Monday, January 31, 2011

You didn't think we'd notice...

On the weekend, I re-watched Pump Up The Volume. This is a classic film from 1990 starring Christian Slater as a disaffected youth bringing a school to its knees through his pirate radio show. His radio persona is Hard Harry, a lewd teenage philosopher with excellent music taste (Leonard Cohen, Pixies, MC5 etc...). It is a great film with a great soundtrack.

The only problem I have with the film is that there is a scene where Hard Harry implores the kids to get a little wild and crazy which leads to various scenes of chaos. As Kick out the jams plays, kids blow stuff up in microwaves, scream and dance and run riot at the local school. The only thing is that during the riot scene, the following thing happens:

You didn't think we'd notice that as the kids riot that they just happen to have a 5 metre long penis on hand to use as a battering ram. My question is, where the hell did that come from and where did it go? There is no reference to it in any other part of the movie and then it's just... there... Geez, what was going on in the 90's?


Sunday, January 30, 2011

The question of music in advertising part 2

Continuing on, is it how the music is used rather than the artist involved. At first flush, it appears DFA 1979 have totally sold out because the only snippet of lyrics in the advert are 'Come on girls, I know what you like' which sounds totally lame out of context of the full song. However, this is how the remix was released in 2005 so we can't really begrudge the use of the lyrics in that way.

However, when you have someone mainstream and corporate like Sheryl Crow in your ad, we should have no expectation on the use of the song other than it will be mainstream and corporate. For example, a couple of years a go a bank used one of her songs where the line "If it makes you happy" was repeated over and over. However, the actual full chorus is:

If it makes you happy
It can't be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad

Obviously, that's a far better representation of our relationship with banks but the music was used in such a way to hide the downtrodden nature of the song. You could say the same for Vodafone's use of the Dandy Warhols Bohemian Like You. Essentially a screed against all the wannabes harassing the Dandy's on tour, this indictment of hipsterism was re-used as an invitation to be a hipster. Sure, the Dandy Warhols made a shit load of money and after Dig!, decided they wanted to be arty like the Brian Jonestown Massacre (they failed), but is the use of the music in this way deceitful, particularly if you were a fan of the song prior to it's use in an ad? Or are you in on the joke?

It's been a bit of a Cure weekend for me as I've been going through a lot of their old albums so yesterday I asked my girlfriend whether she thought it was lame that the Cure sold Pictures of You for an HP Printer ad? Her response, "Well, the Cure haven't released a good album in quite some time so Robert Smith probably just needed the money." Does that make them lame? "No." Have they sold out if you spent your teenage years listening to that song dreaming of having Robert Smith's babies while dressed in black curled up in a foetal position on your bedroom floor at 3am? Probably.

This again is part of the conundrum. I find my level of engagement or disrespect with music in advertising is very much based on what I feel about the music. As is obvious by this blog, music is important to me. That doesn't mean I have any rights to demand anything off the artists who make the music or expect them not to sell it but we all have a personal relationship to the music that fills our lives. Could I care less that Sheryl Crow sold her music to be used in a bank ad? The answer is no because Sheryl Crow makes music that sounds like it is specifically made to be used in a bank ad but I would probably be outraged if PJ Harvey did (although that's probably one bank ad I'd have to see).

Here's another example. Some years ago, Le Tigre's Deceptacon was used in a jewelery store ad. Was that ok because it probably meant Le Tigre could afford to make their next record or is it uncomfortable given Kathleen Hanna's place in riot grrl and the advancement of feminist ideals in music and the music is being used to advertise patriarchal images of female beauty? Pragmatically, I would say it was a poor decision but then watch the above clip (MUST SEE!) where Kathleen Hanna says she had to teach the fundamentals of feminism to some knucklehead hardcore band, only to have them turn up to the strip club she was working at to make money to keep her Bikini Kill tour going. Life, like politics, is coloured in many shades of gray. Who am I to judge as I am just a lamearse fan making judgments anonymously on a blog on the other side of the world?

As you can tell, I have no answer to any of these questions. It's like the old Rage Against the Machine question: are they sell outs because they sing about revolution while signed to Sony or are they totally awesome for bringing revolutionary politics to a mainstream audience? Does it even matter when they rock. so. hard!

Maybe I'm overthinking all this but there are some commercial uses of music that are totally fucked. Whoever it was in Nick Drake's estate who decided to sell Pink Moon to Volkswagon should be hung and then shot and then hung again and then shot again. There is absolutely no reason for this song to be used in that ad apart from making fucking money. Now that is something where I can see a disrespect to the original artist mainly because he had no say in its use.

Anyway, to sum up, it appears that the marriage of commerce and music (if they were ever separable) is never going to be clear cut to me. There are definite moments where I think that the use of music is wrong either by context or my personal relationship to the music but other times I couldn't care less and see it as no problem. When I was 20, I could tell you exactly how fucked it is that bands sell their art to big business. Now I'm 37, the less sure I seem to be - what a sell out. Only Neil has the answer...


Saturday, January 29, 2011

The question of music in advertising part 1

While I am a long standing leftie and anti-capitalist, I find the use of music in advertising a tricky subject to negotiate. The reason for this is because a lot of small bands have a decent payday and exposure if their music is featured in an ad. As making money from music becomes harder and harder (therefore sustaining the creative process of making music harder), does a foray into commerce make you a bad person. Well, yes and no.

As such, I think there's three parts to this musical conundrum:
1. What does selling out mean?
2. How/what is the music used for commercially.
3. Can an artist maintain integrity when their music is used in a volkswagon?

I'm going to explore each of these ideas in turn over the next few days but be warned, my thoughts on this are constantly evolving and confused so I'll probably be asking more questions than giving a solid philosophy on it.

This was brought home to me when a friend alerted me to a Motorola ad featuring Death from Above 1979. The song, Romantic Rights, which was remixed by Erol Alkan for the Romance Bloody Romance album is used to promote images of beautiful people getting fucked up at some decadent party while not scratching their phones. If I was at a decadent party I'd sure like DFA 1979 to be my soundtrack but watching the ad makes me feel a little queasy. To be honest, I'm not sure why (apart from the hideous people in the ad).

Did the members of DFA 1979 make a promise to me they wouldn't sell out? While they are ostensibly an indie band is there anything wrong with what they're doing apart from slightly cheapening my associate with the song? As I mentioned recently, DFA 1979 are reforming for Coachella and with this ad as well, I can only speculate that they've done this because they ran out of drug money (I JOKE! - hello lawsuit). At a certain level, if a few kids go and buy a DFA 1979 album because of this ad, that can only be a good thing, right? Right? Maybe?

What does it mean to sell out anyway? This was a big debate when indie bands joined major labels in the 90's but if you're an artist, surely you want as many people to hear your music as possible. Is that selling out? Is your music only valid if a bunch of turtleneck wearing hipsters in Brooklyn have heard it?

People also say things like "I used to like them before they became all commercial and sold out..." In this context does commercial mean making music more palatable for mainstream audiences. There are a number of artists that have been making successively more unlistenable albums as they go along (PJ Harvey, Dandy Warhols) but does that make their art any more noble? As uncomfortable as Kurt Cobain was with post Nevermind fame, his promise to alienate the fairweather fans with the release of In Utero never happened. That album is imminently listenable and no amount of Albini dry production can hide the fact that Cobain was a gifted writer of pop songs. Would the world have been better if Nevermind had sold 50,000 copies? I don't think so.

The next step in selling out is licensing your music for commercials and this is where the conundrum is for me. I despise the Rolling Stones for selling Start Me Up to Microsoft but I feel that's it's ok that Bob Mould to sell a song to another computer company. Why is this? Well, the Rolling Stones could not possibly need any more money so their rampant commercialism is crass and whore-ish wheile Bob Mould is essentially a cottage industry trying to survive by selling a small number of records so it's kinf of ok. However, the end result is the same, they are both making money and I feel that it acceptable for one and not the other. Hypocrite much? By the way, is licensing your music for a film soundtrack different? I don't know...

The thing is, unless you're Ian MacKaye, rich enough to refuse all advertisers (Neil Young) or you're just not of that ilk (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave etc...), making music is your work and making money from ads must surely be a consideration. Unfortunately, we work in the capitalist system, not the Fugazi system and as much as I admire and love the Dischord ethos, I know that model doesn't work for everyone. I actually don't mind that Queens of the Stone Age have songs on Guitar Hero because I know they get good money for that and the exposure they get helps spread the word of the band.

The recent rash of indie bands being used in ads has not really upset me but is the notion of selling out still valid? It makes me think of this Tool song (really!) called Hooker with a Penis (really!) where Maynard sings to a fan accusing them of selling out. The break down goes:

All you know about me is what I've sold you, Dumb fuck
I sold out long before you ever even heard my name.
I sold my soul to make a record, Dip shit
And then you bought one.

So in the context of Tool, unless you're making music in your bedroom that no one has ever heard - you've sold out. My God, this is confusing. This even makes Ian MacKaye a sell out but we all know that logic is fucking crazy. At the height of the post-Nirvana indie buying frenzy, major labels would turn up (literally) with suitcases of money to buy Dischord off MacKaye. He gave them a short shrift of course.

With the increasingly tremulous position of major record labels, commercial advertising is one potential revenue stream for small bands. I can't fully condemn this even though I feel uncomfortable with this. I know not everyone is a punk and not every band can survive without considering this kind of commercial venture. I think my discomfort is in part due to how the music is used and what that means to an artist's integrity - and that means different things to different artists. I will discuss these two points tomorrow.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Song Logic

While I incessantly think, argue and listen to music, I often feel that I cannot adequately articulate in writing what I'm thinking about (even this sentence is poorly written ha!). This is part of what this blog is about - essentially allowing me to work through my ideas about songs and the other useless bullshit I think about.

Fortunately, there are people in this world who can intelligently dissect and discuss music far better than I can. Rino is one of these people - a wise music sage and typewriter enthusiast who has just published his first book which you can buy here. So head over to his blog to see how this is really done - Also, make sure you check out his lovely typewritten blog here.

So many levels of awesomeness to enjoy.


You didn't think we'd notice...

Oh Trent, you didn't think we'd notice this was the same song...


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Musical Super Villains: Tori Amos

Brian Eno once said “Only five thousand people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every single one of them started a band.” That quote is often referred to when talking about the legacy of Velvet Underground and I bet Brian Eno feels pretty good about himself for saying it. Then again, he is Brian Eno so I think he probably congratulates himself everyday for being Brian Eno.

Anyhow, I feel that Tori Amos is kind of influential like the Velvet Underground although in a much more evil way. I suspect that every 12 year old piano playing girl who got given a copy of Under the Pink in the 90’s went onto release a piano based pop song in the 2000s. There was a tidal wave of young pop stars playing piano like Tori but singing songs with the depth of Taylor (Swift). Exhibit A: Vanessa Carlton – when I first heard that single (above) I distinctly remember thinking “is this a song or a fucking piano recital?’ Exhibit B: Delta Goodrem. Full stop.

There was a depth to Tori Amos that these girls couldn’t probably hear much less understand. Do you think Trent Reznor would do guest vocals on a Delta Goodrem song? No. Do you think you’d compare Vanessa Carlton to Kate Bush? No. Do we ever want to hear another song by any of these people again (and there are many more but I’ll spare you)? NO. So, unfortunately for Tori she is a musical super villain – not for her music but for the generation of piano playing whiners she inspired. It’s not her fault but really in the end, it kind of is her fault.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Great moments in music history: Metallica go to the Grammys

It seems hard to remember now but before Metallica became a fiercely commercial band they were a fiercely un-commercial band. Their music was relatively underground but even with no radio airplay and no music videos, they accrued a massive following. Their music was often impenetrable 9 minute thrash operas, they rocked epic mullets that you couldn't take home to mother and lead singer James Hetfield had the habit of writing EET FUK on his guitars. If you constructed a graph, they were as far from the mainstream as it is possible when represented in mathematical form.

Four albums in and they finally released their first video - a seven minute concept video for One - a cheery little ditty about a mute amputee war victim begging for death. While it wasn't huge, the roar amongst the metal community was deafening so Metallica received their first Grammy nomination and were invited to play at the 1989 awards ceremony... oh my.

Now the Grammy's have never been a hot bed of innovation. In fact, the 1989 winner for the best rap performance was Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince for Parents Just Don't Understand. Meanwhile, George Michael won album of the year for Faith and Robert Palmer won the Best Rock Vocal Performance for Simply Irresistible.

So, as the above video attests, Metallica came out in full metal garb, mullets a-flailing, and assaulted the audience with the sheer brutality of One. Remembering that this was the first time this type of music was played to an audience wider than the metal fringe, it is a thing of great beauty for many reasons. Firstly, the 1989 Song of the Year went to Bobby McFerrin for Don't worry, be happy and the thought of Metallica singing "Hold my breath as I wish for death" to that guy brings me no end of pleasure. Also in the crowd were the Manhatten Transfer, Tina Turner, Terence Trent D'Arby, Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt and Tracy Chapman. Hetfield, at the time, said something along the lines of that he couldn't tell if people enjoyed it but Stevie Wonder was swaying along in the front row. I can imagine this as Stevie always seemed to be swaying but he was probably indicating he wanted to escape.

Things got even better still when the awards were announced. In the category of Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental, the nominees were:

Metallica - And Justice For All
AC/DC - Blow Up Your Video
Iggy Pop - Cold Metal
Jethro Tull - Crest of a Knave
Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking

Presented minutes after Metallica performed, Alice Cooper and Lita Ford announced the winner was Jethro Tull. If you don't know Jethro Tull, they're a prog-folk band which is famous for having a lead singer who plays the flute while standing on one leg... yep, I said flute. He looks like this:

At the time, Hetfield looked like this:

This was typical of the Grammy's, giving the award to an established older artist which is totally out of touch with what's happening on the wider musical community. The rumour was that there was booing when the award was announced but I can't confirm that. One thing's for sure, it changed the way the Grammy's approached rock because One was nominated and won the same award one year later in 1990. I'm pretty sure they were afraid that Hetfield would eat them alive if they didn't win next time.

That being said, the Grammy's didn't learn from this mistake. In 1992, Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit was nominated for Best Rock Song. Of course, the award went to Eric Clapton's acoustic version of Layla.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Essential Playlist: Australia Day

Goddamnit, I hate the rampant nationalism that goes along with Australia day - the flags, the Southern Cross tattoos and the endless Cold Chisel. While some people use the day to celebrate/decry the entrenched racism of the country, I'm happy to get a day off for no other reason than I happen to live in Sydney. To be honest, I love living here but like everywhere it has its problems. While I could reflect on the deeper implications of the day (race, class, the destruction of Indigenous culture), I thought I'd just list some Australian songs that I really like. I've tried not to pick anything too obvious but I've probably failed.

Spy V. Spy - Hard Times
What better way to kick off with some classic Aussie pub rock. The weird thing about the Spies is while they are minor footnotes of the Australian 80's pub scene, they are huge in South America. And when I say huge, I mean playing at festivals in front of 200,000 people. Good stuff.

Sarah Blasko - All I Want
I came a bit late to Sarah Blasko which is my fault really. I find this song to be the answer to the question "What is the perfect music to go with Blasko's haunting voice?" Fun fact: my girlfriend lived two houses away from her in Stanmore. I never saw her though.

Midnight Oil - Dreamworld
Sure the Oils are predictable but I love this song. There's certain times in my life where people are so deluded about what is actually happening, I can't help but start humming this song.

You Am I - Thank God I've Hit The Bottom
People get nostalgic about You Am I and it would have been easy to list Berlin Chair or Purple Sneakers. While their popularity may have waned, they've still been releasing great albums. This song is one of my favourites on their Convicts record and was my official theme tune for 2009. Fun fact: Rusty, the drummer, shops in my local supermarket. That supermarket is called Banana Joes.

The Fauves - Dogs Are The Best People
I actually wanted to put Understanding Kyuss but that doesn't seem to be anywhere on the web. No one can hate this song. If you hate this song, you probably kick puppies when no one is looking.

The Presets - My People
I can't say I really liked this song until I saw the above video. Watching thousands of people singing joyously along in the rain made a little light globe go off in my head.

The Herd - The King is Dead
A song celebrating John Howard losing the 2008 election - YAY! Everytime I think of this I break into a huge smile.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow
It's pretty impossible to pick my favourite Nick Cave song but I think this one tends to get overlooked a bit. The video is classic as well.

Operator Please - Volcanic
I'll probably cop some flack for liking this song but I could care less. I really hate the music they play in clothes shops. I'm buying some work shirt or something and you're making me listen to Usher? Really? Anyhow, I was buying a new work shirt the other day and this song came on. As I tried on a different shirt it got me thinking, "This is the perfect song for this moment." So there you have it, the perfect song for trying on men's shirts when you'd rather be playing xbox.

Icehouse - Don't believe anymore
It came as a major revelation to me the other day that Iva Davies singing voice is a total David Bowie rip off. Apaprently, this is pretty well known but it has made me re-appraise Icehouse to some extent because sometimes even substandard aspirational Bowie is better than post-Let's Dance real life David Bowie. This was Icehouse before Iva got that wicked mullet he sported in '86 and even though it has the handicap of featuring a saxophone solo, it doesn't suck.

The Saints - (I'm) Stranded
I was going to pick an Ed Kuepper song but frankly, I love the way Chris Bailey says "Yeah" and "Alright".

Yeah, alright. Happy Australia Day peoples.


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Devil's Music

Wolves - they're everywhere at the moment. I find them immensely cool looking animals, the wild thug of the dog world but I also find them intimidating and scary at the same time. The reason I bring this up is because wolves normally rove in packs of 20 but in the north of Russia of wolf pack of 400 is roaming the steppes looking for trouble - I find this idea distinctly terrifying (even though I live in Australia).

So, it was with some surprise to read that a teenager in Norway stumbled across a wolf pack on his way home. Keeping a cool head under pressure and endorsing the stereotype that Scandinavians have terrible taste in music, he played Creed at them at maximum volume through his mobile phone. The wolves retreated either because a) wolves have better taste than your average Norwegian metal fan or b) Creed is truly the devil's music. I'm willing to bet it's a little of a nd b... but mostly b.

If you don't know, Creed are one of those bands like Nickelback that are soulless, paint by number rockers that seem to be produced in laboratories to create music that is perfect in every way - slow build verse here, big chord rousing chorus here, guitar solo, band drops out for a second, big finale. Perfect in every way except that anyone with an iota of taste or a mental age higher than thirteen can see, hear and taste that they suuuuuuuuuuck! If there is a definition of not having a soul, these bands embody it. Now it's easy to make fun of Creed and Nickelback because they are so bad but if they want to infect my ears with their shitty stadium rock, I have the prerogative to complain about it on a blog read by three people.

Let's get it out there, I'm an atheist so concepts like heaven and hell are redundant to me. But if I imagine Heaven, I imagine it to be full of pious Christians walking around talking about how they were right all along. Then I imagine Hell and who would be wandering around? Hendrix, Lennon et al. As a matter of fact, I imagine hell as one enormous Big Day Out concert with a stellar line up with infinite queues to the portaloos. As the late great Bill Hicks said often:

They tell us "Rock'n'roll is the devil's music." Well, let's say we know that rock is the devil's music, and we know that it is, for sure … At least he fuckin' jams! If it's a choice between eternal Hell and good tunes, and eternal Heaven and New Kids on the fuckin' Block … I'm gonna be surfin' on the lake of fire, rockin' out.

I know where I'd rather be but it does make me think there are two types of Devil's music. First, there is the music that is undeniably awesome which dates back to Robert Johnson hitting the crossroads where he made a deal to be undeniably amazing. This musical DNA has travelled through the fingers of everyone from Chuck Berry to Angus Young to pretty much anyone who doesn't suck. Secondly, there is the 'pact with the devil to make you famous' music. Bill Hicks had a particularly crude skit on this as well talking about musicians performing fellatio on Satan's "scaly pecker" for fame.

As such, I would surmise that any music that can scare a pack of wolves away is surely the work of the devil but not the good kind. Let's face it, wolves are inherently evil because they hang out with vampires and stuff so anything that bad must be sourced from Satan himself. Why can't Creed be God's music you ask (as Creed are a Christian rock band) with songs so powerful it can scare away wolves? I would argue that if God exists, even with his (or her) infinite wisdom and power, there is no way s/he is powerful enough to make Creed popular because that's some evil shit right there. That's Satan's doing alright and he has a cruel, cruel sense of humour...


Sunday, January 23, 2011

My boyfriend died last year...

Anyone who knows me knows that I have an unhealthy obsession with the music of Josh Homme - so much so my friend's say he is my boyfriend. This isn't true but I have a long time love of his music starting with Kyuss and then an incredibly intense love for Queens of the Stone Age. How intense? Multiple copies of the same album (vinyl, special edition cds), about twelve gig posters (including one signed by the band from the Rated R tour) and I've seen them in concert about thirteen times. I guess if I was going to have a boyfriend (not really my vibe though), Josh Homme would be the closest I'd get to it.

So it was with some dismay to read that Homme died on the operating table last year during a knee operation (he was successfully revived). I don't pretend to know the musicians I follow and any understanding of their lives is through the superficial prism of the media. However, I think I'd be genuinely upset if Homme had not survived. Firstly, Homme is the same age as me and is married with a small daughter which would be a personal tragedy. Given the death of some of my friends far too soon, I think at an empathetic level I'd find it quite distressing.

But for the purposes of this blog (which is about music), on a musical level there are few artists whom I connect with completely (apart from Homme, I'd name Bob Mould as the other). The idea of no more music from Homme is totally depressing to me - not depressing, almost terrifying. The reason I love Queens is that it brings the rock action but it can be sensual and it can be funny too. There is also a playfulness and experimentation to the music amongst the balls out adrenalin. Many fans of Queens gravitate to a particular record because they change sonically from album to album but I like them all in their own way. Even the last album Era Vulgaris (which was disliked by some fans) had some great tunes and at least one stone cold classic. Further to that, seeing them in a small club on the Songs of the Deaf Tour stands out as my favourite concert experience - ever. I also adored Them Crooked Vultures and despite have the best rhythm section in the world, the music was largely driven by Homme's musical imprint. To say Josh Homme's music live large in my imagination is like saying polar bears like tearing seals limb from limb... dude, like it, they love it.

This is not the first bit of bad Queens related news for me this week. I missed out on tickets to their Sydney sideshow which was crushing and now I'm faced with near death of my musical hero. That's quite a week but all this has taught me a few things:
1. I am a hopeless fanboy for even writing this,
2. I long suspected Josh Homme had superpowers and now that he has risen from dead like a red haired Jesus, I think it'd be pretty hard to dispute this.
3. I don't really want Josh to be my boyfriend. I just want him to come round to my house, have some beers and play some vinyl.

Whatever the case, God save the Queens and long may Josh Homme live.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Enter the wu...

My recent post about winning arguments about music have led to more arguments. So Claire and I have decided we need to have some form of blog off to settle this once and for. She suggested that we should have some rap names for the battle and I wanted to Wu Tang clan name. Thank God for the internet because there is a Wu Tang Clan name generator which can be found here.

Sadly, even when I try to be street and gangsta, even a faceless internet name generator can tell how lame I am. Why? Because my Wu Tang name is Gentleman Dominator. Is it me or does that sound like a vibrator?

Speaking of Claire (whose Wu Tang name is Ungrateful Ninja - awesome), she left this great comment about Reformatins which I though would be worth sharing:

Duran Duran also need a category of their own "Bands who reform and should be nothing but brilliant but turn out to suck on a whole new level". Saw them play a couple years ago and aside from Simon Le Bon's white jeans (gah!) it was a really shit gig. There are only so many saxaphone solos one can take in the name of kitsch.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Essential Playlists: The Apocalypse Playlist

Birds falling from the sky? Check. Dead fish washing up on beaches? Check. A pack of 400 wolves wandering the Russian wilderness? Check. Catastrophic weather events like floods and fires? Check. Locust plagues? Check. Justin Beiber posing with Angelina Jolie at the Golden Globes? Check. The seven signs of the apocalypse are nigh. We just have to wait for Barry Manilow to tour Australia and then we know it's truly the end of days. Oh wait... damn...

As my buddy Katie noted recently, the world is fast coming to an end and as such, it is essential to have a good playlist for the apocalypse. What says "holy shit, the east coast of Australia just fell into the sea" better than post rock? Sad eyed boys in cardigans unleashing torrents of distortion while they lurch and lunge across the stage. My feeling is that the first song on any doomsday playlist is Dead Flag Blues (above and seriously, if you haven't heard it, listen to it now). Beyond that I think you gotta have ya Mogwai, ya Explosions in the Sky and the like because nothing says death and destruction than indie boys with distortion pedals.

The reason I choose post rock is because I think instrumental music will make it seem more like a movie. When I watch the sky turn blood red as dogs turn on their masters and buildings collapse around me, the last thing I need to be doing is singing along to some crappy lyrics. Forget your favourite Tool song or the Doors the End. Unfortunately, I think most people would pick the obvious choice of It's the end of the world as we know it by REM on their playlist. The problem I have with this song is that it sounds like this to me:

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
It's the end of the world as we know it (x3)
and I feel fine...
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah cont...

The last thing you need is to be sitting on a rooftop watching the city reduced to fire and rubble listening to that song and go "Wow, it really is the end of my fucking life... oh my GOD! It's terrible... Hey, did Michael Stipe just say something about doughnuts? I don't know, I might have to listen to that bit again." You gotta keep your mind focussed on the unfolding apocalypse. As a friend just said to me, you can't be retro about this, you have to be present. Unless you're an arch ironist and you're listening to Bootylicious.

So, if it's 2012 and you see your annoying Christian workmate ascending to heaven because the rapture is upon us, make sure that you ipod is charged and your end of the world playlist is ready to go.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reformation of the nation (updated)

It was with some excitement today that I read the 2011 Coachella line up. Sure, I'll never go and the line up is amazing (Arcade Fire. PJ Harvey. The National. DURAN DURAN!). But what has gotten me the most excited is the announcement that Death From Above 1979 have reformed. Sure it's one show in the US but I absolutely love You're a Woman, I'm a Machine. To say I'm excited just by the thought of those guys performing is like saying cops like doughnuts and I'll probably have to stay up all night watching the Coachella webcasts to watch them.

That being said, I think it's important to define the four types of reformations:

1. Reformations no one wants and have no artistic merit: These are bands that any reasonable music fan was happy to see split up and would be grateful if they never played a single note of music again. These include the Vengaboys and the Eagles - personally I prefer the Vengaboys in that equation.

2. Reformations which may be for cash but are awesome nonetheless: I think the Pixies are a prime example of this but there is one important distinction in these reformations - these bands should never release any new music. Let's face it, the Pixies back catalogue is amongst the holy canon of indie music. If they attempted to make a new album, how could it be anything other than a disappointment compared to their previous albums?

3. Reformations that reunite something that burnt out far too soon or bands that just simply have more rock awesomeness to give: This is where I'd put Death From Above 1979 and I'd totally support the release of any new material from them. Also in this category would be Wire who have reformed numerous times but keep releasing awesome albums.

4. Reformations that will never happen because all the members hate each other: Hüsker Dü. Good times.

Let's hope Death From Above 1979 tour Australia soon.

Update: this week also saw the first reunion show of the Archers of Loaf. I think they could be in category 3. Here's Web in Front that features one of my favourite lines in music - And there's a chance that things'll get weird... Yeah, that's a possibility.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The vagaries of Last FM

I go to the gym a few times a week. I'm not proud of it but as the middle aged spread attacks from all fronts, my vanity has kicked in. As such, I have an ipod shuffle dedicated to metal, punk and all things up to get me through the excruciating pain and embarrassment of pumping iron. Of late, I've been really getting into Metallica as my background music because it creates the correct dosage of sonic adrenalin to drag my sorry carcass from standstill to exercise.

The only problem is that I have a account that logs everything I listen to in a week. More often than not I find that my gym ipod (or deathpod as I refer to it) only sporadically uploads my listens to and my listen count is skewed when it finally uploads all the listens in one batch. Did I listen to Metallica 172 times last week? I don't bloody think so... although I do get pretty delirious when I'm exercising so maybe I did...

Anyhow, as I often use my deathpod to listen to when I go back and forth to work, I'm starting to think my charts are making me look like a steroid abusing metal freak. Not that there's anything wrong with that but seriously, I really didn't listen to King Nothing 60 times in one week...

Seriously... or doth he protest too much?


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to win any argument using music

Any argument (regardless of what it is about) can be won by reducing it to a debate about music. I recently bought a friend of mine my favourite book, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami. The book is pretty dark but has some fantastical elements (urm, for example, unicorns) in it. However, my friend was less than impressed sending me the following text message:

CW: Almost finished the Japanese book. That’s some weird shit. It’s like an intellectual Avatar without the Disney music or use of papyrus font. Are you by any chance a world of warcraft fan? I’m thinking you might be.

(Not being a World of warcraft fan and affronted by this attack on my literary taste, I sent this totally grown up message back).

Jonathan: Fuck you.

(To which CW, prods a little further.)

CW: That’s a yes then.

(Even this is ostensibly an argument about a book, I will now resort to attacking CW’s music taste even though it’s totally unrelated)

Jonathan: You’d have some cred on the matter if you had better taste in music.

(CW, sensing a shift in the dynamic, immediately strikes back going after one of my favourite artists.)

CW: Straight for the jugular! Nice work, that’s your finest insult to date. Top form and highly ironic coming from a Bob Mould fan.

(However, knowing CW’s slight embarrassment but deep love of Aerosmith [which admittedly can be pretty great] I go in hard).

Jonathan: Don’t forget to collect your Aerosmith greatest hits at the door bitch.

(I’ve made made a smart play here as I know CW will always defend Aerosmith based on the song Sweet Emotion)

CW: Dude, you cannot deny Sweet Emotion.

(Sensing blood in the water, I mention a lameass latter era Aerosmith song which is totally unfair).

Jonathan: I find it interesting you use the word dude. Does he look like a lady?

No more text messages so that means I won. All you need is a little insider knowledge on what your opponent feels weakens their claim to musical superiority and keep digging at that flesh until you taste blood. That being said, I don’t really mind Aerosmith, I just like to make the argument really.

So, there you go, reduce any argument to being about music and you're assure a chance of winning no matter how wrong you may be.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Musical Super Villains: Phil Collins

You know, I'm pretty sure Phil Collins is a nice guy. When I was thirteen I thought the Invisible Touch and self titled Genesis albums were pretty nifty. I grew out of that pretty quick but I still play air drums when the iconic drum fill in In the Air Tonight kicks in - everytime. Sure, there was that rumour about him informing his wife by fax of their impending divorce and really, there was no excuse for I can't dance but Phil Collins has never really done anything more offensive than make except middle of the road adult rock (c'mon, someone's got to do it). Except...

EXCEPT when I was a kid I watched Live Aid and remember clearly that Phil Collins played in London and then flew, by Concorde, to Philadelphia to play in the closing sets in the US. As a child that seemed pretty amazing. But as I've grown older and with an increased understanding of the logistical and resource implications of flying a drummer in a high speed jet to another continent so he can appear on both sides of the Atlantic makes me feel really quite queasy. I mean, a benefit concert for the starving children in Africa and you're sipping champagne on concorde so you can play drums for Eric Clapton in Philly? Are there no drummers in the USA who can sit in for ERIC CLAPTON? Maybe in the excess of the 80's, it seemed like an awesome idea but now it just appears be antithesis of what the day was about. I mean how many starving children can you feed with a concorde's jet fuel? Or the Moet? Now if it had been Freddie Mercury, I think I'd be more forgiving but a fucking drummer? I don't think so.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

The vibe of the thing

In the late 90's I went to see Atari Teenage Riot at the Metro in Sydney. If you don't know Atari Teenage Riot, they were a German electronic band that sampled metal and punk and matched it to hardcore beats while yelling anti-capitalist lyrics over the top. Onstage, they screamed and hollered while their light show was four strobe lights that flashed for the entire one and a half hour set (if you weren't epileptic going into the show, you would be by the end). The whole thing was very earnest, very humourless and very German.

Anyhow, the one enduring memory I have of this night (apart from a blinking light for 90 minutes) was the crowd. It was a very small crowd but it was made up of metalheads, indie kids and ravers all having their own cultural response to the music. For example, the guy in the Slayer shirt next to me spent the night throwing devil horns and occasionally affectionately grabbing me in a headlock and singing lyrics into my face (especially during Fuck All! - a good old fashioned pig hating song). The raver girl next to me danced in her spot around her handbag while the indie kids hung back drinking and smoking. To be honest, the music was just abrasive and dull most of the time, but hanging out in an enthusiastic crowd elevated it into a memorable evening.

It's pretty amazing how a crowd can really change your experience of a concert. I'm thinking of this because I saw Built to Spill recently and the crowd was flat. To be fair, the band seemed jetlagged and listless (even though sonically they were amazing) but the crowd was just weird. There wasn't much response or excitement about the gig and I think this energy deflated the band somewhat. At one point, Doug Martsch said "Hey, we've got a bunch of songs on our setlist we're going to play. So if you're bored, we can't really see the exits so feel free to leave." Awkward. The band fired up half way through when they jammed on a really angry song but by then, the evening was set. I had seen Built to Spill previously and they were fantastic so it goes to show what a difference both the band and audience can make.

It wasn't quite as bad as the Dandy Warhols gig I once saw. There used to be a guy who seemed to go to every gig I went to and would heckle the band regardles of how good they were (he heckled PJ Harvey who looked stonily in his direction and said "I really don't understand a single thing you're saying.") and he was in particularly rousing form for the Warhols show. Courtney Taylor said "Hey man, I'm a fucking rock star. I get paid no matter how much you yell." However, the band was clearly rattled and stopped the show to sit in a circle in the middle of the stage and smoke a joint. They eventually returned but the band, whose stage presence is already slightly aloof, seemed distant and distracted for the rest of the show.

That being said, I've been to some gigs where both the band and the crowd have been on fire and fed off each other creating a self sustaining vortex of rock awesomeness. A great gig seems to be combination of multiple elements but a really great crowd can elevate a rock show from great to obscenely amazing (for me, these gigs include PJ Harvey, Queens of the Stone Age, Superchunk, Mogwai amongst them). The only thing I'd recommend to rockers is to at least look lkike they're enjoying it. I saw the Cruel Sea once at the height of their fame and even though the crowd was receptive and rapturous, the bass player spent the entire time either looking at his watch or terribly bored. Way to kill the mood dude.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Song of the hour (updated)

Walking Far From Home: Iron & Wine
Most people either love Iron & Wine or are fundamentally indifferent to them. The music never real seems to rile anyone into vehement hatred but Sam Beam often inspires a profound love. I have to admit I was a bit suspicious of Iron & Wine's increasing jam band vibe especially after seeing them a couple of years ago where they indulged in drawn out psychedelic jams a million miles away from the rustic folk of their origins.

That being said, there is a particular type of Iron & Wine song that I like where the band play the same riff over and over and the song's dynamics depend mainly on the vocals and backing instrumentation (behold the nine minute, four chord Trapeze Swinger or the gentle revelry of Passing Afternoon). I generally refer to this music as acoustic trance. Walking Far From Home is similar in structure but with more electronic impulses. The song deftly balances the spacier tendencies that I was concerned about with the traditional tropes of Iron & Wine's music.

Lyrically, it's all very whimsical as usual but there is some beautiful phrasing and some great lines like "I saw a bird fall like a hammer from the sky". Worth checking out if you like that kind of thing and if you don't, you'll probably think it's boring. Your loss really.

Update: While I love this song, I finally got around to listening to the new Iron and Wine album and it. is. bad. The closest way to describing it as if Sam Beam decided to front a Phil Collins tribute band. The music has all the pastel shades of 80's pop but not in a good way. It's not million miles away from yacht rock. Way too much saxophone.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Trivial pursuits...

So every week I do pub trivia at the Marrickville bowlo and tend to answer most of the music questions regardless of the music quality (for example, you might have to identify a Strokes song and then the next song is Enrique Iglesias). However, this week I felt some heat from my fellow team members (two of them first timers) because I answered the following two questions:

1. Which member of the Spice Girls appeared as herself on Neighbours? (I guessed Mel C but it turned out to be Baby Spice).
2. Name that tune which was Justin Timberlake's Cry Me a River which I guessed in two seconds.

First, I copped shit because I named all the Spice Girls and then used logic to deduce that it would either be Mel C or Emma Bunton. I was surprised that knowing all the names of the Spice Girls would be so contentious or cause for derision because let's face it, at their height, they were everywhere. Further, their individual fame far exceeded the band and I think even the lost tribes of the Amazon would have a fair idea who Posh, Scary, Ginger, Sporty and Baby were. To me, unless you have absolutely zero interest in popular culture, not knowing who the Spice Girls are is weird. To openly revel in your ignorance because liking the Spice Girls might be seen as uncool is being contrary for the sake of being contrary as far as I'm concerned. I will say that I like Spice up your life because it is plausibly one of the most ridiculous yet catchy songs ever released.

Then when I was able to pick Cry Me a River, I got into a heated debate because I think it is a good song. To be honest, I think it is an amazing pop song with amazing production and a real emotional pull to it. My theory is this: the best pop music over the last ten years (yes, including JT and Desinty's Child/Beyonce) will be the music that I'll be listening to on AM stations when I'm in a nursing home. Let's face it, there was a lot of shit pop music released in the 60's and 70's but there is a reason why we hear the Supremes and not Bobby Goldsboro when we're hanging out with our parents. Great pop songs are transcendent of music genre and age, they are just great. I doubt I'll be hearing Keisha in twenty years but I know I'll be hearing Justin Timberlake and that is because of one reason, the songs are great. Even bloody Pitchfork agrees with me (it's number 11).

Is it wrong to appreciate music even though it's terribly uncool to like it? I don't think so (and Claire, if you ever read this, I only make fun of you liking Aerosmith but I totally get it even if the video is terrible x).


Best real-fake band 3: The Blues Brothers

The Blues Brothers: When I was a kid I must have watched this film about 100 times after I taped it off the TV. I think I was really into the car chases but what the Blues Brothers band actually gave me was a deep appreciation of Chicago blues (when I was learning to play guitar in my teens I was equally obsessed with blues records as I was with metal ones). Who could not love a band with John Belushi in it? Who could not love the Blues Brothers as they hang out with James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles (John Lee Hooker makes an appearance too). I love this film so much that I'm almost willing to forgive Dan Aykroyd for making a sequel 20 years later which was the cinematic equivalent of digging up your deceased grandmother and asking her to pole dance for you. I said almost.

*Sorry for the shit video, but all the youtube Blues Brothers clips are terrible or copyrighted.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Best real-fake band 2: Crash and the Boys

Crash and the Boys (Scott Pilgrim vs the World): While Scott Pilgrim plays in the middling indie band Sex Bob-omb, there is an infinitely cooler band in the Pilgrim universe, Crash and the Boys. Misanthropic, angry and concise, they are the most brilliant rendering of a narky band I've ever read/seen. With songs such as "I am so sad. I am so very, very sad," "We hate you, please die," and "Last song kills audience," I can't believe that they don't actually exist in the real world and I haven't seen them at some shitty university battle of the bands.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Best real-fake band 1: The Misfits

The Misfits from Jem and the Holograms: Jem and the Holograms are probably more credible than most 80's synth bands because they make no pretense that they are anything other than a cartoon. Jem was actually a woman called Jerrica(!) and if you ever wondered where Hannah Montana came from, it's pretty much the same story line - normal girl by day, international celebrity by night trying to keep her real identity a secret. Except Jerrica transforms to into Jem by using holographic ear rings activated by a super computer called synergy. She runs a record label, a children's charity and the Holograms are made up of here sisters (real and adopted). In Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus puts on a wig and is famous. That is all.

Anyhow, while Jem was all pure and good (adopted sisters and charities - c'mon), their major rival band was the Misfits who were constantly trying to upstage the Holograms. They were awesome for three reasons:
1. They share their name with the real Misfits.
2. They have a song called Welcome to the Jungle, which was either written just before or at the same time as the Guns N' Roses version.
3. Unlike the Holograms, these were not good people. They were shameless fame whores who would do nothing to fuck over any band to get famous. They were also kind of skanky.

Even the theme tune gets better when they turn up in it for five seconds. You may well ask how can a band with a keytar player be better than a band without one? Well, that can only happen in a cartoon about 80's all girl pop bands.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Essential playlists: Zombie attack

The film 28 Days Later had a long lasting impact on my life:
A. It traumatised me in ways I could never imagine;
B. When renting or buying a house, it should be zombie proof; and
C. In case of a zombie apocalypse, make sure you have a bitchin' playlist to compliment your as you fight through hordes of the undead.

I mean seriously, if you're packing a shotgun and mashing zombie brains with a shovel, it is essential that the soundtrack to your bloody rampage is awesome - all killer, no filler. My ipod's zombie apocalypse playlist starts off with Guns N' Roses Welcome to the Jungle and then goes through a who's who of metal and punk to get me in the killing mood - Unsane, Metallica, Slayer, Social Distortion, Fugazi, The Bronx etc... Strangely, it also has the Sugababes on there. Not sure how that happened but it works.

Just remember, they're not people anymore so go for the brain stem and don't forget to charge your ipod.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Laws of music 1: Sting Theory

One of the incontrovertible rules of music is Sting Theory. The theory is that an individual can only be great with the right combination of individuals in a band. Sting is a prime example of this. Sting in the Police - pure awesomeness. Sting solo - pure shite (for the record, Sting has made one amazing solo record - The Soul Cages which is a record about his father's death). Has there ever been a good solo album by one of the Rolling Stones? Was John Lennon's solo career a few peaks surrounding by very low valleys? Has anyone ever listened to a Stephen Malkmus solo album more than once? Led Zeppelin? Puh-lease.

However, this works both ways. For example, Elliott Smith was in the mildly passable Heatmiser but crafted insanely beautiful solo albums. Sure, this doesn't work for every band or singer but I find more times than not, someone works brilliantly in one form but not in another. Oh, and don't mention Frank Black.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Perfect Drug

What I’ve always loved about music is that it can be instantly mood changing. Unlike most art forms, music grips you in a way that is visceral and immediate. If I want to get hyped up, I can put on a few different songs that within seconds will have me throwing devil horns and playing air guitar. If I want to revel in feeling miserable, I know this song will make any bad mood, er infinitely more miserable. And if I want to get sexy... Well, I’ll leave that up to your imagination. Anyhow, turns out I was high on drugs the entire time.

Today I read this article about how the right choice (whihc is subjective, apparently) in music can release dopamine into the body – a substance that “induces the sense of reward that comes from food, psychoactive drugs and money.” This makes so much sense to me because I gain so much well being from listening to music that being without it makes me sad and crotchety and now I know why – I’m just a junkie clamouring for another hit. If you see me on the side of the road looking dishevelled and begging for itunes vouchers*, don’t be surprised.

*If I'm begging for itunes vouchers then I'm really, really desperate....


Saturday, January 8, 2011

I wanna be a...

I was reading this article about how it has been an terrible year for rock bands judging by the Australian charts. Where have all the rockers gone? I think that's the least of our worries when Susan Boyle has two albums in the year's top 10. What does that say about Australia? Either the nation has terrible taste or an epidemic of insomnia has broken out out and this is the only cure.

Reading it made me wistful. I love my sensitive singer-songwriters as much as the next guy but I want my rock stars to destroy hotel rooms and call Blur shite*. That's why I miss the Gallagher brothers than anyone today. Their brawling, boozing, pilling and profanity laden ways are the way rock stars are meant to behave. These guys were born for it and they embraced fame in a way which wasn't ironic or self conscious - they wanted to be stars. I mean the first song on their debut album is called Rock n' roll star (the chorus being their mission statement which is simply "I wanna be a rock n' roll star.") Sure, a lot of it was derivative and it got progressively worse but the music was equal parts rock sneer and glorious anthemic overload. The one time I saw Oasis was at a Livid Festival. From the first chord, I was instantly surrounded by a million British backpackers - we hugged, danced and sang until we were hoarse (Oasis fans seem to be a mobile Barmy Army).

So when Noel left the band last year and went solo and Liam formed Beady Eye, I thought the days of the Gallagher Bros Fighting Show was over. Sure they left after a tremendous fight but it seemed the aggro, rock star posturing of their glory days was over. So I was really glad when I read an article about Liam having a go at Noel at saying he stole the songs on his new solo album from Oasis and he was making music for 50 year olds.

That's more like it. Even apart, these guy's are the real deal. Long may they argue, fight and be the rock stars the world desperately needs.

*Technically, it was Mogwai that called Blur shite but I'm sure Oasis did too. By the way, I don't think Blur are shite, I just like bands with a point of view.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Music fans in the wild: The One-Up-Man

The One-Up-Man: No matter what band, artist or genre, the One-Up-Man has a better story or understanding than you ever possibly could. The One-Up-Man isn't limited to music (they're often in workplaces too) but those indulging in music are paticulalrly irksome. In the 90's, a One-Up-Man would say "Oh Nirvana, I bought Bleach on mail order from Subpop in '89. I can't listen to Nevermind, it's such a sell out." In 2000's, they say stuff like "Oh the National, I saw them when they played Newtown RSL to fifteen people when they were really good." No matter what you talk about, they heard it first, saw it at some exclusive gig back in the day or knew the band members. "Oh the Cure, I knew Robert Smith before he formed the band - he was a nice guy but we lost touch..." Dude, you're 22 - do you have a time machine?


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Golden Years 2: More on Musical Cannibalism

Further thinking on musical cannibalism made me think what is the shittiest type of cannibalism or musical 'reverence'. My thoughts are that there are bands that pay homage to other bands in their music but perhaps the worst form of this is when bands start quoting their own songs. A prime example is alt 90’s group Veruca Salt who had a one hit song called Seether about a girl who was a bit of a bitch (I listened to their debut album a few times recently - still great). When the Salts returned for their second album, Eight Arms to Hold You With, they went all cock rock at a time when it was unacceptable to admit that AC/DC are awesome and they copped a lot of shit for that. Years later bands were seen as revolutionary for shamelessly mining these influences but for the queasy PC police of the 90’s, it was a little much. I guess it was too close to the hair metal decade and everyone ran around yelling “TOO SOON!” Even recording an EP with Steve Albini wasn't enough to save Veruca Salt.

Anyhow, the first single from that album was called Volcano Girls. In the final verse they basically play the lick out of Seether and openly mention it with the lines:
I told you about the Seether before.
You know the one that's neither or nor.
Well here's another clue if you please,
The Seether's Louise.

Now, if you’re the Beatles (who did this in Glass Onion - Paul was the Walrus! Who knew!), I reckon it’s ok to quote yourself but when you’re a one hit wonder riding the grunge wave of the nineties, I think it’s slightly presumptuous. You might say it’s all very well for me to say that now that Veruca Salt have wilted into a shadow of their former glory but even when Volcano Girls was released in 1997 I thought, geez that’s a bit soon isn't it for that kind of malarky isn't it (for the record, I like Volcano Girls too apart from the Seether bit).

Is this the worst type of musical cannibalism? Is it worse to eat someone else's body or worse to eat your own? Some people might call it fun or cheeky but I think it's kind of lazy and tastleless. Whatever the case may be, I really need to read up on the ethics of cannibalism...

[As an interesting appendum to this story, that line about the seether being Louise was about Louise Post, who with Nina Gordon, were the musical force in the band (Nina wrote Seether). Eventually, Louise kicked Nina out of the band so I guess Seether was right about one thing: Louise was probably a bit of a bitch. Or maybe it was Nina. I guess we’ll have to wait for the reformation album with the original line up to find out...]


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

True conversations of music nerds: Breaking the mood

(Nostalgia reigns as Comfortably Numb is blasting through the speakers and Music Nerd hugs his girlfriend gently as they console each other after equally crappy days. Music nerd hugs her tightly and then whispers in her ear)

JH: Prepare yourself for one of the greatest guitar solos of all time.

(mood broken)


Monday, January 3, 2011

True conversations of music nerds: Illegal immigrant music.

DL: So are you going to see many shows this month?

JH: Nah, there's lot's on but I'm not really interested. You?

DL: I'm going to see Sufjan.

JH: Oh man, I can't stand that new album - Age of Adz or whatever.

DL: Really.

JH: The only way I can describe it is imagine you're being smuggled across the Mexican border in a secret compartment hidden beneath some car seats. The people in the car are listening to a good Sufjan album but in your comparment all you can hear is this weird, muffled sufjan'esque noise.

DL: Wow.

JH: Exactly.

DL: Well, I'm hoping I'll like it more after I see him live.

JH: Good luck with that.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Golden years...

Recently I've been thinking about musical cannibalism and how bands totally rip off other bands. Maybe it's because almost every single song on the Pitchfork top 100 sounds like some eighties band but I started having a flashback about the metal bands of my youth, in particular Kingdom Come. Kingdom Come were a metal band widely reviled because they unashamedly ripped off Led Zeppelin riffs.

To give some context, Zep plagiarism was rife at the time and probably resulted in one of the worst songs of all time, Led Clones. Written by Gary Moore and sung by Ozzy, it is a Zep rip off complaining about other Zep rip offs which either makes it a tour de force of irony or just unrelentingly shit. Probably shit now I think about. Anyhow, Kingdom Come were seen as the worst of these (which also included prominent offender Whitesnake because of the lead singer David Coverdale's vocal Robert Plant-isms - irony and outrage followed when Jimmy Page made an album with Coverdale some years later).

This is not, however, the point of this blog entry. In my nostalgia, I decided to look at a Kingdom Come video on youtube - specifically this one. While the music is pretty terrible, what is really awesome is the comments on the song. They are universally along the lines of what an awesome time the eighties were and how modern music sucks. Here's some examples from this song:

- This takes me back to a better time... A time in which I was young, thin, long-haired, and every damn bit as handsome as I thought I was. Girls came easy, gas was cheap, and I ruled the streets in my 440-powered '71 Charger. Funny how you can burn 20 years in a blink... I'd really like to have the girls, hair, and the Charger back. I would gladly trade my current life for that again...

- back in 89 in my friends BMW and lots of beer, playing loud and proud. *yeah*

- I LOVE PLAYING THIS SONG!! I whip out my Les Paul and let my hair FLY!!!

Ahh metalheads - endlessly entertaining but almost every hair metal or glam song has really intense comments of this nature. I was a teenage metal head around this time and I can understand the misty eyed nostalgia - pre-PC times when men were men when they weren't dressed like women. And then Kurt Cobain washed it all away but not in the way I thought. Here's a a lesson on the real reason grunge succeeded (courtesy of Slaughter Up All Night video):

Grunge didn't do shit. The only reason grunge even stuck was cuz o timing. Motley Crue had fired Vince Neil. C.C. Deville left the Poison, Ratt, Europe, Stryper all Broke-Up early into 1992. Had that not happened Grunge would not even be remembered 2day. 1989 Bleach album NO SALES cuz Glam was still the most requested on radio in 1989. But 2 years later, many glam bands breakup & nerdvana release their piece of shit so-called album nevermind with virtually no competition.

Not quite how I remember it but then again C.C. Deville leaving Poison really was one of those pivotal moments in music history. So, if you've got some time, I recommend going for a dig around some old glam youtube videos and read the comments - it'll take you back to a more beautiful, simpler and hairier time...


Music fans in the wild: The "I like a bit of everything" Fan

"I like a bit of everything": Anyone who says they like a bit of everything are not music fans, they are not smart and it’s probably an effort for them to remember to breathe. You like a bit of everything huh? So once you’ve finished listening to Celine Dion, you put on your favourite Napalm Death track while rifling through your itunes for that Mariachi band cover of Hotel California - thought not. You say you love to hum whatever comes on the radio. Yeah, what if the radio started playing songs of propaganda from Nazi Germany? Would you hum along? Let’s face it, you’re not a music fan but you’re probably responsible for the rise of the Third Reich.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Music fans in the wild: The Aficionado

The Aficionado: The Aficionado can only listen to one type of music to the expense of all other genres. Generally, they like classical, jazz or death metal and all other music is mere noise to their refined ears. To call these unimaginative dullards music fans is kind of like calling a kitten a lion of the Serengeti. They often can’t even recognise that the music they so adore had it’s roots in other music forms. For example, blues birthed rock which added distortion that became metal and then some losers started screaming about their mother not loving them/and or satan and you have death metal. A lot of death metal fans cannot accept this and write thing in music forums like “YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND THE REAL METAL!” (but normally it’s in some weird broken English). Jazz fans are often the worst and most pretentious of the Aficionado group as they can’t admit that the music they love is shit.