Hello and welcome to today's new Weekly Update! While I'm practically living in a constant state of G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome): a blissful obsession with finding the absolute coolest and best pieces of gear out there in this beautiful world. Sometimes I have to sit back and just enjoy some wonderful music. It's essentially what's been behind my "Four Play" series. Sharing my musical finds, favorite moments, or in today's case, four music videos that have left a lasting effect on me as a musician. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do, as they all share a through-line born of some kind of special magic --- the ability to pull you in with the concoction of mixed media and sound. I look forward to sharing more of the "Four Play ::: Video Vault" with you all soon!
Charles Bradley /// Changes
I first came across Charles Bradley's "Changes" as a reference to learning a song for a gig with a friend. We were doing a cover of his cover of "Changes", originally written and recorded by Black Sabbath. Decidedly a horse of a different color, the Bradley version is full of soulful bliss and emotion. What's most powerful about the video is indeed itself --- Bradley's lone face grimacing and wincing in pain from what I can imagine is his true essence of the pain of change. It's powerful and gripping to say the least. Possibly one of the simplest concepts, yet it comes across so real and honest. Choosing to not have Bradley sing or "mouth" any of the lyrics is so pure and gripping. We as viewers are left with only his facial expressions to warrant the movement in the song, with a beauty that couldn't be expressed any other way.
Bon Iver /// Holocene
"Holocene" from Bon Iver's self titled 2011 record is one of those songs that is burnt into my mental/musical banks in a manner unlike most other material. It's a beautiful excursion in sound and structure. Justin Vernon (the beast behind the curtain that is Bon Iver) creates immense and expansive landscapes of sound with Holocene. It would only make perfect sense that such a beautiful song should carry a companion piece like this video. Set in a lonely yet incredibly beautiful territory (Iceland), a young boy runs through a simple life of exploration and joy. It's the kind of thing any young child remembers as they would play in the beauty of nature, where our imaginations are our guides and our source of infinite wisdom. To me, Holocene is about joy, in it's simplest form, full and rich in the deepest of ways.
"Holocene" was so inspiring in it's open and beautiful nature that it helped create a dance piece from my amazing wife Jessie Douglass-Smith McGraw. Take a look at her beautiful movement in "A Part of Me ~ Apart from Me" below...
tUnE-yArDs /// Bizness
One of my favorite finds of all time are the tUnE-yArDs, led by the genius that is Merrill Garbus, who are a fantastic blend of Indie, Pop, World, Afro-Beat, Funk, Soul.... and the list goes on! Their sound NEEDS to be heard, and once you hear it, it's quite hard to not let it move you. "Bizness" is a reflection of that very essence of richness in it's rhythm, tones and message. It's message of rising above what society tells us to do and whom to be. I also take it as a message of strength in an industry such as the "music biz" where so many important messages of beauty and art are diminished down to the most mundane shells of their previous selves. It's a song of inspiration as an artist and a wonderful reminder that WE are the ones who create and have the power to move others.
What's the business, yeah
Don't take my life away, don't take my life away
Doyle Bramhall II /// Mama Can't Help You
Doyle Bramhall II's album "Rich Man" is essentially on constant repeat in my music collection these days. It's one of those records that not only lives with you and your day but it keeps surprising your ears with new moments at every new spin. It's chock-full of fat fuzz tones, soulful R&B and Blues/Rock sounds, and some of the best guitar focused music I've heard released in a long time. "Mama Can't Help You" is an exercise in the depth of cool, with Bramhall II bringing the soul alongside drummer extraordinaire Frank Gadson (Bill Withers, Freddie King, BB King, Albert King and many others). The video is a simple performance style shoot with a vintage patina and interesting use of extreme close-up shots that yield a strong emotion similar to everything Bramhall II puts out. There's this sort of cool vigilante vibe to everything he does, and "Mama Can't Help You" is a prime example of that level of attitude and soulful grit. Also, as a guitarist and complete tone nerd, that solo at 2:18 is off the chain! Fat, fuzzy and MEAN! With Bramhall II at the helm, Your mama certainly can't help you no more.