Be Happy Cow

Ok. Moving on.

What we need around here is some happy music. And this stuff has got me through a perfectly bonkers week, so I’m pretty sure it works.

I tried doing some serious journo-poking-around to dig up some dirt on Harlem Shakes. All I got was that they’re from Brooklyn. Good for them. They do make some seriously happy poppy music though. Sunlight has been on endless loop on my computer at work. It even makes Excel sheets fun!

I guess I could come up with an intelligent sounding critical appreciation of their music, touching upon (among other things) their super sonic layering, their creative use of fuzz and reverb and the hint of Bappi Lahiri that kicks in at 0:29 on Strictly Game. Oh, and there’s a smooth, fruity finish with hint of tannin in the aftertaste as well.

But, I won’t. Here’re all the songs I could find. I loved them all.

 

Harlem Shakes – Sunlight [mp3]

Harlem Shakes – Strictly Game [mp3]

Harlem Shakes – Technicolor Health [mp3]

 

What the hell, let’s just make this is a mishy-mashy post of joyful randomness. Here’s more music. I’m going back to grinning at no one in particular. Have a good weekend, folks.

 

Blitzen Trapper – Furr [mp3]

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Magick [mp3]

Flight of the Conchords – Hiphopapotamus vs Rhymenocerous [mp3]

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The Hold Steady

 

This is the kind of music I love and no longer get to listen enough of. This is rock music from an age gone by, from guys who are nearing the peak of their powers.

For some reason, I remember them as Daniel Radcliffe’s favourite band (just one of the many wonderful, pointless things that Rolling Stone magazine comes up with). Shit, I thought at the time, they’re probably a bunch of punk-rock, foul-mouthed, hipsters that rich kids listen to.

Look at them, though. They look (and sound like) like stock brokers on holiday – intelligent, hooky and having fun. They’re old guys holding their own in a twisted, fickle industry, and you can’t but love them. It’s in their earnest lack of style that they are most stylish. It gives me hope. And it just made Harry Potter a whole lot cooler.

 

The Hold Steady – Sequestered in Memphis [mp3]

The Hold Steady – Joke About Jamaica [mp3] (my new favourite song)

The Hold Steady – Lord, I’m Discouraged [mp3]

The Hold Steady – Stay Positive [mp3]

Max Vernon

My strange obsession with cover versions threw this one up last week. I first heard Katy Perry hammering on about her pseudo-lesbian experience on Bangalore’s wonderfully inconsistent Radio Indigo. The song was pretty rubbish, but it did, I’ll admit, make me grin like a jackass all the way through.

And then, I came upon Max Vernon’s rather earnest version. Gone are the dhinchak beats and the awful, awful voice, and in its place there’s lots of piano and a little doo-wop. And suddenly, this is a pretty good song. And I’m still grinning!

Some of his originals are pretty good, too. I mean, how can you not listen to a song called ‘Politburo Technocrats and Prophesizing Maniacs‘? What a fantastic title! The man sings well and I like his minimalist style. His lyrics are a little too English (Hons.)-y for me, but maybe that’s just me. (Or, maybe, I just didn’t hear them right!).

All in all, though, I like.

Max Vernon – I Kissed A Girl (Katy Perry Cover) [mp3]

Max Vernon – Politburo Technocrats and Prophesizing Maniacs [mp3]

Max Vernon – Hypochondriac Blues [mp3]

It was a dark and stormy night!

I’m convinced that my pitiful ineptness at mugging nursery rhymes (then and now) keeps coming back to subtly screw me over (now and then). I actually had issues eating pork, for instance, not knowing that those little piggies were destined to be run over by indifferent engine drivers anyway. It was those wonderful Chinese, bless them, that finally got me (and the hogs) back on track.

And then there’s the issue of song lyrics. I just can’t get myself to listen to them; I’m too caught up listening to the music to worry about the words. I’m convinced this is because I was busy mastering the tune of the rhymes and not paying enough attention to the words. (That I didn’t get the tune right either is another story altogether.)

And then, last week, I realized there was another reason for this. Driving back from work, I was listening to a whining Jack White singing about a Carolina Drama, and I found myself listening to every word. Strange, I thought to myself, and promptly missed the next line. But I got all the other words, and I can’t say that about too many songs. My inquisitive scientific mind quickly tried to make sense of this unexpected development – ‘It’s those darned nursery rhymes again’, it announced, clearly pleased with its Phelpsian exertion.

Further empirical evidence was required, though. I listened to another song. . Nothing. I switch back. It’s back. ‘This is like Mr. India’, Dr. Cerebrum helpfully volunteers.

And then, all of a sudden, I get it. I am temporarily blinded by own brilliance (which doesn’t excuse my cutting that red light, but still). The reason is <hushed silence> very simply <drum roll> at least partly attributed to <oh, get on with it!> the complete disappearance of the story-song!

What do you mean, “Is that it?” Yes, that’s it! I’d like to see you top that.

Ok, fine, I’ll explain. Remember Rocky Raccoon? Of course you do. Lovely story. There were a lot of them back then, right? Bob Dylan, Simon & G, Neil Young – they all had stories to tell, and they told them all well. There was a beginning, there was a middle, there was an end. There were protagonists, plots and sub-plots, an unmistakeable denouement and an invariable anti-climax. You’d sing along from start to finish because you had no other choice – you had to tell them how it ended. Ergo, you paid attention to all the words.

Now, if you will allow me my moment of smug celebration…

Can you think of any recent story-songs worth yodeling along to?

The Raconteurs – Carolina Drama [mp3]

Barenaked Ladies (Live in Michigan) – Bank Job [mp3] (Poor lady in the front row!)

Johnny Cash – A Boy Named Sue [mp3]

The Kinks – Lola [mp3]

The Raghu Dixit Project

I really think this is the start of something big.

Indian Music has always been of either the classical Hindustani/Carnatic variety (which debuted on this blog recently) or the Bollywood high-pitched wailathon (which never will). Never the twain shall meet, and all that. Sure, there were little whiffs of fresh air every now and then, but nothing that really got you hooked.

Strange, really. With the sheer number of bands around, you’d think a few of them would manage to make Indian folk music a little contemporary and relevant. There’s Indian Ocean, but that’s about it.

Raghu Dixit

Enter Unlikely Hero. Raghu Dixit’s from Bangalore, he wears an anklet and a bright orange dhoti and is a University topper/Gold Medallist in Microbiology. But then he starts to sing, and all is forgiven.

There’s a refreshing folksiness about his music. It’s powerful, colourful and upbeat, and so far, it’s really made my weekend. He sings in English, Hindi and Kannada. (Nobody sings in Kannada. Not even the Diggas.) I really can’t wait to listen to him live; by all accounts, his shows are brilliant.

I actually like this so much, I think I’m going to go out and buy the album.

The Raghu Dixit Project – Hey Bhagwan

The Raghu Dixit Project – Mysore Se Aayi

The Raghu Dixit Project Myspace Page

Cloud Cult

Cloud Cult

Cloud Cult is not a band I fell in love with immediately. I heard a couple of songs from their first album (The Meaning of 8) from one of those best-of-year lists and was not overly impressed. Ho hum, I remember saying to myself, without bothering to elaborate.

They have a new album out, though. I’ve heard three songs and can’t wait for someone to tell me where I can get the whole thing. The intricate string arrangements are almost operatic (without the schmaltz). The sounds are uplifting and soothing at the same time. I’ve been listening to it all day and can’t seem to get enough.

You can tell that this is a quirky, emotional band. A reviewer called Feel Good Ghosts “a small existential gem in the rough terrain between whimsy and pathos”. I have no clue what that means, but it sounds about right.

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Cloud Cult – Everybody Here Is A Cloud [mp3]

Cloud Cult – When Water Comes To Life [mp3]

Cloud Cult – Take Your Medicine (from The Meaning of 8) [mp3]

Pumping Iron, Jungle Gym

It took me a year to realise something was wrong. The blood was not red enough, it appeared. I was anaemic, with an extra vowel for emphasis. “All would be well…eventually”, they said, as they searched in vein for something to poke at. I put on a brave front, but I was dripping with Fear, about 300mg a week.

So by the time I had ironed out all my deficiencies, I had decided that this would just not do. I needed to join a Gymnasium. I had to be Fit. Athletic. Strong. Random girls would stick two fingers into their mouths, whistle loudly and shout “Hey Muscles, I Love You!”. Woo Hoo!

And now, having put in enough money to feed a herd of camels for a year (two, if they’re Bactrian – I know my humps!), I find myself waking up at 6am to inflict a strange and cruel form of torture to a body that pleads for mercy. I am a mass of aches and pains. I walk gingerly, like a Mountain Goat that got too high.

And, what about my neatly chiselled David-esque (either one) physique, you ask? Do I mix protein supplements into my vodka at night? Do I wear T-shirts two sizes too small for me with the words “Got Creatine?” emblazoned proudly on them?

Pshaw. Also, Pthooey.

At First Sight, things aren’t too bad. I can run 6 Kms at a go. I did two and a half chin-ups the other day (an increase of infinity, correct to the third decimal). Now, if only I didn’t eat three times my body weight at each meal. My midriff just hangs there, a Goodyear blimp on the Michelin Man. I’m all a-tired. Ceat and weep.

Things couldn’t have been worse.

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Muscles – Hey Muscles, I Love You [mp3]

The Mountain Goats – Autoclave [mp3]

These United States – First Sight [mp3]

John Cale – Things [mp3]