Saturday, January 29, 2011
Singer/songwriter/keyboardist Carleen Anderson was born and raised in the US, but relocated to the UK in 1990, the same year she joined acid jazz band The Young Disciples on lead vocals and keys. She sang backing vocals on Paul Weller's first solo album in 1992 and has recorded with him several times since. In 1999/2000 she toured and sang lead with The Brand New Heavies, and has also recorded and/or performed with Bryan Ferry, Jocelyn Brown, Omar, Lewis Taylor, Johnny Cash, Chrissie Hynde, Paul McCartney, Guru, Dr. John and Nigel Kennedy. Over the years she has released several solo projects, and will be revisiting her 1990's catalogue at Ronnie Scott's in London this weekend - wish I could be there for that!
On November 14, 2010 Carleen posted some wise words on her website - it's one of the best statements on life/songwriting/performing I've come across:
"It has been a difficult, challenging year. Although writing music is a refuge I am certainly grateful for, it brings the weight of painful revelations up from the depths of repression, with all the scars and circumstance that accompanies it. I have learned though, however impossible the situation, there is a song to sing, and therein stays a merciful blessing."
Other interesting facts about Carleen:
- Her mother is Vicki Anderson, best known for singing in the James Brown Revue.
- Her step-father was Bobby Byrd, original founder of The Famous Flames.
- Her Godfather was James Brown.
- She studied classical music and jazz at USC in Los Angeles in the early 1980s.
- She is the head of the vocal music department at the Brighton (UK) Institute for Modern Music.
The beautiful, simple but highly effective videos accompany four as-good-as-new songs from her solo projects in the 1990s - all of them showcase her stellar and very versatile voice.
"Nervous Breakdown" and "Let It Last": both from 1994.
"Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Woman In Me": both from 1998.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Two movies I never get tired of watching:
"Before Sunrise" (1995), set in Vienna, directed by Richard Linklater, starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Original, intelligent, talky, insanely romantic, and makes great use of the locations.
[NOTE: Linklater's 2004 sequel "Before Sunset", set in Paris, is just as good and also stars Delpy and Hawke.]
"The Graduate" (1967) directed by Mike Nichols, starring Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross and Anne Bancroft with Simon & Garfunkel's perfect soundtrack is a classic that will never be topped. Ever.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
James Vincent McMorrow: This Old Dark Machine + If I Had A Boat + Follow You Down To The Red Oak Tree
As I listened to Irish singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow's tracks from his beautiful debut full-length album "In the Early Morning" I was instantly reminded of two other sublime vocalists/singer/songwriters: Mozez (formerly of Zero 7) and Jeff Buckley - I hear the same soulful, effortless quality in the voice as well as haunting songs with strong melodies/lyrics.
"Early In The Morning" was released today in the US on Vagrant. In March McMorrow will be performing at SXSW in Austin, Texas and at Canadian Music Fest in Toronto in between February/March shows in the UK and a few in Paris - hopefully he'll do a US tour later in the year.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
The video for the stellar track "The Magic" is one of the strangest I've seen so far - but the good kind of strange!
NOTE: Wasser, now 40, and Jeff Buckley were in a long term relationship from 1994 until his death in 1997, and she was interviewed by author David Browne for his excellent 2001 Jeff Buckley/Tim Buckley biography "Dream Brother".
Friday, January 21, 2011
The sound and vibe of the gorgeous track "Sentimentally Falling" from Danish folk-rock band The Rumour Said Fire is sure to take you on a back-to-the-future wild ride from Copenhagen anno 2011 to Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles circa late 1960s-early 1970s when former and future members of the The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were hanging out with Joni Mitchell.
21 year-old Nabiha Bensouda was born and raised in Denmark, but also has family roots in Gambia, Mali and Morocco. Growing up, she listened to her mother's Malian lullabies as well as to rock, pop, reggae, soul, R&B, electronica, and disco.
Nabiha's debut album "Cracks" was released in Denmark in 2010 - she co-wrote all of the songs on the album together with London-based Swedish producer/writer Carl Ryden who also produced the album.
Her very strong, classic soul voice is put to highly effective use on tracks that can easily compete with songs by similar artists in the US and the UK and even outshine them.
Just got an email from the hardworking staff at still-going-strong indie record store Fingerprints who are in the challenging process of moving from their longtime location in Belmont Shore to a much larger space on 4th @ Linden in downtown LB (formerly the Lyon art store which has moved across the street)
Opening date should be just around February 1 and they already have several in-store performances lined up: Brooklyn based art/performance collective Men on Thursday Feb. 3 at 7 pm, LB singer/songwriter Korey Dane's CD release party happens on Saturday Feb. 5 at 7 pm, ALO aka Animal Liberation Orchestra has an acoustic show on Saturday Feb. 12, and G. Love will do an acoustic show on Tuesday February 22.
UPDATE, February 1:
Fingerprints is now open for business at their new location: 420 East 4th Street @ Linden.
Please take note of Fingerprints' policy for most in-store shows:
"We are opening the guest list, with qualifying pre-order, starting now. If there's still space available when we're closer, we'll open the list first come, first served. If you'd like to pre-order over the phone, please call us at 562.433.4996".
ALO's 2007 track "Roses and Clover" still smells fresh today - take a whiff below.
On the track "Wait and See", Danish singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sebastian Lind's gorgeous voice soars above valleys, mountains and rivers of pop/rock/electronica, beckoning listeners to join him on a thrilling scenic flight of sound. In the video he takes us even further: into outer space. I'm feeling very dizzy and very happy right now.
NOTE. If anyone should be so lucky as to find themselves in Denmark on Friday March 18 at 7 pm, Sebastian Lind has a show at the world famous Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk north of Copenhagen - the museum and the gardens (with sculptures by Henry Moore among others) both offer breathtaking views across the Øresund to Sweden.
Lead vocalist Nana Odderskær's distinct, confident voice coupled with the band's goody bag of sounds are a delicious combo - go ahead and sample their buffet of bouncy pop-rock morsels; I just did. Mmmm.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Me and Johnny (Ramone) hanging out at Hollywood Forever in L.A.
I started The Nightfly music blog on February 27, 2008 as a hobby and labor of love. It's a one-woman operation and still (by choice) 100 % advertisement free. Due to other obligations (full-time work) I was not able to blog much that first year or for most of 2009. But in late 2009 I decided to pick up where I had left off and have been happily blogging ever since, doing interviews with Mozez (formerly of Zero 7), Avi of Avi Buffalo, Yukimi of Little Dragon, Yaw, Turboweekend, and more.
I have a policy of never posting mp3 song files, in part to avoid potential legal trouble. However, a year ago I began posting music videos. This fantastic film-meets-music art form is seeing a much-welcomed rebirth and there is thus a wealth of excellent videos on the web, from do-it-yourself projects to big production numbers.
Music videos are a highly effective tool for a band/artist to get the word out about their music, and although many of them do indeed have videos on the web for fans to enjoy and for the media to use - including music bloggers such as myself - I am often surprised at how many of them do not have music videos available. Some of the best videos I've come across were clearly made on a shoe-string budget but are no less effective; thus, cost is not necessarily a prohibiting factor in making a good music video.
So: to the bands/artists out there - get a few friends together and put a cool, fun, crazy, weird, sexy, gorgeous, or whatever-you-feel-like-doing music video together and upload it to your website, MySpace or Facebook profile, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Be creative, have fun with it and - don't say I didn't warn ya - be careful about using copyrighted footage; the legal hazzle is not worth it.
I never checked my blog stats until this week - been too busy blogging I guess. Turns out The Nightfly has quite a few readers. The Blogger company provides me with excellent and very interesting stats: 'now, day, week, month, all-time, most read posts, audience, traffic sources, most used browsers, operating systems', etc. It's very helpful for a blogger, but most of all it was very gratifying to discover that I have readers all over the world, woo hoo! (NOTE: I'm not including the obvious and annoying visits to my blog from spammers - I can easily deduce which traffic is real and which is bogus.)
Naturally, my readers are primarily in the US, and I have a solid following in Denmark (a shout out to my pre-California hometown of Copenhagen!), but The Nightfly also has many readers in Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, Holland, and Russia as well as Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Turkey, Israel, Poland, Japan, China, Malaysia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Romania, South Africa, Peru, Ecuador, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Indonesia, Serbia, Belgium, Hungary, Singapore, Georgia, Malta, Switzerland, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, Taiwan, Greece, Chile, Mexico, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Panama, Austria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Cyprus, Thailand, Columbia, Guatemala, Croatia, Belarus, South Korea, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mongolia, Senegal, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Bolivia, Slovenia, French Polynesia, Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gabon, El Salvador, Cuba, Morocco, Uganda, Iraq, Jamaica, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Botswana, Kenya, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Armenia, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Madagascar, Vietnam, Albania, Algeria, Montenegro, Macedonia, Guernsey, Dominican Republic, Moldova, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, French Guiana, Nepal, Guadeloupe, Ghana, Luxembourg, Ethiopia, Marshall Islands, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Brunei, Andorra...and counting.
I am blown away and truly honored and thrilled - it means a lot to me to know that music lovers out there in cyberspace are reading my music blog.
I named my blog after Donald Fagen's timeless 1982 album 'The Nightfly": on the cover is a late night DJ, a turn table, and a clock on the wall. I always really dug that photo, minus the cigarette, hmmm. (Click below to read my first blog about Fagen's album: www.latenightdj.blogspot.com/2008/02/nightfly_27.html)
NOTE: 'The Nightfly' URL unfortunately was not available on Blogger when I started my blog - instead I picked the 'Late night dj'. URL. This makes it a little more challenging in terms of search engines. Nevertheless, evidently folks still manage to find the blog on the web.]
A life-long radio fan, from day one I wanted to emulate the concept of a DJ 'spinning records in the wee hours' with a very eclectic, non-snobbish, high caliber, minimalist look, positive vibe, ad free music blog with which I could reach out to people by way of great music. I love the idea of someone linking to my blog somewhere on the web and possibly discovering an artist/band they've never heard of before. When this happens I feel I've done a good job. And hey, if it helps keep people sane in a sometimes crazy world, I also view it as my modest but vital contribution to world peace.
Music is our most important invention - a wonderous "thing" that brings people together and provides comfort and release for both listener and artist. Musicians often experience what is termed "flow" which is when they are "in the zone" and lose all sense of time and place. It may occur while at home writing songs, in the studio recording, or on stage. Being a singer/songwriter myself, I can personally testify to this - it's mysterious and very trippy; no drugs whatsoever are required.
When performers put their heart and soul into a show and are 100 % "present", audiences will likewise experience "flow" - it's a beautiful thing to witness and to be part of, and my favorite live concerts over the years have been those where both the musicians and the audience are "in the zone".
Although The Nightfly is of course virtual, it is my hope that the reader experiences a degree of "flow" when for example watching a music video or reading an interview. Obviously, no amount of blog reading can ever replace going to a live show or listening to a record, and it's not meant to. My blogging is meant to whet my readers' appetite, get him/her excited about a song, an album, a band, an artist and then - hopefully - send people running to their local record store (or to the web for a legal download) or out on the town to see a concert.
So go see a show, buy some music, and send links to your friends whenever you come across info on the web about an interesting artist/band, including right here on my blog.
Thank you for reading - keep "tuning in" to The Nightfly!
Peace & Love,
S.J.Z aka The Nightfly
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Maria Apetri aka Fallulah (born 1985) is a Danish-Romanian singer/musician/songwriter with a solid following in Denmark and a growing one in other European countries. She has been compared to Florence + The Machine, but Kate Bush and one-of-a-kind British singer Adam Ant who had several hits in the 1980s also come to mind in terms of vocal style and sound.
Her late Romanian father was a Balkan choreographer and her Danish mother was a dancer - as a child Maria joined them on tours in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Her videos and live performances draw on her dance experience and further cement the obvious comparison to Florence and to Kate Bush; Fallulah however brings her personal flavor to the sounds/performances that came before, and her Romanian background is one that has served her well in forging a voice/image that is different from most contemporary Danish recording artists.
Last time Denmark witnessed the soaring of an exotic bird was when vocalist Annisette of experimental band Savage Rose exploded onto the Danish rock scene in the late 1960s, but Fallulah is not the only one: a growing number of Danes of mixed parentage/bi-cultural backgrounds are recording, performing, attracting fans and being signed in Denmark [one is hip hop artist Negesh Ali - see previous blog post].
(NOTE: Annisette, now 62 years old, and Savage Rose are still very active in Denmark. She lived in Los Angeles off and on in for a number of years with musician husband/band mate and Savage Rose founder Thomas Koppel who died very suddenly in 2006 at age 61 from a heart attack while sitting at the piano during a vacation in Puerto Rico]
At age 21, Maria studied dance in New York City, but returned to Copenhagen to focus on music. In 2009 Sony Denmark signed Maria, now using her stage name Fallulah, and her first single "I Lay My Head" was released in August of that year. It was followed by her debut full-length album "The Black Cat Neighborhood" from which "Give Us A Little Love and "Bridges" were released as singles - both songs received heavy air play on Danish radio.
On January 14, 2011 Fallulah was awarded the coveted Danish radio P3 [channel 3] Award at a major event in Copenhagen. The award comes with a sum equivalent to about US $18.000 and she has stated in an interview with Danish magazine http://www.gaffa.dk/ that the award money will go towards putting her own studio together just outside of Copenhagen.
She has performed several years in a row at Europe's largest and oldest music festival, the one-weekend late June/early July Roskilde Festival west of Copenhagen, and will most likely return.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
The best hip hop artist to come out of Denmark, the gifted Negash Ali has the chops to make a name for himself outside Scandinavia, and the release of his 2009 debut album "Asmarino" in the US through La Jolla, California based Raw Poetix Records in 2010 will hopefully help to make that happen in 2011. His 2009 album was partly recorded in California - he is currently recording his second album.
[following edited bio taken from www.allscandinavian.com]:
Negash Ali first surfaced from the underground as part of Danish hip hop supergroup Majors along with DJs Noize and Static and MCs J-Spliff and Nat Ill on their eponymous 2008 release. Talent almost never denies itself, and building on his contribution to Majors, Ali cemented his status as one of the bigger artists out there with his 2009 solo debut "Asmarino". [The term 'Asmarino' refers to a person born in the Eritrean capital Asmera.]
At an early age Negash Ali fell in love with hip hop and original soul. Born in 1990 shortly after his mother came to Denmark after fleeing Eritrea towards the end of the country’s conflict with Ethiopia, his life has been shaped by the challenges an African (or any) refugee faces in new and very different surroundings. These challenges as well as his family are recurring themes in the personal and always strong lyrics, along with more common reflections of a young man like restlessness and being sick of school. His solid flow and characteristic voice add another big, personal plus to his debut album.
[End of bio]
The outstanding track "We Get By" and its accompanying excellent video are all too rare positive and insightful contributions to the often volatile discussion and media coverage of the immigrant/refugee experience in Negash Ali's adopted home country of Denmark. It is also a song/video that many immigrants and/or refugees outside of Denmark - including the US - will no doubt relate to and a powerful example of what hip hop artists can do in terms of bringing an important message to their own back yard and to the world in general.
The second track "Feel The Heat", with its thumping beat, memorable guitar riffs and keyboard chords features Copenhagen hip hop band The Gypsies and proves that Negash Ali can throw down in the kitchen with the best hip hop chefs out there.
The eagerly anticipated self-titled debut album from new 28-year-old British singer/guitarist Anna Calvi will be released Monday.
I chose this video because it focuses on her considerable talent as a guitarist - her haunting cover of Leonard Cohen's "Joan of Arc" sounds like Jeff Buckley scoring a David Lynch film.
A primarily European three-month long tour kicked off yesterday, but she has several shows in NYC March 8-10 and will also be at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas March 14-19.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I first discovered Niels Nielsen (now aka NNDC) of Sweden back in 2009. He has a new video out with a great cover of Saratoga Springs, New York based duo Phantogram's track "Mouthful of Diamonds".
Here is the link to my post from October of 2009: