Alternate title: “Music on Ben’s iPod”
Music is important to me. It was my major in college. It gets me through writing sessions, road trips, long card games and well, life in general. The first CD I ever purchased was the Presidents of the United States of America‘s self titled debut and I quickly followed it up with CDs from…. Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey? It makes sense.
I was a dorky trombone player playing in jazz competitions (with this guy), so I wanted music with, you know, trombones (big band was also music I could share with my late grandmother). I then became only slightly less dorky and fell in love with Reel Big Fish (horns + rock + sarcastic, witty, and sometimes evil lyrics hit me hard). From there everything else opened up. I dove into classic rock during college (it’s not a stretch to say that the Beatles saved my life my freshman year), got into indie rock and then went to Bonnaroo.
Bonnaroo has become somewhat of a yearly tradition between my friends and I. With everyone scattered around the country, it’s a nice destination to meet up and catch some shows together. The strength of the lineup can vary from year to year, but you always come home with at least two bands you can’t stop talking about.
This year, one of those bands was Beats Antique. I’ve been playing these guys for absolutely everybody. From AllMusic.com:
Their music incorporates Middle Eastern grooves, Balkan wedding music, flamenco, French Gypsy jazz, hip-hop, dub reggae, and other Eastern tonalities, all pulled together with electronica that won’t put off club kids, but will appeal to world music lovers as well. All of the bandmembers have a long history of innovative music-making behind them.
Sound fun? It is:
Beats Antique just released a new album, Elektrafone, on October 4th, but I’d recommend starting with either Collide or Blind Threshold (which contains a track with John Popper of Blues Traveler).
Another band I just recently found out about is the folk trio Pearl and the Beard. One of my librarian friends heard them “in a record store in Pittsburgh” and turned me on to them. When you do a youtube search their most popular video is this Will Smith medley, which is fun, but I much prefer their originals. They do this great bit with two melody lines going simultaneously and is just gorgeous:
Pearl and the Beard have a ton of music on their site (some free) but my favorite is the album God Bless Your Weary Soul…. They also have a bunch of live, intimate shows and videos on YouTube and I’ve been really impressed at how they utilize the internet to get their music out.
Pretty Lights is another musician who really uses the net to his advantage. Every single track he’s ever released is available on his website for free. You can donate money, but he just wants his music out there. His live shows end up being pretty freaking great. He does some fun remixes, uses vintage samples and creates some pretty catchy tunes:
The next band I want to share is The Joy Formidable, a group I stumbled upon flipping channels late night (they were playing Carson Daly). I came in during an instrumental break and at first I thought they were Explosions in the Sky. I (and others here at WFNY) am really digging their debut CD, Big Roar.
Some bands I really dug in college have released some new albums, with varying degrees of success. I like O.A.R.’s new album King more than their previous effort, but it’s not great by any means (though I am digging this song). I’m much more pleased with Guster’s new disc, Easy Wonderful. Full of fun, poppy songs, Easy Wonderful is my current “dance in my car like a moron and hope no one sees me” album. I can play this track 15 times in a row and not get sick of it:
Ever wanted to hear a punk bluegrass band? No? You sure? You might want to check out Old Man Markley. What if I told you that the band gets murdered by Big Foot in their music video? Still no? You’re missing out.
The final band I want to share with you is Fitz & the Tantrums. Odds are, you’re heard of these guys but if you haven’t, you need to check them out. Now. Their soulful single ‘Moneygrabber‘ is getting a ton of airplay but that’s not nearly the only great song on their sophomore album, Pickin up the Pieces.