I’ll be brief. Every time that those good ole’ folks over at Cotton release a new “fabric of our lives” campaign, I can’t help but be utterly disgusted at how they butcher the tune. The newest one is this countrified bull crap by Hayden Panettiere, although it doesn’t rub me as bad as the gut-twistingly quirky one by Zooey Deschanel. And sure I know what you’re thinking… perhaps they should bring back the Rickie Havens one in a tasteful moment of tribute for his recent passing. No, no, no. Dear Mr. Havens deserves to be forever remembered by his wonderful tribute to the Folgers campaign – nobody else should ever be allowed to sing “The best part of waking up…” What the Cotton folks need to realize is that they reached perfection back in 1992 when they had Aaron Neville perform his version of the song. It’s right up there with his duet with Linda Rondstadt for the best vocal performance of his career. There’s no need for debate here – these are the facts. And c’mon, not only is his voice crushing shit, but in 30 seconds you see how one fabric unites life, death, social protest, the stock market, emergency care, rock and roll, Summer, weddings, and losing your virginity.
In a bid to stay relevant, David Bowie released his newest video last week – a blood soaked hodgepodge of religious imagery for the song “The Next Day.” The song, like the majority of Bowie’s new album is strikingly unremarkable. That is to say it’s not bad, it’s just rather complacent. It’s the modern pop-rock equivalent of the color beige. The folks at Youtube initially thought it was a bit too racy for their site and took it down for a day, which was probably the greatest publicity boost the video could have received. It’s basically just a few scantily clad women and some over-anxious priests, and even though it stars Gary Oldman, he lost his flawless street-cred in my book when he starred in that horrendous The Unborn movie a few years back. In just under a week’s time, the video has garnered around 900,000 views, which is a mere fraction of what videos of cats riding Roombas get in the same amount of time.
In far more significant news for both the world of music and the world of the internet, some guy just published a cover of “Space Oddity” on Youtube that has over 1.5 million hits in less than 24 hours time. Of course, he’s not just some guy – he’s Chris Hadfield, a Commander on the International Space Station, and probably the coolest guy on the planet right now – or off the planet actually. Not only is this the first music video filmed in space, (which is kind of cool but I’m still waiting for the weightless sex studies to take place,) but this video conveys more actual emotion than Bowie has been able to emit in decades. Hadfield actually has a killer voice. He displays some brilliant range for a dude in space, and the look in his eyes conveys more sincerity in the lyrics than Bowie could have ever imagined. It’s really a remarkably beautiful thing and surely a video that many of us will still remember and want to throw on a year from now. Which coincidentally will be the exact same time that the world and the internet completely forget that David Bowie released a new album in 2013. Sorry D-Bo, but you just got out Bowied. You can’t fuck with cool shit in space. Watch both videos below.
If you missed the first post then check it out HERE. And while we’re talking covers, when the fuck is “Born Under Punches” going to return? Isn’t that what we’re really all waiting for? Well, here’s my other 10, and to sum it up my first 10 in no particular order…
The Who – “Eminence Front”
The Kinks – “Lola”
David Bowie – “Ziggy Stardust”
Queens of the Stone Age – “Turnin’ on the Screw”
Vampire Weekend – “Cousins”
The Allman Brothers – “Dreams”
The Band – “Don’t Do It”
Beastie Boys – “Sneakin’ Out The Hospital”
Beck – “Go it Alone”
The Buzzcocks – “Why Can’t I Touch It”
Derek and The Dominoes – “Keep on Growing” - Sure, there’s a bunch of Clapton songs that would be amazing, (“Badge” would be killer as well,) but this classic just seems like it’s way overdue to make an appearance. Maybe with a guest guitarist?
The Doors – “Peace Frog” - There is no denying what a massive dance-party this track would bring. The room would fucking explode.
The Faces – “Stay With Me” - I picture a massive 2nd set – massive, and then for an encore this tune emerges and the place just totally erupts. Holy shit would they destroy the living crap out of this song. We need it.
Frank Zappa – “Flakes” – I think the whole album Sheik Yerbouti would be phenomenal, but the younger kids wouldn’t really get it. This track though, has the melodic changes to perhaps be able to make the crossover. it’s hilarious and one of my favorite Zappa tunes ever.
Guns N’ Roses – “Estranged” - Forget about the cliche “November Rain” – this is the real epic GNR jam that would annihilate the audience. What a fucking huge tune.
INXS – “New Sensation” - On one of those perfectly weird, magical nights, this tune could arise in the 2nd set and tear the house fully down. You know Trey has been fiending to rock that simple groove – you know it.
Jimi Hendrix – ” Long Hut Summer Night” - Sure, any number of Jimi tunes would be amazing. I’m still waiting for “Izabella” to make it’s return, but this would be an amazing closer to a beautiful summer night.
Led Zeppelin – “Achilles Last Stand” - Again, Zep is one of the bands that any number of covers would be incredible – perhaps “Down by the Seaside” or even “Song Remains the Same,” but “Achilles” would be the epitome of dark power. I’d probably completely lose my shit to this one.
The Meters – “I Need More Time” - With Page’s recent gigs with The Meter Men, this one doesn’t seem that far off of a possibility. This oft forgotten track is one of the Meters’ most bad-ass grooves ever. It’d be huge, and could erupt into a massive groove-jam out of it.
The Pants – “2000″ - The greatest band that never came to be. The mid-90′s amazing Burlington band had numerous ties to Phish, and I think paying some homage to these fellas is long overdue. This song is so fucking beautiful, and huge…cut to 4:30 for the start of it.
Well, Phish summer tour-dates are up, and with that rises the question of whether there will be any new material for their 30th anniversary kickoff tour. The band has been sounding friggin’ amazing as of late, but some new shit would definitely breath a much needed jolt of life into the scene. I’d like new Phish songs, but am weary that they may completely suck ass. So on the flip side, here’s my list of 20 cover songs that could add some zest to the sets.
The Who – “Eminence Front” - Ahh, 80′s Who. Just the right mix of power and kitsch to get a summer shed really fuckin’ popping. “Come and join the party dressed to kill” – you betcha.
The Kinks – “Lola” - Nothing like an awesome diddy that everyone know the lyrics to, to really unify a crowd. This would be a great Fishman track or even just a regular cover encore.
David Bowie – “Ziggy Stardust” – I still think this whole album would be a great Halloween cover, but there’s no doubt that this rager could be the perfect set-closer or encore when they needed a quick powerhouse tune to end the night.
Queens of the Stone Age – “Turnin’ On The Screw” - This completely loony, funk-rock song from 2007 is QOTSA at their finest. Phish could completely make this song all their own, and could become the new sibling to “Carini.” The fast breakdown jam in the middle could be taken way the fuck out.
Vampire Weekend - “Cousins” - I feel like this song drew a lot of inspiration from early 90′s Phish weirdness – it has a very “NICU” fell for it. Tell me you can’t hear Trey fire launching this guitar lick.
The Allman Brothers – “Dreams” - Honestly, I can’t believe that over 30 years they’ve never used this Allmans launch-pad tune to take a 2nd set out into the ether. It’s one of the classics, and it would be a magical evening when this tune dropped.
The Band – “Don’t Do It - Now there’s a ton of Band tunes Phish could do great justice, but this one always seemed like the one they could stretch out further. Would be a great set opener – 1st or 2nd.
Beastie Boys – “Sneakin’ Out The Hospital” – I’ve been waiting for this dark B-Boys instrumental to arise out of a late 2nd set funk jam for nearly a decade. Basically, it’d be all Gordo and Fish holding the groove, while Trey and Page noodle on top – shit would be ultra-dope-city though. Cut to 6:54 to hear it on this video.
Beck – “Go it Alone” – There’s a bunch of Beck tunes that would be incredibly fly for the fellas to bust out, but this one’s just so smooth. It could easily creep out of any number of jams.
The Buzzcocks – “Why Can’t I Touch It” Oh, the hardcore punk-kids would call this a tragedy, but imagine this coming soaring over the Gorge during a s unset. Next level stuff.
Check out Part 2 for the other 10…
Derek & The Dominoes – “Keep on Growing”
The Faces – “Stay With Me”
The Doors – “Peace Frog”
Frank Zappa – “Flakes”
Guns N’ Roses – “Estranged”
INXS – “New Sensation”
Jimi Hendrix – “Long Hot Summer Night”
Led Zeppelin – “Achilles Last Stand”
The Meters – “I Need More Time”
The Pants – “2000″
It’s a Friday morning in Portland. The sky is blue and the sun is actually blinding me through my office window. It’s one of those surprisingly random moments of perfect stillness, and coincidentally the ideal time for me to have just discovered this “remix” that Phoenix put out 3 years ago. Goddamn, these French fellas just never cease to amaze me. To put it quite simply, their own words about this little project do the best justice: A long time ago Grizzly Bear asked us to remix one of their tracks, but we never found the boldness to mess with their beautiful songs. So the other day we figured, maybe if we combine great things together (Grizzly Bear, Eno, chance), it would create something good.
Basically, all they did was acknowledge that Grizzly Bear‘s delicately lovely track “Foreground” off 2009′s Veckatimisest is in the key of D Major, and never really wavers from there except some slight variations into the relative minor of B Minor. Then they took the most well-known song ever to be in D Major, Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major” and set the two side by side. You know the Canon even if you don’t think you do – about half the brides in America walk down the aisle to it at their wedding. Why? Because it’s an incredibly beautiful song. But they didn’t use just any version of “Canon in D Major,” they used one of the epically divine variations that Brian Eno crafted for his 1975 album, Discreet Music. His variations combine different angels of the song in different patterns to create a much more ethereal and ambient vibe – essentially eliminating the structure of the song and just leaving a psychedelic drift-off behind. I believe this specific variation is actually titled “Fullness of Wind.”
Anyway, the drifting nature of both tracks means you can essentially start them at any random times and they will syncopate into something truly beautiful, and truly worthy of the word divine. It’s like synching Dark Side of the Moon to The Wizard of Oz but not stressing about hitting play right when the lion roars. I’m already on my 4th go-round this morning, and the timing is really never off. Go HERE NOW to experience it yourself. If you can, don’t be afraid to close your eyes for a second.
If you wonder what Maynard Keenan does in his downtime between Tool shows and producing wine in the desert, then you obviously have not fully experienced the world known as Puscifer. While not really a band per se, Puscifer is more or less the creative outlet for any of the absurd creations that are constantly erupting inside Keenan’s slightly askew mind. You know what though? The guy catches a lot of flack for being a weirdo and dry-humping stage crashers and all that, but he really just likes to have fun – all be it in the most absurd and psychedelic ways. His latest release is this fairly spot on cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The video, however, takes things to a whole other universe. Hanging out with Maynard is like hanging out with your buddy who just wants to constantly fuck with your head while you’re high on mushrooms. Half the time you’re laughing, and the other half of the time you’re kind of worried that he’s going to pull a knife on you or something. Either way, this video is quite obviously a great release from the mundane boredom of a normal work week. Just don’t watch it on your iPhone during a first date or anything – it’ll send that girl running.
Here’s a Puscifer original…
I’ve never been one who’s afraid to bring my personal life into my writing, but my loss this week is a little too deep to post sarcastic rants about. As usual though, and as hopefully you all know, there’s nothing like beautiful music to make shittier times better. I’ve turned several times this week to this new, warm, home-made video of one of my favorite drummers of all time covering one of my favorite songs of all time. I fucking love Janet Weiss, once drummer for Sleater-Kinney, current drummer for Wild Flag, and most importantly, the greatest drummer to ever play with Stephen Malkmus. Since any downtime in Portland is just a showcase that you’re drawing closer to hipster retirement, for the past year Weiss has also been playing occasional duo gigs with her buddy Drew Grow in their cover band Slang. Thank God we’ve entered a time where you can be light-hearted and not be ironic, and thus this cover of The Traveling Wilburys’ classic “Handle With Care” is truly beautiful. It’s more or less a straight-forward take on the tune, but Weiss’ driving pulse give it a new sense of strength that it didn’t really ever have before. And Grow’s voice falls nicely in a twang range reminiscent of both Dylan and George Harrison, so this tune is obviously perfect for him. Weiss’ background vocals on the bridge/chorus are the definiton of cute elegance – 2 weeks into the year, I can assure you this will be my favorite cover of 2013. Sometimes you just need to see some of the cool kids smile and remind you how important love is. Take care everybody.
You know how when you listen to a Girl Talk album, you say: “Oh, that shit sounds really fucking cool, but I feel like I could have done that on my little sister’s laptop”? Well the electro-wizard known as Dan Deacon has basically taken mash-ups to a whole new realm on his latest “mix” tape – this is the kind of thing where you say: “Oh shit, this sounds fucking nuts and I have no clue what’s actually happening.” Perhaps motivated by his brilliant sonic-success of this summer’s attack on the Carly Rae Jespen hit “Call Me Maybe Acapella 147 Times Exponentially Layered,” Deacon has just released a 5 track mix known as Wish Book Volume I. Hopefully the volume 1 part refers to more on the way, because nobody else is doing this stuff and we need to get as freaky as possible as we move into 2013. I know I was definitely not waiting for “Gangnam Style” to be mixed up with Grimes‘ “Oblivion” – but it takes a bold leap into the unknown. Take a listen below, and download the whole mix from Soundcloud HERE.
Here’s Deacons’ full rundown:
Hope you enjoy. Wish Book Volume 1 was made with music made by (in order of appearance): grimes+psy+beach house+skrillex+diplo+nicky da b+dirty projectors+lil wayne+nicki minaj+oneohtrix point never+tune yards+animal collective+rod stewart+the strokes+wiz khalifa+beyoncé+lcd sound system+death grips+ludacris+rihanna+the beatles+roy orbison+silver apples+katy perry+69 boyz+gary glitter+james brown+lmafo+black dice+the ronettes+r. kelly+black eyed peas+lenny kravitz+the misfits+2 chains+daftpunk+led zeppelin+the notorious b.i.g.+devo+lightning bolt+unknown artist recorded in jaipur, india+marvin gaye+radiohead+rage against the machine+salt n peppa+brian eno+madonna
The thing that sometimes amazes me the most about our modern digitized society is how easy it is these days to get out of the pop loop. If you skip all your TV commercials and you never once scan the FM dial while driving around, then it is quite possible that you’ve missed out on this goddam Carly Rae Jespen tune “Call Me Maybe.” And hats off to you if so – I know of a bunch of folks who definitely have never heard it, but believe me the shit is everywhere. It’s currently cresting 139 million fucking views on Youtube, since it was released 4 months ago. Fucking nuts. There’s a bunch of dumb shit like Bieber doing it karaoke and some tools on the Harvard baseball team doing a dance to it or something. Anyway, it’s reached such massive virality that today Mabson Enterprises released a 43-track album of nothing but remixes of the tune, and…
Shit is brilliant. Now we’re not talking just different beats and random Nicki Minaj verses thrown on top, we’re talking 43 of the most off-beat producers doing their best to completely make the tune all their own. We’re talking new versions of “Call Me Maybe” that are entitled things like “Call Me Hella Faded” and “Call My Phone Dumbass, I Can’t Find It.” From light jazz to destructive art-rock, everything is tackled. The original tune just keeps getting re-consumed and shat out into some new masterpiece – only to be gobbled down once again by someone new until it’s recast into the following producer. It’s honestly a magical moment for the modern age of what it truly means to be “pop”. It’s like the musical equivalent of early Shepard Fairey work. Anyway, I recommend going to their bandcamp page HERE right now where you can download the whole thing for free. (Or flip em a few bucks if you want.)
My favorite cut on the disc though obviously goes to my hero, Dan Deacon, and his brilliant composition: “Call Me Maybe Acapella 147 Times Exponentially Layered.” Hard to really describe it any better than its own title, but essentially Deacon layers the vocal tracks in syncopation on top of one another, and the form seems to multiple in ever increasing increments. At 30 seconds you can hear the chorus come in. By 1:06, the pattern begins to fractal in on itself. At 1:24, a mystery beat seems to arise. At 1:57, you’re suddenly riding the inter-galaxy transport thing from Contact. And things seem to melt into themselves every subsequent 30 seconds from then on. It’s really phenomenal, and I almost recommend skipping to the last 30 seconds of the track before listening to the whole thing – just so you can see if you can make out any of the original song by that point. It’s fun, and it’s actually beautiful. Friggin Dan Deacon man…the guy is a wizard. Listen and download for free right here…
When I first heard that Aaron Freeman (aka Gene Ween) was going to release a solo album, I was giddy as a school-girl. Ween hasn’t released an actual album since La Cucaracha in 2007, although Deaner did drop The Caesar Demos last year. If you’re in a serious need of hearing Ween tunes you’ve never heard before, it’s definitely a must-have. The download links are still up at MediaFire – Here’s Disc One and here’s Disc Two. Anyway, when I first heard Aaron was putting out an album, I had visions of slow ballads that were a touch too soft for Ween but would still have his off-kilter beauty shining through. The pseudo-bummer is that the album is actually a collection of songs originally penned by Rod McKuen.
Now if you’re like me, too young to have been a complete music geek in the 70′s, then you also have no idea who Rod McKuen is. Turns out Gener didn’t have a clue either, til producer Ben Vaughn turned him on. Well good ole’ Rod here supposedly wrote over 1500 songs in the 50s through the 80s, for everyone from Frank Sinatra to Madonna. And yeah, he’s got a little odd twist to his writing and his voice has an ironic snarl that points to a hidden amusement in even the most serious of moments, but these aren’t Ween songs. This is Aaron Freeman paying his respects to an artist that he truly appreciates and wants to turn more folks onto. So, it is what it is for what it is, but fuck, I was hoping for it to be just a little bit more. I guess it’s a good way to get your grandmother into Ween, but other than that it’s only gonna make you want to listen to The Mollusk on repeat a few more times. Give it a shot yourself. Here’s Freeman’s take on “As I Love My Own.”
And here’s some original Rod with “Marvelous Clouds.”
And if you need Ween you haven’t heard, here’s “Ambrosia Parsley” – another classic Prince on Mushrooms groove.