Hungary’s DJ Bootsie, Making Movies For Your Ears: A Review of the Song, “Kite Over Faurndau,” and the Legacy of Hungarian Hip-Hop

Hip-hop is universal.

Don’t believe me?

Did you know that Hungary has a well-established hip-hop culture? The country’s first hip-hop album emerged in the mid-1980s.

That’s a testament to the kids who created rap music in the streets of U.S. urban centers and to the people of Hungary. Until relatively recently, Hungarians were under a creative lock-down (although less harsh than some other communist countries). Formally, communism ended in Hungary in 1989.

(Read more about the history of hip-hop in Hungary – http://tiny.cc/q5vss )

One of Hungary’s Brightest

Based in Budapest, DJ Bootsie, one of Hungary’s emerging hip-hop leaders, has been in the game for over 15 years and is known for his cinematic, improvisational approach.

(DJ Bootsie plays live with a band, a video screen and only one turntable to provide melody and scratch solos.)

DJ Bootsie started his first hip-hop group, Az Arral Szemben (Against the Current), in 1995 and won a national DJ competition the next year. Since then, he has performed and recorded with Hungarian groups Yonderboi and Zagar and has released two solo albums: “The Silent Partner,” in 2004 (Ugar Records) and “Holidays in the Shade,” released Dec. 15, 2009, on BBE.

Hungarian Blues with Bass

Listen to “Holidays in the Shade,” and you’ll hear “epic instrumentals, basically on hip-hop foundations,” DJ Bootsie says in a video promoting the album (see link at the end of this article). “[The songs] carry strong cinematic influences as well as folk, jazz, electronic sounds and scratches here and there,” he says.

Also in the video, DJ Bootsie talks about his interest in musical structures and taking his listeners on a journey toward something inspirational, yet sad.

“Often, gloomy, not entirely positive music can also be uplifting, which actually reflects the mentality of the Hungarian people,” he says.

American musicians might say that DJ Bootsie is talking about the blues.

Kite Over Faurndau

DJ Bootsie has a gift for using dynamics to evoke emotions, similar to the dramatic music we hear so often in movie soundtracks.

Take, for example, the song, “Kite Over Faurndau.” A light acoustic guitar carries the music along with a playful snippet of female vocals. Interwoven are musical events that bring piano, accordion, string hits, rhythmic handclaps, rock guitar and distant sirens into the musical picture – all telling a story with a beginning, middle and end.

Live Version of Kite Over Faurndau

Perhaps that’s why DJ Bootsie’s music has translated so well into TV. The CSI franchise used his songs “Horseriders to the Abyss,” and “Ballad of the Spaceship Rigger (Pt. 1)” in its episodes. His work has also appeared in Hungarian TV and film.

Through an e-mail interview, DJ Bootsie shared with Eleven’s Song Reviews that his inspiration for “Kite Over Faurndau” was a personal one.

Faurndau is a tiny, remote Swabian village in southern Germany where my grandmother lives,” he says. “During the initial work…of the song, I often recalled childhood memories of flying kites close to her place…The most careless time of my life these days were.”

He also shares, “The nature of the song, the airiness, the acoustic guitar, the zip and snap of it, made me start to clap my hands, like when one starts to dance involuntarily.”

So when you’re feeling introspective and need a good musical rush, check out DJ Bootsie. He’ll play a musical movie for your ears…you supply the script in your imagination. If you want to hear more music from Hungarian hip-hop artists, DJ Bootsie recommends listening to DJ Cadik and DJ Mango.

By the way, if you want to see some great panoramic views of Budapest, Hungary, check out the following Web site: http://tiny.cc/VuKAU .

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Bees in Music – Sex, Violence and Social Reform: A Review of the Song, “Honeybees Falling,” by Alt-Folk’s Sean Hayes

From the Wu-Tang Killa Bees to indie-pop’s The Bird and the Bee, musicians are irresistibly drawn to bee references.  And why not? The bee’s stinger is ideal for violent or naughty metaphors, and romantic songs come to life with a little pollination/honey-making innuendo.

Here are a couple snippets from the Diana Ross and The Supremes song, “Honey Bee (Keep on Stinging Me)”: “You started a fever burnin’ deep inside of me, since you stung me with your sweet love… This taste of honey you’re givin’ me has sweetened all my bitterness.”

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=diana+ross+and+the+supremes&iid=4401624″ src=”a/a/a/1/The_Supremes_bdec.jpg?adImageId=8287268&imageId=4401624″ width=”380″ height=”291″ /] (Diana Ross and The Supremes know a thing or two about bee metaphors.)

Sean Hayes (the alt-folk singer/songwriter, not the actor from Will & Grace) takes musical bee references in a socially conscious direction with his single, “Honeybees Falling,” released on Dec. 8 from Sean Hayes Music.

Hear the song, which is a folky fusion of rock and reggae: http://hypem.com/search/sean+hayes

Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics:

“Who’s out chasin’ after money? Little mouse in a maze
Clouds above the buildings, pockets full of rain
Mystery surrounds us, mystery all around us….

“Go ask the birds, the birds, the birds
Listen to the wind, the wind, the wind
Go ask the honeybees falling
Listen to the breathing in…”

In a recent e-mail interview with Eleven’s Song Reviews, Hayes explained his reference to falling bees.

“Honeybee populations are dying… It has been happening for years and it’s getting worse. It is a very scary thing with huge consequences… Go ask the honeybees!” he said.

To Hayes’ point, in an August 2009 Time magazine article, “New Clues in the Mass Death of Bees,” author Bryan Walsh reports on colony collapse disorder (CCD), a phenomenon that has resulted in the reduction of nearly one-third of all American honeybees in recent years.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1918282,00.html#ixzz0ZRpeTznE

On a higher level, “Honeybees Falling” urges us to rethink our disconnection from nature and the sometimes harmful decisions we make as a result.

“Asking questions like scientists or mystics. Knowing we do not know. The grind, grind, grind, easy-to-forget money is a made-up magic, but honeybees are real,” says Hayes.

“Honeybees Falling” isn’t Hayes’ first venture into the world of bee imagery.

In the song, “All for Love,” from the album, “Flowering Spade,” Hayes sings, “I’ll gather your honey. I’ll plant your seed. I’ll be your harvest, leave you my sting.”

Listen to All for Love Here

He also released the song “Pollinating Toes,” on the album, “Big Black Hole and The Little Baby Star.”

Listen to Pollinating Toes Here

If you are interested in hearing more from Hayes, he is releasing a new album on March 2, 2010, called “Run Wolves Run.” Here’s a pre-released video from one of the tracks, “Garden.”

Additional Sources: www.seanhayesmusic.com/home and www.myspace.com/rattlesnakecharm

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Getting to Know the Music of Dave Davison, A ‘Bass Ackwards’ Guide – Starting with the Song, “Letters,” from Cast Spells

Cast Spells announced on March 26, 2010, that the group recorded a Daytrotter session.

My first exposure to singer/songwriter/guitarist Dave Davison was this Tuesday, when label Sargent House released a split EP with two songs from Cast Spells (a Davison side project) and Good Old War.

Listening to the moving, sentimental song, “Letters,” I assumed Davison was a folk singer. Check out this link to the EP: http://castspells.bandcamp.com.

Then, I searched Cast Spells on YouTube and watched the video, “A Badge, Glass Room Sessions.” Seeing Davison with his bushy hair and bare feet, playing his acoustic guitar, and I “knew” he was a folk singer.

Turns out I was only 31 percent right (approximately!) about Davison’s folk leanings.

He is best known for his work with Maps & Atlases, a Chicago-based math-rock, prog-rock, nerd-rock, post-rock, alt-punk group (pick your genre description). While the members of Maps & Atlases acknowledge a folk influence (in an MTV2 “On the Rise” segment), the group is pure technical chops and fireworks.

Listen to the song here (Every Place Is a Home by Maps & Atlases)

Davison is also involved in a project called HEY!TONAL, which is even more experimental: http://africantapegroup.bandcamp.com/album/hey-tonal-hey-tonal.

For those who are new to Dave Davison, I’m admittedly taking you on an ass backwards journey through his music. Don’t worry. “Letters” is a great place to start.

The honesty of Davison’s voice combined with his sweet but urgent guitar lines are powerful. Call it quiet confidence. His frenetic energy demonstrated with his other groups is subtler here.

Here’s an excerpt from the lyrics (couldn’t make out some of these):

“Dragonflies and gnats and their incisions in the water
……???
And I remember when you laughed, the rise and fall of your stomach
And the dirt and bark all over your skin
In lakes and spitting watermelon seeds
We planted a garden beneath our kicking feet
These are letters to you
These are letters to you”

If you are interested in getting to know Davison’s work better, check out the new split EP and his many other recordings. Also, he is currently on the road in select cities with Cast Spells, accompanied by Good Old War and Hezekiah Jones. According to Sargent House’s Twitter profile (@sargenthouse), audiences are loving it. Davison will perform with Cast Spells and HEY!TONAL in Europe starting in late February 2010.

Web sites of groups of which Dave Davison is a member include the following:

Sources:

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Angela McCluskey Finds Homes for Her Music in TV Ads, Cable Shows and MP3 Players – Why I Listen to Her Song, “Message,” Non-Stop

(Want to hear the song first? Scroll toward the end of this posting.)

So I walk into Banana Republic and I’m fascinated by something. It’s not the clothes or the freakishly stylish sales attendants…it’s the sophisticated in-store music. Apparently, Banana Republic wants to accessorize my eardrums.

That’s the idea. In fact, the retailer employs music licensing and branding firm Rock River to provide “branded music strategies.” Why? By selecting the right tunes for its stores, Banana Republic helps influence consumers to buy expensive shirts (I bought two.).

Taking Artistic License
Scottish singer Angela McCluskey knows the value of music licensing. As part of the group, Telepopmusik, she sang the Grammy-nominated song “Breathe,” which was featured in a 2003 TV ad for the Mitsubishi Outlander.

In a 2004 interview with National Public Radio, McCluskey said she loved being associated with the car commercial. “If they associate it, then they could buy the album… Car commercials are the only way anybody’s ever going to hear your music anymore,” she said.

This year, she sang “I’m Not the Girl” for a TV ad featuring the Schick Quattro TrimStyle For Women Razor. See the bizarre video: http://www.quattroforwomen.com/media.php (hint – look for the computer-animated topiaries).

Recently, McCluskey performed on the Season Six trailer soundtrack for the TV show, “Entourage.”

In 2008, she sang “Dream,” the soundtrack to a TV ad narrated by Salma Hayek for a Pampers UNICEF campaign: http://www.theinsider.com/videos/1105674_Pampers_UNICEF_Commercial

Indie Evolves
Don’t assume that McCluskey is a lightweight because her music is attractive for commercial use. Just the opposite. Music branding companies such as Rock River, DMX, Inc., Shout It Out Loud Music and Elias Arts offer their clients the best musicians out there, including indies.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=angela+mccluskey&iid=2003659″ src=”5/e/4/0/FilmAid_Internationals_2nd_b985.jpg?adImageId=7931214&imageId=2003659″ width=”234″ height=”335″ /](Musicians James Allen and Angela McClusky attend the 2008 FilmAid International Power of Film Gala in New York City.)

Francis Garcia, creative director and founder of Shout It Out Loud Music (www.shoutitoutloudmusic.com), a New York City-based advertising, TV and film music company that has composed original scores and licensed music for Audi, Cadillac, Toyota, Ford, Walmart, McDonald’s, Discovery Channel, Nicktoons, Fuse and Fox Searchlight, recently shared the following with Eleven’s Song Reviews:

“Record labels have become more reliant on music licensing as a revenue stream as CD sales have dramatically diminished. Labels and publishers have become savvier at getting their music into the hands of advertising agencies.

“Concurrently, there’s been a stylistic paradigm shift that’s forged the way for recording artists, as advertisers have moved away from ‘jingles’ and toward album music. The indie music community has even become less denouncing of artists that choose to have their music licensed by a major brand. These factors have made the landscape of music business vastly different than what it was 10 years ago.”

To her credit, McCluskey is a Lilith Fair alum and has worked with R.E.M., Dr. John and Cyndi Lauper. She has also recorded several albums with the Wild Colonials, Telepopmusik and Tryptich and has released her own solo projects.

Message in a Bottle?
McCluskey’s song “Message,” from the album, “You Could Start a Fight in an Empty House,” (released Nov. 23, 2009, on Bernadette) is receiving a lot of attention from my MP3 player these days.

Listen to the song here (with Duke Bojadziev, similar version to the album)

Grooving to this electronic music track, I imagine myself speeding in a Porsche Cayman at 2 a.m., heading to an epic party hosted by “Brangelina.” McCluskey’s vocals, world-wise and mysterious, transport me to such places.

At the same time, “Message” is ripe for a slick marketing campaign. I can see the song backing a FedEx commercial. How about an Absolut Vodka ad (hence my message-in-a-bottle reference)?

What are your thoughts about the commercial use of indie music?

Sources: http://www.myspace.com/angelamccluskeymusic,  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=3886110, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1285/is_10_34/ai_n6338659/, and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0566058/.

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A Review of Georgia Anne Muldrow’s Song, “Never a Day in Vain”: ‘60s Spiritual Soul with a Hip-Hop Fist

Is the world a big rubber band ball with everything connected to everything? Maybe. When you look for common threads among people, history, science…relationships start to surface. At the very least, you and I are connected right now through the Internet. So with this in mind, let’s play a game (not the Kevin Bacon game).

Question: What do “The Secret” (the Law of Attraction philosophy featured on Oprah), jazz artists Eddie Harris and Pharaoh Sanders (best known for their work in the ‘60s and ‘70s) and the year 1983 have in common?

Answer: Georgia Anne Muldrow.

Many of the universe’s funkiest wavelengths have converged recently to create the neo-soul hip-hopstress, Georgia Ann Muldrow (jahjahmuldrow on Twitter).

Born in 1983, Muldrow was raised in a musical home in Los Angeles. Her mom, Rickie Byars Beckwith, sang with avant-garde jazz saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders among others. Muldrow’s late father, Ronald Muldrow, was a jazz guitarist who played with artists such as soul-jazz pioneer Eddie Harris.

With this foundation, Georgia naturally gravitated toward music, and also appears to have incorporated her mother’s spirituality. Beckwith is the musical director of Agape Spiritual Center, a “New Thought” church founded by Muldrow’s stepdad, Dr. Michael Beckwith. The reverend was featured in the 2006 movie, “The Secret.”

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=michael+beckwith&iid=6730701″ src=”d/f/4/e/BRAVEHEART_AWARDS_FOR_4e22.JPG?adImageId=7741865&imageId=6730701″ width=”234″ height=”352″ /] (Georgia Anne Muldrow’s mother, Rickie Byars Beckwith, and stepfather Michael Beckwith)
Take into account these influences along with the hip-hop voice of Muldrow’s generation, and you have the song, “Never a Day in Vain,” from the new album, “Early” (released Nov. 10 on Animatedcartunes).
Listen to the song here

 

Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics:

“My prayer is to be better, and to live a life of love
An honest human being, whose light heart can soar with the doves.
It’s hard to keep your head up, when life’s smoke obscures your gaze
I pray to see the beauty, even in that smoke’s dark haze
And when, I feel worthy to receive, the universe opens up to me
I’m a wide open vessel, true love expressin’,
I’ll never live a day in vain”

Another 1983 Connection
Steven Ellison (Flying Lotus), with whom Muldrow and her partner, Dudley Perkins have recorded and performed, called his debut album, “1983.” (I can all but confirm that this was the year he was born.)

Here’s a video of Perkins (a.k.a. Declaime) and Muldrow (a.k.a. Patti Blingh) performing to Flying Lotus’ beats.

Ellison’s background was similar to Muldrow’s in that he grew up in L.A. in a musical family. He is the great nephew of Alice Coltrane, the late free-jazz singer/mystic and John Coltrane, the late jazz god.

Now follow me here. Pharaoh Sanders, who played with Muldrow’s mom, also recorded and played with the Coltranes, who were big influences of Muldrow’s and just about all serious musicians out there.

And so our story comes full circle.

So check out Georgia Anne Muldrow’s song, “Never a Day in Vain,” on the album “Early.” Muldrow’s web sites include http://www.myspace.com/georgiaannemuldrow and www.myspace.com/theworthnothingskrew . She has a fan page on Facebook.

Sources: http://www.stonesthrow.com/georgia, http://www.billboard.com/artist/georgia-anne-muldrow, http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/musical/2008/12/01/081201crmu_music_frerejones, http://www.rickiebyars.com/bio.html, www.myspace.com/flyinglotus and http://exclaim.ca/articles/points.aspx?csid1=135 .

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A Review of the Song, “Ambulance,” by Eisley: Soundtrack of Emotional Upheaval, Ready for Primetime

(Let me know what you think of this song by leaving a comment.)

To your dismay, the couple you follow on your favorite TV drama has a nasty blowup over infidelity. In a dress by Vera Wang, the distraught woman sobs alone in her dark apartment with her back against the bedroom door. Her scorned lover races off in his 2010 Camaro. He shakes his head in disbelief about the betrayal and then suddenly punches the dash.

In my view, the song, “Ambulance,” by Eisley on the new EP, “Fire Kite,” was born for moments like this.

Listen to the song here

The track explores the kind of emotional hurt that only a romantic relationship can inflict – when your broken heart aches so badly you may need to call an ambulance.

[picapp src=”1/5/4/5/39th_NAACP_Image_06b2.jpg?adImageId=7497018&imageId=1267784″ width=”500″ height=”320″ /](Eisley’s song, “Ambulance” – my vote for the next track featured on “Grey’s Anatomy”)

Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics, sung by the band’s keyboard player, Stacy Dupree:

“I need an ambulance, I took the worst of the blow
Send me a redeemer, let me know
If I’m gonna’ be alright, am I’m gonna’ be alright
Cause I know how it usually goes, I know how it usually goes

“I built a monument, for the love we used to know
But that is far removed, and you say
That I’m gonna’ be okay, and yeah I’m gonna’ be okay
But it doesn’t seem that way, no, love, not today

“Cause I was told to get out, told to leave
Told to have my things in the parking lot
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, baby, yeah
Just send me that ambulance, oh
Just send me that ambulance”

Intentionally or not, Eisley, a group from Tyler, Texas, made up of four sibling twenty-somethings and a cousin, has written a song that could fit nicely in the “Grey’s Anatomy” genre of music, an unlikely category that has emerged since the TV show debuted in 2005. Grey’s Anatomy has featured a who’s who of cool young artists, including KT Tunstall, Ingrid Michaelson, Anna Nalick, Brandi Carlile, Peter Bjorn and John, The Bird and the Bee and Feist.

In recent years, Eisley has toured with several well-known bands, including (you may have seen this coming) “Grey’s Anatomy” soundtrack alumni Coldplay, Snow Patrol, The Fray and Gomez.

To get a feel for the song, “Ambulance,” think of the emotional intensity of tunes like Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You,” along with the sweetness of Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories’ song, “Stay.”

So grab a box of napkins, a quart of ice cream and experience the song, “Ambulance,” by Eisley on the EP “Fire Kite” (Sire Records Company, released Oct. 9, 2009).

Eisley’s web sites include www.eisley.com and www.myspace.com/eisley. The group has a fan page on Facebook.

Sources: www.washingtonpost.com (Eisley: Rock and Relatives – These Four Siblings, Plus One Cousin, Are Truly at Home on the Road, April 18, 2008), www.purevolume.com/eisley, www.cbsnews.com (Grey’s Anatomy Music Revisited, May 17, 2007) and iTunes (Grey’s Anatomy search).

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A Review of the Song, “Ultimate,” by Gogol Bordello: A Musical Multi-Car Pileup with Confetti

Eugene Hütz, founder of the acclaimed gypsy rock group, Gogol Bordello, was a teenager when the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986 displaced his family in Kiev, Ukraine. Since then, Hütz seems to have converted that chaotic, atom-splitting energy into “complete orgasmal hysteria” onstage  – which is how Hütz has described the group’s live performances (NPR Interview, 2007).

[picapp src=”2/b/1/6/2009_All_Points_9389.jpg?adImageId=7247119&imageId=5719569″ width=”500″ height=”322″ /] (L to R: Gogol Bordello’s Yuri Lemeshev, Sergey Ryabstev and Eugene Hütz)

Here’s what a couple of my Facebook friends told me this week about seeing Gogol Bordello live:

  • Dana – I just saw them at Voodoo Fest in New Orleans and at Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival last year. I wanted to run away with them. Totally contagious.
  • Brian – I “lurves” me some gypsy rock. I saw them at ACL a couple years ago. Very high-energy – the crowd couldn’t help but dance.

Until recently, I had never heard of the band. I’m probably the last person who can claim that in indie listening circles, because Hütz, the group’s leader, knows how to draw attention to himself, thanks to his charisma, philosophical bent and sweaty decadence.

To date, the band has its own documentary, “Gogol Bordello Non-Stop” (Hoptza Films, 2008), has performed with pop powerhouse Madonna and has appeared at countless marquee music festivals across the globe. Hütz also played leading roles in the movies “Everything is Illuminated” (Warner Independent Pictures, 2005) and Madonna’s directorial debut, “Filth and Wisdom” (IFC Films, 2008).

New Album
On Oct. 6, 2009, Gogol Bordello released a CD/DVD set called “Live from Axis Mundi” (SideOneDummy) that includes footage from a concert in New York City as well as a BBC radio session.

The music attacks the senses. Every time I tried to settle into any particular beat or sound, Gogol Bordello pulled me by the ear to witness another jarring style or musical idea. The group smashes dub, gypsy music, punk, caberet and more into loud anthems that make me want to sing and cast my vote for something – with Gogol Bordello, that’s probably something extreme.

My favorite track is “Ultimate,” which was from a 2008 live performance on BBC- Radio 1’s “In The Company Of (with Colin Murray).”

Listen to the song here

Here’s a taste of the lyrics (word order is faithful to the recording):

“An evolution is eternal
An evolution isn’t over
Everybody shows
And everybody knows
That if we are here, not to do
What you and I wanna’ do
And go forever crazy with it
Why the hell we are even here?
Daaaahhhh!!!!”

When Hütz yells at the end of each verse, it’s time to party like a car crash.

Since words really can’t describe Gogol Bordello, here are a couple videos:

Gogol Bordello’s Web sites include www.gogolbordello.com and www.myspace.com/gogolbordello. The group has a fan page on Facebook.

Sources: www.punknews.org (Gogol Bordello Announces “Live from Axis Mundi”), www.npr.org (Gypsy Punk Group Gogol Bordello in Concert, July 18, 2007), www.imdb.com (Eugene Hütz page), www.hoptzafilms.com/gogol.html,

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