Archive for March, 2010


Friday, March 5th, 2010

Donovan’s “Atlantis” from 1968. There was a guy named Paul McCartney who provided some background vocals on this track. Not sure if anything else ever came of Mr. McCartney, but his presence on this one is surely felt. If only someone else had believed in him, I think he definitely could have cracked the top 10 at least once.

On a serious note, I dig the spoken word intro that lasts nearly 2 minutes. It really helps to build the song before its release. It’s certainly a different approach, and one you don’t hear in pop music today.


Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Came across this song today by B.o.B called “Put Me On.” With his cadence and voice, he sounds a bit like Phife from A Tribe Called Quest on this particular song. I checked his MySpace page, and he does have more to him than just trying to fit in with a backpack crowd. “Put Me On” certainly appealed to me the most, however.

-Familiar sample – check (definitely paying homage to ATCQ without overly biting)
-Sing-songy hook – check
-Radio friendly – check. (When was the last time you heard a hip hop song that didn’t have to be majorly altered or have suggestive lyrics littered throughout?)

If you like the song, you can also vote for the video on mtvU’s The Freshmen.


Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

From Celestial Navigations (Numero, 2010)

The Numero brand has been expanding beyond just music in their quest to become the new Folkways, as Numero’s Ken Shipley has compared Numero to in the past. Aside from the collectible trading cards of the music acts they’ve released, they’ve started to branch out in other directions of the creative world. Late last year, they released “Light: On The South Side,” a book following Chicago nightlife throughout several clubs (a book that was rivaled only by the music that accompanied it) and now they’ve gone in a completely different direction: film.

In true Numero fashion, they haven’t unearthed some lost project of a big name movie director like Roman Polanski. Instead, they’ve compiled 45 (a curious/coincidental number?) of pieces by Al Jarnow. With their previous releases, the music is so localized that unless you grew up in Columbus, Ohio, or had done a case study on regional arts, you had probably never heard the material. However, some of these Jarnow films most likely are part of the fabric of your childhood if you grew up watching Sesame Street or 3-2-1 Contact in the ’70s and ’80s, even if you don’t remember them by his name prior to watching this collection.

Recently, I got a chance to rap with Michael Slaboch from Numero about this project, which he spent countless hours researching and compiling. What I came away with from our conversation was how inspired and in awe of Jarnow’s work he was the deeper he got into it. That’s quite a compliment considering Mr. Slaboch went to film school.

It all started when Al Jarnow’s son, Jesse, sent Slaboch a YouTube clip of his father’s Cosmic Clock. Intrigued, Slaboch asked to see more. After discussing with the rest of the Numero collective, they added it to their board of potential projects to pursue. He knew this project was going to be incomplete without the Sesame Street material. After numerous cold calls, he finally linked up with someone from the legal department of the Children’s Television Workshop who was very accommodating. Once that connection was made, Celestial Navigations started to fully take shape.

Many of the films have a heavy science base where Jarnow deconstructs the world, according to Slaboch. It’s quite amazing to watch many of these films that employ techniques like stop motion as they unfold. Take Cubits, for instance. A piece like that took thousands of photos and hundreds of individually hand-drawn index cards, which doesn’t even take into account the ordering and planning after the shoot. It’s truly mindboggling to think about.

Aside from the work put in by the Numero team, they got an assist from Alexander Maxwell, who happened to work at one of the leading color correction companies in the world. Maxwell, a Numero subscriber, lent his expertise in return for being a part of what he called “The Numero Experience.” One of his main duties was to transfer 16mm film prints, an arduous task. The results speak for themselves as this DVD is an artifact to be treasured with Jarnow’s independent filmmaking.

For a humble man who never wanted to be a star, the spotlight is certainly on Jarnow now. Numero is even taking the film on tour (their second tour in as many years). Catch them in your city if you can. If you aren’t fortunate enough to see it on the big screen, it’s just as enjoyable watching over and over in the comfort of your own home.

Jarnow has since turned to computer art and software design over the last couple of decades. Some of his early work such as Computer Test may take you back to early LOGO computer programming on the Apple IIe. His work has been showcased in Exploratorium in San Francisco and The National Gallery Of Art. Artists such as Van Gogh and Picasso get many of the accolades by painting memorable and pretty pictures, but artists like Escher and Jarnow can really grab your attention with not only their visual astuteness but their keen eye to draw you into their world. The results are truly inspiring.


Monday, March 1st, 2010

The Right Now: Ain’t Going Back
From Carry Me Home (Unsigned/Independent, 2010)

Who said pop was dead? Pop music certainly isn’t in the best state, artistically speaking, these days. The Right Now are up-and-comers out of Chicago with a decidedly pop sound inflected with soul tinges here and there.

Their debut CD, which they’ll be selling on their current tour, as well as other outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, their own website (linked above on the album title), and a few indie shops, officially releases March 3rd. (Side note: they’re also releasing a 45 that features a non-album track called “7 To 10.”) The Right Now is a completely self-contained unit. Brendan O’Connell plays various keyboards as well as guitar and had a hand in penning/co-penning every song on the album. Lead singer Stefanie Berecz has an absolutely beautiful voice, both in tone and power. The rest of the band members are no slouches either with a sound best described as clean and polished.

“Ain’t Going Back” is definitely the strongest song on the album. Over a funky intro, Berecz comes into the track singing in a sultry voice. Right before the first chorus, the song crescendos into a blaze musically and vocally as Berecz works her pipes with an authority that doesn’t let up especially after the bridge.

Much of the rest is catchy, hummable pop such as “Doing Nothing” that reminds me of Rod Stewart’s “The Motown Song” with its affable MOR melody that makes you swing your hips along to its poppy soulfulness. “I’ll Get Down” gets back to a funkier side with the metronome cranked up as the horn section, especially the saxes, provides an energetic boost.

All in all, this record is about fun, while not sacrificing quality, as The Right Now represents musicianship to the fullest and have crafted a solid album that warrants repeated listens.

You can check out a few more of their songs as well as their tour itinerary on their MySpace page. If you’re in Chicago on March 19th, be sure to check out their CD release party/show at Lincoln Hall located at 2424 N. Lincoln Ave.