Thursday, July 14, 2005

hosting is hiccupping. watch this space.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Out of sight, out of mind ?

glisten: skimming the surface noise

The Violinaires - "Another Soldier Gone"

This beautiful gospel-style eulogy for a fighting man hearkens back to the early fifties; the conflict in question is the Korean War. This track has been reissued a few times in LP format (though, I believe, never in digital media), but the original 45 RPM release is practically impossible to find; I know of a copy in good condition that recently sold for three grand.

Why all the hubbub? This track represents one of the earliest and cleanest recorded examples of the doo-wop/RnB sound, making it a historical disc in more ways than one.

Scarcity and subject matter aside, the tune itself is undeniably moving; I'd be hard pressed to think of a more beautiful requiem.

Listen here to another, later (1954) recording of "Another Soldier Gone" by a reshuffled Violinaires, renamed "The ? Marks" for trademarking purposes.

It's still a pretty song, but I like the earlier one better.
Courtesy the Vocal Group Harmony Web Site, an excellent place to explore for much more classic vocal music from the thirties, forties and fifties.
The Detroit-based Violinaires are still an active singing group; explore their official website.
Learn more about the Korean War.

The Original Jubalaires - "When It's All Over But the Shouting"

The Original Jubalaires have a considerable pedigree, with members hailing from a number of important vocal and gospel groups, including the Du-Droppers and the Golden Gate Quartet. More's the pity that time has not treated their memory with much respect; their sound, unshakable harmony carves right through the surface pop and crackle on this recording to deliver a powerful and rousing anthem. "All Over But the Shouting" is an artifact of the second World War; this 1944 side would've coincided pretty closely with D-Day.

Listen to five more tracks by the Jubilaires; again, courtesy the Vocal Group Harmony site.


(autoload video w/sound, entirely worksafe but a bit distressing)
I'm a longtime fan of cartoonist Nina Paley and am much-gratified to discover that she's been doing a lot of work with online animation; don't miss the remarkable work-in-progress that is Sita's Adventures in the Ramadan, with music by Annette Hanshaw!
We run these streets.
"Other popular hacks include the 'infinite don't walk' and the 'halfway across for granny.'"
The main reason I keep an audioblog graveyard over to the right is because a lot of these sites stop and start periodically. Let's welcome a few old kids back on the block: Trrill is off the opera kick and back to eclectic audio; the only Welsh audioblog I know, Pop Peth, joins us again; Mr. Bassie's Jamaican music site has been resuscitated; everyone's favorite futuristic beatbox/ eepher/ hummer/ noisemaker Dokaka returns with dozens of downloadable cuts; DJ ZoZo is the latest incarnation of the now defunct Swung By Seraphim and good ol' Tuwa is very much back on the scene in a big way.

Incidentally, did anybody else notice that The Onion is audiobloggin' now, too? Boo to it being all realaudio though; some of us like to listen to our music on the go.
If ya didn't know:

"The name of the blog is a piss take on my online nick, "forksclovetofu", by way of a reference to Matt Groening's 'Life In Hell'. There's a strip where his be-fezzed gay couple Akbar and Jeff open a stripmall called "The Tofu Hut". Honestly, I didn't give much thought about the name when I started the blog and it wasn't originally a music site. Knowing then what I do now, I've occasionally mused that I might've been better off calling the thing "John the Revelator" which would make it easier for people to associate the site with me. Ah well. Missed opportunities.
For the record: no, I'm not a vegetarian but I _DO_ love to eat tofu in all its many forms."

... all of which is meant as explanation as to why I would be excited about The Akbar Font.
bonus glisten: miccio's pop rocks

Anthony Miccio is a poprocka and th' Hut's expert on all things big, radio-friendly and glistening that might otherwise escape our more rockist readers earholes.
Anthony dispenses wisdom and choice bon mots at Anthony is Right.

The Ying Yang Twins with Adam Levine (of Maroon 5) - Live Again

ANTHONY SEZ: The best song I've heard released this year is probably "Live Again," the Ying Yang Twins' collaboration with Maroon 5's Adam Levine on their new album USA. Helps if you enjoy Adam Levine's nasal-Stevie voice, but this track's unpredictability and effectiveness should impress anyhow. There's no preachiness, no moralizing, not even a buck-passing "What Would You Do?"/"Where Is The Love?" open-ending, just a sympathetic portrayal of the life of someone who normally doesn't get more than a dollar in her drawers. The closest thing to an opinion presented is "from me to you, I love you." While source of the sentiments may surprise some people, the Twins have long had a gift for clear language and storytelling (phrases like "[you] just want to pull up your pants," are startlingly simple and effective). None of the energy and danceability associated with the duo is missing, leaving us with a track that upends countless presumptions about the treatment of this subject matter while being immediately accessible and affecting.

THE TOFU HUT SEZ: As a non-Maroon 5 fan, I was stunned that Levine was on this track but, to his credit, his David Gray voice actually adds something to the song. Count me in as a surprised fan on this cut; 'Live Again' recalls Stankonia era Outkast to my ears.

Buy "United States of Atlanta", the new and highly lauded album from the Ying Yang Twins, from Amazon.
Visit the Twins official site.
They're giving away gasoline? That's pretty populist, but whufuck?
Read this interview with D-Roc and Kaine.


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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

We're movin' on up... To th' East Side...

glisten: you can find me in da pub

Wow, is it July already? Regular Hut visitors are well aware thta I have been very much AWOL lately, but I like to think I have a pretty good excuse: I got myself a new job. That's right; there's no more hash slinging for your friendly neighborhood tofu-head. I'm off to see the wizard with my spankin' new gig at Joe's Pub, NYC.

For those of you unfamiliar with Joe's, it's as close to a live club version of th' Hut as anyone's ever likely to run; th' Pub is a not-for-profit spot that hosts as many as three shows a night with acts as diverse as could be. Jazz, hip hop, soul, R+B, rock, LOTSA world; you name it, it's playin' there. Joe's Pub has also been a springboard for any number of young acts that've gone on to make it big, not least of which is th' Hut favorite Nellie McKay (new album due out in late September!)

Part of the responsibilities of the new job include spending a great deal of time in the club itself watching the shows. This means that I'm likely going to be seeing great live music at least three times a week; so, you know, I'm a little excited.

Anyway, the primary reason I'm breaking the fourth wall (and my unspoken rule not to involve my personal life in th' Hut space) to present you with this good news is that I don't want any confusion: The Tofu Hut will continue as a separate entity from the Pub. I understand well enough that there's the potential for some conflict of blogger interest here, but don't worry; I enjoy having the freedom to post whatever's got my attention just now. While there IS some talk about creating an audioblog for the Pub itself in the perhaps-not-so-distant future, that project will (at best) be a sister blog and not a replacement for this one. Some overlap is probably unavoidable as I'll hear somebody that excites me at the Pub and want to talk about them, but by and large, Th' Hut will primarily contain music and writing separate from my day job. The obvious but necessary disclaimer that the views of th' Hut do not necessarily reflect the views of the Pub and vice versa may be inferred from here on in.

Having said all that... just this once let's make an exception, shall we?

Here's some hot tracks from three cool bands soon to be playing at JOE'S PUB, home of the world's driest martinis and cutest waitresses; where the music is always sweet and ticket prices are always low; a veritable heaven sent down from God on high for the New York music lover; be sure to ask about our two-for-tuesday, redeemable box-top, frequent flier program!

Amadou and Mariam - "Senegal Fast Food"

Amadou and Mariam are a pair of blind musicians from Mali; he plays the guitar, Mariam sings. Just to up the unlikely quotient, they're also married; the only married, two-member band _I_ can think of off-hand is the long-gone Butterbeans and Susie but a BLIND, married two-member band? That's this funky?

To be fair, a great deal of the funk (on this track at least) has to be chalked up to the presence of Manu Chao, the famed French producer/performer/svengali. Manu's fingerprints are all over A+M's new album, but there's still space for any number of more traditional field-recording sounds throughout, such as the equally tasty "Beaux Dimanches" and "La Fête au Village". 'Dimanche a Bamako' is a real joy to listen to, filled with radio friendly hits and mellow moments alike; it's ridiculously accessible to just about any audience you could think of. A+M are notoriously strong live and rarely in the states, so catch them if you can!

Amadou and Mariam's new album has yet to be released in the States by Nonesuch, but you can import a copy if you simply can't wait.

In the meantime, explore their back catalog.
Buy tickets to see Amadou and Mariam's CD release party/performance at Joe's Pub on Monday, August the 8th.
You've got a while yet but this one smells like a sold out show: amazing new release, a band that hardly ever performs in America and a rabid, in-the-know fan base. Avoid the rush!
Read this '04 interview with Manu Chao about the recording of 'Dimanche a Bamako'.
Visit A+M's official site; it's French only but there are audio clips to be found.
My French speaking Hut fans can check out audio of an interview with the couple here; the rest of us are out of luck.
Read this A+M bio, discography and musical primer.
Learn more about artists emerging from the rich musical hotbed of Mali.

Mártires Del Compás - "Serengueti"

Mártires Del Compás are a great rarity to American ears: a pop band that releases consistently political music. These "Martyrs of the Beat" blend rock, flamenco and traditional into a smouldering mix of hot Spanish dance music with lyrics that alternate between atypical "ooh baby" conceits and anthemic protest songs. 'Serengueti' captures the band in a rare moment of restraint; lead singer Chico Ocaña's voice is racked with a pain familiar to listeners of Motown.

The kicker comes when you get to the translation:

"On the Serengeti of your body/ My hands are hungry lions / When they touch your breasts/ On the Serengeti of your love/ a South wind blows/ frightening your hair/ like herds of gnus/ on the rivers of your body/ my mouth looks for yours/ where the hyenas laugh/ and the seals cry."

Florid, a little silly, but sexy. Except for the gnus.

I doubt this line would work at your local bar, but it certainly sounds better in Spanish, don't it?

Buy No Papeles, the Mártires' latest album, from CDRoots.
Buy tickets to see Mártires Del Compás live at Joe's Pub on Wednesday, August 3rd.
Read this English interview with the crew from Mártires Del Compás.
Visit the official website and listen to several more tracks from the new album.
Explore this primer to the history of flamenco and listen to dozens of tracks, courtesy of Flamenco World.

Tinariwen - Eh Massina Sintadoben

Tinariwen reinvented the wheel out of necessity; in a climate of ethnic repression, the Touaregs (indigenous nomadic people) of Mali had no history of melodic blues. Tinariwen more or less created the sound of the Touareg's "rootless roots" music in the eighties when the members met in a refugee camp.

Tinariwen is a real salmagundi of influences: the music of Bob Marley and Bob Dylan, Led Zepplin and John Lennon, the sounds of Morocco and London and America reverberate in their songs. This is a band that picked up instruments and music completely from outside of their experience, applied the sounds of rebellion and their traditional songs and then wove everything together into something completely new; they're more post-modern than the Killers and then some.

Beyonce and Lil' Wayne talk about being soldiers, but Tinariwen have lived it; many of the members of the group fought in Touareg rebellions. The legend has it that one of the performers survived multiple bullet wounds in a firefight during which he carried a guitar on his back. Tinariwen are, perhaps understandably, treated as royalty in their home country; they are liberators of a sound that might not otherwise ever have been heard.

Buy 'Amassakoul', the '04 rock/trad. fusion release from Tinarawen.
Buy tickets to see Tinariwen perform at Joe's Pub on Wednesday, July 20th.
Two shows, the early one offers a sneak peek of the 2003 Festival in the Desert concert DVD with Robert Plant(!)
Read this band biography by Tinariwen manager and noted music writer Andy Morgan.
Listen to an additional pair of Tinariwen tracks.
A Touareg is more than just a car.
Learn more.


Now that's out of our system, we'll return to programming as usual (and our proper surname).

Stay tuned Wednesday for an exclusive one-on-one Hut interview/concert review with Tofu fave Leslie Feist.


Shout out to Douglas Wolk, the musicbloggin' journo who kindly highlights th' Hut in a well thought-out LA Times piece about audioblogs that seems to have been picked up by the API.

Am I famous yet?
Girish Shambu, one of my fave moviebloggers, cc'd me on a movie meme and then put up my answers on her site along with this supercool "Tofu Hut" logo.
Time to go back to the future; here's me, about one year ago, from the Morning News Audioblog interview:

Most musicians I speak with are generally very enthusiastic about me posting them, though no one has explicitly asked for exposure. Strange thing: Many “friends” of musicians throw a hissyfit when I say I might put up some music. “Oh, you shouldn’t do that; that’s stealing music!” The recent RIAA [Recording Industry Association of America] lawsuits have definitely left a “drugs are bad” commonsense bitter aftertaste on the average Joe. We’re going to eventually have to deprogram this attitude.

Not bad, not bad; we've come a long way baby.

Of course, we're mere red herrings these days. Corporations have thrown their weight into the work of poisoning podcasts; a much easier task as podcasting was/is:

A): more or less explicitly created with the intention of being profitmakers
B): programmable in much the same way as generic radio station playlists
C): an easily manipulated pseudo-populist voice
D): named after an expensive product in the first place

I don't mean to start a junta against the p'casters (heck, th' Hut is available as a podcast); but I think that the acceptance of podcasting by Apple, GM, GE and Forbes says it all.

(This message brought to you by Microsoft. And, of course, JOE'S PUB!!!)

Speaking of the great god Apple, as they prep to move us into the videopod era (probably by Christmas, I'd wager?) some enterprising folk stay ahead of the next thing by re-thinking the relatively useless photo feature of the new Pods as almost-Zoetrope-esque funny pages.
Witness Clickwheel, featuring the admittedly-Chris-Ware- biting-but-still-worthwhile Demian5.
Watch a remix of "Fever" from the the new album Verve Remixed 3, as you weren't really doing anything important anyway.

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