Oct 12 2010

for the girl

I had a special post lined up for today, but then I dropped the ball on my niece’s annual birthday mix.  I got as far as the first song – the Old 97’s cover of the titular song by the Fratellis – and then didn’t bother choosing the other twenty or so required to fill the CD.  I guess that means I also don’t have to follow through on my writing assignment.  The world may never know what I have to say about the transcendent greatness of “Flathead.”


Jul 20 2010

i don’t think you knew you were in this song

Long-time readers (and probably those who have been around for only a short time, for that matter) know there’s little I like more than arguing about music.  The first person I “met” on Vox was Jodi, who lured me in by being a little bit right before revealing how very wrong she usually is.  And of course there’s my years-long War Over Nothing with Dabysan that predates Vox by almost a decade.  But neither of those lengthy and amorphous arguments compares to the debate over the first track on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

At some point in 1992 or 1993 Vrabel and I were in the lab and decided that we wanted to listen to David Bowie.  He put in a CD and pressed play.  I noticed immediately that “Soul Love” emanated from our shared speakers.  I was a little confused.  “Hey, why’d you skip the first song?”  His reply was as terse as it was erroneous: “It sucks.”  I could barely believe it.  “Five Years” sets a foreboding (and somewhat menacing) tone for the rest of the record that follows – a record that, I might add, ends with a track called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.”  Ziggy Stardust starts with the end of the world and ends with the end of Ziggy.  Skipping the first song changes everything.  It’s easily the best song on the album.

My argument was welcomed with a shrug, which caused me to up my game.  At that point, “Five Years” became not only the best song on Bowie’s best album, but the best song Bowie had ever written.  I stupidly challenged Vrabel to name five better Bowie songs – to which he replied: “The next five songs on Ziggy Stardust after ‘Five Years’.”  We had quickly reached a stalemate.

The other night at the Old 97’s show, the band mentioned they were going to play a track off of their new covers EP.  As the spare drums kicked in, I had a pretty big grin on my face.  Vrabel turned to me.  “I suppose you feel vindicated,” he offered, following that observation with, “I feel like I just lost the longest argument I’ve ever had.”  In all fairness, it was a pretty crappy cover.  Bowie is a tough act to follow.

Old 97’s – Five Years

Here’s the entire setlist:  Streets of Where I’m From / 504 / Dance With Me / Lonely Holiday / W. TX Teardrops / No Baby I / Indefinitely / new song (something something Champaign, IL) / Can’t Get a Line / Melt Show / Stoned / Question / Up the Devil’s Pay / Barrier Reef / new song (Every Night Is Friday Night) / Here’s to the Halcyon / Smokers / Doreen / Four Leaf Clover — encore — Bel Air / Five Years / Early Morning / Timebomb I know this is the first time I’ve seen “Here’s to the Halcyon” live, and I’m pretty sure I can say the same for “504.” And they changed up “Bel Air” in a way I’ve never heard before.  I always liked that one.  “I’ll stomp a mudhole in your heart” are words to live by.


Jul 15 2010

fold your hands child, you walk like a pantywaist

May the great and hairy balls of rock and roll descend upon Coheed and Cambria and teabag them into submission.  What a couple of pussies these guys are.  I’ve heard heavier riffs from Belle and Sebastian.  No wonder they chose to cover the fucking Smiths.


Jun 30 2010

costello music

The Old 97’s kick off their summer tour this evening, and they’re marking the occasion the way bands have done since time immemorial: with an email blast.  One item in particular stood out.

While on the road, Old 97s will be selling, Mimeograph, a newly recorded, four song EP that includes covers of “Rocks Off” (The Rolling Stones), “For The Girl” (The Fratellis), “Driver 8” (REM) and “Five Years” (David Bowie). This special release, only available to purchase physically at the show or through the their website, will also be available digitally beginning July 6, 2010.

I guess three out of four ain’t bad, but man that fourth is a doozy.  Consider my feelings on this issue decidedly mixed.


Mar 29 2010

songs from the big chair


Mar 18 2010

a man called destruction

There are music fans who like cover songs because they believe those songs offer a glimpse through an artist’s carefully constructed public facade.  I am not one of those music fans.  I think cover songs are an integral part of that carefully constructed facade, and most often reinforce our preconceived notions about an artist.  That’s why I have no doubt that Alex Chilton was an untortured genius.

Alex Chilton was the driving artistic force behind one of the best and one of the worst records in my collection, and I don’t think that would have bothered him.  Alex Chilton was the opening act in one of the worst concerts I have ever seen, and I don’t think that would have bothered him.  He was literally booed off the stage, and it sure didn’t seem like that bothered him.  His last studio album was called Loose Shoes and Tight Pussy, and since no A&R guy on the planet would insist on that title I can only assume that it was his idea.

Alex Chilton wrote some of the finest pop songs that have ever been recorded.  In fact, he wrote the best pop song that has ever been recorded.  But everybody is sharing those songs today.  I prefer to remember him gleefully playing an insipid cover as a crowd of rowdy frat boys (and three confused Big Star fans) booed him off the stage of the Masonic Auditorium in Toledo, Ohio.  I don’t think this would bother him.

Alex Chilton – What’s Your Sign Girl


Feb 27 2010

we are the world

Maybe you couldn't tell, but I was pretty darn pleased with how KttD X: St. Valentine's Day Massacre went down.  There was one thing, however, that was a little disappointing.  A few weeks prior to the big day, I got an email from Matyas suggesting that a good way to commemorate the tenth year of our little karaoke contest would be for all of the former champions to sing as a group.  I thought it was a great idea, and presented it to Dabysan, who suggested the perfect song: "We Are the World."  We were both stoked.  I watched the video on Youtube about thirty times that day, and I'm pretty sure Daby watched it even more than I did.

Obviously, it didn't happen, which is a shame.  But we were already one champ down when Doc Paradox foolishly decided that he and his wife weren't flying in from San Francisco.  We took another hit to our ranks when Benedict Akaijen informed us the day before the big weekend that she had made plans – plans that could have occurred at any other time – to go away for the weekend.  (I don't blame Aussie Bob.  Everybody knows he had no say in the matter.)  But the real death knell for our group effort was a DJ who was a stickler for the rules.  Now, I'm not complaining, per se – we've been burned by the terrible DJ before – but nobody wanted to give up their second song.  "Lord" Ramsey took one for the team and changed his tune, but it was too little too late.  The evening was over before we got to it.  Oh, and they claimed not to have the song anyway.

Anyway, the point is "We Are the World" has been in the news recently since it was announced the song would be re-recorded to benefit earthquake victims in Haiti.  Hell, it's even been parodied already.  Which is why I'm glad to see that Shane MacGowan, Nick Cave, Mick Jones, Chrissie Hynde, Glen Matlock, and – on guitar – Johnny Depp got together recently to record Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic "I Put a Spell On You" to raise money for the stricken nation.  It's a way better song, and, frankly, a better group of singers.  I just wish they'd found something for Huey Lewis to do.

In other news, Shane MacGowan is still alive.  I wouldn't have guessed that.

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Oct 23 2009

rock and roll is here to stay

Rock and roll is here to stay (at least through the remainder of the month), but our annual break is overdue.  Elliott Smith would like a moment for a few of someone else’s words.


Oct 23 2009

he wore red and i wore white

Today is the 23rd day of Rocktober in 2009, which means that we are sixty-nine days away from a new decade.  Like everyone else, I plan to celebrate the onset of this new decade by reflecting upon the best aspects of popular culture from the past decade.  And not to go telling tales out of school, but I plan to write at some point about Jack White.

Someday, Jack White will be involved with something that isn't very good, and that will be unfortunate.  But he's earned a few missteps.  So far this decade, he's been on a roll.  He did at least three great things even before forming the Raconteurs four years ago.

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Oct 22 2009

gimme some truth

A couple of years ago I went to see the Polyphonic Spree with Dabysan.  I entered the 9:30 Club only vaguely familiar with their music.  I left the 9:30 Club vowing to see them again every time they returned to town.  And this despite the large man next to me who had no concept of personal space.  That's usually a deal-breaker for a show.

I was going to blog about it way back when, but then time and motivation got away from me.  I'll spare you a long-overdue review because those never come out as well as I hope, but I'll just say that the basis of my insightful analysis was going to be a discussion of "music as propaganda" and I how finally understood (albeit on a much smaller scale) the phenomena of those personalities who could just capture a crowd and inspire them to do things – things both great and terrible – that they might have never previously considered.

The Polyphonic Spree opened their encore with a cover of Nirvana's "Lithium."  Everyone in the 9:30 Club sang along, and I sang along with them.  I had no choice.

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