Friday, February 03, 2006

PLUG Awards, the Superbowl & all that jazz

The 2006 PLUG Independent Music Awards (for 2005 releases) took place last night in NYC. The evening's winners included Bright Eyes, Sufjan Stevens, Neko Case, Sleater-Kinney, Animal Collective, among others. The voting bloc was comprised of 1) members of the music industry, 2) fans from around the globe and 3) a rabid pack of affluent, white, indie-hipster, Pitchfork-readin', ipod-obsessed, 27-year-old men, each of whom is simultaneously posting the results of said award show on their kick-ass music blog. For a complete list of nominees and winners, visit the PLUG website.

I don't know a single person who is honestly excited about this weekend's Superbowl. My apologies to those of you raised or currently residing in Seattle and Pittsburgh. And then there's, Mike D. He is a huge Steeler's fan. I'll watch it of course. Not because I want to and not for the commercials, but because everyone else will be watching and I need to prepare for the conversational references I'm sure to encounter come Monday.

Last weekend, I watched the new Jim Jarmusch flick Broken Flowers starring Bill Murray. It is a great and charming little film and I highly recommend it. But I'm bringing it up to mention how the film exposed me to a truly awesome musical discovery: the Ethiopian jazz artist Mulatu Astatke. Ethiopian jazz, you say? I never knew there was such a style. On the surface, it doesn't sound all that different from other jazz of the late 60s and 70s, so-called "jazz fusion." But there is something Astatke's songs that get under my skin. Anyway, there are some fantastic Astatke songs featured in the movie so I immediately went out and bought this Ethiopian jazz compilation titled "Ethiopiques 4". Who knew?
I can't find anything to link to at the moment, but if you can find some clips or samples or streaming mp3s, look for
1) "Yegelle Tezeta"
2) "Yekermo Sew"
Those are a couple off of the Broken Flowers soundtrack and Ethiopiques 4 and will give you a good taste. Just shows you how much great music is out there, of all genres and styles. I simply love the thrill of discovering new music. I like jazz but I've never dug deep into the genre beyond the classic staples of Davis, Coltrane, Monk, etc. However, listening to Mulatu Astatke is inspiring me to do just that. Thank you, Mr. Jarmusch.

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