April 16, 2008

Chester French accomplishes more in the dorm basement than you ever did sophomore year, lazy slacker

So the story goes that a pair of Harvard boys get bored and decide to record an album in their dorm basement. A lot of things happened in my various dorm basements but nothing that sounded this good; I think it was too dark with those half-lit humming fluorescent lights, the broken foosball tables, and slightly dodgy-looking couches that you knew had some sketch tales to tell.

So what did Chester French conjure up there instead? Think robust strings over crisp and sexy beats, some chiming mid ’60s guitar . . . and they get all Zombies here at the beginning of this track. What’s your name / who’s your daddy?

She Loves Everybody – Chester French

and – you know hear it:
Time of the Season (alternate mix) – The Zombies

Go traipse on over to their MySpace now and listen to “People” . . . then try and tell me that doesn’t make your day significantly better. So pleasing that I’ve already used it on a mix. Chester French’s debut album Love the Future is forthcoming in 2008 on Pharrell Williams’ Star Trak label.

Chester French is performing at Red Rocks on Sunday, September 14th at the Monolith Festival.

June 24, 2007

Choose Your Own Adventure, summer edition

It finally cooled off enough today for me to go out for a run just as it was getting dark tonight (almost 9pm, I love the long summer days). There was a humidity in the air, and as I ran facing west, towards the mountains and Pikes Peak, the sky was flaming orange and lightning was crackling electric all around me. Kinda scary, but also very cool.

I had my iPod on shuffle and three great songs came up in a row that struck me as being perfect for my now-completed summer mix. So now, if there were one or two (or three) songs in there that you didn’t care for (be it your Steve Miller Band, your Weezer, etc), you can do some customized drag and drop substitutions. All three of these would fit just fine for your summer listening pleasure.

Sunshine (live) – Matt Costa (alternate link)
The Best I Ever Had – Chris Isaak (alternate link)
(forgot how much I love that Isaak b-side)
Time Of The Season – Snowden (alternate link)

A note on that last one: if you can get past their repeated flub of the chorus lyrics (it’s “time OF the season FOR loviiiiing…”), the beat is insanely good. And the original song is a cultural watershed in my book for being the first time in popular culture that someone posed the all-important question, “Who’s your daddy?” Go Zombies.

February 23, 2006

The Zombies, Live at the BBC 1965-1968

They’ve been covered by everyone from Elliott Smith to The Fastbacks to Santana to The Posies. Influential musicians on a number of levels, their sound was pure 1960s British Invasion pop heaven with a slightly sophisticated edge.

The Zombies were a British band during the mid-60s, whose greatest successes came only after the band had broken up. Best known for their hits “Time of the Season,” “She’s Not There,” and “Tell Her No,” The Zombies’ music was notable in part because of their use of minor key changes, keyboards, and lovely melodic harmonies. Overall, it’s a nice little package.

As Stephen Dunstan says, The Zombies picked the “worst, least appropriate name for a music group ever. Visions of stiff-limbed, raggedy faced Woody Strode-a-likes. They should have just called themselves The Charming English Boys Who Sing Like Angels And Play Like Demons. That name would not have fit onto a record.” It wouldn’t have fit on a record, but it is catchy and accurate.

That’s why I found this collection of tracks to be absolutely charming, an insight into the burgeoning (then floundering) career of the British quintet, during a time when the world was a bit more innocent, and the music perhaps a bit more pure. I think you should listen to this entire set as a whole, as it is collection of snippets across 4 years of live Top of the Pops performance in England for the radio show (there is another first section of the set as well, which I am not posting but you can purchase the whole shebang on Amazon).

Interspersed with great live music from The Zombies (and lots of covers) is fascinating interview dialogue. As the interview introduction says, “Even more popular in America than they are on this side of the pond . . . THE ZOMBIES!” (insert crazed shrieking here):

(With me, you have options: Do things individually, or download all these songs as a zip file at the end of the post)
I Must Move” (1965)
Just Out of Reach” (1965)
Whenever You’re Ready” (1965) - this was one I really enjoyed, hadn’t heard before.
*Interview dialogue here talks about how they are enjoying their second tour of America, and what their take is on the “new rock folk protest bit.” Interesting social climate. They also read some fan mail, including an endearingly simple letter from “Francis & Marilyn,” requesting a song for their “youth club.”
It’s All Right” (1965) - swingin’ Curtis Mayfield cover
More conversation about how wild the American fans are, how we all have cars and how two girls followed them for hundreds of miles, to their bewilderment.
Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (1965)Carole King cover
When The Lovelight Starts Shining In Her Eyes” (1965)
Just A Little Bit” (1965)
Sitting in The Park” (1966) - this is a *great* song. It is an example of perfect songwriting: the song makes you FEEL like it SOUNDS, and the lyrical content dovetails perfectly off the mood that is set. It’s almost as if the song could be a soundtrack to the story it tells, if that makes sense.
Gotta Get Out of Myself” (1966)
Goin’ Out of My Head” (1966) - Little Anthony & The Imperials cover
This Old Heart of Mine” (1966) - also done by Isley Brothers, among others
Friends of Mine” (1967) - there is something sublime about listening to this loud, and just getting lost in the layered harmonies. It makes my soul happy. Life just seems a bit simpler, better, and happier when you are listening to something like this.
The Look of Love” (1967) - Burt Bacharach
Final Interview Snippets /Jingle” (1968) – The band talks about how they have broken up after “slogging away for 3 1/2 years,” and also how they have just finished a new LP coming out later that month. They are asked in the interview, “well, wouldn’t it be better to wait until the LP is maybe a huge success and then see if it is a go?” but they dismiss the possibility – and the song that cues up, from their new album (Odessey and Oracle, their best seller, their masterpiece), is “Time of the Season,” their biggest hit.

Isn’t it ironic? (sorry, a little Alanis, I KNOW)


BONUS, because I love you all: The ever-fabulous KCRW featured The Zombies on a broadcast in 2004 which you can stream on their website, following the reunion in 2003 of the group and new album they released, entitled As Far As I Can See.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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