Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On the Horizon

Before I let the month of September slip through my fingers, I wanted to let you all know about that projects that I will be working on in the near future. Some of these, I hope to complete in the next several weeks, while others may take a bit longer to come to fruition. First, back in 2011, I had started compiling a mix of songs to listen to while driving through the desert at night. It was tentatively titled Desert Mariachi Swing Mix, but was shelved for the past three years. Truth be told, my perfectionism stepped in the way of progress, rearing its ugly head once again. Damn you, perfectionism!

Another post that has yet to be completed is one that has also been on the back burner for awhile called "The Evolution of Hip-Hop" where I plan on exploring the true pioneers of the rap game such as The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Afrika Bambaata, etc. This will likely be a multiple-part series that touches on the highlights of hip-hop in relationship to how each song or album directly impacted my life. Next, is a potentially large-scale project focused on the music that played a significant part in shaping the culture in Portland such as Paul Revere and the Raiders, Ural Thomas, Dead Moon, The Wipers, Heatmiser, etc.

If this wasn't enough to get you excited, I also plan on reintroducing a couple of the series that have featured on here in the past called Rediscovery of Lost Gems and Concerts From the Vault. Additionally, a couple new features are in the works, one that will feature a series of posts on my favorite guitarists, and another that will focus solely on females who have positively impacted the world of music over the past century.

Finally, I have started working on compiling a new Halloween mix for 2014, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for another genuinely scary batch of tunes. 

These are going to be exciting times at Eclectic Grooves so I hope you guys keep your ears to the ground and check back regularly.

Today, I'm going to leave you with a link to a song by AFRO called Definition of a Flow as well as a YouTube clip of him freestyling over a DJ Premier beat. I'm sure you will agree that this kid has the skills to pay the bills.

Monday, September 29, 2014

OCD- Obsessive Coincidental Discovery

Before my already fading memory fails to recall the details, I wanted to share my recent experience of a coincidental music discovery. I was at two concerts in the past month that both referenced the music of a particular band in two very distinct ways. I'm being ambiguous as I don't want to divulge the band name until I get to that part of the story.

The first part of this story takes place at the Wonder Ballroom. On this particular occasion, I was going to check out the Breeders, as I had missed the opportunity to see them when the original lineup played Last Splash in its entirety for the 20th anniversary of the album's release date. While this story isn't intended to focus on the Breeders, I have to at least say that they were in fine form, playing like a band who knows exactly what they need to do to get the crowd fired up. They played a rapturous set filled with fan favorites like "Last Splash", "Divine Hammer" and "Happiness Is a Warm Gun", as well as deep cuts from all three albums, and even a few new songs that will hopefully show up on the new record.

It was a phenomenal set that could only be enhanced further by the music that played immediately after the band left the stage. While I typically feel like the choppy transition of music directly after a show jolts me out of the experience I was having, the venue definitely got the music right tonight. The herky-jerky spastic new wave/punk song that played immediately after the Breeders set sounded perfect to my ears. It was a euphoric tune with a catchy chorus that was familiar to me, but I couldn't quite put my finger on where I had heard it before. Thankfully, due to the latest technological advances, I was able to find the song with the Shazam app on my iPhone. It was a track by Devo called "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprise". While I was never the biggest fan of Devo when I was growing up, I always liked the sexually charged 80's hit "Whip It" and their incredible rendition of the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction".  Until now, aside from these tracks, I'm afraid that I've been greatly unaware of the greatness that is Devo.

Devo: The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprise
From: Duty Now For the Future [1979, Warner Bros]

The second part of my story takes place at the recent Built to Spill show at the Crystal Ballroom. In the middle of their set, they played a track that I'd never heard before. While Doug Martsch has an extensive repertoire of songs in his arsenal, I was fairly sure that this wasn't an original song. After the show, I searched the internet to see if Built to Spill's recent playlists indicate that they have played any covers. Sure enough, they had covered Devo's "Gut Feeling/Slap Yer Mammy" at a couple shows in the past month. I searched YouTube for "Gut Feeling" and was happy to discover that this was the song that they covered the other night.

Devo: Gut Feeling/Slap Yer Mammy
From: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! [1978, Warner Bros]

Sometimes I wonder if the universe intends for certain songs and/or bands to land in your stratosphere at a particular time in your life. While I hadn't given Devo much of a chance up to this point, I will definitely have fun making up for lost time. It just goes to show that you never know when, where or how you are going to discover new music, you just have to keep your mind and ears open to the possibility.

I would love to hear about any of your stories about similar musical discoveries, so drop me a line in the comments.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Choice Cuts Vol.7

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.

Peter Green: Bottoms Up
From: End of the Game [1970, Reprise]

I can't believe that the last time I posted a Choice Cuts episode was July of 2013. How time flies, regardless of whether you are having fun or not. This is a special Choice Cuts episode as it only features one song. I feel that this song is so great that it deserves its own post.

Over the past several months, I have listened to many songs, none of which have impacted me to the same extent as as Peter Green's "Bottoms Up". When I first ran across this song, it wasn't while digging in the crates at one of my local record stores, or while searching for tunes within the plethora of music blogs that I had earmarked for further exploration, but while listening to the new Portland independent radio station XRAY.fm.

It was the beginning of June, and my former employer had enlisted me with performing the mind-numbing task of administering their technical knowledge base. In order to prevent myself from falling into a stupor due to extreme boredom, I needed some music to keep my head in the game.  I had been checking out some of the radio shows on XRAY.fm, and became particularly fond of one called Going to Bed with Morning Remorse. I can't recall when I first listened to the show featuring Peter Green, but it had been broadcast in the previous week or two, and archived for everyone's listening pleasure. Considering that the set started out with the whacked-out electro-funk of Bruce Haack seamlessly segueing into the psychedelic wonder of Animated Egg, I should have been prepared for the mind-blowing track waiting patiently in the wings.

As the final strains of Michael Chapman’s epic folk song"The Aviator" faded out, the bass line of Peter Green's "Bottoms Up" unassumingly enters the scene. After some introductory noodling, the song starts to really build some steam around the minute mark, with each beat of the drum moving it along at a steady clip. Around the 2:30 minute mark, Green's solo takes off, and reaches for the heavens. All the while, the rhythm section increases the tempo to unbelievable heights, only to slow things down completely at the 3:30 minute mark. At this point, a subtle rhodes piano works perfectly with the undulating bass line and skittering drums. This goes on for about a minute, until the funky bass line congeals with the drums, rhodes piano and Green's otherworldly, effects-heavy guitar.  At the six-minute mark of the song every single member of the band is firing on all cylinders, creating a sound that literally sends chills up and down the listener's spine. While the rest of the album features some interesting experimental rock, there is nothing else that comes even close to the level of musicianship of "Bottoms Up".

I’m sure that you will agree that it’s worth the price of admission alone to take this ride with Peter Green. Bottoms up, indeed!