Friday, August 29, 2008

The Road to Hell

Okay, if you’re keeping score at home, you should already know that this next series of Friday posts is about guilty pleasures, tunes that you would be embarrassed that anyone close to you would find out you like.

To tell you the truth, I could give an entire bowl of fuck about what anyone thinks about the music I like. See, my earliest memories were listening to music. Music, has therefore, always been a part of my life, whether it be good or bad. So I’m going to list music that I believe would be perceived as guilty pleasures by the majority of readers.

Crappy 70s pop including tons of one-hit wonders.

There was a lot of really great music coming out in the 70s. Most of what is considered “Great 70s Music” by the masses is still heard today in the form of the Classic Rock radio stations. What I consider really great, though, are the one hit wonders. I dig Albert Hammond’s (yes, Strokes fans, it’s Jr’s daddy) “It Never Rains in California”, “Driver’s Seat” by Sniff N’ The Tears, and a lot of disco. Yes, I said it; DISCO. I played it off by scribbling AC/DC and Blue Oyster Cult onto my Trapper/Keeper, but deep down inside, I still was into things like “I Love the Nightlife” by Alicia Bridges. My favorite disco tunes? “Boogie Nights” by Heatwave and “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by Taste of Honey.

The most amazing thing I found was this video of Taste of Honey. In the 70s, there was no MTV. I mostly learned of these artists listening to the radio daily. I could tell that there were women singing on this song, but I kind of figured that it was a Supremes type set up, where there were several female singers backed by a band. Yeah, I know it was pretty stereotypical of me. I apologize, but I was a product of the white honkey recording establishment. I would have never thought that the singer was also playing such a killer bassline. This is as amazing as watching Stevie Ray Vaughn play guitar. Seriously.

Crappy 80s pop including tons of New Wave bands

If I learned anything about 70s music is how much disco and pop was shunned. Shame on those people for not seeing the glory in such bad music. I truly believe that my peers in the 80s subconsciously decided that when it was our time, we would embrace the music of our generation.

For the most part, I was into metal in the 80s. I ran the gamut from hair metal to the heavy stuff. I had “Kill ‘Em All” by Metallica when it came out. I didn’t discover them later and then backtrack. I was there in the beginning, bitches! I fronted with the whole metal posture. But secretly, I was also really into Cyndi Lauper and Culture Club, thanks to an ultra-cool and fashion trend-setting younger sister.

So yeah, I walked around saying Boy George was a fag, and I’m sorry. That dude had some great tunes:

Not that the metal was really any better. Yes, Metallica was my favorite band for the longest time. But when that first Poison record came out, I was all over it. Later, I would find out that C.C. Deville had completely ripped off Rick Nielsen’s (Cheap Trick) guitar solo in “California Man”, but then, that was a song by Jeff Lynne’s earlier band, The Move, so I’m not sure who’s ripping off who anymore.

But the song, “Cry Tough” still remains a favorite. What an anthem!

Unfortunately, pop music got really shitty in the 90s. There were some great hits, to be sure, but once the Mouseketeers got recording contracts, that whole scene went into the shitter for me.

I liked punk rock as well, during my formative years. That, combined with my love of metal, evolved with the Seattle scene. I found a friend in college that was a key influence on me, and I began ordering everything with a Sub Pop label on it. Of course, Nirvana came off this label, and once again, I was into them way before a lot of people ever sniffed a flannel shirt after a hard night out at your local punk rock club. While Nirvana, Soundgarden and The Fluid all moved on to major labels, there were so many bands that didn’t. So yeah, I got the Cat Butt EP and the Blood Circus EP. I got every Supersuckers release from Sub Pop. While some people have long since disowned grunge, it will forever keep its place in my unbathed, drunken heart.

So there you have it, folks. My Little Secret (thank you, Afghan Whigs).

Enjoy your weekend, and don’t forget to pick up a bottle or two of Goose Island Harvest Ale.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Acoustically Yours

Putting together an acoustic version of a song is like a lot of things. What I mean is, it's hard to do well, but when it is done well, it seems effortless and as natural as breathing; conversely, it is easy to do badly, and when that happens... well, it's not pretty. So let's take a look at some acoustic arrangements, shall we? And just to be clear, I am talking about artists re-arranging their own work here; covers are a different beast altogether. Also for clarity's sake, let me say up front that these are all artists and songs that I truly enjoy.

Of course, 'done well' and 'done badly' are extremely subjective, so I will elaborate my views on the subject as we go on. The first thing you have to look at is whether the song in and of itself lends itself to an acoustic arrangement. One can, of course, play anything on an acoustic guitar that can be played on an electric. But that doesn't mean one should. Let's take a look at this train wreck as an example:

INXS :: Need You Tonight

This illustrates what is, in my opinion, the single biggest hurdle of making a good acoustic arrangement; the fact that despite being extremely closely related, acoustic instruments are different from their electric counterparts. You cannot play a song the same way and get the same results, nor should you try. They made no effort to take the different sounds they were getting and use them to make the song more interesting. With, I think, awful results.

The Cure :: Friday I'm In Love

This is better, but still no great shakes. The song lends itself fine, but they didn't really do anything fun or new or interesting with it, and it is so tightly engineered that the feeling of spontaneity and intimacy that I think makes acoustic music so enticing has been stifled to the point of non-existence. It's not bad... it's just not any different from the album release version, so why bother?

The Eagles :: Hotel California

This is, I think a good arrangement. The song works, the instruments are used to good effect, feels vibrant and immediate, certainly. But there is no intimacy whatsoever. I mean, part of it isn't their fault- there are 97 guys on stage, which makes it hard, but even taking that into account, it feels very... closed. There is no insight into the song, or how The Eagles feel about the song to be had here. It's a great rendition, but it has no soul.

Sting :: Every Breath You Take

This works on all the technical fronts, and here we have some intimacy (of a sort). There is clearly a lot of connection and feeling going on between the musicians, but the audience feels excluded to me. Like kids with their faces pressed up against a window, watching the neighbors' television. Engaged, but not involved. Some of you may say that I am just being nit-picky, and I can see that, but I stand by my opinion. It's a great performance, but a little cold.

Tommy Tutone :: 867-5309 / Jenny

Here's another example of what I mean about Sting's performance; Tommy Tutone is fantastic in this clip, but totally untouchable. He has perfect 'rock star remove' here, aloof from the audience, holding back from letting any real emotion or meaning slip out into the music. And it's only barely apparent, because the rest of it works so well. That is, except for the guy in the back who's off key...

Colin Hay :: Overkill

This is the cream of the crop. If you are still with me, Gentle Readers, then you are in for a treat. Not only is this a beautifully stripped down and wonderfully executed arrangement, Colin Hay breaks all the barriers. I feel like he's in my living room, and like I can really see what he was thinking and feeling when it was written twenty-five years ago. It's immediate, intimate, and imperfect in a way that only accentuates what a great song it is.

Now that is a feat worth listening to.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Har Mar, not just another strip mall

The first time I saw Har Mar Superstar live was at Grand Old Day, which is St. Paul’s annual kick off to summer. The day was slightly overcast and the second this sex machine took the stage the sky opened up and let its tears of pure joy out upon us. It was just the universe’s way of telling us that an amazing show was about to happen.

Har Mar has the looks of Ron Jeremy sprinkled with Tiny Tim and the voice of a young Michael Jackson laced with some Stevie Wonder. Along with that visual, add to it the fact that he routinely performs in spandex and/or just his tighty whities. The second time I saw him live he pranced around stage in his full pale glory with a dollar bill stuck to his sweet sweaty chest.

His stage show isn’t all there is to talk about though. The man behind Har Mar, Sean Tillman, is an extremely talented musician who writes his own music and also fronts the band Sean Na Na. It’s always very refreshing to find a musician who has the complete package: a great stage show, a great voice and great writing skills. He also does a great cover of Alone Again Naturally on his album The Handler.

Jimmy Kimmel Live performance of Power Lunch and Sir Duke

Body Request video

Monday, August 25, 2008

Baby come back. You can blame it all on me.

Lately I've been lamenting the lack of really good new bands to my husband. It seems new bands these days are either some cheap derivation, a marketing scheme, or a desperate attempt to pass "performers" off as musicians. (Yeah, it sounds like I'm coming from old fart land. Actually, I'm not yet 30, so that isn't it. I think I know what it is. Oh yeah. GOOD TASTE. Take THAT, Vampire Weak-end. I'm sorry, what was that? Why yes, I AM a music snob. And no, I don't mind if you have a go at my expense. I thrive on conflict and whiskey.)

It isn't too much to ask, is it? Some decent new bands? Yes? It IS too much to ask? FUCK.

Well, in a related development, I've decided to post a list of the bands that I would love to see reunite. Some members might be dead, yes, but this is my dream and you can't crush it! Seriously though, this is a list of bands that were truly unique and are no longer creating music. And it makes my soul weep.

I'm sure there will be some of you to take issue with my choices. I planned it that way. So feel to hold back and not tell me how you feel in the comment section.

Soul Coughing.

In a rare reverse reveal, I'm giving you my number one choice for band that I would most love to see reunite. I'm giving them more than just a listing-type shout out because these guys were amazing. They took several distinct genres and created a sound that just wasn't around before them. I've seen them described as "slacker jazz," but seriously, come the fuck on. They are part funk, part hip hop, part spoken word, part jazz, part rock, and all awesome.

Here is a hokey video with the lyrics of the song. Just listen, don't judge.

Mr. Bitterness

True Dreams of Wichita

Ok, so here is the bulk of my list for "Baby Come Back."

Pink Floyd
Stone Temple Pilots
Black Flag
Acid Bath
The Kinks
The Smiths
Talking Heads
King Crimson
Rage Against the Machine
Dead Kennedys
Luscious Jackson
Faith No More
The Fugees
10,000 Maniacs
Black Sabbath (with Dio, please)
Guns N Roses
Mazzy Star
Deadboy and the Elephant Man

You can clearly see my musical leanings.

And then, of course, my number two choice for reuniting has to be Uncle Tupelo. I pretty much "became a woman" listening to these guys. They combined the best parts of my Southern country upbringing with some much needed rock sans the country pop shite. I love my alt country, and UT embodied the best of it. Here are a couple of tastes of UT, for you unfamiliars.


Atomic Power

And just because I'm that much of a dork, here is Uncle Tupelo's last show, last song: A rocking cover of Gimme Three Steps with The Bottle Rockets. Historic.

AND because he has a pretty awesome sense of humor, here's Jeff Tweedy talking about a run-in he had with Jay Farrar while in Mexico after UT broke up.

I love him.

Kick Your Ass to Heaven with Rock and Roll Tonight

When I lived in Germany, I never saw the Scorpions, but the thing about rock and roll that you will never understand if you are American is the nationalism involved in rock and roll. It seems that no matter what country you’re from, you love your nation’s artists more. The USA and the UK seem to be the exception. I have never met anyone from these countries who point out the artist’s country of origin, unless it’s sort of unique. “Oh, they’re from Sweden.” Canadians are more likely to point out artists that are from Canada, and Germans seem to be proud of their countrymen who make it onto a big stage as well.

I can say this because I was actually at The Metal Hammer Fest in 1985, headlined by Venom and Metallica. If you ever see the “Cliff ‘Em All” video that Metallica put out in the late 80s, there is footage of that same festival in there. Warlock, who at the time only had 2 albums out, before Doro and the boys actually had a video on MTV, played in the middle of the day, and let me tell you, the crowd went apeshit. They were the only German band on the bill, and I’d say they had as vocal of a crowd as Metallica or Venom.

Which brings me to the Scorpions. My main focus on the Scorpions is the four album run starting with Love Drive and ending with Love at First Sting. There is actually a fifth album, World Wide Live which is sort of a greatest hits of these four albums, recorded live. I remember actually making a tape of this album and playing it at the Lindsey Air Station post office where I held a summer job in Germany, and either Anne Park or Deena Limbaugh regretting the fact that it was a live album, because the quality of the studio versions was so much better. I still don’t believe I’ve picked my jaw off the floor from that comment. I never heard anything off other previous albums, and the stuff after World Wide Live was never of any interest to me, for some reason, since I was still into metal, but that "Winds of Change" Gorky Park song was so lame to me. I don't want to hear Klaus Meine talking about political change. I want him talking about "loving you Sunday morning."

While the Scorpions are German, they were and probably still are, HUGE, in the USA. The only time I was able to actually appreciate this was during a trip back to the U.S. between the years I lived in Germany. Love at First Sting had just come out, and the video for “Still Loving You” was all over MTV. The video featured footage of them live in California, and showed people walking to the concert at the beginning of the video. I don’t know if it was just the hot summer, and missing the convenience the U.S. had to offer, but it just felt so American. They didn’t come off as a German band at all.

The other thing I want to point out is the art work. From all the issues of Hit Parader and Circus magazine I read back in the day, I believe drummer, Herman Rarebell (pronounced Rahr-uh-bell in his native country, not Rare Bell like we do here in the States), was the dirty-minded one in the group. He would come up with the naughty lyrics, and I’m pretty sure he had his hand in designing the album covers as well. So, this is your warning that this post may not be suitable for work (NSFW).

Here are my notes on the records, as I remember them:

Love Drive

Man, I forgot how great the first side of this album is. Actually, looking at the song list, I remember everything except the three middle songs. “Loving You Sunday Morning” is your typical Scorpions mainstream song. It could have been played on Top 40 radio. “Another Piece of Meat” is kind of a throwaway, but is kind of funny, speedy, and rocking all at once. And while the title track is excellent as is the rocker ballad, “Holiday”, “Always Somewhere” intrigues me the most on this album. If you played this song back-to-back with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”, you would swear the Scorpions ripped it off. In fact, I would love to hear some classic rock bar band make a medley of the two songs just to watch people’s confused reactions. Wacky, naughty album cover. Is that supposed to be gum, or flesh that the guy has on his hand?

Animal Magnetism

Overall, I never really cared for this album. There were two songs that stick out. “Falling in Love” which is a mid-tempo, unforgettable rocker and “The Zoo” which a lot of people liked, but was actually kind of boring to me. It’s too long and too plodding for my tastes. However, the most interesting (and fucked up) thing about this album is the cover art, and not just the front of the album. You’ve got a dude holding a beer, and a woman “assuming the position” as well as a Doberman there. I can’t find the original German back cover online anywhere, and I would have taken a photo of the cover had I not given this up in the Great Vinyl Clearout of 1998 when I was making room for my future wife. The American version had the same photo on the back, with the track listing. The German version had the track listing but the dog’s head was extended so that it was out of view, as if the dog was “taking care” of his master. It appears just to be a doctored photo of the original. I know that I wouldn't want a Doberman that close to my John-Thomas.


Every tune on this album is solid. Even the grunge-like “China White” – although grunge had not been invented yet, there was still Sabbath, and there may or may not have been an influence here. You have the rocker ballad, “No One Like You” and the straight up party rocker “Can’t Live Without You” which I’m sure whipped many a crowd into a frenzy. When I first heard the title track in 8th grade, via an American Forces Network commercial showing some kind of tank launching a rocket (remember, this is Germany), I thought to myself, “This is the heaviest rock I’ve ever heard!” I also dig "Now" and "Dynamite" off this album.

Love at First Sting

An even stronger outing than Blackout, I think the Scorpions really hit the mainstream with this one. All the tunes are great, and they scored big with “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, “Big City Nights” and the rocker ballad, “Still Loving You.” My favorites are “I’m Leaving You” (for the great riff after the chorus) and “Coming Home” which starts out like a ballad and then rocks out with its cock out the rest of the way.

You would think that German rock would deserve a good German beer, but quite honestly, I think just as many Americans love the Scorpions as Germans. Therefore, I am recommending Boulevard’s Lunar Ale, which is an American version of a Dunkel Weizen. Enjoy!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Guilty Pleasures (Emphasis on the Pleasure!)

I wrote this post twice.

The first time, I talked about some of the music I have in my collection that I am sort of ashamed that I own. (You know what I mean; I know you all have Wham! and Terrence Trent d'Arby in your iTunes. Unchecked so they don't come up in rotation, maybe, but there nonetheless...) But I thought about it some more, and I decided that I wasn't really doing the theme justice, that I was being too narrow. Those tracks, while certainly fulfilling the 'guilty' part of the theme, did not embrace its 'pleasure' aspect.

In order to rectify that, Gentle Readers, I give you some music that I am absolutely, an-apologetically enamored with, no matter how many times I get pointed and laughed at for it.

Spinal Tap :: Big Bottoms

I don't know how one can not love this, or at the very least appreciate how magnificently perfect the parody of every rock band that plays to crowds of teenage boys is, but apparently there are those that do not. It's a mystery to me. If you have never seen this film, you must. And then watch the commentary; they do it in character, as if they are sitting around watching the final cut of the film, and it's like a whole second movie.

Pat Boone :: Crazy Train

That's right, Pat Boone. The same Pat Boone who started recording in the 50's and who made his career on covers of R&B hits intended for a mainstream (which at the time meant 'white') audience. The same man who was so devout that he refused a movie role alongside sex symbol Marilyn Monroe because he didn't want to compromise his standards. The man who, apparently, has developed a killer sense of humor.

Rowlf the Dog :: I Never Harmed an Onion

Some have said that a grown man should not, perhaps, have silly songs by muppets in his music collection. They would be wrong, and unable to appreciate the simple brilliance of Jim Henson.

M.C. Hawking :: Big Bizang

This, of all my music, has gotten the most comments along the lines of, 'What the fuck are you listening to?!?' My answer is always the same: hardcore science rap as if it were done by Stephen Hawking, bitches!

White and Nerdy :: Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al is (and some of you will find this ridiculous) kind of a hero of mine. I mean, such comedy! Such wit! Such talent! I went to see him live, once, and while it's true that the only other adults there were parents with their pre-teen children, it is also true that it is one of the best live shows that I have ever seen, hands down. The man is a national treasure, I say, and anyone who disagrees can face me at dawn with pistols in hand!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

wave your hooks in the air

we know hardcore. we know grungecore. we can accept that these words are mashups of some musical style and "core" - indicating that it's, oh, got heart? really determined? kinda stupid? one of those.
basically, it was something like this, with some grinding angry punk in the background:

so, with all that as background, perhaps you've outgrown other cores. or maybe you're so young that the majority of your exposure to glen danzig has been via aqua teen hunger force. (myself, i prefer to think that if that's the case, you're too young to read. but i'm starting to realize that the whippersnappers are now, like, old enough to win 8 gold medals in the olympics. for f's sake, you guys, michael phelps was born in 1985!) ahem. anyway. perhaps as you've started your musical evolution, you've mused about your place in the world: i'm a hip kind of fella or lady. i like pirates. i like music. and i like to shake my booty. in short, you've asked yourself... what about piratecore?
this is all, of course, assuming that you're like me.
maybe one day you were bored at work, and you put the words "pirate hip-hop party" into google.
you clicked around.
a new musical obsession was born, and his name was captain dan & the scurvy crew.

now, i won't even begin to claim that it's mature. but all of my musical selections needn't be for the tennis-and-cocktails crowd. in fact, few to none of my selections are for the tennis-and-cocktails crowd because such a crowd is by and large comprised of douches.
it is, however, smart, funny, wicked entertaining and above all, unlike anything else i've ever listened to. i mean, really, anyone who can rap about "cause a fuss with my blunderbuss" has got my heart in a serious way.
add to the wit a pretty decent level of skill, and you've got something i can only call "a winner."
you can download the full album here. don't be a whiner, pony up a few bucks. because seriously, having this much piratecore in your life is totally worth it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Open letters to bands/artists that make me wish I was never born

Dear Creed,

You are, and always will be, the band I love to hate the most. Ever. You remind me that human beings make horrible choices in life. One of them being the creation of this band, and another being actually liking your music. You had a pompous shit-show for a lead singer who insisted on over enunciating every lyric that flew out of his mouth. Oh yeah, and he likes to beat up on his wife. I thank whatever power it was that broke you up. Unfortunately, your music lives on.

Dear Nickelback,

You rank right up there with Creed, and that’s not a good thing. Your soft rock that you try to pass off as real rock is a shame, and your lead singer’s voice sounds like he just ate gravel for breakfast. He also makes me wish I was rolling Hellen Keller style. I’m not sure why so many people find your band appealing, but hopefully it doesn’t last too long.

Dear Shaggy and/or Sean Paul (they are basically the same person),

Stop pretending you are from the Carribean and stop singing in a made-up cartoon voices. Your (Sean Paul) music makes young girls have seizures, true story, and you are a nuisance to the music world.

Dear Akon,

I don’t like it when I’m listening to a song and think to myself, “Did this guy lose his nuts somewhere?” I’m not digging your nasally woman voice and it’s not cool that you recreate sexual acts with 14-year-olds on stage.

None of you deserve the punishment of having to watch videos of these artists on this blog, so instead I will leave you with an instant classic courtesy of The Soup. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hope Everyone Had a Vampire Weekend

Being a part of this blog has made me realize that even though I know about more music than the average person, I am falling behind on all the newer good music coming out these days. It's overwhelming to me, actually. You've got myspace, where anyone can put songs of their band up, and that's great, but how much crap do you have to go through just to find the good stuff? Truly, it's unfair of me to say "crap" because a lot of the stuff I find on Myspace is quite decent, or at least good enough for the girls I go with.

I've had a subscription to Rolling Stone since around 1987. While they are frustrating at times (Kings of Leon gets a mention it seems, every other month, but my favorites, The Drive-By Truckers, where are they? They truly deserve a cover, even though they're not pretty, but then, when was rock and roll ever pretty?), I am able to keep up on some popular stuff, but by no means get the goods on stuff that is causing a buzz.

A couple of weekends ago, I was at my local library. For a town of 20,000 people, we have an AWESOME A/V department in our library. Passing by the "new" section, I saw the Vampire Weekend CD. I grabbed it, figuring I really knew nothing about the band, save perhaps, a proper mention in Rolling Stone, or somewhere on the web.

I found it quirky at first. Were these guys from England, or are they Ivy League rich kids turning out rock and roll? I still have not investigated this, other than a quick review of the liner notes, and I'm still not sure. Not sure I want to kill the mystery, although it's all right if you do so in the comments section.

Overall, I'd probably give this debut 3/5 stars, but I haven't listened to it all the way through. On first listen, I probably would have told you that "Walcott" was my favorite song. Typical melody, with really snotty lyrics about Cape Cod. I dig that the singers voice is very pleasant, and when he claims that "The Bottleneck is a shit-show", it's way more powerful than when some metal or punk dude is screaming "fuck".
Then I found the "Oxford Comma" video:

The song itself is pretty great. Dig the line, "Why would you lie about how much coal you have?" What does that mean? I don't know, but it sticks with me everywhere I go.
"A Punk" is pretty awesome as well:

The last tune I'm going to mention is the closer, "The Kids Don't Have a Chance." I love the keyboard in this one. This sort of sounds like it was influenced by Elvis Costello.

Maybe I'm behind on discussing these guys. My friend, Tommy Tune, states that the blogosphere has already hyped these guys up and brought them down. Oh well, I guess I'm not hip. Guess I'll go cower in a corner somewhere.

Fuck that. I never said I was cool, I just know what good music sounds like, and a lot of these tunes are simple, but fantastic. It's been a while since I've heard 50's-styled, clean guitar work. It's a pleasant surprise.

I definitely recommend this album, a cool evening, and a six pack of Three Floyd's Gumball Head Wheat.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Hopefully, you all enjoyed our first go-round of Friday themes. Sadly, we're done with party music, so it's time for a new Friday theme. This time it's... guilty pleasures. That's right, the stuff you listen to when no one's around, the stuff you pretend you hate but secretly love. The music that, when your friend finds it on your iPod, you're all redfaced and "I have no idea how that got there. My wife must have put it there!"

Since I believe in leading by example, I shall go first. All of these will actually be found on my hard drive, and in some cases, on my iPod. Heeeeeere we go.

Queensr├┐che: Sadly, they're probably best known for the soul-suckingly horrendous "Silent Lucidity," off of their "Empire" album. While the bizarre, fascist/political intrigue/hitman concept album Operation: Mindcrime is far from a classic (in fact, it's pretty terrible), when I was 14? That shit blew my mind. So... um... I still, you know, know all the lyrics. I've also been known to listen to it at alarmingly loud volumes in my car, and even rock out a little, despite it's gratuitous cheesetasticness. Ahem.

Christina Aguilera: I'm not proud of it, OK? She freaks me out, and she might actually be a cyborg. But damn if she doesn't have a serious voice on her. There's really only one song that I like, mainly because of the background music and in it. Here's an excellent live version of "Ain't No Other Man":

Mandy Moore: I'm killing myself here, aren't I? Fuck it, that's the point. OK, look: Mandy Moore is beautiful, and she's actually an excellent actor. She's also got a great voice, which I really realized in this song, "Umbrella," which is actually a (gulp!) Rihanna cover. The original kind of blows, but this version - give it a listen before you judge, you pricks:

Megadeth: There was a time when Megadeth fuckin' rawked.. I actually had a giant Megadeth patch on my denim jacket when I was 13 (that my (incredibly patient) mom sewed on for me, of course). I thought that they and Metallica were the coolest bands on the planet. I still have great affection for Dave Mustaine's weird, whiny voice. Here's "Holy Wars," featuring them in all their shirtless, tight-pantsed, metal glory. I've been known to throw my head around while listening to this... and perhaps toss up a goat horn or two.

Boston: Oh, fuck me. This is probably the reason fucking Itunes keeps recommending shitty classic rock albums to me. Look, it's not out of some sense of regional appreciation - I don't care that their name is Boston. I'm not that much of a local fanboy. I just... I just dig 'em. And not just "More Than a Feeling" and "Peace of Mind," either. I genuinely and unironically listen to the entire eponymous album (and sing at the top of my lungs. I get a lot of weird looks when I'm in the car). I can't help it. I'm a moth and Brad Delp is my flame. Here's what's easily the best track, "Let Me Take You Home Tonight," from a time when calling women "mama" wasn't weird or creepy at all.

Nuclear Assault: Speaking of throwin' up a goat... the worst of old-school speed metal. Seriously. They're awful. Up there with Testament, and yet... and yet, a few months ago I found myself trying to track down their old albums. God forgive me. Here's "Critical Mass," their sad effort to be environmentally conscious. Hey, at least I didn't pick "Hang the Pope."

I'd say I've shamed myself enough for one day... or lifetime.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Good Man is Hard to Find: FATWAPCOOTER and The Ladies of Jazz

Billie Holiday was the first jazz singer I ever heard, and at 13, it was electrifying. Her facile voice, her emotive delivery, and the way she makes it sound so easy all intoxicated me. She is the reason I sing jazz. She never had an easy road, and you can hear her every inflection filled with memory and passion.

If this song doesn't give you goosebumps, you've never been in love and I despair for you. Find love, find it quick, and when you do, listen to Billie.

Billie Holiday, My Man

Nina Simone is that raw, fierce, unbridled energy that comes from having your heart broken one too many times and deciding to scream about it rather than curl up and hide. She puts herself into her music. She sings her life.

Nina Simone, My Man's Gone Now

Bessie Smith is also known as The Empress of Blues. She paved the way for female jazz and blues singers alike, and is still heralded for her incredibly unique voice and forceful presentation. Fucking love her.

Bessie Smith, A Good Man is Hard to Find

Lena Horne has a beautifully pure and technically perfect voice. She embodies the Old Hollywood musical ideal; elegant perfomance style, a tightly controlled vibrato, and a range that could make buffaloes weep with envy.

Lena Horne, Stormy Weather

Peggy Lee is best known for Fever, and with good reason. Damn can that woman make sex with her voice! But here she is, with her husband, guitarist Dave Barbour, making nice and singing a beautiful love song. If you want to create a romantic atmosphere, light some candles, grab your lover, and sway to this song for a little.

Peggy Lee, I Only Have Eyes for You

Ah. The best for last. The First Lady of Song. The woman that I wish I could be. Ella. Ella Ella Ella. She is the smoothest of silk. She makes two octave runs sounds like playschool. She puts the Scat Man to shame. She is the biggest influence in my musical life, and I hope I can meet her in the great whatever one day.
I can't choose just one for her. I don't want to have to.

Ella Fitzgerald, Cry Me A River

Now do yourself a solid and listen to how it should be sung. (Scarlett Johanson needs to stick with being a live pin-up girl and step away from the Summertime.)
Ella Fitzgerald, Summertime

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Greetings and Salutations

Good morning, Gentle Readers...

I thought about how to introduce myself to you and to my fellow writers (whom, except for Kelsi, I have just 'met', if that is the right word for beginning a collaboration with people I have never spoken to- but that is not really a discussion for this venue...), and I decided that the best way would be to take a look at my 'Most Played' playlist and go from there. So I started with the top 25, and after I limited the artists that appeared in the list more than once to a single representative piece I am left with thirteen songs with which to begin to present myself.

Million Miles by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, of course, is classic, and I have always enjoyed his music. When Time Out of Mind came out, though, I was blown away. This was a new Bob Dylan... a lot more country-bluesy, a lot more just plain fun. The lyrics remain his unique mix of poetry and half nonsense, and this whole album just rocks. This song also encapsulates one of my favorite musical themes: that of loneliness. I am sure that will be apparent as you work your way down the list...

Boogie On The Beach by The Red Elvises

Russian surfer guitar rock? Yes. Yes, yes, yes. I found these guys because of the movie Six String Samurai. You should check that out, too...

I Never Cared For You by Willie Nelson

Another classic performer. I am not sure I even have the vocabulary to sing Willie's praises. In the little bit of space I am allotting myself here; I see a much more detailed posting in the future.

Thirteen by Johnny Cash

If I had to pick a single favorite artist, it would be Johnny Cash. His music is smart, sometimes funny, and so diverse. How can you not love a man who Glen Danzig writes songs for?

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction by Cat Power

One of my other soft spots, musically, is a good cover. Not a note-for-note rendition with no imagination; I mean a real cover, a re-interpretation of the original. This song is just that.

Barricades and Brickwalls by Kasey Chambers

This is the opposite of loneliness; this is, 'You're mine and I am going to do whatever it takes to have you.' I like that, too. Kasey Chambers, though, I am ambivalent about. Half of her music is kick ass, like this, and I love it. The other half is whiney and just. so. tired. At least, to me. Your results may vary.

Paper Kitten Nightmare by Margot & The Nuclear So and So's

This is one of my more recent favorites. The chorus kills me every time.

Long Way Down (Look What the Cat Drug In) by Michael Penn

Michael Penn is another of my all-time favorites. His lyrics are smart and subtle and even scathing at times, and full of depth. This particular one, as you might imagine, is probably my favorite of his. It is heart-wrenching in that way that it must be apparent to you by now that I really like. (Is that sentence really awkward or what?)

Whisper by Slovo
Audio Link to Whisper
I find this one to be heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Maybe that makes me soft. But what can I say, it speaks to me...

I'm the Only Hell My Mamma Ever Raised by Johnny Paycheck

Along with some of Johnny Cash's stuff and a lot of David Allen Coe's, this Johnny Paycheck song represents a certain sub-genre of country music that I like to think of as Redneck Thug. It's pure genius.

Come As You Are by The King

For someone like me who likes a good cover, this is the motherlode. An Elvis impersonator covering Nirvana's Come as You Are as if Elvis had it re-arranged for himself. It is mind-blowingly good. And he has a whole album of stuff like this...

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Apocalyptica

Another fantastic cover, if you can call such a radical treatment a cover. Who would have thought that Metallica would be so well served by a cello quartet?

About You by Bugs

This is the first electronica that I discovered I liked. I stumbled across it by accident, and fell in love with it, for which I am very grateful. It really opened a lot of doors for me, musically speaking.

And that's the list! I hope that you found some things that you like, and that you will be back for more...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I love this man

Do you love soul music with a modern and hip twist? Jamie Lidell is a hot, hot, hot English nerd and I am madly in love with him. You probably recognize his song “A Little Bit More” from American Target commercials. But I’m telling you, the rest of his stuff is head and shoulders above that sold-out song.

I just saw Jamie Lidell live at Lollapalooza and it only solidified the fact that I have a major crush on him in more ways than one. At one point I looked over at my friend and she had her shirt up exposing her...covered breasts. My other friend even entertained the thought of tossing her panties on stage. This guy can sing from the depths of his soul, beatbox and look good in a cropped tuxedo jacket, a cummerbund and blue dress pants. A nice touch to his newest album, Jim, in the liner he writes stories behind each song instead of the actual lyrics. "All I Wanna Do" from the same album is gut wrenching and tear-worthy. Just revel in his beautiful music for yourself.

Mulitply from the Multiply album

Another Day from the Jim album

Hurricane from the Jim album

Monday, August 11, 2008

Quick Cuts: Black Mountain - "Angel"

I'm definitely going to have to check out more of these guys:

Best enjoyed with Salvator Doppelbock.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New additions

Hey kids,

A bit of site news: Please join us in welcoming the newest writer for TMITM, The Ursine Calamity, aka Bear. Bear blogs (and eloquently so) over at The Ursine Calamity, and will be a regular contributor around these parts. So please, raise your glasses, tip your hats, whatever it is you do.

Welcome aboard.

Now playing: The Kills - Dead Road 7
via FoxyTunes

Friday, August 8, 2008

I'm Certainly Not Stoned

Tomorrow marks the 13-year anniversary of when Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead died, and put an end to the aimless travel of stinky, tie-dye making hippies until they discovered Phish. Eh, maybe I’m just jealous. Right.

I haven’t seen it here yet, but I don’t really think many of the writers here are “jam band” fans. I dunno, maybe Kelsi is a moe. fan, but I doubt it.

I think you either love jam bands or hate them. Maybe you could like a jam band for their records but totally hate the noodling they do during a live show. I mean, I dig that song “Off the Record” by My Morning Jacket (did they totally rip off the riff from "Hawaii Five-O" on that, or what?), but if they went into a prolonged jam at the end of the song, sort of like they do on the studio recording, I’d be going to the bathroom or getting another beer.

Let’s face it folks, masturbation is an act preferably performed alone. It shouldn’t be done in front of a crowd of people, and that’s what “noodling” or jamming is.

“I got a recording of the Dead from their ’74 tour at the Fillmore East. Jerry did a 14-minute guitar solo in the middle of ‘Ripple’!” Whoo-wee! Sign me up for that suckfest!

I’m not alone in my feelings about the Dead. So let’s have a party with somewhat of a theme of celebrating Jerry Garcia’s life through my eyes with the understanding that the real reason we’re celebrating is to drink cold beverages and get shitty. Here's a muxtape to go along with the session.

The Coolies – “Talkin’ Bout Doug”

The first song of the album Doug that takes a satirical look at the 1970’s genre referred to as "the rock opera." I totally recommend this album for a couple of listens. It's never gonna be in your Top 5, but the concept is great, and the rip-off of the Who in "Cookbook" is fabulous. A very compelling, dark and hilarious story of Doug the street punk who steals a crack recipe from a cross-dresser and goes from rags to riches to rags again. Gem lyrics from the above song: Had the pledge of allegiance tattooed on his head, always talked about finding and killing the Grateful Dead.

NOFX – “August 8th”

You want a band that absolutely hates jam bands? Look no further than this ditty by punk rockers, NOFX. The song gets the date wrong, but the tune is straight up about the Day Jerry Died.

Not that it has anything to do with the song, other than the message, but I was in a band called Total Passover. Before we were Total Passover, the other three fellas in the band were called Sham Rock Shakes. Every year at Iowa State, around Earth Day, they would have bands play in the arboretum, this big open meadow that sloped up. Sham Rock Shakes played around 10:00 a.m. that day. Think about college, and 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday. I was just getting going around that time, if anything. So here are all these hungover (mostly) hippies listening to a 2-minute, 3-chord punk rock band. I think I woke up at 8:00 a.m. so I could shower, eat breakfast and witness the spectacle. The in-between song banter between Tom Meehan and Andy Levy was funny. "Tom, this next song is called 'Le Toi Se Moi' (okay, sue me, I don't know French. It means, I Am The State). What does that mean?" Meehan was being his surly self and said, "It means FUCK YOU!" Later Andy went into a rant about music and ended it by saying, "Jerry Garcia is dead and I killed him." Of course, this was 1989, so he wasn't dead, yet. Which brings us to the next song...

Olive Lawn – “Hate”

Not necessarily about Jerry Garcia, or about hippies, but just an overall heavy, negative vibe in this one that will get you going if you’re in the mood. Actually, this is not recommended for playing at parties. I’m thinking if this song comes over the stereo at a party, you’re either in Seattle circa 1992 or someone is about to get their skull cracked. Great sample in the beginning from the movie, “Gimme Shelter.”

Cracker – “Loser”

Let’s just set the record straight: I’m not saying that the Dead didn’t have some good songs. A friend let me borrow “American Beauty” years ago, and I listened to it once, and it was decent enough, but still, I don’t think I could name one song off it for certain. I could guess, but then that would just be the game show side of me coming out. The whole reason my friend let me borrow that CD was because we were discussing the cover of “Loser” on Cracker’s Medicine Hat CD. Cool lyrics, mellow vibe. I dig it.

The Modern Lovers – “I’m Straight”

Pretty much, just to sum this up, is this fine tune from Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Only, he wasn’t selling the band with his name in front of it at the time this piece o’ wax hit our consciousness.

I’ll admit that I’m a beer drinker, but that’s pretty much it. I do have an occasional home made margarita, because my wife makes a damn good one, but I do not partake of drugs. I’m not judgmental about it, either. I don’t give a damn if someone wants to smoke pot, or what have you. I tried it (um, a few times, in college - Hey! It was the 90s!), and that shit is not for me. So, I don’t know. I kind of think I’m “straight” when it comes to that whole drinking/drug thing, but I could be wrong since alcohol is a drug, too.

That’s Jonathan’s main message in this song:

Now I've watched you walk around here.
I've watched you meet theseboyfriends,
I know, and you tell me how they're deep.
Look but, if these guys, if they're really so great,
tell me, why can't they at least take this place
and take it straight?
Why always stoned,like hippie Johnny is?
I'm straight and I want to take his place.

I’m with Jonathan. I like him, too, I like hippie Johnny, but I’m straight.

So, anyway, there’s my “party list.” As you can see, it’s not easy for me to pile on too much grief, but I thought it was interesting enough to know that there’s a contention out there putting that feeling to music and lyrics.

I put a couple more Coolie songs on the muxtape for your listening pleasure. Those are my two faves of that album. Have a great weekend everybody!

This post best enjoyed with Rogue Dead Guy Ale.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Feel like a good cry?

Depression is a serious thing that’s hard to explain to someone who’s never experienced it themselves. I’ve never been clinically diagnosed with depression, mainly due to my aversion to doctors, but one doesn’t have to be a genius to see it pop out once in a while within my personality. These songs explain every emotion depression can show when simple words can’t.

Just a Thought – Gnarls Barkley “I’ve tried everything but suicide/But it’s crossed my mind.”

Does He Love You – Rilo Kiley “All the immediate unknowns are better than knowing this tired and lonely fate.”

The Scientist – Coldplay “Nobody said it was easy/No one ever said it would be this hard/Oh, take me back to the start.”

Personal – Stars “Twenty-eight and bored/Grieving over loss/Sorry to be heavy/But heavy is the cost.”

Why – Annie Lennox “Some things are better left unsaid/But they still turn me inside out.”

Cheers Darlin – Damien Rice “And I die when you mention his name/And I lied, I should have kissed you/When we were running the reins.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

space may be the final frontier, but it's made in a hollywood basement

i'm a cali girl, born and bred, and i can talk about my home state and why i love it until the cows come home. and according to the california dairy board, they're gonna be some haaaaaaappy cows. (you have a stoner voice. apply it there.)
california. it's the promised land. it's god's country. it's governed by the
terminator. it's beautiful. it's full of people trying to escape. it's going to break off in an earthquake and become an island.
it's fucking weird.
i've always felt like there's a giant spiritual sieve for humanity, and everyone who doesn't fit in somewhere else gets shaken to the bottom and ends up in california. ok, so that metaphor didn't work out so well. sue me. (also a california pastime!)
i suppose, then, that's why i love it so. and why there are so many songs on my 'pod that evoke my home state is so many different ways.
what follows is but a sampling of the songs that are my california, through and through. there are many, of course, that didn't make the cut. paradise city. (dude. gnr is so los angeles, it's almost impossible to think about without creating a black hole.) l.a. song. (sorry, beth hart, no whining today!) i remember california. (i have no idea why not. r.e.m. still makes me smile, and i'm not (too) ashamed to admit it.)
even so, i think this list will manage to paint a picture for you, and maybe remind you of why you love a couple of artists... who you might be pretending not to love.

los angeles is burning - bad religion
you could put almost any bad religion song in this list and it would be los angeles to me. however, this is the musical embodiment of one of the great southern california experiences - when half the state is burning and there's ash on your car and areas the size of eastern states are charred to nothingness - when the hills of los angeles are burning. every californian - especially southern - knows it very, very well. orange skies, and weather reports that include such phrases as "hot and smoky." (as a side note, i missed seeing bad religion during namm two years ago because i had brain surgery. i've been resentful ever since: the brain surgery surely could have waited? no?)

california stars - wilco
someone who doesn't now and hasn't ever lived in california put this on a cd for me, thereby completely stealing my heart. woody guthrie's words and wilco's music... well, it's a match made in the central valley, that's for sure. (this is definitely music to listen to while driving down the grapevine.)

do re mi - woody guthrie
woody guthrie wrote so many songs of place. new york, the dust bowl, oregon, the south... he was a consummate wanderer - and i'm always glad for the songs he did about california. somehow, they're a little more clear-thinking than we actually deserved.
seriously. we can all fantasize about living in california. the weather is wonderful. there's space, frontier space, and you can spread out and dig in.
as long as you can pay for it, that is.

hollywood freaks - beck
i'm a tiny bit obsessed with the scientologists. horrified and obsessed. when i learned of beck's scientology love, it caused a serious hiccup in my love for the tiny dirty man from los angeles.
scientology, now, is a california phenomenon. the church of scientology is a major landowner in the county of los angeles - second to the county itself, if some sources are to be believed. (citation? needed!)
but then, after midnite vultures, i also realized that there was nothing he could really do to stop me from loving him. or his music, anyway. so we just don't talk about the believing-in-space-walruses thing, and it works out just fine. because despite the scientology, he's a future-brained, over the top genius with a musical sense that just. won't. quit.

long december - counting crows
i know, i know. we all got rid of all our counting crows music years ago.
or did we?
it's that kind of guilty pop that somehow manages to stay on my pod... even when i feel like smacking myself for having such a weak spot. but there's something about this song - haunting, hopeful - if you think you might come to california... i think you should. (there's a link in case you can't summon up this whole song in your head. but i feel like, given the amount of radio play that song has received over the years, you probably don't need the link.)

californication - red hot chili peppers
oh, flea. oh, anthony. oh, my adolescence.
oh, skateboarding, oh, hackey sack, oh, all the names for maryjane.
you've heard it a hundred thousand times. maybe even literally.
and yet.

oakland stroke - tower of power
what do you think when you think of oakland? you should look into making it sound a whole lot funkier, methinks. tower of power is the shit. recognize.

hey pretty (remix) - poe
i could (and probably will, at some point) write a whole entry about poe, about the range and strangeness of her music and why you should own, like, three copies of haunted. but if you don't already love her, this quirky, freaky little video should do the trick. the words are from my favorite book in the world, which you should also go out and acquire immediately. then set aside six months to be paranoid.

an honorable mention to a song i can't find on the internet:
mendo - loose change
loose change is another band from ukiah, including one of the boys who went on to be a part of afi. ukiah is the small town that serves as the county seat for where i grew up. in a county roughly the size of connecticut, there are fewer than 100,000 people, probably a quarter of whom are stoned out of their minds at any given moment.
songs about mendocino are awesome. this one is particularly awesome.

now enjoy your pinot grigio and spliff and we can all pretend that none of this ever happened.