Archive for February, 2013
Well, I’m about 14 listens into the new My Bloody Valentine album, and I can already feel it restructuring my genetic make-up. I’ve always adored Loveless, and as crazy as it seems to me that I may actually enjoy this record even more, I can’t deny it. Listening to mbv is like watching water rush down an empty riverbed – it works its way into every crack and fully consumes everything, creating a new unified entity with the previously dry ground beneath it. This is the first album I’ve ever tried to turn my Bose computer speakers all the way up for, and they totally had not a lick of balls to get to the point I needed. I need to drown in this shit – that’s the intention of the music, and not letting it fully wash over you is a complete disgrace and disregard to its power. You can read my full review of the album HERE at State of Mind, and here’s the last paragraph of it.
…Somehow, thank god, Bilinda Butcher’s vocals are still as ethereal and illusive as ever. After all this time, I still have no clue what one word of the lyrics she sings on Loveless is, and 22 years from now I’ll still have no clue what any of the words on mbv are. But complaining about that is like complaining about not properly knowing what hue of indigo lies within glacial ice — some things in life just are entities solely unto themselves. I could go on and on… how perfectly imperfect the guitar tone is in “Who Sees You”… how “New You” is the most eerily beautiful anything of the past decade… how the drums on “In Another Way” sound like a syncopated stampede of rabid yak… how “Wonder 2″ is most assuredly the sound of Neptune’s rings… To simply delineate the enormity of this music into something so trivial as “shoegazing” is like classifying your life with a haircut. mbv is not only a testament to the potential triumphs of great bands lost along the way, but an ode to the authenticity of rebirth in general….
I’ve been thinking a lot about this video lately. I first recall watching it several years ago, and it’s gone rather viral since, but it’s still easily one of the greatest things of all time. I recommend it to people constantly, and decided I needed to formalize my love for it a little more. So…it’s 1973 and Stevie Wonder is in the heyday of his soul-funk era. Frank Oz and the genius folks over at Sesame Street decide that they should have Stevie on the show and that they should just let the motherfucker go off. And that he does. He has a little interview with Grover, plays a little ditty about counting, and then busts this massive “Superstition.” Have you ever paid attention to the lyrics of that song? They’re pretty friggin’ dark, and I always thought they served as kind of a jab against formalized religion. Heavy pick for the show. But anyway, long story short, with some fresh-ass Orange Amps in tow, and a ridiculously raw in-the-pocket band behind him, the soul-brother #2 busts out a 7 minute long take on the song. And as dope and killer as it sounds, the video is really highlighted by one defining factor – there’s a bunch of kids sitting on the steps having a good time, but up on the top fire escape there is a little dude who is straight up losing his shit. He looks to be about 6 years old, but he seems to be very aware that being on the set of Sesame Street for Stevie Wonder will essentially be the golden moment of his entire life. At times, it looks like he’s honestly trying to rip the guardrail off. I often wonder who and where this kid is now. He’s gotta be in his late 40′s, and hopefully the rest of his life has been just as epic as these 7 recorded minutes. I’d love to find him – I’m sure he still rants and raves about this. If you want to see his golden moments, they look at the top center 20 seconds in. 38 seconds in is when you realize he’s the freshest mother-fucker of all fucking time. At 2:12 you can find him in the upper right corner dropping some nasty knee lock moves. 4:08 is when you realize you’d probably be doing the exact same thing. Shit is magical. At 5:17 he’s stomping the metal like it’s his job. And then the capper is at 6:04 - the band has reprised the song, Stevie’s vamping some Sesame Street lyrics, and that little dude is getting low. Way low. Owning that shit. He’s one of my biggest heroes and inspirations in life. Seriously. That little 6 year old crushing the fuck out of Sesame Street in 1973.
It was announced today that Trent Reznor has decided to get Nine Inch Nails back together and play a whole mess of show later this year. However, “back together” is a fairly relative term when it comes to NIN. As of yesterday, there had been 21 different fellas who’ve played in the band with Reznor over the years, and today we’re getting the inclusion of 3 more. This has always been the design of the band, and for a sound that is essentially an industrialized military attack formulated in Reznor’s mind, it’s always worked quite well. I had never been the biggest fan of the band, but after seeing one of their last gigs at Bonnaroo in 2009 I was blown the fuck away. I can only imagine what the band will sound like now – bringing in the incomparable Adrian Belew from King Crismon on guitar? That’s just fucking nuts. Not only can the dude shred your living face off, but if you’ve ever seen videos of him playing with the Talking Heads then you know he’s also a brute force of a living rhythm machine. And then he’s also added Eric Avery, the bass player from Jane’s Addiction? Well, hot damn – this just became the top must-see band of 2013. But what’s interesting about all this, is that Reznor has this aura that’s akin to a jazz master – where you praise the main artist so much that you know that any incarnation of a band he’s going to hit the road with will be fucking amazing. There’s only 3 other current rock artists who also have the gall to do this, each with different levels of audience acceptance and success.
1) Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses - Appetite for Destruction is arguably one of the greatest rock albums ever made, but not once did somebody ever hear it and say, “Ahh this backing band really doesn’t click with the singer.” I mean, c’mon, everybody has air-guitarred a Slash solo at some point. GNR was a fucking band above all bands – Izzy, Duff – even that junkie on drums – Axl’s dumbass move to think that he’s the only that anybody cares about in that band has severely hurt his street-cred over the years. If the original lineup got back together, they could playing arenas. Literally, they could see upwards of 100,000 tickets a show in various locales across the nation… and whole world. One of the worst lineup changes in the history of music.
2) James Mercer and The Shins - I really like the Shins, and their sound has been an enormous influence on the indie-world over the past decade. And while Mercer’s songs can at times be surprisingly complex, it’s never really been a band that you go see for a crazy guitar solo or even for any of the instrumental talent of the band. That being said, the band has always been great, and Mercer’s decision to constantly change the lineup over the years seems to be solely based on him making it clear that it’s his band and his band alone. Thus, in this lineup change situation, the moves have never really effected the quality of the music, but they have made even the most avid fan wonder the askew dimensions of Mercer’s introverted ego.
3) Billy Corgan and Smashing Pumpkins - In the early 90′s, the Pumpkins seemed like such a definitive picture of a full band. Sure, Corgan was the frontman, but the Eastern smile of James Iha on guitar and the dark, sultriness of D’arcy Elizabeth Wretzky on bass seemed like equally defining pieces of the puzzle. When inter-band bickering brought them to a split in 2000, it was a bummer, but it seemed to acknowledge that the band couldn’t continue without one another. Billy went on to do Zwan and some other solo shit, and things seemed cool. That is until 2005, when Corgan took out those huge ads in the Chicago newspapers saying he wanted to reunite the band. Sure the drummer came back, but Iha and Wretzky were no-shows. In my mind, that’s not a reunion, but the move of a guy who’s failing in his solo endeavors and in need of using his past notoriety to sell some albums. I had waning respect for Corgan already, but that seemed to make me lose it all. They’ve released 3 albums since then, one of which people say is actually pretty good – but I decided a while ago to not give a fuck.
Oh well – fame, music, and money always have a great way of fucking each other over.
The last time I saw Hot Tuna was play was July 4, 1997, when they were part of the Further Festival and it came to Riverside Amusement Park in Agawam, Massachusetts. I don’t remember much from that day except that Ratdog kind of sucked, that The Black Crowes played the hugest “Remedy” of all time, and that I stood 5 feet from the stage for Hot Tuna’s set. I also recall them playing “I Know You Rider” which was preceded by Jorma saying that one of his friends told him he’d pay him 5 bucks if he mentioned Jerry Garcia‘s name before the song. Anyway, there aren’t too many bands I’ve ever taken a 16 break from in-between shows, but I just always seemed to be out of town every time they came to Vermont. So seeing them in a sold-out theater in Portland amid the strongest contingent of twilight hippies I’ve ever been immersed in, was really quite a beautiful experience. Here’s an excerpt from the review and read the whole thing over at State Of Mind.
…The sold-out crowd in Portland was mainly composed of folks who have most likely been seeing Jorma play in one manner or another since long before this writer was even born. The faded tie-dyes that were omnipresent throughout the room seemed to hold a metaphorical essence within them. Much like the ashen garb‚ the music represented the settling echoes of raucous times gone past. Like an acid trip of perfection‚ the psychedelic eruptions of Jefferson Airplane have peaked and settled into the soothing moments of delicate synergy that Kauokenen and Casady emit from the stage. Each song was prefaced by some fabled tale of enlightenment or moment of self-mockery‚ and it seemed clear that these guys have long existed on the true artistic mantra of taking your music seriously‚ but not taking yourself seriously at all…
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…
Ever since Yacht Rock rekindled all of ours’ fascination with the smooth jams of the late 70′s and 80′s, a multitude of bands have tried to make a modernized version of the sound. Side-note: if you haven’t yet watched the Yacht Rock 12-part Mocumentary Series, then stop what you’re doing and go watch it right now. They just re-released it in Hi-Def even. Anyway, I’d say a solid 99.2% of the bands that try to embody this sound in the modern era just all-out totally fail. There’s a reason all those Hall & Oates grooves and Kenny Loggins hits are so amazing, and the key factor is that there’s no sense of irony in them. Thirty years ago, the musical world was a different place, and you were able to completely lose yourself in your own absurdity. It was a time when critical reaction was not on your mind – you could just make music that felt fucking great. Side-note #2: Steely Dan has, still does, and will always blow massive doo-doo rod. But moving on… today’s artists think that there’s something funny and ironic about making smooth music. They’re like the kids born in the 90′s who go see Chromeo, and they show up in day-glo leggings and headbands because they think it’s some kind of 80′s mockery music. They can’t just accept that the tunes are good, and that they should just dance like normal people – instead of pretending they’re doing a skit at their 3rd grade variety show. There is one modern artist however, that is able to fully realize the simpler moments of the smooth groove – Benny Sings.
The main reason Benny Sings is able to abandon all sense of irony is that he is Dutch. Plain and simple. If you’re from the Netherlands, then you’re born with an inherent sense of comical naivety – which sucks if you want to be a stand-up comic, but which is amazing if you want to kick out some smooth-ass jams. I’ve only recently stumbled upon the majesty of Benny Sings, and now I’m basking in all his glory. He;s still bigger in Asia and Europe than he is over here, but the dude is a fucking gem. I really can’ t believe this video for “For Your Love” has under 2,000 views! Dig in…
I read a random tweet a few months back that said – “Not now. I’ll give it another try next year.” Me, every year, regarding Trout Mask Replica. I feel the new music from the artist known as Stamping Mill may soon bring equal responses. To put it quite simply, this music is difficult. That’s not to say it isn’t fully intriguing, wholly original, and helmed by a fully talented musician. But it does seem like the kind of thing that would be on exhibit at the Guggenheim, and that David Byrne would view with his head slightly cocked to one side like a dog that’s trying to make out what you’re saying. This is music that makes you truly question the intent and goal of its’ creator. Some make music to please, or to unite, or to induce movement… and some make music to challenge and perplex. There’s several epically self-defining statements from the man simply known as Joseph about his Stamping Mill project, on his site…
.:. I can no longer pretend to enjoy playing live music… Stamping Mill will not be performing live now or in the future.
… This is not easy listening music and it’s not for everyone. In fact, there is a very good chance that you will despise this music at first or perhaps conclude that it’s not music at all; but make an effort to understand what I’m trying to do before rejecting it outright.
.:. For me, music is about a constant struggle to create a unique piece of artwork… Stamping Mill is an attempt at art – that is the ultimate goal here.
.:. I reject the process of songwriting by committee and I will never compromise with band members or producers again. I make music alone for people like myself that would rather put on headphones than go see a live band.
Obviously, this man is not a dancer. His statements also seem to highlight the fact that this music is the result of his frustration and anger with the music industry. Which leads me to wonder… if he had never gone through the musical ringer, would he had ever been led to make such absurdist music? While he is the sole creator of these sounds, isn’t the entire history of modern pop and rock the true collaborator? This music is essentially the result of one man’s frustration with the tonal rhythms that society has pounded into his brain. While he claims this to be the most solitary music of all time, perhaps it’s actually the most widespread demographically collaborative music anyone has ever made.
The music itself is composed by expanding on a computer program’s production of random musical notes. Thus, the natural absurdity that results is equal to a trio composed of John Cage, Captain Beefheart, and Hal 9000. This is the closest anyone has ever come to making music that sounds like a Jackson Pollock painting. While composed of stacks of random actions, the end result is a fully realized piece of art that exists solely in relation to itself and to the artist. The debate over whether it is actually good or not is an arbitrary discussion that can only result in a theological argument about whether anything is this universe truly has a right to exist. So much like Trout Mask Replica, the true determining question is not whether or not you like the music, but whether you have put yourself out there and actually experienced it. Don’t be afraid, give it a shot.
What the fuck is aleatoricism?
I’m not one to be moved enough by any advertisement to really alter my perception of a company, but I gotta say the new Lincoln ad campaigns are tugging at my heart strings. Sure, I’m not in the market for a luxury limousine right now, but who knows what could happen after the Powerball numbers are revealed. So first they post this awesome new commercial that shows Abraham Lincoln walking out of the fog like he just blew up a coke warehouse in a Tarentino movie. Then they put up the money to have Beck get 160 musicians together and create this truly epic performance of David Bowie‘s “Sound and Vision.” The power of the video more or less speaks for itself, so I basically just want to make sure people see this amazing thing. Beck’s own underwhelming voice really adds some humanity to a performance that otherwise be nearly extraterrestrial. The main thing to really remember watching the video is that this is a 360 degree performance. Now I saw Herbie Hancock perform about 10 years ago in full funk mode, and he had his sound rigged so that his sound-guy could use a joystick to rotate any of the instrumentation around the room in a circular fashion. This Beck thing is a whole other world though. As is somewhat abstractly displayed in the image above, not only is the audience positioned in a circle around Beck with the musicians surrounding them on the outside, the platform that the audience is on is actually moving in a circle. You can’t tell from the video, but these folks are actually rotating inside the music. Imagine if orchestra started setting up in this same fashion – it cloud breathe a whole new life and universe into the act of witnessing a live performance. I’m on board folks – I’ll pick you up in my Town Car.
Valentine’s Day today. We all have those moments in our life when love truly strikes us, and for most of us, those moments when love strikes us down. But the amazing thing about life, and love, and the indomitable will of the human spirit, is that we find these specific things that keep us going – that keep our heads up. Presumably if you read this blog, music in general plays a major role in your life, and you have your go-to songs. Songs that you not only play in times of sorrow, but in times of joy. Songs that center you and make you feel normal, and alive, and make you stop and wonder at how amazing it is that we can have sounds that can shape us so deeply. There is music in my life that I truly love. And besides the love I have for and with an amazing woman in my life, music is the only other thing in my life that I truly and passionately love. The only other thing that can encompass me and make me exist solely in its moment – in its existence. It’s the only other thing that can feel like having my girl’s face pressed against mine, and feel like my relation to it is a moment of success in the universe. That the cosmic goo looks down and smiles and says “yes, it’s shit like this that is the reason we made this whole thing in the first place.” Relating – understanding. In this way, I was reminded today of the amazing video that appeared last year of Henry, the nearly empty of shell of an old man with Alzheimers in a nursing home.
This video of Henry is an excerpt from the documentary film, Alive Inside, which doesn’t appear to have been fully completed yet, or released. I can’t tell unfortunately. But what the video does show is that these folks who can barely speak are brought back to life and back to themselves when they hear the music that they love. At one point, a doctor refers to it as “the quickening art.” If you know the term “quickening,” you may recognize it as the moment in a women’s pregnancy when the child actually comes to life. They say this is the time when the pineal gland forms and connects the two hemispheres of the brain. And you can actually see this quickening moment happening in these people. It’s almost like it’s reconnecting those lost synapses. It totally reminds me of that De Niro movie Awakenings, or even dare I say The Notebook. Anyway, I don’t want to ramble much further – you should just watch the clip. And if you’ve seen it before – watch it again. It’s fucking amazing. This is what love and music and life are all about – we are sentient beings, and the power of sound is a primal force – a force that can shape, and create, and rebuild, and bring us back to the true nature and destiny of the beings we are meant to be. And if you rag on somebody for listening to crappy music, like shitty dub-step or horrid Bieberesque shit, just remember… That music brings them utter joy, and that’s all that matters. They’re being touched, and they’re experiencing their own relationship with sound and existence, and that in itself is a beautiful thing. To quote the reawakened Henry – “I feel the band of love and dreams. The lord came to me and made me holy…so he gave me these sounds.”
Visit the film’s website HERE, and here’s Henry…
Here’s a video of someone who tried this on his own parents…
When writing this review I thought of all the times I’ve seen Marco perform over the years – I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s somewhere around 15. And this gig the other night was actually the first time that I thought things fell a little flat. So that’s a pretty good batting average the dude’s got in my book. No, it wasn’t just because I hate the new songs that have vocals so much, but that definitely didn’t help things out. Here’s an excerpt of the review below, and read the whole thing HERE at State of Mind Music.
“…Now don’t get me wrong, the performance was spectacular. There’s a reason the digital pages of S.O.M. are fully stuck together with ecstatic residue of Marco pop-offs — the mop-topped ivory pounder is a wizard on the keys. His technical skills have only grown tighter over the years, and when he dug into his solos this night he cast a still awe upon the crowd as they basked in his expressionist technique. That being said, his current leap into the deep end of electro-indie-dance-pop doesn’t seem to as of yet found a way to fully acclimate to the other half of his persona. When he would dig into his darker, jazz-askew cuts, his Brubeck-like attack of the solos would breathe an essence of creepy fluidity — like you could sense David Lynch pointing a camera over your shoulder, onto his piano, and then spiraling back into the center of your eye. But when the dance-party songs break in, it suddenly feels like all the lights are turned on and any sense of mystery is lost. I feel his performance could be untouchable if he could figure out how to transcend that boundary between his two selves…”
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