KristinG's blog

Nathen Maxwell and the Original Bunny Gang

Cover of the album White Rabbit

Did you know that Nathen Maxwell, also of the Celtic punk band Flogging Molly, simultaneously leads this phenomenal reggae group?

Maxwell, evidently a jack of all trades, plays bass in Flogging Molly, but in the Bunny Gang surprises and delights in a different niche as guitarist, melodica player, and vocalist. Meanwhile, his dad, the artist known as maxwellvision [sic], plays drums and percussion, Michael Peralta takes the bass, and Nat Nelson is on guitar and vocals. With this humble arrangement, they manage to create a deep grooving smoothness of sound that's tough to surpass. This is music to dance to at its finest.

A Galactic St. Patty's Day

Galactic: Photo by Greg Aiello

This coming Saint Patrick's Day, some may be celebrating the chasing of snakes out of Ireland or simply Irish heritage with some lively fiddle music and colcannon, but if, like many, you're just looking for a big party, head to the Ogden to see New Orleans funk band Galactic.

When I saw Galactic live, I had never heard of them before, and tagged along at the end of an already full day thinking it would be a nice, relaxing evening of New Orleans jazz. I mistakenly thought the opening band was Galactic. Then the real deal came out and the Fillmore filled up to the brim. Sandwiched tightly in the crush of the wild crowd right in front of the stage, I soon learned that Galactic shows are nothing to fool around with.

Turn up the (upright) bass

Avishai Cohen - photo copyright Petra Cvelbar, Jazz Festival Ljubljana, 2009

From old jazz classics to modern marvels of musical fusion, the upright bass enriches the sound that reaches your ears. Bass makes up part of the backbone of an ensemble, along with the drums, but it's capable of so much more as a solo instrument. I love music in which the upright bass, with its unique and velvety resonance, pops out and takes center stage.

The story starts with the classics. Charles Mingus (1922-1979), the old school king of walking bass, played upbeat, funky jazz grooves at a pace that could only have been achieved by a master. His music can still make the drive home in heavy traffic somehow enjoyable, as if those busily bustling rhythms somehow match life in the big city and make it better.

Yasiin Bey is Mos Def

Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def)

Mos Def, who announced last month that he will now be known as Yasiin Bey, is back with Talib Kweli performing as the unique hip hop act, Black Star. These guys are both amazing on their own, and together they're dynamite. They've gone underground and independent now, but they've each built up a strong legacy of albums and films to study up on while we await whatever they might come out with next!

Yasiin's solo debut in 1996 was called Universal Magnetic. In 1999, he teamed up with Talib Kweli, known for being a "conscientious rapper" whose lyrical focus is on black self-worth and social empowerment. They came out with one of the greatest rap albums of the day, Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are...Black Star. The same year, Yasiin came out with the solo album Black on Both Sides.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

SSLYBY art

I liked this band's name so much that I just had to check them out, and hey--they're all right! Now is a good time to discover them, too, because they're coming to the Hi-Dive in Denver on November 30th after releasing a new album, Tape Club, on October 18th.

I heard about five snippets of SSLYBY's songs and decided in spite of myself that their indie pop tunes were fun, contagiously upbeat, and pretty awesome. Check out their Myspace page to listen to free mp3s, and don't miss their bio, which is worth a read for laughs (on the right side of the page above "contact"). You can also find them on Facebook. If you like what you hear, try out some of these bands through the library and see what you think:

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a new Primus album!

Primus

Can it really be? After a 12 year hiatus, Primus is back together as their original, pre-studio-recording lineup, with a new album and a summer tour. The Primusphere is brimming with anticipation, wondering what this bass-driven, carnivalesque rock group is about to hit us with.

Primus debuted with the album Frizzle Fry in 1990. I won't attempt to accurately report their full and long history, but I'll do my best at the gist--by this time, after playing locally in California for years, the band had already split with their old drummer, Jay Lane, and went big with Tim Alexander, with whom they recorded many of their albums.

Cello Rock!

Ian Cooke

Who says the cello is just a classical music instrument? In recent years, a whole slew of cello rock bands have popped up, overturning old paradigms and revealing how surprisingly apt the instrument is to other music styles, not to mention spicing up the often guitar-dominated arena of rock genres. If you're curious, check out the music; two big names will even be coming to play concerts in a town near you this July!

Rasputina is arguably the reigning queen of cello rock; after they pioneered their way onto the scene in 1996 with their debut album Thanks For the Ether, garnering a cult following and performing with the likes of Nirvana, a whole bunch of other up and coming cellists have begun to share the limelight.

Rainy Day Music

Norah Jones

Do you get the blues when it's cold and overcast for days on end? I certainly do, so I was thrilled to find just the fix for it during our recent cold spell. What's your favorite music to listen to when spring seems like winter all over again?
 

Norah Jones' 2007 album Not Too Late is like a big mug of tea in a cozy coffee shop, only it's magically portable.

Rodrigo y Gabriela

RyG playing in Paris in November 2010

There's a reason why Rodrigo y Gabriela's upcoming concert in Boulder is sold out—the Latin acoustic guitar duo is getting too big for little venues. Their powerful songs defy accurate comparison and genre. Out of Mexico and residing in Dublin, Ireland, this group's rhythms will make you wish they were local.

From adventurous originals like Tamacun to an all-acoustic guitar version of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, truly each and every song is musically impressive and interesting. The band has said that though your ears might hear flamenco, that's not what it is. More specifically, they blend "Latin harmonies and rhythms but the structure is rock," according to their bio on Jambase (a great band profile website). Their influences include salsa, classic rock, and Mexican metal.

Indie Near You - Thursday, March 10

Artwork by Pan Asral

Indie fans, do you ever feel like your favorite music genre has become so mainstream that it's not Indie anymore? If you're looking for the most independent Indie out there, look no further than your own backyard. Local bands all over the country represent where this music got its start.

Tagged on their website as experimental Indie rock electronica, local act Pan Astral sticks out from the crowd, blending ethereal vocals with integrated chaos in rhythms that range from trippy to poppy. The subtlest hints of rock, grunge, psychedelic, 80s synth pop, trance, and even folk country somehow all find their way into these meandering streams of notes. If you're 18 or older, catch them at the Hi-Dive this Thursday, March 10 with Lamp! and &One.

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