Sunday, May 19, 2019

Imagine If Leaders Could Imagine...


If you’re among the projectile bleeding heart Liberal class, prepare to piss bitch tears. Oh gawd, if only! I’ve friends and family who stop listening after the line Imagine there’s no heaven... But if only the religious fundie frontin’ leaders like Bibi and his costumed swaddled head adversaries (and allies, strange bedfellows sometimes) could say ...and no religion too... think of the many of the circles of despair that ring the world that just might disappear.

Imagine.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Wandering Grayhead in the Millennials’ Swamp, Vol 2


T: Sharon Van Etten; L: Noa Niles (Gateway Drugs);
C: Ellie Rowsell (Wolf Alice); R: Tricky


How old am I? I lost my virginity while The Cars played, that’s how old. Just What I Needed and I pounded together. For us oldsters, it’s just too easy to stay in an endless loop of music from our virginity-losing youth.

I’m not going to do that. And I hate seeing other Boomers bullet-training their way to the Great Sunset doing it also. But as I venture into the Millennial Swamp, you won’t be surprised to find that much of what attracts me has the timeless sound. As you’ll find in the below, the blood rushing in the veins of these tracks is old skool, if refreshed.

11) The FoalsWhat Went Down (2015): To get the kind of intensity being transmitted here takes a band, not just someone alone in their room with beats, loops, and samples. Here, when the band leans in, it catches fire. No matter what the torturous rage of the maker behind the keys in the best EDM joints, they'll never get anywhere near the intensity found here. For that, you need a band of people bangin’ analog. That’ll never change. Never.



12) Gateway Drugs, Black Wine of the Owl (2014): There’s a through-line here from the jangly folk rock of the 60’s – think of the bands Tom Petty stole from – and some of the 80’s bands that may’ve stolen from the same sources that Tom Petty did but with harder results – Echo and the Bunnymen, early Cure and Talking Heads, etc. This ditty features some nice noise hollandaise – and that processed scream is golden – atop this otherwise straight up omelet. Plus, enough guitar retro included to thrill a grayhead like me. Bonus points for the name choices of both band and song.



13) Caribou, Odessa (2010): You may know this song from the snippets that keep popping up on television, a commercial, games, and whatnot. I just heard it on Idris Elba’s Turn Up Charlie. Caribou is Canadian mathematician and composer Dan Snaith, and judging from the fact that he created 700 songs for the album that didn’t make it on, he has an Asperger’s level of focus. The bass sound and tuned percussive sounds were manipulated samples. That laughing inter-dimensional animal sound sample was thieved right from a RD Burman record, an Indian composer best known for his extensive film work. It appears to be some horn misused brilliantly and it’s a sound that’ll crawl tapeworm deep into your music lobes. That sound is what makes this whole exercise pop.



And the source of that sample:



14) Radio Tehran, Gelaye (2010): From Tehran, transplanted to London, with a sound that’s (Middle) East meets West in the best ways possible – well, skewed more toward the West: A platform of Western rhythms and beats under a slathering of, what?, Iranian Kabob? If it weren’t for the Persian vocals, and the odd touches – like the violin – it’d be hard to distinguish them musically from other Western “indie-alt” bands. Other than the fact that they’re very good. And that they’re not feigning assimilation by pandering to English-speaking ears was another good choice on their part.



15) Sharon Van Etten, HandsNo One’s Easy to Love (2019): I’ve always been a fan of the slow build. Whether it be with my career, or my songs, or life. 

Jersey girl and mom Van Etten currently resides in Brooklyn. Her first full-length was released in 2009. Since, she’s been absorbed by the star-maker machinery with an appearance on Ellen as well as acting turns on OA and Twin Peaks.

As for No One’s Easy to Love, she had me at the title. The media categorialists (like Pitchfork) say her sound has echoes of the folk tradition. Meh. I don’t hear it. Her restrained use of electronics and emotive use of subject matter give her stuff more gravitas than the general Brooklyn coffee house folky spawn. Her voice is strong in the Grace Slick tradition and similarly without soul pretensions or appropriation. There’s also a slight undercurrent of dystopia beneath it all which, to me, makes it all the more irresistible.





16) Natasha Atlas, Kidda (1997):



Natasha is a true mixed nut, musically and otherwise. Born of an ancestrally Egyptian father (by way of Belgium) and a British mum, she too was sprung in Belgium but would grow up with her mother in England. By her own description Atlas is Jewish by birth, technically Muslim, and Sufi by choice. Musically she’s a purveyor of cha'abi moderne (popular music) but will also cover James Brown. Her voice is a synthesizer of Western and Middle-Eastern traditions. Her use of melisma, or Mezdeke, as the Turk/Arab locals call it, with dance beats is something we’ve been waiting too long for.



17) Wolf Alice, Formidable Cool (2017): According to the Guardian’s head rock and pop critic, Alexis Petridis, Wolf Alice a shapeshifting blend of shoegaze, grunge and folk. No, no, no: It’s for this that artists hate the press so – such pigeon-holing descriptions limit the band’s sound and effect and they deserve better.

North Londoners Wolf Alice display their fusty roots like heraldry. On their own behalf the band says they were opting for a retro sound, particularly in their use of bass and drums, aiming for a kind of modern Motown groove. Unaltered, it’s a sound that would’ve been compatible with like-minded bands of the 80’s and 90’s. They’re not looking to shapeshift the continuum as much as ride it. In that vein, don’t look for this capable band to carve out any striking new territory either. But what does drive them above the fray of alternative pretenders is the power and range of singer of Ellie Rowsell. Her range isn’t just one of vocal technique but of color and versatility. Hers is the right balance of authenticity, snarl, and yonic authority – she may wear the mask of the cute chick singer but she transcends that constraint by atmospheres. Formidable Cool is from their second album. No further proof needed: They’ve arrived.



18) Super Furry Animals, The Very Best of Neil Diamond (2009): From the land of Badfinger – Wales – formed in 1993 and floated with critical praise enough to fill case loads of drool cups. Such as these gushes from their Wiki page: Billboard that said they were “one of the most imaginative bands of our time” and the NME claimed that “There's a case to be argued that [Super Furry Animals] are the most important band of the past 15 years.”

F**k Radiohead, then!

Their ears have a bent toward 70’s pop tunes not unlike Scottish band Belle and Sebastian. The choice of including Neil Diamond in the title was no accident. The groove is solid enough to block gamma rays, the melody’s infectiousness is nearly virulent, and the layers of noodled guitar noise adds just the right amount of aural carbs. And there’s more than a hint of irreverence behind everything they do: Altogether, a very nice piece of sonic rarebit.



19) Tricky, Parenthesis (2013): A collab with Brooklyn-based indie band The Antlers, this version offers a much improved remixed version of the original. Tricky has been saddled with the Trip-Hop label from the beginning and this stopped suiting him long ago. His 1997 debut Maxinquaye was considered his untoppable high water mark. Tricky thinks False Idols, the album whence Parenthesis cameis better. I agree.



20) Thundercat, Them Changes (2015): If that burbling synth sound on the bottom, a tribute to this Isley Brothers monster, doesn't barb you from the get-go, forget you. Smarter (and possibly aged) ears will tell you that Thundercat AKA Stephen Bruner has done some serious crate digging. Them Changes packs a Soul sausage with peak Isley Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, Funkadelic, and Graham Central Station – sausages that were mass-produced back in the day when Rock and Soul could run together and get creolized into the gumbo in the best ways possible. I miss those days.



Monday, May 13, 2019

When Rockers are for Napping...
























Also:
• The Rolling Kidney Stones
• Almost Deaf Leppard
• Peaked Floyd
• Metallica Hips
• Graysnake
• Iron Deficiency Maiden
• REO Tourist Bus
• Nine Inch Fingernails
• ZZ Stopped
• Mr. Big Prostate
• Men No Longer at Work
• Survivor Benefits
• The Hip Replacements
• The Early Byrds
• Scooterhead
• No Rush
• Talking Meds
• Uriah Asleep
• Vertical (on the) Horizon

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Saturday, April 27, 2019

"My Way": The Baby Daddy of "Mars" and more


Did you know that Bowie wrote English lyrics for a song that’d later become My Way? The tune was from the French song Comme d'habitude. It was composed by Jacques Revaux and released in 1967 by French singer Claude Fran├žois.

Legend goes that Paul Anka heard the song on the radio during a French holiday and decided to secure the song’s rights. Anka would write English lyrics, based loosely on the original and a conversation Anka had with Frank Sinatra over dinner. During dinner Sinatra would claim that he was planning to leave show business. That night, Anka wrote the lyrics with Sinatra in mind and made subtle changes to the original’s melody. Anka brought it to Sinatra who released the song in 1969. It was an international smash.

Bowie heard the Sinatra’s song, recognizing it as the tune he worked on. He’d composed Life on Mars as revenge, borrowing some of the song’s structure.

Hear the story here:

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Boys Playin' Hard


How to play with force and spunk:

Saturday, April 6, 2019