So I have long felt that Nick Hornby is a lot of fun and a wonderful author overall. Owning four of his novels contributes to that deep seated love. And normally I don't really enjoy reading other people's attempts to dissect music and stick it in a book and sell it, but I do like stories, and I do like different perspectives. And so, it is with this I recommend Songbook as winter post-finals reading. It's quick, clean, straightforward and eyebrow raising (at times).
Also, in the spirit of Songbook I suggest branching out from our regular reviews and lists (because lists can get cumbersome) and would like to encourage an essay-esque post collection of favorite songs. Here's a chance to really explain all those dirty little pop secrets you confess to harboring.
First of all, I hope no one else wanted to do a list this week - I promise not to hog the list topic next week. But I think this one is good:
Well, Thanksgiving is over, which means its time to get into the true spirit of the holidays: commercialism. In the next month weve gotta buy enough to keep the economy afloat until we can get an intelligent president. And with increased commerce comes one crucial thing: top-notch commercials!
With that in mind, I want to start a list of "best commercial songs". What songs, in your humble opinions, work best, or would work best, to move some units? Would the Police's "Don't Stand So Close to Me" make you buy more deodorant (as was reportedly attempted once), or did Aerosmith's "Just Push Play" make you wanna do buy a Dodge? Give me the top 5 songs and the products they should be associated with.
Post in the comments to prevent overblogging, and anyone who mentions Bob Seeger's "Like A Rock" will be shot. Except me, because that was a warning. Andy J10:40 AM
Monday, November 24, 2003
Fun with the RS 500
Going by their list, the best ten albums of the past ten years (going back to november of 1993, and excluding greatest hits collections, though if I missed an actual album in there, I'll be the first to say "oops!"):
1. Radiohead - The Bends (110)
2. U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind (139)
3. Radiohead - OK Computer (162)
4. Green Day - Dookie (193)
5. Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral (200)
6. Janet Jackson - The Velvet Rope (256)
7. Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club (260)
8. Eminem - The Slim Shady LP (273)
9. Mary J Blige - My Life (279)
10. Weezer - Weezer (297)
Now, I suppose that if it was RS's intention to create a ten-best list for the last ten years, it might look a wee bit different. Nevertheless, is this an accurate summation of our musical life and times? Bren9:17 PM
Sunday, November 23, 2003
I'd like to bring you to the attention of an upcoming band, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness. Yes, that is the entire name of the band. Don't ask me, I didn't come up with it. However, I definitely like their style. One particular song on their debut album sounds like a track off of an Unforgettable Fire era U2 album. Visit the link in the left column (ILYBICD) and download it. You may be surprised at how much this sounds like them. Perhaps its just nostalgia speaking, but I like where this band is going. Tony mentioned that they sounded similar to Interpol as well. I don't know Interpol, but I do know a lot of people like them, so if you do, you might want to check these guys out as well. Gary11:57 PM It's a hard habit to break
The New Pornographers. I think I've finally found a group of musicians whom I really really really adore. Interestingly enough, this band is essentially a "compilation" of artists. One of the members, Carl Newman, decided to get together his favorite musicians from several bands and collaborate as a group to produce what ended up being The New Pornographers.
Dan Bejar is one of the best songwriters I have ever come across. His band, Destroyer, is spectacular. The songs which he penned are easily sifted out from those written by Carl Newman, who in his own right is a great lyricist as well. Neko Case is such a poignant and strong female lead. Both Bejar and Newman have quirky voices that just seem to work. Altogether, the great vocals and enigmatic lyrics make for one helluva ride along with the well crafted yet non-sensical pop drivings.
It's amazing what can happen when such diverse talents work as a whole. Also, Destroyer may just become my new favorite band.
Paul and I have been throwing around topics for If Six's first weekly List Day. Being far too busy to be creative, and what with Rolling Stone listing their top 500, we're gonna start with a basic one:
This Week: Top 10 Albums
Which albums hold that upper echelon's of your music taste? Once youve listed the Top 10, just to spice it up a little, how would the list change if it was Top 10 desert-island discs? If these were the only 10 albums you could ever listen to?
Let's have my fellow bloggers post their lists in the comments section so we dont end up with a whole page of lists - its confusing! Of course, if you wanna post them up front, I wont stop ya. Andy J3:30 PM Murderers, you're murderers
Radiohead vocalist Thom Yorke is at the forefront of protests surrounding President George Bush's visit to London this week, with Yorke calling Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair "liars," according to NME.com. The singer emailed NME after learning that London police were planning to create a three-mile "exclusion zone" to keep protesters away from Bush, because of concerns over alleged threats of terror attacks against the American leader.
When asked why he chose to speak out, Yorke said, "To make Blair squirm over his decision to take us into a illegitimate war (in Iraq) and follow this religious lunatic (Bush) toward a dangerous future for the whole planet...both of these men are liars. We have the right to call them such, they are putting our children's future in jeopardy. They are not controlling the terrorist threat, they are escalating it.."
Yorke said he was enraged that authorities were using "the threat of terrorism to suppress whatever they choose, intimidate and arrest whoever they wish."
Yorke concluded by suggesting that members of the British Royal Family protest Bush's visit as well, saying that "now is a good time to remind Blair that he's on very very very very very very very very thin ice."
Strong, forceful and literal words from Yorke, meaning they wont have a lyrical future with the band. Naturally, we can all wait for Clear Channel to send them out on tour with the Chicks and Pearl Jam.
The article notes that members of Blur and Travis--two swell bands, I might add--also denounced Bush's UK visit. Evidently Liam and Noel couldn't be bothered, most likely because they're working on their new vanity project, Definitely Maybe . . . Naked.
I think I get 7-8% more cynical after 230 AM. (: Bren2:38 AM
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles
Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys
Revolver - The Beatles
Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan
Rubber Soul - The Beatles
What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
Exile On Main Street - The Rolling Stones
London Calling - The Clash
Blonde On Blonde - Bob Dylan
The Beatles - The Beatles
Unsurprisingly - but inexplicably - Sgt. Pepper continues to be thought more highly of than the vastly superior The Beatles and Abbey Road (#14). Also, Dylan's Blonde on Blonde is better than Highway. So is Blood on the Tracks (#16), for that matter. Nevermind (#17) is as overrated as ever, and In Utero (#439) was better anyway.
Somehow Weezer's "Blue Album" made it to #297 while R.E.M.'s Document only made it to #470. Somebody's also awfully confused about their Steely Dan records; Can't Buy a Thrill, the band's most inconsistent effort, is at #238, while Pretzel Logic is only at #385, which is below TLC's CrazySexyCool (#377). And Aja (#145) not in the top 100?
Michael Jackson somehow ended up with not one, but two albums (#20 and #68) above Graceland (#81), The Clash (#77), and Imagine (#76). And was Tommy (#96) really better than This Years Model (#98)?
But good for Rolling Stone for seeing that Moby's Play (#341), The B-52's (#152), and Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express (#253) all deserved to be on the list. It would have been easy to toss those albums out.
Coming soon: the first weekly If Six Was Nine List Day! Paul6:22 PM Monty Python: Fair and Balanced
(and there was much rejoicing)
In which a production of Camelot plays the role of Fox News:
The proposed Broadway musical reworking of film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," titled Spamalot, has been contacted by lawyers of a Broadway-bound production of Camelot in an attempt to change its title.
The new stage show is scheduled to reign on Broadway in spring of 2005 after out-of town engagements. Mike Nichols will direct the work and produce with Ostar Productions. Jerry Mitchell choreographs.
According to a local news report, the Camelot attorney's fax stated "I was disappointed to learn of the possibility that it might be called Spamalot. It is anticipated that there will be a Broadway production of [Alan Jay] Lerner and [Frederick] Loewe's Camelot opening in the same season as the anticipated Spamalot, and the presence of these two shows together, we believe, can lead only to confusion in the minds of the public."
"Since Lerner and Loewe's Camelot has been in existence since 1961, we suggest that you consider changing the title of your musical," read the request, according to the CBS affiliate.
The show's bookwriter Eric Idle has pointed out that the title is derived from the movie in which one of the characters has the quotes "I eat ham and jam and Spam a lot." As such, production spokespersons confirmed that the producers are planning to keep the title for the show.
Always looking out for the greater good, I hope that Eric and the other parties involved take whatever steps necessary to ensure that such a wonderful, splendid, and wonderful idea makes it to the stage as quickly as friggin possible.
That said, the New York theatre audience is pretty sophisticated, as far as audiences go, so I couldn't imagine a scenario in which the confusion would be that bad. Okay, okay, so some of the same characters are present. Damnit. Well, maybe I should give the devoted fans of the collected works of Lerner and Loewe a bit of a hint: If you see an old lady onstage beating her cat, then you're in the wrong place. Bren2:25 PM
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
The two riders on one cart makes for one hella fun multiplayer romp. Haha! Yeah!
Oh, and to stay on topic, this title has some of the funkiest music ever. There was a time when video games where chock full of catchy tunes. Now all we get is weird weird stuff. Gary10:36 PM No Comment is Safe!!
A little history: Rebecca posted a question about the silence at the end of Radiohead songs the other day, which inspired the usual discussion about such things. I commented that I wasnt the biggest Radiohead fan, and mentioned I thought the Mars Volta were more deserving of praise (or something like that - I suck at paraphrasing. Read the link). While Gary wasnt a big MV fan, Rebecca fired back with "It turns out, according to objective research, Mars Volta blows goats. That shit stinks, dude."
It came as a bit of a shock to me that a band who released what i thought was a great album (possibly the best album of 2003, if such things can be measured prematurely) received so much hate from a fellow blogger. I had a wide variety of responses go through my head ('Geez Rebecca, what did I ever do to you?' 'What song did you listen to?' 'Did you ever hear At The Drive-In? You know this is the new ATDI, and that they were awesome, right?' 'Well, your favorite band sucks'), but I figured the most appropriate blogging response was to open it up to discussion. What did/do people think of TMV's album, "De-Loused In The Comatorium"? Why is it receiving the kind of hate I'd reserve for gangsta rappers dueting with R&B singers? Andy J6:16 PM The 33-year quest for nudity
I was a tad surprised when Paul posted that Rolling Stone hammered Let it Be Naked (as well as Sir Paul) the way it did. Especially considering that this was what they wanted all along, according to their original review.
To those who found their work since the white album as emotionally vapid as it was technically breathtaking, the news that the Beatles were about to bestow on us an album full of gems they'd never gotten around to polishing beyond recognition was most encouraging...
Well, it was too good to be true—somebody apparently just couldn't Let It Be, with the result that they put the load on their new friend P. Spector, who in turn whipped out his orchestra and choir and proceeded to turn several of the rough gems on the best Beatle album in ages into costume jewelry.
To Phil Spector, stinging slaps on both wrists.
He's rendered "The Long and Winding Road," for instance, virtually unlistenable with hideously cloying strings and a ridiculous choir that serve only to accentuate the listlessness of Paul's vocal and the song's potential for further mutilation at the hands of the countless schlock-mongers who will undoubtedly trip all over one another in their haste to cover it...
And it goes on like that, with reviewer John Mendelsohn taking Spector out to the proverbial woodshed for his work on the title track. (though having heard the new naked version of it, I kinda miss those extra toms in the third verse, but I'll get used to it)
Also, reviewer Ed Ward, commenting on the bootlegs that surfaced at the time, said:
Well, by now you've probably heard the official album, admired the production, and scowled at its lack of balls. The bootlegs are of varying quality, have different takes, and cost about the same. The one here is the best we've heard, as well as one of the most complete, and it'll do until George Martin gets around to putting out a bootleg of what it should have sounded like. (RS 60) (emphasis RS)
Well, for better or for worse, they got something reminiscent to their wishes. Bren5:15 PM
From the BBC:
Record labels are urging artists to put fewer tracks on albums because fans are put off by too many average songs, the Los Angeles Times has reported.
"There's been a tendency to overload CDs because the technology permits it," Sony US president Don Ienner said.
CD sales are competing with websites that give fans songs cheaply or free.
Record labels are urging the clampdown on album tracks as a way of reversing a three-year-long slump in album sales.
"The final choice will always be the artist's, but I feel - and consumer research bears it out - that the public thinks albums have too much filler," Mr Ienner told the paper.
One of my favorite albums is Sandinista!, which had 36 tracks - a triple album at the time of its release. Interestingly, I think Sandininsta had the lowest average song quality of any Clash album, but I still prefer it to every Clash album except London Calling.
Generally, though, I prefer fewer tracks than more. The Strokes have the right idea; you have to know when to shut up. Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen seem to have forgotten this.
Anyway, presumably cutting tracks will entail cutting prices, though probably not in proportion. I think the RIAA has generally the right idea - as I wrote here - but I'm not entirely comfortable with them "asking" artists to shave off tracks. "Asking" isn't really "asking" when it's done by your boss. Paul11:08 AM
Monday, November 17, 2003
I've Got A Feeling
Anthony DeCurtis has a scathing review of the new Let It Be. Actually, it's more of a scathing review of Paul McCartney's ego than of the album:
The unfortunate truth is that John Lennon and George Harrison are dead, and, whatever its merits, Naked exists essentially as an excuse for Paul McCartney, after decades of complaining, to finally remove Phil Spector's production effects from "The Long and Winding Road." As a result, the song -- a technologically souped-up version of the take in the Let It Be film -- now sounds like a vaguely interesting demo, rather than the lavish (and frankly emotional) epitaph for the Beatles that Spector turned it into.
I have to admit that, despite being a great lover of the Beatles, I've never been terribly fond of McCartney's tendencies toward self-indulgence. He seems to take his status as Rock Legend altogether too seriously. Sometimes, when McCartney reflects on the Beatles years, I can't help but get the impression that he's making stuff up - stuff that he thinks, presumably, better fits into what he believes the public's collective conception of the Beatles ought to be.
I know it's a largely subjective call, but the guy seems a little bit spacey. Paul6:04 PM Riding the Stroke-tails
(in which Brendan pits BRMC, Jet and Kings of Leon against each other, and only one, or possibly none, come out alive)
I found myself in Borders a few nights ago--sue me, we just don't have any good record stores here in Rob Lowe Country.
So, making due with the modest pickin's of the listening stations, I decided to subject myself to a menage of three bands, two of which are happily linked on the left side of this blog, and the third, sensibly enough, is not.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Take Them On Your Own - - - Ah yes, the best rock to come out of the Bay Area since Adam Duritz first wiped his eyes on our collective shirt. Just as the Strokes have their own immediately-recognizable guitar sound, so do these lads, with their fuzz-from-Hades, and it works to good effect here, particularly on the relentless "Six Barrel Shotgun". It does take about a halfdozen songs until a substantial departure is found, with a stretch of hits and misses including the anomalous slowpoke "And I'm Aching". But the LP ends strong, with the dynamite one-two punch of "Rise or Fall" and "Heart & Soul". Other highlights include "Generation", with its almost Alice-In-Chains-like dissonance, and the three-quarter time "Suddenly", with its unique, complimentary bassline. This is one to bust out your pleather for.
Jet - Get Born - - - As if Paul McCartney hasn't had enough grief from Michael Jackson and his song-buying habits, quasi-retro rock bands are naming themselves after Wings songs! What's a knight to do? Nevermind that it's a band that takes the riff-rock of ACDC, the proto-riff-rock of the Kinks, throws it together, and ends up making you pine for the Hives. That is, when they're not singing over an Iggy Pop outtake on their single "Are You Gonna Be My Girl". And as if that's not enough, they give us a couple of ballads reminiscent of what the Let it Bleed-era Stones would have sounded like without all those helpful narcotics. It isn't until "Cold Hard Bitch" that the Jetsters hit their stride, make peace with their self-conscious derivativity, and decide to just rock out. Why are they riding the Stroke-tails? Uhh, because they titled one of their songs "Take It Or Leave It", whaddya want? Lastly,
Kings of Leon - Youth and Young Manhood - - - The first thing you hear in the opening track, "Red Morning Light", is a briskly-strummed set of power chords with a healthy dose of reverb. Before I could get to the "go" in "here we go again", there was lead singer Caleb Followill's distinctive vocal. (I think "Tom Petty with cotton balls" will have to do) The mix on the album is very cozy and restrained, to solid effect. Why are they riding Stroke-tails? Because, like Jules and the boys, they are a product of their musical influences (I smell nice touches of Allmans and even a light dash of Camper Van Beethoven) that rises above them to create something that seems fresh and new.
Let's see, anything else?
Oh, I noticed STP has a greatest hits CD out, titled Thank You. As usual, they slip one new song in there, as if it somehow automatically gained greatest-hit status. In this case, it's "All in the Suit that You Wear," which is of the lamest variety of "new" greatest hit songs: You know, the kind that have bits and pieces redminding you, stylistically, of why you liked the band, without being a halfway decent song in its own right. In other words, a tribute song to themselves. Ah well. Is STP riding the Stroke-tails? Well no, in that Weiland was doing his thing back when Julian was in junior high. But yes, in that STP was responsible for the best ever 80's flashback video ("Big Bang Baby").
Like I said, I'm not big on the phenomenon of adding one new song to your greatest hits collection, but if bands really have to do that, my favorites would probably include "The Sweetest Thing", "Real Love", and I suppose "Bad Day". Bren10:52 AM
Sunday, November 16, 2003
Good news! The eighties (or at least some 2003 bastardization thereof) are live and well. Look no further than the Strokes' newish video for "1251." Not only does it employ the deliciously naive "future" motifs so popular from that bygone decade (i.e. Captain EO or Dire Straights vid "Money For Nothing"), it also features the adorable lack of visual imagination we saw in the early eighties with the invention of the music video. It's just those five dudes singin' and playin' with a little neon thrown in to prove that at least they tried.
"Room on Fire," though by no means a departure from their debut "Is This It" for Julian & Co., represents some progression, or at the very least no regression. I find the new tunes a little funkier, a little groovier, just a little more likely to induce me to bob my head. Before you panic, don't think that the Strokes have abandoned their signature disaffection and lo-fi apathy in favor of jive and dance licks. Just don't be surprised if you find your foot tapping a little more this round.
My favorite tracks: Automobile Stop, Between Love & Hate, Under Control.
More more premature nostalgia, check out my step-dad Travis' eighties cover band: Knyght Ryder. The website only consists of whatever flyer Trav has most recently designed for his gig. But it still rocks pretty hard. Rebecca C. Brown10:08 PM Blasphemous!
Is it just me, or is all that dead air at the end of "Amnesiac" totally pretentious?
Despite how good Led Zeppelin is, it just occurred to me that I have another band whom I would place ahead of them.
5. Gualdalcanal Diary - Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man 1. Michael Rockafeller
3. Fear of God
4. Sleepers Awake
5a. Pray for Rain
5b. Why Do the Heathen Rage?
Okay, I'm cheating a bit. I just have to include 6 songs... Leaving anyone of those out would be blasphemy. So to make it "ok", the list officially only reads up to 5 songs. Gary11:01 PM Ooh! Ooh! My turn!
1. The Beatles (no shame there - only five songs?) - The Beatles (The White Album)
a) While My Guitar Gently Weeps
b) For No One
c) Long Long Long
e) Happiness is a Warm Gun
2. Elliott Smith - Roman Candle a) No Name #3
b) Single File
c) Waltz #2 (XO)
d) No Name #1
e) The Biggest Lie
3. Ben Folds (Five) - Whatever and Ever Amen a) Selfless, Cold and Composed
b) The Luckiest (Sentimental favorite...my man and I became an official couple right after a Ben Folds concert, and this song was the last track on the first playlist he made for me. [Readers collectively say "Awww."])
c) Not the Same
d) Don't Change Your Plans
e) Philosophy/Battle of Who Could Care Less (tie?)
4. XTC - Nonsuch a) Humble Daisy
b) Pale and Precious (as the Dukes of Stratosphere)
c) King For a Day
d) Desert Island
e) Burning with Optomism's Flame
5. Elvis Costello (and the Attractions) - Armed Forces
a) Little Triggers
b) Two Little Hitlers
c) Watching the Detectives
d) God's Comic
e) Oliver's Army
So where's the Pink Floyd? Led Zeppelin? Radiohead (for god's sake)? Neil Young? Oh, but where's the Rush? Hey, it's not my choice to limit it to five. Rebecca C. Brown11:00 PM
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Im having a hard time narrowing down to top 5 (and realized my last top 5 was a little amiss), so heres 5 more:
1. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magic (this should be #2 overall - drop Stone Roses to 6 in this whole list)
a) Knock Me Down
b) Zephyr Song
c) Mellowship Slinky In B Minor
e) Apache Rose Peacock
2. Ryan Adams - Gold (Should be tied with Stone Roses for number 6)
a) My Winding Wheel
b) La Cienega Just Smiled
d) You Will Always Be the Same
e) The Rescue Blues
3. Led Zeppelin - Houses Of the Holy a) Over the Hills and Far Away
b) The Ocean
c) What Is and What Should Never Be
d) Ramble On
e) Fool In the Rain
4. Huey Lewis and the News - Picture This a) Sooner or Later (Some of My Lies Are True)
b) Do You Believe in Love
c) Change Of Heart
d) Gimme the Keys (And I'll Drive You Crazy)
e) If This Is It
All tied in fifth (this time): Social Distortion (Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell), Tool (Aenima), Whiskeytown (Pnuemonia), Jeff Buckley (Live At Sin-E Expanded,, Elvis Costello (Get Happy!!), and more!
Of course, this is today - this could be totally different next week... Andy J10:10 PM Meme
Wow - I dont check ifsix for a day and almost everyone posts - well, heres my crack at it:
2. The Police - Outlandos D'Amour a) So Lonely
b) Message In A Bottle
c) Next To You
d) Don't Stand So Close To Me
e) Bring On The Night
3. Pearl Jam - Yield (This really is the same as Brendan's, although I copied and pasted his HTML)
a) Yellow Ledbetter
b) Given To Fly
d) You Are
4. Counting Crows - Recovering the Satellites a) Angels of the Silences
b) Anna Begins
c) Up All Night (Frankie Miller Goes to Hollywood)
d) Ms. Potter's Lullaby
5. Stone Roses - Second Coming a) Elephant Stone (Album Version - the Turns Into Stone version is like a.5))
b) Love Spread
c) Fool's Gold
d) One Love
e) Breaking Into Heaven Andy J8:08 PM Okay, why not
I'll take a crack at this meme thing too. I'm noticing that picking a fifth artist/band is harder than it first seemed.
1. Ben Folds (Five) - Ben Folds Five a) Alice Childress
b) The Luckiest
c) Don't Change Your Plans
d) Missing the War
e) Still Fighting It
2. Tool - Lateralus a) Pushit
d) The Patient
3. Pearl Jam - Yield a) Present Tense
d) Save You
e) In Hiding
4. Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead a) Stella Blue
b) High Time
d) Scarlet Begonias
e) Help on the Way / Slipknot! / Franklin's Tower
5. Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker a) Amy
b) Somehow, Someday
c) Come Pick Me Up
d) Nobody Girl
e) Starting to Hurt Bren5:14 PM
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Meme version 1.3?
Where did the phrase "Meme" come from? And why do my fave artists change every hour? Also, unless I'm not comprehending I'm picking any 5 songs, whether or not they come from the album that's listed.
1. Jeff Buckley - Grace a) Morning Theft
b) Last Goodbye
c) Je Ne'n connais pas la fin
d) I Want Someone Badly (f/ Shudder to Think)
e) I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby (If We Wanted To Be)
2. Simon and Garfunkle - Bridge Over Troubled Water a) The Sound of Silence
b) Bridge Over Troubled Water
c) The 59th Street Bridge Song
d) The Only Living Boy in New York
e) He Was My Brother
3. Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced? a) Wind Cries Mary
b) All Along the Watchtower
c) If 6 Was 9
d) Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
e) Foxey Lady
4. Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy a) Dy'er Mak'er
b) Whole Lotta Love
c) Black Dog
5. Dashboard Confessional - Swiss Army Romance a) Ghost of A Good Thing
b.0) As Lovers Go // (b.5) Hands Down (I know I just cheated there)
c) Turpentine Chaser
d) Swiss Army Romance
e) The Good Fight Camille11:09 PM
A go at the "Meme"...
1. R.E.M. - New Adventures In Hi-Fi 1. Harbourcoat
3. Fall On Me
4. Wendell Gee
5. Wake Up Bomb
2. They Might Be Giants - John Henry
1. Ana Ng
2. They'll Need a Crane
4. The Statue Got Me High
5. Nightgown of the Sullen Moon
3. Talking Heads - Speaking In Tongues 1. Listening Wind
2. Girlfriend is Better
3. Born Under Punches
4. Pull Up the Roots
4. New Pornographers - Electric Version
1. July Jones
2. Electric Version
3. Mystery Hours
4. Mass Romantic
5. The Laws Have Changed
5. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III 1. Tangerine
2. Travelling Riverside Blues
3. Gallows Pole
4. Celebration Day
5. Thank You
My friend Kim has a LiveJournal. Through her profile I found the LiveJournal of one Amanda. Within that LiveJournal I found this post which advocates the following list-forming procedure, a "Meme," as she calls it: "Take your five favorite artists, list your favorite album and five favorite songs."
And so I shall. You are all encouraged to do the same. The usual caveats to such list-making apply, with special emphasis on the fact that preferential differences between the top five artist/song will be so minute as to render these lists inevitably misleading.
Also, I felt that putting in the Beatles would have been cliché. And had I six or seven spots, I'd have put in the Clash and John Cale, but such are the rules of the game.
Well, I am wholly enamored with the New Pornographers sophmore effort Electric Version. So much so that I bought their first album, Mass Romantic for $11.99. It is amazing how much the band has polished their sound from Mass Romantic to Electric Version. I appreciate Electric Version even more so now than I did before. Mass Romantic is chock full of typical Pornography, but the sound is much more jagged and jumbled. The band shines on several songs where the building blocks of Electric Version can be heard. Electric Version is currently on my top 10 albums of 2003. Exactly where remains to be seen. Gary10:44 PM Results May Vary
Teen Admits Parents Were Right About Fred Durst CHICAGO—17-year-old Jeremy Kempf reluctantly acknowledged that parents Judith and Harvey were right about Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst Tuesday. "I used to crank 'Nookie' full blast, and my parents would say that Fred Durst was an obnoxious loudmouth and Limp Bizkit sucked," Kempf said. "Then I got Results May Vary, and I was like, 'Oh, shit. This does suck.'" Kempf also admitted that his parents may have had valid points about the taste of Mountain Dew and his friend Tony's neck tattoo.
Ah, swing. In my quest to pick up chicks, I have decided to attend a swing club that meets once a week in the hopes that I may, just perhaps, get the chance to swing with a lil' hottie.
Okay, so I am really not joining a swing club just to pick up chicks. No, I am not joining at all. However, I have recently been brought full swing (ha ha) around into the world of swing.
The music is, as Tony would say, mighty groovy. I can't get enough and this would explain why for the past week or so swing has been spinning nonstop. Who would have thought Adam Ant had actually made a swing song? Who would expect Bruce Willis to take a lead role in singing the lyrics to a swing song? The list goes on and on. I won't divulge it because well, I wouldn't feel comfortable bluntly lying to you all. Okay, so I would feel comfortable lying, but this is a quality site and I will try my best to uphold its integrity.
Moby will put out a new album under the name "Voodoo Child" at the beginning of February. It will be his second album under that name, and will consist of "hard, sexy, straightforward dance music."
I figured out that John Cale's new album, HoboSapiens won't be released in the U.S. until November 18, several months after its UK release. Does anybody care but me? Almost certainly not, although the reviews have been uniformly excellent.
Ani DiFranco is putting out a new album on January 20. It will be titled Educated Guess, and DiFranco played all of the instruments, sang all of the vocals, and recorded and mixed the album herself.
Brad DeLong points to this article from the Economist. If you're a big music junkie, the article might, at first, strike you as downright depressing:
The success of iTunes has made clear to the music industry an uncomfortable truth: many people want to buy single tracks, not albums. Apple's data show that its customers bought 12 singles for every one album at iTunes. That compares with 0.02 singles per album in American stores, according to research by Sanford Bernstein. The best artists may tempt people to buy a whole album. But the industry can no longer rely on getting the price of an album as a reward for backing a band.
The death of the album, then? I don't think so, and neither does the Economist, although we have different reasons for our respective beliefs. The Economist suggests that
One reason why people have placed a lower value on music in recent years is that record companies put so much of their energy into creating acts that are hugely, but only briefly, successful. That could change in future as the industry alters its business model. If companies cannot make money by selling online, one option will be to try to get a piece of a band's other revenues. They would then have a strong incentive to nurture long-term quality.
Well, that might be "one reason," for the music industry's current dilemma, but I doubt that it's a big one. Here's my theory, which rests heavily on my conception of the history of the music industry:
Music snobs like myself like to say that mainstream music today sucks more than ever, but let's face it: music snobs have always been saying that. There are certainly features of mainstream pop that I find distasteful, but those features have been characteristic of mainstream popular music nearly continuously for decades. The economist refers to today's mainstream pop as consiting primarily in "acts that are hugely, but only briefly, successful," but that's not something new about today's mainstream pop. They're called "one hit wonders," and they've been around for as long as the music industry itself.
What really happened to the music industry was that some musicians - Brian Wilson, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, etc. - became pretentious and started taking themselves seriously. The result: albums intended to be more than a collection of singles. Sometimes they were overtly "concept" albums, and other times the artist just wrote and recorded songs that would play off of each other to make the album greater than the sum of its parts. In any case, people suddenly had a reason to buy whole albums instead of cherry-picking singles. And labels suddenly realized that a "concept" album was cheap to produce - not really much more expensive than a single - and could be sold with a relatively high price tag.
Of course, some groups were still premised upon hit singles. They put out albums, too, but the albums consisted of a few singles padded with filler tracks to justify a higher price tag. Some people bought these albums and either enjoyed the filler or were indifferent to it. If the filler really bothered them, they could go out and find the singles at their local record store. Buying singles, though, is, physically and mechanically speaking, more difficult than buying an album, which could contain two or three of the desired singles, all in one place. So albums - even "bad" mainstream pop albums - remained feasible from a profit-making point-of-view.
And once labels had discovered the profit-making potential of full albums, they started emphasizing singles less and less. It didn't really become official until a few years ago, but labels had been phasing out singles for some time. And, for a while, that strategy boosted album sales; consumers who would've bought the album anyway still did, and many who would have preferred a single fell back onto the full album when the desired singles were unavailable. Then, needless to say, came the advent of Napster and peer-to-peer file sharing, rendering single tracks free and easily-accesible. The labels had been fending off consumers demanding singles at the front gates, while leaving the backdoor undefended. Album sales fell and the RIAA was furious, frustrated, and perhaps a little bit embarrassed at its own negligence.
All of which is a round-about way of saying that the problem isn't that pop music today is more sugary and short-burning than it used to be. The problem isn't even that people would prefer, in many cases, to buy single tracks over whole albums. That's always been the case, because mainstream popular music has always been, essentially, the same (that is, short and saccharine.) The problem is really only that now, thanks to the Internet, there is an easy way for consumers to get what they want, rather than what the RIAA wants them to have to buy.
Albums - and I mean the ambitious albums rock snobs like me love - have survived the music industry's preoccupation with short-lived artists and music in the past, and I see no reason why they wouldn't continue to survive in the face of iTunes and the new Napster. The labels have merely lost the control they once held over market forces; that's a story the Economist could write a really interesting piece on.
Well, after spending a week of having The New Pornographers Electric Version in somewhat constant rotation, I have to say that much of the filler has grown on me. I suppose this is natural. I thought it was good to share. The only song that I feel truly lacks any merit whatsoever is the ending track... which is disappointing, since I feel that an album should always have an outstanding final track to end with. Ah well. Gary8:33 PM Out of Sight, Out of Time. In Time. An R.E.M. Best Of, 1988-2003
I was not planning on buying this Best Of release by R.E.M., but, it seems to be a well known fact that I really dig R.E.M. To make a long story (yes, surprisingly enough it is a long story...) short, I am currently in possesion of the Best Of release.
Simply put, Bad Day is one of the best songs the band has ever penned and put to music. A lot of people are complaining that Bad Day sounds too similar to the infamous It's the End of the World As We Know It (ITEOTWAWKI). To many, this of course is no surprise, considering that the chorus riff from Bad Day gradually evolved into one of the band's cult hits on Document, ITEOTWAWKI. However, this really comes as a surprise to me. People say that the chorus to ITEOFTWAWKI fits perfectly in with the unchanged chorus riff. I've tried it, and I can't say that it has worked for me. The chorus to Bad Day is just so much better that ITEOTWAWKI fails and in the end, the song really goes down a few notches when put in comparison. It's a great song, but Bad Day is just that much better. The only negative thing I can think of to say about the album release of Bad Day is the loss of the harmonica solo. Still, that's just a minor blip, and it's more than made up for better and more prominent Mill's backing vocals.
On to Animal - the first and only NEW song that makes an appearance on the Best Of. There are a lot of mixed reviews about Animal. Most people classify it as your usual quasi-psychedelic rocker. Good, but not great. Attractive, but not stunning. That said - I love Animal. The song and the Muppet Baby. In fact, I think Animal would love to play drums on Animal.
To start things off, Animal contains all the classic elements of what made R.E.M. R.E.M. pre-Warner Brothers, IRS days. You have the intersparsing of jangly guitar that heavily drove the bands first 5 or so albums. You have the wall of sound backing vocals of Mills, at the right parts, with the perfect counter melody that always seems to work without being overly obvious.
To shake things through, Animal contains all the classic elements of what made R.E.M. R.E.M. post-IRS and pre-Berry departure. You have the fullness of sound that all Green, Out of Time, and Automatic for the People displayed over the more barebone efforts during the IRS days. You have the rock of both Monster and Hi-Fi, combining the prominent sawing guitar of Monster and the sonic distortions of Hi-Fi.
To end things, Animal contains all the avantgarde elements that have characterized R.E.M. in both Reveal and Up. The overproduction of Reveal is gone, but emphasis on production has not waned too much, settling in a nice groove between Reveal and Up. Blips and beats pervade the background at the right moments to really give a dance feel to what otherwise is a straight up rocker without feeling out of place. Most importantly, we see Stipe stretching his vocals past the usual and what ends up on Animal is an evolution of what Stipe did with Lotus on Up. The dark menacing growl is back, but it's back in full force.
Many people feel that Animal is an indication of what the next album is going to sound like. I can't be so sure. If it was, then wouldn't it surely have been released on the album and not on the Best Of? Still evidence points to it being so. R.E.M. premiered another new song, Weatherman, quite some time ago in Vancouver and have not since played it live. Weatherman was a rocker much in the same vain as Animal, and would have fit nicely in between Monster and Hi-Fi. For me, this is good news. Hi-Fi is my favorite R.E.M. album, and if their next album is going to be like Weatherman and Animal, then I am going to be a happy person. Still, the band played a very strung together version of... some ballady piano based piece titled Make It All Okay that was nice, but seemed lacking. Of course, anything can change by the time the album is released.
Whew. Okay. Final note. The B-sides on the 2nd CD included in the 2 CD set are a nice addition. For your die hard R.E.M. fan, it is a worthless addition, because these guys already have most if not all of these songs anyway. Although, I noticed that the quality of stuff going around on murmurs.com GIA WINMX server is fairly bad compared to what is offered on the CD. In particular, I noticed this on It's a Free World Baby. Even compared to the version released on some movie whose title now escapes me... something about the end of the world... this version seems so much clearer.
For those of you who aren't die hard R.E.M. fans, then the 2nd CD is pretty worthless too since you most likely won't want to shell out $7 more for songs that are not the popular ones. However, they have a very very very very nice version of The One I Love - the slow piano laden one. Still, this is offered on the GIA server anyway. Check it out. It's legal and free.
I tend to think I am not biased by my liking of R.E.M., considering that Reveal was in general a disappoint to me. Mainly the album disappoints me because there are so many great songs on that album that suffer from overproduction, and that many of these songs have great potential to be made right. Although this is a problem that has plagued R.E.M. since Monster, because they did not put out more of what people wanted to hear - Automatic for the People. Gary9:57 AM
As a side note, I dropped by Amoeba the other day and picked up the new Something Corporate album, which is surprisingly very dark and hard compared to their normal high school fluffy stuff. I'm not sure if I like it yet, but I'll let y'all know after I go see them play on Wednesday.
And lastly, they (Dreamworks) have re-released all Elliot Smith's albums as "new releases." Now, I think it is very important to make music available, especially considering that he [Elliot] is amazing and so is his music. However, those CDs aren't new! You can't take them all out of the "used" section and sell them all like they're new! That's bull!! Camille3:50 PM
Upcoming Album Releases:
Ani DiFranco - January 20
The Coral - January 27
Moby - February 3
Jonny Greenwood - February 24
The Hives - February 2004
Melissa auf der Maur - February 2004
Garbage - Early 2004
The Vines - Early 2004
The Who - Spring 2004
Wilco - Spring 2004
Beck - Summer 2004
Ben Folds - 2004
Chemical Brothers - 2004
Eels - 2004
Interpol - 2004
PJ Harvey - 2004
Queens Of The Stone Age - 2004
R.E.M. - 2004
U2 - 2004
Coldplay - Late 2004
Paul McCartney - Late 2004
Oasis - Late 2004