Friday, April 29, 2005

Fixed Link

The title of this post sounds kind of like the name of a band. I picture this imaginary band playing ambient electronica with either an 8-bit sound or a Tree Wave style to their music (i.e. their instruments would consist of old computer hardware).

But I knew there was an actual point to this post. Oh yeah. It was brought to my attention that the link to the song "Busride & Carsick" in the David Fridlund post was not working properly. This error on my part has been fixed. As Kurt Cobain would say, "All apologies."

Thursday, April 28, 2005

DJ Olive

Gregor Asch (a.k.a. DJ Olive)

Need a little more ambience in your life? Or, to be more specific, some more ambient music? Then I give unto you DJ Olive, one of the better ambient composers out today. His particular style is what one might call "ambient dub," which is basically a mix of ambient techno and reggae beats. His songs are generally very laid back and easy-going, but never dull. DJ Olive manages to avoid the traps that a lot of other electronica composers fall into by not being overly repetitive. His music does contain loops, but it seems that he's frequently making slight changes or adding in new sounds or even drastically altering the beat while maintaining the same feel, all to keep the listener engaged in the music. There also seems to be no moments of completete silence in his music, so when listening to one DJ Olive song right after the other (i.e. a full album), you really get a sense of his music being one cohesive composition.

Buy DJ Olive's album Bodega

DJ Olive - Round Fire Strut
DJ Olive - Crossunder

The following song, "Coonymus," is not from Bodega. It is from a compilation album called BBQ Beets II: The Return of the Yams that was released by The Agriculture just as Bodega was.

DJ Olive - Coonymus

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

David Fridlund

David Fridlund

You may already know of David Fridlund as the frontman of the Swedish indie pop band David & the Citizens. Recently, he recorded a solo album called Amaterasu, which is very similar to his work with the Citizens yet somewhat simpler. While I'll admit to not having heard much of their material, the songs I have heard were grand compositions with mutltiple layers of instrumentation that created an orchestral feel similar to Ben Folds's music. David Fridlund's solo material has some of that unabashed extravagance, but overall the compositions are more down to earth and somewhat minimalist.

However, there are three things that have remained unchanged between the two projects. One is David Fridlund's somewhat unconventional vocal delivery. His singing voice is one of those things that you'll either love or hate; you'll either love it for being evocatively honest and down to earth or hate it for being simple and unrefined. The second thing that remains unchanged is Sara Culler's frequent contributions. Her voice is probably acceptable to more people because of her sweet, smooth delivery. The third thing that hasn't changed is Fridlund's bitter lyrics that often defy the tune over which they're sung.

Sara Culler

For example, "April & May" has a playful, light-hearted tune conveyed by the gentle intonations of the piano that makes one think of the pleasantness of springtime. There is also some beautiful harmonization between Sara Culler and David Fridlund. However, most happy songs don't start off with the lines, "Caught like a fish out of water / a hand in the fire, a heart on display," or pleadingly desperate chorus that goes, "April & May are you ok? / talk to me, say I don't have to go that way / pictures in frames - all misplaced."

Songs like "White Van" and "Busride & Carsick" sound a bit more like previous works by the Citizens than other tracks on Ameterasu. "White Van" is one of the more conventionally arranged songs on the album and keeps with the trend of the tune defying the lyrics. Once agains, Sara Culler provides a beautiful performance.

However, "Busride & Carsick" is a little less conventional and the tune relates to what is being conveyed in the lyrics. This song has a slightly erratic structure and definitely has a hectic feel to it. If I were to make a mix CD called "Songs for Rush Hour Traffic," this song would make the list. And lyrics convey feelings of chaos as well. I interpret it as being a song about being unable to get away from somewhere and someone. First it starts out describing the town, "Down where the road turns / and the buildings grow high like rockets / Shooting into the sky, in the countryside," then describing the escape and whom he's leaving, "bus ride and carsick and lovesick; that's when I felt it / thank you darling for being a friend / next year this time, I'll see you again," and then later in the song, "back in that small-town where the stupid is king, / smart kiss the ground." It strikes me that he doesn't want to be near this town or the person he's talking about in the song (most likely a lover of some sort). And yet he keeps ending up back in that same town no matter how many times he leaves. A very bitter song and definitely one of the best tracks on Amaretasu.

Buy David Fridlund's solo debut Amaterasu

David Fridlund - April & May
David Fridlund - White Van
David Fridlund - Busride & Carsick

On another note, I hate having to repost when the previous entry was eaten.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Takanori Ishikawa

Takanori Ishikawa (a.k.a. T.M.Revolution (a.k.a. Takanori Makes Revolution)) is a superstar in his home country of Japan where he has performed for audiences of 20,000 people, has provided music for Gundam Seed, and has even done voice acting for the previously mentioned anime as well as Rurouni Kenshin. But despite his popularity in Japan, he had been entirely obscure in the United States until 2003 when he made his first U.S. appearance at Otakon, a large anime convention in Baltimore, Maryland, where he performed in front of up to four thousand anime fans. Later that same year, a California-based record company called Tofu Records opened for business. With a mission to bring "the best Japanese music to the United States" they included T.M.Revolution in their roster, thus making his music available to the American public. But even so, T.M.Revolution is still something of an obscure commodity here in the States, which is why I bring you his music today.

Seventh Heaven is T.M.Revolution's most recent release in the United States. A friend of mine who had been to his Otakon concert first played Seventh Heaven for me in his car. That was my first real exposure to j-pop (Japanese pop) outside of anime. That first listen was an incredible experience; it was practically a brand new genre to me performed by an artist with immense talent. Although I will admit that Takanori Ishikawa's androgynous good looks threw me off at first. Man or woman? I didn't know. And the weirdness factor just increased by the fact that there were two of him on the cover of Seventh Heaven and he was shown hugging himself. But eventually the musical experience took over my mind.

I think it was the song "Zips" that really got me hooked. The fast-paced, chugging guitars really catch your attention. Then other elements add on until the guitars disappear into the background. But those guitars are sneaky little buggers. They've drawn you into the music before it ever reaches its peak. Sneaky guitars... Clever T.M.Revolution...

One of the other highlights on Seventh Heaven is "Engraved on the Moon," which is a more midtempo song than "Zips." However, it still keeps the energy levels high and has a particulary memorable chorus. The words aren't all that memorable since I don't speak a lick of Japanese, but the musical structuring of the chorus makes it sticks to your brain like a musical glue. I just know that I'll alternately be humming that chorus and "Zips" as the day goes on. Tricksy T.M.Revolution...

Buy T.M.Revolution's album Seventh Heaven

T.M.Revolution - Zips
T.M.Revolution - Engraved on the Moon

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Flys

The Flys

So who here remembers the Flys? Not the punk band from the 70's. I'm talking about the one-hit wonder from the late 90's who made it big with their song, "Got You (Where I Want You)." You don't hear it on the radio nowadays, but it was popular back in '98. The thing is that they were pinned down to that one song. Once it drifted out of the mainstream, so did the Flys. I bet almost nobody remembers them now. That's pretty disappointing consindering they were an incredible band that produced some very nice music.

Take "Got You (Where I Want You)" for example; it's the best song off of their major label debut, Holiday Man. It has everything that a great pop song should: a memorable riff and hooks galore. Adam Paskowitz's laid back, dry vocal delivery works well against the smooth steady guitar work of Peter Perdischizzi. Nicky Lucero shows off his great drumming skills, going from a heavy pounding during the verses to a more easy-going style during the chorus. From verse to chorus, it seems like the song is going from emotional pleading to a more traditional pop-like crooning. Then everything goes wild once the guitars start really blazing and Joshua Paskowitz, Adam Paskowitz's brother, starts his chaotic rapping. The song takes on entirely new connotations from then on.

When I was 15, I used to interpret this song as being a lonely guy dreaming about this one woman and not actually getting anywhere with her despite him saying, "Got you where I want you." When considering the previous interpretation, that line emphasizes the fact that its own untruth and he is living in his own little fantasy world. Basically, when he says, "Got you where I want you," the self-delusion of that statement embeds himself further in his own fantasy.

Now I think the song can be interpreted another way: as a player hitting on women, playing with their emotions, and saying all the right lines so he can get some action. The part where Josh Paskowitz starts rapping is when the player starts getting it on, hence the semi-indecipherable lyrics:

Suffer, suffer
You don’t get no rougher
Rub it up, baby girl
Torture me like no other
Suffer, suffer
You don’t get no rougher
When you rock me, baby
Put your thing on me, lover

But then again those lyrics are open to many interpretations. Are those the words of a player getting rough with his woman or the words of a desperate man lost in his fantasies with the woman of his dreams? Or is it something else entirely?

But enough of that song and my half-witted analyses. As I said before, the Flys have a lot more quality material in their repertoire than just "Got You (Where I Want You)." Holiday Man itself is an incredible album full of excellent songs. Take "Groove Is Where You Find It" for example, a mid to low tempo track with a funky, psychedelic groove that pumps out of your speakers with mind-altering power. This is the kind of song that would go well with one of Winamp's basic visualizers. All those colors and shapes flying around the screen in this psyched out collage of trippiness. Whoa, that sounds awesome. I'll be right back.

Okay, I'm back and adequately grooved, baby. Conveniently enough, this state of mind is perfect for the next song I wish to discuss, "Sexual Sandwich." This is a smooth, soulful, funky, and slightly silly number that gently caresses your ear drums like the cool, evening breeze of a tropical beach. Adam Paskowitz truly shows just how much vocal range he has as his soulful voice soars over the 70's flavored stylings of this song. Very fun track and it makes for a great sing-along when you're by yourself. And depending on what you're into, it could be used as a great make-out song.

Buy the Flys' debut album Holiday Man

The Flys - Got You (Where I Want You)
The Flys - Groove Is Where You Find It
The Flys - Sexual Sandwich

I never heard any new songs by the Flys play on the radio after "Got You (Where I Want You)" disappeared. This confuses me considering that they released an album in 2000 called Outta My Way that was just as good as, even if somewhat of a departure from, Holiday Man. The major difference between the two albums is that the Flys lost a lot of their funk and rap influence and focused more on straight ahead rock 'n roll in between the two albums. This may have had something to do with the departure of Adam Paskowitz's brother, Joshua, who was the rapper of the group.

But as I said before, Outta My Way is just as good as Holiday Man. If you require proof showing that the Flys still kept the quality high with their second album then I give you the radio worthy "Losin' It." As far as I know, this song could have had radio exposure in areas other than Maryland, where I live, but I don't think it did. Such a shame. The song is a really catchy, uptempo number that is guaranteed to have you dancing on your feet and singing along. Well, you might just end up tapping your toes or nodding your head slightly. But I can guarantee a pleasant reaction.*

Buy the Flys' album Outta My Way

The Flys - Losin' It

*Writer's Note - Pleasantness is a non-refundable item. If you were not pleased by "Losin' It" then that's your own damn fault and I can't do a thing about it.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Killer Cuts

I would like to apologize for the lack of posting in recent times. Things have been hectic on our end, but now Glenn and I have taken steps to make sure that posts will be up more frequently. It used to be that I would send Glenn any files that I wanted to post, since we're using his server, then he would deal with them when he had the time. But Glenn has an increasingly busy schedule, so he just gave me server access so I could deal with my own files in a timely fashion. In short, more KRUD for you. So let's start things off by posting a full album.

Yes, Rare produced music too

Remember Killer Instinct? It was a fighting game for the Super Nintendo with a velociraptor, a skeleton, a killer robot, a man of fire, and a werewolf among other assorted characters. The main drawing points of Killer Instinct were, of course, the unique characters, the insane combos, and the nice graphics. But one of the most overlooked features of the game is its incredible soundtrack. Killer Instinct's developer, Rare, felt so confident in the soundtrack that they released it on a CD called Killer Cuts with redone versions of all the songs feature in the game.

Killer Cuts (Front Cover)

Killer Cuts (Back Cover)

I have heard different stories about how and where people got copies of the soundtrack. I got mine back in the day when I bought a new SNES to replace my broken one. The system came with Killer Instinct and Killer Instinct came with the soundtrack. I've also read that Rare sold the soundtrack apart from the game in Europe. I have no idea how other people may have obtained copies of the soundtrack before online distribution became really big. All I know is that you're not going to find any new copies of Killer Instinct in stores and I have yet to find the soundtrack for sale anywhere. That's why the entire album will be available here at Radio KRUD... for a limited time, of course.

That's a mighty good deal considering you're getting a decent variety of quality music from one album. A lot of the tracks are reminiscent of dance music from the late 80's to the mid 90's when the synth sounds of the 80's were blending with newly developing hip hop beats. Consider the first two tracks, "K.I. Feeling" and "The Way U Move"; they sound like something Technotronic, C+C Music Factory, or even Deee-Lite might have produced. Track 2, "Controlling Transmission", delves more into the realm of techno and sort of steers away from the old-school dance grooves. Track 3, "Oh Yeah", continues with that techno trend but explores more ethnic sounds. Track 4, "It's a Jungle", explores those worldly trends even further. Then track 6, "Do It Now!", heads back towards the bumping dance grooves of the first two tracks while keeping that slight ethnic flavor for an added kick. Track 7, "Full-Bore", changes things up drastically with its pounding, industrial tinged grooves. This leads nicely into track 8, "The Instinct", which is the epic theme to the game and thus has a completely different sound to it than the other tracks. Track 9, "Yo Check This Out!" shifts gears and goes into hip hop mode with short, fast-paced tune that can easily be left on repeat. Track 10, "Freeze", continues with the hip hop sound but takes it to a medium and adds a lot more samples. Track 11, "Trailblazer", heads into the territory of rock with layers of roaring guitars that go at heated speeds. Then track 12, "Tooth & Claw", drastically changes the mood a dark, gothic symphony that sounds like it came straight from the House of Usher. This leads into track 13, "Ya Ha Haa", which is more upbeat with its fast, unique percussion but still maintains a dark atmoshpere. The tracks 14 and 15, "Rumble" and "The Extreme", are the themes to the stages where you could face Eyedol, the end boss, and so they appropriately evoke a sense of climactic danger. There's also a hidden track, track 30, called "Humiliation" that's just a silly disco-ish song. This song was played when you did a Humiliation move on your opponent. I could only do it with Orchid, but she would put sunglasses on the other character, the song would start up, the other character would start dancing, and then the announcer would say, "Humiliation!" It was awesome.

I know I pretty much provided a huge list of songs without saying too much about each individual track, but I can tell you a little bit more about my personal preferences right now. First off, I'll admit to not being a fond of tracks 3, 4, 14, and 15 as I am of the other songs. The other tracks are either really fun and/or a great example of high musical quality in video game soundtracks. Although, I will admit that the last 40 seconds of "The Extreme", track 15, are really good. I would also really like to see an orchestra play "Tooth & Claw". It would be awesome to see that song played by actual instruments and without samples. That's one thing that kind of bugged me about Killer Cuts: too many unnecessary samples. I mean, do you really need the sound of a coffin opening and a Dracula laugh at the beginning of "Tooth & Claw" or is it just excessive? I get it, it's supposed to sound spooky. But besides my picky complaints, I can see a lot of these songs being hits on the dancefloor or being performed by huge musical ensembles. Hey, there was an orchestral version of the Super Mario Bros. theme, so why not an orchestral version of "Ya Ha Haa" with lots of percussionists?

Anyway, here are the songs along with what character or stage they represented in pararentheses...

1) Rare - K.I. Feeling (Orchid)
2) Rare - The Way U Move (Bonus Song)
3) Rare - Controlling Transmission (Glacius)
4) Rare - Oh Yeah (Chief Thunder)
5) Rare - It's a Jungle (Riptor)
6) Rare - Do It Now! (Jago)
7) Rare - Full-Bore (Fulgore)
8) Rare - The Instinct (The Killer Instinct Theme)
9) Rare - Yo Check This Out! (T.J. Combo)
10) Rare - Freeze (Street Stage)
11) Rare - Trailblazer (Cinder)
12) Rare - Tooth & Claw (Saberwulf)
13) Rare - Ya Ha Haa (Spinal)
14) Rare - Rumble (Bridge Stage)
15) Rare - The Extreme (Eyedol)
16) Rare - Humilation (Humiliation!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Crud... Not the Radio Kind

I just finished writing up a pretty major post and lost more than half of it when attempting to publish the damn thing. I'll take another shot at it tomorrow, but right now all the creative juices have been sucked out of me. That and I'm just tired of typing. See you all tomorrow with lots of KRUD.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Circle of Dust

Crappy photo, good band. Circle of Dust was Klayton's last project before he started working under the alias of Celldweller. Klayton is basically a one-man band like Trent Reznor; he writes and performs his own material in studio but has musicians that support him on tour in the same way that Trent Reznor worked with guitarist Richard Patrick. But I have heard conflicting reports about Circle of Dust's history. I've heard that Circle of Dust was an actual band with multiple people working in studio until their final release, Disengage, which was Klayton working on his own. I have also heard that the band was always just Klayton and no one else, except when playing live. The second theory seems more likely since Circle of Dust is described as a "solo project" on Celldweller's website. Either way, I'll be featuring Disengage, which I'm certain is just Klayton.

First of all, I've heard stories about Disengage from my good friend who is also a big time Klayton fan. Apparently, Circle of Dust originally intended to release 10 tracks as Disengage and 6 extra tracks, which mixed together different tracks from the previous 10, as remix album called Refractorchasm. But Circle of Dust's label, Platinum Ent., would not allow this, so all 16 tracks were combined onto one CD. Klayton has often declared that the first 10 tracks make up the official Disengage album whereas the final 6 are bonus tracks on the CD. That's say that the final 6 are any weaker than the first 10. If I've learned anything from Klayton's approach to music, it's that there are many different ways to approach a composition and none of them are necessarily better than any of the others. In fact, when Celldweller tours, they do live remixes of their material. So if you went to three of his shows, you would likely hear three new takes on one song. I've heard at least a trillion different versions of "Switchback" (Celldweller's single) from the 2-disc B-sides collection, The Beta Cessions.

Getting back to Circle of Dust, they sound a lot different than Celldweller in that the former would be classified as industrial whereas the latter would be classified as synth metal. Therefore, Disengage is darker and more aggressive than anything that Klayton would produce under his later alias but is still evocatively beautiful.

The album starts off really well with "Waste of Time", a relatively fast-paced song that will immediately get your head nodding. I'm especially fond of the beautifully harmonized chorus that has an ethereal quality to it. I almost put that song up as a sample track until I decided that "Chasm" would be a better option since it was the more hyped track off of the album. It's basically Disengage's "Switchback". Not that the two songs sound alike. As previously stated, Circle of Dust's material is darker than anything Celldweller has produced. Despite being dark, "Chasm" manages to break out of the gloomy depths of the industrial stereotype and comes out as a catchy, uptempo song that is guaranteed to stick in your head. Me and my friends like to repeat the line, "You are fragile!" as it is delivered in the song. Of the 6 bonus tracks, "Refractor (Version 3.2.1)" is my personal favorite. It takes the original "Refractor" and expands upon it in ways that ultimately produce a more fulfilling song. Although the original "Refractor" is highly enjoyable in its own right.

"Mesmerized" is one of my personal favorites and is the track that really got me hooked on Disengage. It's much less aggressive than some of the other tracks but the deep, reverberating bass and the heavy percussion gives this song an undeniably epic, yet gloomy quality. Klayton's delivers an especially moving vocal perfomance as well, sounding downtrodden and utterly defeated as he sings. It all adds up to a very moving track.

This is a weird reference, but when I first heard "Mesmerized" and couldn't make out the lyrics, thus relying completely on how it sounded, I imagined the cathedral from the first Fallout game. I imagined the cathedral as it might appear in real life or in a movie. It may be because "Mesmerized" somehow reminded me of a Gregorian chant; deep, bellowing, and sounding pretty dark and depressing from a modern perspective. Add to that an industrial soundscape, distorted guitars, and synth produced sounds and you get what I imagined as the cathedral from Fallout: a structure of grand design yet dark and forboding as it was tainted by the evils of technology.

I have a lot more that I could say about how "Mesmerized" made me think about Fallout and its symbolism, but that would make me a nerd. I don't want to be a nerd. So let's just finish by saying that Disengage is an incredible album. If you like Celldweller and want to hear some of Klayton's older material, this is a good starting point.

Buy Circle of Dust's album Disengage

Circle of Dust - Chasm
Circle of Dust - Mesmerized
Circle of Dust - Refractor (Version 3.2.1)

There is no official Circle of Dust webpage anymore. However, there is a little bit about them at BNR Metal.

Bonus KRUD: Rainer Maria

Just a sampling of Rainer Maria's enhanced live album, Anyone in Love With You (Already Knows). High quality emo.

Rainer Maria - Soul Singer (Live)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Toni Halliday (Words) & Dean Garcia (Music)

If you have never heard Curve then I'm about to shine a ray of hope on your tragic existence. Alright, maybe I'm being a bit melodramatic but Curve is still a great band... and I have a crush on Toni Halliday. Don't judge me! I'm afflicted with a incurable disease that can only be subsided by obtaining more of Curve's music! Oh sure, Toni Halliday produced material before Curve, but when she teams up with Dean Garcia then you get magic. Pure magic, I says!

Yeah, this is going to be a weird post. But why not? I've gotta mix things up every once in a while. So where was I? Oh yeah... pure magic! And that starts us off with Come Clean, the first Curve album I purchased and one of the best albums I've ever bought. I must have listened to the thing a million times and I still haven't gotten tired of it. It's no wonder that Klayton is a big time Curve fan, or so I've heard from one of Klayton's fans. There seems to be some sort of "Six Degrees of Fandom" forming here. Makes me wonder who Toni and Dean admire. Hmmm...

Dodging any further tangents, let's get into specific songs from the album. If I had to kill that nagging voice in my head, which some would call a conscience, and pick some favorite songs off of Come Clean, I would start off with "Chinese Burn," the first track. I remember playing the album for a friend of mine and as soon as "Chinese Burn" finished he declared, "I need to get this album just for that track!" Then there's "Dog Bone," a bitterly angry track that doesn't require the screaming and shouting that a lot of rage rockers need to get the point across. Instead it cleverly arranges distorted guitar work to create this harsh, aggressive mood flowing throughout the entire song. Following that track is "Alligators Getting Up," which is a smoothe little number with a bass line that gives is a James Bond-ish sort of feel. I feel cooler just listening it. I'm listening to it right now, so let me check my awesome meter... yep, I'm awesome. We'll skip ahead to "Cotton Candy" which is a crazy cool track that has layers of shuffling guitar noise that make me wanna get up and do a raving robot dance.

Anyway, putting aside all wackiness I'll just finish off describing Come Clean by saying that it is an incredibly crafted piece of what could be called synth rock. This album should be a part of every music fan's collection.

Buy Curve's album Come Clean

Curve - Chinese Burn
Curve - Alligators Getting Up

And thus we move to Doppelgänger, which is Curve's debut album. It sounds a lot different than Come Clean. In fact, the songs on Doppelgänger sound very similar to the music that My Bloody Valentine released. That's not to say that Curve's debut is a copycat album. One could say that it took a step or two beyond the shoegaze sound and started heading towards an entirely new and original style. Whereas bands like My Bloody Valentine relied on creating this impenetrable wall of noise, Curve uses a similar "wall of noise" principle on Doppelgänger but the large collage of sounds have a more noticeable structure to it. Just listen to the two sample tracks I have provided and you'll catch my drift, that is if you're familiar with shoegaze. I just hope that you like Curve and support their music.

Buy Curve's debut album Doppelgänger

Curve - Horror Head
Curve - Sandpit

Oh yeah, and as an added bonus please enjoy this unreleased song that was temporarily available on Curve's official website.

Curve - Some Good Some Bad

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Bianca & Sierra Casady

CocoRosie is a band with an intriguing sound and just as good a story. Formed in Paris, France by two reunited sisters, Sierra and Bianca Casady, CocoRosie is an experiment in improvisational musical composition. It all started when Sierra was studying opera at a conservatory in Paris when her sister Bianca randomly came to visit. This was after having previously decided, several years ago, that the sisters had nothing in common and did not belong together. If their musical preferences are any indication of how different they are then there is as great a separation between them as possible. Sierra is from the traditional school of musical thought whereas Bianca is much more progressive and avant garde in her approach.

Their debut album La Maison de Mon Rêve, which is French for "The House of My Dream," resulted from these contrasting interests. The inspiration for making it just randomly hit them. It was their way of experiencing life at the moment. Imagine the two sisters sitting in a bathtub composing songs in a small Parisian apartment and then using a simple 4-track to turn their musical inspirations into realities. They mix traditional instruments, toy instruments, a variety of ambient sounds, and their own vocals on the album's chaotically beautiful tracks.

I remember when I randomly stumbled across "By Your Side." I was in a state of emotional conflict as I listened to it. The song was very beautiful, very sad, and very weird all at once. I wasn't sure whether I should have smiled, cried, or just looked confused but I wanted to do all three. This was the first song I remember being afraid of listening to again despite having the irresistible urge to do so. I was afraid that a second listen might have broken me. If that experience doesn't prove the emotional power of their music then I don't know what will.

Buy CocoRosie's album La Maison de Mon Rêve

CocoRosie - By Your Side
CocoRosie - Good Friday

Monday, April 04, 2005

Baseball season

I'm very excited, today's the first day of the baseball season for me, and since I had no work or school I would have had to play hooky from, I'm going to the home opener for the Baltimore Orioles. I have to tell you, being without baseball since the end of last season has been tough.

Today's Radio KRUD post is a freshly digitized copy from our old record of the original cast recording of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown", and it's about... a baseball game! Who would have guessed that?

"TEAM" - You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown - Original Cast

(Due to sloppy editing and me not previewing the file before sending, it's got an extraneous "Linus?" in there - oops.)

I'm still working on part 2 of that sea-shanty post - though it's a musicblog posting, there's a surprisingly large amount of scanning and editing to be done for it. You'll see what I mean once it goes up...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Die Fantastischen Vier

Thomas Dürr, Michael B. Schmidt, Andreas Rieche, Michael Beck

I'll admit that when thinking of the phrase "German rap" and looking at pictures of the band (like the one above where the second guy from the right looks like a cross between Janet Reno and Adam West with a messed up Hefner-ish outfit), it's hard to take Die Fantastischen Vier (The Fantastic Four) very seriously. It's especially hard when the listener comes from the U.S. where hip hop flows like water. Hell, hip hop originated from the streets of New York City. But anyway, despite all appearances the band does come up with some interesting and catchy tunes. For comparison, take a look at the Beastie Boys. They don't look like they would be good rappers but they still manage to produce some incredibly fun music that doesn't end up as a joke in the industry (I'm looking in your direction, Vanilla Ice). And the above description of the Beastie Boys also applies to Die Fantastischen Vier. In fact, to call them the German Beastie Boys would not be too much of a stretch.

Before I talk about their music, I feel I should go into how I ran across this band. I have a German aunt who's only about eight years older than me and about seven years ago, when I was nearly 16 years old, she requested that her mother send her a CD from one of her favorite bands from back home. She didn't really remember the name of the band, so her mom just started buying CD's by all the bands that were popular in Germany at the time and sent them back to my aunt. One of the CD's was Lauschgift by Die Fantastischen Vier. Since my aunt can't stand rap, she passed it off to me. I thought the album was hilarious at first. My initial reaction was, "Ha! Germans singing rap!" but over the years I've started to take it a bit more seriously. Granted, it's not anything epic or groundbreaking, but it is a fun listen in its own right.

The songs I'm posting from Lauschgift provide a pretty good scope of what it sounds like. I have a feeling that "Populär" was the first hit single off of the album. It sounds like Top 40 material. It's upbeat, it's catchy, and it's a little zany. I also think it's best that I don't know what they're saying. I have a feeling the lyrics are pretty inane. That's why I like foreign music in general; I don't know how bad the lyrics are when I don't know the language. "Love Sucks" is another catchy, upbeat number that hits a little harder than "Populär" with its intense percussion and aggressive vocal delivery. It also has the obligatory English lyrics that all foreign bands seem to put into their music. "Ich Bin" is just plain weird. It's got a sample of a little girl's voice looping through most of song with some off the wall vocal delivery by the band. And then there's "Krieger." It's almost like Die Fantastichen Vier is submitting to the stereotype of German music (i.e. the whole industrial thing). "Krieger" mixes hip hop with a dark, mechanical soundscape, resulting in something pretty unique to an American audience. I almost want to read somewhere that Rammstein helped produce "Krieger."

Buy Die Fantastischen Vier's album Lauschgift

Die Fantastischen Vier - Populär
Die Fantastischen Vier - Ich Bin
Die Fantastischen Vier - Love Sucks
Die Fantastischen Vier - Krieger

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Winter in Spring

Christopher Hogwood

In memory of Winter's coming and going, I am posting Antonio Vivaldi's "Winter," the fourth concerto from his famous work The Four Seasons (or Le Quattro Stagioni in Italian). The pieces I am posting are performed by Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music.

The Academy of Ancient Music

What can I say about The Four Seasons? It's classic material. Almost everybody has at least heard of it or at least knows the tune to the first movement from "Spring." And I realize that all performers approach compositions with their own unique perspective, so you'll hear many different versions of the same piece that sound slightly different from each other.

I will be first to admit that I'm not connoisseur of classical music, so I'm not really good at comparing one performance to another. But I do know that Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music play The Four Seasons with a very clear sense of life and vivacity. And each season has its own distinct personality. When you listen to "Winter" you can feel the cold of the blowing wind as you see a flurry of snowflakes accumalating on the shores of a frozen lake. "Winter" evokes the quiet gentility of the season while giving you a sense of the blistering cold at the same time, especially in the first movement. I accredit this to the combination of the stellar performance given by the Academy of Ancient Music with Vivaldi's legendary compositional skills.

Buy Antonio Vivaldi's Le Quattro Stagioni as performed by Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music

Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music - Concerto No. 4, "Winter" I. Allegro Non Molto

Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music - Concerto No. 4, "Winter" II. Largo

Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music - Concerto No. 4, "Winter" III. Allegro