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A new Christmas tune, from CeeLo Green and the Muppets

Generally, I’m very much a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas tunes: carols and Nat King Cole, that sort of thing.

But this hits my sweet spot.  What it has is sincerity.  CeeLo is not snarky.  He digs the Muppets, and he’s singing from the heart.  It may be somewhat slight musically, but it comes from the heart.

As they say, it’s the thought that counts. Mostly we don’t really “buy'” that—because we want someone to buy us that particular something tasty. But CeeLo and the Muppets remind us that all we need is love… Christmas can get pretty clichéd, but what sets the same old tunes, stories and so on apart is sincerity, heart.  And CeeLo’s got a big heart.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  If we put our thoughts and our heart into it.

(Jeez—am I sappy or what.)

Filed under: Music, , ,

Carolina Chocolate Drops – drop it like it’s sweet

This is what’s making me happy today…

Carolina Chocolate Drops, “Hit Em Up Style” – from the album Genuine Negro Jig

Ann Powers over on NPR’s All Songs Considered turned me on to this.  And turned on is right. Jazzed up. Knocked out.  Normally, in the past, this kind of roots music didn’t appeal to me, but I think Gillian Welch kind of opened my eyes/ears to being more receptive to what I had dismissed as “country” in the past.  This new alt bluegrass and roots music is amazing stuff.  New and old, deeply American, but in a way that is authenticate and interesting.  The racial dimension of Carolina Chocolate Drops is also compelling.  So much of what we take as American music comes out of this weird amalgam of Irish folk music and slave music that grew out African and Afro-Caribbean folk and native sounds.  As the LA Times described it, they “underline the connections between American bluegrass and folk with the genres’ little-known ancestry in Africa.”  And later that met up with Klezmer and Jewish music, when the other stuff hit New York and the songwriters and musicians working there, so many of whom were Jewish, starting working with it.

That’s the real American experience right there: Irish and British immigration, poor Irish getting off the boat and going straight into the maw of the American Civil War and ending up in Appalachia, slavery, Eastern European immigration in huge waves at the beginning of the 20th Century.  And it led to jazz, blues, r&b and rock. And then to alt bluegrass.

That’s what I like about America. That’s what people around the world like about America. Mitt Romney is the other America: lazy, stupid, arrogant, complacent, greedy, loud, utterly self-absorbed, contemptuous of other people and other cultures,  convinced that there is still a Manifest Destiny entitling people like himand his friends to get rich off the despoliation of the planet, and the exploitation and emiseration of others.

For more….

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[Musique] John Zorn & Fred Frith – Late Works

A cool album from some under-appreciated major figures…


Artiste : John Zorn & Fred Frith
Titre de l’album : Late Works
Année de sortie : 2010
Label : Tzadik
Genre : Improvisation libre, free jazz

Malgré les informations contradictoires que l’on peut glaner sur le web, Late Works marque le premier témoignage studio des improvisations barrées de John Zorn et Fred Frith, musiciens que l’on peut sans flatterie considérer comme des légendes vivantes de la scène alternative new-yorkaise. Rompus à cet exercice, ces deux-là s’étaient retrouvés dès 1994 avec The Art of Memory, auquel suivra un second volume en 2006 ; à l’instar d’un autre duo mythique formé au sein de l’underground nippon des années 70 par Kaoru Abe et Masayuki Takayanagi, seuls existaient des enregistrements live de leurs collaborations explosives. Saxophone et guitare électrique semblent ainsi être faits l’un pour l’autre quand il s’agit d’improviser librement – et dans un grand fracas. Amis depuis…

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Filed under: Music

Some Great Rock (and other) Albums, dirt cheap and digital from

Not that I necessarily think we should all start paying for digital music, and certainly is way too big and powerful and gets too much of our money already, but they have some pretty good deals on MP3 albums going right now. I think this may be the other shoe dropping from Apple’s aggressive move into the eBook marketplace… and perhaps to Google and Apple’s cloud music storage systems.

Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues – $2.99

Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon (2011 – Remaster) – $2.99

Crosby, Still, Nash & Young – Deja Vu – $5

100 Must-Have Movie Classics – $2.99 (3 cents each)

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (40th Anniversary Edition) [Remastered] (Remastered) – $5

Cat Power – You Are Free – $2.99

David Bowie – Heroes – $2.99

Queen – Greatest Hits – $2.99

Grateful Dead – American Beauty (Expanded US Release) – $2.99

Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More – $2.99

Let It Roll – Songs Of George Harrison [+digital booklet] – $2.99

Filed under: Music,

Admiral Fallow – The Paper Trench (video)

Although the single “Beetle in the Box” was released earlier in the year, with an animated lyric video to support it, the video released today for “The Paper Trench” marks the first proper music video to come out of Admiral Fallow’s soon to be released sophomore effort, Tree Bursts in Snow, the much-anticipated (by me at least) follow-up to their debut, Boots Met My Face:

On the first couple of listens, this already seems to me the best thing Admiral Fallow’s done so far – it has everything I liked about my favorite songs of Boots with some extra focus and clarity. There’s the lyrical density and strangeness (which the video of course accentuates), the foot-stomping moments that at times have an anthemic feel (though less so here than in tracks off Boots), combined with passages of sweetness and introspection.

“The Paper Trench” also shows Admiral Fallow inhabiting the same cultural space as in their earlier album, a Scotland more of housing estates than wind-swept moors and icy lochs.  In the video, an Ent-like creature, almost straight out of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, wakes up in the garbage strewn wasteland alongside one of those estates and the proceeds on a sort of tour of this strange new world, no longer Middle Earth in the regions of the Shire, but the United Kingdom and the suburbs of Glasgow.  Even leaving the realm of estates and suburban high streets and heading into downtown the Ent creature still doesn’t find anything to which to connect.  Stopping in a park to rest, weary from the strangeness and lifelessness of it all, a young lad sitting with his sweetheart carves a heart on him.  Finally, the Ent ends up in that other Scotland, looking down on one of those lochs, and it is clearly a kind of homecoming.

The video regularly cuts away from the Ent’s journey to scenes of the band playing in a wood-paneled interior, warmly lit by some old-fashioned floor lamps and sunlight from high windows.  To my mind, to almost looks like they are warming up for a village cèilidh in the rec room of some church or town hall, which I think connects up with the kinds of values and perspectives we’ve seen in the rest of Admiral Fallow’s music: they like to party, and for many of us there are few better parties than a cèilidh, but they also have a sweetness and simplicity, a folksiness and an interest in a more human scale of things – of music, of Scotland, of relationships.  Their’s is a music of storytelling, even in those more anthemic songs. And I always want to hear more.

Here’s the earlier video for “Beetle in the Box”:

For more…

Filed under: Music, , , ,

Admiral Fallow’s new album, Tree Bursts in Snow

Admiral Fallow’s 2nd album Tree Bursts in Snow, their much anticipated follow up to Boots Met My Face, will be released worldwide on Nettwork on May 21, 2012.

The album features 10 new tracks, including “Beetle In The Box,” “Guest Of The Government” and the new single, “The Paper Trench.” It was produced by Paul Savage at Chem 19 and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, NYC and has stunning artwork by artist Kezia Ruth Merrick.

The first single off the album, “Beetle in the Box,” has been available for a while, but it has just started receiving significant airplay. And it rewards repeated listening.  It’s very much in  the vein of the more contemplative, lyrically intense chamber pop of their first album in songs like “Dead Against Smoking” and “Subbuteo”:

An MP3 of the track is currently available free on

(And you can also pick up an MP3 copy of their first album if you haven’t got it already.)

“Guest of the Government” is more raucous and high-energy, more in the mode of “Squealing Pigs” off the first album. Here it is live from their sold out gig at ABC in Glasgow in late January:

You can also here three tracks over at DayTrotter, including “Beetle.”  These are intimate acoustic recordings and absolutely brilliant.

If like me you can’t wait to wrap your ears around the new album,  you can PRE-ORDER a copy from the band’s web site store now and get some extra special goodies thrown in with it when it is released.

For more..

Filed under: Music, ,

Flippin’ Awesome: Best LEGO music video ever

The official music video for the Afterlife remix by Camo & Krooked.
Animation by Namchild (based on ‘Duel’ by Lohenhart)

Filed under: Music, Toys, ,

We love… punk

Did I ever tell you about my first mohawk, or getting spit on by Bruce Loose?  No? Well, ancient history now, but this music video reminded me of why I enjoyed those things back in the day. You’ve probably already seen it – 9 million people have in the TWO DAYS since it was uploaded to YouTube – but in case you haven’t… meet Juliet doing her first hardcore:

World, Juliet. Juliet, World.  Enjoy.

She’s Australian. Of course.

For more on the scene here back in the day, check out San Francisco Punk Scene or Punk Turns 30.

Filed under: Music,

We love… Admiral Fallow

My big discovery from this year’s SXSW was Scottish band Admiral Fallow. Here they are with their first official video, for the song “Squealing Pigs” off their self-titled debut album:

It’s a great song, and one of the standouts on the album, but not my favorite. Just at the moment, I’m kind of stuck on the opening track “Dead Against Smoking” – literally, as I’m listening to it on repeat rather than letting the whole album play out. (You can listen, too – here.)  It starts out sweetly, with a clarinet in a minor key, then flutes and a gently strummed acoustic guitar. The sweet sound is mirrored in the opening lyrics: “You sleep like a kid / with one hand stuck fast to the side of your face. / Your backside in the air / mouth half open, but still filled with grace.”

Then the rest of the band comes in, and the song opens out and becomes something else – a man singing to his lover, about their fights and her refusal to quit smoking, and this strange, haunting chorus: “You’re like gasoline. / You’re like the willow tree. / You’re like a split-screen. / But you’re the green in me.” [full lyrics below the fold]

It’s a strange, lovely song, from a strange and lovely album. There’s not a bad track on it, I think. After that relatively subdued opening, it definitely kicks it up a notch with the song from the video, “Squealing Pigs” – but their folksiness, whimsey and intelligence stay in evidence all the way through.

Admiral Fallow seems to be on tour in the UK just now, based on the Twitter posts.  Hopefully we’ll see them back in the States soon.

For more on this great new band…

Jam of the Day | Admiral Fallow – Squealing Pigs
Admiral Fallow is a beeping awesome new band from the UK that is causing quite a stir in the land of the Scots. The band is fueled by young, foot-stomping and faintly maniacal singer/songwriter, Louis Abbott, who attributes his influences to the likes of Tom Waits, Elbow, Low and Mr. Springsteen himself.
(via Speakers in Code.)

Edinburgh Festival Gigs: Admiral Fallow @ Sneaky Pete’s 2010/08/11.
These guys are up-n-coming indie rock from Glasgow. Whimsical and fun, thoughtful and emotional, but not dreary and wrist-slitty like so much of this genre can be.
(via scotunes.)

And of course check out the band’s site as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Music, ,

Christmas Got Soul

“Christmas got funky, Christmas got soul!”

A great mix of Christmas tunes with “soul” is available from Any Major Dude With Half A Heart. Includes tracks by Al Green, The Staple Singers, Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder and many others.

Filed under: Music, , ,

My Favorite Things

Because I’ve been working on lists of favorites, and because it’s playing in this café right now… And because it is one of my favorite things…

John Coltrane, “My Favorite Things” – from My Favorite Things (1961)

Julie Andrews, “My Favorite Things” – from The Sound of Music (1965)

Filed under: Music, ,

Jonatha Brooke, The Works – and Woody Guthrie

Jonatha Brooke had a new album come out in 2008, The Works – I was out of the country which is probably why I am only hearing about it now. Here’s what she has to say about it over on her website:

I don’t think I’ve ever had such a creative high working on a record. I was inspired from the first trip to the Woody Guthrie Archives. Something magical happened and the melodies and the combinations of lyrics and prose just came together. I loved researching and hanging out with Nora, hearing stories about her dad. I definitely found a very different Guthrie than I expected. There is just so much nuance and beauty. And the musicians took the music beyond anything I could have dreamed. I know this record will speak to everyone. (via Jonatha Brooke.)

One of the songs on the album is “There’s More True Lovers than One.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.



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