The Landfill Harmonic Orchestra from Paraguay are youth who live in a slum on a landfill and make their instruments out of garbage. Their music and their story is an important reminder of how lucky we are as musicians. These kids inspire us.
Check out this amazing video:
Ron Burgundy, we’ve missed you. Counting down the days to December 20.
The Foo Fighters went on a touring hiatus in the middle of last year. Coincidentally, so did we. The good news is that the Foos just announced they’re starting to play live again, starting this December. In Mexico. Check out their hilarious video promoting their comeback show.
Not that we needed inspiration or motivation, but we too are getting ready to start gigging again soon. Stay tuned.
5 cool new tracks to check out. Click the links to watch the YouTube clips.
“Isjaki” is the third track released from Sigur Ros’s seventh studio album Kveikur to be released this summer. This track combines Sigur Ros’s signature etherial sounds with actual structure to make for something even more powerful.
From the album Trouble Will Find Me. Solid track from a solid album from an always solid band.
Natalie Maines and the rest of her bandmates from the Dixie Chicks earned my undying respect after their Iraq War protest over a decade ago that led to their music being banned from much of country radio. They powered through and (solo or as a group) keep making music without trying to please anyone.
These guys have been my indie pop guilty pleasure for the past year. This is the latest single from their blockbuster album Night Visions.
Refreshing sounds from their latest album, Random Access Memories.
Enjoy. - Zeeshan
Some of you remember my monthly email from way way (way) back when I used to make music recommendations for my friends to check out. Here they are again. Click the links to check out the YouTube clips.
From the album For Now I Am Winter. From the land of Sigur Ros and Bjork comes another genius. Arnalds is a producer who used to be a drummer and puts out ambient/electric pop songs. Great album, great track. Hauntingly beautiful.
David Bowie blows my mind regularly. One year after the 40th anniversary of his “Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust” album, he put out his latest album — The Next Day — which is incredibly sublime, envelope-pushing, and relevant. I think “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” ranks among his best songs ever, and that’s saying a lot. (The song starts at 1:52 in the video clip).
The first single off their new album Comedown Machine (“One Way Trigger”) was slightly disappointing, but this track makes up for it. Vintage Strokes track.
Matthew Cooper, a Portland, Oregon based musician, records under the name Eluvium, and his next album Nighmare Ending is due out May 14. No lyrics here, just grand, other-worldly sounds.
Catchy power-pop from this San Diego surf punk band. Very Green Day-esque track with hints of Nirvana (their previous album had a song called “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl”).
Enjoy. - Zeeshan
I was extremely moved by President Obama’s eulogy for Sen. Daniel Inouye — a must watch. Senator Inouye was a great American and a patriot — who loved and served his country valiantly despite seeing other Japanese Americans interned in camps during World War II. He believed in an America that belonged to all and fought to ensure that — both on the battlefield and in the Senate. His vision for America was one that I believe in strongly and hope that we can all continue to pursue.
Click here for the full transcript of Pres. Obama’s eulogy.
President Obama’s eulogy starts at 20:30 in the video.
This is the last of a series of three blog posts relating the stories of the songs on the album Rescue. Enjoy! – Zeeshan
8. We Are Breathing
If there’s anything I want people to take away from this album other than the message in “As I Make My Way” it’s the one carried in this song. This song is sung from the perspective of somebody or some being looking at the world and seeing all the conflict and strife and saying that’s absurd — because from that distance and from that vantage point everyone looks the same and is the same. I think we’d all be much better off as a race if we spent more time focusing on what we have in common as opposed to the things that set us apart.
One of my favorite parts of this song is the riff in the beginning — which came to me years ago and then it felt absolutely perfect for this song when I wrote it. I knew I was onto something here when I was at an open mic performing this and a couple of rappers who were also there approached me and said they thought it would make a killer track.
9. Fallen From Grace
This is a song that a lot of people gravitate to as their favorite on the album — which is interesting to me, because it’s one of the last ones I wrote and didn’t think it was a big deal. It’s about several people who are very close to me who had really really tough childhoods and as a result turned to vices, bad habits, etc. to cope. It’s really me asking a theological question of sorts — is it really their fault? Something I struggle with.
People also react well to this song live. I played the guitar solo on the album but Uri always does it live and it’s actually a lot better!
10. Bombs Away
Probably the most intense guitar track on the album. I pulled out so many guitars and layered so many parts. Uri kept making me do them over and over again until my hand literally couldn’t move !
This was also a lot of fun to produce. Uri wanted to take a “reamping” approach on this album — we first recorded the guitar tracks into pro tools, and then later sent those signals out to amps, mic-ing them and recorded the signals. Gives more flexibility, but it’s a lot more work. So we spent hours just getting the right tones. Hope people like the results!
11. You’ll Stay Right Here
This is the first song that ever came to me in a dream. I woke up in the middle of the night and the piano part was in my head, as were parts of the melody, and I just turned on the computer and banged it out. It just flowed. About someone close to me who went through a very hard time — so it was very intense. Felt like a great way to close the album.
This is the second of a series of three parts relating the stories of the songs on the album Rescue. – Zeeshan
4. Hope To Be
This song is about my brother Farhan. He’s two years younger than me, so we grew up very close, and he’s one of the smartest people I know (I mean really brilliant — went to MIT, had a perfect GPA) and also someone who more than anyone else I know takes everything in stride. When he was in New York after school working and applying to grad schools in Economics, he got into awesome schools out west (Berkeley and Stanford) but he wanted to stay on the east coast but didn’t get into the schools he was aiming for, and even his professors were a little surprised by that.
He decided to Berkeley, which was awesome, but I could tell he was a little bummed though he wasn’t one to mope or tell others about it. So I wrote this song before he left as my way of saying to him — ‘Go west bro. You’re the freaking smartest, strongest, most selfless guy I know and in so many ways I wish I were more like you. And I know that only good things are going to come of this, so go west.’
Then a few years into his PhD he applied for his dream job with the Oakland Athletics — he was always a baseball fanatic — and got it. He’s been at the A’s for over 7 years now and is the Director of Baseball Operations working for Billy Beane. — i.e. very similar to the role that Jonah Hill had in “Moneyball.”
5. Take a Step Back
Although I’m primarily a guitarist I love playing the piano. Feels so pure, meditative and naked. This is the first song I ever wrote on the piano (I write most of them while playing an acoustic guitar.) We recorded the piano for this song as well as “You’ll Stay Right Here” at a different studio (LoFish) because they have a gorgeous grand piano that I loved playing.
6. Great Escape
A lot of people tell me this is their favorite song on the album. We put a lot of time and love into this one. Kept adding layers of guitars, pads, pianos, etc. — if you listen closely there’s a lot going on. I also need to give props to my vocal coach Adrian Holtz for the way this came out. The melody in the chorus was originally several notes lower. But when he heard it he said that I should really try it higher and re-write the chorus. So I did and it sounds a lot more soaring.
I wrote this song about Jerusalem, during a peaceful period in its history when its inhabitants of all different religions got along (Jews, Muslims, Christians). They respected and celebrated one another’s religious festivals and holidays, and lived without conflict. Jerusalem has had a lot of strife throughout the centuries but its history has been punctuated by the occasional period like this. The song is called “Kneeling” because it’s about my hope, prayer, and strong belief that that day can and will come again.
When we were working on the track, I kept telling Uri that “the intro to this song needs to sound like the path from Jerusalem to heaven.” If you listen closely to the beginning (especially with loud speakers) you can hear a lot of rich layers — we spent a lot of time on it, and it really paid off.
This album is the culmination of a very long journey — lot of hard work, life experiences, love, as well of years of learning — and at the same time, it’s just a beginning. My hope is that as many people as possible get to listen to it because it’s a very special project and we put a lot into it. At the same time I hope to keep going and followed Rescue with many more songs and albums.
A lot of supporters have asked for the story behind all the songs. So this is the first of a 3-part series of blog posts describing each song on the album. Enjoy. - Zeeshan