Category Archives: Musings

New Beginnings

Hope everyone had a great New Year. In reference to delays, I spent all day yesterday getting this new computer up to specs, and should be in full bore by the end of the day. Finally, this isn’t the seventies anymore – grooming should be a necessity.

The Year in Review:: 2008

1. Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
Good Winter. The rare record that makes you want to bust out of your own skin with such moments leaving the soul blissfully screaming towards critical mass. What is also so impressive about Bon Iver is the evolution the music from For Emma, Forever Ago went through as a live entity in 2008. Would you really rush out? Psychic Decompression.

The Wolves (Act I & II)

2. The Week That Was
I don’t mean to say it’s all about the drums. However, the opening moment on The Week That Was is the hook and its all drums.

Scratch The Surface

3. The War On Drugs Wagonwheel Blues With that harmonica and talk of turkish carpets, how could you resist this one?

Needle In Your Eye

4. Duffy Rockferry
In 2008 the lovely Duffy presented us with her debut, Rockferry. Not just vacant sixties redux, Rockferry, still has lessons to teach and magic to conjure. Where is the video for the finest track – “Hanging On Too Long.” Iskha

Warwick Avenue

5. M83 Saturdays=Youth

6. Wolf Parade At Mount Zoomer

7. Paul Weller 22 Dreams

8. Fleet Foxes

9. TV On The Radio Dear Science

10. Land of Talk Some Are Lakes

Jennifer O’Connor: "Sister" for Stand Up to Cancer

Jennifer O’Connor recently donated her song “Sister” to the Stand Up to Cancer organization. Stand Up in turn commissioned an appropriate video for the song. One might ask when the last time our lovely pharmaceutical industry produced a major cure or vaccine? I know a lot of medicines are of value, but much of it is about masking symptoms. Really what they do is suck every bit of money they can out of the families of very sick people, knowing they will pay for the slightest measure of hope. I’d like to see some real CHANGE, not the kind that comes without description while leaving the masses foaming at the mouth for no real reason. Just think – your dead parent, sister, or brother, paid for someone to buy a high-end Mercedes and build giant homes while simultaneously enabling them to act like they are making vital contributions to the world. Are these your kind of heroes? There may not be any real help for you if you’re sick, but that won’t stop them from undermining your bank account. In 1971 President Nixon declared war on cancer. Considering the powerful position of the pharmaceutical industry, one might beg the question as to what would be the motivation for actual cures? Sure would cut off a lot of revenue, but then again here we are thirty-seven years later. Progress.

Musings:: Paul Weller:: 50 & 22 Dreams

When the legendary icon Paul Weller was once asked in an interview what he would change about himself if he could, he replied “three more inches, so then it would be twelve.” Paul Weller, now fifty, is certainly music royalty and few match his output, perhaps even fewer match his epic nature. He is a rock star – – and the rarest kind; the sort where you look at him on stage and repeatedly tell yourself you could never be like him, while you fall into the amazement brought by the light that breaths off of him on stage, making him seem even more god like and fierce. Replying to the idea of a Jam reunion, Weller in typical fashion said something along the lines of “you can’t relive the past…I thought we were all against it.” That pretty much sums up my thoughts on all old great bands getting back together; with the point being that whether you’re 40 or 50 you don’t feel the same way as you did when you were 20 and you hopefully aren’t still fighting the same battles. Of course, why does something have to be permanent to be great, and the music lives on regardless. Paul Weller’s new album 22 dreams is easily one of his best in nearly two decades of solo work.

video through the years:
Paul Weller – 22 dreams

Paul Weller – Heavy Soul

The Style Council – You´re The Best Thing

The Style Council – Have You Ever Had It Blue?

The Jam – Town Called Malice

The Jam – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight

Albert Hofmann:: Father of Rock dies in Switzerland

While we are all aware of what rock was spawned from, the early days of my favorite form of music don’t hold much attention for me, save a few artists. And even though I will always say the Beatles are undoubtedly the greatest band ever, I can’t remember the last time I listened to anything pre-Revolver/Rubber Soul. Who knows how many of the greatest albums ever made were done under the auspices of Hofmann’s angel, but we might guess they all were. The essence of music is escapist, and Hofmann’s LSD pushed the roads exponentially further. Moreover, he inspired a generation and lived to a ripe old age of 102, and he himself was obviously well acquainted with his own invention. Albert Hofmann was a psychic revolutionary who showed many a way to new land and life, and despite the abuse by some, the effect it had in giving music a new spirit and path is incalculable.

Musings:: Most Overrated of All Time?

We’ll explore this further, but who is the most overrated band of all the time? It has to be somewhere around the line of either The Eagles or Rolling Stones. I know some would say Nirvana, but I feel like time is already settling the score, by seperating them from the way-over -the-top nineties’ hype. Back to the Stones and Eagles, both can easily be painted as bloated hot airballs of their own karaoke, as neither have done anything worth repeating in well, seriously 30 years. The Eagles and their faux country rock are just too easy to pick apart. These two bands are equally repugnant for not just the crappy high priced karaoke they do, but more so for having reputations far exceeding the reality of their whole body of work. At this point, the Stones have put out as many gross records as they have good ones. Just to give perspective, Bowie who is a zillion times more credible throughout his career, never, and I mean never, put out such trash.

musings::Lindsay Lohan:Chasing The Rock Zeitgeist?

A bit of a modern day anti-hero and iconoclast, Ms. Lohan is in my mind, the most rock n’ roll woman in America. Constantly trashed by the media, and put under a microscope as if she is behaving in some way different that what any sane young rich famous beautiful person living in L.A., should be doing. Every time I look, there is some new story about Lindsay and her sexcapades. Whether the stories are true or not, at this point she is aware of her party girl reputation, and has neither gotten pregnant, or begged for forgiveness. My favorite tale of her exploits is a recent trip to Italy, where she passed the down time with three different lovers. She is a hedonist of potentially epic proportions, not just for this decade, but maybe for all time, if she ever manages to do a good film again. Hey, I still remember her in Parent Trap, where she was magnificent in pulling off those dual roles. Anyway, being unapologetic, irreverent, and dangerous is what rock is about in my mind. For that matter, where did all the false morality come from? It is peculiar how in our society we can be so vigilantly warned of the evils of being judgemental, while being given free license to condemn certain specific others. Parity?

Who will history show of our own times, holding ground with the legends of the past who worshipped at the altar of rock, sucking down its ambrosia, savoring every drop, while society trembled? Where are our own bastard sons of The Byrds and Dylan, like Tom Petty? Where are our Led Zeppelins, drunk and dropping bottles from penthouses, while taking x-rated debauchery to new levels. Hendrix set his guitar on fire and destroyed it at Monterey. Townshend smashed his guitar and amps a thousand times, before it looked cartoonish, silly, and postured when Cobain participated in such acts. We were supposed to be impressed, and blown away by the raw emotion. While I do think Nirvana were a really good band, and that Dave Grohl was one of the most thunderous drummers of the nineties, you can be really good and overrated at the same time. Sadly enough though, was when the American bromide spread overseas, sucking away English morale, until Oasis and company came and raised the Union Jack high again. I am afraid this may be our legacy in the end.

So, what have we added to the table? It certainly wasn’t all that gross rap-rock, and nu metal of the late nineties, and early parts of this decade. Despite the folklore, the rest of that decade wasn’t exactly flowing with musical ether either. Don’t get me wrong, there was no shortage of good music being made, but the big story that will maintain itself in the annals of rock, is a dull and morbid tale. This is the era where guitar leads were outlawed, as well as any hint of sexuality, decadence, symptoms of having fun, or immortality in the music. Rock stars were all of a sudden, defeated people with feelings and insecurities, and that was just anathema to the doctrines of the past, not to mention wrong on so many other levels. Please don’t suggest talk of the nineties being a decade of musical existentialism, because that stuff was so contrived by the music media, and sure to go down as fluff decorum utilized for marketing. Still don’t agree, well, lets move to the later nineties with the explosion of boy bands, Britney Spears types, and the aforementioned criminals, which should of been enough of a red flag that we were no longer drowning, but now lifeless, washed up on the beach . Some of the major chic online music press might adore Justin Timberlake, but I’m not buying what they’re selling, and don’t believe the eternal scrolls will maintain that print for the ages. So, we must look to our present days and beg the question beyond the press release, as to what of our own is of epic grandeur?

Musings::Black Ice & Claudine Longet

It’s cold here on the east coast, and a wintry mix is on the horizon. I was supposed to take a drive up north today for rehearsal, but there was talk of black ice later, so I shelled the day. Other than a stop off at the coffee shop and the store, it has been a real hibernation day, done in high fashion with mimosas, cigarettes, good company, and Claudine Longet. The weather really creates ideal conditions for bubbling up inside of the aquarian age gospel of Claudine. Of course, there is more to the music than that, Claudine diversifies and even channels bossa nova, effervescent pop, and jazz on her 1967 record “The Look of Love.” Her voice at times is frail and thin, and her accent betrays her on the Beatles covers. However, in large part, her music is atmospheric, magical, and slightly strange in a pleasant respect, such as on Claudine’s performance of the faux country pop tune “Broomstick Cowboy.” I am fond of her cover of my all time favorite Beach Boys song “God Only Knows,” but then again how can you mess up a number like that one. Claudine also does a fairly straight forward take on the Carpenters “We’ve Only Just Begun,” which takes on a paisley psychedelic character as a result of her vocals. There is much more to her music and her life story, including a marriage to Andy Williams, the accidental murder of an Olympic skier boyfriend in 1976, and a Stones song, “Claudine,” written about her, but never released for fear of litigation. I leave you with a little video and the Internet, to do as little or as much grazing as you would like.

My Favourite Things (with Andy Williams)

Nothing To Lose (from the 1968 Peter Sellers movie, The Party)

Musings::Late Nights with Neil Diamond

I can’t deny that sometimes late at night I like to come home, light some candles and throw on some favorites like Neil Diamond’s “Love On The Rocks.” This ladies and gentlemen is a poignant tale of the confusion that is often referred to as a “relationship.” I can’t say enough about Neil except that not only does he have my favorite live album of all time with Hot August Night, but his performance of “Dry Your Eyes” in The Last Waltz is almost without question the highlight among highlights. Neil looks damn cool in the footage. Robbie Robertson looks great as well, and has that gleaming smile that tells you that it is all for real. Anyway, Neil Diamond is a maverick, who for years has defied classification. Some people like to make fun of his suits, and then proceed to still sing along with his epics. Neil’s records can bring a wilting party back into full throttle if you’ve got folks who have any sort of spirit left in them. Those tunes and his voice grab hold of something innate to most of us, that not only is why we listen to music, but more importantly is a reminder there is a life out there to be lived. This world does everything it can to make us forget that fact, through the slow psychic decomposition of the bromide effect. Who else can claim to be the greatest performer in rock/pop history, and one of the greatest composers of all time? Neil says part of his success is a result of the fact that he has never been afraid to go out there and make a fool of himself in front of an audience. Many have the ability to author a good song, but who among them can write like Neil Diamond.

love on the rocks

dry your eyes(from the last waltz)

Merry Christmas:: Shane MacGowan turns 50 to ring in the season

I want to say Merry Christmas to all, and I’m sure Shane MacGowan feels the same as he marks his 50Th year on the earth. He says all the good living has kept him alive, and to hell with safety and the road generally travelled. Many have doubted such a hallmark would ever occur for this professional wildman, and for those folks MacGowan had the following to say in a recent interview with the Britain’s Daily Mirror about his lifestyle and the naysayers:

“To be honest, I never thought too much about getting to 50……but if everybody is making bets that you are going to die at 4.30 tomorrow afternoon, you just tend to think, ‘Fuck it, I’m not going to die as long as those fuckers are alive.'”

“I used to go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, but if I don’t manage that I might go on Christmas Day. I go to Mass every now and then….Smoking, drinking, partying – that’s why I’ve stayed alive as long as I have. And I’ve got better with age, that’s what’s meant to happen…..I party my way through life, it’s what I like to do. I’m even partying right now, only I’m doing it on my back. Booze is definitely good for your voice – it greases the whistle.”

Merry Christmas!!!
Fairytale in New York

Musings:: Do They Know It’s Christmas? Band Aid 1984 vs. Band Aid 2004

So I’ve been thinking…..Band Aid 1984 or Band Aid 20? I’m not one for remakes of niche songs, but there are some merits to both versions. That 1989 version just sucks out right and sounds like the guys from Erasure were doing their thing all over the mixing board, and besides…where is fucking Bono? 2004’s interpretation has Dido, and that lady has a rare mix of sharp and fiery spirit salted with a sophistication that makes her a true siren. Justin Hawkins is also on Band Aid 20 and I’ve got to give it to that guy for being able to pull that Darkness stuff off even if it did only last a few years. No doubt, the popularity of The Darkness was symptomatic of the malaise which had well overtaken rock-n-roll and the music industry in general a near decade post-Nirvana. Moreover, this was a time when we saw the meteoric rise of such dreadfully mediocre acts as Coldplay who bored us into submission by writing one and a half songs and then proceeding to redo them over and over again only with different titles until the psychological vomit was just coming out of our ears! Having said all that, I prefer the 1984 version; Boy George sounds pretty awesome and Bono’s voice was much stronger in the eighties, and plus he has that cool Bono hair only he could have gotten away with.

Do They Know It’s Christmas? 1984

Do They Know It’s Christmas? 2004

Musings::Blender Magazine’s 100 Greatest Indie Records with a little added reality

As a Christmas treat, Blender magazine’s editors in the December issue have decided to help us with our shopping by laying out the “The 100 Greatest Indie-Rock Albums Ever,” The list is naturally already coming under some questioning and I can’t help, but offer my own thoughts.

There is so much to say and where to start is difficult to decide on, but let me first state that I adore Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted. I saw them during that tour at the old Cat’s Cradle when it was actually in Chapel Hill, and they were great, even with drummer Gary Young being so drunk he fell over backwards from his drum chair. That album just has a feel that Pavement unfortunately never reached again for me, and furthermore I love how the drums sound like boxes. Still, considering some of the artists on the list, it is baffling how “Slanted and Enchanted” became the top “indie” record, except for the fact most music journalists have that same corrosive sheep mentality which sucks the soul out of everything in life. Wow, is The Fall’s 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong really ranked at #74? Speaking of The Fall, where the hell is This Nation’s Saving Grace? I guess it just doesn’t have the clout of some of these records on the list, which came out in the last few years.

Having said all that, what does “indie” mean? Isn’t the term quickly passing away to obsolescence like “progressive”(and I don’t mean prog rock) and “alternative” did before? Nowadays, half the stuff you see is either an imprint of some major label, distributed by a major label, or the independent is so large it has every avenue available and plenty of cash just like majors. Didn’t the internet kill “indie” or was it Nirvana or ipods for that matter? This is a discussion for another time so I will move on.

The article comes with this caveat:
Mumbled lyrics, couldn’t-care-less strumming, white dudes in sweaters—what’s not to love about indie rock? Born 25-odd years ago in suburban garages and spread via college radio, it has made distortion into something hummable, boredom into something thrilling and aimlessness into a raison d’être—and these days, thanks to blogs and the fine people at Grey’s Anatomy, it’s more popular than ever.
In response to this little intro by Blender I have to say that this characterization really doesn’t sum it up at all. Their own terms are conflicting if you consider they place the birth of indie rock around 1982, and at the same time have 13th Floor Elevators, the Velvets, and others on the list who by far predate their “birth of indie.” Second of all, several of these albums are not on indies, and even though I love the Velvets, they weren’t on a real indie and I don’t think Nick Drake (and Island records even back then) counts as an indie either, and many others fail the criteria as well. Well what do you know, there sits The Strokes’ “Is This It” at #38. Nothing against The Strokes, but RCA is a major in my mind, and it incenses me that a fucking band who were plastered all over MTV when they came out, are passed off as belonging to the “indie” lineage. Finally, some of the lyrics were mumbled if you’re thinking every band sounded like R.E.M. As for couldn’t care less strumming, that was the case for some bands(mostly I remember a lot of crap twee bands in the nineties who couldn’t play), but i’m not sure that Bob Mould, Peter Buck, Karl Precoda, or J. Mascis strummed with any such lack of intent.

Of course, these days we live in a world where people constantly redefine things so they easily fit into whatever “box” they are assembling. The end result is that everything is even more meaningless than it was already. There is no way that The Velvet Underground should be on this list anyway, but since they are do they really belong at #7 stuck behind the extremely trendy Arcade Fire; and of course it is so typical for the Pixies to be thrown in there high atop the list. Forget all the albums that belong on this list that are not represented, except to say to only have one Smiths’ album is heresy if you’re gonna have any at all. There are also a couple of comps on this list which are good, but there are more than enough choices from legitimate albums which actually fit the criteria. I could go on forever, but what is the point of self imposed frustration. I do think a lot of these records from our present decade are far below par as well, considering many of the albums they rank above. Finally, I just feel sorry for my poor 13th Floor Elevators who come in at #78, and should have just been left off the list if this was as little respect as they were going to get. Look who the Elevators rank behind and tell me that isn’t a fucking slap in the royal face, and moreover De La Soul doesn’t belong on this list at all.

The Infamous List:
100 The Shaggs – Philosophy Of The World
99 Dream Syndicate – The Days Of Wine And Roses
98 Palace Music – Viva Last Blues
97 The Mekons – Rock ‘N’ Roll
96 TV On The Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain
95 The Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I
94 Half Japanese – Greatest Hits
93 Big Black – Atomizer
92 Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
91 The Chills – Kaleidoscope World
90 Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
89 Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock & Roll
88 Daniel Johnston – Yip/Jump Music
87 Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary
86 Flipper – Album – Generic Flipper
85 The Clean – Anthology
84 Beat Happening – You Turn Me On
83 The Misfits – Walk Among Us
82 The Embarrassment – Heyday 1979-83
81 The Vaselines – The Way Of The Vaselines
80 Feist – The Reminder
79 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
78 The 13th Floor Elevators – The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
77 Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
76 Le Tigre – Le Tigre
75 Galaxie 500 – Today
74 The Fall – 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong
73 Meat Puppets – Up On The Sun
72 The Mountain Goats – We Shall All Be Healed
71 Stereolab – Refried Ectoplasm
70 Mudhoney – Superfruzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles
69 Nick Drake – Pink Moon
68 Descendents – Milo Goes To College
67 Hüsker Dü – New Day Rising
66 Young Marble Giants – Colossal Youth
65 Various Artists – No New York
64 Cat Power – The Greatest
63 Nirvana – Bleach
62 The Feelies – Crazy Rhythms
61 LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem
60 Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
59 Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine
58 Built To Spill – There’s Nothing Wrong With Love
57 Bikini Kill – Pussy Whipped
56 Archers Of Loaf – Icky Mettle
55 Bad Brains – Bad Brains
54 Unrest – Imperial F.F.R.R.
53 Smashing Pumpkins – Gish
52 Bright Eyes – Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground
51 Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
50 Rilo Kiley – More Adventurous
49 Spoon – Kill The Moonlight
48 Mission Of Burma – Vs.
47 Green Day – Kerplunk
46 Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
45 Fugazi – Repeater
44 Various Artists – Wanna Buy A Bridge?
43 Black Flag – Damaged
42 Brian Eno – Another Green World
41 Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West
40 New Order – Power Corruption & Lies
39 Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
38 The Strokes – Is This It
37 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell
36 Elliott Smith – Either/Or
35 Liz Phair – Exile In Guyville
34 Superchunk – On The Mouth
33 The Shins – Oh, Inverted World
32 Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
31 Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand
30 Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
29 Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
28 The Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs
27 M.I.A. – Arular
26 Belle And Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
25 Sebadoh – III
24 The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic
23 Yo La Tengo – Painful
22 Meat Puppets – Meat Puppets II
21 The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers
20 The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday
19 Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out
18 Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
17 The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
16 Slint – Spiderland
15 X – Wild Gift
14 De La Soul – 3 Feet High And Rising
13 Hüsker Dü – Zen Arcade
12 Dinosaur Jr – You’re Living All Over Me
11 Minutemen – Double Nickels On The Dime
10 The Smiths – The Smiths
09 Big Star – Third/Sister Lovers
08 My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
07 The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground
06 Arcade Fire – Funeral
05 Pixies – Surfer Rosa
04 R.E.M. – Murmur
03 The Replacements – Let It Be
02 Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
01 Pavement – Slanted And Enchanted

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