Not Necessarily New – July Edition

So I’m not the most up to speed dude when it comes to music, and I tend to find music late in the game. BUT, I still do come across great music, and if it ain’t been covered yet here, I’m going to cover it. Hence…not necessarily new. So without further ado…
Not necessarily new

heartless-bastards-the-mountain-cd-cover-album-art

Heartless Bastards – The Mountain
I first came across Heartless Bastards on woxy.com, and loved them the instant I heard “Blue Day.” After immediately downloading “All this Time” I found myself time and again grabbed by hook after hook, loving every second of the ride (particularly Blue Day, Valley of Debris, Came a Long Way). They are one of those bands that seem to channel all the best synthesis of rock and blues, taking lessons that hearken back to the likes of Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin, and while they don’t break any new ground (the Village Voice called their melodies “arctypal”), they have perfected the sound.
The Mountain definitely has its own hooks, to be sure, but it feels like a deeper album. Where All This Time seemed introspective and somewhat melancholy, The Mountain feels more philosophical and hopeful, sometimes even playful (“I could be so happy, if I just quit being sad/I could be so funny, if I just quit being a drag/I could be so sweet, if I just quit being sour”). Regardless of mood, there is just nothing more soothing than Erika Wennerstrom’s weathered voice, sounding like the rock diva who has been where you’ve been, someone you’d sit down and have a beer with and tell your troubles to.

folder1Mos Def – The Ecstatic
I had given up on Mos Def. I thought Black on Both Sides was a fluke, and that I’d be consigned to get pissed every time I saw him in some shitty buddy movie, ranting and raving about how he coulda be a great rapper.
Then Jimmy told me to check out The Ecstatic, and with skepticism I spent 16 of my valuable emusic credits getting it, swearing I’d never speak his name again if it sucked. Un-fucking believably good. That’s all I have to say. I knew it was all going to be ok when I heard “Supermagic” and it just kept getting better.
His voice glides over the tracks, effortlessly weaving between, under, over and around incredible beats and samples.

Bad news and good dope
powder, potion, pills, smoke
baby how you trying to go
Duro o dulce
fast or slow
yay
no
it’s ok you can have it your way
naw, it aint all good but baby I’m cool
feeling great feeling good how are you
10% condition, 90% response
Survival mathematics the number man’s song

I swear the motherfucker just makes the shit sound easy, and like he was born to do it. I don’t pretend to be a hip hop aficionado, but Mos Def in his best form, as he is here, just inspires the shit out of me.

band-of-skulls_baby-darling-doll-face-honeyBand of Skulls– Baby Darling Doll Face Honey
Band of Skulls was another great woxy.com find (seriously a great station to listen to) on Future Sounds. I know one isn’t supposed to describe a band by likening it to another band, but I can’t really help it in this case. There are times they sound a lot like White Stripes (Death By Diamonds and Pearls), sometimes not unlike Radiohead (Fires), and I could probably come up with a few other comparisons. Sorry…I know that’s a shitty thing to do, but there you have it.
The thing is, they’re really really great even if they don’t have a totally new sound. I have them in regular rotation, and they are totally a blast to listen to. They are a solid band, and even though I’ve listened to them dozens of times now, I still want more. So much so, in fact, that I’m going to see them this Sunday at Du Nord, and I have a feeling that they’re going to be a blast to see live. Anyway, definitely worth checking out.

Not Necessarily New
vndrmrk5Vandermark 5
I first heard The Vandermark 5 in the days of yore when I still shopped at Amoeba on Haight. I was picking through the bargain bin, feeling like a homeless dude looking for the holy grail of an untouched hamburger, when this suite of melancholy saxophones stopped me in my tracks (for future reference “Outside Ticket (for John Gilmore)”. Not wanting to seem like I was displaying the range of catatonic behaviors of some dude with schizophrenia, I continued to flip through the CD’s, eyes closed and lost in that blissful brain frenzy that can only come from Jazz. If I’m remembering correctly, I kinda floated over to the information counter and asked what it was. Looking like I just told him to eat a dick, he pointed at the cover of “Elements of Style, Exercises in Surprise” and told me I should buy it, which I promptly did.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of those dorks who spent like a decade with “A Love Supreme” on repeat 24/7. Having said that, The Vandermark 5 brings in such a wide range of music so successfully, careening from the chaos of the jazz improvised solo to the slippery goodness of funk, it feels totally accessible. Led by Ken Vandermark, one of those uber music geniuses who wins all kinds of awards (seriously…sounds like quite the amazing dude) and gets involved with all kinds of cool projects, the quintet makes some amazing music that makes my brain happy every time I put it on.