Monthly Archives: May 2008

Best Gram Parsons tunes (That I have heard)

country person

“Sin City” from the first Flying Burrito Brothers record is quite humorous and tasty, with a dark element of fun and a chorus that repeats the bitter downcast mood. There’s an appropriate steel guitar lead in the middle of the cut which adds to the overall mood. I am wondering if this tune is in reference to Los Angeles or Las Vegas, or maybe both? Regardless, it’s hard to tell if this song is sincere or almost a parody…it is magically somewhere in the middle perhaps and all the better and bizarre for it.

Of course, with Country & Western music being so vocal-driven, it certainly helps that Parsons had a peculiar sincerity in his voice and a genuinely recognizable voice at that, which is another calling card of the Country genre. Certainly, regardless of the level of truthfulness in the delivery, Gram and his various collaborators new their stuff…and it is far closer to the real deal compared to any supposed “Country” music you might catch on the radio today. But then again, what Gram did was a hybrid as well, Country Rock. And while deplorable groups like The Eagles may have taken the genre to the top of the charts, they were by no means the best at it, and certainly not the first to do it (Even former Monkee Mike Nesmith beat them to that punch, and throw in Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” as well, goddamn it).

How do you explain “Hot Burrito #1” to an elderly couple that has never once had a sip of the devil’s cough syrup? Well, basically you don’t…as this is one bizarre break-up song. And this one is really hard to figure out, there’s a somber Country backdrop, again with the steel guitar…but the vocal is almost sung in a tried and true Vocal Pop style, and am I hearing a quiet Waltz beat? Anyhow, this is a meditative piece about a break-up of some sort…between man and dog, man and woman or robot? I don’t know…it’s interesting though, and with perplexing enunciation as well.

“Hot Burrito #2” is truly cool; it’s more Jazzy and radical all up in my britches. The general mood is somewhat upbeat, although Gram seems to be a bit fed up with someone on this cut and doesn’t sound so strangely wounded…

Finally, I would like to mention “A Song for You”, which I believe was on his first solo LP entitled simply “GP”. There is a haunting whimsical quality on this tune, and it is one that tends to linger with such emphasis placed upon the lyric “Take me down to your dance floor…”

My knowledge is rather minimal on this chap, a bit of a recent discovery. But have you anything to say, which Gram tunes do you enjoy best? Something he did with The Byrds, perchance?

Thank you.

“Sin City”

The Band’s Levon Helm Turns 68 Years Old Today

Levon Helm, most well known as drummer & vocalist for The Band, was born on May 26, 1940.

The Band first became famous as Bob Dylan’s backing band in the mid 1960s.

In 1968 they releases their debut album Music from Big Pink which included “The Weight” (written by Robbie Robertson) and a version of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.”

Watch Levon Helm playing drums & singing on “The Weight” from The Last Waltz:

Helm drumming & singing on “Up On Cripple Creek”

And on “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”

Stereolab ~ “Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night”

kings of sing

Who could not like this? I do believe, dear boy, that after roughly a decade to digest, that this here record is emerging as something quite special in the overall Stereolab discography; absolutely no question whatever. The consistent and satisfying tone that Stereolab head henchman Tim Gane achieves on his rhythmic guitar parts is no doubt simply beyond reproach. If you mingle in “Pet Sounds” era Brian Wilson material with the best of mid-late ‘60’s Cocktail Jazz, then you will mostly have this record in a nutshell. Of course, again with the guitars, there is a Rock element here that must not be missed, tasteful horn arrangements and delicious and ultimately sinful synthesizers bubbling to top it all off with an added sense of goodness.

In a live setting, tunes off of this release get stripped down to their funky essentials and all is right with the world. While I have been guilty of reviewing Stereolab records in the past, I must admit that Cobra is one of a trio of Stereolab highlights, with this record falling right in the middle in order of release. The other two being the epic “Dots & Loops” and the equally sexy “Sound-Dust”…

And so, what was most appealing about Stereolab during the late ‘90’s and the very beginning of this decade, were those amazing sing-song harmonies, and complex vocal arrangements placed upon the voices of Ms. Sadier and the late great Ms. Hansen. It was an undeniable combination, the ultimate ear candy, no question. Individual track highlights contain one of the very best by Stereolab, the sensual Jazzy epic “Infinity Girl”. Growing a bit older in years, I find myself better respecting the more so long-winded pieces such as “Blue Milk”, and I have always found a haunting beauty in the album closer “Come and Play in the Milky Night”.

Fast-forwarding to the present, if you haven’t heard…Stereolab got some US (United States of Canada as well) concert dates scheduled and they’ll drop a bomb on us with the new record “Chemical Chords” in the great month of August…

real drugs

09-20 Costa Mesa, CA – Detroit Bar
09-21 Pomona, CA – Glass House
09-24 Austin, TX – La Zona Rosa
09-26 Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
09-27 Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club
09-29 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
09-30 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
10-01 Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero
10-02 New York, NY – Irving Plaza
10-03 New York, NY – Irving Plaza
10-04 New York, NY – Irving Plaza
10-06 Boston, MA – Paradise *
10-07 Montreal, Quebec – Club Soda *
10-08 Toronto, Ontario – Phoenix Concert Theatre *
10-09 Detroit, MI – The Crofoot *
10-10 Chicago, IL – Vic Theatre *
10-12 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue *
10-14 Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre *
10-17 Seattle, WA – Showbox *
10-18 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom *
10-19 Vancouver, British Columbia – Commodore Ballroom *
10-21 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore *
10-22 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore *
10-23 Los Angeles, CA – Henry Fonda Theatre *
10-24 Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern *

* with Monade (The radical Stereolab side-project)

…Light, light…just dig it…

Weezer – “Pork & Beans” Video

Weezer’s video for their new single “Pork & Beans” features many references to a lot of the biggest memes in YouTube history. Watching it is sort of like a game of “spot that meme.”

Chris Crocker & Tay Zonday are among the “YouTube stars” that appear in the video.

***The YouTube Video That Was Here = No Longer Available***

Edit: OK, since YouTube videos are so fickle, we aren’t including them in our blog posts anymore and we’re slowly going through and editing out all of them. If you want to see this video you can probably find it on YouTube.com but yeah, it’s not worth including videos on the blog when after awhile they aren’t playable anymore and then there’s all of this dead space on the site.

If you like Weezer check out the Weezer Amazon.com Store (all of their albums and merchandise are available there.)

Beck ~ “Chemtrails”

Okay, at times this almost sounds like an introspective Stereolab cut, and those familiar with “The Black Arts” from “Sound-Dust” will get what I mean exactly. Also, Beck is emoting in some sort of Morrissey universe here in places as well, so basically, he doesn’t exactly sound like himself. Truthfully, anything beats that drone he found himself with all over the “Sea Change” album. This is certainly a well produced cut from the fairly soon to be released “Modern Guilt,” and one wonders if the record will stick within this downcast mood or stir up some of the usual absurdist Beck humor, at least in places.

I find it funny that “Chemtrails” ends in a wall of Pavement-style lead guitar bits. It is not a bad ending, but I feel as if it is somehow a copout of sorts, but still, there is a nice surprise element to the song’s ending as well. I find it interesting as well that Beck is taking a lesson from Suzanne Vega’s book, in terms of really limiting himself lyrically and sticking thematically within a very specific framework of feeling and thought. This works for Beck; and his little wordless vocal in the middle of the cut falls a bit into the Stereolab category again as well, at least the Stereolab of more recent years.

Oddly, I am not getting much out of this song by way of late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s UK Psyche Folk as has been advertised, but rather…it sounds like Progressive Rock mingled with Tears for Fears. Musically, this is a very good direction for Beck, as it seems like largely new ground for a man who just recently started to backtrack a little for the first time, really. The drums are satisfying and strong, and almost tastefully danceable in places…but it is important that the beat never falls into that generic Hip-Hop flavor that has been so commonplace on the Pop charts, and in a lot of Beck’s songs, for such a long period of time now.

Anyhow, if the rest of the record is better than this cut or roughly equal, then “Modern Guilt” may be Beck’s first truly important album since “Midnite Vultures”. He really sounds alive with some new ideas, hopefully it will all pan out nicely, especially for his oh, so patient long-term fans.

Amen, dude.

Exploring the Complex genre of Folk Rock

Ghandi

I would suggest that Folk Rock is indeed one of the better musical genres in the history of known music. While various brands of Classical may express the ultimate and certain elements of Jazz or the Jazz hybrid of Jazz Rock are often where it is no doubt at in most instances, Folk Rock and its variations truly cover a great deal of impressive ground, so allow me to illustrate this point further…

How about Tim Buckley’s introspective number “Dolphins”? It is a confusing song to me, rather complex from an emotional standpoint and apparently name-checking a Monkee’s song in the process. Keep in mind that I am talking about the greater Singer/Songwriter genre as well. Maybe some Power Pop, as that might describe some Big Star material? Yes? No? Psyche Folk is a big monster of a genre…is it not, Mr. Redmond Barry? Or Baroque Pop, it’s like all of this is some sort of big Folk Rock fantasy and a lyrical thing taking place. Syd Barrett solo material is potent and not easy to describe…

“Dark Globe” is a great Barrett number, and huge fan Marc Bolan, later of T-rex, at times created a more light-hearted variation of this sort of Psyche Folk feeling, man. Think about Marc’s energetic Folk jam “Deborah” or look a bit ahead a few years to the quite possibly more introspective “Cosmic Dancer”. This is a genre, naturally melodic and very much lyrically driven as well, albeit, some of it is a bit closer to Vocal Pop, but it just depends upon the artist.

Of course, some of the best of Folkie Rocky music came from across the bloody pond, don’t you know? Very little out of America could produce the complex and simplistic beauty of Nick Drake’s “From the Morning”, which I feel is a truly upbeat cut from an often downcast individual. Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam; could be a complete dork in a great many instances, but some of his cranky Folk ballads really packed a wallop, take “But I Might Die Tonight”, for example. It is powerful and rather atypical of the performer, at least according to my ears…

And of course, you have some of the better material by Neil Young and Dylan. Not everything in the overall genre is pretty, and I refuse to name names and look at this negatively…because some Suzanne Vega material is good, maybe toss in a bit of Lou Reed as well and tons of other good folks that I am forgetting. But I’m just trying to get my point across then…Folk Rock is COMPLEX.

Thank you.

…Oh, and Judee Sill was totally awesome. Do check her out, won’t you now?

“Let’s Dance” by David Bowie Hits #1 On The US Singles Chart 25 Years Ago Today

On May 17, 1983 “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie hit #1 on the US singles chart. It also hit #1 in the UK, Sweden, and The Netherlands.

The song features legendary blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn on guitar although he is not featured in the video for the song and declined to tour with Bowie in favor of playing with his band Double Trouble.

The song appeared on Bowie’s 1983 album by the same name.

Video:

Live performance:

Hip-Hop fans may be more familiar with this song through the sample used by Puff Daddy for his 1997 single “Been Around The World.”

M. Ward covered the song for his 2006 album Transfiguration of Vincent. You can listen to it below. The visuals were taken from the original David Bowie video.

The Doors – “Wild Child”

Jim Morrison of The Doors

This song is off their fourth record which was released in 1969 entitled “The Soft Parade”, the album had a chart-topper in “Touch Me”, and indeed we all did. While it must be said that Jim Morrison was part lizard, which is something that I always found difficult, as I being a man naturally prejudiced against reptile life. Coming back to my senses, it must be said that Mr. Mojo Rising had a certain ability to craft slightly weird lyrics into the commercial Rock format of the time period, and he was a rather interesting Rock vocalist to boot…almost a crooner of sorts, a poor man’s Bing Crosby, if you will, and you will.

Musically, it is kind of Funky and Jazzy with swirling bottleneck slide guitar; goofy keyboard bits and neat little drum breaks. It is almost a precursor to Disco, as I see it. In short, it is quite easy to shake your bottom to this number, and real horror show at that, mates. At the end, Jim asks the listener this question: Do you remember when we were in Africa? This, I am afraid, I do not at all recall. He may have been referring to sassy 19th French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who eventually set up shop somewhere in Africa, running guns or some shit…

So, my diagnosis of this cut is that it is pretty fucking neat…although, Val Kilmer will always be my favorite Door.

In the studio:

On the Smothers Brothers television program:

Blur Had Their First #1 UK Album 14 Years Ago Today With Parklife

On May 15, 1994 Blur’s Parklife went to #1 on the UK album charts making it their first #1 album. Parklife was their 3rd album.

The 16 track album contained 4 UK hit singles “Girls & Boys,” “End of a Century,” “Parklife,” and “To the End.” “Girls & Boys” was also a modest hit in the US, although the album still failed to chart in America.

The album has received some critical acclaim, probably most notably it’s ranking as the 35th greatest album of all time by Q Magazine in 2006. It has the highest rating of any Blur album on the RateYourMusic.com website at this time.

Personally I’m bigger fan of their later albums (1999′s 13 and 2003′s Think Tank.) But I suppose that’s getting off topic somewhat.

Video of “Girls & Boys”

ben-blur-novelty-45-the-chariot-race-the-fight-~mark-x-vg BEN BLUR novelty 45 THE CHARIOT RACE / THE FIGHT ~MARK-X VG
US $7.49
End Date: Friday Aug-22-2014 10:40:25 PDT
Add to watch list

“Dollars and Cents” – Radiohead

“Dollars and Cents” is the 8th track from Radiohead’s 2001 album Amnesiac, which is often unfairly looked at as a “collection of Kid A b-sides.” While I do not believe it’s as good as Kid A (not many albums are), it does stand up on it’s own as an excellent album.

It’s always been one of my favorite tracks from the album due to it’s unique mood and giant reverb heavy sound. The song is based largely on one of Radiohead’s best basslines which is up front in the mix (a rarity in Radiohead songs.) It also features one of the coolest string arrangements on any Radiohead song. The strings really get across a feeling of uneasiness very well. I haven’t heard strings on another song quite like these. Another highlight of the song are the jazzy drums which are also higher in the mix than usual for Radiohead. There’s a lot of little drum/percussion hits with extra reverb on them, influenced by dub music perhaps?

Thom Yorke’s vocals are very much a part of the whole rather than something set on top of the mix. There’s very much a feeling that the vocals are being treated more like just another instrument in the mix rather than the focal point in this song. There’s a lot of delay on the vocals which adds to the overall hazy feeling.

“Dollars and Cents” Live

amnesiac-radiohead-new-&-sealed-cd-free-shipping Amnesiac - Radiohead New & Sealed CD Free Shipping
US $31.68
End Date: Saturday Aug-23-2014 8:04:00 PDT
Add to watch list