As a part of Afro-Punk and UrbAlt, I’ve been acquainted with Earl Greyhound. I’ve listened to their music only in passing, but I’ve been given the opportunity to listen to Earl Greyhound’s new album Suspicious Package. For those who aren’t familiar with Earl Greyhound, Earl Greyhound was originally started by songwriters Matt Whyte and Kamara Thomas in the spring of 2002 in New York City. The pair began performing regularly as a duo on piano and guitar on the East and West coast. They crafted their sound that would become the essence of Earl Greyhound. Later on, they expanded the act into a far louder guitar based trio with drummer Ricc Sheridan. Now the line up focused on Matt on lead vocals and guitar and Kamara on Bass and backing vocals. Their sound started to change and was reminiscent of English rock bands such as Queen, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin to even T.Rex. The trio’s live performances showed a versatility of the band being able to pull off melodic touching soul to an explosion of Zeppelin styled Hard Rock.
I’m not going to bore you with more back story. Let’s get to this album!
Suspicious Package is a very progressive rock sounding album that swings like a pendulum from the more advanced sounds of jazz fusion to more balls to the wall rockers. I’m going to focus on the three tracks that I really enjoyed.
The opening track Eyes of Cassandra is a mellow track that starts with some Fender Rhodes noodling then builds into a Latin disco sound. But, the second track, “Eyes of Cassandra pt. 2” builds from the mellow ambience of the opening track…like a thunderstorm off in the distance.
Oye Vaya is a guitar driven rocker that you can either head bang to or isolate the break to dance to. Really, thinking about it, Oye Vaya is kind of reminiscent of “The Mars Volta.”
“Ghost and the Witness” is another great example of Matt Whyte’s guitar playing. It’s a great mix of hook-y riffage and a solo has some actual “soul” to it.
“Suspicious Package” is a good album for someone looking for some more blues and soul driven rock music. I would recommend this album for anyone trying to transfer from neo-soul to something heavier or just anyone that misses that Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin type of Hard Rock.
The only criticism that I have with “Suspicious Package” is that the rawness of the band doesn’t match with the hi-fi recording techniques. Personally, more lo-fi recording techniques would’ve complimented the album.
“Suspicious Package”is available now at http://www.earlgreyhound.com/looklisten/ .
My condolences to the Steele family and Type O Negative fans
A scene from Dub Echoes
Here’s a list of popular riddims from over the years.
Under Mi Sleng Teng
Coolie Dance Riddim
Martial Arts Riddim
Murder She Wrote Riddim
This man needs no introduction…all I can say is, Gil in the 70s “conscious” when everyone else was still confused.
by John M. Ellison IV
Musically, I grew up on everything. From Funkadelic, The Temptations, The Mothers of Invention, The Ramones, Bad Brains, Luther Vandross, David Bowie, James Brown, Black Box, Zapp, Iggy and The Stooges, Bob Marley and The Wailers and countless other artists have influenced me somehow. With those artists, they all have different sounds, styles and very different drum patterns.
When it comes to it, I noticed that the Soul/Funk/R&B music I remember listening had more intricate and unique drum patterns. Whether it was a swing beat, four on the floor or a straight eight pattern, these drummers were quite skilled. In fact, these patterns (in Funk for example) were so integral to parts of a song; it actually could stand on as a composition of its own. This has even spun off into different genres of their own (Rap, Drum & Bass/Jungle and Break beat.)
Whereas, I noticed with rock, a lot of the same drum patterns tend to be recycled by different bands. To be fair, there have been many exceptions to the rule though. In fact, some of the most popular “break beats” come from rock.
When I first started doing music seriously, I was looking to get a drum machine to make patterns on. It was a Roland Dr. 202. After I learned how to use it, I couldn’t stop making beats. My original set up was an old Casio, an analog Tascam 4-track portable, and my guitar in the basement. Although I enjoyed my musical experimentation, my compositions sounded more akin to Nine Inch Nails than the more Metallica-influenced sound I was aiming for. Then, fiddling around with the synthesizer sounds, I thought to experiment with some of the Casio’s pre-programmed patterns. I never noticed the rock drum patterns, I realized those were closer to the rock sound…also the polka setting was reminiscent if not identical to “Hardcore Punk.” That’s when I realized that with a good amount of rock music; the drums and bass kind of take a back seat and can be quite rudimentary and in this case highlight the guitar/s and vocal. So, I felt kind of an embarrassment when I realized this. Saying that, I never could understand how some drummers in rock could complain about the usage of drum machines or sampling being monotonous whereas those same drummers would play stand by stock drum patterns with very little to no variation and with that, the performance sounding quite mechanical and robotic themselves.
Like I’ve stated beforehand in various blog posts, I’m kind of anti-social but friendly; kind of “socially” anti-social as it were. With this, it can be awkward finding collaborators that fit what I’m trying to do musically. As humans, we’re a species that’s used to well…being human. As humans, we have flaws that can be detrimental to ourselves and others. So knowing that, I usually use programmed rhythms from a drum machine to cut to the chase and to deal with less potential bullshit from other musicians. For some songs and projects, a drum machine is essential and fits well for that project. But, I admit, that when a drum machine is used in lieu of a live drummer sometimes, the drum sound can get kind of monotonous and becomes boring and fruitless from a songwriting point of view, well for me at least. With that, I tend to lose motivation in the project all together.
So, unless you’re John Bonham, Vinnie Colaiuta , Terry Bozzio, Max Roach, Neil Peart, Billy Cobham or any drummer with a variation of influences and techniques, shut the fuck up about drum machine-driven music!
I thought I’d do an article on drum machines or drum programming. Aesthetically, the drum machine has been met with controversy. Critics have called drum machines not an instrument, but a machine, drum machines sound monotonous and it doesn’t take talent to use one. Well, more on that later.
The drum machine, or originally called “rhythm machines” have been around since the early 30’s and in some cases earlier precursors have existed before that. In the early 30’s, the spectacularly innovative and complex Rhythmicon was realized by Leon Theramin. This invention was commissioned by computer theorist Henry Cowell, who wanted and instrument that could play compositions whose multiple rhythmic patterns, based on the overtone series, were far too difficult to perform on existing keyboard instruments. The Rhythmicon could produce sixteen different rhythms, each associated with a particular pitch, either individually or in any combination, including en masse, if desired.
Received with a good amount of interest when it was publically introduced in 1932, the Rhythmicon was soon set aside by Cowell and was virtually forgotten for decades. But afterwards, the concept of the rhythm machine/drum machine was re-introduced over time by with variants unique to the inventor.
Inventors such as Harry Chamberlain’s Chamberlain Rhythmate which was driven by tape loops of live drum tracks, Wurlitzer’s Sideman in 1959, which was the first commercially produced drum machine. The Sideman was intended as a percussive accompaniment for the Wurlitzer organ. The Sideman offered a choice of 12 electronically, pre-programmed rhythms with variable tempos and the sound source was a series of 10 drum sounds. In 1960, composer Raymond Scott constructed the “Rhythm Synthesizer”, and in 1963 a drum machine called Bandito the Bongo Artist. These machines were used for recording his infamous “Soothing Sounds for Baby” series in 1964.
The first stand-alone programmable drum machine, was the PAiA Programmable Drum Set. The PAiA was the first introduced to the market in 1975. Interesting enough, this was also sold as a dissembled kit that the buyer would have to put together themselves.
Later on in 1978, the Roland CR-78 drum machine was released. It was a programmable rhythm machine that had four memory locations which allowed users to store their own patterns. The following year, Roland offered more simple version, Boss DR-55. It has only four sounds, and its memory is not enough to compose a song ( but contained up to 16 pre-programmed rhythms), but was a programmable drum machine that cost under $200.
The Linn LM-1 Drum Computer (released in 1980, at a quite expensive price at $4,999) was the first drum machine to use actual digital samples of live . A limited run of 500 were ever made of this machine but the list of those who owned them was quite impressive. Its distinctive sound almost defines 1980s pop, and it can be heard on hundreds of hit records from the era, including The Human League’s Dare, Gary Numan’s Dance, Devo’s “New Traditionalists”, and Ric Ocasek’s Beatitude. Prince bought one of the very first LM-1s and used it on nearly all of his most popular recordings, including 1999 and Purple Rain.
Many of the drum sounds on the LM-1 were composed of two chips that were triggered at the same time, and each voice was individually tunable with individual outputs. Due to memory limitations, a crash cymbal sound was not available except as an expensive third-party modification. A more affordable version of the LM-1 was released in 1982 called the LM-2 (or simply LinnDrum). It cost around $3,000 and not all of its voices were tunable, making it less desirable than the original LM-1, I guess you get what you pay for. The Linndrum included a crash cymbal sound as standard and, like its predecessor the LM-1, featured swappable sound chips. The Linndrum can be heard on records such as Men Without Hats’ Rhythm of Youth and The Cars’ Heartbeat City.
It was feared the LM-1 would put every session drummer in Los Angeles out of work and it caused many of L.A’s top session drummers (Jeff Porcaro is one example) to purchase their own drum machines and learn to program them themselves in order to stay employed.
Following the success of the LM-1, Oberheim introduced the popular DMX drum machine, which also featured digitally-sampled sounds and a “swing” feature similar to the one found on the Linn machines. Thanks to the big beat drum sounds of the Oberheim DMX drum machine, It became very popular in the nascent hip-hop scene. In fact, Davey DMX and DMX co-opted their stage names from the legendary machine.
Roland TR-808 and TR-909 machines
The famous Roland TR-808 was also launched in 1980. At the time it was received with little fanfare, Unlike the LinnDrum and DMX, these drum machines didn’t have digitally sampled sounds whereas drum machines using digital samples of actual drum machine. In time, though, the TR-808, along with its successor, the TR-909 (released in 1983), would become a fixture of the burgeoning underground dance, techno, and hip-hop genres. Although there many numerous uses of the TR-808 or (808 as it’s called) Electro-funker Afrika Bambaataa used the TR-808 on the electro classic Planet Rock. Mainly because of its low cost in comparison of the Linn machines and the unique character of its analogue-generated sounds. In a somewhat ironic twist it is the analogue-based Roland machines endured over time whereas the Linn sound became somewhat overused and dated by the end of the decade. The TR-808 and TR-909’s beats have since been widely featured in pop music, and can be heard on countless recordings up to the present day.
Although drum machines are still used, there has been an influx of sequencer software such as FL Studio features samples of the 808,909 and countless other popular drum sounds.
It gives me great pleasure to feature the new video of one of my musical influences, Detroit rap legend Esham. Here’s his new video Esham-Stop Selling Me Drugs (Death by Illegal Prescription). For my Suicidalists out there, this song is very reminiscent of the “Tongues” era of Esham’s body of work. Enjoy.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Here are some videos of legendary and underrated bass player Phil Lynott with Thin Lizzy, Motorhead and some of his solo work. Enjoy!
Some info on Celtic Punk from Wikipedia
Celtic punk is punk rock mixed with traditional Celtic music. The genre was founded in the 1980s by The Pogues, a band of punk musicians in London who celebrated their Irish heritage. Celtic punk bands often play covers of traditional Irish folk and political songs, as well as original compositions. Although the plight of the Irish people is often a topic of their songs, it’s not considered an overtly political genre. Prevalent themes in Celtic punk songs include Ireland, Irish Republicanism, the Irish diaspora, drinking, and working class pride.
The typical Celtic punk band includes a rock instrumentation as well as traditional instruments such as bagpipes, fiddle, tin whistle, accordion, mandolin, and banjo. Like Celtic rock, Celtic punk is a form of Celtic fusion. The term Celtic punk is usually used to describe bands who base their music in Irish or Scottish traditional music. It is considered part of the broader folk punk genre, but that term tends to be used for bands that use English, American and other forms of folk music as inspiration.
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