Category Archives: Music

Artifact

artifact_01I might actually like documentaries now, maybe I’m just getting better at picking the right ones.

I first saw Jared Leto in the painfully difficult to watch, Requiem For A Dream. He was great but how could anyone walk away from that film with anything other than Ellen Burstyn’s chilling performance. Forward a decade and Leto pops onto my radar nabbing an Oscar in Dallas Buyer’s Club – he deserved it.

Apparently Leto was a busy bee in between heading up a band 30 Seconds To Mars with his brother and apparently getting into quite a legal row with the now defunct EMI label. This documentary, Artifact,  focuses mostly on the row between band and the label.

It comes as no surprise to me that large recording labels are profit-oriented; its particularly challenging in a digital age. However, it did surprise me to what extent the labels will go to make sure they capture almost all of the profit, completely alienating both the creative forces and the consumers fueling their profit model.  Its dysfunctional. Now I understand the push for artists to create their own recording labels; its seems the only financially pragmatic solution is to remove the middle management.

The film is well-presented.  Many interviews with the Leto brothers as well as members from other bands such as Linkin Park, OK Go and System of a Down. Interviews were interleaved with footage from recording sessions and concerts. Since I had never heard of 30 Seconds to Mars before, it was nice to get a feel for their musical style – U2 meets The Cure with a side of Panic At The Disco. The film strikes a good balance between showing the reality of turning profit on music in a digital age from the business perspective and from the artistic perspective. In the end the film delivers a message we already know – innovation and creativity builds big business, big business destroys innovation and creativity.

What’s the answer to this stopping this cycle? It hard to say but in today’s market it seems the fans will decide, social media will be the judge and big business no longer has the power.

Blood Orange

hynesA friend in London has been pimping the group Blood Orange for several years, going on about the artist’s ‘fresh sound’. That’s nice but the Londoner and I rarely have intersecting musical tastes.  However, last week I was browsing Pitchfork reviews and who would appear but, you guessed it, Blood Orange. If you know Pitchfork, then you know those are some picky bastards and handing out the ‘best new music’ designation is something of a milestone.  Blood Orange had that designation for their latest offering Cupid Deluxe.

Sampling on iTunes. Downloading on Amazon. Repeat playing which might be labeled as compulsive in some circles.

I like. Blood Orange is basically London-born turned NYC resident, Devonte Hynes. What Hynes has created with Cupid Deluxe is an ambitious but carefully executed form of self-therapy; it speaks loudly to overcoming harsh experiences of youth. The collection defies a specific musical genre; I picked up  80’s synth-pop, late 70’s funk, jazz, rap, math rock, disco and electronica. If I had to give an abbreviated description –  Prince and Sheila E, the early years.

A welcomed addition to the collection but I’m not telling the Londoner he was right.

MD Can Kiss My Ass

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I don’t usually pimp benefits but a friend and co-worker has helped to organize this event, the proceeds going to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Its a concert benefit and given that this particular friend also contributes to the Nine Bullets Blog and radio station, I feel very confident the lineup will be extraordinary. I created a Pandora playlist with some of the groups headlining and I liked. The genre is more Country |Rock | Folk | Dirty South, not my usual listening choices but I have instantly become a fan of the gravel & whiskey vocal styling of one John Moreland – definitely check out his older offerings, in addition to his most recent.

MD Can Kiss My Ass Benefit Essentials

Andalucia

IMG_1083Th-upSpain has a passion for just about everything: food, music, dance, architecture. I’ve been there and loved the experience but continuing to travel to Spain to experience these passions is cost-prohibitive, so I continue to look for surrogates locally. Andalucia comes close, excelling in some areas, while being flat in others.

I noticed the downtown tapas venue on a walk back from neighboring Phoenicia. I then remembered a coworker’s raves from weeks earlier and thought – must “research”.

Atmosphere

IMG_1093Open, heavy wood tables and high bar benches, warm tones, lively. Like all open, indoor areas filled with people, its sometimes difficult to hear against the background levels. But Andalucia is not about quiet conversation, its more about replicating the energy and experience you would find in Spain. The overwhelming reason to come here is for the live flamenco – 830-1030p – which for me, dictates the atmosphere. The performers are fantastic, the is crowd energetic, transforming Andalucia into a more of a performing arts venue with a food & drink bonus.

Service

Courteous,  prompt and otherwise good but there were some missteps with drink orders, likely due to the noise level.

Food

Some wins

Sangria: Too sweet for me. The base flavors were spot on with the red wine giving the drink its depth; present orange flavors added the requisite citrus notes. But I think either they are mixing a store-bought sangria or adding sugar to their own brew. Or maybe they were heavy handed with the fruit juices, possibly grape or apple. Not bad but not the best.

Patatas Bravas: Ah, the quintessential tapas plate. These were good but constructed differently than their traditional counterparts. The potatoes themselves are spicy, heat level rising only to mildly amusing with aioli piped in criss-cross pattern over the lot. It works well from a flavor perspective but the presentation was uninspired.

Albondigas Marroquis: Good but the advertised spicy, cumin pepper sauce was weak on both spice and  cumin and I was actually looking forward to the spicy, cumin pepper punch to break up the sweetness of the sangria.

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Price

Tapas range between $5-15. My two tapas and two drinks were under $30, which I considered reasonable.

I recommend Andalucia but I would book an 8p table on Saturday and consider live flamenco the highlight while the food and drink, an accessory.

Dinner: 18 May 2013

Andalucia | NW Corner of Polk & Caroline | Houston TX 77002

Phosphorescent

I met a small group of 20s for coffee at whatever the new place was for that sort of thing in the midtown area last week. I don’t recall the name of the place because they all seem the same. But its important to the 20s, that is  until next week, when next week’s spot-du-jour replaces this week’s spot-du-jour and the cycle predictably continues.

I like the 20s and you should add them to your social portfolio regardless of your current age bracket. Why? Because their lives are not yet cluttered with the consequences of living longer. The most troubling issues for them seem to be relationship issues. But when you siphon off the drama and distill down hours of histrionics, it’s usually the same thing : Two people who are not compatible.

The other plus  to 20s is that typically they know the best music. In fact, most of my music collection, now 1200 items, was collected by me in my 20s or recommended by a 20s after I left the decade.

I found it interesting when one of the overly caffeinated 20s turned to me and asked, “So, what type of music do people in your age group listen to?” There we have it folks, the iron curtain of age delineation. No matter, I mentally scanned the music I had just listened to at work and pulled this one out.

muchacho

Into the pockets, out come the phones. The 20s were awash in iPhone glow as they searched for Phosphorescent, clearly an unknown. A sample later and they were downloading, somewhat confused that they had been left out of the Phosphorescent loop.

Shame.

I like Phosphorescent as listen-to-at-work music, it’s on the lighter end of that vague, shapeless form of music known as alternative. The lead singer is auditory ménage a trois of Bryan Ferry, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen; you feel that at any moment he might fall off the ledge into vocals characterized by a steady diet of Oreos, Jack Daniels and Marlboro Reds.

The lead is Athens, Ga based with Alabama roots. On occasion I hear the Alabama in Phosphorescent songs through Dirty South riffs, steel guitar and fiddle. It makes for an odd but welcomed dimension. What’s the most notable about this group are the lyrics; simultaneously self-stroking, self-loathing, introspective and critical.

The kind of lyrics that might cause Bob Dylan to raise a glass of whiskey and an approving eyebrow while uttering something completely indecipherable.