Monday, June 27, 2011

Tom Waits

Tom Waits is an eclectic singer-songwriter and composer born in 1949.  His distinctive voice has become renowned as his trademark 'growl', consisting of a rather raspy, gravelly folk styling.  His songs feature extensive vamping - with blues and jazz incorporated , vaudeville experience.  His melodic songwriting incorporates a lot of melodic, major key tonality.

Throughout his career, he has built up a distinctively unique music persona unlike any other.  His cult following persists, even after having had little support from radio and music video venues.

He has been nominated for several major music awards, has won a Grammy, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Tom Waits performing in Prague, 2008

Most of his songs have been remixed and covered by more popular bands, thus giving Tom Waits a lot of indirect attention.  He is steadfast in his refusal to allow his songs to be featured in commercials, and often jokes about artists who do.  After winning a law-suit against Frito-Lay in 1988, he became the first artist to successfully sue a company in regards to an un-permitted impersonator. 

To date, he has released over 23 albums and has been signed with numerous record companies.  Today, he continues to parlay his success the way that musicians were meant to;  with a steady following of fans who genuinely love the music that he loves to create.

P.S. The song has a 30 second intro before the music actually starts.  Hang in there!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bloodhound Gang

The Bloodhound Gang is a 5-man rap-rock group most notorious for their blunt innuendos, satire and candid humor.  There is nothing they won't make fun of.

The band is originally from Pennsylvania, and was put together by lead singer Jimmy Pop.  They pride themselves on being both immature and uncouth, but with an electric wall-o-sound that has prudently evolved since their band formed in 1991. 

Their songs feature a lot of political and pop-culture satire, with hard rock roots and extensive vamping.  Lead singer  Jimmy Pop explains that it 'makes us feel better' to 'hurt everyone's feelings'.  Columbia Records shared their comedy styling and released their first album 'Use Your Fingers' in 1995.

In 1998 their hit single 'Along Comes Mary' became  the inaugural track to the stoner comedy Half-Baked.  However, their true breakthrough came with their 2000 release of Hooray For Boobies.  With infectious songs like 'Bad Touch' and the 'Ballad of Chasey Lain', they finally started drawing huge audiences and were able to tour Europe with their ever-growing fan base.

Their last album was Hefty Fine, released in 2005 and still continues to evolve their sound.  This band was a huge inspiration for my musical endeavors, and I urge you to listen to them!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cole Porter

Cole Porter was born June 9, 1891.  Drawn towards musical theater at a young age, he defied the wishes of his grandfather to begin a profession in music. 

Unlike many of Broadway's composers, he was both a lyricist and songwriter.  By the 1930's, he was arguably Broadway's most prominent and influential comoposer.

Many of his timeless hit have been covered, imitated, remixed and accredited throughout the decades.  He was most renowned for songs like "Night and Day", "I Get A Kick Out Of You", and "I've Got You Under My Skin", and has composed songs for many films throughout the 30's and 40's. 

His songs feature a classically trained, big-band sound.  His lyrics are cleverly suggestive, with an intelligent rhyme scheme.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Calvin Harris

Scottish music producer, artist, and deejay Calvin Harris was only 22 when his first major-label album was dropped.

Born in January 1984, this guy is the same age as me!  He became interested in electronic music very early, and was recording demos in his bedroom by 1999.  He went from posting his 'electroclash' music on MySpace to signing with a multinational record label almost instantaneously.  In 2006, an Artists & Reportoire delegate heard his music, contacted him, and immediately signed him to a major label.

His debut album, entitled 'I Created Disco' was released the following year and featured two top-10 hits.  Soon enough, he was remixing works by Jamiroquai, All Saints, and the Brazilian new rave sensation, CSS.   A collaboration between him and Dizzee Rascal hit #1 in the U.K.  He continues to pump out #1 hits, with songs like "I'm Not Alone" and "Acceptable in the 80's".

He already has multiple number 1 hits, and is becoming more and more prominent every year.  His songs exemplify colorful disco and electronic influences with a modern r&b styling.  His vocal work features very soothing, yet powerful tonalities with excellent vocal harmonies and melodic phrasing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

La Roux

Fiery haired and French Elly Jackson is the daughter of Actress Trudie Goodwin.  She is one half of the synth-pop project "La Roux" (the red-haired one).

As a child, she was a fan of folk music artists like Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake, from which she drew much inspiration for her earlier work.  As she grew and developed her music, her sound began to evolve into a more electronic brand.

In 2006, she began working with keyboardist and music producer Ben Langmaid.

Their debut single, "Quicksand" was released in 2008, and instantly became a hit, earning the band much acclaim in the U.K.  The next spring, their second single "In for the Kill" debuted at number 11, and their third single, "Bulletproof", debuted at number 1!

Though her sound continues to evolve and change paces, the headnodic beats of their first, self-titled album is renowned for its 80's influence, danceable beats, and ambiguous storytelling.  Her entire album is great; the celerity of her songs are overall very appealing and receptive, while maintaining a pace with which many artists can't parallel.

Many artists have remixed this song.  The Skream remix has made it a dub step classic, and was used in the 2010 trailer for the Sega console game Bayonetta.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Afrika Bambaataa

Kevin Donovan is an American DJ from New York, born on April 19, 1957.  Most people are familiar with his work as Afrika Bambaataa.  With quite a considerable reputation, he is considered The Father of the Electro Funk Sound, the "Grandfather" of Hip Hop, and a legend in his spare time.  His influence, and thus hip hop culture, has spread worldwide.

As a child from the Bronx, and the son of an activist, he was subjected to very conflicting ideologies.  In a life of gangs, he was always charismatic, becoming warlord of the Black Spades.  A trip tp Africa showed him how he could use his charisma to enhance relationships with his community  and promote peace.   In 1982, Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force released Planet Rock, which went gold.
He has performed all over the world with a plethora of fellow legends, and he was one of 9 nominees for 2008's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction.  Afrika Bambaataa's songs include new wave influences, danceable beats, and rhythmic rhyme schemes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sam Sparro

Sam Sparro is an electro-funk music producer from Australia.  He is signed to the British Island Records, and is also a child actor.  Gospel-trained vocals and multi-instrumental, his songs are danceable,  state-of-the-art productions.  His sound is said to compare with that of Prince, Jamiroquai, and the Gap Band.

In 2002, while working in a coffee shop, he wrote his hit single "Black and Gold".  His songs feature disco influences, and like most of the songs I post here, feature soothing melodic phrasing and a subtle use of vocal harmonies, with a modern rhythm and blues styling.   I guess that's my style.
He released a six-track EP in 2007, and a self-titled record in 2008 after signing with British Island Records.  I would call this 'flamboyant, gangster electronica'.  But, regardless of labels, this song rocks.  Check out his Black and Gold video!  It's awesome!