Archive for October, 2007

Stars vs. Pitchfork

Monday, October 15th, 2007

For those who know Stars, number 6 on KWUR charts last week, you may have read the Pitchfork review of their latest album, In Our Bedroom After the War. If not: Pitchfork Stars. It got a 7.4 – I know that’s what you’re all wondering anyways. Stars apparently wasn’t too pleased with Mr. Ryan Dombol’s opinion, because Torq Campbell responded (Torq’s response) vehemently, to say the least. I guess the war’s not quite over for Stars. However, I think most will agree that too much of the consensus regarding indie music is laid upon their smug shoulders. Anyways, Torq seems a bit mad, but isn’t that what pop musicians are supposed to be like?

Will Al Gore run?

Friday, October 12th, 2007

Now that Al “God” Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize, everyone has asked the question: will Gore run for KWUR general manager? A source close to Gore told KWUR 90.3 FM Blog that the winner of the 2000 presidential election is currently focusing on raising awareness about global warming, but is also concerned about who will run KWUR following the departure of current GM, Michael Sandler. Gore found solace in pretentious indie music following his crushing defeat in 2000, and has been especially fond of the new album from Devendra Banhart, as well as Talib Kweli.

What do other St. Louis stations play?

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

KWUR’S #1 record this week (Mum – Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy): did not chart at KDHX, #10 at KSLU
KDHX’s #1 (Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – 100 Days, 100 Nights): #17 at KWUR, did not chart at KSLU
KSLU’s #1 (Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala): #5 at KWUR, #9 at KDHX

The Joys of Sesame Street

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

I know that videos of famous musicians on Sesame Street get posted to death on music blogs, but they really do get some great artists on the show, from Johnny Cash to Andrew Bird to Stevie Wonder. I decided to take a trip down memory lane this morning and watch some of these videos, and one of my old favorites that I had long forgotten popped up on youtube.

While Dolly Parton never actually appeared on Sesame Street, her Muppet spoof, Polly Darton, is dead on with a platinum blonde wig and huge bazoombas. Here she is with Benny Rabbit singing “14-Carrot Love.”

Keep the Funk Alive

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Funk has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 60s R&B. I’ve always said I’m into funk music, but only recently have I realized how vague that label is. Funk could be James Brown’s “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” but it could also be synthed-out space rock in the form of Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain.” Or hell, it could just as well refer to Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Funk even took an unfortunate detour into Disco in the 80’s.

The funk of “our time” (I say this referring to the 18-24 demographic group, I guess) has been largely ill-fated. Notwithstanding its integral role in the development of hip hop, funk music went into something of a “funk” in the 90’s. The biggest thing to happen to funk in the 90s was the jam band movement. These improvised funk-rockers like Galactic or Widespread (uch) took the whole “fusion” thing to a new level. In my opinion, the downfall of the jam band movement was its over-emphasis on groove-based improvisation, with not enough focus on songwriting. When it comes down to it, you can be as funky as you want, but you need to write a song people will remember.

After all this, though, funk is back. The “oughts” (00’s) have a whole new school of funk that I have penned “neo-funk.” Just as neoliberalism hearkens back to classical 19th century liberalism, neo-funk derives itself from the original masters: the JBs. The next wave in funk is starting now with a return to horn-driven, riff-based R&B style funk. It’s a quiet movement, now only enjoyed by the true lovers of the style, but it could be the next big thing.

Here are some groups out now, that I think fit in to this neo-funk category:

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

This first one should go without saying. If you haven’t listened to Sharon Jones yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out. The Dap-Kings, the house band at Daptone records, have some serious soul power, especially in the horn section. Sharon Jones has a voice that could break glass and melt your heart all at the same time. When they belt it out, the music pushes itself into the very core of your body. As a matter of fact, you should check out any of the artists on Daptone records. They’re all pretty sweet.
Here’s a song off their new album that’s pretty indicative:


Or you can check them out at their myspace or their spot at daptone

The New Mastersounds

These British Funksters got together about five years ago and represent the best that the UK has to offer the funk world. The five piece outfit features prominent sax and hammond. They have a pretty wide range in their songs, some of which sound like Booker T and the MGs grooves, while others have the flavor of a JBs song. They are a group who know and love the old masters, but aren’t afraid to try new things. Their only downfall is that they can be a little hard to find in the US, and don’t tour here very frequently (although I think they’ll be at the Bear Creek Music Festival in Florida this N0vember).

Check them out on their myspace or their band website

Lack of Afro

This LA youngster (only 26 years old) has been playing music for a long time. He started “tickling the ivories,” as his website says, at the age of seven. Now he plays just about every instrument on his album, not to mention producing it himself. His music is a combination of old-school funk-soul remixes and a ton of live instrumentation. His debut album, Press On (Freestyle 2007), is a masterpiece.

Myspace , his website