Monday, December 8, 2008

Crystal on Congress

After posting last week that The Crystal Method was the band that introduced me to electronic music it was my great pleasure to go and see them live on Friday night. They played the Sky Lounge in Austin, TX which I had never been to before but man, that place is great. The club holds something like three hundred people and somehow they get huge names. Paul van Dyk ("For an Angel" is still my favorite van Dyk track) was there a month or so ago. Dedmau5 as well as Above and Beyond have made multiple appearances. And they even had Armin van Buuren last year.

While the show was really fun I would be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little dissappointed. The music was great but they played a DJ set. Call me crazy but I want the hits. Get in front of the crowd, put the Vegas cd in the player and then jump around and let the lights go crazy. That's all I want. Maybe a little something off Legion Of Boom but please no Tweekend. That album, their second, was terrible if you ask me.

The DJ set thing is nice though beause they can play other people's hits and that can really get the crowd going. There was one song in particular that really got me pumped but I don't think anyone else had ever heard it. At least not anyone I was with. The lack of anyone else to connect with about it is a perfect example of one of the reasons I have started this blog. The track was "Anyway You Choose to Give It" by the Black Ghosts. I have been singing the praises of these guys for more than six months now but noone else seems to dig it like I do.

I first heard of the Black Ghosts while listening to Metropolis on Let me take this opportunity to tell the world, KCRW is the greatest thing to happen to music ever. Ever. They are a subscriber supported public radio station in Los Angeles. That means they only run off donations from people and businesses that like the programming. That allows the DJs complete freedom to play whatever they want to play. Nick Harcourt runs the whole music program and has his own daily show, Morning Becomes Eclectic. I'm not a huge fan of his show but the variety of music programs that he has put together on the radio station is incredible. My only complaint is I feel hip hop is not properly represented.

Because there are so many different music programs on KCRW many only come on once a week and even then only at very off hours. That would be a problem if over the airwaves or live streaming online was the only place to get the music but luckily that is not the case. Check out All the shows are listed there and the most recent airing of each can played on demand. When you play the show you get a track list which matches up with the audio. It is amazing. Some of my favorites are Metropolis with Jason Bently (producer? or something like that for the Matrix soundtrack), Nocturna with Raul Campos, the jazz program with Bo Lebowitz, the amazing collection of world music on Cafe LA with Tom Schnable, The Drop with Liza Richardson, and also the shows whose name I am not sure of run by Jason Eldrige, Aaron Byrd and Jeremy Sole (the DJ for Afro Funke at Zanizibar in Santa Monica, great Thursday night spot).

So anyway back to the Black Ghosts. At the end of one of his shows maybe nine months ago Jason Bently played a few selections off the Black Ghosts Mixtape, a hour long mix of Black Ghosts as well as other artists tunes. From the first song, I later found out written by Boy 8 Bit I was jammin. I found the mixtape on AmazonMP3 and it was 99 cents for the whole thing! It was the best buck I've spent in a while. I listened to that mix nonstop for quite a while. Those that know me understand that is how I listen to music. I find something I like. I listen to it incessantly. I then tire of it and move on. If I come back to it or I don't ever really tire of it, for me, that is the mark of greatness.

The mixtape was good but it is a continuous mix not an album. It was several months later when I was listening to Metropolis and who was the musical guest but The Black Ghosts. They were touring for the release of their first full album. I got it and maybe it isn't the best album all the way through but their are some great tracks. The first two in particular. Different people like different songs more but everyone agrees the first two are amazing. Both, "Some Way Through This" and "Anyway You Choose to Give It" have music videos on YouTube. The one for "Some Way Through This" is awesome. "Anyway You Choose to Give It" has such a great build/bridge/climax with those strident piano chords taking it up. I'm really a sucker for that dirty distorted synth thing as well. "When It Comes Again" might be my favorite track though. That repeated breakdown/beat drop hits just right.

Lyrics on the album are all decent as well but as you'll probably pick up on through future posts, lyrics are really my last concern when it comes to music. For the most part I prefer no lyrics at all. For me, so often lyrics take away from the song by attaching some messge or meaning that doesn't connect with me to a melody and rhythm that if left on its own could speak much more broadly. There are notable exception of course but typically the more enigmatic the better.

One last thing, KCRW is also one of the LA NPR stations and has a variety of other news and talk programs from PRI (Public Radio International) as well as some other their own programs. PRI carries the excellent "This American Life". It's not music but it is highly reccommended. There is even a television version of it now on Showtime. The first season is availble on Netflix for instant watch.

Editor's Note: There is no editor. There is no proof reading. I understand a blog to be an unpolished work completed in the most expedient manner possible that still gets the message across. Comments and recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I love music. I love all kinds of music. It began quite some time ago. The first song I remember really loving was "La Bamba". Other early favorites included everything from MC Hammer to Nirvana to Madonna's Imaculate Collection. "Just Like a Prayer", what's not to love? Well, now that I'm not ten, quite a bit but tastes change and that's fine. It is this ever evolving appetite which keeps me listening, keeps me moving. While tastes do change is important to remember where you came from, where the roots are. So comes the ever important question, "What are your favorite?" Obviously, a strict ranking would be impossible but when it comes to nailing down the albums which build the foundation of my passion, there are three that immediately come to mind.

Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds - "Live at Luther College" While I have never been a big fan of the Dave Matthews Band except for a few songs here and there (the song "Two Step" being the most notable exception) when you strip away the manifold instruments that come along with the band and just get at the incredible songwriting of Dave with the added spice of Tim Reynolds virtuosic guitar playing you get something amazing. There is something new to love every time I come back to this, in my opinion, Dave Matthew's greatest album.

The Crystal Method - "Vegas" I will never forget the opening scene to oh so forgettable movie, "The Replacement Killers" with Chow Yun Fat and Mira Sorvino. The mysterious well dressed hitman glides up to the table of the bad looking guys in the thumping night club, lights flashing, and as the music builds, heslams a bullet down on the table and the beat drops, guns blaze, and a sixteen year old is hooked on techno. Hearing that song "Keep Hope Alive" made me track down the Vegas album and truly began my love for electronic music. Every track on that album is a masterpiece.

Dispatch - "Gut the Van" With so many cds to choose from it is difficult to pick which best represents, the band closest to my heart, Dispatch. It was a friend from high school that sent me an mp3 of "Elias". I don't think I have spoken to him since then but if you're out there Jerry, thank you. I have passed on the love to several others. Dispatch basically embodies the Platonic ideal of being in a band. Instead of try to describe the story here if one is interested I would recommend the associated "Gut the Van" DVD. The live performances on the dvd are spectacular and the interspersed interviews provide the enriching backdrop of the band's story. While they have unfortunatly split since then, I was lucky enough to catch them at the house of blues in LA in '01 I think it was. That was quite possibly the best show I've ever seen. I won't bother try to capture it in words. I can't. It just was. My roommate was there with me in the center of the crowd and he knows. Anyone else who saw them knows. If they're ever back together just go, and you'll know.

There are so many more amazing albums and even so much more to say about the above mentioned albums. There are so many new resources available for finding and being exposed to new music. and are two that deserve immediate metion but that is only the tip of the iceberg. There is just so much to talk about and experice with music. And now we have one more place to talk about and share music. Until I figure out how (or more realisically someone tells me how) to post actual songs that can play straight from the blog I will attempt to link to, or, or wherever the tunes can be previewed easily because talking about music is no substitute for experiencing it.

Just a quick note, I say no to Itunes as much as possible because the DRM stuff really annoys me but I am a big supporter of paying for the music. In case you're unaware, MP3's are DRM free, are typically $8.99 an album, and after downloading automatically show up in Itunes or whatever player you use so there is no added hassel.

Editor's Note: There is no editor. There is no proof reading. I understand a blog to be an unpolished work completed in the most expedient manner possible that still gets the message across. Comments and recommendations are greatly appreciated.