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Call Me A Hole: Nine Inch Nails + Call Me Maybe = Awesome

5 Mar

I was seriously not expecting to like this as much as I do, but holy cow; this really is great. Nine Inch Nails is some of my favorite music ever, and I also enjoy a good pop hook. This combines them both in a crazy, mind-expanding… and extremely catchy way. I’d love to know what Trent Reznor or Carly Rae Jespsen think of this.

 

Here’s my favorite interpretation so far, via k2b at Gawker:

“First thought – this is a charming combo because it mixes up presumed oil and water in a fun and silly way that makes it hard to take it too seriously. I like fun and silly, and avoid taking things like pop songs too seriously. Second thought – it kind of suits, because I liked NIN as much as anybody in my teens and twenties and still enjoy it from time to time, but not as much, because I am older and do not relate to it so much. And I realized that the mashup doesn’t offend me, because the level of emotional maturity involved in both songs is so similar that the juxtaposition really strikes me as one of style – they are two sides of the same coin. In short: it’s all angsty teenager/YA stuff, even if one is more poetical.”

Call Me A Hole

Image by rsmithing w/pics by Lunchbox LP & ClintJCL via Flickr. Free for use via Creative Commons.

The Connection? The Producer!

Dave Ogilvie, Producer of "Call Me Maybe"

Dave ‘Rave’ Ogilvie at The Warehouse in Vancouver, where ‘Call Me Maybe’ was mixed.
Photo: Adam PW Smith via soundonsound.com

The music to Call Me Maybe was produced by Dave “Rave” Ogilvie — industrial music legend, and collaborator of… wait for it… NINE INCH NAILS! Yes, the one-time Skinny Puppy member now uses his musical powers to assail radio with four-on-the-floor kick drums. My jaw literally dropped when I learned this at boingboing.net via user OtherMichael. Absolutely astounding.

Read the mind-boggling, intricate craftsmanship Ogilvie applied to this track.

What do you think? Are you a fan of mashups, Nine Inch Nails or Call Me Maybe? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Russian Meteorite Aftermath Video

15 Feb

I don’t see what all the hubbub over the latest meteor in Russia is all about. I mean, based on this documentary of what happened with the Tunguska meteor event in the early 1900s, clearly the proper authorities are on top of things. This film happens to be set to the music of Metallica, but there are subtitles, so feel free to watch with the sound lowered if this type of music isn’t your fare.

And here’s another Russian meteor video featuring the music of Leona Lewis. No word from scientists yet as to whether the music triggered this most recent event as some type of wrath from the heavens.

What do you think? Ever seen a meteor streak across the sky? Anything to be concerned about here? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Your Own Personal Grammys

27 Jan

Are your favorite performing artists underrepresented for their work? Does the mainstream “best of” not reflect your tastes? Then make your own awards. This is my blog, with my completely biased opinions – The Grammys, this is not. That said, the rsmithing.com music awards for the past year go to…

Best Video: MelodysheepHappy Little Clouds

I interview the mastermind behind Melodysheep, and all-round cool dude, John Boswell, here.

Best Concert: Beats Antique, Cat’s Cradle, May 4, 2012

I recount how I discovered Beats Antique here and document another of their gigs here.

Best New Artist: How To Destroy Angels

It’s atmospheric Nine Inch Nails with a female voice. Totally works.

Best Comeback: Quicksand

The band’s breakthrough album, Slip, is a certified classic.

Best Shoutout to Me: Garbage

One of my favorite bands featured my artwork in a promo video. Full story here.

Album of The Year: Deftones, Koi No Yokan

The Deftones‘ enduring talent surges ever forward.

Best Electronica: Photek, KU:PALM

Photek came back after many years with a sparse-yet-rich new record.

Best Topical Humor: CollegeHumor, Look at This Instagram

Thanks to Sarah Khanna, food blogger at butteredup.com, for turning me on to this. I think.
What do you think? What were your best musical moments of the past year? What other categories would you include? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Photek’s KU: PALM Embraces Past, Present, Future

7 Dec

In his first full-length album of new material in a decade, KU: PALM, the electronica artist Photek delivers hints of the past, crafted in the present, with a look to the future.

KU: PALM by Photek

I recently had the opportunity to review KU: PALM and as electronica/dance goes, am pleasantly surprised. This isn’t a record that blew me away after first hearing it, but that’s because the depth is in the details, something that only comes with repeated listens — preferably at very loud volume.

I’ve long been a fan of Photek’s stuff. I got into Modus Operandi about the time I was discovering Massive Attack (Mezzanine is in my top 5 all-time favorite records) in the late ’90s. The textures and beats in tracks like “Axiom” and the forward-moving groove of “The Fifth Column” got me interested, and I’ve been into Photek ever since. Here in KU: PALM, I especially dig new elements like the Eastern-ish themes in “Pyramid.”

Whereas the following track, “Shape Charge” is exactly what I’m talking about when referencing the past and future. It holds up against anything from Modus Operandi, but the production is super-clean and razor sharp for 2012, even with a hint of dubstep wobble. But not too much.

The Phuture

That’s what I mean about an eye toward the future — there’s no telling where dubstep will fall in the electronica pantheon, but to have some of it worked in here for color is totally appropriate. That’s something I’d expect from an artist with a track record like Photek. Check it out yourself over at AllMusic or download a copy at the Photek site.

What do you think? Have you discovered any good records lately? Do you still listen to music you were getting into 15 years ago? Let us hear from you in the comments.

8Tracks: Music Curated

13 Nov
8tracks - handcrafted internet radio

8tracks: handcrafted internet radio. Their apps are pretty cool, too.

I’ve become fascinated with the playlist curation site, 8tracks. It allows users to upload songs from their personal libraries as playlists with tags and cover art, then share, browse and comment on playlists of other members. All for free. Think of it as cloud-based mixtapes with social functionality included (comments, tags, profiles, etc.).

I’d been a casual listener of the site for a while (and similar sites like Pandora and Blip.fm), but only when hosting an ’80s-themed party recently did I fully get into the full 8tracks experience.

The two above were the perfect soundtracks. Turns out there are scores of ’80s playlists already hand-picked and battle-tested by folks who care enough to share them with the world. And now I’m making my own playlists – which embed beautifully here:

My 8tracks playlists: singles, covers, guitars…

It’s been fun for me to see who likes these and then to check out their playlists myself. As a person who enjoys discovering new music perfectly suited to my tastes, this is rather exciting, as I now have several promising playlists to explore. Heck, TIME magazine even named 8tracks the best site of 2011. If you’re into discovering and sharing music, you should definitely give 8tracks a try.

What do you think? Have you ever used 8tracks? Is there a similar music discovery site that you recommend? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Beats Antique in Photos

8 Oct
Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique in Sihlouette, backlit in front of a screen onstage.

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique – silhouette

This weekend I caught one of my favorite bands these days, Beats Antique, in concert for the second time this year at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC.

Flyer, ticket and marquee of Beats Antique gig at The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC

Flyer, ticket and marquee of Beats Antique gig at The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC

As I’ve mentioned previously, their music is a perfect blend of exotic Eastern sounds, modern electronica, and of course… killer beats.

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique Dancing at the beginning of a performance

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique dancing at the beginning of the show.

These are some choice photos from the gig I took and edited via iPhone, using apps like Photoforge2 and Hipstamatic to boost the atmosphere.

Beats Antique performing onstage, in black & white.

Beats Antique: Sidecar Tommy Cappel (left), Zoe Jakes (center), David Satori (right)

Full disclosure: their PR team, The Confluence Group, emailed me asking if I’d be willing to post something about the show, which I probably would have done anyway. I’m just flattered to have been asked and am happy to promote a great act.

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique in atmospheric lighting

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique in atmospheric lighting

Click on any of these to see at full size, along with more Beats Antique photos I’ve taken.

Zoe in costume with antlers and flowing dress

Zoe in costume with antlers and flowing dress

Pick up the band’s music at iTunesAmazon or direct from the group on their Bandcamp page.

Chandelier at Beats Antique Gig

This chandelier was part of the band’s stage gear. I like chandeliers.

See also: Beats Antique tour dates. Definitely a fun show worth checking out if they come near your town.

David Satori in a duck mask

David Satori, in the spirit of duck, in full duck mask gear. Things get crazy toward gig’s end.

Beats Antique links: Official Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud | YouTube Store
Either a Kracken, or a giant squid

Always in touch with the animal world, the band unleashed the Kraken for an encore.

What do you think? Do you take photos at concerts & edit them later? What do you think of Beats Antique? Is there a similar band worth checking out? Let us hear from you in the comments.

My Best Concert Ever: Bauhaus

21 Sep

The best concert I’ve ever seen was Bauhaus at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. [setlist] [discussion] I’ve always been a big fan of their music, yet they broke up long before I was old enough to go to concerts. So I only had references from others’ experiences, and the occasional glimpse of a video to experience anything resembling a performance.

Note: although embedding has been disabled by request on all these videos, they still play at YouTube and are definitely worth checking out. Just click that “Watch on YouTube” link.

Going to see the band after they’d reunited was not just a personal thrill, but the show itself was absolutely phenomenal. Their performance was right on, and Peter Murphy‘s remarkable voice only seemed to have gotten better with time. The lighting and set design were breathtaking, yet intimate and appropriate for this band and their dramatic aesthetic.

Bauhaus In Concert = Chills

It gives me chills just to think about it now, and I still have frozen in my brain, and probably will forever, images of every song as they came to life before my eyes – these pieces of music which we’re so compelling-yet-mysterious now happening in front of me and a room full of 1000 people. The experience was an electric, hair-raising religious one.

I was never a totally goth kid growing up, although I did appreciate the music and style. I was more into metal and punk than new wave or alternative when my musical tastes were forming, but I’ve always appreciated many types of music. The unifying factors I do appreciate most, however, are creativity, skill at craft, and overall dedication, all of which Bauhaus and my other favorite bands have in abundance.

What is your best concert ever? Is there a band you would like to see but haven’t yet, or may never get to see? What would be your fantasy best concert? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Interview with MelodySheep and Symphony of Science Mastermind John Boswell

23 Aug

MelodySheep autotune creator John Boswell’s musical magic: Bruce Lee, Bob Ross, Mr. Rogers & More

John Boswell

John Boswell, aka MelodySheep, aka Symphony of Science

To say John Boswell grows ideas in the garden of his mind is at once an understatement and yet highly appropriate. As you may have seen on CNN, Forbes, NPR, or especially YouTube, Boswell creates infectiously catchy pop songs from such unlikely sources as Julia Child, Billy Mays and  Yoda – all through the magic of autotune technology and his incredible talent for musical montage.

The results are simultaneously hilarious, touching and highly enjoyable, as evidenced by the millions of views his videos have been racking up lately. I recently asked Boswell a few questions about his process, and his responses follow. Do yourself a favor and check out his full catalog, available for download at MelodySheep.BandCamp.com.

rsmithing: How did you get started in music, and what instruments do you play?
John Boswell: I started off as a keyboardist and turntablist for a metal band in high school – definitely an unorthodox way to begin, but I learned basic music theory and how to combine different elements of music, both of which paved the way for the work I do today. I play mostly piano and guitar but dabble in a handful of other instruments, like mandolin and accordion.

rs: Have any of the subjects of your videos seen them, and what have their reactions been?
jb: A few of the figures I have used in my videos have been in touch with me, and their reactions have been entirely positive. I think what I am doing can be considered a mostly positive endeavor to begin with, and it’s always fun to see yourself given the remix treatment.

rs: What’s been your favorite composition so far?
jb: It’s hard to pick a favorite piece of my own, but the Ode to the Brain video is definitely near the top. It was a blast to make and I learned so many things in the process, which is always a plus. The music came together really well too, which gave it all the right ingredients for a solid video.

 

rs: Happy Little Clouds got a million views in one weekend. What’s it like to get so much attention so fast?
jb: It’s always great to get the sort of recognition that the Bob Ross video got, and I always appreciate the comments coming in and love hearing people’s reactions. Attention spans on the Internet are very short though, so once one big thing is happening it’s crucial to think about what is going to be next and how it can be different and better.

rs: Which composition has been the most challenging?
jb: The most challenging video thus far was most likely the Bob Ross remix. His quiet voice and tendency to mumble, combined with the constant sound of his brush on the canvas, made it hard to isolate good vocal samples. Luckily he was philosophical enough to provide enough clean quotes to use in the song.

 

rs: Why did you go with a pay-what-you-like model, and how’s that going for you?
jb: I believe music should be available free to those who want to listen but cannot afford. There is still enough generosity in this world to make pay-what-you-want worth it to artists, although there has to be a critical mass. Anybody who works hard enough can reach that point, as I have demonstrated.

rs: Anything else you’d like to add?
jb: Bruce Lee video is coming next week!
rs: AWESOME! (rsmithing = long-time Bruce Lee fan)

UPDATE, 8/28: And now, Bruce Lee:

 

A big thank you to John Boswell for answering my questions. Check out his stuff here:

What’s your favorite autotune mix? Who would you suggest for John’s next project? Let us hear from you in the comments!

From Music and Words into Movement – The Fun of Art

5 Jul

Here’s an excerpt of a deftly written story by Mike Sager from the May 2012 Esquire. I wasn’t that interested at first, but after giving it a chance while streaming some music, I was knocked over by one of those transcendent moments that come about through experiencing real art. Or something like that.

“Ugly” by Mike Sager. This paragraph with the right music playing at the time was like watching a live-action portrayal of The Grapes of Wrath. So I noted the image with the Labelbox app for future use in this post. Click for full article at Esquire.com.

The above paragraph is best experienced with music: Orsten – Adagio Sostenuto

 

I hear the broken piano and shuffling yet determined electric beat, and reading the story of this vagabond, seeking out other vagabonds, having the scene painted along the lines of something modern-day that would make sense to Tom Joad, it hits me at once.

And that’s why I read. That’s why I love music. That’s why I’ve made myself adept with an iPhone enough to capture the moment,then blog about it (typed most of this post in a note with my thumbs).

There’s beauty in being moved, expanding on the thought and then channeling that into something new altogether, even if it is just a pastiche of other art. Those pieces become the colors of a new palette. What’s important is that the idea gets sketched, moving from the brain into the living world, to be seen. It’s a very satisfying feeling.

Next time you have the thought when something moves you, “I could do something with that!” — make it happen. Make it real.

Young Rocker With Dad – Single Image Sundays

17 Jun

20120617-191923.jpg

My dad took me to my first concert, Johnny Cash at the ’82 World’s Fair, when I was a boy. We sat way up high near the top of a stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I still remember the shine from Cash’s sequined jacket (black, of course).

This photo is one I took this week in that tradition: a dad hoists up his boy to watch Weezer recently in Las Vegas – note the youngster getting in on the fun by giving the “W” hand gesture. It was a great show, and especially cool to see a parent educating his kid in the ways of rocking. Nice Father’s Day image, right there.

What was your first concert? Did a parent take you? Have you taken one of your brood to a rock show? Let us hear from you in the comments!
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