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philadelphia

In the past few years, the philly music-scene has been producing innovative music by really cool people. Dr. Dog, Man Man, and The Extraordinaires all have a sound that counters the disco-pop-rock sound that is “in” these days, and we all should benefit from their work.

In the summer of ’06, my St. Louisan circle of friends introduced me to Dr. Dog. I wasn’t sold at first because of the “cute” band name and because I was skeptical of anything that sounded too “throwback” and not forward-sounding enough. Example, “Oh No” :

Now, this is a song that I like now, but in 2006, it sounded like the above description. But any criticism of Dr. Dog sounding as though they were reaching back to an older period ended once I heard “The Girl” in 2007:

It’s important to note that Dr. Dog shares vocal responsibilities with the guitarist Scott McMicken (the two previous songs were McMicken’s) and bassist Toby Leaman.

Here are three Leaman tracks:

“Die, Die, Die” 

“The Pretender”  

“The Ark”  

Earlier this year they released Shame, Shame. Next up…

Man Man was thrown into our consciousness by some girl JoMunto (one of my St. Louis pals) had a class with. Apparently, she approached Munto and told him that he looks like Honus Honus (which he does), the frontman of Man Man. As these things go, Munto did a little research and found he liked these crazy-ass men-children.

To date, they’ve provided the best Take-Away Showhttp://www.blogotheque.net/Man-Man,4324

“Gold Teeth” utilizes a technique that hits a nerve with me. It’s when the melody is slowed down, but the percussion/rhythm is amped up. This begins to take place at 4:05 minutes into the song and finishes it out.

Another example of this device is used on Wilco’s “Via Chicago.”

“Spider Cider” shows off their rambunctiousness that is contagiousness when watching them live.

“Van Helsing Boombox” is one of those radio-friendly tracks that you’re happy never made it to the radio.

“Ice Dogs” incorporates some tempo and melody changes that do not happen enough in today’s popular music where the danceability of a song determines the quality of a song.

And on to the band that you may not have heard of, THE EXTRAORDINAIRES.

Any praise that I can muster up for any one band will be lauded onto these guys. If I could be any band’s next door neighbor (and it actually be a possibility), it’d be these guys. Young, involved in all things philycoool, they hand-make books that are partnered with their albums… simply put, they’re cooler than anyone I know. Led by the Purdy brothers, these guys are smart, entertaining, goofy as hell, and they have this careless aire that is also shared by Man Man. Both bands legitimately seem like they don’t give a shit about the music industry. All the bands that come out of LA (and most from Brooklyn) always seem to be trying to “out fashion” one another, but these Philly bands don’t care about any of that. They’re not trying to piggy-back any emerging style that is making its way to ipod or hybrid car commercials and they continue making music that really doesn’t pigeon-hole them.

This track became my drinking buddies’ anthem, “The Warehouse Song”

These songs are straightforward, but good nonetheless. “Neighborhood Watch”

A dark-humored children’s story. “Hi-Five the Cactus”

And a song about a relationship from an insecure male’s perspective, “Seeds of Jealousy”

The Extraordinaires have a new album out, and unfortunately, I’ve yet to purchase it. In the next week or so, I will have it.

Those three bands provide huge reasons why I’d like to live in Philadelphia, PA. Maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t, but if any of these bands come through your city, you should go see them. Enjoy the philly roof-tops-

Watching un-live, LIVE shows.

After three years of missing these guys perform, I finally saw Octopus Project play. Octo Proj is probably the closest to dance-pop that I listen to. There are dramatic, yet energetic tones that make you focus on the topic at hand, be it an important project or simply completing the dregs of a bottle opened just a few hours earlier (The Adjuster, Porno Disaster). Adrenaline cranking jams that make you want to run through a linebacker on your way to biking through traffic-congested streets, every pass of disgruntled motorist providing more satisfaction than the last (Music is Happiness), and tracks that deliver the same emotions that overcome a server after completing a double-shift and the realization that dawns on them when they are clocked out at 9:35pm (instead of midnight) and that there is $180 dollars in their pocket (instead of only $100)- Truck.

So, I was finally able to see these guys LIVE after slurping their tunes for years… and it wasn’t great. Some of the responsibility falls squarely on the venue’s shoulders (18+) and some of it falls on contemporary pop/indie-pop/dance-pop (whatevs) music. The biggest drawback however was the amount of loops used and how that put constraints on a live show.

I remember this happening when I saw RJD2. Basically, live shows aren’t the same when they aren’t played live (no duh).

The RJD2 and now the Octo Proj’s shows weren’t worth the effort. Both artists make good tracks that should be played at any dance party, but ultimately, that’s where their tracks should remain. To be enjoyed with friends and acquaintances while mixed in between some hip-hop and the like. If you go to their show expecting to catch lightning in a bottle, or some variation of your favorite song that you will always identify as “the best time I heard this song,” you will be disappointed.

Kaki King, Andrew Bird, and a few other acts also use loops, but in a different way. Though it’s just as repetitive, they record a progression live, loop it, build on top of it, and when the song reaches “maximum density,” they conclude or resolve whatever sonic canvas they’ve just built. It’s different in that they are playing their licks live and the build-up is always unique and usually better than what is produced on the album:

Andrew Bird- Why?

Kaki King- Gay Sons of Lesbian Mothers

Contrast that with what occurs when Octo Proj/RJD2 perform, and little, if anything, is enhanced from the album. Pair that with the fact that these bands do not have a wide range and after thirty-five minutes or so, you’ll find their music is pretty redundant. They don’t cross genres or really mix anything up. Imagine listening to an hour-straight of Ratatat, I couldn’t. But that’s the music they choose to make, and I’m thankful for it (I’m still very much a fan), I’ll just pass when given the opportunity to see them live.

Funk Slurpin’

Most music (and all muzak) doesn’t make sense to me. Frustrating are the days where at every corner an SUV blasts synthetic bass and every stores’ speakers leak tunes that make each daily errand that much more irritating.

In the words of Judd Nelson, “B.O.O. – H.O.O.” Woe is me.

However, I do look on the bright side of things and realize that funk music is never far from reach. Man, Funk is something else. At it’s most commercial, Funk produces tracks like “Jungle Boogie.” And it’s accessibility and attraction reflects that of it’s Godfather.

jb5

Mr. James Brown kills.

Rarely do I feel wholehearted support in a particular music style. But Funk has it. When Funk was rising, other music was losing its appeal: Rock got too gaudy, folk artists got castrated, disco was disco, and punk can sometimes be reduced to music for kids in perpetual “time-out.”

But Funk? Funk was aware, active, and kicking-ass. It brought together everlasting bass lines and brass geysers, relevant rage and sincere camaraderie. Is this an overtly romantic view? Of course it is, but realize that this music came into its own on the heels of Jim Crow… and Funk had something to say.

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a generation worth fighting, an incredible funk track, a talented teen, and an amazing video.

“Fight This Generation” from pavement’s Wowee Zowee.  Obviously, a rally cry for anyone asking why we should care about what Lady Gaga is wearing or someone who’s desperately fending off the bombardment of Avatar slurpers.

Those grinding, tone-deaf strings, the line “your life is about to come away from the mirror in a rainshed,” and the chanting of the title repeats in my head often.  This song hits home for those who just don’t give a fuck.

In other tracks, I was searching my iTunes for Bobby Byrd’s “I Know You Got Soul”

and came across Mallu Magalhães’s “You Know You’ve Got” and it rocks.  The girl is 17 and… I’m shocked at how cool this girl is.  If Brazil is the land of rocking 17 year olds… then Rio is where we should be.

And lastly, for those of you who haven’t seen this yet, you need to.  Four months ago, a friend of mine threw this my way and I was dropped.  Yet still, I can’t get enough of this video.  The song is good, better than average, but the video is an experience.  Enjoy!

Ramona Falls \”I Say Fever\”