Sunday, February 28, 2010

Joe Bussard's Country Classics
Weekly Radio Show/Podcast
Free Download

One of the world's most renowned 78 super-collectors has been doing a country classics radio show for decades, and now it is available as a weekly podcast, via iTunes, as a free download. The podcast features his current show on WREK 91.1 in Atlanta (the GA Tech college station), which airs every Friday evening from 5-6:00. Atlanta's Dust-To-Digital record label underwrites the show.

Bussard is one of the most colorful characters in music collecting. He lives and breathes classic Amercian music, and his radio show is a fun listen, even if you're not particularly a fan of country. He breaks up the show with a variety of tracks from different styles and artists within the country genre, and he jumps around the time-line, playing tracks all the way from the 20's to more "contemporary" classics. Bussard supplies plenty of history and story-telling along the way.

MISH MASH Mandate: Podcast For Posterity
Joe Bussard's Country Classics Podcast @ iTunes

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Very Berlin E.P.
Tapete Records
7" Vinyl Record

With a name like Herpes, you better be good. Thankfully, you can excuse their rather unfortunate choice for a moniker, because this single from the German quintet just kicks.

Their sound is a discordant blend of classic punk and electronica, built around the simple foundation of manic guitar lines and a hyperactive synth. The vocals are delivered in a breathless rush, choppy and herky-jerky thanks to the German lyrics (very appropriate with the title Very Berlin). They don't go out of their way to make it complicated or groundbreaking, but it is a fun listen. Just turn it up and dance.

MISH MASH Mandate: Infectious Condition
Herpes page @ Tapete Records

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Electric President
The Violent Blue
Fake Four Inc
10 song CD

Electric President is a duo from Jacksonville Florida, made up of multi-instrumentalist Ben Cooper and bassist Alex Kane. Their sound is a unique blend of
atmospheric folk and electronic music, peppered here and there with catchy pop hooks.

It reminds me a little bit of Paul Simon's solo work in the phrasing and structures, along with a smidgen of Simon's quirkiness thrown in for good measure. The electronic part adds another dimension to the folk angle, bringing in an eclectic range of sound that incorporates a more modern, progressive feel. The album is a quietly stunning piece of work that takes a few listens to settle fully into your psyche, and when it does, it is aural bliss.

MISH MASH Mandate: Folktronica
Electric President @ Fake Four Inc Website

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jack Millman Sextet
Shades Of Things To Come
Liberty Records
Vinyl LP

This semi-obscure album is a nice slice of mid-50s West Coast Jazz, featuring the likes of jazz greats Jimmy Giuffre and Buddy Collette in the backing group. Millman only had a handful of major label releases at this time and then of faded away behind the scenes in the 60s. His output was fairly solid and is worth seeking out if you run across it, and while his sparse catalog has been in and out of print, some of it is still available on CD, including this album.

On Shades Of Things To Come, standout tracks include a smooth and cool rendering of Skylark, along with the hopping swing of Thinking Of Russ. It's a good mix of upbeat and slower numbers, and Millman is more than willing to stand back and let his group play, as he allows
the band to show off their multifaceted talents.

MISH MASH Mandate: Shapely Sextet
Jack Millman Website

Monday, February 22, 2010

Matt Kresling
Matt Kresling
11 song free download

Here's a fun little album that prominently features the ukulele, which apparently is growing in stature as a pop/rock instrument (who knew?). Kresling's release is a few years old, but just came to my attention recently in a discussion about the aforementioned surge in uke music.

The album has a quirky sense of humor and a sound not far removed from They Might Be Giants. Kresling keeps his tongue firmly in cheek on cuts like The Beast That Swallows Its Young, where he inter-cuts his lyrics with phone messages from harassing debt collectors. It's an entertaining album from beginning to end, and well worth downloading.

MISH MASH Mandate: Tiny Bubbles
Download Album @

Friday, February 19, 2010

What The Future Sounded Like
A documentary about the Electronic Music Studios, and the birth of electronic music.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ninca Leece
There Is No One Else When I Lay Down and Dream
11 song CD/Vinyl

In the opening track, Touriste, Ninca Leece sings "I'm a tourist in my mind". Seeing that she is originally French and now living in Berlin by way of Holland --- also taking into account the fact that she has toured the world --- that statement is probably not far from the truth. This globe-trotting shows through in her music, which is a collection of savvy and smart electronica that brings together a truly cosmopolitan wealth of pop music.

Leece's approach is simple and sleek, almost minimalist in execution. She is not overbearing with the beat or highly dependent on extraneous sound effects. Her vocal style is understated and reserved, almost blending into the background and becoming part of the tapestry of sound. Everything is neatly in place, utilizing the elements with efficiency and grace. On her cover of The Cure's Lovesong, she keeps it subdued and unadorned, stripping it down to the very basic core of the song, focusing sharply on the melody and bassline. Simply put, it's simply beautiful.

MISH MASH Mandate: Seduction and Subduction
Ninca Leece Website

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dirk Darmstaedter
Dirk Sings Dylan
Tapete Records
10 song CD

It's one thing to cover a Dylan song (who hasn't done that?), but it's another to do an entire album of Dylan tunes. That's bold, to the point of risking ridicule and disdain in the finicky world of pop music criticism.

Thankfully, Dirk Darmstaedter knows how to pull it off with grace and humility. He doesn't try to rock the boat too much, and he plays the songs with an almost reverent attitude, sticking to the style and attitude of the original tracks. He doesn't do a straight impersonation, even though he sounds like he could, but delivers the songs with an understated demeanor that lets the songwriting speak for itself. In effect, Darmstaedter doesn't get in the way of the songs, he lets them live and breathe on their own. It's probably the only safe way to approach such an audacious undertaking, and he tiptoes carefully in a most brilliant manner that would please any Dylan fan.

MISH MASH Mandate: Dylan Redux
Dirk Darmstaedter Website

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Soldier Of Love
10 song CD

It's hard to believe it has been 10 years since Sade's last studio album, 2000's Lover's Rock. It may even be harder to believe that she's now 51 years old and has been on the international music scene for 26. She sure doesn't look it, and for the most part, the music sounds as fresh as it did back in 1984, even though it hasn't changed all that much over time.

Listening to her latest effort, it's difficult to say exactly why she's been able to keep her patented slow grooves so interesting. Perhaps it's because she doesn't venture too far out side her proven formula: soulful songs of heartbreak and heartache that alternately drift from gentle quiet ballads into flowing funky beats. In other words, you know what you're going to get when you buy a Sade album. There are no real surprises, and that can be quite comforting. You know you're going to be serenaded by a beautiful voice, and you are surely going to be nodding your head to more than a few of the tracks.

On Soldier Of Love, Sade saves all her serious business for the title track. It's dark and aggressive, focused completely on the beat, which comes across with the ferocity of a gunshot. From there, highlights include Babyfather, which revolves around a simple guitar line set against a driving beat, and Skin, where the ultra-smooth beats cut cleanly across her understated singing.

Like I said, nothing ground-breaking or out of the box, but then again, it is certainly not a simple rehash of her previous works. I'd call it a brilliant continuation of what got her here in the first place. Let's just hope we don't have to wait another decade for the next one.

MISH MASH Mandate: Lady In Waiting
Sade Website

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Heavy
The House That Dirt Built
Counter Records
11 song CD/Vinyl

Just when you thought the whole retro-rock thing had played its course, along comes a band like The Heavy. They just hit the reset button and made everything old new again. Blending the grit of lo-fi punk with the funky sounds of 60s soul, The Heavy have a sound that sounds familiar while remaining fresh enough to cruise headlong into the second decade of the 21st Century.

The strongest elements of the record come with the Stax-inspired staccato horns of How You Like Me Now? and the quirky/jerky rhythm-n-blues shuffle of Sixteen. Singer Kelvin Swaby does his best James Brown and Wilson Pickett, wrapping it all up in a noisy distortion that could have been borrowed from the likes of The Strokes and The Sonics. I guess rock ain't dead just yet.

MISH MASH Mandate: Lo-Fi Punk Funk
The Heavy Website
George Winston
Love Will Come:
The Music of Vince Guaraldi Vol 2
RCA Victor
16 song CD

George Winston revisits his 1996 ode to jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi in this second collection of tribute tunes. Much like in Vol. 1, Winston reinterprets Guaraldi through his own brand of New Age impressionism. The songs are stark and simple in the solo piano format, taken completely out of the context of their bossa nova jazz inspired beginnings. Winston somehow manages to reach into the soul of the works and make them something completely new without destroying the foundations that Guaraldi used. It's not jazz, and it's not New Age, but in a wonderfully fuzzy place in between.

(On a side note, I had the chance to see Winston perform right after the first volume was released 14 years ago. I must say that I did not fully appreciate his style of playing until I saw him live. He is much more dynamic and expressive than his studio albums would suggest.)

MISH MASH Mandate: Venerating Vince
George Winston Website