Music geeks won't want to miss this inspiring documentary of musical legendry made by Dave Grohl (of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters) detailing the history of the little music recording studio that could, California's Sound City.
Yes, it's true, it turns out Dave Grohl can make movies, too, and this debut is exceptional. Utilizing studio footage and interview commentary from many of the greatest rock musicians of our time, the film brings to life a golden era of music that is in many ways becoming a thing of the past. Although a strong message is presented about authenticity and the human element in music, the film decisively stops short of being preachy or tiresomely adherent to a bygone past.
You're welcome to interpret that as the library giving out some, but it's also the title of the newest creation by Medeski Martin & Wood. Comprised of a collection of recordings from their all-acoustic tour in 2007, it manages to simultaneously surprise and maintain a level of consistency that fans expect.
MMW has been around since 1991 and, like most jazz groups, has a complex history deeply intertwined in collaboration with other musicians. Members John Medeski--piano and keyboard, Billy Martin--drums, and Chris Wood--bass, have each dabbled in many projects over the years individually, and together combine a host of talents and backgrounds. Speaking of jazz, you can think of MMW as that, but such a wide variety of other genres go into it that maybe the most accurate moniker would be experimento-jazz-funk-jam-band.
Southern rock can be likened to a tree with many branches and even more roots. Tapping deep into the ground, it draws nourishment from blues, country, soul, folk, and a whole lot of other genres, all tangled together. The up-and-coming group Blackberry Smoke is the real thing, and their brand new album, The Whippoorwill, is distilled Southern goodness.
Channeling the heyday of Lynyrd Skynyrd before the plane crash that killed three band members and a crew member in 1977, BBS captures that essence with a sound that has the power to transport listeners straight to Jacksonville. With edge, humorous storytelling, and skilled musicianship, they put together songs rich with a sense of place and time. See for yourself in this recent performance of "Everybody Knows She's Mine":
If music was like sports, the Flobots might be Denver's home team. This socially conscious hip hop band is a major local community player, and they have both an upcoming album and a couple of concerts happening in the very near future.
No song by the Flobots is unremarkable, but listeners less familiar may remember them by their first major hit from the 2005 album Fight With Tools, "Handlebars," which captivated minds and gained the group international recognition.
Maybe it's her background as a child immigrant from the former Soviet Union to America in the late '80s that informs her fascinating lyrics, but as for Regina Spektor's interesting musical compositions and gemlike vocals, it's got to be raw talent. Get on the library's hold list sooner rather than later for her new album hot off the press, What We Saw from the Cheap Seats.
After recently coming across Spektor's performances of the songs "Small Town Moon" and "Ballad of a Politician" from this album, aired on the Colbert Report, I immediately regretted having previously put off listening to her music.
Did you know that Nathen Maxwell, also of the Celtic punk band Flogging Molly, simultaneously leads this phenomenal reggae group?
Maxwell, evidently a jack of all trades, plays bass in Flogging Molly, but in the Bunny Gang surprises and delights in a different niche as guitarist, melodica player, and vocalist. Meanwhile, his dad, the artist known as maxwellvision [sic], plays drums and percussion, Michael Peralta takes the bass, and Nat Nelson is on guitar and vocals. With this humble arrangement, they manage to create a deep grooving smoothness of sound that's tough to surpass. This is music to dance to at its finest.
This coming Saint Patrick's Day, some may be celebrating the chasing of snakes out of Ireland or simply Irish heritage with some lively fiddle music and colcannon, but if, like many, you're just looking for a big party, head to the Ogden to see New Orleans funk band Galactic.
When I saw Galactic live, I had never heard of them before, and tagged along at the end of an already full day thinking it would be a nice, relaxing evening of New Orleans jazz. I mistakenly thought the opening band was Galactic. Then the real deal came out and the Fillmore filled up to the brim. Sandwiched tightly in the crush of the wild crowd right in front of the stage, I soon learned that Galactic shows are nothing to fool around with.
From old jazz classics to modern marvels of musical fusion, the upright bass enriches the sound that reaches your ears. Bass makes up part of the backbone of an ensemble, along with the drums, but it's capable of so much more as a solo instrument. I love music in which the upright bass, with its unique and velvety resonance, pops out and takes center stage.
The story starts with the classics. Charles Mingus (1922-1979), the old school king of walking bass, played upbeat, funky jazz grooves at a pace that could only have been achieved by a master. His music can still make the drive home in heavy traffic somehow enjoyable, as if those busily bustling rhythms somehow match life in the big city and make it better.
Mos Def, who announced last month that he will now be known as Yasiin Bey, is back with Talib Kweli performing as the unique hip hop act, Black Star. These guys are both amazing on their own, and together they're dynamite. They've gone underground and independent now, but they've each built up a strong legacy of albums and films to study up on while we await whatever they might come out with next!
Yasiin's solo debut in 1996 was called Universal Magnetic. In 1999, he teamed up with Talib Kweli, known for being a "conscientious rapper" whose lyrical focus is on black self-worth and social empowerment. They came out with one of the greatest rap albums of the day, Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are...Black Star. The same year, Yasiin came out with the solo album Black on Both Sides.
I liked this band's name so much that I just had to check them out, and hey--they're all right! Now is a good time to discover them, too, because they're coming to the Hi-Dive in Denver on November 30th after releasing a new album, Tape Club, on October 18th.
I heard about five snippets of SSLYBY's songs and decided in spite of myself that their indie pop tunes were fun, contagiously upbeat, and pretty awesome. Check out their Myspace page to listen to free mp3s, and don't miss their bio, which is worth a read for laughs (on the right side of the page above "contact"). You can also find them on Facebook. If you like what you hear, try out some of these bands through the library and see what you think: