Each year since 1956 a bunch of European countries submit (horrifically bad) songs into a pan-European (plus Israel) contest called Eurovision, which is broadcast all over Europe and according to Wikipedia is one of the longest-running television programs ever. This year, Exurovision was held in Baku, which is the capital of Azerbaijan, a country you may be familiar with through its appearance in the Peirce Brosnan Bond movie “The World is Not Enough“. Although most of the songs entered into the contest are truly the dregs of the global music industry (Ex: San Marino’s 2012 entry, The Social Network Song ), there are occasionally a few acceptable songs. The following is a personal ranking of the best five songs of this years contest, complete with their official contest rankings:
1) Sweeden: “Euporia” by Loreen – Eurovision 2012 winner, and winner in my heart too – Catchy dance-y tune, simple performance and no stupid gimmicks (an Eurovision rarity)
2) Ukraine : “Be My Guest” by Gaitana – 15th place – I would consider visiting Ukraine if it looks and sounds like this music video. I don’t think this is representative of the country, though. A fun, summery dance track.
3) Ireland: “Waterline” by Jedward – 19th place – Hot Irish identical twins. Funny hairdos. Catchy beat which will grow on you until you find yourself humming it at inopportune times. See previous post on Jedward for more info.
4) Iceland: “Never Forget” by Greta Salome and Jonsi – 20th place – Yes, that is the Jonsi of Sigur Ros fame. No, this is not his first Eurovision entry (the previous one, in 2004 was way worse). This song is a testament to patriotism, because I can’t figure out any other reason Jonsi would agree to be associated with a song like this. Listen to it in Icelandic here.
5) Cyprus: “La La Love” by Ivi Adamou – 16th place – Some of the stupidest lyrics I have ever heard in my life. Good to listen to at the gym, though.
For the curious, or for the deaf, the number two song was a group of old Russian grandmothers singing this (no, that is not a joke, Europeans and music judges actually ranked that as the second best song in the competition), third place went to a Serbian dude singing a boring ballad in Serbian, fourth place to the host country, Azerbaijan, with a boring ballad in English and fifth place to Albania for a boring song in Albanian.
On Tuesday May 8, Wide Branches, a folk duo comprised of Caroline Mullis & Taylor Rogers, visited WOBC’s Studio B and played several songs from their recently released album, Crossing Bridges. You can find recordings of the session below!
Now, if you’ve been a good reader of the WOBC music blog, you know I love St. Vincent. Like “actually-kinda-border-line-obsessed-this-is-an-embarrassing-thing-to-talk-about-type-deal” love. In other words, my love is true and unwavering. And after seeing St. Vincent live at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, that love has only strengthened.
Ok, let me put my St. Vincent boner away for a minute. I’m going to be straight with you. I am not easily impressed by live music. Or let me rephrase that– I am not easily impressed by the “lo- fi blah blah drone-core blah blah chill-wave” sound that typifies the live music scene today. It’s a thing for bands that act like that don’t give a shit, but in doing that, they make me, the listener, really not give a shit. Thus forth, no shits are given and not much fun is had– just the look of slouchy, stewing over post-adolescent ennui not unlike as seen in an American Apparel ad staring back at me from across the stage. I like musicians who care. I want upwards of five shits to be given about the music I listen to. St. Vincent cares. St. Vincent gives shits.
Walking into the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew what I was about to see was going to be FREAKING AWESOME, but the long road trip had addled my brain and for some reason, I just really wanted a milkshake. So while I went outside and did my meditation exercises to try to calm down, which involve me imagining that my whole body is slowly melting into butter or that I am on a nice beach somewhere (note: this didn’t actually happen), I tried to remind myself of what I was about to witness– a true goddess by the name of Annie Clark. I shuffled back inside and the show shortly began.
First off, let me say: WHOA. WHOA. SV, you got chops. Starting off with the unmistakable synth intro of “Marrow,” a track from the 2009 album Actor, the show commenced in a fit of bursts and stomps in the form of the song’s scattershot chorus of “H-E-L-P! Help me! Help me!” From there, St. Vincent moved onto the head-banging standout “Cheerleader.” It was only roughly six minutes into the show and already Ms. Clark had the audience in the palm of her stand. Standing up on stage, her curly halo backlight by a cool glow of white light, St. Vincent was the gospel, and the audience, piously staring back up at her, enraptured.
Tucked away in the far corner of WOBC’s music library lies the hallowed WOBC Jazz Vault, a sprawling history of 80s bebop revival, commercial blues, Count Basie’s entire career, explicit photos of Herbie Mann, and a few rare gems. The WOBC Jazz Work Group, a spritely group of young Oberlin jazzheads, dove headfirst into the vault to seek out the dustiest of the dusty, the rarest of the rare. Here’s what we came up with:
Oliver Nelson, Blues and the Abstract Truth
Released in 1961 on Impulse! records, this record is an absolute classic. Nelson’s lush horn arrangements are in a league of their own on this hard-swinging collection of entirely blues compositions. The lineup on this date is unbeatable: Paul Chambers, bass; Eric Dolphy, sax, flute; Bill Evans, piano; Roy Hanes, drums; Freddie Hubbard, Trumpet; George Barrow, sax.
Keith Jarrett, The Koln Concert
It is rare that commercial success aligns itself with the highest artistry, but the recording of Keith Jarrett’s legendary concert of solo improvisations in Koln, Germany is a standout exception. It’s one of the highest-selling jazz records of all time, and for good reason: Jarrett’s uninhibited emotion and limitless outpour of ideas on this record is simply stunning.
Jimmy Heath, Love and Understanding
Tenor sax man and multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Heath was at the forefront of the movement towards a new funkified spirituality in early 70s jazz. Love and Understanding is a classic example of Heath’s compositional style during this period, not to mention a killer band backing him up: Curtis Fuller, trombone; Bernard Fennell, cello; Stanley Cowell (Oberlin alum), piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Billy Higgins, drums.
Yusef Lateef, The Diverse Yusef Lateef
Brother Yusef Lateef: woodwind virtuoso, master composer, spiritual guru. This album is a great summary of Lateef’s style: it’s got swing, funk, free improv, and some deep spirituality. Yusef plays a menagerie of instruments on this date: tenor sax, flute, bamboo flute, Chinese globular flute, Buddhist flute, tamboura, Chinese cymbals, and other percussion instruments. In the depth of his influences and originality, Lateef is virtually unmatched, especially on this Atlantic recording from 1970.
Roland Kirk, Funk Underneath
This is the beloved, playful, seriously swinging sax man Rahsaan Roland Kirk at his best. This record features the masterful hammond organ playing of Jack McDuff, supported by Art Taylor on drums and Joe Benjamin and bass. Most of the tracks on the record are Kirk originals, showcasing the soulful and bluesy tendencies of both his solos and his compositional style. Recorded in 1961, Funk Underneath is a surprisingly progressive and groove-oriented release from Prestige Records, and a rare pull from the cavernous depths of the vault.
If you’re in the station anytime soon, look in the jazz bin to check out all of the above records and more rare vinyl finds. In this digging session, we only scratched the surface of WOBC’s jazz collection. If you want constant access to all this tasty wax, you should apply for a jazz show in the fall and sign up for the workgroup!
Here’s a playlist to be listened to only when you’re done with finals. It’ll guide you through your whirlwind of post-finals emotions: relief (the feeling you experience immediately after you’ve taken your last final), elation (you realize you’re done with school!!), grief (you’re gonna to miss Oberlin…and listening to WOBC 24/7), euphoria (you get to lie out in the sun all day without worrying about tests and papers)…and then reality hits you when you realize that you summer will consist of working a probably boring job.
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