A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Music Video

Songhoy Blues

I was watching a 3-part video in which Adam Neely and Ben Levin converse about a range of topics. One thing that came up was a band featured on NPR Music‘s Tiny Desk Concerts. They’re called Songhoy Blues. Wikipedia describes them as a desert punk/blues group from Timbuktu, Mali. They were formed after fleeing strife and Sharia Law in their country. Their name comes from their being Songhoy people, which is an ethnic West African group. Nick Zinner, guitarist from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs produced a track of theirs called Soubour, which means “patience”. Following this, Zinner helped produce their first album, Music in Exile, in 2015.

I like their sound quite a bit. There’s something intriguing to hearing blues with Songhoy lyrics sung on top of them. Because I don’t understand the words, they become something of a 2nd melody to follow, instead. Guitarist Garba Toure is apparently the son of the percussionist for Ali Farka Toure (1939-2006), whose music also blended traditional Malian music and blues. The band covered their music at their inception.

Songhoy Blues: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert


Diary of a Lovesong

I haven’t shared actual music that I enjoy in more than a year. Since posting that video from Adam Neely about mashups, I have to share this: Diary of a Lovesong from A Perfect Circle. Its mashes up Ozzy Osbourne and The Cure. My brother first showed this to me, like 15 years ago and then my wife and I fell in love with the song. It apparently never had a studio release – its only done live.

The Lovesong music parts have Diary of a Madman lyrics, and vice versa. I always thought it worked really well. Enjoy.

A Perfect Circle (Rare) Diary of a Madman, Love Song

Helloween – Halloween (1987)


In the spirit of Halloween, here’s a fun song I’ve always loved. Its 80s metal in all its glory: Halloween, by Germany’s own Helloween (Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part 1, from 1987). The standout part of this group was, to me, drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg (RIP).

Helloween – Halloween (1987)

Those of you who watched anime in the 80s and 90s might recognize the name from the original run of Bastard! – which is loaded with 80s metal references. I think Dark Schneider invoked a spell named after the band somewhere in the first episode or two… but as I no longer have the VHS and all versions I’ve found since have had the metal references edited into similar-sounding, but different, words, I can’t bring myself to watch it without feeling robbed and stopping.



Sungazer is one of Adam Neely‘s musical projects. Its basically him on bass with drummer Shawn Crowder and the both of them toying with machines. Its an electronic project, and they call the genre electroprog. Whatever it is, I like the sound of it, but there’s something else. These 3 videos, in particular are really fun to me because before they get into the music, Adam walks us through some of the theory, history and thought behind them, which tickles my brain just right.

I’m a fan of Adam’s bass playing – and the sense/nonsense he lets spill out of his head. Shawn seems like a good fit to play with him. What’s interesting to me is that Shawn apparently improvises drum parts, sends them to Adam, who creates basslines for them, and then the two mutz around with machines (and sometimes other living people) for the rest. Its a cool way to write.

Enjoy these, from his “Excuse me kind sir, but what the devil is it that you are doing here exactly?” series:

1. Lesson! Sequence Start and Quintuplet Swing


100 Bass Riffs: A Brief History of Groove on Bass and Drums

Here’s a fun video that has exactly what the title says. Bassplayer Magazine posted it on their Facebook page, but here we have a direct link to the video on Youtube:

The description from their site says:

100 Bass Riffs is a brief history of groove performed on bass guitar and drums. Marc Najjar and Nate Bauman put together this incredible followup to Chicago Music Exchange’s viral video sensation “100 Riffs,” with a compilation of killer bass riffs performed in one continuous take.

Also from the Youtube description, here’s the list of bass riffs in order:


New Order live, Hacienda 1985, ‘Sunrise’

Can’t sleep again. The Tylenol PM kicked in around 12:30, like yesterday, but it looks like my body’s natural resistance to sleep, or my head’s unwillingness to lie still, defeated the meds. Its 6 AM. I’ve been up for the past 2 hours, so at least I got 3 1/2 winks.

Sometime last year, someone on Talkbass posted this video of Sunrise from New Order. Peter Hook is on bass, as he’s been since Joy Division. I love this song and his sound. To me, he’s one of the key components of both JD and NO’s sound. Its a pity that there’s so much division amongst the remaining members nowadays.

New Order live, Hacienda 1985, ‘Sunrise’

Anyhow, I came across a great post on mathematicaldeathgrindfromfrance about Unknown Pleasures, the first Joy Division album I bought, about 20 years ago, when I was a fan of tabletop RPG’s like White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade. It was on their recommended listening list.

I hated the album at first, and locked it away for a year. When I next played it, it became one of those albums that shaped who I am and how I saw the world for years to come. Its been in my top 5 albums ever since. So, why am I posting “Sunrise” instead of something from Unknown Pleasures? Because I also love this video and Peter Hook’s bass playing in it and wanted to share it with the rest of you. Enjoy, and look at the way he manhandles that bass. 😉

[edit] I found the post on Talkbass where I first saw the video. Its, appropriately, about bassists who think outside of the box:

Star Meets Sea


Star Meets Sea is an unsigned goth band from Seattle. I just discovered them the other night when their bassist commented on a thread I was reading on the Talkbass forums. I was writing a little message to give a pep-talk to the person who started the thread – a 38-year old who wasn’t making progress and was thinking about giving up because he might be too old to learn to play bass. Well, it definitely ain’t so. I’m in his age group and I’m going at it, but more important to this post – catcauphonic, apparently better-known as Louis Mancini, is at it as well. Louis is in his mid 40’s and only picked up bass – his 1st instrument – a few years ago in his early 40’s. His sound is great, which is why I wanted to share it.

You can read the original thread, cat’s reply, and even mine, from these links. Its all the same thread, if you want to just skim through everyone’s stuff:

Listen to Star Meets Sea here, from their Bandcamp page:

I like their sound, and catcauphonic’s lines in it. I mentioned in the Talkbass thread that it reminds me of stuff from Cleopatra Records, pretty much a gothic/punk/industrial haven label from the mid-90’s and early 2000’s. They’ve apparently grown to encompass more styles since then. I actually thought they weren’t around anymore.

Anyway, give them a listen. Its a very clean sound, and they mesh well together. Louis apparently used the same 2 books I always recommend to get to where he is, and in a pretty short amount of time: the Hal Leonard Bass Method, and Bass Guitar for Dummies.  I think he probably knows a fair amount of music theory now. 😉