Oct 042008

Friday Five and Miscellania

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Hey folks.  First off, I’m sorry there was no Tuesday Playlist this week.  I kept meaning to get to it and suddenly it was Friday.

First off, good news has arrived via my good friend Ann that reports of the imminent death of Pandora and other internet radio stations may not be so emminent!  Needless to say, I think this is a Good Thing.  Not only for music fans (I listen to Pandora between 6 and 8 hours a day most days), but also for the music industry.  (I’ve bought at least a dozen albums based purely on the strength of tracks I’ve heard on Pandora and other internet radio stations.  And I don’t think that I’m atypical in that respect.)

Unfortunately, no all is well in the world of music.  Turns out that an Australian “artist” claims to have Kurt Cobains stolen ashes and intends to smoke them as part of a performance art piece.  All I will say is, it turns out that my rage can go all the way to 11.

…No, fuck it.  I’m sorry, that’s not all I will say.  If what this woman says is true, she has received the ashes of a dead man which were stolen from his widow’s home.  She intends to desecrate those ashes by smoking them.  This woman is a ghoul, pure and simple.  Any creature who would show so little respect for a fellow human being, and a dead one at that, is not worthy of the basic dignity that they’re denying a fellow human being.  That this woman would disrespect Kurt Cobain for the sake of publicity disgusts me on a visceral level.

She is not “setting him free”.  It is not magic.  It is a vile form of disrespect.  And while I am not a violent man, it makes me understand why some cultures rank desecrating the dead along side murder when doling out punishments.  This woman, who apparently has no prior relation to Cobain, is using the death of a troubled man for personal gain.

In my book, that doesn’t make her an artist.  It makes her a monster.

On a lighter note: Melissa McEwan wins the internet.

And now, five songs with awesome guitar hooks:

Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Sonic Youth, “Incinerate”

Gosling, “One Hand, Two Hand”

The Cure, “Alt.End”

David Bowie, “The Man Who Sold The World”

Aug 062008

Tuesday Playlist for 2008.8.5

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Intro: Okay, well, I’m a little late starting this one (11:53pm), but it’s still Tuesday, so I declare that this still counts as on-time. I’ve got a lot to get through, so I’m just gonna jump right in.

Listening: Well, my progress up through recent musical history’s brought me more or less up to the present. Been listening to some of my favorite 2007/2008 releases (Our Love To Admire FTW!) and even getting around to checking out some new albums and bands to which I’d been meaning to listen.

Speaking of which: why did no one tell me about the Rakes before? Their song “Binary Love” popped up a few times on one of my Pandora stations, so I added it with the hopes of hearing more of their stuff. Well, as so often happens, one thing lead to another and before I knew it, I’d bought Capture / Release and was using it to soundtrack my drive to Helena this last weekend. Honestly, the album isn’t quite as brilliant as I was hoping, but it’s still pretty strong. “Strasbourg”, “22 Grand Job”, and “Work, Work, Work (Pub, Club, Sleep)” are all fun. Also I’m enough of a geek that I’m pretty sure I want “Binary Love” played at my wedding.

I also grabbed The Last Shadow Puppets debut, The Age of the Understatement. It’s more introspective and complex than either Alex Turner or Miles Kane’s previous work. From the lush string parts on “My Mistakes Were Made For You” to the oddly cacophonous vocal counterpoints on “Separate and Ever Deadly” the album’s full of pleasant little aural surprises. I’m not sure what I think of it as a whole quite yet, but I do like it. If you like either complex, novel rock music or are a fan of either Arctic Monkeys or the Rascals, it’s well worth a listen.

I also just picked Conor Oberst’s new self-titled which just came out today. If you haven’t heard the single off it (“Danny Callahan”), it’s available for download here. If you’d prefer to just stream it:

Warning: it’s not exactly a happy tune. It is, however, beautiful and moving. Speaking of the album…

Upcoming: Wow, how did I not know that Oberst’s new release was due out today until I saw it on Amazon’s frontpage? I seriously need some new sources for upcoming release dates. Metacritic is accurate, but woefully incomplete. The Billboard lists are so noisy as to be practically unusable. News sites are, of course, hit or miss, since they all differ in what releases they deem mention-worthy. Where do you folks hear about new releases?

In concert news, Puddle of Mudd are playing Spokane tomorrow (2008.8.6) night, if you’re into that sort of thing. Also, I learn by way of a comment here at the blog that The Shondes are touring this Fall. They’ll be playing several shows over on the coast. (Alas, none here in the Inland Northwest, but that’s nothing new.) If anyone’s interested, I’m seriously considering heading over to catch the Seattle show. Finally, Alt-Country masters Wilco will be playing Spokane on the 21st of this month. They give a GREAT live show, and if I can scrape together the funds, then I’ll definitely be hitting it up.

News: Did you know that Lee Perry is a dirty old man? Neither did I, but his new single “Pum Pum” is pretty much a stoned, dirty old man’s ode to cruising for sex in nightclubs. Wait, why do I say “pretty much”? That’s EXACTLY what it is. It’s also crazy-groovy. The man has a masterful command of the Dub/Raggae side of things.

(Warning: lyrics are not safe for work, beats are not safe for staying still in one’s seat. Download Link. Hat Tip to 3Hive.)

Also, those perpetually catty folks over at PopJustice are right: the new Streets single is pretty disappointing. I won’t go so far as to say that it’s “shite”, as they so eloquently put it, but it’s definitely no “Stay Positive”.

Thinking: So I’m a huge sucker for unique voices. Voices that, after a few listens, anyone could pick out of a audio lineup. Louise Wener, Tom Waites, Robert Smith. I love artists whose voice is entirely their own. It’s a little like hearing an instrument that no one else in the world can play. Paired with a good writing talent (either their own or a partner’s) and the possesors of such voices can turn out some truly brilliant music. (Louise Wener is a great example of that: a fantastic songwriter with the unique voice necessary to really make her songs her own.)

What I think is really interesting is how often these voices wind up either spawning genres or, at least, defying being placed into them. I think that part of the reason that Alt-Country became a big thing is that Billy Bragg and Jeff Tweedy have such unique voices and musical visions to accompany them. Similarly, I think that the current wave of singer-songwriters is thanks in large part to the unique voices of people like Conor Oberst and Ben Gibbard.

I think that the vocal qualities are one of the key things that shapes a new musical movement or genre. It’s why so many singers in the late 90s sounded like bad Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder impersonators. In a way, their voices were distillations of what the genre was meant to sound like.

Just a thought that’s been rattling around in my brain of late.

Song of the Week: I’ve been going back to this tune over and over again ever since I got the album. This is “Orphans”, by Beck, off of Modern Guilt:

May 282007

"Don’t you be so crude and a feckless"

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Been meaning to blog this for a few days but, well, there was this festival and stuff . . . Anyway, turns out that Doc Martens has fired Saatchi & Saatchi over the whole “using dead rockstars to shill boots thing.

May 232007

Okay, seriously: enlisting dead musicians to shill boots? Isn’t that a little, I don’t know, tacky? Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious, Joey Ramone, and Joe Strummer (of Nirvana, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and the Clash, respectively) are being used in a new ad campaign to sell Doc Martens. Quote:

“…we discovered that these idolized musicians wore [Doc Martens]. Showing them still wearing their Docs in heaven dramatized the boots’ durability perfectly. And, as images, they feel very iconic.”So because these musicians may have worn Doc Martens at some point in their life, the ad companies are co-opting them to help sell more boots. What if Idi Amin or Augusto Pinochet wore Doc Martens? Or hell, I bet they didn’t, why not show them roasting in hell wearing Gucci?

You know, I’m almost starting to agree with Bill Hicks on this one (sorry, Ann): if you’re in the advertising industry, there’s a good chance the Satan is somewhere in your recent ancestry.

Besides, Sid Vicious in Heaven? I’m somehow not buying it . . .