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Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Sarah Levitt

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Here’s the latest in our BAMM.tv season ‘Why I Love Music’. This time, BAMM.tv’s Sarah Levitt has a few very personal musical choices …

When contemplating the question ‘Why I Love Music’, I was struck by how one word can produce so many stories, memories & feelings that have help define me as a person, throughout my life. Lenny Kravitz, Tracy Chapman, Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald…. The list of musicians whose music will trigger a memory or a feeling (whether it be good or bad) is endless…

Last year, I gave birth to my first child, a baby boy. I knew that music would be a big part of my baby boy’s life and like most pregnant women I listened to music all the time (no… no Beethoven, like my mother wanted…) Anything from Broken Bells to my childhood favourites, Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald. The first few months after Benn was born were joyous, challenging, emotional, inspiring, teaching and so much more and again music was there. One very interesting discovery we made, was that contrary to my thought; that babies would fall asleep listening to classical music (see Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1 or Faure’s Requiem, OP 48 IV Pie Jesu)… Ha! More like Frankie Knuckles hour-long session at the Boiler room or Green Velvet’s Electro, minimal sounds… Something about their beating little hearts having the same bpm…

Music has the power to surprise you, keep you on your toes, nod your head with disapproval or ecstatically jump up and down like a crazy person. This polarity, this randomness is what I love about music and how it feels when I discover a new song or artist that make my hips move and my heart beat a little bit faster – that makes my day.

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Sophie DeWitt

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Here’s the latest in our season of articles from the BAMM.tv crew about why music is the love of our lives: Sophie DeWitt reminisces on a very special experience which was soundtracked by Vampire Weekend …

It was early afternoon on a cool Sunday in August, the third and final day of Outside Lands 2013. Not only had the previous two days in Golden Gate Park brought me one of the most wonderful, serendipitous weekends of my life (holy crap, I’d seen Paul McCartney live), but that day was shaping up to be one incredibly epic finale.

My friends and I had spent the better part of the morning hopping around to Foals then Hall & Oats (a set which had inspired a spontaneous dance circle with the wonderfully happy, drunken strangers nearby our blanket). For about forty minutes all that mattered were the people I tapped toes with, laughing and smiling as we whirled around each other. We had the audacity to hold eye contact for more than a second, unwilling or unable to break the spell the festival had cast upon us. It wasn’t the drugs or alcohol though, it was the music.

We were fast friends. When the set was over, some departed with a gleeful look, a wave, fully exhilarated. My ragtag group stuck out like a sore thumb in the notoriously still San Francisco crowd. It was my amigo Amit’s first live concert (don’t ask me how that happened, I was as confused as you). He couldn’t have been more enthusiastic, moving one way then another, pulling us out onto the grass, stomping along to “Everlasting Arms”. (You know you’ve had a great festival experience when you can lose your collective shit dancing to downtempo Vampire Weekend).

We noticed a slender woman, early 50’s, swaying quietly next to a tall teenage boy who couldn’t have been older than 17. She glanced at me and our bubbling, bouncing mass and smiled. The boy couldn’t be bothered, too preoccupied, too uncomfortable, he stood stoically. As Amit extended his hand out to the woman, her face lit up, incredulous. To both our joy and surprise she stepped over to our circle, laughing, jumping, and clapping along with us. We went on like that for another song or two until the set ended and applause erupted from the field around us. Breathless, she nodded ‘thank you’, smiling wide, and retook her place next to the young boy. If I had to guess, I’d say she enjoyed the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ manic closing set almost as much as our crazy group did.

On any other day, in any other setting this woman and I would’ve passed one another without notice. Our age difference was almost too vast to share much commonality. Her willingness to engage with the music, with us in the moment, is a singularly unique experience I haven’t encountered again this year. That is what I love about music. The intimacy and spontaneity that grows from a shared musical moment is incredibly special and can’t be recreated. It’s not the sweating-in-a-bar-on-Polk-street-with-a-questionable-guy-groping-you kind of intimate, but the unspoken, just looking, just feeling, just dancing-in-a-field-of-strangers-and-seeing-their-true-happiness kind of intimate.

It was the music, that woman will remember. Music allowed her to leave her daughter’s distant boyfriend behind to join our crazy group of twenty-somethings in pure bliss.

That’s where music can take you, how it can connect us. And that’s what I love.

BAMM.tv Rundown: Five Crazy Cover Versions

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Cover versions are a somewhat divisive prospect. They can generally go two ways: either an artist can reinterpret an existing song with passion and respect, or they can utterly destroy it, not so much burning bridges with musical aficionados as nuking the toll booth from orbit.

There is a third category, however – one that exists outside the traditional realm of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and more in the realm of ‘just plain unbelievable’. Here, then, are 5 of the most downright bizarre cover versions you’ll ever hear. You may love them or hate them, but you certainly can’t deny their uniqueness …

5. William Shatner – ‘Common People’

The original: generation-defining Britpop tune from Jarvis Cocker and company, mixing in deadpan social commentary with chiming guitars and irresistible melody:

The revamp: William Shatner adds his unique ‘bewildered old man in post office’ slant to proceedings:

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Check out The Blank Tapes – live!

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To any younger readers out there wondering what a ‘tape’ is, or how indeed it could be ‘blank’, treat yourself to a quick google search. Seriously – we’ll still be here when you get back. Plus, you might also learn some exciting trivia about ‘video recorders’ and ’8-track cartridges’. It’s a whole new world!

The rest of you, however, can treat yourself to something much better: an exclusive BAMM performance from low-fi SF natives The Blank Tapes, whose Pavement-tinged hooks and riffs are always a joy. Take a look at the video above? Did that float your boat? Weeeeellll, if you’re lucky enough to be based in San Francisco, you can catch ‘em live at Cafe Du Nord (in association with Loving Cup) tonight at eight! Go on – inject a little mayhem into your Monday.

BAMM.tv exclusive: ‘OG’, Religious Girls

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Religious Girls don’t have the most accurate name for a band – their membership is comprised of three guys, and the fact that they lie about being girls means they’ve ignored one of those ten commandment things. We shouldn’t let such semantics get in the way of the fact that they’re an awesome, awesome group, however. If you’re a fan of the fractured, unconventional and wild musical stylings of Animal Collective and Battles, this Oakland three-piece may well become your latest obsession.

Check out this killer (and needless to say, exclusive) performance of ‘OG’, taken from last year’s Phono del Sol festival (brought to you by our good buddies at The Bay Bridged and Tiny Telephone).

Oh – and while we’re on the subject, how would you like ‘I Want To Believe’, the brand new album from the band, entirely free? It’s a one-day-only offer, so you’d better hurry over here and grab it …

OTHER BAMM.TV STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

BAMM.tv exclusive: ‘Love Star’, Nicoluminous

BAMM.tv exclusive: ’1-2-3 Go!’, HOTTUB

BAMM.tv exclusive: ‘Hey Big Bang’, The Superhumanoids

BAMMsterdam Review: Capeman – Stand Out Cause Trouble

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Capeman are the kind of rock outfit who really wear their cocky, boyish charm well. It’s a trait often associated with Amsterdam natives. Britpop enthusiasts might remember it from their 90′s icons, or perhaps modern-day acolytes Kasabian. Whatever you might call it, singer-guitarist Darko Tadic and his motley crue have plenty of it.

It’s what makes them a particularly exciting live act, even though they’ve definitely dialed things down from their earlier exploits as The Darko. Their previous entity was all energy; Capeman employ a different, more dynamic approach to songwriting and also boast the added bonus of a fourth member, guitarist/soundscapist Ymer Marinus. With plenty of stage time under their belts and harboring a new musical direction, they’re as confident as ever, a fact bolstered by the aptly titled debut album Stand Out Cause Trouble.

Of course, the first question is: how does all this on-stage energy translate to their studio efforts? Well, the pumping rhythm section of Martin Von Lier and Sin Banovic definitely holds it own on record, driving the band’s staccato grooves home to great effect. Oddly enough, it’s not the muscular cuts that hit home the hardest. Aggressive riffs like those in Mass Destructo or Shed Some Light feel transitional, as if there’s a residue of The Darko they can’t seem to shake off. A shame, as such pumped up rock songs can’t help but feel … well … dated.   We Got Glue is a notable exception, thanks to it’s Bloc Party-esque guitars shreds and it’s haunting synthpads.

Thankfully, the majority of the album leaves the band with more room to breath. As it turns out, Capeman have found their comfort zone in spacious mid-tempo songs with plenty of influences, ranging from new wave to electro. Here the slick production works to their advantage, pushing tracks Mongolian Oil and single Science to above average performances. But the absolute standout here must be Televisions. It’s by far the best composition, beautifully arranged and produced, with plenty of room for Tadic’s vocals to take the limelight. Combine that with the excellent hook in the chorus, and you could be mistaken for thinking it’s the next big single from Foster The People.

Overall, Stand Out Cause Trouble is much friendlier than the title might suggest. It’s rock tendencies feel more like leftovers from a bygone age, while their more indie/electro inspired tunes have all the potential to take alternative radio stations by storm. If they exercise a little more restraint, and keep playing to their strengths (as well as awesome live shows), Capeman could well become a strong contender for festival slots and greater exposure in the Benelux and beyond. A promising debut, all in all.

Look out for Capeman’s session on BAMM.tv in the next few weeks, as we’ll be releasing the sessions recorded by BAMM.tv at Desmet Studio’s in Amsterdam last January.

BAMM.tv partners with Mozilla as it redefines mobile apps

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Hey: we’ve got some exciting news. Pretty soon there’ll be yet another new way of accessing your favorite BAMM.tv content—and quite a special one at that. You may have heard about our friends at Mozilla deploying HTML5 web apps on Mozilla Marketplace. Soon, it will be yet another platform where you can get your BAMM.tv fix.

We’ve already nailed down lots of great outlets for BAMM.tv. We’ve recently announced a great new deal with Flingo, allowing you to watch our hi-def vids on your hi-def home entertainment system, and you can also find our videos on Samsung Apps for Android and our songs on Samsung Apps for Bada. We’re working night and day on crafting something really incredible for the iPad. Oh, and did we mention that we have a new website coming along soon?

We’re lucky to work with talented developers, and we always listen up when you tell us what you want. (“When’s your iPhone app coming out?” “Soon!”) But here’s the thing: developing specific products for specific devices and markets takes a lot of time. It’s worth it, sure, because it lets you adapt to the strengths of each device. Yet… How cool would it be if someone could simply make something for the web, and have it work on any device?

Well, that’s exactly what tech pioneers Mozilla are introducing at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. It’s a huge trade show, and they’re unveiling something genuinely new for their company. The Mozilla Marketplace has a unique twist: an HTML5 app can be released on any internet-connected platform with zero need for re-coding or re-development.

This is all part of Mozilla’s quest to build a better internet, along with their dedication to keeping it free, open and accessible to all. It will make for a revolutionary multi-platform experience. So, expect an upcoming whirlwind of awesome, innovative new apps…

…including ours. Soon, your internet-connected device will never be more than a tap away from the world of BAMM.tv. Through Mozilla Apps, if your device is online, your device can play BAMM.tv, simple as that. We’re recording new stuff all the time, and we want it to be available to everyone—any time, any place. We’re hugely excited to be joining Mozilla in this great new venture, and we hope you’re excited too!

Exclusive BAMM.TV Interview with Geographer

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Today’s the day that the new album by Geographer – ‘Myth’ – is released (you may remember we flagged this up a few days back when we linked to a streaming feed of the whole thing in advance). As luck would have it, this year is also a leap year, which means that you can bookmark tomorrow’s extra day for staying at home, chilling out and listening to ‘Myth’ over and over. Hey – it’s not as if your boss can do anything. It doesn’t even count as a real day anyway (warning – this may not be accurate workplace advice, and BAMM holds no responsibility for any angry phone calls incurred).

Before you fire up ‘Myth’, however, why not get inside the heads of the creative busybodies behind the album itself – check out our exclusive interview with the Geographer lads by clicking on the video above.

Studio Review: Harbours (12/15/11)

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Harbours talks shop in between songs during their recording.

 

“We’re not a solo band,” Miguel Zelaya says. Although Zelaya, songwriter and frontman of Harbours was referring to the lack of guitar solos on the band’s upcoming album, Parlors & Electrics, the sentiment works in a more general sense for both the album and the band. Lucky for BAMM.tv, we were able to witness exactly what he’s talking about last Thursday when the band stopped in for a filmed performance. It’s refreshing to be so impressed by subtlety.

There’s a clarity to these new songs that points to both Zelaya’s sharpness as a songwriter and the band’s ability to find cohesion in a short amount of time together. As is the case for many bands, the Harbours lineup has gone through quite a bit of change recently (Zelaya does a nice job summing it up here). Perhaps needless to say, but band transitions can be unsettling, especially when the former lineup had already begun tracking an album.

What’s cool about the Harbours’ story is that the new members (Peter Weldon on guitar, Heather Marie Ellison on keys and backing vocals, and bassist Braden Towne) have not merely helped finish an album, but they’ve affected a new direction, so much so that Zelaya decided to start over on the new album.

“I’ve always been most excited when you’re writing a song and working with people and they bring something that you wouldn’t have even thought of,” Zelaya says.  “There’s something particular about it (the new lineup) where everyone really does bring a huge part.”

Harbours will continue recording in the coming months. In the meantime, check out studio versions of the set from Thursday here.

Set from BAMM.tv studio recording:

  1. “Where You Take Your Mind”
  2. “Hold On”
  3. “Wait For Me”
  4. “Put Down The Sorrow”
  5. “Lost In Your World”

 

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