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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, , , ,

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, ,

Surprise Music Video Mashup Pleasure

A good friend turned me on to an intensely pleasurable music video mashup that I encourage you to check out.  I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you exactly what is being mashed, except to say it involves a major figure in pop music history colliding with the Chinese Cultural Revolution…

Sadly, the video can’t be uploaded to YouTube as it stands because the music track is obviously copyright and gets stripped immediately. There are versions available on YouTube, one with no sound and one with an alternate version of the music [here], but you really need to hear it with the original song.

Filed under: Pop Culture, ,

Song of the Day: Cindy Blackman on drums

Guitars rock – kind of by definition – as Lenny Kravitz demonstrates in this video, but check out the drummer (and her awesome ‘fro):

(The video was done by Mark Romanek – a terrific music video director whose other work includes Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream” and Madonna’s “Bedtime Story.”)

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program for an interlude of political correctness: amongst all the things to take pleasure from in this musical video – above and beyond the drummer’s mad skills – are its rejection of some of the divisions of recent music: a black man who rocks out big time; and a female drummer. I mean, female bass players, sure, but how many female drummers do we see? And, no, Sheila E. doesn’t count – she’s a percussionist.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled program…

Another Kravitz video – if you can take your eyes of the pulchritudinous American women, notice how even the white guitarist has a ‘fro in this one – that drummer’s style is irresistible:

One last Lenny:

(A fine video – directed by Paul Hunter, showing how to make a relatively straightforward “band plays and audience dances” vid that has some style and verve.)

The drummer in all these videos is Cindy Blackman. While she’s probably best known for her terrific work with Kravitz, as seen here – providing a solid beat that powers this rock and also rolls with a rich variety of styles and real rhythmic complexity – much of her recording has been in the jazz world, under her own name and with a host of other artists. Blackman cites Miles Davis’ drummer Tony Williams as her main influence, and I think if you haul out the Lenny Kravitz albums and listen carefully to the drumming, you can hear that influence at work.

New York Times music critic Jon Pareles is another fan of her work with Kravitz: “Cindy Blackman on drums could switch from the splashy, sludgy style of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Mitch Mitchell to the casual economy of Ringo Starr to the crisp repetitions of James Brown’s funky drummers.”

Mike Zwerin, one of Miles’ drummers and a prominent jazz critic (writing for Village Voice and the International Herald Tribune), noted that “her strength is a variety of texture rather than one particularly evident style. She plays hard softly, aggressive but supportive, distinctive without encroaching.”

Earlier this year, Blackman released her latest album, Another Lifetime, to strong reviews. The talented line-up assisting Blackman on this album includes Vernon Reid, former front-man for “Living Color.”

Other Blackman releases include A Lil’ Somethin’ Somethin’: The Best of the Muse Years, Works on Canvas, and In the Now. She also has an instructional DVD, Multiplicity: Cindy Blackman’s Drum World. Ravi Coltrane, son of John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane, is a fixture on Blackman’s albums. You can review other works by Cindy Blackman on Amazon.com.

I discovered Cindy Blackman through the Lenny Kravitz videos, and so I chose to introduce her the same way. But here she is, doing her own thing in an instructional session from the 2008 Chicago Drum Show

And here, in a drum solo from a performance with Antoine Roney, Mark Cary & Rashaan Carter:

And there are lots more video clips of Blackman performing available through YouTube. Joe Bob Briggs says, “Check it out.”

Filed under: Song of the Day, , , ,

Song of the Day: Janelle Monae, “Tightrope”

Aggh! So great it makes both my frontal lobe and limbic system ache.

Janelle Monae, “Tightrope” – from the album The ArchAndroid (2010)

Great song. Great video. AMAZING dancing. Beautiful – people, singing, dancing, concept. It doesn’t get much better than this.

The thing it brought most to mind for me, on the first couple of listens (I’m going to be playing this all week – HEAVY rotation), was James Brown. In part for the funkiness, and the horn section, but mostly for the exuberance, the unrestrained, over the top pleasure, the gonad groove of it all. Like “Sex Machine” coming on at Melkweg or Nickie’s when you’re toasted enough to be loose, but not too toasted to jump, and everyone does jump onto the floor and throw it every which way.

It also made me think of another exuberant funky r&b dance song, Archie Bell & The Drells, “Tighten Up” (1968) – and there is something there, I think, beyond just the connection of the names.

(thanks to GreatDismal for the hook-up)

Filed under: Song of the Day, , , ,

Song of the Day: Janet Jackson, “If”

One of Janet Jackson’s best. It has a very different vibe from the spunky, pop-y, chubby-cheeked fun of her earlier album Control (1986)—which featured songs such as “What Have You Done For Me Lately” and the title song, “Control” (great ‘performance’ video). Although she sings about being “all grown up” in “Control,” she’s still just a cute teenager on that album.

By her fifth studio album, 1993′s janet., from which the song “If” comes, she really is all grown-up, a mature and very sexy adult—as she makes clear with the cover. And that mature, sexual woman is all over the album’s two big hits, “If” and “That’s the Way Love Goes”—both of whose success got a considerable boost from having great music videos, which displayed to full advantage her new adult and hip, rather than kid and cute, persona.

It’s impossible for me to separate the song “If” from its music video. Probably like most people, I first encountered the song on MTV—which was possibly at the height of its powers in that period—and the video is so striking that there’s no getting away from it. Maybe I wouldn’t like the song so much if it weren’t for the video; we’ll never know.

It was directed by Dominic Sena, who got his start doing videos for Jackson, but has since gone on to feature films, including Gone in Sixty Seconds (fun) and Swordfish (embarrassing). The setting for “If” is a cyberpunk fantasy, like something out of a William Gibson novel, Idoru for instance—a futuristic, postmodern nightclub, in which people lounge around indulging in voyeurism through a web of surveillance, sporting clothes and haircuts that are a melange of Asian and punk.  It’s very stylish, and Janet’s dancing has seldom been better.

The video for the other hit off janet., “That’s the Way Love Goes,” was directed by René Elizondo, Jr and features then-unknown Jennifer Lopez dancing and doing backing vocals:

Filed under: Song of the Day, , ,

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zerode

is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, film buff and occasional reviewer, and former private detective. 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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