30 December 2009

West African Bardic Tradition

In most West African nations, there exists an incredible tradition of oral historians. These bards are known in various languages as jelis, griots, djeli, jali, guevel, gawlo, and igiiw. They are historians, entertainers, advisors to nobility, genealogists, praise singers, messengers, and the keepers of cultural traditions. They keep their people's history alive by passing it through the generations in the form of music, dance, and recitations.

The craft is Jaliyaa, and jeli must have the abilities to perform every traditional song, some of which are more than 1,000 years old. Jeli must know details about local history, recite long stories, and be able to extemporize on current events. It is said that a library burns down with the passing of a jeli. These storytellers are the archivists of their people's traditions. Each jeli is the culmination of their lineage as the job is passed from parent to child, adding new works with each generation.

The Free Music Archive is host to a release of an international group featuring two young men born into the jeli caste, Jalikebba and Haruna of the Toubabs. The group Jalikebba Kuyateh and the Toubabs has released the self-titled album Jalikebba and the Toubabs which is now available for download at the Free Music Archive, a wonderful project from WFMU, the world's greatest radio station.

License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License


29 December 2009

Roadrunner Records Annual Assault 2009

Yes, it is that time again. As we wrap up 2009, you rockers and metalheads out there want to remember to grab the 2009 Roadrunner Records annual free sampler. Rock!

Brought to you by the Roadrunner Records label, home of Megadeth, Soulfly, Rob Zombie, Slipknot, Amanda Palmer, Dresden Dolls, Airbourne, DragonForce, Opeth, Trivium, and the likes.

License: traditional copyright, USA


27 December 2009

Good Old Neon

Good Old Neon is Michael Philip Smith and Jeff Lee both formerly of Up Up Down Down. Jim Lee provides additional guitar. They are joined on some tracks by former bandmate Jen Gwiazdowski, who is especially soulful on "The Age of Mechanical Reproduction."

Apart from a Radiohead cover, all the songs on the album were composed by Michael and Jeff. Their songwriting process is created to drive them to try new things and to offer them some direction. Here verbatim are some of their composition rules for this album.

  1. Write a song with a house beat.
  2. Write a song in 12-bar blues.
  3. Write a song in 5/4 meter.
  4. Write a song using only guitar noises as percussion.
  5. Write a song using Electroplankton as the primary instrument.
  6. Mike must write a song using a sample provided by Jeff.
  7. The above, but vice-versa.
  8. Mike and Jeff must write different songs using the same sample.
  9. Write a song based on a theme provided by the Postmodern Essay Generator.
  10. Write a song to accompany the pre-climax work montage of an episode of The A-Team.

Here are most of the tracks from the THIS IS THE NEWS album by Good Old Neon. In keeping with the Free Music Archive policy, covers and tracks with samples have been removed. The album is available in its entirety from the band's official website.

Cover art is by Dave Merson-Hess whose music is also presented at the WFMU Free Music Archive.

License: Creative Commons Sampling Plus License


23 December 2009

Seasonal Sounds for 2009

snowflakes by Katya Oddio

Here are some new releases that you will want to add to your holiday mix.

1. Jan Turkenburg - In de Avondspits (In the Evening Rush)
Dutch and English versions of this song for reflecting on the past year and the future

2. The Bran Flakes - 2009 Holiday Single
limited time offer on these happy beats to get you dancing

3. Various Artists - Suburban Sprawl Music's Annual Holiday Compilation
plus all the previous years, 252 songs, stream

4. Various Artists - Jitterbug and Daily Candy Holiday Compilation
limited time offer especially aimed at kids, but fun for all ages
(an email address is required for download)

5. Various Artists - Amazon.com's 25 Days of Free
limited time offer on 25 free holiday songs

6. Channelaire Chorus - Carol of the Bells
beautiful version of these classic, plus another tune

From our home to yours, all the best this season and in 2010!

22 December 2009

Loved Like a Milkshake, Wesley Willis Tribute

Wesley Willis (1963-2003) was an artist and musician from Chicago who released hundreds of songs with his own unique sense of humor. His chronic schizophrenia was reflected in his work which leaned toward the bizarre and obscene. Willis gained a cult following and major label attention.

One of his labels, the prominent independent Alternative Tentacles described Wesley's work as "simultaneously disturbing, hilarious, blunt, and intoxicating. Wesley's sheer excitement and unaffected honesty about every cultural phenomenon, defined his music as truly individual, and truly punk rock."

Sadly, in 2002 Wesley was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). He underwent emergency surgery in June 2003, and passed away in August of the same year.

Hiji, a.k.a. M-Halo, soon thereafter organized a tribute album to honor Wesley Willis. Work for LOVED LIKE A MILKSHAKE: A WESLEY WILLIS TRIBUTE ALBUM began when Hiji posted a Craigslist listing suggesting a tribute of cover songs. The response was positive and the following 18 songs were selected. The final product was released for free online in November 2003 and produced by M-Halo with mastering and additional production by Tom Gordon.


17 December 2009

Congrats to the WFMU Free Music Archive on wrapping up Year One! It's been a great year for listeners. Here is the tiniest little fraction of artists I have come to love this year thanks to the Free Music Archive. Thank you to all who have participated.

If you aren't there yet, get on over to the FMA! You can download a gajillion free songs and albums, make and share playlists like Webjay, write reviews, interact with artists and fellow members. It is just all kinds of fun! Look me up when you visit!

January 6-7, 2010 update: Hey! This mix was the featured mix at the WFMU Free Music Archive!