GFS Listening Booth

Listening booth — Billy May, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo”

GFS Listening Booth

A few years ago I published my first list of the best Christmas albums to own, and one of them was the fantastic compilation, Ultra-Lounge: Christmas Cocktails. The first track from that LP is a ridiculously fun and funny Latin jazz tune from 1953 called “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo.” Billy May leads the orchestra on this one (lead vocals by drummer Alvin Stoller), and it’s a gem.

But almost as good as the song is this YouTube video for it, set to clips from Rankin/Bass’s immortal 1964 stop-motion TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Be-ho-ho-hold!

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Field Music - Plumb

Listening booth — Field Music, “(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing”

Field Music - PlumbI now have a reason to stay alive until February 2012, because that’s when the next Field Music album — Plumb — will be released. More specifically, February 13 in the U.K. and February 14 (Valentine’s Day) in the U.S. The lads have been kind enough to provide a sneak peek of Plumb, courtesy an advance single release of “(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing.”

You can enter your email address to download the song on Field Music’s website (as well as place your pre-order for the album and check out upcoming tour dates), or you can check it out here!

Field Music – (I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing by memphisindustries

I dig it. It definitely carries the sound of the Measure album forward. Love that booming, slightly fuzzy bass part. Is it February yet?

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Listening booth — Mocean Worker, “Shooby Shooby Do Yah!”

Last month I featured the album art for Mocean Worker’s latest album, Candygram for Mowo! on this very blog. Today I’ve got something even cooler for you. It’s a video for the leadoff track from the album, “Shooby Shooby Do Yah!”, by Polish artist Czarek Kwaśny. It totally nails the feel of the song and is really fun to watch.

Shobby Shobby Do Yah from Czarek Kwaśny on Vimeo.

Kwaśny apparently put a lot of thought not just into the animation for this video, but into the concepts behind the animation. If you want to get, like real deep man, check out his explanation of the piece here.

The Roots - "Make My" (feat. Big K.R.I.T.)

Listening booth — The Roots, “Make My” (feat. Big K.R.I.T.)

The Roots - "Make My" (feat. Big K.R.I.T.)

If nothing else, the Roots are insanely prolific. Despite their day (night) job as the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show, they find time to record and release project after project.

It’s barely been 18 months since How I Got Over came out (and even less since their collaboration with John Legend), the followup album — Undun — is scheduled for a December 6 release.

The first single from Undun (which the Roots say will be a concept album), “Make My,” was just dropped. Check it:

The Roots “Make My” featuring Big K.R.I.T. by okayplayer

I wasn’t expecting anything this mellow, but I really like it. I love that keyboard riff, and the bridge is a hunk of vintage soul right off one of Stevie Wonder’s classic ’70s albums.

Listening booth — Emerson, Lake & Palmer, “Toccata”

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - "Toccata"I don’t know about you, but there are certain songs and albums that I always associate with particular seasons. One of those albums is Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s progressive rock masterpiece Brain Salad Surgery. On a gloomy, chilly October day like today in New Jersey my mind often drifts to the gloomy imagery and sounds of the album.

While most fans would probably point to the 30-minute “Karn Evil 9” suite as the high point of the album, I tend to go for “Toccata,” the group’s adaptation of the Fourth Movement of Alberto Ginastera’s 1st Piano Concert. It’s a muscular and moody instrumental workout, the type that ELP excelled at in their prime. It’s also one of their best classical music interpretations.

Keith Emerson steals the show with his ridiculous arrangement and keyboards, but Carl Palmer matches him step for step on one of the very first recordings of a drum synthesizer.

Enjoy “Toccata” (and don’t forget to subscribe to my Listening Booth playlist on Spotify)!

Listening booth — Pugwash, “Answers on a Postcard (live)”

The latest album from Thomas Walsh’s band Pugwash, The Olympus Sound, really is one of the finer records of 2011. If you love power pop as much as I do — hell, even if you don’t — get a copy today and you’ll become a fan too. But if my track record of displaying immaculate taste in music isn’t enough to convince you, perhaps this clip will. It features the band (with special guest keyboardist Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy in tow) performing one of the best cuts from The Olympus Sound for an Irish talk show that I can’t place.

Enjoy Pugwash performing “Answers on a Postcard”!

(and don’t forget to subscribe to my Listening Booth playlist on Spotify!)

Listening booth — Kiss, “Escape From The Island”

Legend has it that before the album that became Music From “The Elder” turned into Kiss’s half-baked attempt to imitate Genesis, it was supposed to be a straightforward hard rock LP. But then producer Bob Ezrin (fueled by massive amounts of cocaine) and Gene Simmons (fueled by massive amounts of ego) thought that what Kiss fans really wanted was a concept album with a threadbare “plot” and lots of orchestra. Oops!

We’ll never know if Music From “The Elder” would have sold more in 1981 had it contained more songs like Ace Frehley’s kickass instrumental blast “Escape From the Island,” but it sure would’ve been less reviled. And fans might have gotten more than one album out of the fairly potent Simmons/Stanley/Frehley/Carr lineup.

Listening booth — Gabe Dixon, “Even the Rain” Live at Room 5

Since its release, Gabe Dixon’s solo debut album One Spark has been receiving positive reviews from fans and critics alike.  The Nashville-based piano man recently performed his catchy single, “My Favorite,” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and he received two notable picks in USA Today.  Elysa Gardner of USA Today said of his track “Even the Rain:”

“(A) twinkling, chiming gem, a slice of love in stormy weather featuring (Alison) Krauss’ unmistakably radiant vocal harmonies.”

Dixon explained to US Magazine that he and co-writer Tia Sillers (who wrote Lee Ann Womack’s hit “I Hope You Dance”) “wanted to capture that exact moment when two people are falling in love,” and that after performing in the past with Alison and her band Union Station, he was thrilled when she agreed to sing on the song.  Though Krauss doesn’t make an appearance in the clip, listeners can still get a feel for the ballad in a new live video from a recent LA show.

For more performance clips and to see the official video for single “My Favorite,” visit  Find him on Twitter for the latest updates from the road, as he performs on the 10 Out Of Tenn showcase tour.

Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto

Listening booth — Coldplay, “Paradise”

Coldplay, Mylo XylotoI’ve taken my shots at Coldplay over the years, but I can also admit when they produce quality music. Parachutes was a very good album, and I was similarly impressed with Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends.

I know that it’s “cool” to hate on Coldplay, but that’s just stupid. If you honestly don’t like their music, fine. But bagging on Chris Martin & Friends because they seem wimpy or because they’re really popular is just a waste of energy.

That said, I’m not very taken with “Paradise,” the second single from the upcoming Mylo Xyloto album. It’s not bad really, it’s just kind of… there. It all sounds perfectly pleasant, but as a single it falls a little flat. “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” is a much stronger song and was a better choice for a single.

Anyway, here’s “Paradise.” Judge for yourself.

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