Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eagles of Death Metal share their story of Paris attack

Powerful. The Eagles of Death Metal tell their unbelievable story to Vice. About halfway through their Nov. 13 show at the Bataclan in Paris, two gunmen came in and shot indiscriminately into the crowd. The band members themselves barely made it out. Their merchandise guy Nick Alexander, didn't make it. Short of seeing footage of the massacre, this is the most vivid account I have read or heard. If you're not familiar with the Eagles of Death Metal, don't let their name scare you off. They're not as hard as their name might suggest. Their debut album "Peace, Love and Death Metal" is as good as lo-fi, garage rock gets - that's saying a lot. Peace, love and death metal, indeed.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A good review of Adele's '25'

Love or hate Adele, this is a great review of her latest album "25" by The Post's pop music critic Chris Richards​. In my mind, a good music critic provides the reader with the context surrounding the music and identifies its elusive narrative, its universal connective tissue - the deeper meaning the artist may be explicitly or implicitly trying to convey. A good music critic gives enough of this goodness so the reader is able to arrive at their own conclusion. A good music critic doesn't impose his or her interpretation of something subjective. In this regard, Chris nails it. Too many critics try to be irreverent for irreverence sake at the expense of someone else's art, seemingly unaware of how deep the pen can sometimes cut. This is a read of fresh air.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Act of Contrition: Share '70s Turkish Psychedelic Funk with everyone

Raised Catholic, I know a thing or two about guilt. It's our spiritual specialty. So you can imagine my guilt, shame and embarrassment when I visited Barcelona and Salvador Rey of The Pinker Tones, very casually, over lunch, said, "You know, Turkey has some pretty great '70s funk. There's a guy named Mustafa Ozkent or Okzent. Have you heard of him?"

"Um, no," I mumbled back nearly inaudibly, hoping he didn't hear me.

With my Turkish American wife Deniz sitting next to me and my passport containing about a half-dozen Turkish stamps, I recoiled. Not only had I not heard of Mustafa Özkent (I had to look him up), somehow the entire movement - this exquisite and inexhaustible musical thread, in a country that's become a second home - had slithered between my fingers for 15 years. And I never bothered to pull. Flabby, puckish bass lines, kaleidoscopic moog synthesizers, and metal-on-metal electric guitar scratch combined with traditional squeaky zurna clarinets and plump, davul bass drums, swirl together through hypnotic Middle Eastern makam scales - an auditory hallucinogen.

Unknowingly, I must have experienced a second-hand high at some point, as it turns out aspects of this music have intersected my life at various turns. My kids, for example, love to sing along to one of the movement's linchpins Barış Manço, but I was mostly aware of his children's songs. I knew of Cem Karaca, another important figure, but only through Deniz's disdain for his '70s caricature look: big shades, butterfly collar shirt, bell bottoms. In hindsight, this should have been reason enough to pique my interest. And then my brother-in-law Yavuz has passed on a healthy dosage of songs from this era, but they were lost in the thousands of MP3s he's given me over the years.

For years, Deniz half-jokingly ribbed me for never craving Turkish music despite my insatiable, omnivorous appetite for music. We don't have that problem anymore. Not only is this music rich in artistic merit, there's enough out there to keep me nourished for years. But I deserve to take my medicine. As an act of contrition, I've made it a point to share this instantly gratifying music with everyone. Hopefully, my penance is your gain.