Dusty's Cultural Curiosities

Turn It Up - My 12 Favorite Rock Guitar Intros!

Writer Ian Alterman, and his brothers Eric and Tony, create email threads that have left me intoxicated, annoyed, and most often in a mental frenzy as they suck me into all sorts of music minutia. But boy can they wax poetic; always an education. Ian's latest thread continues that trend:

"The following are arguably the dozen most recognizable opening guitar riffs in rock.  I've arranged them alphabetically by band.  However, I would be interested to see what order each of you puts them.  You can use any criterion: favorite, most influential, most important, chronological, etc."

While I appreciated his list -- a very fine list, a list I could find very little fault with, and certainly a worthy email chain (that continues) -- I wanted my own list. That's the problem with lists, they are never definitive and almost never complete. Someone always feels slighted.

So I decided I would compile my own rock riff intro list. I did find merit in a few obvious choices from Ian's "Classic Rock" list, but most were a tad too pedestrian for my "garage rock" leanings. And I purposely left off The Beatles because I could have filled all twelve slots with their opening riffs. Ditto for Zep's Jimmy Page, early Kinks, The Who, Clapton (Cream, Derek & The Dominos), Hendrix, and a few other obvious omissions. Read more »

Late Winter Music Magic - Radiohead Breaks a Limb

Radiohead: The King of Limbs (XL) - What happened to this brilliant band is something that can be easily remedied by one very strong-willed, no-nonsense A&R person or a domineering producer. While I admit that I really have grown to "hail" the detached beauty of Kid A as an ambient juggernaut and consider OK Computer one of the greatest albums ever released, everything since has been one long hangover. Yes, this record "sounds" sumptuous, thanks in part to expert playing, Mr. Yorke's signature falsetto, strong arrangements, and the predicatably pristine production by longtime enabler Nigel Godrich, but these songs need a bit more work and melody to give them 4-star status; 5-star status is reserved for OK Computer. (Remember how you fell in love with the songs and the boys on 4.5-star The Bends?) We music fans deserve something more to hang our collective headphones on than rubbery limbs. Read more »

That's Amore! My 10 Favorite Love Songs

My best friend Evan and I have discussed our favorite love songs for over twenty-five years. Many of them made mixtapes to old girlfriends and potential paramours, often over-analyzed and scrutinized for their timelessness and sheer emotional gravity and weight. Today our digital devices have replaced our old mixtapes, but a list is still a list. Evan suggested that we pick ten songs, any genre, to celebrate the Hallmark card holiday that most Americans celebrate on February 14th. I wasn't sure I was the right romantic for the job, but what the hell, I'd give my love jones a spin. Omissions are easy when it's a list this short, but I hope you'll still find my song selection devastatingly emotional and uplifting. Read more »

He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and sliver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. - William Butler Yeats (Digital artwork by Shiloh Jenz.)

Scattered Trees - Free MP3

Check out the groovy vibe of the indie rock, Chicago-based sextet Scattered Trees. If you were a fan of Luna or dig Wilco, you'll dig them, too. No foolin'. Take a listen to "Love and Leave" and download it for free. But please buy the entire album Sympathy when it drops on April 5th via Roll Call Records/EMI.

peace, Dusty Wright

More Crucial Culture From 2010

biffy-clyroCan't believe the year is over. Found some extraordinary culture in all shapes and sizes, both digitally and dimensionally. The list below augments my earlier Summer singles, Fall and Winter picks. A treasure trove of culture; well worth your scrutiny and investigation. Happy New Year, people of Earth!

Biffy Clyro: Only Revolution (Warner) 

Scotland's version of Green Day waxes more prog in their punk-rock leanings. This thinking man's trio has honed a musical maturity that comes with 15+ years of touring and CD releases. Read more »

Winter Wonderland!

aloe-blaccThe Holidays are upon us and if you need some help to lock down some cool gifts for your friends, lovers, spouses, and/or kids, let me steer you towards some fabulous content. There are plenty of vital books, music, DVDs, even collectible vinyl figures worth seeking out. Here's a short A - Z list:

Aloe Blacc: Good Things (Stones Throw)

Fresh, dynamic urban R&B; wicked throw-back cool. Mr. Blacc's voice is the bomb; whether dipping to guttural love pleas or rising to a excited falsetto. Reimagined cover of the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale" that is devastatingly soulful. Read more »

The Glass - Free MP3

the-glass-duoOnce two musical scallywags Jager-bombing their way around the East Village in spray-on jeans and worn out sneakers, The Glass have refined their lifestyle and sound to sexy results with their debut album At Swim Two Birds (Plant Music). If you dig New Order, then you'll dig the groove of electronica/pop duo, Dominique Keegan and Glen "DJ Wool" Brady, who started collaborating in 2004. The title comes from Dublin author Flann O' Brien's 1939 novel but is also a reference to Glen's love of the ocean and swimming (he was a teenage water polo champion) and Dom's love of birds (he fancies himself a part-time ornithologist, even as a Manhattan resident). Here's a FREE DOWNLOAD of "Four Four Letter" from their debut album.

peace, Dusty

The Soulful Yearnings of Black Dub

black-dub-group

Daniel Lanois' Black Dub
Wednesday, 17 Nov. 2010
Bowery Ballroom, NYC

Sometimes a live show can transcend because the recorded version of the music has been scrubbed too clean by digital detergent. Nice, tight compressed waveforms. Click-clacks, click tracks. More compression, oui? Well, maybe just a smidgen. Oops, too much. Compromised by the recorded signal getting squashed to 128-320 kbps. No audience to interact with the musicians when recording. Read more »

Back-to-Basics Culture for the Fall

jamey-johnsonAs I told my friend since I first hit the Burning Man playa, my brain was and remains on fire. I mean that in the most creative way possible, too. In any event, I need to get some jams together before my trip to L.A. in a few weeks. Thankfully I am constantly tipped to some great road music and movies and literature. Stoked to share some of that said artistry.

Jamey Johnson: The Guitar Song (Mercury) - Hands down, the coolest, most audacious country outlaw outta Nashville since Waylon. And he's got the look, voice, sound, and songwriting chops in spades. You better if you're gonna release a double CD -- Black Album/White Album -- with nary a clunker in the lot. Album of the year, so far, and that's including my rock and soul CDs. You can bet Waylon and Johnny are smiling down on ol' Jamey! Read more »

Fela Kuti - Free MP3

fela_zombieFELA time, people. One of the baddest tracks from one of the baddest dudes to wax music. Knitting Factory Records just released the third set of Fela reissues, entitled Zombie in celebration of Fela's most well known song, spanning the years 1976 - 1980. Containing 11 albums, this period of Fela's storied career saw his Kalakuta Republic increasingly under siege from the Nigerian government and the clear rise of his vitriol as it fermented into scathing musical diatribes. Here's a free download of "Zombie" -- an infectious piece of Afro-pop funk that will keep your feet and brain very active! peace, Dusty

Would You Like to Fly...?

dusty-playa-balloonManifesting the Authentic at Burning Man 2010

Thoughts aloft. I sit here on my flight back to New York and contemplate my first Burn: 50,000 human souls communing on a eight-mile enclosed playa in the middle of the Black Rock Desert about 90 miles northeast of Reno, Nevada. I am certain many before me have waxed poetic about their experiences, probably with even more profound depth and clarity. But looking back, my memory becomes my own mythology.... We were greeted at the entrance by a butt-naked 60-something dude (who reminded me of R. Crumb) and a gorgeous 20-something woman (dressed as a naughty Thunderdome/Mad Max schoolgirl) who commanded us out of our vehicle and ordered us to make "dust" angels on the dusty playa ground, then jump up and bang an enormous cast iron bell with a crowbar while screaming, "I'm no longer a virgin!" at the top of our lungs. Read more »

Seeland - Free MP3

seeland-bandUK trio Seeland -- Timothy Felton, Billy Bainbridge and Neil McAuley -- are sonic pioneers associated with Birmingham's "Retro Futurist Electronic Scene." Formed when Tim and Billy left their respective bands (Broadcast and Plone), they started writing songs together that could express the sounds of their minds. Their second album How to Live (LOAF Recordingsz) is out October 26th. The band is giving away "Local Park" (click link for free download); a gorgeous summer stroll of a tune that is as uplifting as the sun and optimistic as summer itself, the audio equivalent of strawberries and cream.
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