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 Recommends: ‘Gold Lion’ by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

The alternative/art punk band Yeah Yeah Yeahs have always known how to balance between composing soft and loud songs, while not limiting themselves to the widespread associations with the two types.  In their song “Gold Lion,” Karen O’s voice adopts both husky and ringing qualities to smoothly develop a simple beat into a raucous instrumental.  Starting off slightly rigid and timed, by its end, “Gold Lion” erupts into full-blown crazy-mode in which all of the musicians try to out-do each other.  However, it does not lose the craft of its strong emotional impact in a “first-band-rehearsal” kind of way.  “Gold Lion” is a head-banging song without being solely based on angst and screaming.  It is perfect for spurs of extreme creativity and the mentally-rejuvenating breaks between piles of work.  The eccentric trio released their new LP Mosquito in April 2013 and are currently playing some select shows without yet going on tour.

 

Dig it, Devils! TDP Recommends: “I Am Not A Robot” by Marina and The Diamonds

Marina and the Diamonds became well known in Britain after releasing their first album, The Family Jewels. The song, “I Am Not A Robot” is a playfully emotional track. The speaker in the track asks her significant other to have a much less dominating and powerful presence in their relationship. A theme of individuality is present as well, with the lyrics, “better to be hated than loved for what you’re not.” The song has simple piano chords at the beginning, and is a fun listen. Dig it, Devils!

TDP Recommends: Tori Amos- “Cornflake Girl”

Disclaimer: The following song features sensitive subject matter. 

Hearing a classically-trained pianist jam out to reggae and alternative is refreshing and inspiring, and Tori Amos’s 1994 hit “Cornflake Girl” combines all three genres to provide Amos with a well-deserved cult following.  Through its puzzling lyrics, “Cornflake Girl” packs the complex concept of female trust and controversial genital mutilation into a symbolic representation.  The slow, moody, and repetitive instrumentals simply make the song hauntingly-beautiful, while the highest notes of Amos’s extensive vocal range emphasize a woman’s pain, suffering, detachment, and confusion in a misogynistic culture.  The seriousness and density of “Cornflake Girl” is perfect for an analytical listener and a lover of revealing and empowering music.  Watch the video below to listen to the wonderfully-creative and intelligent Tori Amos talk more about the conception of “Cornflake Girl.”  Dig it, Devils!

TDP Recommends: “Young Man in America” by Anaïs Mitchell

Anaïs Mitchell is a versatile folk musician known for her haunting voice and unprecedented songwriting skills. She continues to leave fans breathless as she tackles endeavors such as a folk opera adaptation of the Greek myth of Orpheus, as well as an EP of traditional English and Scottish folk ballads.  The title track from her album “Young Man in America” is no exception, leaving listeners with a sense of awe after hearing the American dream inspired track.  Dig it devils!

TDP Recommends: “Bad Religion” by Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean, a passionate artist with a powerful voice, radiates in his exceptional song “Bad Religion.” The track, which was released on his Grammy winning album “Channel Orange”  in 2012, is one of my personal favorites. “Bad Religion” is a commanding song that explains Ocean’s problem with religion and its “unrequited love.” Ocean uses a simple organ to highlight the entire mood of the track. The isolation of the organ and Ocean’s voice creates a personal and relatable quality to the song. “Bad Religion” is an emotional listen that really spotlights Ocean’s compelling vocal capabilities. Dig it, Devils!

TDP Recommends: “Ways to Go” by Grouplove

A wonderfully geeky tune that can be described best as “feel-good,” Grouplove’s “Ways to Go” is one of the catchiest tracks from their new album “Spreading Rumors.” The band’s grooving use of synth and sweet electronic beats make for a song that is almost as catchy as it is an absolute party. Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi’s split vocals express the uniqueness of their vocal style while creating unforgettable melodies. The song is an easy listen, relying on relatively simple structure that complements the piece as a whole. It’s the perfect upbeat song for a Saturday. Dig it, Devils!

Grouplove - "Spreading Rumors"

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!

TDP Recommends: “Right Action” by Franz Ferdinand

Not all bands enjoy drastic change, and with their signature chaos the Scottish band Franz Ferdinand has not altered their sound greatly since their debut album.  Their indie/pop/punk summer tune “Right Action” is just one more upbeat song to add to their repertoire.  Not particularly inspiring or greatly influential with its lyrics, it still makes for a great energetic, pump-up song.  The music video is pure fun with people walking backwards, trippy backgrounds, and the floating/jumping/occasionally-possessed lead singer Alex Kapranos.  So, although Franz Ferdinand have not diverged from the usual, “Right Action” is still enjoyable and playful.  Dig it, Devils!

TDP Recommends: “Victory” by Trampled by Turtles

Although not a commonly heard genre, bluegrass packs a powerful punch and serves as the perfect vehicle for “Victory,” by Trampled by Turtles.  The song opens with somber lyrics depicting a longing to be in a better place.  However, the soulful voice of lead singer Dave Simmonet is complimented by traditional bluegrass instruments to deliver a feeling of hope throughout.  Each element of the song comes together to form a beautiful piece, and a great introduction to bluegrass.  Dig it, devils!