December 31, 2010

Music Is...Random

 I have no idea, random I know, but I like the beat...



December 28, 2010

Music Is...Skateboarding

I couldn't wait to get around to this one. While I cannot skate a lick, well I can't do any tricks, (ya know ollie, no flip tricks, I can ride though, switch my stance, go down hills long as they're not too steep), I have personally loved skateboarding for as long as I could comprehend what it was.
 
Let me put this is perspective. When I was about 8 or so my mom subscribed me to PlayStation Magazine. I know I played it on demo initially, and so Tony Hawk's Pro Skater became among one of the very first full version games my mom purchased for me. It only took me a matter of around a week and some change to get the controls down. I do believe my favorite skaters on the game were Chad Muska and Bob Burnquist, I guess something gelled right when I used those two guys, but essentially I wound up using all the skaters. Probably one of my favorite features was the extra videos you could unlock when you fully completed each challenge on each level. They were tapes. My favorite skate spot was the Skate Park in Chicago that was half street and half mainly vert. What drew me the most was this huge screen it had on a far wall, and on it was some skate clips, BLEW MY MIND. I know that seems kind of insignificant, but at the time I was stunned. What made this game increasingly special is that it showcased both a pro African American skater(Kareem Campbell), and a pro female skater(Elissa Steamer). I can't speak for everyone but I was generally exposed to only male, Caucasian skaters prior to this game, so it really changed my outlook towards skateboarding as a whole.

Then there was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, which pushed me closer to the edge. The game was mine on N64. My granddad mailed it to me, man o' man. Aside from some different locations, the surroundings where pretty much the same. The game-play changed in some aspects though, as you can manual, really link tricks and there's a few more modes of play. For me it all centered around the music. When I played the demo, the only area you could skate was Marseille, France. It was a competition location featuring mini-bowls, ramps,a quarter-pipe, some rails, and other small features depending on how you look at them. When this second installment was released is when I really began paying attention to the soundtrack provided. It had and additional 3 songs from the previous. If I'm right, there were two songs played on the demo level, Dub Pistols-"Cyclone" and I want to say Alley Life ft. Black Planet - "Out With the Old", I could be wrong. I found myself repeating that level just so I could listen to the music and get better at the controls.

While I went on to play Tony Hawk's Project 8 for a very short while on XBOX, the last inductee I really dove into was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 on Game Cube. Regarding the game-play, the first thing that comes to mind is the much extended freedom and tricks given to you as a skater. Linking tricks became much more accessible and incorporated, tricks were increased, creating a skater was more detailed, more extras, just overall much better. I spent probably 45% of my time just watching the videos. Rodney Mullen's was my absolute favorite. Upon the first time watching it, I had to give him much respect. His technical prowess on a skateboard is unbelievable and what amped up the footage was RUN DMC's "My Adidas" playing. If I'm right, the soundtrack was the longest of them all at 34 songs, I haven't played any others yet so I'm not 100% on that.

Now, from Pro Skater 1 forward, there were other skate games I played along the way, such as Thrasher: Skate and Destroy. The graphics were sort of cube-ish, and the characters were a little bulky but the tricks were on point and ranged. I don't know if it was Dave Mira's BMX that introduced the rag-doll effect but Thrasher incorporated it as well which I felt aided in setting it apart from other games of the genre. The way the skater landed after performing a trick was much more realistic. There was no immediate time constraint. As Lupe said you really had to "Kick Push" in order to gain speed. I just think certain aspects were nailed with Thrasher that other skate games missed a bit. This was the very first game I can remember that really showcased the rustic street environment and what street skaters go through just trying to do there thing. The soundtrack to this one was memorable as well. It had Grandmaster Flash - "White Lines (Don't Do it)", The Sugarhill Gang - "Rapper's Delight", Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force - "Planet Rock [Elektric Mix]" and more hip-hop artists. Thrasher was for me the introductory statement to EA SKATE series.

...Then it came. EA SKATE to this very point in time is the epitome of what I look for in a skateboarding game. The developers at EA took every positive, crucial, dynamic, realistic element and made a game that I couldn't get bored with. What I love is that everything is true to size. You nor the objects are multiple times smaller or larger than they should be. Just about everything can be used to your advantage. Because the graphics were so clear and nothing was too choppy, the parallel between gamer and skater was clearly set. The controls took after "Fight Night", were you had to "flick" the analog stick in order to perform the wide variety of tricks. As usual, there were tasks to be completed but they didn't make you feel constrained or limited as far as how you could complete them. The create a character wasn't too detailed but there were far more clothing choices as far as design and sponsors. Your skater felt like your own. When I played SKATE at my cousins house, not only was he playing music, but there was music in the game, so I had a double dose which made my gaming experience even better. 

Though I could go into further detail with each of the games I have here, the main idea I'm getting at is the relationship between the game and the music. For the longest time I've always felt there to be a direct correlation between skateboarding and music. I can remember watching whatever skate program I could find. When I was younger I had no recollection of sponsors, different organizations or events. All I saw was the skating and all I heard was the music. So many tricks going across the screen and the sound seemed to mesh perfectly. I didn't recognize the names of these guys though I could always remember a face. I simply saw the tricks and I still do, I just have more understanding of the industry. One is constantly fueling the other. It's like a never ending cycle.

I realize I skipped THPS3, I wanted to cover specific ones

THE SOUNDTRACKS 

THPS
The Ernies - Here and Now
Dead Kennedys - Police Truck
Goldfinger - Superman
Primus - Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
The Suicide Machines - New Girl
Unsane - Committed
The Vandals - Euro-Barge
Even Rude - Villified
Speedealer - Screamer/Nothing to Me
Suicidal Tendencies - Cyco Vision
Untitled
THPS2
Dub Pistols - Cyclone
Alley Life ft. Black Planet - Out With the Old
Bad Religion - You
Papa Roach - Blood Brothers
Anthrax Ft. Chuck D.of Public Enemy - Bring The Noise
Rage Against the Machine - Guerrilla Radio
Naughty by Nature - Pin the Tail on the Donkey
Powerman 5000 - When Worlds Collide
Millencolin - No Cigar
The High and Mighty feat. Mos Def & Mad Skillz - B-Boy Document 99
Lagwagon - May 16
Styles of Beyond - Subculture
Consumed - Heavy Metal Winner
Swingin' Utters - Five Lessons Learned
Fu Manchu - Evil Eye
THPS4
System of a Down - Shimmy
The Offspring - Blackball
AC/DC - TNT
Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the UK      
Run-DMC - My Adidas
The Cult - Bad Fun
N.W.A. - Express Yourself
De La Soul - Oodles of O's
Public Enemy - By the Time I Get to Arizona
Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast
The Distillers - Seneca Falls
Gangstarr - Mass Appeal
Goldfinger - Spokesman
Agent Orange - Bloodstains  
Less Than Jake - All My Best Friends Are Metalhead
Flogging Molly - Drunken Lullabies
Rocket from the Crypt - Savoir Faire    
Aesop Rock - Labor
Avail - Simple Song
Bouncing Souls - Manthem
Delinquent Habits - House of the Rising Drum
Eyedea & Abilities - Big Shots
The Faction - Skate and Destroy
Haiku D'Etat - Non Compos Mentis  
Hot Water Music - Freightliner
JFA - Beach Blanket Bongout
Lootpack - Whenimondamic
Nebula - Giant
Toy Dolls - Dig That Groove Baby
US Bombs - Yer Country
Zeke - Death Alley
Muskabeatz - I'm a Star (featuring Grandmaster Melle Mel)
Muskabeatz - Bodyrock (featuring Biz Markie)
Jai Plus - Bad Dreams

Thrasher: Skate And Destroy
     A Tribe Called Quest - Award Tour
    Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force - Planet Rock [Elektric Mix]
    Deejay Punk-Roc - My Beatbox
    EPMD - I'm Housin'
    Eric B & Rakim - I Know You Got Soul
    Gang Starr - Just to Get a Rep
    Grandmaster Flash - White Lines (Don't Do it)
    Public Enemy - Rebel Without a Pause
    Run DMC - King of Rock
    Sniper - Crossfader Dominator
    Stetsasonic - Talkin' All That Jazz
    The Freestylers - Freestyle Noize
    The Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight
    Ultramagnetic MCs - Kool Keith Housing Things
    EA SKATE

    (I couldn't specific names of the songs
    but here are some of the exclusive artists for the game) 
    The Falcon
    XXXChange
    Z-Trip
    Tommy Guerrero




    December 25, 2010

    my apologies

    sorry if my page looks a little wierd, I'm trying to figure things out here :/

    December 18, 2010

    Music Is...Always

    Music has a certain way of being very uplifting. It can be multiple reasons as to why this is so. It could be the content, the way you feel when you hear it, the beat or a combination of all the above. I love that music is that way.

    Music is the song you'll never forget, the video you love. There are certain songs that you love where you can't wait for a certain part to come up, whether it's the bridge, chorus, a certain verse, the intro, the ending, or if your anything like me its the whole song. Lately I've been seeing a lot of commercials, listening to the radio a bit, and just humming some random melodies. My mom will ask me,"Is there anything you don't like?", and my usual response is "Not really." It's true. Seems like no matter what I hear, I gravitate to it. Now of course I have my preferences, but I'm open to many different things. Now I will admit, there are some genres that I've only listened to on infomercials or standard commercials: Bluegrass, doo wop, hard rock, heavy metal and others I'm sure.

    I guess what solely matters to me is the fact that there are seemingly limitless combination's of beats and melodies. The progression of one note to the next, tempos, guitar solos, the pattern and all that. Many times I've wondered what life would be like without music. Very mundane and boring I would imagine.

    December 17, 2010

    Music Is...In The Midnight Hour

    This song goes along with that post "My Favorites No Matter What".

    I know this is a 2000 song, but I don't care, the Neptune's killed this beat. I'm not sure if it was Vanessa Marquez of Natasha Ramos that provide the vocals but I love it regardless. This is a Star Trak production as well. I've gone to sleep countless times listening to this. Very relaxing. I need more like it but I don't think songs like this will be too mainstream. That's OK though because I'll listen nonetheless.

    Keep rockin Neptunes......yessssir :)



    Music Is...Mary J. Blige: Everything


    I was on the hypemachine browsing around. I looked up some Mary J. Blige and found a song of hers I love, "Everything"

    Ahh, nice

    Music Is...a lil dubstep I suppose

    This sounded crazy to me the first time I heard it which was about 6 months ago. The guy that created this mix is now in the air-force or armed services I believe. He told me this was a mix he was working on. I'm glad he sent me this nonetheless. At the time I didn't know there was a dubstep uprising going on. I'm sure it's been around for a while but this was my first introduction and I have to say I'm hooked completely.

    Listen.



    Music Is...Adele 19


    I've wanted to review "19" for about the past week and a half now although I've know about the record ever since its US release in 2008. I love this record. I love her voice. Adele has a very soulful RnB vibe but I fell it shouldn't be restricted to just that definition. Music is music, I guess it's all in the way the listener wants to interpret it. If I have my facts straight, Adele became known to the masses around the time of James Blunt, Duffy, Estele and a few other British/London artists from across the pond.

    Her first single, "Chasing Pavements" was very refreshing for me. I just like the mellow vibe that it carries. The song basically discusses the continuous search and development for real love knowing that it may never happen, then asking whats the purpose. Two other songs I like are "Daydreamer" and "Hometown Glory". Like pretty much the entire album these two tracks are live instrumentation recordings, Daydreamer being solely guitar and Hometown Glory is a piano number. Another aspect of her singing I enjoy is the fluidity of her ups and downs in her voice. She is very consistent in her dilivery and as far as I'm concerned doesn't disappoint. 

    I say, that anyone who is into very chill music should definitely check this out. 

    December 13, 2010

    Music Is...Scream - Michael and Janet Jackson

    Scream has to undoubtedly go down as one of the most iconic music videos of our time. Let me also say that I have loved this this piece of work since the first time I saw it, which for me was about 9 or 10 years ago. I don't care to dive into extreme detail regarding the primary influence and/or basis of this project. Anyone who payed attention and remained aware knows what lit the flames, negative media attention, controversy etc, so I need not go there. However the culmination of events, pent up feelings, anger, and the need for both these artists to express what was on their minds ultimately resulted in an explosive performance from this brother sister duet that will not soon be forgotten.

    The choreography imparts a crucial dimension to the theme. I've feel that the movement has to not only interpret the beat but the lyrics just the same. Every single grunt, clash, spin and captured gesture contributed more and more value and substance. For example, the slow motion clip of Michael slamming that black electric guitar and Janet punching and slashing at the camera. Then towards the end you have them dancing side by side, really demonstrating their unity and saying, "I gotcha back". Funny, it was because of this video that I was determined to jump form my knees to my feet, I still can. Both of them are wearing all black for the majority of the video. I love the setting and environment. So much symbolism. The black and white intensifies everything. Here they are, in this big white spaceship somewhere out in space, becoming alien to earth in a way. Inside are long halls, multiple windows, some panels that say "STRESS CAP" and gigantic screens. The glass on the capsules they're in exploding kinda represents the zenith of frustration for them. The interaction they have with each-other is the best though.
    Everything is morphing and transforming into something else. At about 2:45-2:46, this funky symbol transforms into the word: OBSERVATION and there's this one-way mirror type deal where it's like they're conducting experiments on one another. A notible part in this video is the lyrics just before they dance. The news reporter on the screen , is saying something very notable. They go:
    Oh my God, can't believe what I saw as I turned on the TV this evening I was disgusted by all the injustice, all the injustice


    December 09, 2010

    Music Is...Daft Punk - Derezzed from TRON: Legacy



    Yea, I'm talking about Daft Punk again. Let me first say that I had heard of these guys for quite a while before I decided to listen to their material. I saw their names at the end of a lot of different remixes and I'd also heard bits and peices of certain things but I never gave in. I liked what I heard for sure, I just didn't dive into it. Well now I'm plunging head first and I must say I enjoy it very much. 

    I'm sure you all have heard as well as viewed the trailer for the recent Disney film release of TRON: Legacy. I like what I see. I've always liked Disney movies in general. Hey, say what you want but Dumbo always gets to me. Anyway, TRON is a science fiction based film that combines technical and complex landscapes with superb clarity to provide some of the best visuals I've ever seen. Then to amp it up, they bring in Daft Punk to be featured on the soundtrack. Being that these guys are primarily techno, electronic and synthesized when it comes to their music, "Derezzed" is the perfect complement to the film. The different sounds and various tones of the beat directly parallel the movie to a tee. A perfect compliment. 

    The video and movie are eye candy, truly a visual treat for anyone. Just in case you don't notice, after they get a wide shot of the Flynn's Arcade neon sign, they show two people walking in. They're wearing Adidas, and of coarse I'd see that :) 




    December 05, 2010

    Music Is...Control: The Pleasure Principle

    I know I probably have her listed more that any other artist right now but I don't care. I love this video. I love that it's just her doin her thing, expressing herself solo. So I figured I gotta break this one down, tell ya why its my highest regarded among many.

    Control (1986)
     "Pleasure Principle" was one of the big singles spawned from Control, one of the most significant breakthrough albums to date. The record as a whole solidified, vigorously established and authenticated her identity with herself and among her peers, musically and otherwise. Each song boldly and yet rhythmically makes a strong statement. The record title sums up everything in one word. Looks like a purple exclamation point on the cover, her posture isn't wild though, kind of a calm assertiveness. 

     The video.

    To begin with, she's wearing Adidas, and that always gets a plus with me. The choreography was great, nothing felt uptight. Well, I don't know if ALL of it was choreographed per-say, you could argue that she free-styled much of it. Anyway, she lands that chair move nicely, and I'm sure that took many tries. I like when she's jammin' between the line of throwback automobiles. That's not really a big deal, I just think it looks cool and at 2:47, I like the way she walks off the screen. Probably, the simplest part of the video,and more than any reason why I like it so much, is where she walks up the stairs of the warehouse building during the bridge of the song. I don't know. Something about the way the lighting is at that moment. All the bold shadows and the way the light streams between some of the cracks and different objects, it creates a natural visual effect for the camera. The video as a whole continuously goes uphill for me. I don't think there are any slow, stagnant points to it.

    Simply put, I love all of it.



    December 04, 2010

    Music Is...My favorites no matter what

    There comes a time when you want to listen to something that seemingly never gets old. You know the ones I'm talking about. The songs that no matter how many times you listen to them, they just get better and better with time. Why is that? How can you listen to the same sounds, same beats, same rhythms countless times and never get tired of them? Of course you take a break, but only for a short period of time. You never forget these songs either. How do we remember what makes us feel good? How does that part of our brain remind us, "Hey, you know you like this. Go ahead and put it on." For me, one of the funniest things to do is try and figure out that part of the lyrics you haven't quite gotten down yet. I have a few selections here of my favorites I'd like to share with you.

    "Silver Springs" Live - Fleetwood Mac 
    I remember I first heard this song when I was around maybe 12 or 13 years old. My mom burned the live performance of this to a CD for the car. I didn't know who the group was at the time and honestly, up until then I'd never heard of them. All I knew was I liked the song and still do.

    "Respect" - Aretha Franklin 
    I don't this song gets old for anyone. Come on, it's about R-E-S-P-E-C-T who wouldn't want to hear about that. This remains as one of the most relevant songs of our time.

    "Black Cat" - Janet Jackson: "Design Of A Decade 1986-1996", and "Rhythm Nation: 1814"
    I like the original studio version and the more acoustic heard on Design Of A Decade. The acoustic version may be my favorite mainly because the guitar solo in the middle has a little extra added to it. Not to mention it sounds more in your face. As I said, I like both of them regardless.

    "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" - Aerosmith 
    I never knew much about Aerosmith from the beginning. Thats not to say that I knew nothing from them. It's that I never knew too much about their personal history or how they came about rather. This song was written for the soundtrack to Armageddon (1998) which also featured Steven Tyler's daughter Liz.

    "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" - Elton John
    I just realized I like this whole record (Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy)

    There are a ton more that I could list. These are just the few I could think of for the moment. 
    Gotta let you hear em' :)




    December 02, 2010

    Music Is...Another random pick

    I was watching tv and the Kia commercial with the hamsters came on. The one where they're singing this or that by Black Sheep. I don't know, I just had to post it. I like it. Haaahhh, thank you YouTube.

    Once again, please enjoy.





    AN ODE TO THE ORIGINAL


    December 01, 2010

    Music Is...Daft Punk

    I have no idea what made me think of this song.....Oh, I remember now, I was just surfing YouTube when the group came to mind. What even possessed me to be on YouTube at 1:00 in the morining when I have to be at work not long after is beyond me. Anyway, I hadn't seen the video in a while and forgot how much I like this techno treat.

    Enjoy.   

    ONE MORE TIME







    HARDER BETTER FASTER STRONGER







    SOMETHING ABOUT US





    November 30, 2010

    Music Is... Robin Thicke: Something Else


    Yes, music is truly that indeed. "Something Else" is the third studio album from Robin Thicke. Now, just for background purposes, and for anyone who's not up to speed, Mr.Thicke has produced for some big names in the music biz such as Jennifer Hudson, Usher, and Whitney Houston, putting his footprint on some nice hits. Robin also has two prior releases, "A Beautiful World"(2003, originally titled Cherry Blue Skies) and "The Evolution of Robin Thicke"(2006). I've mentioned before that I don't care too much for chart positions, or album sales. Not that those aren't notable accomplishments, it's just that I feel a number can't fully detail the feel and impact of an album. I have also made mention that it's a rarity when I come across material that I like in it's entirety. I love every song on this CD. Some of the tracks are more uptempo, then others are very melodic and dialed down, just something to help you relax, alter your mood. Often I've wondered if the track-listing was placed in a specific order or if it was a random pick but regardless of the order, every one of these songs has something to offer to the musical pallet. Since I could harp on this forever I'll only choose a few to speak on. 

    "Cry No More", a gorgeous song. Lately I've been trying not to look at the lyrics of songs and putting more effort into listening and figuring out things for myself. As with any song, this one can be interpreted a few different ways. However, listening numerous times I've come to my own conclusion. I feel it's about a man who has seen and been through many highs and lows in his life. Probably my favorite part of the lyrics are:
    "And I am a hero, but I'm not made of steel And I'm not the smartest man, but I know the deal And I'll bleed for your lips, if you bleed for mine And I can't escape it, cause I do love you"
     So nonetheless, he realizes that despite his faults, his imperfections and his being made a fool of, he loves her and he'll no longer cry over the past because she accepts him and wants all of him. To me, the mesh between what is being said and the melody pair really well. The sound doesn't overshadow his voice nor is he too subtle in his delivery. Overall, this is definitely one to listen to.

    Next I pick "Dreamworld". I chose this because it just sounds good and it projects a message that hopefully anyone would accept and respect. It reminds me of Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way" not so much regarding subject matter, but in terms of the "color" and instrumentation. The sound of this track really gives the impression that he was inspired by some old-school, the sound of the 60's to be more exact. What the songs speaks on is not necessarily a "perfect" world, but just being able to do certain things and live his life without racial criticism or being looked down upon. I say racial criticism because if you didn't know his wife is known actress Paula Patton and as the words go:  
    "...There would be no black or white the world would jut treat my wife rightWe could walk down Mississippi no one would look at us twice..."
    I think anyone would want to live and go about day to day without being talked down to or messed with. It only makes since to me.

    Something Else doesn't offer new subject matter, which I don't mind because those sort of things go in rotation, I mean eventually they will repeat in some form or another. The album as a whole relinquished itself from what I feel was an ongoing monotony and uniformity of sound in 08'. Don't take that literally, not everything sounded the same. There were a few highlights, but the majority of other mainstream music coincided with each other. However this one continues to offer a sound and vibe past 2008 that I hadn't heard too often prior to its release and that's what gravitated me and still does. Typically so many songs are synthesized and computerized that it will begin to sound robotic in opposition to being human. Musically this record consist mainly of live instrumentation. It's got piano, violin, guitar, bass, different percussion, maracas, congas, bongos, cow bell, tom-tom, different drum kits and many other instruments. Makes it feel present instead of sounding so boxy. On every track Robin gives you a very smooth progression with his voice and the beat, synchronization and a job well done.



    November 19, 2010

    Music Is...Carly Simon

    Get it - I chose the CD format but, of course you do you :)

    Ok, I chose Carly Simon for the main fact that I love her single "You're So Vain". 

    I'm gonna get southern here and say that Carly did her thang' on this one. As you can see, this song is featured on her album No Secrets. Not trying to sound like a school teacher, but vain means lacking in value or irreverent. In this case, you could also add egotistical. I love the arrangement for the intro. I think it's a synthesizer that creates that bubbly, gurgling sound. The first words she says are, "Son of a gun", and then as the beat drops the lyrics go, "You walked into the party, like you were walking onto a yacht. Your hat strategically dipped below one eye your scarf it was apricot. You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte...". I find the intro and those lyrics are a match made in heaven because to me it symbolizes this man having such an underlying yet flashy arrogance that he just can't hide it as it bubbles forth. That line "I had some dreams there were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee and..." has been decoded and left to many an interpretation. I take it to mean that something obstructed her "view" in terms of where she was in her life, but who knows. 

    Janet Jackson also sampled from this in her single "Son Of A Gun" off her album All For You. As with Carly, there was much speculation as to whom she was speaking of, who knows. There's a lot of symbolism and metaphors in this song. Only Carly Simon knew who she was and wasn't talking about. This song is kind of an anthem for some women, something they can relate to. Regardless of the target this song will always get an A+ from me. 



    Music Is...James Taylor



    Or JT, whichever you'd like to call him, that's a heavy name in the world of music.

    What made me want to step back and take a look at some of the music James Taylor has created is again due to my mom. She was looking up and down the house trying to find a CD of various songs of his that she burned. You should have seen her. Anyway, to make a long story short, she found it and had me immediately make another copy and I'm glad I did. I imported all the songs into my iTunes library and let my ears relax. I tell you, you never know how good something sounds until you listen to it after awhile. The photo above is just a random find. I assume it's from a concert or some sort of live appearance. I just wanted something showcasing what he does best, playing that guitar and making good jams. James Taylor has a large catalog of music. He's been doing his thing since the late 60's, and is still going strong. As with any artist, Taylor has his ups and downs. I like to look at the upside to things so I'll try to stick with that. From 1972 - 1981, he was married to Carly Simon. That relationship was inspiration for him to create some of my favorite songs of which she's been on the background vocals of a few. I've always felt that you can only write from a few influences: the past, what could have been, the present, what you want to be, and something totally fantasized. From what I've read and learned here recently James derived most of his songs just from life experiences and observances and hey, that makes sense to me. Main thing I have to say about this man that he plays one heck of a guitar. What gets me is not just the melody alone, but the fluidity of the song as a whole. The way the notes go in and out of each other always gets me. None of his songs are long at all, at least to me. I know that he's done numerous live performances and there is always room to improvise and stretch the song a little longer. I'm usually a fan of the original, but I'm up for a change. 

    Onto the music...I have many favorites. One would be "Fire and Rain" from his 1970 release of Sweet Baby James. New to me is the backdrop of the song, his battle with handling a friends suicide and his experiences in mental institutions. A messed up situation, however he was able to turn that into a memorable tune. This is the only song I've heard from this album so I'll have to listen to the others one day, but if this one song is any indication of the tone of the record, I look forward to it. 
    Skipping  about two years ahead, we have the release of the 1972 album One Man Dog. From this I decided to pick two songs to discuss. First up we have "Chili Dog". That's right "Chili Dog", and the title is pretty self explanatory. This man wants his hot dog with no onions, no sauerkraut, no relish, no ketchup either if I'm right. He does want mustard and, you guessed it, chili. As far as I'm concerned, any title that contains food is alright with me. Next is "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight". The chord progression is beautiful, and towards the last 40 seconds or so, I love the saxophone, I think its a sax. A really relaxing song overall and worth the time. 1975's Gorilla features "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)", originally by Marvin Gaye, with his then wife Carly providing some backup vocals. 
     From 1977 comes his eighth album (WOW) titled JT. This release featured many hits that I like, including "Your Smiling Face", "Handy Man", and "Terra Nova". Taking nothing away from the other singles, my all time favorite from this record would have to be "Secret O' Life" mainly because of its subtlety and how the theme of the song, which is letting things occur naturally and enjoying yourself, matches the melody and the tempo. Kinda smooth sailing. Like it says, "Try not to try too hard". I can't skip Flag(1979) and Dad Loves His Work(1981). The 79' album includes "Rainy Day Man", "Sleep Come Free Me" and "Up On The Roof", all excellent. The 81' record illuminates "Her Town Too", "That Lonesome Road", "Believe It Or Not" and "Hard Times". That one,"Hard Times", reminds me of The Commodores "Easy" released four years earlier, influence I guess. A single, off his debut album James Taylor, I saved for last is "Carolina In My Mind". This has been known as sort of an unofficial anthem for North Carolina, and being that NC has been my home for over 19 years, I couldn't ignore it. 

    I know I only skimmed the surface of 7 albums out of many, but it's clear to me that what is discussed here have a commonality between them. They all have withheld a sound that only James Taylor can produce. All of them have this smooth, folk sound at the base that give them a 'twang'. None of them are too flashy or over the top. Each song has a catchy beat, that can easily calm you down, cheer you up, even make you dance a lil' bit. Go ahead an throw on some JT, and I guarantee he wont let you down.

    Something to get you goin'.





    November 16, 2010

    Music Is...The Police: Every Breath You Take - The Classics

    Get it

    This type of record is known as a compilation album consisting of singles from other albums of the group or artist. Needless to say, The Police have racked up some hits that are definitely worth the recognition. Now I'm not telling you that you HAVE to listen to these songs, that you have to hear these great singles but, if nothing from The Police has pounded your ears just yet, I encourage you to start with this and then continue to familiarize yourself. The lable they were on, A&M, released this one in 1995. This compilation consist of a few singles that are revised a bit, but not at all to where it takes away the flavor. The majority of the singles where released during the late 70's to 80's. Though I've never listened to any of the individual records, I decided to look up the album each song was released on. 

    "Roxanne"
    "Can't Stand Loosing You"   Outlandos d' Amour
       
    "Message In A Bottle"
    "Walking On The Moon"   Reggatta de Blanc

    "Don't Stand So Close To Me"
    "De Do Do Do De Da Da Da"   Zenyatta Mondatta

    "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"
     "Invisible Sun"
    "Spirits in the Material World"   Ghost In The Machine

    "Every Breath You Take"
    "King Of Pain"
    "Wrapped Around Your Finger"   Synchronicity
     
    Though this was released in 95', I didn't fall in love with it until mid 2006 or so. Very rarely do I listen to a CD, and it turns out that I like the whole thing, well, I like the whole thing. I could nit-pick at little things here and there, but no song will go without that. Something about music from the 80's seems to have a certain sound to me. I can't really explain it, and it can't quite be duplicated. Personally, I could put on any one of these tracks during any point of the day and jam out and I find myself listening to Roxanne more often than any of them. It has to be among the most popular songs The Police have made but I like it for more than its popularity. To me, it's got this soft rock/reggae sound going on with it and I like that mix. Synesthetic too, for me every song is. I've mentioned that synethesia thing only once or twice if I'm right, and for those of you who know what I mean, I'd label this song red. Not because the lines, "Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light..." and "...Put on the red light" are repeated a few times over. Because of the meaning and how the melody fits the meaning. 

    All in a nutshell, every song is awesome. Here are a few to listen to.



    November 13, 2010

    Music Is...Gladys Knight

    The way in which Ms. Knight has established herself as an artist surely leaves a few things that are undoubtedly noteworthy. She is truly a lady who has maintained longevity in the music biz, and as far as I'm concerned needs no introduction, no nothing. I'm only 20 years old, but I've been listening to her music since I was in the womb, literally. I remember bobbing my head to the beat before I was known to the world......OK, that's a bit too far, but you get the idea. Once again I have to attribute my knowledge of this woman to my mom, who has definitely instilled the LOVE  of music in me. Personally, I don't measure music by its position on the Billboard charts, however many times it went gold or platinum, record sales or any of that. I just go by what I like.

    Gladys dished out a buffet full of hits as a solo artist and with the incomparable Pips. Its impossible to fully explain the vibe, feel, and impact of every song and record she's ever put out but I do believe I can name a few to satisfy the musical palate. This isn't necessarily in order so bare with me. The first song/album off the top of my head is 1974 "I Feel A Song". I've never listened to this record in its entirety, I have nonetheless listened to the title track. It is about the loss and recapture of love, a good man. What I visualize when I hear the song is depicted by the cover art of the record. I like the light watercolor's chosen. The fact that a flower is growing is what looks like barren or dry surroundings shows me that good has the ability to come out of what may seem like a bleak situation. 

    Lets see, we then have 1973 "Neither One Of Us". Again, a record from which I haven't heard everything, but I've heard a couple. The title track 'Neither One Of Us(Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)' and 'Daddy Could Swear (I Declare)'. Both of these songs are da bomb, seriously. 'Neither One Of Us' has such a smooth sound, like "butta". Now as my mom would say, there would be no new-school without old-school, and Angie Stone proved that to be so when she sampled it for 'No More Rain(In This Clouds)', which by the way is also like "butta". 'Daddy Could Swear' truly says what soul music is. Its an honest track about her dad. She's basically saying that it may have been so that he couldn't do very many things well, but when the time came he could swear, so the title is pretty self explanatory.  

    How could I even bring up Gladys Knight without mentioning the 1973 album "Imagination". This record spawned some of my favorites such as 'Midnight Train To Georgia', 'I've Got To Use My Imagination', 'Where Peaceful waters Flow', and 'Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me'. What I love most is the way the tempo shifts between faster and slower paces. 'Imagination' is uptempo and I find it fitting considering what it speaks about, "...got to keep on keepin' on". 'Midnight Train To Georgia', probably among the elite songs in the karaoke lineup, but by no means is it simply karaoke material. My favorite line, "Mmmmm, LA, proved too much for the man (Too much for the man, he couldn't make it)...", love it.
    This next plate of songs is from a soundtrack to the movie Claudine (didn't know that). Now, I've never seen the film, and again I haven't heard all the songs. I can say I've listened to 'Make Yours A Happy Home', which don't even get me wrong, I love. But......one of my absolute favorites hands down is 'On and On'. Something about that track get me up and moving. The melody, the upbeat tempo, the content, the way the words seem to bounce back off the beat. 'On and On' is truly about love and how it's simply nonstop.

    Ohh, and just for namesake, I like 'Love Overboard' too. So It goes without saying that Gladys Knight is an incredible songstress. Her voice has this wonderful contrast between silky smooth and grit. The music has withheld itself against a changing industry and changing taste. Haaa...feel much better now.

    November 03, 2010

    MUSIC IS......

    So many things to be said for what music is.

    Music is: learning, love, hurt, pain, joy, anger, frustration, relating, reliable, unique, different, enjoyable, excitement, in the moment, here, there, everywhere, commonality, comfort, consistent, life, experience, growth, wacky, goofy, silly, insane, laughing, yelling, chill, relaxed, laid back, lazy, slow, fast, major, funny, thrilling, dramatic, fantastic, over the top, art, showcasing, flamboyant, glamorous, lovely, ugly, dark, light, meaningful, low, corny, great.

    If I forgot to mention it, believe me I meant to. All in all, music is darn near everything.

    Music Is...In Living Color


    This is truly a blast from the past for me. In Living Color first aired April 1990. I had yet been born. Well, all that aside, I'm glad I was introduced to this crazy comedy show. I have to credit that introduction to my mom and good ol' VHS tapes. She recorded some bloopers and some full skits with different members of the cast. I love this show. I mean, there are tons of aspects that make it so memorable. The comedy (duh), the different skits and imitations, the characters, tons of parody's, the sets........(breathe). Need I say more? I could but I'll try not to drag on too long. Speaking of the skits, one of my favorites has to be Jamie Foxx playing Wanda. That gold, tight curly wig. The lipstick, bright dresses, and that phrase, "I am ret to go". Hahaha, what is 'ret'? I know it's ready but still. The way he could twist his lips up when he/she, it would talk, Jamie Foxx portrayed her to a tee.

    I'm all bout my music though, and that's the main facet that jogs my memory the most. There's just something about the sound of the 90's that has that "it" factor. Seasons 3 and 4 have the same intro they just introduced a few new comedians and actors to the scene. All and all I love everything about the show but that intro gets me every time.



    Music Is...Dawen - I Found Him On YouTube

    First let me say that I'm always for up and coming artists in the music industry and in my estimation this guy has what it takes.

    So, I was on YouTube a few months ago and I was looking up music covers for random songs. I didn't get too deep into my search when I stumbled upon Dawen's line of videos. One that caught my ear specifically was his cover of Usher - There Goes My Baby. I highly enjoyed it. He played guitar on this one, which made it all the better for me. A little past midway on the cover, he switches to En Vogue's 'Whats It Gonna Be'. I like that its a smooth transition rather than being rocky. The vocals aren't overdone or too loud. 


    He released an album recently titled American Me. On "Wake Up" just about everybody can relate to the subject matter. He talks about the typical stereotypes people have against him and that his looks don't determine everything. I haven't heard every song, but one in particular called "Just You" sounds really nice, very much worth the listen. 
    Here's a link to his site so you can listen for yourself - http://www.dawen.us/





    Lets Try This Again

    My apologies toward anyone who actually took the time to read or view my blog. I appreciate any viewership I get. I slacked off quite a bit as of late and I'll try not to take such a long time posting.

    September 25, 2010

    Music Is...My Cleaning Up The House Music

    This may be my favorite post of all.

    My cleaning up the house music is pretty extensive and sort of just happened on its own. First of all let me mention that my mom has always said to me that there wouldn't be "new school" without the "old school". I heard that so many times that it got to the point were I could tell when she was getting ready to say it. I willingly and gladly admit that she is so right, to me anyway. When I was little there was such a variety of music she played, particularly from the 80's and before, that I became "music blind" so to speak. What I loved more than anything was listening to them on her record player which she still has. I'm telling you, the sound of a record player is something that cant be mimicked, either its the real thing or its not. 

    Nowadays when it comes time to clean up the house, she always knows exactly what to play. Straightening up was when I became most familiar with a huge assortment of music. I can remember being about 7 or 8 years old, before I switched elementary schools, and seeing this album with five heads on it, black people, and the word "5ive". At that age I, wasn't too good at reading so I didn't know that the name above read Jackson. I know she would've had a fit if I touched it. Anyway, she always plays somethin that gets me more inclined to make sure things get done. 

    The list includes artists such as: (trust me, this doesn't event scratch the surface)
    • Aretha Franklin
    • Natalie Cole
    • Phill Collins
    • Whitney Houston
    • Barry White
    • Barry Manaloe 
    • Tony! Toni! Toné!
    • Mint Condition 
    • Mary J. Blige
    • Temptations
    • James Brown
    • Carly Simon
    • Fleetwood Mac
    • Dixy Chicks
    • Alan Jackson
    • Randy Travis
    • The Pointer Sisters 
    • Love Unlimited Orchestra
    • AC DC
    • Stevie Wonder
    • Gladys Knight and The Pips 
    • Elton John.....
      The list goes on and on truly. 

      The songs from these artists just create a homey feeling for me. They create memories that I doubt I'll ever forget. Earlier I said my cleaning up the house music was extensive, and that it is. If you don't know by now, I can't leave you without something to listen to. Here's some and I stress SOME of what the "Clean Up Woman" listens to:




      September 23, 2010

      Music Is...Video Games And Theme Music

      This post is along the lines of where I spoke about a few music videos that I like. Well to follow suit, these video games are those where it'd just be wacky to have any other theme music except the original, that's for the entire game including intros, endings, and stages. I just couldn't imagine anything else. I was born in 1990, so I don't remember everything but I know a lot. My cousins had these games before me so I had the opportunity to play many of them, and often. We played Sonic The Hedgehog more-often than anything else as far as I can remember, but eventually I got into a little bit of everything. Listed are theme songs from only three select games that I know many of you remember. Ahhhhh, memories. 

      (not every song is here, but these are the most memorable for me)

      I think you can play with Knuckles


      The game speaks for itself
       I remember for the life of
      me I couldn't get Guile's 
      Sonic Boom down pat until
      much later

      September 22, 2010

      Music Is...Plan B - The Defamation Of Strickland Banks

      Get it

      I don't know how many of you have heard of this London born artists, but I was introduced to his music around mid to end of July this year. I may have previously heard his name a time or two but it never went beyond that. However with only one hearing of this whole album, I have to say there isn't one song I don't like. The album is telling the story from the viewpoint of a concocted character named Strickland Banks, a British soul singer, and how his life takes a drastic ride downhill, hence his defamation.

      The two openers, "Love Goes Down" and "Writings On The Wall" are songs he performs in concert which lead you to assume he's talking about his girlfriend. "Stay To Long" then follow him and his crew through the night celebrating the successful concert which results in a one night stand with an unknown female. In "She Said" the woman becomes absorbed in Strickland's music and finds herself insanely in love with him. His feelings are far from the same, so he rejects her causing the woman to accuse him of rape. After the conclusion of the ensuing trial, Mr. Banks finds himself heading to prison narrated in "Welcome To Hell". 

      The rest of the songs describe prison life for him and how he copes. "Hard Times" and "The Recluse" detail Strickland's feelings of isolation and vulnerability. While inside he is confronted and abused by another prisoner. On "Traded In My Cigarettes" he says, "So I saved up all my cigarettes and I traded them in for a tool....I don't wanna hurt nobody but what choice do I have..." During the confrontation mentioned before, an inmate sentenced to life helps him put down the attacker and takes the blame for it. "Darkest Place" goes on to describe the guilt in his conscience for what has occurred. Strickland's initial frustration, rage and eventual acceptance of life in prison are expressed on two of the final three tracks "Free" and "I Know A Song". With the last track, "What You Gonna Do" Banks is in court again regarding new evidence brought to life on his case, leaving you to interpret whether or not he returns to prison or released. 

      I like the beats. The album has a 50's Motown vibe to it. His voice has and underlying raspy feel. As always, I cant leave you without a play-list.  



      September 17, 2010

      Music Is...The Song And Visual - I Cant Have One Without The Other

      For me there are certain music videos where the music and the video perfectly complement each other. I'm sure there are those of you have your favorites and feel just as I do. With me, the song is typically the first insight I have. I'll to take you on an expedition through the ABC's of a few of my inseparables from Ms. Jackson to show you what makes them my favorites.

      JANET JACKSON - ALRIGHT  
       "Alright" is one of those songs that, for me, gets stronger as the years go by. I love the beat, and I highly doubt that I'll ever take this one off repeat. I don't remember exactly when I heard this song but I know it was quite a few years ago. I immediately fell in love with it. There where certain sections that I anticipated.....Then I watched the video for the first time and that unquestionably sealed the deal for me. The whole nature of it attracted me. The atmosphere, her black and white pinstriped Zoot Suit, the choreography, the Nicholas Brothers, Cab Calloway. All of these components create a nostalgia that makes me want to experience that time period.
       
      JANET JACKSON - RHYTHM NATION (5,4,3,2,1)
       There are a million and one things that I could say about this joint right here, but I'll try to keep it at one million. This is a strong case in point. The whole project trumpets a firm militant core that can't be denied. The choreography is so tight and contains so much precision with the crisp movements that it makes me wanna drop down and give'em 50. Janet and her dancers was jammin in this one. With "The Pledge" as the interlude and introduction for the album and video, along with what is delivered in this fine tune package creates for me the pièce de résistance. 



      JANET JACKSON - IF
      I don't necessarily have a single favorite music video of hers, however If is definitely one I watch often. The saying goes that a picture says a thousand words, well I'll let you type If into the video  player above and watch those words in action.
      Just click the upward arrow in the bottom right corner.

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