we have a groove and we're not afraid to use itA Band of Bees -- Angryman
When I was young I used to watch the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoons on TV. One of them, the one with Swarm, always creeped me out, though I'd insist on watching it anyway. Swarm was, as anyone could guess, a swarm of killer bees with psychic powers. It was semi-intelligent, persistent, and, contrary to all known laws of physics and biology, could talk. What it said mostly was "Swarm," (or, more properly, "SWAAAAAAARRRM"), and this was what creeped me out. It could also control people and was, perhaps in retaliation for its brethren's years of making honey for human consumption, bent on world domination.
This Band of Bees is a bit different. I don't think they have any plans towards world-domination, though they could probably get farther on it than Swarm did. The Band of Bees are a group from the Isle of Wight who blend psychedelic rock with bits of blues and dub and Latin rhythms. This track is a buttery sweet bit of R&B off Sunshine HIt Me, loose and funky, with a heavy mid-70s vibe to it. But damn is it smooth. Prince, Andre 3000, and Sly and the Family Stone would all be proud to call this one theirs.
Their cover of Os Mutante's "A Minha Menina" takes the original (which was plenty good already) and kicks it up a notch (Said the Gramophone covered it last year); "No Trophy" is a great bit of dub; "This Town" sounds like a lazy Sunday afternoon with a squelching/bopping organ, brushed drums, an acoustic guitar, and an easy melody. And then, after a bit of a wild ride, the album closes on some mellow tracks. Nice. The album as a whole is innovative and solid.
[Sunshine Hit Me @ Amazon.com]
Band of Bees are getting along okay, but Swarm today would probably have a tough time of it. There's a mite attacking honey bees in the U.S.; it's killed about half the domestic beehives in the last year. I'm expecting a lot of food crops to go up in price, and soon.
Justice and Drake: cocaine and sabotage and so forthDick Justice -- Cocaine
First track today is from Dick Justice, a folk musician from the late 1920s who recorded just a handful of songs and seems to have spent most of his life working in coal mines. The song's about a man's love for cocaine and also about his girlfriend who works at a white man's house and steals food for him. It doesn't sound much like love, though: "Around your back door, honey, I’m gonna creep / Just as long as you bring me two-and-a-half a week." Then she takes off with another man and his furniture gets repossessed. Wonderful and insane.
I found this track at archive.org, which deserves a good poking around in. Check it out, if you haven't.
On a similar tip to the work-thievery, Sabotage in the American Workplace, a book about disgruntled employees and what they do because they're bored or underpaid or want revenge or hope to regain some sense of self-worth. It's fascinating, hilarious, enlightening, and frightening all at once, and well worth the read.
Nick Drake -- Cocaine Blues
And then: Nick Drake doesn't need an introduction, does he? Here's "Cocaine Blues" from the LP of home recordings, Tanworth-in-Arden. It doesn't seem to be available on CD as far as I can tell, but I'm not sure the LP was legit in the first place.
[Amazon.com] for those of you feeling guilty about it (though I can't help wondering what benefit it is to Mr. Drake).
k-os and SupersystemSupersystem -- Everybody Sings
k-os -- Crabbuckit
I got this email from Touch and Go / Quarterstick advertising some new songs (one from !!! and embedded in an e-card, which I didn't arse myself with visiting, and the other linked below). It's a little more, er, danceable than most of what I post here, very radio-friendly, but that's okay. It is, most importantly, good.
And then, also on the joie de vivre tip, there's this from independent hip hop/R&B artist k-os. Yes, I missed the train on this one. You might remember him from Said the Gramophone's post in September 2004; and I'm sure Sean writes about him better than I do; and then We Eat So Many Shrimp knocked on him but their Google cache always forwards to the current page so I'll skip the linkage there.
At any rate, I like the bass line, the claps are hopping, the sax tears it up, the piano gives that je ne sais quoi. It is fun, and fun is good. (Yes, the song just ends suddenly--it's from a mix.) The CD as a whole is solid, confident work, worth a listen (unless you're all tough and shit; if so, then skip it).
[k-os: Joyful Rebellion @ Amazon.com]
Touch and Go Records for the Supersystem.
In other news, I'm looking through some crates for more gems. Even forksie gets just a few comments a post, so I hope somebody out there is actually listening to these and liking them.
David GriggsDavid Griggs -- Peace and Loving Understanding
David Griggs -- Satan James
David Griggs -- Speak
I found these on an LP in my roommates' crates called Time to Listen, a debut compilation from Tallahassee FL-based label Sweetbay Records. There's no information about any of the artists on the record or in the liner notes aside from a photo, a sketch, and what instruments they played; and allmusic.com doesn't know anything about Griggs except that he was a folk singer. He looks to be in his mid-twenties in this photo from 1975.
So anyway. These are by David Griggs. The first one sounds like a bit of classic soul (reminds me a lot of that track on the documentary Weather Underground, during one of the driving scenes--a track which I foolishly forgot to look up in the credits; it sounds very familiar but I can't quite place it). At any rate.
The next two songs are country/rock/folk. Picture if Roy Orbison and Chris Isaak had a baby. Well, but Griggs was born before Isaak. So maybe Griggs and Orbison had a baby, but Isaak ran away from home so he could be forlorn in new digs. (Sure, I like to knock Isaak, but I have a couple of his CDs too.) ... I do think these tracks are good, else I wouldn't post them. "Satan James" has sort of a timeless sound to it, the kind of song it's easy to imagine in a Kenny Rogers film; and "Speak" would be perfect for a period western/comedy honkytonk.
I'm guessing the label went bankrupt (zero hits on Google), but it's a pity we didn't hear more from Griggs. I would have loved to see a career spread out before him and I'm curious what happened.
I Can't Believe That You're in Love with MeMay Wynn -- I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me
Track today isn't so much a diamond in the rough as a ruby from a stack of emeralds: "I Can't Believe You're in Love with Me," a sultry jazz number from the Bogart film The Caine Mutiny. The movie is based on the Herman Wouk novel about a mutiny onboard a naval ship (a topic that might strike you as anything but sultry and jazzy--really, as competent as the movie is, the romance scenes still seem to belong to a different very competent movie from the rest of it).
The song's a jazz standard composed by Clarence Gaskill and covered by some heavyhitters (Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Django Reinhardt, Ella Fitzgerald); the performer here is a woman by the stage name "May Wynn," playing a singer who's taken the stage name "May Wynn."
I ripped the track from the VHS; as far as I can tell, the soundtrack was last released in 1954 on LP. So I hope you can pardon the bit of incidental music that bled over from the previous scene ... I just think there's something timeless & classy & compelling about the track, enough that I wanted to share it.
Billy PrestonBilly Preston -- Sweet Marie
Billy Preston -- You Got Me Buzzin'
A couple of tracks today from Billy Preston, who most of you will know from his work with The Beatles and from "Space Race" and "Will It Go Round in Circles" (or from his organ-heavy "I'm Really Gonna Miss You"). He's done some great work, but I have a fondness for some of the things that didn't make it onto either of his "Greatest Hits" CDs. These two are off 1977's Whole New Thing which, so far at least, hasn't been released on CD.
"You Got Me Buzzin'" is an exuberant number, funky and a bit dated, but fun; "Sweet Marie" is a slower number, bluesy, heavy on piano and organ with some spare horns worked in. I think "Sweet Marie" has a bit more heft and I give it my Sitting on My Can Listening to Music "Un Certain Regard" award, but "Buzzin'" makes a nice addition to my Happymaking mix CD, so here's both.
Whispers, Changes, ImmuneI just finished watching Whisper of the Heart, which was subdued and humane and all-around wonderful, and featured some lovely Japanese versions of "Country Road (Take Me Home)." I saw it on a fansub, though, and the DVD has 30-minute chapters, which makes it even unlikelier that I'll rip the soundtrack and trim it up for a post. It's a good film, so if you're into anime, hop on over to your video store and look for it.
I've gotten email from The Changes and from Immune, two independent bands aiming for some promotion. And, as I quite liked what they'd done, I don't mind promoting them.
Immune are an electro-pop band from France offering two tracks and five samples for download here; "you landscape" starts with a droning guitar pattern and builds an odd, moody, at times cacophonous world around it.
The Changes are from Chicago IL and have been written about previously, and better, by scissorkick, 3hive, and mystical beast. Their music has a spare, uncluttered sound to it that I think is very effective: it's somehow open, welcoming; it would be great for singalongs. The Changes have a download page here and a new track, "When I Sleep," is posted here.