I’m a sucker for a good redemption story. And last night’s performance is proof perfect that Jason Isbell is really something live.
(Stay tuned — Part 2 of Major Dudes’ 2013 Wrap Up is on its way)
I saw the incomparable Charles Bradley last week. And it was incredible.
If you haven’t watched Soul for America, do yourself a favor and find 74 minutes. Just like Bradley’s brand of raw & classic soul, it’ll warm your heart and lift your spirits in a way few music documentaries and people can.
Any man that launches a career at 62 has pearls of wisdom a plenty for all of us.
I love that man.
This year I’ve called on 11 friends with exceptional ears to submit 1 stand out track for Major Dudes’ year-end musical wrap up. I love the idea of a giant playlist with folks collaborating from all different backgrounds, most who have never even met before.
Happy 2014! Enjoy the playlist right here.
1. “Do I Wanna Know” – the Artic Monkeys
Tough one, as I can’t name a client’s track as other clients will get mad! I would say probably “Do I Wanna Know” by the Arctic monkeys. Great start to a great album. Their best work yet and it’s definitely elevated them to the next level!
Nicky Stein is a London-based attorney who represents every band you love. Seriously, he does. He’s an almanac of the best vegetarian joints across the globe. And promises not to fall asleep on Beth the next time they catch a show together, even if he just got off a plane.
2.”We the Common (for Valerie Bolden)” by Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
The story has a dark side, but I find this song’s energy and joy infectious.
As noted on NPR, in a joint statement from Thao and music video director Lauren Tabak: "This song was inspired by a poignant, candid and unshakable conversation with Valerie Bolden, a woman serving life without parole in the California state prison system. It’s hard to imagine that meeting would be anything but somber — but it resonated with a humanity and humor that greatly outshone its surroundings. It’s in this spirit that "We The Common (For Valerie Bolden)" was written."
Jessica Berta is a San Francisco-based writer who once lived just a few blocks from Beth Silverman in Brooklyn. Jessica hails from Milwaukee, where she was raised on cheese and ice skating.
3. “Vicious Cycle” by Dirg Gerner
Eglo is one of my favorite labels. Most record companies I follow stick to either making music for the dancefloor or the home hi-fi, but rarely does one so expertly present both. The Dirg Gerner EP is more of a home listening record, and any one of the tracks from the EP could’ve been my pick.
Justin Carter is one half of the amazing Mister Saturday Night outfit. If you have yet to experience the Mister Saturday Night magic, put it on your 2014 agenda. Justin also gave Beth her favorite sweatshirt of all time.
4. "Ya Hey" by Vampire Weekend
(Image courtesy of Lastfm)
My fave song of the year is “Ya Hey” by Vampire Weekend.
Eric Hutchinson is a super talented singer (and songwriter), who once made Beth compete in a dj competition in a tiny East Village bar. Eric’s new album drops in April people. And it’s gonna be good.
5. “We Sink” by CHVRCHES
Songs I love generally fall into two columns: those that inspire solo (or group) apartment dance parties and those that are the perfect complement to a night drive. ‘We Sink’ by CHVRCHES fell squarely into both of these categories for me this year. ‘The Mother We Share’ was the first track that drew me to CHVRCHES, a synthy Glaswegian trio, but ‘We Sink’ was the one I kept returning to time and time again. Simultaneously sad and euphoric, its driving beat proved to be the ideal soundtrack for heading down an open road watching headlights stream by while the resounding shouts of ‘say, say, say’ had me singing and dancing along like few other songs in 2013.
Taylor Pankonien is a farm girl turned NYC-based urban designer. While in grad school together in Philadelphia, Beth and Taylor discovered their shared love of music, live shows, and sweaty dance parties. A love that continues to this day.
6. “25 Bucks” by Danny Brown
As Kanye was the most interesting pop music of 2013, old Danny Brown may have the most noteworthy message. This song’s lyrical set up is established simply in the opening chorus, which describe a home hair-styling business, where, for “25 bucks, mama braid your hair.” Through that structure, Brown raps poignantly about the lives of some of the 99 percent, if not the 47 percent: non-traditional workplaces; off-the-books income; chronic health problems; family strife; aging; drug addiction; and, of course, fast food. It’s fitting that Brown hails from Detroit, a city that, in 2013, typified what’s gone wrong with the American dream. Musically, this song has a single commonality to much of 2013, namely the presence of an electro-pop act (here, Canadian duo Purity Ring). But the sound on "25 Bucks" is dark and doleful, and far from Robin Thicke (whose"Blurred Lines" Beth rightly predicted as the song of the summer). It’s disappointing to me that “Old” didn’t get more love in the end-of-year lists, but it’s well worth checking out. And this song is a stand-out.
Michael Hartman was Beth’s high school prom date. He’s a stellar attorney fighting for the good guys and might as well be deemed Washington DC’s Minister of Musical Culture. Every once in a while he drags Beth to an insane hip hop show, which she always loves.
7. “Disconnected” by Funk Storung
I stumbled upon this song the other day that I really like - it’s called ”Disconnected” by FunkStorung (don’t watch the youtube video because it’s creepy). Disconnect to reconnect.
Hannah Trimble is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and former pro-mountain biker, who originally found her way to NYC to help build the Red Hook Criterium racing series. In addition to sharing a love for the greatest bluegrass joint in NYC, she is also Beth Silverman’s favorite old running budding.
8. Repulsive Arousal” by Vastum
(Photo by Taylor Keahey)
Vastum released one of the most cro-magnon death metal albums of 2013 with Patricidal Lust — my favorite song being the closing track "Repulsive Arousal." It starts off brutally dumb and slow before pummeling you with disgusting riffs that will leave your neck aching for days. If that isn’t enough, the outro will send you in to a blur of circular head banging so fierce you will most assuredly wake up with a bangover.
Brian Stegall grew up in rural Ohio and has toured the US and Europe with various punk and metal bands. He has lived in NYC and now resides in San Francisco, where he’s raised by his Italian Greyhound, Lemmy.
9. “The Wolves (Act I & II)” by Bon Iver
Impossible to pick you just one… but on a more personal note, the rediscovery of Bon Iver — The Wolves. "Someday my pain will mark you. Harness your blame." The best performance of that song we saw live together. Maybe best show ever in my life.
Eloy Anzola is a Brooklyn-based photographer, developer, and bicycling enthusiast. Check out his awesome work here. Beth had the pleasure of being Eloy’s plus one to the incredible Radio City Music Hall show noted above, which solidified for both of them just how far Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver project had come.
10. “She Found Now” - MBV*
I don’t know much about the music that came out this year. But I love track one of the MBV album. Meeting Kevin Shields was awesome and everyone in the band was very nice. We met them after their Denver show right before we drove through a tornado. Probably one of the most frightening moments of my life. Everyone in the car, including myself was drained of color from fear. I said "dear god don’t let me die in Wyoming. This isn’t good is it?" And Billy (Asobi Seksu’s bass player) said “don’t look at me I’m from Brooklyn.” (Editor’s Note: To listen to this track, follow these rules)
Yuki Chikudate is an amazingly talented singer and keyboardist. Most recently for the dream pop band Asobi Seksu. Yuki is also an badass rollerskater and promises to take Beth for a spin in Brooklyn soon.
11. “Maxim’s I” by Julia Holter
Not sure what to say about this song, except for some reason, I listened to it many times while working under lots of stress in Barcelona. It reminds me of that time period.
David August Trimble is the founder of the Red Hook Crit, an international fixed gear cycling series. He is also one of eight kids (see #7 above). Dave met Beth at a bluegrass bar at the edge of the universe many years ago in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where after a few swigs their totally awesome friendship began.
12. “Somebody to Love” by Valerie June
Maybe it’s her Tennessee drawl or because not too long ago Valerie June was cleaning other people’s toilets, but whatever it is, I’m hooked. A lullaby both beautiful and haunting, ”Somebody to Love” covers themes of love, loneliness, and wandering underneath June’s heartfelt vocals. If you can, see her live as soon as you can. It’s really the best way to experience her music.
Beth Silverman created Majordudes two years ago to will her closer to opening her own music venue one day (she’s working on it). Beth’s loved music since age 3, when her grandfather played her Harry Belafonte on his beautiful Electrohomerecord player.
13. “Slipped” by the National
This is the song that defined 2013 for me: someone once said to me that this song is an earworm—she couldn’t have been more right. At first listen, I didn’t pay it much mind to the national’s new album and dismissed it as a mumble of lyrics. And then I came back to where I slipped. The shining spot of this song is the gut wrenching lyrics. Have you ever had that moment when you could pinpoint when you went wrong, when you slipped? This song is an ode to that very moment.
Teresa Vazquez is a NYC-based music lover who makes the world just a bit more awesome with her work at Echoing Green. An encyclopedia of soul, bluegrass, funk and beyond Teresa continues to introduce Beth to her favorite songs. And school her in surfing the waves in Costa Rica.
Please Stand By… Major dudes is buried in moving boxes. But a stellar post is on the way.
(Video courtesy of CBS)
Valerie June sounds like she’s already lived a lifetime.
Her stunning vocals conjure up old musical traditions and anything from Alan Lomax’s collection.
She learned to sing at Church or as she says "There was every kind of voice you can think of, so I was always trying to sit beside somebody who had a cool voice and listen to them and see what I liked about it. I had 500 teachers three-days-a-week for 18 years.”
Be prepared to fall hard.
(Photo courtesy of Major Dudes’ fall escape to the Catskills. How rad is that teepee?)
Just in time for holiday road trips and welcoming the best sort of winter chill… a smattering of the tracks I’ve got on steady repeat.
Listen to Steady Rotation: November 2013 on Spotify and get down.
1. “She Lit a Fire” by Lord Huron
My favorite track off Lonesome Dreams. A lyrical ode to the one that maybe got away. If you haven’t already purchased it, buy the whole damn album.
2. “The Lengths” by The Black Keys
Driving back from a hiking extravaganza this fall, my friend Karine dusted off this gem. Perhaps my favorite track by the can’t-do-no-wrong rock duo.
3. “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” - Artic Monkeys
Digging the Artic Monkeys latest collection, AM, a whole lot. This track especially.
4. “It Won’t Stop (feat. Chris Brown)” by Sevyn Streeter
I’m a sucker for this sort of sultry, slow jam. And well that’s no surprise since Ms. Streeter has spent years penning hits for other R&B hitmakers including, Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, and Brandy.
5. “Bad Girls” by M.I.A.
"Live fast. Die young. Bad Girls do it well.” Release your inner badass with this one.
6. “Strictly Reserved For You” by Charles Bradley
If you read Major Dudes on the regular, well you know I love some good soul. Especially from a fella that has kept at it despite a lifetime of more struggles than any one person should face. Check out Soul of America to up your street cred.
7. “Hold On (feat. Sampha)” by SBTRKT
Soft xylophone notes and soothing vocals. So simple. So good.
8. “Chosen” by Blood Orange.
At a dinner party I cobbled together a few weeks back, I let my pal Paul Adams (Bang the Drum founder) dj the evening (unsurprisingly he killed it) and I fell hard for Devonte Hynes’ Cupid Deluxe. Pretty sure Hynes’ has re-imagined a gospel choir with those backup singers.
(photo courtesy of The Fadar)
9. “If I Could Change Your Mind” by HAIM.
HAIM’s debut album is packed with so many hits, I nearly missed this one. Fortunately the band’s lawyer is my buddy and told me I better be listening to this one… And if you haven’t seen their Sheryl Crow cover, listen immediately.
10. “All Night Long” by Cal Smith
A little guilty country indulgence.
11. “Night Moves,” by Bog Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
In 1976, this song catapulted Seger into national stardom. With a slow acoustic start and narrative of teenage love, it’s not hard to understand why. Definitely roll down your windows for this one…
12. “Give Me Just A Little More Time,” by Chairmen of the Board
A bit gloomy. A bit hopeful. A plea for reconsideration to the one you love… General Johnson’s vocals could convince any woman to give him another chance.
13. “Wasting My Young Years,” by London Grammar
Strong vocals mixed with ethereal and melancholy notes; I fell hard at first listen.
14. “Hey Laura,” by Gregory Porter
Off of Gregory Porter’s newest project - Liquid Spirit. As always, real good.
15. “Last Waltz,” by Horse Feathers
So many strings!!! Horse Feathers put out Cynic’s New Year in 2012 and it’s stunning. The heavy strings and moody melodies remind me of an all too swift descent into winter from fall.
16. “Come Back,” by Pearl Jam
I’ve never been well versed in the mountain of music Pearl Jam puts out there. Every once in a while, I catch Eddie Vedder belt out a bluesy slow jam like this and well, then I’m sold.
Pretty excited to see Lee Fields and the Expressions play this Thursday. His live show is a real rare experience. Like my dear friend Lani says:
"Every once in a while, someone like Lee Fields comes around and makes you feel a lifetime of beauty and pain."
That pretty much sums it up.
(video courtesy of yourstruly media)
(Good folks getting down for a good cause - English In Mind Institute, Benefit Party 9/7/13)
My friend Stephanie Price is awesome. Really awesome.
I could rattle off a never ending list, but I’ll focus on one point that relates to this blog post. After a life changing trip to Haiti a few years back, Steph help found the English in Mind Institute, a free adult English School in Port Au Prince. And last weekend I had the pleasure (along with about another 100 fine folks) to support the school at a benefit party on a pretty stellar Williamsburg rooftop. You know it’s a success when you feel like you’re just at a really good party and not a fundraiser. Oh and Steph nailed the music!
Kickstarter sensation Esteban Castro (he’s the 11-year old on the keyboard) and his jazz band played cocktail hour and DJ Neil Armstrong (one of Jay Z’s touring djs) made sure everyone got up on the dance floor for the rest of the evening.
(Photos: Steph thanking the crowd; DJ Neil Armstrong laying it down)
(All photos courtesy of the English in Mind Institute)
Derrick T. Tuggle’s dance moves make me happy.
Those moves alone would do it, but the story behind the video is pretty damn great. Borrowing some moves from Saturday Night Fever & Pulp Fiction (John Travolta), The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (The Carlton! He does the Carlton!!!) and even Michael Jackson, Tuggle and the video became a viral sensation.
I know. I’m a few years late joining the fan club, but having never before watched the video I had no idea what I was missing. During a late night, living room dance party this past weekend, my friend Dana and I danced the whole routine. Tougher than you think, but man are those moves fun.