One of the greatest currently active bands, Muse, those West Country wizards, have released a new single from their forthcoming album, 2nd Law, due October 2. It’s called “Madness” and it’s an entirely new sound for the band…almost like a 21st century minimal electro classic George Michael vibe, in a very good way. Sparse beats and an even sparser guitar solo for lead singer/guitarist/pianist Matt Bellamy, with some cool atmospheric synths and electronic melodies thrown in. Give it a listen:
Ska, which had completely dominated Jamaican music from the early 60s, couldn’t last forever. By mid-1966, a new sound was emerging, one that permanently changed Jamaican music forever: rocksteady, which lasted a mere month and a half or so before morphing into the earliest form of reggae, the name that has persisted till the present. These two forms together only lasted about six years, and while rocksteady is widely acclaimed as the golden age of Jamaican music, the official WBH opinion is that early reggae belongs in that era as well. In full disclosure, rocksteady and reggae up till about 1972/3 – stylistically very close to rocksteady – is arguably my favorite genre of music, leaning slightly more to the reggae side.
Following is the absolute best of the best that the island has produced, and dozens of brilliant tracks.
A proper WBH recap of the marvelous London Olympics is forthcoming, but before that, I want to address something that some may have overlooked: the FANTASTIC music of the Games, from the opening ceremony to the events straight through to the closing ceremony. Of course the opening and closing ceremonies featured the Best of British Music for the Last Fifty Years, and for the most part, did a pretty good job, with tons of classic rock from the Beatles, the Who, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and more. Hell, British electronic legends Underworld were chosen as musical directors of the OC. But the choonage wasn’t limited to the start and finish: if you listened at quiet moments in the various stadiums, arenas, and other venues, there was a pretty banging soundtrack there too. Also, the official song of the olympics was a sick choice: “Survival” by Muse, currently the most talented and biggest band in Britain, and a song officially released the day it was chosen as the official song, not even a month before the Games opened:
For other great songs featured in the Games, follow the jump
It’s official – he wanted to be a legend, and he is. Usain Bolt just won the world’s first Olympic running triple-triple (or is it double triple?), part of the mighty Team Jamaica – Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan “The Beast” Blake, and Usain “Lightning” Bolt – that won the 4x100m relay today, setting a new, smashing world record of 36.84 seconds, a mere two days after Bolt became the first ever to get a double-double by winning the 200m. But this time, he had help from the rest of Team Jamaica, overall the fastest sprinters in the world. What an irie first week of Jamaica’s 50th independent year! It’s only fitting to keep the party going, so get out your Red Stripe, Ting, curry goat, and whatever else you want and have a good time!
It’s also the 50th anniversary, more or less, of Jamaica’s explosion onto the global music arena, and the two are no coincidence. What will be presented over several installments is a rough guide to the many styles that have gone on to influence musicians, rebels, and parties everywhere in the world since then – ska and the sound systems, rock steady, toasting (arguably the roots of rap) reggae in all its forms, dub, and dancehall, to be selective. You’ll get some brief history and description, but most imporantly, tons of fantastic music.
Big up for a big week in Jamaica. August 5: Fastest Man in the World Usain “I Am Actually Lightning” Bolt destroys the Olympic record in the 100m dash, setting a new one in 9.63 seconds. August 6: 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence (much Ting, Wray & Nephew overproof rum, and jerk chicken consumed, all highly recommended). August 9: Usain Bolt, in all of 19.32 seconds, becomes the first person ever to double-double in the 100m and 200m sprint – winning them both in Beijing and London, nearing peak speeds of 30mph in the process. He would be pulled over for speeding in residential neighborhoods and much of Washington, DC. Oh, he also celebrated by doing five pushups for his five golds shortly after crossing the line. BEAST! August 11: Jamaica wins the men’s 4x100m relay, with Bolt and Blake on the team, repeating the gold from Beijing, giving Bolt an unprecedented triple-triple! On the women’s side, here’s a shout out to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who on August 4 repeated her Beijing 100m gold with another one in London. And let’s not overlook Yohan Blake, another wickedly fast Jamaican sprinter, who got silver in the men’s 100 and 200, and whose personal 200 record is second only to Bolt’s in the world, and Warren Weir, who won bronze today, giving Jamaica a clean sweep of the men’s 200m.
(more on Bolt, Jamaica, and 9 fantastic songs after the jump)
The band you see above, founded by political exiles in 1979 in the heart of the Sahara, started playing on homemade instruments, fought in Mu’ammar Gadhafi’s guerilla army, slowly built up an international following making few concessions to outside audiences, and just recently won a Grammy. Actually, it’s hard to imagine any greater ballers of music than this legendary, long-running outfit, whose name simply means “Deserts” in the Tuareg language. (more…)
He’s awesome, he’s a genius, he rocks a mean dancefloor, he’s the bo-est selecta out there, and he only just turned 18 yesterday. You may remember him from the genius of “Pop Culture” last year. I saw him in concert two weeks ago, and he ain’t no mere flash in the pan. Madeon is the real deal. He just released this preview of his upcoming single today, and it is HUGE. Like, the electro/house equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie. Enjoy.
Quick thought here. Read any “respectable” piece of print and the guy who rocks a dancefloor, gets down on the wheels of steel, or drops a bo choon, selecta! is referred to as a “deejay.” NO NO NO. It looks stupid – nobody writes “teevee” – and no self-respecting artist would spell it like that. The word is an acronym, and should ALWAYS BE WRITTEN DJ. This goes for MC, too, by the way. That’s all I have to say on that. Rewind, selecta!
LITTLE BOOTS’S NEW ALBUM DUE THIS YEAR!! Best news of the day by far!
In a slight stylistic deviation from much of the in-your-face music I love so much, we arrive today at the Raveonettes, one of my absolute favorite currently active and touring bands. They’re somewhat well-known, but not too much. Misdemeanor-ly unappreciated if not criminally unappreciated, I suppose. In any case, they are very, very dear to my heart, and here’s why:
Where to even begin? A true living legend, multilingual global troubadour, the leader of two amazing bands and the man behind several brilliant albums for himself and others, and a veritable musical chameleon, capable of three-hour live sets run at breakneck speed.
(Lots of good stuff and a TON of videos after the jump)
Last night a friend asked me to recommend him some good in-ear earphones, saying:
“I want WAY better than iPhone, I don’t even consider those headphones.” And a fair point he has. While I am an iPhone user, and my friend and I both Mac users, those white earbuds sound crappy, don’t isolate noise, requiring them to be cranked up quite high, and the control buttons are glitchy as hell. Plus do you want to look like everyone else with that tell-tale white cable coming down from your ears? I certainly don’t.
I happily recommended the Klipsch S4i to my friend, the product I’ve been using for about two years now.
I just saw this and am in awe. Madeon, a 17 year old digital DJ on Youtube, is now officially God of Sampling Brilliance. He calls it a mash-up, I say that’s an injustice. This is rather THIRTY NINE songs with random snatches of each thrown in at one second and taken out at another, all creating a whole new and truly epic bouncy electro pop track. Like Girl Talk, if Girl Talk didn’t suck. Kudos to Madeon!
It also seems he’s done a pretty good remix of Yelle:
Fuck yes: if this song doesn’t make you rock the hell out and put a smile on your face, you have no business reading this blog and following our hallowed wisdom. Marc Bolan, frontman of T. Rex was a rock god par excellence. Taking his airy-fairy late 60s hippie folk band Tyrannosaurus Rex, shortening the title, adding distortion, glitter, amazing stage presence and personality, and and a simple but pervasive sense of fun, Marc Bolan INVENTED glam rock right around 1970, releasing an eponymous album that year and then the sheer masterpiece of Electric Warrior in 1971, which has unquestionably one of the greatest album covers ever:
Marc Bolan and T. Rex, who released six more albums, arguably inspired the entire glam rock movement, from Bowie to Sweet, and in turn influenced the punk movement. We are ardent fans of the glam at We Ball Harder – it rocks hard, it’s unpretentious, you can dance to it, and it does it all with style, and Marc Bolan started it all. Truly a legend among legends, and the world suffered a terrible loss in 1977 when he died (as a passenger) in a car crash at the age of 29.
More brilliance (from Electric Warrior):
Also, for the guitarists out there, while Bolan played a Strat and a Flying V, both very cool guitars, he played one of the most distinctive original 1950s Les Pauls ever, a completely faded Burst with a Custom neck added later. Sweeeet.