Bring On The Soca

It’s another cold and snowy day in Boston. I love living in New England because I really get to experience all four seasons, but I also hate this time of year. Three months into winter, late February is when I usually start perusing various travel websites, looking for an escape from the daily routine of scraping ice off of my windshield.

I have a rather vivid imagination, so rather than dropping a few grand on a trip to the Caribbean, sometimes I’ll just crank up the heat in my studio to about 95°F, crack open a few Coronas, and play some grooves indigenous to tropical regions. Reggae, calypso, samba… anything to feel like I’m within a 500 mile radius of the equator. My wife doesn’t seem to agree that this is the same as lounging around in a beach chair, somewhere on a white sandy beach. My response to this is usually a snap of the fingers, and a request for more guacamole.

Traditional Soca Dancing - Thanks Google Images!

Loop #124

Today’s “take me away” groove is Soca. An offshoot of Calypso music, Soca originates from the islands of Tobago and Trinidad and is usually based around a heavy drum and percussion ostinato. Some examples of Soca grooves in popular music are Buster Poindexter’s 1987 hit, “Hot, Hot, Hot” and Kevin Lyttle’s “Turn Me On”. This particular loop is a four bar phrase consisting of just kick and snare. With an almost march-like quality, this groove makes for an ideal drum break on any Caribbean dance floor. Look for more Soca grooves in the upcoming and highly anticipated release of Gruss Loops Volume X.

Preview Here:

[audio:108_SocaMarch.mp3]

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108 BPM

Voodoo

Some albums totally blow your mind when it comes to production. Other albums inspire you by the incredible musicianship. And some albums hold their own just by the level of songwriting. But it’s not that often when an album comes along and takes all three of these elements to transcend the high bar of awesomeness (wow, what a horrible analogy). D’Angelo’s epic 2000 release, Voodoo, is one of these special records.

Just as I was about to graduate college, thinking I knew everything there was to contemporary music, this album sent me scurrying back to the practice room. Not because of the complexity of the drumming, but the feel and the SOUND. I remember spending hours sitting in front of my Gateway computer, with the adapter speakers blaring (tiny sub woofers kicking out the bass), soaking in every measure of ?uestlove’s drumming and D’Angelo’s production, arranging and composition. It was a humbling experience which would usually lead me to tears, then some nachos, and finally a game of 007 with my roommate, Bob, to help clear my head.

Loop #123

Today’s loop takes some of the production and performance cues found on Voodoo. To get the super dry, ultra-present drum sound, I didn’t use any of my usual overhead and room mics. I pulled out my super thin and trashy hi hats and went heavy on the gating and compression of the cross stick. I also did 3,845 sit-ups, waxed my chest and oiled up my abs.

PS – I just realized that 99% of my recent loops have been in the 80-90 BPM range. I put in a call to my Red Bull dealer, so look for some 200+ BPM loops soon.

Preview Here:

[audio:85_Voodoo.mp3]

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85 BPM

The Return of The Frame Drum

Loop #122

Yep, it’s still completely freezing in Boston. This makes two things certain:

1. my gas bill will be higher than my car payment.
2. my frame drum will sound awesome.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this ridiculously cold winter, the dry air combined with the heat pumping out of my furnace provides for ideal frame drum conditions. The calf skin head naturally tightens up and lends itself to some nice overtones and extra resonance.

This was especially true today, as I was cleaning up my studio and realized my prized frame drum was sitting directly on top of one of the heating vents. Oh shit. The hot air had tightened to the drum to a pitch that I’ve never heard it produce. If you listen back to the recording from October, you’ll hear that the drum is practically an octave lower from the state in which I picked it up today.

Rather than freak out and detune the drum to avoid any tearing of the head, I decided to fire up some mics and capture this unique tone the drum was creating. Before it was all over, I recorded a set of 25 different loops (a mix of hand, finger and brush playing), which will be released next month to all of my loyal subscribers. For the rest of you cheap bastards, here’s just a one measure taste of the session:

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[audio:86_Framedrum.mp3]

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86 BPM

The Art of Brushes – Vol 1

Breaking news, hot off the press from the good people over at thelooploft.com:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Loop Loft, Boston, MA – February 12, 2010 – Have you been searching for a loop pack focused entirely on brushes? Well, you’re not alone. At The Loop Loft, we’ve received many requests for drum loops that incorporate the warmth and ambiance that only brushes and a coated drumhead can provide. After several months and eight separate recording sessions, we’re proud to bring you the first loop pack consisting of 100% brush performances. With grooves ranging from jazz ballads to funky linear grooves to double time “train” shuffles to folk rock back beats, The Art of Brushes Volumes Vol 1 is the most dynamic and genre-spanning loop pack available anywhere!

Number of Loops: 103
Tempo Range: 68-212 BPM

– Instant Downloads
– 100% Royalty Free
– High Quality 24 Bit 48 KHZ Audio
– WAV, REX2 and AIFF Formats

Sets included:
68_JazzBallad
75_PopBallad
79_Chill
103_Funky
140_Granola
144_BackBeat
179_FiveFour
212_Train

Click below to preview:

For more info on The Art of Brushes Vol 1, just click here.

Lunch Break – Seattle Style

Here’s something to watch while you’re eating your gourmet lunch. Someone just emailed me this video (I swear I wasn’t Googling myself) recorded and produced by Kurt Lorenz that incorporates loop #35, some chilled out synths, and some nice footage of the city and outskirts of Seattle. If you watch closely, you can spot cameo appearances by both this Eddie and that Eddie.

Lez Zeppelin And The Importance of Ghost Notes

Last night I had my ass kicked by a bunch of girls. Lez Zeppelin, the all female Zep tribute band, came storming through Boston, rocking a capacity crowd at The Middle East. I should have been prepared for what was to take place. My good friend and former bandmate (and current Lez Zeppelin bassist), Megan Thomas, contacted me a few weeks ago, telling me about her latest musical endeavor and inviting me to their upcoming Boston show. Megan is an amazing musician, so I knew she would nail all of the classic John Paul Jones bass lines. What I didn’t know, however, was how well everyone in the band would nail EVERYTHING. Especially the drummer.

Lez Zeppelin
Lez Zeppelin

With a 26″ Ludwig bass drum, 15″ Paiste 2002 Sound Edge hi hats, and a massive gong behind her kit, drummer Leesa Harrington-Squyres not only had the exact set up of the late John Bonham, she also had the same incredible feel and power. From the aggressive and sloshy intro of “Rock and Roll” to the odd-time stomp of “The Ocean“, Leesa channeled the spirit of Bonzo and flawlessly reproduced every back beat and fill in the Zeppelin catalogue. From the ghost notes to the sextuplet bass drum riffs to the massive pocket, it was all there.

Loop #121

Today’s loop, while not a direct copy of any particular Bonham groove, highlights the same underlying ghost notes found in many of his beats. In this case, the notes appear directly after the 2 and 4 of each backbeat, almost giving a sixteenth note type delay effect on the snare.

Editors Note – No mudsharks were harmed during the making of this loop.

Preview Here:

[audio:88_Ghosts.mp3]

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88 BPM

My Drum

When I feel the aggravation
When I feel the old frustrations
I go into my room and hit my drum
(hit it)

When I feel the time approaching
Deep inside a big explosion
I pickup my sticks (pickup my sticks) and hit my drum
(hit it)

I don’t need no tranquilizers (no oh yeah)
When I’m down the doc advises
If my sickness calls, I miss my drums

Nanananananannanannannanananna

When I lay me down to sleep (oh yeah uh come on)
There one thing I wish to keep (oh yeah uh come on)
Keep em within my reach, my set of uh drums, uh drums, uh drums

Hat tip Chad Clark.

I’m Not Hip Hop

I’m not hip hop. But I love it.

J Dilla - He Is Hip Hop
J Dilla - He Is Hip Hop

Loop #120

Today’s loop is my hat tip to J Dilla and his incredible 2006 album, Donuts. While I had been familiar with Dilla’s work as a producer through his collaborations with Common and Talib Kweli, it wasn’t until the release of Donuts (and his untimely passing) that I got to know Dilla as a solo artist. Funky, warm, inventive, melodic and inspiring, Donuts is the kind of artistic statement that every musician should strive to create. Just take a listen to “Stop” and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.

Preview Here:

[audio:91_NotHipHop.mp3]

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91 BPM