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Monday, Jun 9, 2014
Likely the first song written for The Beach Boys Today!, "She Knows Me Too Well" is surprisingly sophisticated and unique.

“She Knows Me Too Well” was technically the first song recorded for The Beach Boys Today!, before the band’s All Summer Long album had been released or recording for The Beach Boys Christmas Album had begun. But the song got re-recorded later for Today! and that initial June 8th, 1964 recorded has never been subsequently released (like so many other alternate takes from this and other Beach Boys albums). It’s safe to assume, though, that not much changed between the June and the August recording of the song, compositionally at least. If we look at other tracks from Today! for which earlier recordings that have been released, the changes between versions tend to be in the arrangement and occasionally the lyrics. So while we can’t be sure exactly what changed from the first version of “She Knows Me Too Well” to the final released version, we can imagine that they are fairly similar.


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Friday, Jun 6, 2014
Hey, how you doing. Sorry you can't get through. Why don't you leave your name and number and I'll get back to you. In the meantime, a 1991 hip-hop milestone is the week's Counterbalance. You could read that.

Klinger: A couple months ago, the news broke that venerable hip-hop artists De La Soul were offering up their entire catalog for download free of charge. Because De La Soul’s albums are, of course, chock full of samples, some of which are buried so deeply that it would take a sonic archaeologist to sort it all out, placing them on iTunes would present copyright headaches that could stretch out for decades and singlehandedly employ all of the nation’s attorneys. Offering them free of charge neatly sidestepped the issue—at least for the time being. Needless to say, not only did my dial-up modem get quite the workout, but the news also led to an inevitable flurry of internet thinkpieces about De La Soul and their place in hip-hop history.


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Thursday, Jun 5, 2014
A dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and something extra.

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Jelly Roll Morton, Isidore “Tuts” Washington, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, James Booker, Allen Toussaint, Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack, Henry Butler—and those are just some of the best-known keyboard masters. All the great players have distinctive, individual styles, but there are traits they share, and that characterize the New Orleans sound. Deep roots in in the blues, gospel, and jazz, of course. But since New Orleans is a multicultural port city that has had a long association with Latin America and the Caribbean Sea, its pianists were exposed to, and have assimilated, idioms other than African-American. They’ll play syncopated bass lines derived from boogie-woogie, the blues, and stride. But they also incorporate rhythmic and melodic influences from Cuban rumba and habanera – the “Spanish tinge”, as Jelly Roll Morton famously, but inaccurately, called it.


As they pump out bass patterns with the left hand, the right hand unfurls melodic flourishes and cascading rolls. That mixture produces a sound that is immediately recognizable as originating in the Crescent City—funky and driving, yet easy rolling and relaxed. Think of the second-line dancers following the band at a New Orleans parade or funeral procession: Everything they do is funky, but they do it with unhurried grace and style.


The following list comprises ten standout performances by New Orleans pianists, past and present, plus a lagniappe, as they say in NOLA – a little something extra.


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Tuesday, Jun 3, 2014
As the K-pop industry got back on its feet following the Sewol ferry tragedy last month, May proved to be an exciting month of comebacks and debuts.

After promotions ceased following the Sewol ferry tragedy in April, K-pop began to get moving again in May. With big comebacks and some solo debuts from popular idol groups, this was a busy month to be a K-pop fan. So let’s take a look at some of the most notable tracks.


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Monday, Jun 2, 2014
Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys continue side two of The Beach Boys Today! with a delicate and elegant ballad about coming to terms with lost love.

In his book, The Beach Boys FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About America’s Band, Beach Boys scholar Jon Stebbins keeps a fairly neutral tone in describing interesting tidbits about the group’s music and career. But he becomes uncharacteristically enthusiastic when discussing “Kiss Me, Baby”, the third track on side two of The Beach Boys Today!:


“Perhaps the pinnacle of balladry…is “Kiss Me, Baby”. It’s one of the Beach Boys’ most romantic and emotional songs. “Kiss Me, Baby” is also a mammoth artistic achievement. There is something so penetrating about this recording that it can make the hairs on your neck stand up, or even bring tears. The level of quality that Brian [Wilson] and the Beach Boys could produce in bunches is astounding, and this song is more proof of that. “Kiss Me, Baby” would be a career achievement that any musical artist would be proud of, but for the Beach Boys it was just another album track on another album of great ones.”


It would be hard to get more glowing about a song than this, but it’s also hard to disagree with him. “Kiss Me, Baby” is truly something special, and it’s because every aspect of the song from composition to arrangement to performance is so flawlessly executed.


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