing clip "Sabotage."

He was also instrumental in organizing a series of all-star concerts between 1996 and 2001 to raise awareness of the repression of the Tibetan people. The shows, which combined activism and music, featured sets from traditional Buddhist acts and speakers as well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, De La Soul, Beck, Foo Fighters, U2, Radiohead, Dave Matthews Band, R.E.M. and Pearl Jam.

Yauch, a practicing Buddhist who revised some of his young and wild lyrics in concert later in life, went on to direct many more video for his band, as well as the kaleidoscopic 2006 Beasties live movie, "Awesome, I F---in' Shot That!" He also formed Oscilloscope Laboratories, a film company that distributed a number of documentaries and features, including "We Need To Talk About Kevin," "Dark Days," "Meek's Cutoff," "Beautiful Losers" and the Banksy doc "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

Bonnaroo 2012 YouTube Playlist

In preparation for this year's Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN, I'm putting together a massive Bonnaroo 2012 YouTube playlist, to familiarize myself with the bands playing and to help while away my weekdays spent in marketing and advertising.

So far, this playlist includes live performances by: the Kooks, the Avett Brothers, St Vincent, Feist, Radiohead, Foster the People, Ben Folds Five, The Lonely Forest, The Shins, Tune-Yards, Little Dragon, The Civil Wars, Bon Iver, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kurt Vile, Fitz & the Tantrums, Darondo, The Beach Boys, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., The War on Drugs, Phish, Moon Taxi, Punch Brothers and Mogwai.

I'll be adding more videos in the coming weeks, so check back again. In the meantime, enjoy the music.

Real Estate: Tiny Desk Concert

Incan Abraham - Ancient Vacation [FREE DOWNLOAD]

I can't tell you much about Los Angeles-based Incan Abraham, except that I hadn't heard of them until catching their set at the Noise Pop Happy Hour last Thursday. I was totally impressed by their live sound and since downloading their 5-song EP Ancient Vacation have been equally impressed with how they sound on record.

Apparently Incan Abraham made a good impression at SXSW last year ("Ten Acts That Rocked South by Southwest").

By their own account, Incan Abraham considers themselves to be alternative, ambient, pop, psychedelic, and shoegaze. After first listen, a few bands come to mind... Local Natives (another Los Angeles band) and The Verve. Those associations probably say more about my taste than their music.

Check 'em out for yourself.

Wilco: NPR Tiny Desk Concert

If you love good music, especially performed by real live bands, you'll love NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series.

You can subscribe to the Tiny Desk Concerts Podcast via iTunes, stream the shows via the NPR Music iPad app (just launched today!) or on the NPR Tiny Desk Concerts website.

If you have a Roku, like me, you can also stream the concerts via the Roku iTunes Podcasts private channel (Channel Code: ITPC). You'll find instructions on adding Roku private channels here.

Here's a recent Tiny Desk Concert by one of my favorite bands, arguably the best live touring band in the country right now, Wilco:

R.I.P. Don Cornelius | S.O.S. Band - "Take Your Time"

The New York Times ("Don Cornelius, ‘Soul Train’ Creator, Is Dead at 75") reports:
Don Cornelius, the smooth-voiced television host who brought black music and culture into America’s living rooms when he created the dance show “Soul Train,” was found dead at his home in Los Angeles early Wednesday in what appeared to be a suicide, the authorities said. He was 75.

“Soul Train,” one of the longest-running syndicated shows in television history, played a critical role in spreading the music of black America to the world, offering wide exposure to musicians like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson in the 1970s and ’80s.

In its heyday, it was a formative experience every Saturday morning for young people of all backgrounds and afforded some of the most important soul and R&B acts their first national television exposure. It was also a platform for white rock musicians like Elton John and David Bowie to reach black audiences.
Thanks, Don, for turning me on to so much good music as a kid, music like this...
"One life is all we have to live, our love is all we have to give."

The The - "Lonely Planet," "The Whisperers"

I became a big fan of Matt Johnson, aka The the, after buying his fourth studio album, "Mind Bomb," in 1989. The moment I heard the Islamic call to prayer that kicks off "Good Morning Beautiful," I was hooked.
"I know that God lives in everybody's souls
and the only devil in your world
lives in the human heart."
It's a sprawling, ambitious effort that takes on Western philosophy and Christianity, with Johnny Marr on lead guitar.

As epic an effort as "Mind Bomb" was, 1993's "Dusk" was equally ambitious, while more accessible musically and lyrically. Matt focuses less on politics and the world writ large, and more on himself. Sort of. By album's end, on the track "Lonely Planet," he seems to have arrived close to where he began.

"Planet Earth is slowing down
Overseas, underground
Wherever you look around
Lord, take me by the hand
lead me through these desert sands
To the shores of a promised land.

You make me start when you look into my heart
And see me for who I really am.

If you can't change the world. Change yourself.
If you can't change the world. Change yourself.
"Nakedself," the 2000 album from which the track below, "The Whisperers," came, feels like a continuation of the themes Matt explored in "Dusk."

Dan Gardopee reviewed Nakedself for Pitchfork:
NakedSelf once again finds Matt Johnson in his element, tackling issues of alienation, global corruption, and urban squalor and decay with potent, more succinct lyrics and some of his most affecting melodies in ages

Rules of a Creator's Life

Good advice from ("The rules of a creator’s life"):

1. Do more than what you're told to do.
2. Try new things.
3. Teach others about what you know.
4. Make work into play. Make play into work.
5. Take breaks.
6. Work when others are resting.
7. Always be creating
8. Make your own inspiration.
9. Love what you do, or leave.