Monday, July 29, 2013

Cambodian Grooves

Recently, I checked out the latest full-length movie from Portland filmmaker James Westby entitled Rid of Me. While I had been trepidatious about wasting my time on seeing a movie with Storm Large (kitschy lounge singer from Portland) in it,  I have to say that it was well worth it for the music alone. I'm not going to go into a synopsis of the movie because there are other avenues like Metacritic or IMDB at your disposal if you so desire to go down that road. The reason I am posting today is to let you know about these two fantastic tracks by Ros Sereysothea that are featured at the end of the film.

For the esoteric music aficionados out there, you may recall these tracks being featured on the long out-of-print classic compilation Cambodian Rocks.  The first track entitled "Chnam Un Dop-Pram Muy", translated to "I'm 16" in English,  was a perfect song to show the transformation that the main character Maris was undergoing after dealing with an unexpected twist of fate in her life.  As soon as she steps into the record store, you can literally see her world getting brighter, especially since the object of her affection has invited her into his vinyl kingdom.  As the camera pans around the record store showcasing the vinyl on the shelves, the opening majestic guitar solo perfectly captures the excitement that she experiences, and the world of possibility that is presently at her fingertips.

During the closing scene, we see Maris dancing wildly to the happy song that the guy at the record store confessed was his favorite on the CD.  This little slice of happiness was appropriately called "Tngai Neas Kyom Yam Sra", translated to "Today, I Drink Wine" in English. If it wasn't for checking this movie out the other day, who knows how long I would have gone in my life without being exposed to these two infectious tracks. In both instances, the music is perfectly matched for the subject matter presented in the scene. I can't say enough about the exceptional work put in by this music supervisor.

I hope you guys dig these crazy Cambodian jams.

Ros Sereysothea- Chnam oun Dop-Pram Muy and Tngai Neas Kyom Yam Sra

Drop me a line in the comments to let me know what you think, or what types of music you are digging these days.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Mix 2013

As the Breeders so aptly stated on their infectious slice of summer jam “Saints”, “Summer is ready when you are”.  While I’ve been ready for summer since it ended last year, I wasn’t quite expecting the sudden onslaught of heat that the Portland area received at the beginning of July.   But once the days started to stretch longer and the warm air was hitting my skin, I became inspired to create a new soundtrack for my summer days. Since summer weather in Portland doesn't typically start until around the first of July, I started to compile my summer playlist at this point. Over the past few days, I have managed to narrow my selection down to an eclectic mix of songs spanning genres as diverse as funk, jazz, rap, soul, gospel and rock that clock in at just over an hour.

So fire up the barbecue, bask in the afternoon sunlight and don't hesitate to dive right into this year's summer mix!

1) New Dawn- There's a New Dawn
2) The Pastel Six- Twitchin'
3) Sic Alps- God Bless Her, I Miss Her
4) Grass Widow- To Where
5) Jackie Paine- Go Go Train 
6) Jurassic 5- Day at the Races
7) Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings- Cut that Line
8) Wally Cox and Nate Branch- Za Zu
9) Unknown Mortal Orchestra- How Can U Luv Me
10) Witch- Chance
11) Creedence Clearwater Revival- Down on the Corner
12) Deerhunter- Pensacola
13) Village Callers- Mississippi Delta
14) Pearl Dowdell- Good Things
15) Afrique- Slow Motion
16) Big Star- Feel
17) Coasting- Portland
18) Gospel Chandeliers- Honesty is the Best Policy
19) Ty Segall- Gold on the Shore

I would love to hear what you think of the mix, so please drop me a line in the comments.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Choice Cuts Vol.6

It's been awhile since the last Choice Cuts was posted, but I wanted to get some music up here since the last post was primarily meant to spread awareness about my partner's health problems. Happy 4th of July to everyone! Be on the lookout for Summer Mix 2013 in the next week or so.

It is once again time for me to reach back in the refrigerator for some "choice cuts". Each time, I will be featuring sizzling and succulent morsels that are grabbing my ear right now that range from funk to country, from afro-beat to garage rock, etc. Sometimes there will be a theme to these songs that ties them all together in a nice bow, but other times the songs featured will just be a musical hodgepodge of eclectic delights. Without further ado, lets see what "choice cuts" the vinyl butcher has prepared for us today.

Blossom Toes- Peace Loving Man
From: If Only For a Moment [1967, Marmalade]

When first hearing the name of the band and the overtly positive song title, you might be misled to think that you are about to hear another garden-variety psych pop band trying to evoke the 60’s flower power experience. I can assure you that this assessment couldn’t be further from the truth. What you get instead is a song that confounds all of your expectations right from the start. I stumbled across this song on YouTube when I was doing research for my psychedelic podcast. Even though I already had this Blossom Toes album on my hard drive, I hadn’t yet been exposed to the wonders of this ever-shifting behemoth of a track. It begins subtly with a short ambient interlude that shifts instantly into the first verse where the lead singer’s full-throated growl is almost aggressive to the point of being comical. Then, out of nowhere comes the most blissfully melodic chorus this side of the Byrds or Buffalo Springfield. After this, there is a really short second verse that segues into a creepy, tripped out section that incrementally builds in tempo until the strained, blood curdling screams of the vocalist bring the listener back home. From here, there is a progressive instrumental bridge that leads us back into the chorus, a quick return to the lyrics from the first verse and then an electrifying guitar solo that suddenly ends without notice.  Despite barely being a footnote in the history of rock, this song just might be the earliest example of music that predated the birth of death metal.

James Knight and the Butlers- Uncle Joe
From: Black Knight [Cat, 1971]


This track starts out unassumingly as a classic soul song, but slowly develops into a psychedelic funk monster.  With two verses under his belt before the song gets cooking, Knight lets the horn section take center stage at about the 1:53 mark of the track. At this point, the track gets progressively funkier, and the dirty fuzz guitars commence to kick out the jams. Then, the horns echo in the distance while Knight interjects random grunts, screams and guffaws through his echo effects pedal.  Over the next two and a half minutes, a distorted, psychedelic guitar solo and chicken scratch rhythm guitar completely dominate the track. As the song slows down, the final verse is introduced for about 30 seconds. Towards the end of the track, the horns, frenzied fuzz guitar and vocals all fight for the same sonic space, resulting in an orgiastic onslaught of sound. This is probably what James Brown’s music would have sounded like if he and the JB’s had swallowed thirty tabs of acid one night, and then decided to have a jam session with Eddie Hazel from Funkadelic.  This track is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but it will serve as a fantastic addition to the collections of those adventurous sonic spelunkers out there.