Abraham Villanueva of Hacienda carries a torch for The Temptations

Abraham Villanueva 0f Hacienda and The Temptations

Abraham Villanueva and The Temptations

Abraham Villanueva’s recommendation: “The Temptations are one of my favorite groups and I feel are often wrongly disregarded as 60′s love/bubblegum pop. The discography attached with this vocal group is amazing, the production, musicianship and songwriting talent that went along with the temptations were an amazing catalyst that provided opportunity for a talented group of singers to flourish. The range of style which the Temptations preformed is in part due to the fantastic quality of the performers ability to interpret the songs (making otherwise lyrically banal top 40 songs genuine and unique) and also to the inventiveness of the producers and the musical talent of the legendary Funk Brothers. The earlier hits are most often associated with the band, but as the years and styles changed through the 60′s you find a group of artists (arrangers, writers, musicians and producers included) willing to push the boundaries of an otherwise simple act into a vehicle for great musical achievement. A fact I find incredibly important is the team never sacrificed groove and melody for ego/novelty as you often find with a lot of late 60′s music.”

New to The Temptations? Abraham suggests you start here: “I find some of the most interesting tracks came during the production/writing transition from Smokey Robinson to Norman Whitefield. Not yet into the 7-9 minute funk epics to come, and far from the simple sugary pop of the early years; albums like I Wish It Would Rain and Sky’s the Limit find the band feeling their place in a musical climate built around the overemphasized political messages and psychedelics of the era. Pulling from all the creative elements of the bands past (R&B, Broadway, Vocal-Pop), The Temptations created a group of songs that are probably as beautifully strange today as they were back then. More often then not, it seems, when presented with the question: why would you make a certain musical choice, the group responded with: why not?”

Abraham VillanuevaAbout our guest author, Abraham Villanueva: Abraham is the piano player and one of the vocalists of Hacienda, a Mexican-American quartet that wowed Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Auerbach heard a six song demo from the band and went on to produced both their 2008 offering, Loud Is the Night and their latest, Big Red & Barbacoa. The Beach Boys are clearly an influence on the boys, but spy the Younger Days clip below and you’ll think your listening to the Band (is that Robbie Robertson on gueeetar?). Check the Hacienda MySpace page for tour dates, and New Yorkers, be sure to catch them opening for My Morning Jacket!

MP3: Whose Heart Are You Breaking Now? by Hacienda

Ben Funkhouser of Herr Jazz carries a torch for Alemayehu Eshete

Ben Funkhouser of Herr Jazz and Alemayehu Eshete

Ben Funkhouser and Alemayehu Eshete

Ben Funkhouser’s recommendation: “Alemayehu Eshete is an artist that moves me. He is an Ethiopian singer and musician who began his career in the ’60s, and has recently played shows again in the US and Europe. His music is powerful and groovy at the same time, taking hints from Mulatu Astake’s ethio-jazz, James Brown’s funky swagger, and traditional Ethiopian sounds as well. The music is beautifully arranged, skilfully executed and totally dance-able.”

New to Alemayehu Eshete? Ben suggests you start here: “The album that I would recommend is Ethiopiques 22: More Vintage. It comes from the Ethiopiques series, of which there has never been a bad release and is distributed by Buda Musique Records.”

Ben FunkhouserAbout our guest author, Ben Funkhouser and Herr Jazz: Ben is one half of Herr Jazz (the other half being Jake Goltiani) and hails from Olympia, Washington. At only 15, Ben began booking bands and formed Herr Jazz before he was out of high school. The music is a wonderful mix of punked up skate/surf music with splashes of world music thrown in for good measure. It sounds young, fresh and fun (I’ve been thinking of them as Vampire Weekend Jr.) and their music can be purchased through Masa Records.

MP3: Summer Skate by Herr Jazz

Adam Green carries a torch for Turner Cody

Adam Green and Turner Cody

Adam Green and Turner Cody

Adam Green’s recommendation: “I recommend Turner Cody, he’s one of my favorite songwriters. We got started together, both playing at open mics and on the subway in New York. I look up to him because he has a deep grasp of poetics and because he’s tall. Turner is somewhat of a contrarian (e.g. he’s a Jewish Republican who was born a Waspy Democrat) and his music likewise is unconventional. A song like ‘This Springtime’ is cunningly intellectual while still serving to continue the folk tradition. Nobody writes more romantic songs than Turner. Unfortunately one could maybe use a libretto for some of his lyrics because he mumbles sometimes.”

New to Turner Cody? Adam Green suggests you start here: “People should start off with a compilation 60 Seasons which is available on iTunes. I wish it had ‘Nicole’s Song’ on it (one of my favorites) but it’s a good introduction to his early work and people can get an idea from there. He’s probably recorded 10 albums which you can probably acquire if you go to his MySpace page. Enjoy!”

MP3: Next To You by Turner Cody

Adam GreenAbout the guest author, Adam Green: Adam Green’s music career began in the mid ’90s when he and Kimya Dawson formed the wildly popular indie band, The Moldy Peaches, a duo that later expanded into a six piece outfit that opened internationally for The Strokes. The band’s ‘Anyone Else But You’ was recently featured in Juno, featuring Michael Cera and Ellen Page’s adorable take on the song before the credit roll. The Moldy Peaches are on hiatus and Adam has since released a slew of great CDs, complete with songs about ‘Rich Kids,’ ‘White Women,’ ‘Hairy Women’ and, well, Jessica Simpson (see below). Adam’s is touring so be sure to spy the dates here.

Brian Briggs of Stornoway carries a torch for Teenage Fanclub

Brian Briggs of Stornoway and Teenage Fanclub

Brian Briggs and Teenage Fanclub

Brian Briggss’ recommendation: {Q: What band moves you and why?} “If you mean physically it would probably be early B52s – Rock Lobster era. If you mean emotionally, well Teenage Fanclub make some of the warmest, most unaffected pop songs about unashamedly heartfelt emotions. With their close harmonies and gently distorted chiming electric guitars they instantly transport me to the highlands in the sunshine everytime.”

New to Teenage Fanclub? Brian Briggs suggests you start here: Songs From Northern Britain is their finest, and most joyful and accessible in my opinion.”

MP3: It’s All In My Mind by Teenage Fanclub from their album, Man Made

Brian BriggsAbout the guest author, Brian Briggs and Stornoway: Stornoway’s latest release, Beachcomber’s Windowsill is the blast of digital sunshine that you’ll be craving during the coming cold months. Heck, if you are into harmony filled, joyous pop, you’d do well by picking the album up right now. Led by our guest author, Brian Briggs, Stornoway first released the glorious ‘Zorbing’ single (video below) in 2009. Shortly after, the band appeared on Later… with Jools Holland along with Sting, Norah Jones, Jay-Z, and The Foo Fighters and were quickly signed to 4AD. Beachcomber’s Windowsill, which was released in May, peaked at number 14 in the UK and is getting traction stateside now. A New York date in December on their MySpace page hints at an extended US tour later in the year. Seeing and hearing Stornoway’s sunshine sound live in the the dead of winter is certainly something to look forward to.

MP3: On the Rocks by Stornoway from their album, Beachcomber’s Windowsill