Friday, August 28, 2009

the Vocapeople

I tried looking them up but it is all very vague...This is really funny and extremely good!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A tribute to round midnight

"You know, anybody can play a composition and use far-out chords and make it sound wrong. It’s making it sound right that’s not easy."

Thelonious Monk

Round Midnight is one of those standards my father introduced me to very early. It was one of those songs we would work on to see if i could actually manage to sing. I don't think i will ever do justice to this song. I stopped trying but I was still curious to see how other musicians interpreted this song. It is one of the most recorded songs in jazz history but what makes it so popular?
You don't understand how tough it is until you try to sing/play it, the melody is not easy to listen to and yet it touched so many hearts. If you ask me its one of those songs monk composed that came from his gut. The music is haunting and beautiful sometimes even claustrophobic not really giving you any space to breathe with him cutting the meditative atmosphere with strange half notes.

It is said that Monk composed this track in the 1940s. Miles Davis used this track later as the name of his album Round about midnight. The thing about Monks compositions were that his music was way ahead of his time and that his music was never fully appreciated when it was released. Now however is a completely different story!

This first version is one by Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea. They are just fantastic together, voice and piano flowing into each other like water. This one came from the album play something i will be putting up most of in later posts. It captures that haunting quality I'm so bad at describing!It is one of my or maybe my favourite version of this track. All these versions are vocal renditions of the track.

How can one have a vocal tribute to a jazz melody without Ella? This was the first version I heard of this song after which I got slightly obsessive! She brings Round Midnight to the big band with such class. I don't know how she makes this song sound so easy! Her sense of rhythm is unbeatable she brings the swing to the song.

Cassandra Wilson has the voice for this song. Its beautiful earthy timbre was made for singing music with this kind of atmosphere. I personally prefer it to the Ella version, its got more soul.

I know Jazz hardcore's will kill me for this but when i was looking for versions on youtube I found one by Amy Winehouse! Its the most accessible version and is actually quite nice. Please listen with an open heart and open mind!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Regina Spektor

Once again this song came from Myrthe. Regina Spektor is slightly hard to describe. She is like a box covered in beautiful, really intricate wrapping paper and when you open it there is this whole slightly twisted Dr Suess kind of world inside.

Consequence of sounds i one of those songs that describes her the best. Its got fantastic slightly retarded lyrics and an amazing half rap, half melodic sound. I am not going to put the lyrics down because its one of those songs that you can keep listening to and discover new things!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ani DiFranco

I'm not sure who introduced me to AniDifranco so whomever it was may you live a thousand years. I discovered this song on my ipod on the way to Rajasthan. Shilo and I used to sit at the doorway of the train listening to this on repeat while she got her smoke. We hummed along and watched the scenery go by. It's a lovely song to listen to as a background score when you travel. The lyrics to this song are also fantastic! Her music is like poetry.

When I tried introducing Lata to her she told me that this woman was one of the most politically active musicians of her times! It's funny how we discover these singers not knowing where they came from and it what context their music was heard. So I did some research.

At a very young age Ani Difranco toured with her music teacher performing at bars playing Beatles covers. In 1989 she started her own record company: Righteous Records (later renamed Righteous Babe records in 1994) The ownership of this record label allowed her incredible artistic freedom on her album. She later began propagating local artists in her hometown of buffalo.

Although much of DiFranco's material is autobiographical, it is often also strongly political. Many of her songs are concerned with contemporary social issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, Reproductive rights and war. The combination of personal and political is partially responsible for DiFranco's early popularity among politically active college students, particularly those of the left wing, some of whom set up fan pages to document her life as early as 1994. Her rise to popularity was more through word of mouth than media hype. It also helped that she was an artist who toured most of her life.

On the subject of religion, DiFranco said:

"Well, I'm not a religious person myself. I'm an atheist. I think religion serves a lot of different purposes in people's lives, and I can recognize the value of that, you know, the value of ceremony, the value of community, or even just having a forum to get together and talk about ideas, about morals — that's a cool concept. But then, of course, institutional religions are so problematic."

Red letter year is DiFranco's most recent studio album, released on September 30th 2008. Says DiFranco about the album: “When I listen to my new record, I hear a very relaxed me, which I think has been absent in a lot of my recorded canon. Now I feel like I’m in a really good place. My partner Mike Napolitano co-produced this record – my guitar and voice have never sounded better, and that’s because of him. I’ve got this great band and crew. And my baby, she teaches me how to just be in my skin, to do less and be more.

I am putting up the lyrics as well just because they are just beautiful even to read.

rush hour
and the day's dawning
the rain came
and pushed me under the awning
the puddles grew and threw themselves at me
with every passing car
I'm shielding my guitar
and there were some things that I
did not tell him
there were certain things
he did not need to know
and there were some days
when I did not love him
he didn't understand me
and I don't know why
I didn't go
he said change the channel
I've got problems of my own
I'm so sick of hearing about drugs
and aids
and people without homes
and I said, well,
I'd like to sympathize with that
but if you don't understand
then how can you act
I expected summer to be there in the morning
I woke to the alarm
but she was out of arms reach
sneaking out
on silent thighs
that were spent and sore
from the hot nights that came before
he said I looked for you
I don't know why
I said I was wearing black so you could
see me against the sky
take your big leather boots
and your buckles and your chains
put them on a downtown train
I expected he would be there in the morning
I awoke to the alarm
he was still in arm's reach
but his body was just a disguise
his mind had wandered off long ago
you see in his eyes
love isn't over when the sheets are stained
in my head there remains
so much left to be said
make me laugh, make me cry, enrage me
but just don't try to disengage me

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Radiohead and I have had a bumpy affair. When My schoolmates first started listening to it I didn't much care for it.
I just couldn't seem to figure out what the whole hoopla was all about. But that was in school.

Rishabh, a school friend was an obsessive radiohead fan and he just refused to believe that I didn't connect with the band. This is when he gave me the live Avenches album and I found love. Their music is fantastic, they have the perfect mix of electronic sound with real instruments. and Thom Yorke of course is fantastic with his vocals. They are such a well formed band.
What amazes me is every album has its individual sound and they always seem to outdo themselves every time.

Both Amnesiac and Radiohead's album Kid A, which was released eight months earlier in 2000, were recorded in the same period. Most songs on Amnesiac were recorded during the same recording sessions that produced Kid A. A lot of people refer to Amnesiac as the B sides to Kid A but I personally like Amnesiac better. Maybe I have a more conventional ear but I could relate to songs in this album much more.

While explaining the decision to release two albums rather than one, singer Thom Yorke said, "They are separate because they cannot run in a straight line with each other. They cancel each other out as overall finished things... In some weird way, I think Amnesiac gives another take on Kid A, a form of explanation." He continued: "Something traumatic is happening in Kid A, and this is looking back at it, trying to piece together what has happened." About the differences with the previous record he says: "I think the artwork is the best way of explaining it. The artwork to Kid A was all in the distance. The fires were all going on the other side of the hill. With Amnesiac, you're actually in the forest while the fire's happening." If you listen to both albums back to back you can see what he is talking about.

I might be wrong was first released as a radio single before the album. This is one of my most favourite songs. Its got a great rhythm and every time I listen to it I get into this really heady sort of trance.

While searching for videos I came across an acoustic version of this song. I didn't really want to listen to it because I thought the ambient effect would be lost but hey, its not bad at all! The full blown version is a live version. Personally any musician or band whose performances are better than their albums are true musicians. Anyway I'm putting both versions in, tell me what you think!

Camille- Monday song

Camille is a french singer who in early 2002 signed a contract with virgin records who released her first album le sac des filles.
When Myrthe introduced me to her I heard most of her really happy songs. Her a capella is great to listen to and most of her music is not without a sense of humour.

Le fil which was produced in collaboration with English producer MaJiKer. This album incorporated an avant-garde concept - a string, or thread ("le fil"), which was a drone that persisted throughout the entire course of the album. All of the songs in this album are based on the exploration of the voice, with only a double bass or double bass and keyboard as accompanying instruments. You only realise this when you listen to the whole album at a stretch so i suggest you do not download individual songs (shame on those who do!) Her music is not about lyrics however its about harmony and sound, it helps if you don't know french!

This song however is from her album Music Hole, her latest album released April 2008. I'm not sure what to think of it really, there is no real flow and some of the songs are just embarrassing but this one song Winters child stuck out like a square peg. Once again her music has nothing to do with her lyrics! The ambiance she creates with this song is fantastic. I love music that flows into you little by little letting you savour it so it fits. This one however has its own surprises. It gives me chills every time i listen to it!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Carmen McRae

"I was vain and blind then
Prone to be unkind then
Wish they’d turn back time somehow
Then I was audacious
I ignored what was precious
How I wish you’d ask me now"

How I wish By Thelonious Monk

I have a history with jazz that goes back a long way. When I was little my dad would sing me the standards. On our long drives together we would listen to jazz and he would play out the rhythm on the car wheel while I sang.
When he figured out I could actually keep in tune he began introducing me to the great singers.
Ella Fitzgerald was our favourite! I memorized all the lines and we would spend hours singing in my parents bedroom.
I went to boarding school a few years later and every time he came he would bring me recorded cassettes of other jazz divas. I still have my first Porgy and Bess tape, its been cello taped so much I'm sure most of the album is missing.

Boarding school also changed my taste in music. I started listening to the doors, dire straits and the Beatles. My dad of course was extremely disappointed with me. We had long silent feuds because i refused to listen to his records any more.

He tried so many times, bought me CD, took me to gigs and all the while I kept pushing him away.

Only recently the two of us went to The Lincoln center jazz club in new york to listen to a gig. When I saw the happiness on his face, the devotion with which he took his photographs I realized that the only reason I have even gotten to creating this blog is because of him. What hurts even more is I don't think he has ever given up on me and never will.

I've been going through our jazz collection and found all these beautiful Cd's of almost every successful jazz diva. Carmen sings monk is one of my new favourites. I remember my father went through a phase where he listened to the instrumental version of 'It's over now' all the time. I found this song on the Cd and think it's a fantastic version. This is dedicated to my father and his incredibly strong obsession with the kind of music I am now starting to love.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Little Dragon

Was it the blue night
Gone fragile
Was it both men
In wonder steady gone under
Was it the light ways
So frightening
Was it two wills
One mirror holding us dearer now.

Shilo introduced me to Little Dragon on the bus today and for that i will be forever in her debt.

Little Dragon is a Swedish band consisting of Swedish-Japanese singer Yukimi Nagano(vocals, percussion. She also sang a few songs with Koop on their Koop Island blues album) and her close high-school friends Erik Bodin (drums), Fredrik Källgren Wallin (bass), and Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards).
The first Little Dragon's release was a double A-side 7’’ single ‘Twice’/’Test’, released on Off The Wall label in 2006. The following year, the band signed with the larger British Peacefrog records and released their debut self-titled album Little dragon in 2007.

This song is simply beautiful. Its one of those that you put on repeat and listen to all day. Its tender and full of all these little surprises in the vocals. If you are in Bangalore the weather is perfect for this song!

Unfortunately the rest of the album is not half as good, I don't think they have figured how to do the slightly upbeat songs without compromising on their sound.

The video of this song is just as beautiful as the song itself. Like the song its beauty lies in its simplicity. I know I've used the word beautiful too many times but its all I can think of when i listen to it. What a lovely way to start the day!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kings of leon

Why would anyone listen to a band from Tennessee? Well we can make a few exceptions for this particular band.
Kings of Leon is a band you listen to when you want to obliterate something (or facing Bangalore traffic) Its
the kind of music where you bounce a lot,sing really loudly and act idiotic.

This song is one of their more quiet ones. Its one of those songs that you listen to and not analyze. The lyrics make no sense
but it has a great sound and Caleb Followills vocals really compliment the song.

If you are a first time Kings of Leon Listener and like this song please download songs from their earlier albums something went drastically wrong in this new one. try Aha Shake Heartbreak.


Avial is a Malayalam rock band formed in 2003. After the huge response to their first single Nada Nada they released
Avial- The Debut in 2008. Of course it was a sensational hit in kerala but they soon moved outwards to other places in India.

I think their music is great. Its got a whole combination of genres along with really strong malayali vocals. Who would have thought?

Karukara is my favourite song. I love the vocals and its really strong bass track. Unfortunately when i heard them live it wasn't half as good but i'm sure they'll get there. Whats also interesting about this song is all its sections. There are so many parts so it never really gets boring. I find something new every time i listen to it and that's what makes a good song!

I'm sorry but the video has something random happening in the first and last 10 seconds please ignore it!


I think everyone went through a nirvana phase when they were young. Of course all my adoration came to a grinding halt when i realised that most of their songs were ripped off. Whatever said and done they were still an integral part of my angsty teenage years.

I totally forgot about the band when suddenly Premjit introduced me to a Tori Amos version of smells like teen spirit. At first I just didnt want to go anywhere close to listening to it out of some sort of nostalgic devotion but when I actually got around to doing it, well my apologies to nirvana but she nailed this one. She is haunting and seductive and everything Kurt isn't. There is so much criticism about this but I suggest you try listening to it with an open mind.
He also introduced me to a whole load of other rather fantastic versions but i'll save those for another time!


Ali Farka toure was one of africas most internationally renound musicians. He is known for his marrying the blues and his traditional malian style.

I first heard Ali when my mother used his music for one of her films. It was one of his later albums niafunke, focussing on a more traditional style. I loved it in the first 30 seconds and am now a big fan!

This song is a beautiful example of his fantastic style. When he plays the blues he plays with your heart.