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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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Friday, May 30, 2014
Long lit up tonight and still drinking. Don't we have anything to live for? Well of course we do, but till they come true, we're drinking — and listening to this 2012 blast from Japandroids.

Mendelsohn: I’m fascinated by the sheer amount of luck it takes to make it in the music world. Not only do bands have to be good at what you do, they also have to get people to notice them, then like them, then tell other people who have a less discerning taste in music to like them as well. That sort of proposition is even harder these days with the demise of the gatekeepers, the removal of critics from their seats on high, and the overabundance of stimulation waiting to assault the senses at every turn, both in the real and digital worlds.


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Thursday, May 29, 2014
by Mike Noren
Recorded for $60 in an island country near the bottom of the globe, "Tally Ho", the debut single by New Zealand's the Clean, was an unlikely candidate to be an international game-changer and a defining moment for a pop movement.

Recorded for $60 in an island country near the bottom of the globe, the debut single by New Zealand’s the Clean was an unlikely candidate to be an international game-changer. A heap of jagged edges and jittery hooks, pushed along by a screechy Farfisa organ and shouts of “Tally Ho”, the song seems to revel in the joys of music-making with little regard for who’s listening. Still, listeners began to take notice, and the 1981 release of “Tally Ho” would in time be regarded as a milestone—not just as the opening blast of the Clean’s legendary run, but also as a defining early moment for Roger Shepherd’s Flying Nun Records. A fledgling indie label at the time, Flying Nun would soon be the creative hub for one of the world’s most influential underground music scenes.


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