What a Strange

… and now for something completely different.

YouTube recommended this video to me.  They must know I have a taste for music crossed with unconventional but traditional sounds.

Mongolion Folk Rock fits the bill.

If I could, I would be throat-singing this all day.

In case you’re wondering about the lyrics – a commenter explains that

They are singing from spiritual ancestors view … Mongolia’s main and most historical religion is shamanism and shamanism is about respecting our nature calling the spirits of our ancestors into the shaman’s body They are questioning about why the politicians don’t keep their words. Why Mongolians are being racist to each other because of their bloodline or province.  Why the kids are not listening to their parents and elders” – Low Chaze

Universal themes, relevant to people and politics well beyond Mongolia.

Video filmed in spectacular Mongolia.  2018


Hard Rock and Katajjaq


One of my favorite bands is a Canadian group called July Talk.

If you’re from Toronto and like a certain type of high spirited,  alternative rock  then you’d know this group.  Bandcamp.com describes their music as “Tom Waits and Amy Millan shouting whiskey-soaked lullabies while backed by Crazy Horse”.  I don’t know these artists but if the names mean anything to you then maybe you’d like July Talk too.

I’m sharing the song “Beck and Call” because it features Tanya Tagaq, another Canadian,  known for her talent in Inuit throat singing.

Ever heard of Inuit throat singing?  Me neither. I had to look it up. It’s a form of harmonic chanting, practiced by Inuit girls, usually sung in competitive duets. Called katajjaq, the sound is rhythmic, guttural and animistic.

When I first listened to “Beck and Call” I had a hard time identifying Tanya Tagaq’s voice.   After watching this video I learned what to listen for.  You can watch the follow-on video with an improvised performance by Tanya. Be forewarned, it’s not the most accessible of music.

What I like about “Beck and Call” is its combination of hard rock with layers of traditional, non-traditional sounds. Individually I don’t care for the music of Tom Waits, Amy Millan, Crazy Horse or Tanya Tagaq. Pulled together though, with the innovative talent and unique energy of July Talk, it’s a great song.

The fact that July Talk is from Canada, a country which prides itself in diversity, tolerance and multiculturalism – that’s a bonus.

Toronto, Canada.  February 2017

Oddly Different

And now for something completely different …

On YouTube I arbitrarily clicked on this music video and was immediately hooked.

Let’s make one thing clear: I am not a bluegrass fan.  Name me a country music star and see my total lack of recognition.   Show me a banjo and I’ll break out in hives.

So how come I enjoyed this video so much?

  • The singer in the opening scene didn’t look like a typical country cowboy
  • He was playing a cello
  • The other guys weren’t wearing typical country cowboy hats
  • The city  didn’t look like a typical place down-south US
  • In fact, it kinda looked familiar … hey, that’s the CN Tower in Toronto!

Turns out the band, Dead South is a Canadian group from Regina, Saskatchewan.  They’re relatively new and been successful touring  Canada, US and Europe.

They’re also not typical country bluegrass.  Or so I tell myself.

Toronto, Canada.  January 2017

If We Were Having Coffee … with Music

Digital Camera
Freeimages.com/Michael R.

If we were having coffee it would be decaf because it’s late. We’d talk about everything and eventually get around to music. I’d tell you about my new favorite band, Kaleo. They are an indie alt-rock/pop/folk group that’s just hitting the air waves in the US and Canada. I like their bluesy “Way Down We Go” and have it on repeat on my player. Blues is not really my thing but as I’ve grown older and traveled wider, I’ve found that many of my favorite things change with time and place.

When I was growing up in Jamaica, reggae was the background sound track of daily living. It was the only music on local radio and Bob Marley was considered an upstart for bastardizing the sound of roots reggae. Little did we know that he would be the impetus of reggae going mainstream. I didn’t fully appreciate the range of his impact until last year when I was in Northern Thailand. While driving through the narrow, pot-hole riddled mountain roads, our driver turned up the volume on “Exodus”. We forgot about the nauseous highway and started jamming all the way to Chiang Mai.

During my first year in Beijing, I discovered a love for hard paced rock. Green Day’s “Holiday” was my favorite work-out song and I had sweat inducing playlists with The Killers, Nickelback and Lady Gaga. In 2009, the Great Firewall closed off the world-wide part of WWW and it was impossible to access popular western music legally. Illegal pirated copies? No problem.

The biggest selection of western music was in Sanlitun, a popular bar street district defined by the international embassies around it. The unnamed store had a huge selection of music and movies, shrink-wrapped with discs on the outside of glossy paper box packaging. Occasionally, during government invoked piracy raids, the storefront disappeared overnight. But if you looked around and hung around long enough, someone would beckon you over and lead you to the basement. There the goods would be temporarily housed in makeshift stalls. I am not a fan of buying pirated goods but there were no other listening options at the time. The unexpected outcome was that I bought many CDs blind and in the process, ‘discovered’ music I wouldn’t normally have heard.

In Singapore when I’m held captive in a taxi, I am forced to listen to 70’s crooners and ’80s style pop. Once after hearing one too many songs by the Carpenters, I asked the driver if this was the only radio station in Singapore. He said “I don’t listen to the music. They have good traffic reports.”

In my house I keep my internet radio tuned to my favorite Toronto station. I hear the winter weather reports (not missing it) and Spence diamond commercials (annoying but somebody has to pay for free radio.) I also hear the latest in the alternative rock scene.

Which brings me back to my favorite new band. Kaleo from Iceland. A group of young musicians who combine the chords of the ’60s with the rhythm of gospel tinted blues, to make a vibrant rich sound.

Perfect for late night coffee.

Singapore.  April 2016