A palate cleanser: Cee Lo’s latest

This video is just unequivocally so awesome on all kinds of levels: Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You.”  It makes me feel much better after watching Ke$ha.

Soundtrack: What I’ve been listening to lately

1) K’naan. I just hopped on this bandwagon and I’ve been enjoying it.  I like his first album a little better than his most recent one, but both are good.

2) Janelle Monáe. I wish I were super fly, an amazing dancer and owned a tux (the last part I can probably achieve with minimal effort, at least) so I could join her posse.  This video has been on constant rotation around here.

3) The Black Keys. I’ve loved them for a couple years now, and recently decided to buy a bunch of their older stuff as well as, of course, their new album.  Here’s one of my favorites from this year’s Brothers:

4) Bach Cello Suites. I’m working up the G major viola transcription right now (the famous one) just for fun.  Here’s Yo-Yo Ma:

What I’ve been listening to lately

1) “Jug of Punch,” the Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem: I’ve been really into old-school, nostalgia-laden, semi-cheesy Irish music lately for whatever reason.  This version is a little slow but I like the more rousing one on my Irish drinking songs album.  RIP Liam.

2) “Everything Is Everything,” Lauryn Hill: I was shocked to learn today that many of my fellow music majors were completely unfamiliar with this incredible album.  I’ve been listening to it extra since then to atone for their sins.

3) “9 Crimes,” Damien Rice: In keeping with my Irish music kick, but contemporary and not trad this time.  It’s been cold and gray here in Philly lately and this song seems to fit the mood perfectly.

4) “An Draighneán Donn,” Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde: Also in keeping with my Irish music kick.  If you’re not familiar with Irish trad this might sound a little unconventional to you, but it’s well worth a listen, he’s the best Donegal sean-nós singer (and probably a super-distant cousin of mine given that we share a last name and my family’s from Donegal!).  I’m obsessed with his album Saol Na Suailce right now.

5) “My Kind of Town,” Frank Sinatra: I’ll let this speak for itself next week or so.

What I’ve been listening to lately

1) Kim Kashkashian playing Hindemith’s viola sonatas. This is just one example; the rest are equally amazing.

2) “We Are Marching in the Light of God”–I spent the weekend hanging out at the church in West Philly where I’m doing fieldwork and sang this at a choir rehearsal on Friday.  The church’s version was, of course, more awesome.  Imagine this with gospel instrumentation and a touch step.

3) Babyshambles, “Pentonville.” I can never quite figure out what’s going on with the patois here–whether it’s a guest artist or what.  I don’t know how well it sits with me; but here’s the song, as it’s stuck in my head.

4) The Wailin’ Jennys, “The Parting Glass.” I am trying to bring back the custom of singing this at parties, starting with the one I attended on Friday night.  Mark my words, it will return.  This version isn’t quite the one you’d want to sing in a social setting, but it’s still nice to listen to.

What I’ve been listening to lately, old-school edition

Over the past couple weeks I undertook the extremely dull and time-intensive task of uploading all 6,000 (!) of my photos to Picasa.  I had no choice because I wanted to install Snow Leopard (the new Mac OS) and it required a lot more room than I had on my hard drive, so I decided to transfer and then delete all my photos.

To make a long and boring story short, looking at all the old photos brought back a lot of memories.  I have a ton of pictures from summer 2006, the summer between high school and college, involving lots of hijinks with all my Tosa friends, and looking at the photos brought back especially intense sound memories (as we spent a lot of time rollin’ in the family Honda Accord listening to music).

With no further ado, the soundtrack of summer 2006 as filtered through senior-year-of-college nostalgia:

1) Beck, “Qué Onda Guero” from Guero. What a great album.  Not incidentally, the Marcel Dzama cover art inspired my subsequent purchase of my famous sad-ghost salt and pepper shakers.

2) James Brown, “Make It Funky (Pt. 1)” Allow me to write out certain key lyrics:

“What you gonna play now?”

“Bobby, I don’t know.  But what’s ever I play, it’s got to be FUNKY.  One.  Two.  Three.  Make it funky!”


Neckbone.  Candied yams!  Turnips.  Spud steak.  Spud steak!  Grits and gravy.

3) Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, “You Are What You Love” and “Handle With Care.” The entire album, Rabbit Fur Coat, is fantastic, so listen to it in full.

4) Gnarls Barkley, “The Last Time”

5) Shakira, “Hips Don’t Lie.” Because really, what else was on the radio that summer?

6) Miss B, “Bottle Action.” I don’t fight, I don’t argue, I just hit that bitch with a bottle.  Eastside eastside till we die.

7) Elton John, “Bennie and the Jets”

8 ) Etta James, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.” I actually prefer “Let’s Burn Down the Cornfield,” but I couldn’t find a good video clip.  But look it up if you have a minute.  You can’t really go wrong with Etta, so I didn’t think you all would mind the substitution.

What I’ve been listening to lately

…in this crazy back-to-school week, no less.

1) Paul Simon, “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”; its jangliness suits my schedule right about now.

2) Bill Ricchini, a local singer-songwriter on whose upcoming album I’ve been laying down the violin and viola tracks.  This track, “A cold wind will blow through your door,” was on Grey’s Anatomy last year!

3) Balkan Beat Box, “Bulgarian Chicks.” All the cool young Jews are doing it.  Plus, being of Albanian descent I get happy when “Balkan” is used in a neutral or positive manner, instead of “look at how crazy that place is!”

4) Gregorian chant. This one in particular is the famous “Dies irae.” Can you tell I’m taking a class on medieval and Renaissance music?

What I’ve been listening to lately

1) Cake, “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”–old school, but still awesome.  I want a machete that cuts through red tape and fingernails that shine like justice, among other things, but I think the outfit described sounds a bit too 1980s-power shoulders.

2) Sufjan Stevens, “Super Sexy Woman”

3) Fiona Apple, “Extraordinary Machine” Okay, so I’ve really just been on a woman-power (I am grown and therefore am not into this idea of being a “girl”) kick lately.  Which is fine.  Clarification: I’m on a permanent woman-power kick.  I meant a woman-power music kick.  Come on people.

4) Bright Eyes, “Classic Cars” Say what you will about Conor Oberst and emo-ness, but this is just a solid song.

What I’ve been listening to lately

…on Wednesday this week instead of Monday.  Oh well.  The music is still good two days later.

I’ve been on a huge Irish music kick lately, so there’s quite a bit (some admittedly kitschy) on here.

1) Mary Black, “Paddy’s Lamentation”

2) The Dubliners, “The Fields of Athenry”

3) Susan McKeown and Lorin Sklamberg, “The Rattlin’ Bog” and “Yula” from their EXCELLENT recent release Saints and Tzadiks.

Unfortunately there isn’t anything from the album on YouTube yet, so just go out and pick up a copy (or come over to my place and listen–I spin it gladly for anyone who’s willing to listen).  As an Irish Jew this is basically the story of my musical life though, so I love it.  I’ll write a longer review in the near future; in the meantime, McKeown is an Irish singer who does both traditional and contemporary stuff, and Sklamberg sings with lots of klezmer groups, doing a lot of Ashkenazi Jewish traditional music.  The album is kind of a mashup of Irish and Yiddish repertoire and somehow it works and works awesomely.

4) Talib Kweli feat. Norah Jones, “Soon the New Day”

What I’ve been listening to lately

1) Marvin Gaye, “Mercy Mercy Me” from What’s Goin’ On.

Definitely one of my favorite albums of all time.  It’s a concept album that works well as a unit–yet every single song can stand alone.  He’s one of the few artists who can combine a socially progressive message with sounds that you want to dance to.

2) Kíla, “Double Knuckle Shuffle” and “Tóg é go bog é” from their 1997 album of the same name.

Kíla are an Irish folk band–but they don’t sound “Irish folk” in the way that you may immediately think of when you hear those words.  “Tóg é go bog é” in particular reminds me of a Dispatch jam, but the beat is provided by a bodhrán, and it’s sung in Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic).  I happen to love Irish music of most kinds, but even if you didn’t grow up fiddling and step dancing like I did, it’s worth a listen (and particularly good for listening to while at the gym–the beat is perfect for running).  Also, in the first video, the lead singer is sick with the tipper on the bodhrán.  The second video has goofy graphics, so just ignore those and listen, there’s more amazing drumming.

3) Cat Power, “Breathless” from Jukebox.

4) Barbara Westphal and Ursula Oppens playing the Brahms Viola Sonatas.

Once again I can’t find good videos of classical music.  But this album is well worth looking up.  The pieces are two of my favorite in the repertoire and the musicians render them beautifully.

What I’ve been listening to lately

1)  honeyhoney, “Little Toy Gun”: a free download that came with a sweater I bought, and it’s now stuck in my head.  This is an older track, but I don’t pretend like I stay on top of new releases that well, so whatever.

Amusing and kind of bad remix:

2) A lot of Mahalia Jackson. I love Mahalia Jackson so much that I want to name my firstborn daughter after her, no joke.  I still remember Miss Cindy, my 4-K teacher at Ebenezer Daycare and an amazing gospel singer herself, putting on her albums during snacktime.

3) Michael Jackson, “Smooth Criminal.” My students at camp were obsessed with this song.  I ended up using it as a pedagogical tool and was very proud of their ability to identify all the different instruments in the song and tell me the Kodály syllables for all the rhythms.

4) A bunch of the Emerson String Quartet playing Schumann’s chamber music. I can’t find a good YouTube of any of their recordings of Schumann, but if you’re even marginally interested in classical music, please please please check it out, they are fantastic.  I especially recommend the recording of the piano quintet with Menahem Pressler.  If you hate chamber music, you especially need to check it out because it will make you see chamber music in a whole new light.

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