Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Boob Tube: Parental Control

Okay so that's a new designation but television is an electronic medium that transmits entertainment so I had to come up with some clever name for it.

Anyway, Parental Control is one of MTV's offerings, continuing their trend of offering as little music related programming as humanly possible for a channel whose name includes the word music. On it, young people between the ages of 18-25 are in the midst of romantic relationships that their parents are not too fond of. So the parents interview a cavalcade of crazy candidates to date their son or daughter. Each parent picks one person and their children go on dates with each of them while the current significant other watches with the parents and makes slick ass comments and the parents make half-assed attempts at sounding just as cool. Then the child returns, "thinks really hard," and chooses one.

Now this is nowhere near must see TV. It's honestly something to throw on when you're bored and you don't want to watch a bad talk show, classic sports, or A Baby Story. Its primary attraction is the crazy sets of parents, children and significant others who are all so forthcoming with their oddities and such. But today, the mini-morning marathon I happened upon after I was Sportscentered out was very captivating. For one, all three featured minority families (2 Asians, 1 Black). Even more amazing, in all three, the child chose one of their parents' picks. That never happens. Most often, the child sticks with the annoying significant other, because when you are only 19, how often are you trying to please your parents?

The best episode was the one with the black family. Of course they had some appleheaded little girlfriend who had some serious mouth. But the parents were also just as raunchy. At one point the mother actually said "At least she knows how to hold some wood," and then gave a high five to her husband. Are you kidding me? Did that just happen? Man I wanted to watch BET so bad after that. I just missed black people. And when Applehead was dissed in favor for a white girl who took him on a ropes course, she really was pushing the camera away and really looked seriously heated. usually when one gets dissed, they are calm and collected and offer some barb meant ot inflict remorse to the disser. Instead she was just repeating like "Oh no, he'll see." I wanted to see like what happened after. Did she slash tires? Key a car? Some other psycho ex move?

It also got me thinking that all the minorities went with one of their parents picks. Now usually the white people that are regularly on the show stick with their current relationship. Is there something about the minorities that makes them more compliant with their parents wishes? Or maybe are the minorities more open to change? Questions to ponder. I'm not exactly ready to call MTV for all tapes of Parental Control to prove my theory but the brain was burning through it today.

Anyway really don't watch the show unless you have nothing to do. It seems like it would make a great drinking game show somehow.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Announcement: Last.fm 5.000th Song

Yeah that thing on the bottom of my page is something that tracks my music for the site Last.fm which is like an international musical MySpace. I got friends in Norway and such and I might add one from Australia. Anyway, during my return I accumulated my 5,000th track played. Wanna know what it is?

(Drum roll please)

T.I. - Why You Wanna

What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. Yes it's one of my favorite tracks but #4,999 was Al Green - Simply Beautiful which is equally as good (actually superior) but I only recently discovered in non-sampled form (Talib Kweli - Good To You).

Thought I'd pass that along.

Also I might as well update Vocal Arts Month. Its been hard at times. I allow myself some rap from time to time but I find myself looking for the more melodically inclined hip-hop (like my new favorite Jean Grae - The Place Is Here (ft. Phone of Little Brother). They call themselves the Ashford & Simpson of hip-hop and there's a stretch that totally makes my day.). And added blessing is that I have rediscovered the beauty of Christian music and I think Mary Mary has entered the hallowed pantheon of gospel artists you cannot speak badly about to Adam (This list includes Richard Smallwood, BeBe & CeCe, The original Winans, Take 6, and dc Talk circa Jesus Freak)

More posts to follow.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Observation: Wow

I'm appreciating music so much right now in the midst of my Halleglory playlist. Isn't it amazing that God has bestowed us with this gift music? To think that a range of sounds arranged in a random pattern that our bodies ultimately recognize in rhythm and tone is responsible for so much influence in our lives. For the past couple of minutes I have been dwelling on the drum patterns n the songs I'm listening to which include Virtue - Put Your War Clothes On and June April - Up Yonder. It amazes me how each drummer (or maybe drum machine) manipulates the space in between each of their movements, micromanaging the silence and sound together. Truly brilliant stuff this music. Thank God for it.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Notes: Kinda Throwback Neo-Soul

Erykah Badu - Mama's Gun
Angie Stone - Mahogany Soul
D'Angelo - Voodoo
Kindred the Family Soul - Surrender to Love
Musiq - Juslisen

Okay so today was the announcement of Vocal Arts Month so what better way to dive in than playin some neo-soul from the turn of the millenium. These were albums that had primary space in my CD player at the time and before I learned the magic of MP3's.

I selected these rather randomly. I just went to directories where I knew the stuff I wanted to listen to would be and just let my eyes and mouse come over. This choice was off the beaten path but the rewards were so good. I never appreciated Ms. Badu's second studio album completely. It's only through off chances that I have realized how good it was. Mama's Gun was a phenomenal record. I skipped Penitentary Philosophy because it was a rocker and I didn't want to rock at that point. But quickly jumping through the J Dilla helmed My Life, ... & On, and Cleva, there was just so much cool vibe overflowing the room. After those tracks, every dose was easy to take. And when they were good, their satisfaction factor improved exponentially. The epic closer Green Eyes is a mini-suite with three movements. It begins with a bluesy jazz theme then moves into two much more contemporary soul grooves. She starts with a silly chanteuse song about jealousy that molds into a modern discussion over a dissolving relationship. Quite the experience.

Next up on the docket was Mahogany Soul from Angie Stone. I forgot how amazingly structured this album was. It was so good that my father even asked me for a copy and that's saying something for him. The best way to describe it is just what you would imagine a soul album in the early 70s would have sounded like. Funny enough Stone resembles a modern day Roberta Flack to some degree. Throughout the album, she comes with amazing grooves and vocals that never overpower but never shy away from the music either. From top to bottom it is just a treat to listen to.
Tracks to Check: Soul Insurance, Brotha, Snowflakes, Pissed Off, More Than A Woman, Wish I Didn't Miss You, The Ingredients of Love, Makings of You (Interlude)

I thought it would be cool to go from Angie to her baby daddy, D'Angelo. Now D'Angelo is a sad story. Basically the man who made it alright for labels to sign artists with that neo-soul sound, career derailed by drug addiction. His initial offering was Brown Sugar, a tight 10 song collection that drew upon soul, gospel, and even rock to baptize ears and probably brought about the birth of numerous children. The follow up was 5 years coming in Voodoo and it was obvious when one listened that Mr. Archer had gone more existential in his ideas. A lot of people didn't like Voodoo too much. Gone were the more neatly packaged love messages that populated Sugar, replaced with what sounds like jam session after jam session. That's probably what happened. D'Angelo and his pre-selected band would go into the lab and just kick around ideas, kinda like a old school jazz quartet. It helps when ?uestlove is your drummer, James Pyser is on keys, and Pino Palladino is playing bass for you. To this day, if I want to hear a D'Angelo record from start to finish, this is what I put on, even if it is not as singable. What he gives up in packaging, he makes up in just musicality. Roy Hargrove plays trumpet on the jazzy Spanish Joint and his reworking of Roberta Flack's Feel Like Makin' Love just grooves. The fact that the average length of the songs is over 5 minutes is a strength and not a detraction.
Tracks to Check: Well everything in order but specifically The Root, Spanish Joint, Greatdayndamornin'/Booty, Untitled (How Does It Feel?), Africa

That live instrument thing must have been influencing my brain cause the next stop was Kindred the Family Soul, a 7 member band fronted by a married couple who share vocals. Their first album, Surrender to Love, is an introduction to their daily life an dhow they operate. And it's obvious that they operate with a groove. Even the slow songs have a swaying element to them. Fatin maintains a gritty tenor voice and Aja has a rich yet airy soprano that brings tenderness and strength to each note she touches. The breakthrough on this album is Far Away, a moving jam if there ever was one. This song should have found itself on at least 5 black movie soundtracks, but sometimes what should happen doesn't always manifest itself. Amazing document to love anyway.
Tracks to Check: Rhythm of Life, Far Away, Stars, I Am

Last but not least was the recently rediscovered Juslisen from Musiq. I remember when I got this record. I was curious because I thought his first album might have been a fluke. Here he was dropping the Soulchild from his moniker and I just thought "someone got too full of themselves." But he really did surprise with this one. Its a much tighter and listenable album than the first one. The sequencing is phenomenal with an excellent balance of slow, mid-tempo, and quick grooves. Where I usually skip ballads, for some reason I am rendered helpless when listening to Musqiq. Not because the songs are so good, but they just fit right where they're supposed to. Another one of those albums that I had no trouble just leaving in and not fidgeting with the controls.
Tracks to Check: Newness, Religious, Realove, Dontchange, Future

Announcement: February Is Vocal Arts Month

That's just a really big way of saying that I will be trying to listen to only music that features singing primarily. This decision was made as I was cleaning the house and looking for a song to sing and my mind drew a blank. I used to have a repertoire and now I sadly find myself flagging. Oh Stevie what have I done.

So we're going to try to head back to that place.