Archive for January, 2013
When I first hear of Tame Impala last year a few years back, I presumed they were some electronica band from the Philly suburbs – I mean, who else would name their band after a Chevrolet sedan? Then I heard the single for “Solitude is Bliss” and instantaneously googled the fuck out of them. Ahh, an impala is a type of antelope form the band’s native Australia – Ok, now that aligns more with this ideal mesh of 70′s acid-trip and 90′s indie rock that I can’t stop playing on repeat. And while the accompanying 2010 album Innerpeaker was fantastic, 2012′s Lonerism is straight-up amazing. While I ranked it as #13 on my Top 50 list for 2012, I probably listened to that record more than anything else in the past few months. And again, while the “Solitude” video is great – witty, very Aussie, and a wonderful portrayal of the song – I’m more psyched that so far their video releases for Lonerism make you feel like you just ate a vintage black-light poster off the wall.
If you somehow haven’t yet seen the video for “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” then go watch it immediately, and prepare to combine your memories of your first time eating mushrooms with what you remember 3-2-1 Contact looking like as a child. The video posted a few days ago for “Mind Mischief” is even better. It’s essentially a complete contrast to Pink Floyd‘s “Another Brick in the Wall” – like you dove straight into the daydream imagination of one of those British kids getting screamed at to eat his pudding. It’s brilliant, and heartwarming. But careful if you wash it while at work, because it will make you instantly want to go rip a joint in the bathroom.
So my main man Tim Heidecker of Tim and Eric: Awesome Show – Great Job! fame has now fully established himself as the most sarcastic man on the planet – and thus my complete hero. If you’re unaware of Tim’s brand of comedy, then watch this incredibly awkward stand-up clip that makes Andy Kaufman seem like a Vegas lounge act. Anyway, in August Heidecker took the audacious move of trumping Dylan’s new 13 minute 54 second song about the Titanic, “Tempest,” by releasing his own 15 minute long Dylan-esque Titanic track. Composed in the vein of something off Desire, the track really has no sense of notable irony to it. It really just sounds like an actual Dylan track about the big boat sinking, and to tell you the truth I actually find it more listenable than “Tempest” itself. The other thing is that it’s produced perfectly enough for it to actually be mistaken for Dylan. You can listen to the whole thing at the bottom of this post.
Last night though, things got even more interesting. Heidecker streamed himself live last night at Midnight to present a big announcement. He claimed that due to Beyonce lip-synching the National Anthem at last week’s inauguration, she has been bumped from performing at this week’s Super Bowl halftime show and is being replaced by Bob Dylan. He then claimed that he had been leaked the info on what track Dylan would be performing – a supposed outtake from 1983′s Infidels album called “Running Out the Clock” – a track that was originally supposed to be played at the ’83 Super Bowl. Complete with nods to Iran and a Mark Knopfer guitar solo, this track is spot-on amazing. So amazing in fact, and presented in such a dead-pan manner, that about half of the people commenting on the track actually believe it’s Dylan. Even more so, as of right now someone has actually updated the Infidels wikipedia page to include the track as an official outtake that will be performed at this year’s Super Bowl! This, my friends, is a new degree of modern comedy. This is sarcasm taken to such a serious level that it is only intended to cause confusion. This is truly brilliant. Honestly, this is fucking brilliant shit right here. I have never wanted to take my hat off and salute anyone as much as I do for Tim Heidecker right now. The man is a straight up genius. Take a listen and see if you would have potentially believed that Dylan would have ever written something like this.
So I’m a few years late on the tip to Wild Light, an indie-pop band out of New Hampshire predominantly known for featuring one of the 57 previous members of Arcade Fire. The band had their moments opening for Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, and The Killers at different points, but it looks like they haven’t bounced back or up or anywhere since their brief touch of fame a few years back. Their website is currently defunct, and I doubt they were ever able to craft a song as catchy and fresh as “California on My Mind.” But I’ll be damned if it isn’t one hell of a cut, and also a beautiful, instinctive response tune – which are usually my favorite.
Purportedly, main vocalist Jordan Alexander wrote this track while living in California and having one of those “fuck this shit” kind of moments. It’s natural – we all have it occasionally about the places we live in, but it’s probably a little harder when you turn on the radio and every other song from the past 40 years in someway references how amazing and magical California is. I’m sure he just heard too much dribble about putting a flower in your hair and decided it was time someone acknowledged their disdain for the place too many pay homage to. Either way, it’s my go-to missed track of the week, so pour a little bit of your beer out for the folks who almost had the pop-rock game plan figured out.
So to recap the first half of the list…
22) Facts of Life
21) 21 Jump Street
20) Just the Ten of Us
19) My Two Dads
18) Gimme a Break!
17) Diff’rent Strokes
16) Who’s the Boss
14) Family Ties
13) Greatest American Hero
12) Knight Rider
…and now, the greatest TV theme songs from the 80′s continue…
11) Valerie/ The Hogan Family – Sure they pushed Valerie off a cliff at one point, but that didn’t change the dark groove on the Hogan’s verses.
10) The A-Team – C’mon, if this shit doesn’t pump you up then nothing will.
9) Night Court - One of the foundational grooves of slap-bass. Killer friggin’ track.
8) Charles in Charge – It wasn’t just Scott Baio’s dreamy eyes that made this show great…
7) Perfect Strangers – Again, an epic moment of inspiration.
6) Magnum P.I. – In all actuality, this tune gets me way more pumped than the A-Team groove. God, I love this cut.
5) Chipmunks Go to the Movies - Now I’m basically saving cartoon themes for another list, but this oft forgotten show had the most bad-ass, escalating intro out there.
4) Silver Spoons – This is what I truly call a theme of all themes.
3) Punky Brewster - Straight up, this is probably the most well composed song on the list. So killer.
2) Alf – Again, someone is slapping the shit out of that bass. Another example of the song far surpassing the quality of the show.
1) Kidd Video - Sadly, nobody ever remembers this amazing fucking cartoon, that opens with one of my favorite songs ever.
Grand Champion - Growing Pains – It’s the go-to theme, hands down. It’s so perfect in all it’s glory, it doesn’t even deserve a number on the list. Just stand alone magic. Sorry for the fuzzy version, but I needed the full version.
If you know me personally, then you know that this subject is perhaps my greatest forte. I’m so confident that I have the predominant grasp on all the best TV theme songs of the 80′s that I stay awake at night praying for Remote Control to come back on the air – just so I could dominate in it. Now my two defining factors in this list are songs that are undeniably bad-ass, and songs that are so kitsch and innocent that they blow your fucking mind in their epicness. And of course, a few tunes that straddle the threshold of both. And before anybody complains, there are 3 notable absences here – 1) Taxi – A killer groove, but it’s a holdover from the 70′s and has much more of that decade’s feel. 2) Cheers – One of the greatest theme songs ever. It’s timeless, and that’s the problem. It could work in any decade and has little to no defining qualities of the 80′s to it. 3) Pee-Wee’s Playhouse - Again, too timeless for this list. And Jesus, it’s 2 and half minutes long. I knew there was a reason I’d get extra antsy waiting for it to start. But without further ado…
22) Facts of Life – Oh Tootie, we could never forget you.
21) 21 Jump Street – Obviously this list had to stretch to 21 for this tune. The slow build intro really gets you pumped for earring-clad Depp busting some local dopers.
20) Just the Ten Of Us – Damn, that synthed out bass and killer lyric hook portends to true magic from the Growing Pains spin-off.
19) My Two Dads – A little too much talking on the start, but once that sax starts backing up the groove – look the fuck out dance-floor!
18) Gimme a Break - Very few stars sing their own themes, but Nell Carter wasn’t gonna let her dominating soul growl go to waste.
17) Diff’rent Strokes – What a powerful message this tune exudes…
16) Who’s the Boss – Oh, Milano…
15) MacGyver – The tense buildup into the orchestrated release makes you believe that even you could make a bomb with chewing gum.
14) Family Ties – Maybe the most heartwarming cut on the list.
13) Greatest American Hero – Constanza’s favorite really has the power to inspire.
12) Knight Rider - In hindsight, the theme stand the test of time much better than the show actually does. Except for those awesome episodes with Goliath.
Just when you thought the world was lacking in innovative new musical instruments that could instantaneously launch you into an alternative ethereal landscape, along comes the Wheelharp. Essentially taking the foundation of the hurdy gurdy and expanding it into massive fruition, the wheelharp uses a constantly cycling bow to play actual strings that are controlled by a keyboard. It basically puts an entire orchestra’s string sections at your fingertips. The sound quivers though with more of a unified echo then any orchestra, and it also has a totally spooky, metallic ring to it. If I could find that shoebox I misplaced with $10,000 in it, I would buy one right now.
The story is that it’s based on an old design of DaVinci’s that he never actually constructed, and then some fella named Jon Jones began building one about 10 years ago. And despite being burdened with one of those obnoxiously redundant names, we owe Mr. Jones a great deal of respect because this is one of the dopest sounds I’ve heard in a long time. I guarantee this thing is going to find itself a home somewhere in the soundtrack for The Hobbit Part II, and I can’t wait to see who the hippest band will be to use one in the studio and on stage for the first time. I’ll give Arcade Fire 3-1 odds, and The Low Anthem 2-1 odds dependent on them receiving some sort of foundational grant. I’ll also throw in Wayne Cohen and The Flaming Lips at 8-1, and Stephen Malkmus at 12-1. You can send wager payments to my paypal account.
A lot has changed on the musical landscape in the past 10 years, and a good deal of that evolution stemmed from The Postal Service’s album Give Up in 2003. If Kid A had taught skeptical folks like myself that the oncoming digital wonder-age of music was something that even true rock-loyalists could embrace, then Give Up was the next step in finding beauty in the modern era’s potential. Taking the emo lyricism of Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard and mixing it with glitchy electronica sounded like a total nightmare on paper, but it meshed in a way that none of us were really expecting. Hell, I can’t even remember or imagine what being sad on a plane felt like before I had “Recycled Air” to play on repeat. But seriously, if all you know of the band is the intro to “Such Great Heights” from the UPS commercials, then do yourself a favor and get on the tip before people figure out how lame you are.
Anyway, aside from announcing a few tour dates, Gibbard and co-collaborator Jimmy Tamborello have announced that they’ll be reissuing Give Up with a whole lot of bonus shit the first week of April. If, like me, you obsessively bought every EP they ever put out just so you could get the one or two bonus songs on each disc, then this reissue will be fairly old hat to you. There are two new tracks – “A Tattered Line of String” and “Turn Around,” but everything else has been released before. So of everything that’s been there before, here are my Top 3 must-hear tracks from all the B-side and EP albums.
“There’s Never Enough Time” – This is one of my favorite tracks of theirs, and I fucking love it when Gibbard’s guitar kicks in halfway through.
“Such Great Heights” – Iron and Wine cover – I’ve never been a big fan of Samuel Beam, but I think I love his take on the hit even more than the original.
“We Will Become Silhouettes’ – The Shins cover – James Mercer totally reworked the song and made it his own here. Dope, fun shit.
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.
Well yeah, of course we should care… it’s David Fucking Bowie for Christ’s sake. But the real question is whether or not this new song that suddenly appeared a couple days ago on his 66th birthday is any good. Well when I think of Bowie in the modern era, I think of 2 things. One is “I’m Afraid Of Americans,” the Trent Reznor collaboration from 1996, and two is when he came out with Arcade Fire to perform “Wake Up” in 2005 – the 2nd of those things being one of the greatest moments in music from the past decade. Seriously. So my initial instincts about any new Bowie music are that they’re either gonna be influenced by the weird industrialized feel or Reznor, or by the new generational epicness of Arcade Fire. Thus I was ironically a little surprised that this new track “Where are We Now” off his upcoming album, The Next Day, seems to be most influenced by old school David Bowie.
Here’s the thing… the first half of this song is ridiculously boring. It’s incredibly slow, with him just listing off names of places in Europe that none of us have heard of before. If it wasn’t the man himself who composed it, most people would write it off as mundane art-schlock by a Bowie wannabe. But the thing is, he is himself, and thus we have to give the music more than any random grain of salt. So while if it was somebody random I would have never made it to the end of the tune, I kept going with this one and realized that it’s actually pretty dope once the drums kick in around the 2:40 mark. It garners a very cinematic feel to it, and you can’t help but really dig on the closing lines that took him forever to get to: “As long as there’s sun/rain/me/you.” So yes, I’m glad this song exists, and it does deserve to be in the Bowie catalog, but it does leave a looming question of what the rest of this album portends to be. If this track is the centerpiece of the album, than there could be some boring shit on there but also some really cool, deep introspective old genius shit. If this is the highlight of the record, then we’re in for a long disparaging listen to one of our musical heroes. We’ll just have to wait and see, but for now the dude’s alive, he’s here, he’s making new music, and even though no one under the age of 25 will ever hear it, it’s worth it for some of us aging audiophiles to actually give a shit.
If you read my blog, then we’re probably on the same page with a lot of things, and I probably don’t need to convince you that Wal-Mart is the epicenter of all that is wrong and evil with the United States of America. And I’m sure that if any of you out there even still buy CDs, the Waltons’ franchise is most likely not your go-to spot for music purchases. But in the wake of last month’s Newtown tragedy, a bunch of websites have been posting lists of things that the store has banned because they don’t think they are safe or family-friendly, and compared that to the fact that you can still buy the same type of assault weapons used in the shooting there. Yes, some of their locations did pull the Bushmaster off the shelves, but nearly 1700 of their stores still carry it. So I could just sit here and list all the albums you can’t buy in their stores since they have explicit lyrics, although you still can buy rated R movies there with far more explicit language and violence, but anyway… I thought we should all look fondly back and remember the most popular banning at Wal-Mart. And no, not Marilyn Manson, or Prince, or Nirvana, or Green Day, but that terrible threat to our children’s innocence – Sheryl Crow.
Now I’m no big Crow fan – I mean sure, in my hormonal teen years I probably watched her videos a few more times than the quality of her music warranted, but the shit ain’t horrible. And hell, she did pull the smooth move and fuck Eric Clapton for a while, so she’s definitely pretty hip. But way back in 1996, when her self-titled breakthrough album was playing everywhere constantly, she became the first artist to have her album banned from Wal-Mart not for explicit lyrics or a dirty picture, but because they didn’t like the line in one of her songs. The tune, obviously birthed from the bowels of Satan’s loins, is titled “Love is a Good Thing,” and opens up with the line of Watch out sister/Watch out brother/Watch our children as they kill each other/with a gun they bought at the Wal-Mart discount stores. And hell, I mean it’s fucking true, but they don’t want to tarnish their own image with such blasphemy. So the record is still banned from their stores today, and in the wake of last month’s tragedy, I wouldn’t be surprised if a memo went around making sure store managers kept their eyes peeled for anyone actually slipping it into the racks. Thus in honor of their pure evil nature, take a few seconds and give the tune a listen – Hell, it’s the first line so you don’t need to get too far into it if you don’t want to, but you may get entranced by those mid-90s voluptuous lips.