Monday, December 31, 2012

Cal Tjader - Soul Sauce

What better way to spend these current times than with good memories? In this case, it's really my parents' memories since I wasn't alive when this was out, but I can still appreciate the genius of Cal Tjader.

The song/title track is insanely catchy, and if you're not a Spanish-speaker don't worry. Guachi Guaro doesn't mean a damn thing, it's nonsense.

Give it a listen.


It's short, but I can imagine what this song live would be like. The improvisation on this one could easily add another 10 minutes with the catchy base of it all. Add the good vibes (ha!) the chemistry of it all and that classic Latin percussion and you get one amazing performance.. way back when.

 A thanks goes to Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo for the original production that would lead to this cover. Of course, Cal Tjader's version is better known, but a nod to Dizzy and Chano for making that possible! Another thank you to Willie Bobo for suggesting the name change. Good call.

 The track is essential to the album. It's so important it appears on there twice, but that doesn't mean it's the only sound you'll find.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/cal-tjader-soul-sauce.html
Buy: CD | mp3
Most of the album is actually pretty relaxed. It reaches through to seduction and relaxation sometimes to such a point that even a Bossa interpretation works perfectly in the album's favor. It might not be at a speed everyone will love, but those who won't mind will have a gem on their hands.

It's really a classic because of the peek in his career. His next giant success wouldn't be until 1980, and just a couple of years after that he'd move on and leave us with way too many albums and collaborations. All of them influencing some artist or genre in one way or another.

I recommend at the very least giving this one a listen for its value in the Jazz world. I've personally been listening to this one since I was a fetus and I'm proud of it. You can find a stream on Grooveshark or Myspace for free.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rafael Casal - Mean Ones

For those of you who don't know, or don't know much about Rafael Casal, what we've got today is some top notch rhyming ability and flow. It's likely that either you really like it, or really don't.

As goes with most Hip-Hop, you won't know until you give the speech and flow a listen. Give him a chance if rhymes are your thing.

Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp

Some of you cough may notice the One sample right at the beginning and all throughout the track. It really gives the lyrics a little edge, coupling what most people know of the original song with his own lyrics to give a better sense of the emotion.

Now, that takes brains, and so do the lyrics displayed. They're not his best, not as far as this particular album goes, but they're damn decent. I just put them up because he's saying something and he's going at a pace where just about anyone can pick out what he's saying.

His flow on most of the other tracks on the album, however, can go up to such tongue twisting speeds that it just wouldn't be wise to put on a general music blog. If it sounds like your thing though, you should really check the album out.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/rafael-casal-mean-ones.html
Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
Not that it's a perfect album. It's not. There's some generic themed tracks, and a couple of not so amazingly produced beats, but aside from that it's amazing. I never would've expected myself to enjoy a generic song just because the guy knows how to use his words right. I was impressed.

Then there's his unstoppable flow. The very first track just hooks you as he demonstrates his ability. Again, not the best of the album, but still better quality than today's Bottom Bitch.

I'm sorry I didn't find this guy earlier guys, the album used to be free. The Mediafire link no longer works, and the Bandcamp download now has a fee, but it's reasonable. Actually, I would've felt bad downloading this one for free with all the effort that's been put into it.

He's only asking for $5, give the stream a listen and check to see if it's worth it for you.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Victor Assis Brasil Quinteto

A had searched for this album a while ago, but I never got to give it a proper listen. Instead, I went ahead and found Pedrinho and enjoyed that as most I could.

That was his quartet, this is his quintet. Cello, piano, guitar, drums, and of course Victor Assis on the saxophone. Give one of my favorites a listen, Blues for Mr. Salztman.


Of course, with Blues right in the title you'd expect that sweet silky flow from the band to come through. As soon as you hit play you find out that it does.

I love Jazz bandleaders. Real ones, anyway. The ones who take their portion of the spotlight and then hand it out to all the other talent involved. In this case, possibly most noticeable is the guitarist who has a nice, long, sweet solo.

Everyone gets their time to shine, if not in this song (and most of them do) then on other tracks. The album is definitely complete.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/victor-assis-brasil-quinteto.html

It's 6 tracks long, but at nearly 45 minutes in length it becomes a broad display of different talents and ideas. You can hear the chemistry between them, and that helps the talent flow so much easier. You can hear the difference, especially between this one and Pedrinho.

It's not hard having a favorite track either. The sounds, style, and emotions vary from track to track, but the fade from one track to another is so fluent that if you don't pay much attention you won't know where one track starts and the other ends.

Definitely recommend this one to any sax lover, but it's a catch for the general Jazz fan as well. It's really hard to find, so if you can't seem to grab it, just give it a listen.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Pink Martini - Joy to the World

I wasn't planning on any holiday posts at all this year, but when they're put ever so kindly ahead of me I can't ignore the gift.

A special thanks goes to Melanie at No Really, You Can Eat It, for giving me a glimpse of the album with their version of Little Drummer Boy. The percussion was excellent and fit right in with the song anyway, catching my ear and eventually leading to this post.

If you're like me and you really like your percussion, check that one out. Or if you're feeling a bit more mellow, just check White Christmas (Part. 1) below. Enjoy.


Doesn't it make you just wanna sit down next to a fireplace and watch the kids playing with whatever you've got them? Well I have neither kids nor a fireplace, and I'm okay with that, so the song will do.

The sweet simple vocals, the gentle guitar in the background, it makes a great intro for an album to be enjoyed by all who enjoy any set of holidays.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/pink-martini-joy-to-world.html
Buy: CD | mp3
There couldn't have been a better name for the album either, as Joy to the World was made to be heard anywhere in the world. While I'm sure it's difficult to grab everyone's tastes, I also have to say they did a pretty good job.

A few songs in their original languages, a few breezy twists here and there, the only problem I find with the album is that it's so varied that it's impossible not to have a favorite set of tracks. Not too bad, I just like when each track competes for first place, personally.

The album is definitely a sweet holiday listen, and I recommend it for it, but it's not necessary to have a standard set of beliefs to be enjoyed. You can find the stream at their website, at Soundcloud, or on Myspace, just to be sure if you want it all.

Happy holidays, guys.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Active Set - Making Out (Is the Best Part of Christmas)

It's that time of year where the page views dip, where people are just starting to get tired of all the Christmas music on the radio, and people (once again) begin to say thanks.

So I'll start it out by saying thanks to The Active Set. They had released this track when last I wrote about them, but it wasn't time for me to write about it just yet. No better day than today though.

Give it a listen.

Listen @ Soundcloud

The song is actually kinda cute, and on that note it's made to be enjoyed by a wide audience. The 80's nod is not even as subtle here, and the lyrics were made to last right next to that repeating riff.

If not for the funny video, it would be a lot cuter. But the video also does a job of keeping an audience. It's fun, easy to smile with, and I think that was the purpose. Don't you guys?

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/the-active-set-making-out-is-best-part.html
Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
It'd be cool if they had released another track or two and made a sweet little Christmas EP for everybody, but that's not the case. It's just the one song, and it's only kinda Christmas-y. Who's complaining?

You can get the track over at Bandcamp, or just stream it over and over until it's stuck on you with any of their other mediums. You'll have it looping in your head by the fifth listen; you watch.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Via Coma - Figures

Social media is to thank for today's 90's Rock influenced band. If you liked the Rock scene back when skinny jeans were only for girls, chances are you'll like this band. And frankly, if you enjoy yourself a sweet band overall you might like them anyway.

Today's track takes a lighter tone than most of the album, but I really love how everything pulls together to make the defining sound. The keys and the guitar barely stand out, but without them the song would be practically worthless.

Give it a listen.

Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp

I really love how the percussion starts with these slightly odd times that, as the song progresses, become almost a normal Pop-like rhythm. As the Pop-like percussion kicks in, the rest of the song gets more eclectic. It tickles my ears, is all.

And then we've got the pretty boy vocals. I'm not totally against them, but it'd be nice to deal with some range every once in a while at least. It's decent vocals, I just have that negative 90's bias lurking over me.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/via-coma-figures.html
Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
Luckily for me (and all the other listeners) the band is talented enough to give a deep listen to, and catchy enough to grow attached with. As each song plays, there's a little spark that stays with you for the second play. And then the third, and fourth, and so on and so forth until you've memorized the entire album.

Not that they're without faults, though. The percussion isn't always the best, and if you're not already used to it it's easy to grow tired of the vocals, but aside from that they're in the clear. Decent "Alt"-Rock for those who need.

Finally, if after the stream you're still feeling unsure, be a leach and grab their album for free at their website. Here's the download link, for the lazy of you. If you're not gonna be taking part in handing these guys a chunk of paycheck, be sure to at least spread them around. I'm sure it's appreciated.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gretchen Parlato - The Lost and Found

Still in the mood for silky sensual music, I made myself rediscover Gretchen Parlato. I went to her website, previewed a few tracks, and ended up giving her latest album a listen. I was pleased.

What you get is what you should expect from a great vocalist. Decent lyrics, great melodies, and chill tunes that keep your ears occupied without having to strain them.

Grab a glass of wine and give her a listen.


The song progresses in such a way that shows best what the course of the album will be. Decent quality musicianship, sweet vocal techniques, and overall silk to the ears.

Of course, the song progresses a bit more than a lot of the others, so it's among my favorites. One thing that does stand clear is a beautiful voice that can hold an uncomfortable note for a nice long time. But that's something you see more obviously later on.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/gretchen-parlato-lost-and-found.html
Buy: CD | mp3
The album contains everything needed to satisfy a Jazz lover in need of sweet vocals. It's got quality production running through it, a dab of originality to stray it from the rest of the collection, and a sweet voice that you should keep enjoying until you finish that glass of wine I told you to go get.

It's not without its faults, though. As great as her voice might be, by the time you finish that glass it's probably time to stop and listen to something else. She's great for a few tracks, but afterwards it gets a little too predictable.

I was able to go 8 tracks loving every detail, but eventually I just had to stop and take a break before continuing the album. Just a heads up.

Of course, the album might still be for you. Don't neglect it because it might run for too long. Give it a chance first and see if it fits.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dave Valentin - Land of The Third Eye

This one was recommended by my uncle a few weeks ago as an exceptional display of Jazz flute from 1980. There's plenty of improv, funk, and sweet wind melodies.

Of course, being from the era it's from, and looking at it from a modern day standard, it's definitely got its cheesy bits. Some cliche synths here and there; repetitive extra groovy bass over there, so on and so forth..

Somehow though, it still definitely works. Give the title track a listen.


This is probably the best track on the album. It shows off the talents from every single artist on board, and it's got this quality Jazz progression to it that makes the track stick out.

Now, I find the piano/bass arrangement a little bland up at the beginning, but the flute glides through and welcomes the change in melody all throughout the song. It's magical when you realize it happening as you listen.

The cool part is the air of Latin influence you get to hear before it's done. It might not be an easy find for many, but it's there. Just like on the rest of the album.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/dave-valentin-land-of-third-eye.html
Buy: Vinyl
It's got a sweet, short running time, and is considered a bit of a hidden gem of its time. You see, at the time of its release there was a conflict between Valentin and producer/genius Dave Grusin. Grusin didn't feel like coughing up the rights, which means the album couldn't sell, which means less airplay, profit, and recognition. Owch!

Luckily that was all settled quite a few years ago, but sadly it never had the chance to boom through the radio and land hits left and right. I've been told that it was a feast to listen live, though. Since it was never a huge success, acquiring it now can be a bit of a pain in the ass.

For its running time, if you can get yourself past today's track, I'd give the album a listen. It's well worth a moment of time and it's likely to brighten someone's day.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I saw: Calle 13

Again. But this time they weren't just part of the event, they were the entire event. Before they got on stage, there was nothing but a DJ on his Mac putting up a broad selection of songs for the crowd to enjoy. Doors opened at 5PM, I went through them at 9:30, and the music officially started about an hour after that.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/i-saw-calle-13.html
Helicopter View of the event
I'm not sure all my readers will know what it's like to sing, jump, and dance alongside over 25,000 others at the same time, but I can tell you it's an experience I wish to bask in much more often. As a lover of quality music, it was the icing on the cake to share such an experience with individuals who had a sense of admiration for good music.

These people were of all shapes and sizes, of all ages, beliefs, ideals, and ways of life. Together we sang every lyric to just about every song for over 2 hours. Together.

I'm not exaggerating. I'd show you guys a clear cut LiveStream video, but it seems nobody recorded the event. For now, it seems you'll all have to do with a cellphone recording.

Or you could skip it.



This video shows two songs, and neither of them complete. The first is Muerte en Hawaii (Death in Hawaii), but that one's not as impressive as what you get when you skip to 1:10 and witness fine musicianship closely followed by thousands of people singing an entire song together. The second track is Atrevete te for the curious of you.

Seeing it live, there were songs played which displayed the musical talents much better than on this video, but those haven't been uploaded yet, so I apologize. Just trust me when I say that even someone who hadn't heard a single song before, or even didn't understand the language, would've had a difficult time not bouncing with the crowd to the music.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/i-saw-calle-13.html
Source
I can't say it's the best even I've ever been to, but it sure wasn't the worst. There was mud, everyone's cellphone had lost signal, and the music was loud and booming. This is just the beginning of the list of pros.

The band never once failed. There was a guest who messed a song up a bit, but honestly it's easy to overlook. The event was one of a kind, it's not an experience you can have with just any band. The truth is, it's an experience you get when you put an amazing composer and a rocker-turned-rapper together in front of a giant mass of people.

I'd repeat it in a heart beat, with the body aches, the sore throat, blisters and all. If you guys get a chance, I recommend it too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kavinsky - Protovision

Ever since my last post on this guy, I've become a fan of Kavinsky. His Electro-Opera might have its dull bits here and there, but the grand masterpiece at the end of the project will be worth it all.

He released the latest "episode" yesterday, and this one has a video. I was pretty pumped at first, and, well.. Just give it a watch.


This oddly filmed short video is probably the first time I've had visual representation during a Kavinsky track. This is to say, I can see where Kavinsky was going with this. Even though it has its R. Kelly is Trapped in the Closet moments, it's able to keep you watching what would be a pretty dull chase scene without the music.

Or maybe I'm fanboying too hard and my judgement is clouded. I should explain why this is a big deal.

It took me time and dedication to realize what Kavinsky was doing. He doesn't just say "oh look, this is a story so hear it out and put it together". No, he just leaves it there and lets you realize on your own.

The gist of the story is he crashes his Ferrari Testarossa in 1986 while trying to evade the police (I think), he dies, he tells his girlfriend he's dead (Nightcall) and, well I've been confused from that point on because just about every track is instrumental. Much like today's, which has a video.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/kavinsky-protovision.html

Before this release, all I really had to grasp onto was that Kavinsky had mentioned personally being his Opera's protagonist, and being a zombie since 1986. In other words he's crazy, much like any other half decent musician.

Now, with this release, even the title gives a clear idea on what's gonna happen, especially when put up next to the video. Whatever happens next, Kavinsky is gonna be Outrun-ing with his ghost car. It might not be much of a story, but I'm happy it's there.

Outrun's release is set for early 2013, but early is a relative term so I'm hoping it'll release by February. I'm excited.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Black Seeds - Dust and Dirt

A recommendation was made a short while ago, and I gave them a quick search and listen and deemed The Black Seeds worthy of my interest. A nice, chill sound, and enough of an original flair to keep them from being just another band.

Looking them up, I decided to go for their latest studio album, Dust and Dirt. It wasn't what I was expecting, and that's neither good nor bad. What's good is there's genuine Reggae going on and there's talent to be heard.

Give one of my favorites, The Bend, a listen.


There's something catchy to the lyrics, and that's all good writing. There's art in the form of poetry alongside the dubbed out bass that'd fit just as well at a dark club with some bongos.

The spaced out vocal chorus also gives off a nice vibe, but when you start to realize the sad nature of the song you see a deeper meaning. Something they don't always pull off, but works in their favor when it does.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/the-black-seeds-dust-and-dirt.html
Buy: CD | mp3 | Vinyl
I wouldn't say the whole album pulls through similarly to today's song.. quite the opposite, it was a bit of a let down. For every track with great lyrics, with quality production, with progression and that special flair; there's another with unclear messages, repetitive and boring musical backgrounds, and dull overall vocals.

It's still worth looking into, the Bandcamp stream will take you there and let you listen to every track free of charge so you can make of it what you want. And I guess at the same time, you get to handpick those amazing tracks out for yourself and keep them.

I really think I just started on the wrong album. These guys have been out for a while and I'm sure it's not because of music like this. This one just sounds like it's for those people that like Reggae, but not if it's too much at a time.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Active Set - 11

I gave these guys a listen just last week, and I've had my ears on them ever since. Even though I'm not the biggest 80's fan, their 80's Post-Punk and New Wave influences blend in really nicely with the Alt/Indie feel.

I debated for a while which of the songs to feature today. Choosing between the track that best represents the album or the one that I see has the most talent is a difficult thing to do, but the decision is made and I chose the latter.


If for whatever reason the Bandcamp player isn't working for you, give the Myspace stream a try.

Make of the lyrics what you want, interpret them into whatever sounds right to you, go ahead and sing along to the catchy Sea Legs hook, but this song stands out because of the musical side behind all of that.

Halfway through the song and we get this amazing Post-Rock influenced instrumental/string of melodies, that really ties the album together and keeps you yearning for the rest of the album.

And if you dig the track as much as I do, you can find this little gem for free on the Bandcamp link (for now?). If you love it, consider giving the album a listen, maybe a purchase if you admire their efforts.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/the-active-set-11.html
Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
The album is definitely complete. Anyone who truly loves the 80's and the Indie Rock feel will enjoy the listen. It's got a nice running time, and a nice variety of sounds.

A really common sound is the twangy high pitched guitar licks that I associate the most with classic The Bravery and Coldplay tracks, but they go way beyond that with the Post base. Honestly, if not for that and the lyrics, they'd probably be another bland band.

And if you're rapidly becoming a fan, they'll have a brand new video out very soon. Follow them over at their Facebook or Twitter.

Or if you prefer, I'll probably be putting the video up on mine anyway.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Trumystic - Paradise

Telling someone about the awesome experience of seeing the Easy Star All-Stars perform reminded me that I still hadn't really looked into Kirsty Rock. I took the time to do a little research earlier, and well it's not easy to find much.

I did find some of the latest from Trumystic where she's the lead vocalist, and it's a decent listen. They're a sweet little Reggae group that are pretty much supported by her voice and strong lyrics.

Give 'em a listen!

Listen @ Myspace

This is one of my favorite tracks. The lyrics are powerful, the hook does its job just fine, and even though her vocals aren't stunning, they do the song justice.

And for the viewers we have this homey, comforting video where we see the crew enjoying themselves. Despite the nature of the song, their base is one of good emotion and positive thoughts. I love how it shows.

The album, of course, will show that off much better, with many songs about love as well as eye-openers like today's.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/trumystic-paradise.html
Buy: CD | mp3
Paradise is not a perfect listen. Musically, it can get a little repetitive, it can dull the senses, and it can strike awkwardly with great sounds.

Despite its faults, it's a pretty evened out album. There's top notch rhyming skills, some sweet vocals, and somewhere to go with them. It's not an empty album, and hence definitely worth a listen.

If you like the base of it but prefer a slightly more electronic sound, give Trumystic Sound System a listen instead. They're a mix of Dub, Jungle, and Hip-Hop, and it's from there that this effort has evolved from.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Swearin'

Stumbled across this sweet little Punk band a little while ago, and just started paying attention to them now.

What we've got is a 90's inspired Punk Rock band. That comes with the whole combo: the cheesy sounding lyrics, the power chords, and the simple layout. And yet, for some reason, I'm still into it.

Give Hundreds & Thousands a listen.


This particular track is well produced for its genre. Nothing too amazing or over the top, in fact there's even some cliches, but it's nice. The riffs sound higher than the vocals, the drums are simple and just noisy enough to be heard.

It's kinda average, it's just nostalgic. This is what music would sound like if peoples musical ideals had frozen 10 years ago. It makes them stick out, but only when you realize the album was released this year.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/swearin.html
Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
I like about half of the album. There's a few tracks that just don't do it for me, and a few I could tolerate listening to every once in a while, but that's just about it.

The exception is my favorite track, Kill 'Em With Kindness. It's everything I like in the genre. It's raw, noisy, and angry. It makes me want to start flipping furniture over, and it's been a while since I've gotten that feeling.

If that's more to your liking, it might be in your best interest to check their earlier album out. I can't say it's better, but it tackles a different audience and does a good job of it too.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Xzibit - Napalm

I was listening to old Xzibit songs a few days ago, and I realized that I liked them just as much as I used to. He had a flow that few could amount to, and a style that, while vulgar, was real and to the point.

So I ended up taking the time to look some of his newer music up. I hadn't heard of him at all since the early 2000's, and I was curious to see if there was a more recent project.

Just last October he released Napalm. I was listening to it, and at first I was disappointed. A few tracks in and I'm wondering, is this what's left of X? Where's the flow? Where are the rhymes that I'd learn to recite with just as much emotion?

Then I heard 1983.


I'm instantly hit by cliche overly-sentimental music. My first reaction wasn't a happy one, and by now I was ready to give up on the album. And then I realized what I was listening to.

This one is a piece of art. Thoughts and words put together to express and show you, the listener, what things are like from the performers view.

The lyrics are a little hard to understand, both because of his accent/flow combination, and because it takes knowing his past to delve deep into it. For both cases, here's a set of lyrics to help you get it better.

http://www.d4am.net/2012/12/xzibit-napalm.html
Buy: CD | mp3
After 1983, the album started to pick up. There's some grade A rhymes in there with something to say, much unlike the modern day Hip-Hop star that talks about the color of his boxers and gets to the top of the iTunes charts.

There's a little bit of everything, from truly patriotic tracks like Meaning of Life to the perfectly rhymed Movies where his entire verse is made up of movie titles (lyrics!). And then if you're missing Eminem's old school style, there's even the occasional dark-themed song like Killers Remorse.

Unfortunately, there's just as much of the bad competing against the good in the album. There's a few songs where we witness the slipping of his flow, the commercialization in the production work, and a few meaningless tracks about nothing special.

If you've liked Xzibits older material, it'll be worth a shot. I recommend giving it a listen because of a few good tracks and a happy rhyme-lovers ear.

As far as the entire album goes, it could lose a track or six.

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