Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Svensk Rap?

Svensk Rap.

Most of you are probably asking yourself, What in the world is Svensk Rap?

Well, let me inform you.

Svensk Rap is from Sweden, an unlikely home to a very unique rap genre. The rap culture in Sweden has been growing ever since Grandmaster Funk unofficially introduced the hip-hop culture in 1984. Since then, many groups have started to form their own unique style of hip-hop that has transcended this specific genre of music.

I first stumbled on Svensk Rap earlier this year from a list of popular music during 2006. A band by the name of Snook took my eye. I thought to myself,"What a cool name...I wonder what they sound like..." This exploration brought me one step closer in to the world of Svensk Rap. Snook's song Snook Svett Och Tårar completely sold me to the genre. With Outkast like beats and a beyond catchy hook, I became (slightly) obsessed with learning more about this genre and I have slowly been collecting Svensk Rap. My second discovery in this genre was Timbuktu's Det Löser Sig. This track has a funky beat that reminds me of RJD2's slower instrumental tracks.

All in all, this genre is great. I just want to know what the heck is being said. I mean I don't even know how to pronounce the genre. Svensk!?! It just goes to show you that there is always great music out there, you don't even have to understand it to appreciate it.

Listen to Snook's Snook Svett Och Tårar

Listen to Timbuktu's Det Löser Sig

Buy Svensk Rap

Friday, September 25, 2009

Noteable Quoteable

So my roomate Jake and I have started a new tradition of taking a great song lyric and hanging it on our wall for a week, in the hopes of compiling a list of songs which guided us through Freshman year. I figured we'd post what song we'd been digging, and the lyric which we posted up.

This past week we took the following lyric-

"God it's great to be alive/takes the skin right off my hide/to think I'll have to give it all up someday"

The lyric is taken from Daniel Johnston's song "To Go Home" off of his 1982 release "The What of Whom." His origional version of the song is incredibly lo-fi, and sounds like a young child is singing- mostly because, well, he was a kid when he recorded it. Yet, even at such a young age he was writing lyrics such as the one mentioned above.

Needless to say his talent still garners attention, as M. Ward covered this song on his 2006 release "Post War." His version is (obviously) more folksy and arguably more accessible, and is my personal favorite track off
of that album.

Ironically, our song choice for this upcoming week is also a cover. It is originally a song by Mark Mulcahy, frontman of the band Miracle Legion as well as the group Polaris (who sang the intro to Nickelodeon's The Adventures of Pete and Pete). Tragically, Mulcahy's wife died suddenly over a year ago, leaving behind both her husband and their three-year old twin daughters. Since that time, some amazing acts have covered a number of his songs which are to be compiled on Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy, the proceeds of which will go to helping Mulcahy's situation. The compilation is due out 9.29.

One such act is Radiohead frontman, Thom Yorke. The song Yorke covers is called "All For The Best." Maybe its Yorke's signature crooning, or the heartbreaking story behind the cover itself- but this is one of the most moving tracks I have ever heard.

For that reason, we couldn't just choose one lyric. We posted the whole song, so we will here as well.

Waking up, and the bed was made
No one looked me in the eye
The more I tried, the more I cried
But it's all for the best
Watch my brother cutting grass outside
Sitting on the porch, he told me:
"It's a long way to go, 'fore we can rest
But it's all for the best"

You're so beautiful it seems
On a lonely lazy morning
When I see you rocking back and forward
Whispering that it's all for the best

One day the stone will roll away
Soon you'll see
Far away from home but never far away from me
And that's all for the best
Promise me son, not to do the things I've done
Walk away from trouble
Promise me son, not to do the things I've done
Walk away from trouble

Say you love me
Say you love me
Say you love me

Say you love me
Say you love me
Say you love me
Let's just say you love me

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Humpday Covers Presents: Matt Weddle/Obadiah Parker

It's that time of week again, it's time for a new installment of Humpday Covers.

This week's cover is from Matt Weddle from the band Obadiah Parker. They just released a new album this past January which is primarly covers, you should definetly check it out.

This week I am presenting one of my favorite covers of Outkast's legendary song Hey Ya!

This acoustic version has turned the hip-hop tune into a track that croons and builds to have you belting out "Hey Ya!"

Listen to this awesome version of Hey Ya!

Buy Obadiah Parker

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lost In Boston: The Walkmen in Concert

First off, I wanted to take a minute to welcome the new Happiness bloggers, Steve Waslo and Jake Mogan. Steve's a longtime friend of Eli and I from camp, and those car rides he mentioned below are some of my fondest memories from this past summer (who doesn't love screaming every word to Aeroplane?) Jake and I chose to room together at Boston College this year when we realized we were into the same music, and considering all the concerts we've been hitting up, it's going to be great having him contributing to this blog. Now, onto The Walkmen..

Jake was actually the one who recommended that I see The Walkmen, as he saw them both at Outside Lands and Sasquatch and was impressed with both shows. I spent the preceding days listening to their older albums- as I only had their (fantastic) 2008 release "You & Me." In a last minute decision, I managed to get the last ticket to the show at the Middle East in Cambridge. And so there it was, my first ticket to a real concert at the Middle East- that venue I had dreamed of going to for so long but was never allowed due to my age. The thrill of feeling old was soon trumped by the angry man at the door who drew large X's on my hands, indicating I was underage. Soon thereafter I was yelled at for resting my elbow on the bar...

I would not let this constant battering get me down, after all, I was seeing The Walkmen! When they took the stage I was still unsure of what to expect. Not far into the first song I was struck by how much of a unit the band was. I realize now after researching the band that it makes sense that their music was so cohesive- they've been playing together since they were 10 years old. It truly showed in the complexity of the music they made, which was a layering of so many different styles. The crooning of lead singer Hamilton Leithauser (who surprisingly looks about as clean cut and prep-schooley as his name suggests) was at times reminiscent of Dylan, yet the backing music could be compared to the likes of The National or Beirut (so basically, an indie kids wet dream). The distortion on the guitar in songs like "Canadian Girl" is where The National could be heard best, but it was the soaring horn sections in songs like "Red Moon"
and "Louisiana" that completely won me over.

This combination of old and new influences was noticeable in the makeup of the crowd. For example, I was there with two friends who are a handful of years older than I am, yet we all loved the music these guys were making. One of my friends asked me if I could pick up on the "older" sound of their music, which I admitted was hard to miss. Yet this old-timey feel only ran so deep, as we could all hear their more contemporary influences just as well. The rest of the crowd seemed to be the same way- a lot of black X's, yet just as many wedding rings (and mothers who seemed preoccupied with the well being of their newborn...)

While I am certainly not familiar enough with the material to be able to remember the set list, there were some clear standout tracks (some of which I have already mentioned). "The Rat", arguably their most well known track off of 2004's "Bows & Arrows", revved
the crowd into a huge head banging sing-along. Yet, the highlight of the show came during the encore, where they played "In The New Year." I hate to get all sentimental like I did in my Flaming Lips post, but if their encore of "Do You Realize??" was about looking back and reminiscing just as school was about to start, then "In The New Year" felt like a musical pat on the back, compliments of Mr. Hamilton Leithauser (at right). Check the lyrics-

"I know that it’s true
It’s gonna be a good year
Out of the darkness
And into the fire
I’ll tell you I love you
And my hearts in the strangest place
That’s how it started
And that’s how it ends"

I'm beginning to feel like my blog posts are becoming more like journal entries. I'm sorry, disinterested reader.

Here are the tracks, which are probably all you really care about..

"Lost In Boston" (interestingly, they did not play this track at the show...it's worth checking out, though.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself...

Dear Devoted Readers(?),
My name is Steven Waslo, and I like music. If you’re reading this blog (and I know you are), then odds are you like music too. So we’ve got that connection right there. Seeing as this is my first post, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce myself to you, the intelligent, beautiful, and discriminating public. I am a freshman at the University of Connecticut. I’ve known Conor and Eli for a few years working with them at a wonderful summer camp on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. We spent many a nights driving around in Conor’s car, blaring music the three of us enjoyed, and talking about new artists we thought the others should check out. As the summer progressed, these conversations turned into an invitation to write for this blog. So here I am.
I thought I would start our newfound relationship of writer-reader out with an ice-breaker of sorts. Just like with the little campers, it is important that we learn some key things about each other first, and before you know it we’ll be best friends. Seeing as this is a music blog, I will tell you about music, and you in turn will tell me nothing. It’s a very one-sided relationship.
Our topic for this week is;

My 8 Favorite Songs You May Not Know

1. Thin Blue Flame, by Josh Ritter, from the album The Animal Years

Josh Ritter is a modern-day poet, along the lines of Dylan himself. Ritter’s songs are often simple and folksy in instrumentation, but it’s the words pack that considerable punch. In Thin Blue Flame, the band matches the intensity of the lyrics. In this nearly ten-minute long ballad, Ritter explores themes of faith, justice, returning home, and a whole lot more in ways that tug your emotions in so many directions.

Buy Josh Ritter

2. Carl Sagan, by Loch Lomond, from the album Paper the Walls

I saw Loch Lomond in concert last year, and this song blew the entire audience away. To start with, the band has a whole bunch of musicians and a whole bunch more instruments crowding up the stage. This song starts off with just one guitar and one singer, and builds to sound like an orchestra and choir by the end. The song swells to a glorious high three minutes in that sells the song perfectly.

Buy Loch Lomond

3. Daylight, by Aesop Rock, from the album Labor Days

Aesop Rock has lyrics are smarter than any I’ve heard before, with bigger words than your most hyper-literate indie band. Daylight is so full of metaphors that it is almost impossible to figure out what he is trying to tell you, and instead you fill in the meaning yourself.

Buy Aesop Rock

4. This City’s a Mess, by Said the Whale, from the album Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia

Another song with an excellent build, this track from the upstart Vancouver band features a catchy guitar hook, intriguing supporting vocals, and a very cool repeating chorus to end the song (which I guess is sort of a trademark of theirs. It comes up in a lot of their songs.) The music video, however, makes me suspicious that they might just be furries.

Buy Said The Whale

5. Four Leaf Clover, by the Old 97’s, from the album Too Far To Care

The Old 97’s are an awesome alt-country band. I was lucky enough to see this band last year, and when they played this song, the entire audience went wild. The pounding drum beat and Ken Bethea’s excellent guitar work pulls the song together perfectly with the duet between Rhett Miller (who you may recognize from Kidney Now on 30 Rock) and Exene Cervenka.

Buy The Old 97's

6. Cold Days from the Birdhouse, by the Twilight Sad, from the album Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters

I first fell in love with this band when I realized that the lead singer sounds just like my camp director. I brought this up with him, and he pointed out that I was merely ignorant of other countries’ accents, because both the band and the director are Scottish. All that aside, this is a fantastically well put together song. It starts off with simple plunking piano keys with a single guitar wistfully sliding through the notes, and soon after the singer, James Graham, croons in with his Scottish accent guiding us gently through a tale of love and loss.

Buy The Twilight Sad

7. Blue Skies, by Noah and the Whale, from the album The First Day of Spring

Feeling sad? Listen to this song, and I guarantee an optimistic smile will creep onto your face. A traveling Irishman introduced me to this band, but this song blew away all of their old stuff that he showed me. On a side note, the band turned this entire album into a movie that looks brilliant.

Buy Noah and the Whale

8. To Be Young, by Ryan Adams, from the album Heartbreaker

This is an older gem of Ryan Adams' prolific songwriting career. The guitar work evokes the sound of a different time, while the singing is oddly reminiscent of an old master of folk. This song is not just some sixties cover, though. Adams brings the song to life in our times with his passionate singing and playing. This is the liveliest song on the list, with a great beat and a lead guitar that deserves a good listen.

Buy Ryan Adams

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Humpday Covers : Score! 20 Years of Merge Records- The Covers!

For this installment of Humpday Covers we will be covering Merge's Cover Compilation.

Merge Records is probably one of my favorite record labels out there. It is rare these days to be able to pick up an album of an artist you have never heard about and know that you will probably like it based on the artist's record label. Oh and I forgot to mention that Merge, originally located in Chapel Hill, is located in my hometown of Durham, NC. Do I have to explain any more why Merge is one of my favorite record companies?

Anyways, Merge put out a compilation to celebrate their 20th birthday and they decided to release twenty tracks covering some of the best songs Merge has put out.

Some of my favorites include Ryan Adams' cover of Superchunk's Like a Fool, Tracey Thorn (Everything But The Girl Frontman) & Jens Lekman's cover of the Magnetic Fields' song Yeah! Oh Yeah!

Here is a Track List:

1. Quasi - "Beautiful Things" (3Ds)
2. Les Savy Fav - "Precision Auto" (Superchunk)
3. The Shins - "Plenty Is Never Enough" (Tenement Halls cover)
4. St. Vincent and the National - "Sleep All Summer" (Crooked Fingers)
5. Broken Social Scene - "Complications" (The Clean)
6. Ryan Adams - "Like a Fool" (Superchunk)
7. Bright Eyes - "Papa Was a Rodeo" (Magnetic Fields)
8. Lavender Diamond - "New Ways of Living" (Destroyer)
9. The Apples in Stereo - "King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 3" (Neutral Milk Hotel)
10. Laura Cantrell - "Cowboy on the Moon" (Lambchop)
11. Bill Callahan - "Santa Maria" (Versus)
12. Barbara Manning - "Through With People" (Portastatic)
13. The Mountain Goats - "Drug Life" (East River Pipe)
14. The New Pornographers - "Don't Destroy This Night" (Rock*A*Teens)
15. Tracey Thorn and Jens Lekman - "Yeah! Oh, Yeah!" (Magnetic Fields)
16. The Hive Dwellers - "My Noise" (Superchunk)
17. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - "The Numbered Head" (Robert Pollard)
18. Okkervil River - "All You Little Suckers" (East River Pipe)
19. Death Cab for Cutie - "Kicked In" (Superchunk)
20. Times New Viking - "Neighborhood #1" (Arcade Fire)

Please go out and buy this record, it is only available for a limited time. Even if you have never heard of any of these artist's at least check it out. Merge has some really great artists.

Listen to
Quasi - Beautiful Things (Originally by 3ds)

Stream the whole album along with the most recent Merge releases here!

Buy Score! 20 Years of Merge Records - The Covers

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Shuffle: Yoyoyo Acapulco

So for this week's Sunday Shuffle, my iTunes spat out a song by Yoyoyo Acapulco.

Yoyoyo Acapulco is a band that I really do not know too much about.

I do however love the use of Kazoo and whenever I need my fix of Kazoo, Yoyoyo Acapulco readily fills it.

Listen Away!

Yoyoyo Acapulco -Kamasutra Tsunami
Buy Yoyoyo Acapulco

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Humpday Covers: Smashing Pumpkins

This week's Humpday Cover kind of goes along with this week's 90's Sunday Shuffle.

Thin Lizzy's Dancing in the Moonlight(It's Caught Me In It's Spotlight), not to be mistaken from King Harvest's Dancing in the Moonlight, was a huge hit off of Thin Lizzy's album Bad Reputation.

The Smashing Pumpkins take this upbeat danceable tune and well croon out the saddest, smashing pumpkin-est, cover of the Thin Lizzy classic.

Give this track a listen.

Smashing Pumpkins - Dancing In the Moonlight (It's Caught Me In It's Spotlight) (Thin Lizzy Cover)

Buy Smashing Pumpkins

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Shuffle: School of Fish

It's time for another Sunday Shuffle!

This week my iTunes shuffle blessed us all with a 90's alternative gem. This week's Sunday Shuffle is Three Strange Days by School of Fish.

You may have never heard of School of Fish but I guarantee that you probably know some of the people in this 90's alternative band.
Guitarist Michael Ward is now a member of the Wallflowers and drummer Chad Fischer formed the band Lazlo Bane (Which is popularly known for the theme song from the hit TV show Scrubs)

You may start to fall in love with this band, especially if you are a 90's child. However, don't get your hopes up to catch School of Fish in a reunion tour. Unfortunately the lead singer for School of Fish died in 2000 due to testicular cancer, thus any chance for a reunion tour has been disbanded.

Take a good hard listen and enjoy all things 90's Alternative.

School of Fish - 3 Strange Days

buy School of Fish

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Flaming Lips in Concert (or, why Fun is Good)

The guy across the aisle- the one with the dreadlocks and tie-dye shirt- kept writing short messages on pieces of cardboard, reading them to people who came by, and forcing them into high-fiving him. Given the general mood of the crowd, people reciprocated with no hesitation. After a while, he walked over to the girl next to me and asked her to write his next message. Again, no hesitation, and soon he was holding a sign reading simply "Fun is Good", screaming the uplifting message at the top of his lungs.

I could stop here and say that what I have just written perfectly encapsulates what a Flaming Lip's concert is like, but seeing as this is a music blog and everything, ya'll are probably more concerned with, well, the music. So here I go- my pathetic attempt to describe a concert which is truly unable to be understood by those who haven't experienced it themselves.

First off, I should note that I missed the first act- Stardeath and White Dwarfs- although I heard they were good (not from the dreadlocks guy, a more reliable source...the drunk guy sitting to my left.) Then Explosions in the Sky (at right) took the stage. With four guys,
three on guitar, one on drums, they were the first entirely instrumental band I'd ever seen. With no lyrics to follow along to, the audience was able to focus on the wall of sound these four superb musicians were able to make. Later on, Wayne Coyne of the Lips would describe them as "beautiful and epic", which, coming from a man like himself, probably convinces you, blog reader, about how good they are more than I could have in 500 words. I'll leave you to check them out yourself.

Now, as for the Lips, let me just start with a tad bit of backstory to my obsession. You see, since I was a wee-freshman, they have been that bandfor me, you know? This, of course, means that the majority of their songs are somehow attached to my high school experience (see my yearbook quote...what can I say, "Do You Realize" is just so good). So, seeing them the night before I left for college threw some sentiment into the mix. Then throw in the awesome confetti and balloon's, and you've pretty much got yourself the ideal concert situation. Finally, the opening act- where the band members walked through the screen out of the glowing vagina of a holographic dancer, starting off with "Race for the Prize", from "The Soft Bulletin" (this writers personal favorite album), I knew I was sold to the t-shirts outside, which read something like "I saw the Flaming Lips in concert and it changed my life." This whole scenario was the peak of the show.

From there, they dabbled off of stuff from more recent albums. Some expected highlights were the sing-along "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1", as well as "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song". However, I was extremely disappointed at their performance of "Fight Test", my favorite of theirs. I hoped that the chopped up style he sang the song with was more similar to an engine revving, eventually catching and exploding with passion and confetti. Yet, it never did catch- it only dwindled away, crushing my astronomically high expectations for that song live. So it goes, I suppose.

A somewhat related visual accompaniment on the screen behind the band was present for every song, such as the classic clip from a 1994 Jon Stuart show as he introduces the Flaming Lip's playing "She Don't Use Jelly" as that song was introduced. They also played a handful of new songs, two of which they had promised the Pitchfork audience they wouldn't play for any other audience. They also might have told the Boston audience not to tell anyone, and I might be putting this up publicly so as to garner the attention
of the Flaming Lips and therefore have my lifelong dream come true of meeting them personally. Fingers crossed.

They played live for the first time (if you can trust Wayne's promises...) a song off of their upcoming double album "Embryonic" (due out October 13th, pictured at right) called "See the Leaves". It's an interesting song, louder and more guitar led than anything they've released in quite some time. Not their best, but certainly not their worst.

As expected, their encore was none other than "Do You Realize", that yearbook-quotable, car commercial soundtrack masterpiece off of their 2002 release "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots". This one was drawn out too, but it was a fitting sentimental end to a fitting sentimental night. I would recommend seeing them to anyone I know. Even if you aren't a big listener, when it comes down to it, people dressed in absurd costumes, insane amounts of confetti and balloons, and a spectacular stage set could keep anyone entertained for hours. That's probably because, well, Fun is Good.


Explosions in the Sky - Memorial
buy Explosions in the Sky

Flaming Lips - Do You Realize (Postal Service Remix)
Flaming Lips - The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song

buy Flaming Lips


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