Herb Alpert for my hooligans in Brooklyn

I was spacing out in my dentist’s office lobby the other day unconsciously bobbing my head to the quiet assortment of songs playing over the sound system when a very familiar minor 7th chord shook me out of my reverie:

Jump to around 3:09-ish if the video doesn’t start there.

Yeah, that’s right, turns out this is the famous bit sampled (and pitched down) in Biggie’s “Hypnotize”. Maybe I’m one of like, 5 people who didn’t know that, but it was fun connecting the sampling dots between a jazzy hit from the 70s and a modern hip hop classic.

[USA] by Anamanaguchi

Album cover for the album USA by Anamanaguchi

A friend of mine recently linked to the new album from Anamanaguchi, [USA]. It’s been a while since I loved an album so much from start to finish, but this was one of them. It has that tasty blend of pop, rock, and chiptunes I associate with the band, but something about the melodies and synth sounds feels akin to Mew’s No More Stories…

Put on headphones, give it a listen, and maybe your Monday will be a little brighter.

Songwhip

I’m pleased as punch that a pal of mine introduced me to Songwhip – a super convenient website that’ll ingest music links from a wide variety of services and websites, and provide a centralized URL for sharing. Friends sharing links from Apple Music, but you’re a Spotify user? No problem.

Just take this lil’ linky-link to Mark Ronson’s cover of Just, by Radiohead:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/just/259214420?i=259214652

Paste that into Songwhip’s search field, and get a slick little page and URL in return:

From there you can hit Spotify, Amazon, or wherever you might find the track/album/whatever. It’s not perfect, and there are some quirks, but I’ve found it to be a great way to share music with friends across a broad specturm of streaming services.

Where this has really shined, in my personal experience, has been integration with Slack. One of my (too many) Slack teams has a music channel, and the Songwhip integration will echo out their URL whenever a song/album link from a compatible service is detected. Coupled with disabling autoexpansion of previews for services like Spotify, you get a nice neat sharing experience:

sufjan stevens in concert

The second post on this website, back in July 2005, was about Sufjan Stevens. I’ve been a pretty huge fan ever since that time, but I’ve never yet made it to one of his shows. Couldn’t make the 9:30 Club in DC a few years ago because of the week combined with it being at least 1.5 hours away. Couldn’t make it to see one of the BQE performances because, well, they were exclusively in Brooklyn. Last night I finally made it, though, and caught Mr. Stevens at The National Theater right here in Richmond, VA.

This was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended. Each musician was spot on, from the wonderful backup singers to the double drummers, and of course Sufjan himself. The visuals projected on screen reinforced the mood of many songs, and the sound was mixed quite well. It was still a proper loud show in a concert hall, but I could actually hear each instrument and singer clearly and distinctly. The whole set – including a several song encore – lasted around 2.5 glorious hours.

Most exciting, however, was how this show reshaped my appreciation of The Age of Adz as an album. I have to admit that, while I certainly enjoyed some tracks before the show, I was a little let down by Sufjan’s latest effort. I’m not sure if it’s because of the seemingly heightened sonic bombast or something else, but it was a slight step below The BQE on my ranking of Stevens’ work. This concert, somehow, shifted my opinion. Perhaps it’s my fond impression of the live performances, or maybe it’s the way these touring arrangements seemed to have highlighted what made these songs good to begin with.

Whatever the case, I listened to a few tracks on Adz this morning with renewed ears. I sure hope Sufjan comes through Richmond again in the future, too. I’ll be there.

Berkeley Girl

Check out the video for Harper Simon’s Berkeley Girl, shot entirely on an assortment of Super 8 film stocks. There’s a little extra significance to my posting this, but I’ll get to that later this evening.