TDP Recommends: Archie Pelago

Technology today has not only facilitated the recording and producing of traditional music, but also has spurred on the synthesis of totally new and exciting branches of sound design and performance. New York-based “creative collective” Archie Pelago combines the highly traditional and melodic tones of the cello and saxophone with the session management and creative beat-making capabilities of the DJ. Together with the aid of various digital and hardware tools, the trio of Cosmo D, Kroba, and Hirshi create eclectic and melody-driven songs and live mixes that retain the musical beauty and technical mastery of the instruments used, yet rebound with the energy of punchy electro-style beats and pulse of dance music. Archie Pelago’s marriage of the old and new is easy for non-musicians to enjoy while still providing the musical connoisseur and analyst with much to explore, study, and reflect upon. Check them out, Devils; you’ll dig them!

 The trio’s latest EP, Lakeside Obelisk, is available on iTunes. You can also find an in-depth interview and authentic studio performance on the Ableton website at:

TDP Valentine’s Day Playlist: From the Screen & Vinyl

They say love is in the air… but sometimes it’s tough to feel. These songs, however, are guaranteed to add a little romance to your atmosphere. Sourced from romantic films across cultures, the star-crossed couples of high-nerdery, and the very best of jazz and pop, TDP presents you with a playlist to love- even if it isn’t the 14th of February.

1) “The Fountain Scene”- comp. John Williams, The Terminal Soundtrack

The Terminal somehow escaped fame, despite being born of Steven Speilberg’s mind and featuring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones as a couple separated by cultures and norms. Even without the heat-warming dialogue and cinematography, John Williams’ composition stands on its own as a truly romantic song.

2)  “When You’re Smiling”- Louis Armstrong

A classic from an old age, “Pops” (Louis Armstrong) delivers a clichéd love song with his signature voice and big-band feel.

3)  “Love Grows”- comp. Nobuo Uematsu, Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy

Fellow nerds will attest- Final Fantasy VIII is not so much about a desperate quest to save the world, but rather about the developing relationship between a hardened, stoic bad-boy and a cheery, outgoing girl. “Love Grows” captures the ups and downs of their relationship, and the Distant Worlds Orchestra’s rendition of this video-game-romance anthem is hands down the definitive version of the composition.

4) “Por Una Cabeza”- perf. The Tango Project, Scent of a Woman Soundtrack

Al Pacino played a blind, bitter, foul-mouthed ex-colonel in Scent of a Woman, and yet, in this memorable scene, he was as loveable as anyone. A classic tango that will make for lovely Valentine’s Day dancing, if you can find a partner!

5) “Miss Misery”- Elliott Smith

A song that took home the Academy Award for Best Original Song in Good Will Hunting, Smith’s gentle voice and melancholy melody explore the sadness in love. Anything as wonderful as love certainly should have its downsides, and “Miss Misery” shows us just how groovy those downsides can be.

6) “Anyone Else But You”- The Moldy Peaches, Juno Original Soundtrack

Nerds need love too! The Moldy Peaches’s geeky, feel-good duet appeared in the 2008 film Juno and depicts a different kind of couple: awkward and unconventional, but with a love arguably stronger than any other.

7) “Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera”- comp. A.R. Rahman, Swades Soundtrack

This composition deals with the love between a man and the country he left behind; Swades chronicles Mohan Bhargava’s return to India after living a successful life in America for decades. His reacquaintance with his land, his culture, his people brings to light a love that stands as tough as any love between two people. If the Hindi lyrics are lost on you, the translation is only a Google search away…

8) “Prelude To A Kiss”- Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington was a swing titan, but his gentler, more romantic side was also a force to be reckoned with. While we cannot guarantee that this song will always lead to a kiss, your chances are always better when Duke Ellington is on your side.

9) “My Girl”- The Temptations

One of the original #1 hits by one of the original “boy bands”, “My Girl” is as charming today as it was when it first made young ladies swoon. Sing it to the lady in your life, and don’t forget to dance to it!

10) “So This Is Love”- perf. Dave Brubeck Quartet

Brubeck’s uptempo, lively take of the Cinderella tune is also a dance-worthy track, if you can keep up! Solos by Paul Desmond on alto saxophone and Brubeck himself on the keys round out one of the few bright love songs in the world of jazz.

TDP Recommends: “No Name #3” by Elliott Smith

Music has the wonderful ability to be both remarkably simple and profoundly powerful; such is the case with Elliott Smith’s “No Name #3.”  One of four “no name” tracks from Smith’s 1997 LP Roman Candle, this track is a lyrical masterpiece. Smith’s gentle, eerily harmonic vocals are spotlighted by a quiet and calming acoustic backing; however, the three-voice, bare-bones song is regardless as moving as it is beautiful, owing to the deep and thoughtful poetry born of Smith’s pen. “No Name #3” is the song for that lazy, rainy Saturday, when it’s time to reflect on life and find hope in new places. Its solemn presentation acknowledges the flaws in all of us, but its open and hopeful feel tells of happier days to come. Take a chance on this one, Devils; you’ll dig it!

TDP Recommends: “Pegasus” by Stan Kenton

A Latin standard that soars under the talent of Stan and his big band, this track stands as one of the greatest examples of what talented arrangers can do with music. “Pegasus” moves quickly between breathy, melodic, legato phrases to wide-open choruses filled with giant brass hits and the WHOOSH! of china cymbals, and even touches upon a traditional swing section before coming to an all-too-soon close. The definitive recording of a Hank Levy chart, Kenton’s “Pegasus” features an articulate and uptempo solo by trumpeter Tim Hagans and pauses that are played just as well as the notes themselves. “Pegasus” stood out as one of the highlights on Stan’s final studio LP,  Journey Into Capricorn; this melancholy tune brings wonderful closure to an illustrious career of arranging and piano-playing. Dig it, Devils!

TDP Review: Super Soul Bros.- “Live at San Pedro Square”


Live at San Pedro SquareFor fans of: just about anything!

No, the 16-bit sound chips of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis did not put out studio-quality sound.

Regardless, the beeps and boops that colored preteen entertainment in the ‘90s are hailed as some of the most memorable tracks in history. Who could forget the opening theme to Super Mario Bros.? The melancholy goodness of the “Song of Storms”? The high-octane, high-energy thrill of “Green Hill Zone”? The video game fan community ceaselessly dishes out remake after remake of the tunes that kids couldn’t get out of their heads two decades ago. While many stand tall as perfectly wonderful tributes, they pale in comparison to the phat jamz served up by California-based jazz/funk sextet Super Soul Bros. Their latest live album, titled Live at San Pedro Square, is simultaneously an extraordinary homage to the video game tracks of yesteryear and a wholly original expression of creative work.

The “blast-from-the-past” factor is indeed a huge part of what makes the Super Soul Bros.’s latest LP so tempting. The group has covered a large selection of classics from the era, from the familiar and iconic Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Kart to the more niche and cult-classic Earthbound. And while the tunes themselves do have the same notes as the chip-tune tracks of the ‘90s, they hardly feel as two-dimensional as their graphic counterparts. Every song on this album is unique and touches upon a different genre. Fans of alternative rock will find something to rock to in “Green Hill Zone” and “Song of Storms”; “Pokémon Title Screen” chugs along with a slow, powerful blues air; and “Chemical Plant Zone” and “Donkey Kong Country Theme” rebound with the energy and brightness of fast funk. Live at San Pedro Square is a grab-bag of various styles; while this creative choice was indeed a great risk, it adds tremendous character and body to the record as whole.

But what is the real draw of this record? Perhaps it has something to do with the musicality of the Super Soul Bros. Keyboardist Robbie Benson has an ear for sound that cannot go unnoticed; he experiments (to great success) with various nostalgia-inducing sound effects using his setup. Listeners will hear all sorts of beeps and boops on “Pokémon Battle” that somehow also refer back to other staples of twentieth century America (kudos if you can catch the Flintstones theme and a little bit of Tetris). He does not stay confined in digital sounds, however; organ and synth sounds are all over the record. The keys on Live at San Pedro Square are complemented by the unbelievable guitar solos of Brian Sheu, who likewise has an incredible range in terms of musicality. The guitar solo on “Song of Storms” moves gently and with style from a mellow and soulful melody to a shred-fest that would put Slash to shame. And even these two musical juggernauts both take solos, they seem to have an artistic synergy that gives Tom & Jerry a run for its money. All these displays of technical mastery are backed by the steady groove of a non-intrusive and matured rhythm section; one that deeply comprehends the feel of each style the record touches.

The record claims to “relive” the night the Super Soul Bros. took the stage at San Pedro Square; unfortunately, being an audio-only experience, it can only do so much. Many of the conversational interludes that clearly make the record a live LP are sadly lost to time, even though select performance videos are available on YouTube. This is most apparent on “Donkey Kong Country Theme,” where Benson seems to have an entire conversation with Donkey Kong himself. Without any visual cues, verbal asides like these suddenly become empty space in comparison to the rest of the music, and detract from the realm Live at San Pedro Square creates.

In truth, the real draw of Live at San Pedro Square has nothing to do with how talented the Super Soul Bros. are. In an age where the word “remix” brings to mind studio headphones, high-tech gear, and MacBooks, it’s downright shocking to see a group pull so much from the past to build something brand new for the future. The jazz-style solos and presentation of the Super Soul Bros. are the peanut butter to video game music’s chocolate; like the delicious Reese’s cup before it, Live at San Pedro Square just really is that good, all thanks to a perfect blending of two unlikely components. It’s a musical effort by a no-name band that should not go ignored, especially since the ENTIRE RECORD can be streamed for free at Every hit they get on their website can only encourage them further, so get online, Devils!



Overall Rating: 4.75 / 5



TDP Recommends: “Railway” by Dispatch

If you want a tune to rock to, look no further.

A song with a very easy groove to it, and much variation from section to section, Dispatch’s “Railway,” although not a traditionally rockin’ song, will make you move. Chad Stokes’s vocal talent and ability to blend elements of folk and rap shine brighter on this song than on any other track on their 1998 release entitled “Bang Bang.” The lyrics are fast, rhythmic, and bright, with a poetry-slam feel. The song’s also got a killer guitar solo in it; one that’ll surely bring out the air-guitarist you thought you left behind in the 8th grade. Plus, a saxophone solo is included free of charge. What more could one ask for?

Just give it a listen; you’ll dig it, devils!