Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Impressive, perhaps pompous, but worth a read...

There is a fascinating article on Stylus called "Playing God - Pulp This is Hardcore" (which, according to Ali G, is definitely not 'ardcore).


The author has decided to take the album and tweak its sequencing and song selection a bit, in particular bringing a couple of b-sides up to the album and relegating "TV Movie" and "Sylvia" to obscurity status. This is a fairly impressive intellectual wank, as you pretty much need to know every b-side and remix associated with the subject album to do it properly.

I think every music lover has spent a bit of time thinking about how an album might be a bit better if it ended here or had a different version of a particular song. As much as I worshiped all things Radiohead when Kid A was released, I was infuriated by the harp-y version of "Motion Picture Soundtrack" that closed the disc having heard bootlegs of the track with just Thom on a guitar, which were far superior. Usually, the albums that you love enough to know every track produced during those recording sessions you would not want to touch such a beloved piece of art.

There may be something pompous in saying "I know a better way to have made This is Hardcore than Jarvis and co." - but for everything we love in life, few of those things are completely without fault so why not point out the blemishes?

Whether you think humans should or should not meddle with musical science, any Pulp fan will probably find this an interesting read.

Choon of the Week - Annie "Chewing Gum"

While I am certainly not the first person have fallen in love with "Chewing Gum" and this selection isn't particularly original, as it is already a front runner for single of the year, respect must be given.

Annie is a cute Nowegian girl that has everything in place to ascend to the throne of indie music's next pop queen. She makes super sweet "pop" music; comparisons to Kylie, the other pop queen that all anti-top 40 people love, are inevitable (even on the bio on her website, she is calling out Kylie to hand over the crown). Clearly with one eye to making pop music and another to maintaining a sensible reputation, Annie is on independent record label 679 and she spins records in her spare time, having recently played MMM's favorite Monday party in London, Trash, not long back. Annie's debut album, Anniemal, has collaborations with stud producers Royksopp and Richard X (a bit of a "pop" producer whoose X-Factor album is quite good - especially because it has Jarvis singing!), who produced "Chewing Gum."

To call this song infectious is a bit of an understatement. The gooey electro stutter hooks and her sultry taunts makes for, simply put, extremely fun and irresistible music. The lyrics are a clever shitzophrenic conversation she has with herself about the parallels between chewing gum and men. The whole feel behind this song is very self-aware; Annie and Richard are clearly winking at us with this one, knowing full well that it takes just as much skill to make a great pop song as to be an ambitious innovator of the avant garde.

Girls like Kylie and Annie (and even Madge before she tried to channel the spirit of Brittney) are a rare breed. Their songs are equally pleasing to an 8 year old suburban girl or a Boho B-berg hipster - the true sign of "pop" music.

Check out Annie's website where you can see the video and learn all about her rather fascinating story:


NB: if you dig this, check out the Sugababes "Hole in the Head" - they are an English All Saints/Destiny's Child type group which of course is not normally my thing, but when I lived in England last year this song was everywhere and it has the safe addictive ingredient as "Chewing Gum"

Monday, November 29, 2004


One Louder has a good write up about the Andy C party - it includes a couple of other tracks from the set.

I also realized that John B played a bit of the ubiquotous Felix da Housecat tune "Silver Screen (Shower Scene)" on top of "Rocket Ride"

Getting Back into the Groove...

It has been a sad state of affairs here at MMM as of late. Last week had a measly 2 entries thanks to a short work week (let's all be serious - when does the best work get done on a blog?) and a bit of time pressure at work during that time. Despite MMM recovering from a long weekend of turkey and staying up until 4 playing San Andreas, this thing will get back on track post haste.

In the last week, we (the royal we) caught two
X-Wife shows - last Sunday at Sin-E and then Wednesday night at Pianos. It's rare to see such a professional bunch of performers in settings like the warm up slot at these small venues. Clearly they have honed the craft of being rock stars in Portugal. The music is very accessible live - I brought a couple of people who had never heard them before and they all seemed sold on the band (of course that may have just been them being nice). The last song on the album Feeding the Machine, "Taking Control," is a great live closer as they tend to stretch it out a bit and the end, not to mention that waiting until the last track to pull out the vocoder has a certain charm about it. I hope they get the chance to come back to the US with a record deal in tow because they are a quality band with a genuinely unique sound.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving also provided a chance to catch a night of drum 'n bass, as Andy C was in town. I had seen Andy C once before at The End in London (Rajeev of
One Louder swears by the man). We rolled into the City Club just in time to catch the one hour opening set by John B, who is a bit of an against the grain drum n bass man that sports a super teased out, new wave/Adam Ant blond mop and a bunch of Adam Ant style make up. The music reflected his quirky look - imagine new wave/electro meets drum n bass breakbeats. "Blue Monday," NIN's "Closer," Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" all got the breakbeat workout. The style is nothing if not ambitious and in a style of music that evolves at the speed of molasses, it is refreshing. Not every edit worked and the set on the whole felt very well rehearsed, but enjoyable nonetheless. After an hour and a half (John's set ran over), Andy rolls in with MC GQ and from about the moment he started, the sound completely died. The bass was flat, the volume wasn't high enough and when it finally got up there, it was too distorted. MC GQ was as pissed as all of us, but not even the overzealous mad for it jungalists in the crowd could keep the energy going when the sound was so poor. The City Club was an awful venue - clearly the sound system was not prepared for the jungle basslines and the bathroom was an absolute disaster - a club that fits 500-1000 people should have room for more than 4 people in the bathroom. In the end, a night with a lot of potential lost on a crap sound system.

Later today, this week's choon will be up...

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Fabric 19 - Andrew Weatherall

Andrew Weatherall is one of those names of the independent music scene of the last fifteen years that elicits high levels of respect. He was the one of the people most responsible for the fusion of rock and electronic music when he remixed a Primal Scream ballad into the rock 'n acid-house anthem "Loaded." He produced dubbed-out dream poppers One Dove (more can be learned about them here) and he had a couple of quality bands of his own along the way - Sabres of Paradise (check out "Smokebelch") and Two Lone Swordsmen with Keith Tenniswood. He has also maintained a very sensibly diverse DJ career, and on any given night he will play IDM, electro, acid house (I saw a monster acid house set from him at Glasgow's Arches last year), and even punk funk when he played at APT's Pop Your Funk party.

Fabric, the London superclub, gets a heap loads of respect as well (well at least from me). Unlike the big clubs of NY, Fabric programs the music with deft touch - opting for innovators over pop culture flavors of the month. They have a series of mix CDs that come from DJs that represent a diverse range of music, such as drum n bass studs like Andy C and Dj Hype, to Scottish house studs Slam, to IDM stars Michael Mayer and Akufen, to John Peel! The newest in the series, Fabric 19, is helmed by Mr. Weatherall and it's mighty sharp.

This set fuses together a bunch of styles that reflect the gamut of styles Weatherall may opt to play on a given night out. While the opening two tracks, a couple of 80s Prince-style dirty eletro tunes, are not bad songs, they feel a bit out of place, though if they belong anywhere on the mix, they fit in best at the beginning. From there, the mix becomes a rigorous workout that bounces back and fourth between acid house ("Everyday of My Life," "Time Out" ), IDM ("Dumufus," "That Kid") and electro ("Robot Dance," "She Hit My Head"), but even within some of these songs the genre bends back and forth over the course of it. "That Kid" in particular is a monster - stuttering, jacked-out rhythms that subside to let a cool keyboard hook shine through for a moment before coming back in under the melody - paradigmatic of the good melodies/evil beats M.O.

Fabric 19 finishes extremely strongly by slowing things down. The second to last track is a Weatherall remix of Ricardo Villalobos' "Dexter." According to an interview with Weatherall on the
Fabric website this is more of a cover than a remix, as Weatherall does a live re-interpretation of the song. I don't know the original, but I can't imagine that a micro-house/hard techno guy like Villalobos would have a track that sounds like ambient Cure, but that is exactly what it is - creepy (in a good way). The mix concludes with a fairly faithful mellow electro cover of Joy Division's "Atmosphere."

A club that provides great nights on the weekends and excellent compilation CDs is a rare breed. It is reassuring when a tastemaker can be trusted to provide fairly diverse music that is always interesting and usually very good (underlying assumption here: you believe there is such a thing as diversity in electronic music - people who think otherwise can stick to their strict diets of classic rock and climb out from under their rock everytime the Boss tours). It was a fairly safe bet, a little trust in Mr. Weatherall and Fabric pays off in spades on Fabric 19.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Choon of the Week - X-wife "Eno"

X-Wife has a bunch going for them. They make excellent edgy, 80s influenced electro-rock - a sound that has elements you can identify from somewhere but a novel cohesive whole. They are from the city of Oporto in the north of Portugal, though they sing in English (and Joao's voice, perhaps influenced by 6 years in London has a hint of a British accent - of course most indie rock bands sound like they are from England). They also play the part of confident indie rock stars on stage, striking poses charged with Iberian cool (bassist Fernando is clear winner on rock posing front). And while there is no live drummer, X-Wife manages to bang out rhythms on archaic 80s drum machines further adding to the overall unique experience.

On their debut album (only available at Other Music and at shows), Feeding the Machine, the stand out track is this week's choon, "Eno." While the rest of the album has frenetic 4/4 rhythms, "Eno" stands out by sitting back in the groove of a 16th note disco rhythm. Throw some catchy guitars and keyboards into the mix and you have a perfect indie-dance song that can be sandwiched between "Girls and Boys" and "Common People."

Look how accomodating we are at MMM - Here is a link to the MP3 of "Eno"
If you want to check X-Wife out live (which I highly recommend), they have one more show in NYC this week - Wednesday at Pianos at 7:30.

Friday, November 19, 2004

X-Wife Plug and What Makes Morristown a Bastion of Culture

In case you haven't seen this on Peephole or One Louder yet, I will also plug this weekend's X-Wife shows. They are a Portugese band that One Louder has championed for quite some time and also helped to organize their shows in NY this weekend - tonight at Rothko at 9 and Sunday at Sin-E at 8:30. They are up-tempo, edgy synth-rock with programmed drumming apparently. Their album, Feeding the Machine, is excellent. I will make it to the Sunday show and am looking forward to that.

Last night, I went out with one of my co-clerks for local drinks. After a couple of cheap beers at Bennigan's (I have no defense except that it is very cheap and so lame it is almost fun in a Ghost World way to be at a desolate chain pub in suburbia), we decided to get a hookah at Cafe Arabica, the "Soho hip" (their words not mine) coffee bar/artist space/hookah lounge/high school hang out. They actually have a decent hookah, though inexplicably charge 10 bucks for the person and 5 bucks for sharing - who gets one by themself? Last night they also had a 3 dollar cover because "Acoustic Bruce" was playing. Acoustic Bruce took the stage a little after 9 to the applause of his two friends in the front (there were about 8 people in Arabica at this point) and before he began, he pontificated on why things are different at Arabica because "here, we like to exchange ideas, man." Before I could figure out what types of ideas they exchange at Arabica, he launched into an acoustic number which he told us after the song was "written by a guy who went on to join Skynard - far out, huh?" Continuing with the covers, Bruce tore into a savage version of Train's seminal MOR wankfest "Drops of Jupiter." The hits kept coming as he went on to do "Livin' on a Prayer" and "Summer of '69."

First off, the Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams are sort of fun songs and I am not knocking them. However, when some pretentious weenie plays them at the local "hip" spot with the annoying ham-fisted earnestness of, well, an acoustic guitar playing singer/songwriter who is bemoaning the lack of discussion of ideas - shit, I can't even finish the thought I am so upset. I don't even need to address the fact that this guy took "Drops of Jupiter" seriously - the song is boring FM fodder and unfortunately we probably have to blame earnest Eddie and Pearl Jam for all of the Nickelbacks, Trains, and Matchbox 20s. It would have been far more entertaining to see Bruce do a cover of Goldfrapp's "Train" than Train itself.

The singer-songwriter is not absolutely, positively always a wretched thing. I certainly appreciate Nick Drake, Elliot Smith, Jeff Buckley, etc., but what makes that kind of a performer compelling is their unique voice and the personality that is reflected in it. Most other singer-songwriters are whiny and really fucking grating. The real problem with this dodo (hopefully) of music is that what it takes to go from being horrible to great is something very few people possess and most "artists" who strive to be among the elite few don't realize how crap they are and that the message they feel they must communicate to the world is fairly cliche and uninteresting.

I suppose there is irony in my rant about the singer-songwriter developing out of discussing a cover singer in a bar in Morristown - but I am pretty sure Acoustic Bruce went on to play some originals in the second set (which I didnt stay around for). Of course in Mo-town, every bar has a acoustic wanker playing Top 40 covers - that is why I left the hustle and bustle of NYC. Who needs a bar soundtracked with Italo-punk-funk when I can hear some quality live music???

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Push the Button

As I grow older and collect professional licenses, the number of albums that bring out my puppy dog eager anticipation starts to wane and the albums that do create the zeal are eliciting a slightly more muted version than before.

That said, I am certainly happy that The Chemical Brothers (or Tom and Ed Chemical as the British named them - I definately like the touch of turning a band name into a person's last name - in college I could have been Phil Pin Up, but then again in high school, I would have been Phil Sediment or Phil The Last Stand - clearly I prefer the college one) are releasing a new album on January 24 - Push the Button! They got a bunch of collaborations as usual; the first single, "Galvanize" has Q-Tip on it, Tim Burgess is the only stalwart from the past on the album (as he sang "Life is Sweet" on Exit Planet Dust in 1995). Other singers include Anwar Superstar, apparently the brother of Mos Def (guess the Chems enjoyed doing the hip-hop production thing with K-os on "Get Yourself High"), and Kele Obereke, the lead singer of hype machine band and former subject of an MMM post Bloc Party.

I have no doubt that Push the Button will be at worst a fairly enjoyable listen. I heard a few new songs of their at the Benicassim Festival this summer and they were excellent. Of course part of the appeal of a new Chems record is that it means another opportunity to see "The Private Psychedelic Reel" live (and hopefully like Benicassim, they continue to do the one-two of "The Golden Path" into the end of "Elektrobank" - yeah seratonin overload!!!). Perhaps this time around, One Louder will finally see the specticle!

As this news story has been posted everywhere else and you have probably seen it already, I don't need to thank anyone for pointing it out. If you want all the details and a bit of PR fodder about how revolutionary the new album will be, check out the Chems site.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Award Shows, Fisticuffs, and David Lee Roth

Starting the day with a few bits of news:

1) TV On the Radio (TVOTR, if you are into that whole brevity thing) have won the Shortlist Prize, beating out other sensible sub 500,000 selling finalists Air, Franz Ferdinand, Wilco, Dizzee Rascal, and The Streets. I predicted Franz Ferdinand to be the safe choice, but would have been pretty happy with any of the ones that I mentioned. I like TVOTR's album but never got that into it. I saw them at the Mercury Lounge earlier this year and found it a good, but not great show, though that may be because I was in the front row and my most distinctive memory of the show is that their Johnny Knoxville doppelganger guitarist was profusely sweating right near me throughout. I am sure in light of the victory, I will give the album a second go around.

2) There was a donnybrook at the Second Annual Vibe Magazine Awards, Dr. Dre was involved and someone was stabbed. A hip-hop awards show with a stabbing - why are these occurrences so consistent that you can set your watch to them? How come the Oscars are never this exciting, with Charlton Heston taking a swing at Michael Moore? Perhaps Franz Ferdinand had another row at the Shortlist ceremony.

3) David Lee Roth is training to be a paramedic. No I didn't make it up - read the link for yourself. But the really crazy part about it (at least in the age of wacky reality TV shows) is that he isn't doing it as a publicity stunt. He won't even say what neighborhoods he works (but it is in NYC) so he can keep a low profile. Apparently, he saved the life of a heart attack victim in the Bronx with a defibrillator.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Sitting on a Potential Gold Mine

While checking out the website of Bill Brewster and Frank Boughton, the co-authors of Last Night a DJ Saved My Life (a very good history of the DJ) and the more manual on spinning, How to DJ Properly/Right (title depends on what country you are in), www.djhistory.com, I found a link to the page www.deephousepage.com, which has literally 100s of mixes of classic old school house from Chicago and New York from the 80s that you can either stream or download. There are sets from Larry Levan, Ron Hardy (two of the most famous 80s DJs who unfortunately passed away at the time), as well as Frankie Knuckles, among a bunch of others. Downloading a Knuckles mix now and will have more to say later perhaps but this looks very impressive.

Underworld, ODB, and Hanks taking on Opus Dei

For those of you, like me, that love to get every nugget of Underworld wisdom and goodness that you can, you have probably already discovered www.underworldlive.com and if not, you will probably enjoy it. Each day, there is a new photo added to the front page with a bit of text from lead singer Karl Hyde and a link to something that has interested him as of late, either in music or art, etc. As Karl was at John Peel's funeral last week, today's entry mentions that he rode the train home with Paul from Orbital and a youth soccer team. Particularly appropriate that UW and Orbital, two key electronic groups that both did Peel Sessions (UW had sat in as DJs for Peel was he was on vacation a week before his death). There was an interesting discussion a while back on I Love Music about UW v. Orbital - check it here (thanks to One Louder for pointing it out).

Other quick notes this morning:
Obviously, like the rest of the music world, MMM is completely saddened by the loss of Old Dirty Bastard this weekend. I almost attended the Wu Tang show on Friday night at Continental Airlines Arena and when I heard that ODB had died, I started to worry I had missed out on something huge. Apparently, according to a litigation associate at the prestigious law firm Jones Day, who attended the show, each member of the group came out and did a solo set before they all came on together at the end. ODB did not appear at the show and after the show ended (all three hours), Method Man and U-God came out to apologize for ODB not making it. Despite the Jersey audience, the show was supposed to be excellent and hearing about it made me reminisce about the time I had seen the Wu and Rage Against the Machine at the place (then the Brendan Byrne Arena - Big Ups to the Governor!) and I had the stuffing kicked out of me in the mosh pit.

Finally, according to Yahoo (meaning you have all seen this already), Tom Hanks is going to play the tweed sporting Professor Robert Langdon in the film adaptation of The DaVinci Code. Perhaps I should not admit I read this book and enjoyed it as the book was as omnipresent as an Ipod on NY subways last year, but it's a very fun read. I am iffy on this pick - I had read George Clooney was up for it as well, and was sort of picturing him in the role. The truth is the Langdon character did not have so much personality that it would make it difficult to see Hanks in the role, and I don't have any substantive reason to question picking him, but it maybe it sours me because Hanks is a bit vanilla and it makes the project look a little Spielberg-ish with him as the lead. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised.

Choon of the Week - Super Furry Animals "The Man Don't Give a Fuck" (Live From London's Hammersmith)

Like many bands, The Furries close every show with their biggest, meanest track (the first that comes to the mind is the Chemical Brothers dropping "The Private Psychedelic Reel") - "The Man Don't Give A Fuck" - a song that would be cool as hell with a name like that even if it sucked, which of course it does not. For those of you who have ever seen the Furries live, you are well aware that the live version of this "The Man..." is an unbelievable sprawling, monster of a track.

It opens with a prologue of the late comedian Bill Hicks ranting about the government, which ends with his line "all governments are liars and murders" looping over and over. The first five minutes play out like the original recording, with the quiet, creepy verse leading into a massive fist pumping classic rock hook under the mantra "you know they don't give a fuck about anybody else." What should also be noted about the live version of the song is the excellent visuals that accompany: early Soviet footage of what appears to be Lenin working up a crowd, cut against Soviet officers that have been edited to actually look like they are mouthing out the words to the song. Very clever video editing.

At the five minute mark, the band leaves the stage, except for keyboardist Cian, who proceeds to lead the audience into a 15 minute Super Furry electronic freak out. This segment weaves through a smattering of all kinds of electronic music, including chunks of techno/acid, breakbeats, and IDM (meaning really wonky sounds that are not particularly classifiable, so they go in the catch-all), while throwing mutated samples of the vocals from the first part of the song back into the mix. During this part, as many SFA fans have as much of an appreciation for dancing to beats as they do for Beach Boys-influenced rock, the crowd get caught up in Cian's unrelentless assault and break into dance. After about 20 minutes of the electronic madness, which averages about an 8 on the Banging Scale (which is about as hard as it can get before your head hurts), the rest of the band returns and picks up where they had left off in their scathing, rock and roll criticism of The Man.

Now, the reason the live version of "The Man..." gets the honor of the weekly write-up is because the Furries, being a band that is exceptionally considerate, have released a live recording of the song as a single to accompany their greatest hits collection that just came out, Songbook Vol. 1, The Singles.

A quick bone to pick: For all Americans, the only way to get this track is either by buying the pricey (and hard to find) import single or getting all P2P, which is difficult as well because many of the versions of this song out there are just bootleg show recordings. I understand that because of the way music licensing works worldwide, certain things are available in certain parts of the world and all that. But I can't get my head around the fact that on iTunes, I can buy certain music in the UK store (if I have a UK bank account) but if I click on the US store, they have a very different selection. If I was a UK member of iTunes, I would be able to buy the 20+ minute version of the song for 80 pence, but as I am without a UK mailing address, I am stuck with like three SFA songs available. Fuck The Man and the evils of Intellectual Property.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A quick clarification and opportunity to gush/vent...

In my last post, I called the lead singer of Primal Scream a "loudmouth political imbecile." That is not an inaccurate statement. I also am a big fan of Primal Scream's so this can lead to a mild conflict on interest sometimes and also to the realization that I am getting older.

When you are young and a band becomes a part of your canon, its funny how their general M.O., from clothing to attitudes about politics, tend to parallel your own. Let's not kid ourselves - we all started to give a shit about Tibet only because the Beasties made it cool (same for Mumia with Rage Against the Machine). Probably up until not that long, I probably believed that everything Radiohead said or did was someqhere close to gospel. At some point, as you grow up and your values become a bit more defined, you begin to question certain things that these heroes of yours say or do and obviously that is a good thing.

The Primals are an incedible band for a number of reasons, although almost all of them are related to the quality of the people involved in the project over the years. From Andrew Weatherall inventing rock and roll acid house as producer of much of Screamadelica, to their dubbed out dirges on Vanishing Point, to the incendiary punk maelstrom of Xtrmntr (the latter two projects were strongly helped out by the adding of two monsters of early 90s rock - Mani of The Stone Roses on bass during VP era and My Bloody Valentine's main man Kevin Shields joining around Xtrmntr) . They also have a Panzer tank of a live show that rapes every woman and child in town when it arrives - that is supposed to be a very strong compliment for a very heavy rock show.

However, the only problem when they do play live is that Bobby G is usually exceptionally loaded and once in that state, a very unadulterated view of his politics starts to flow. When Bobby G introduces the song "Swaztika Eyes" by dedicating it to anyone who is opposed to the state of Isreal, a red flag should probably go up. This is certainly not uncommon with him and usually he has some incendiary politcal remark to make whenever interviewed, although the problem is they usually sound more like the ramblings of a speed freak than a well reasoned and researched political belief.

Of course, the age old relationship between politics and rock music is not something that a single blog posting could ever effectively tackle. I still can't decide if that tour of the Boss, REM and every other aging political rocker, was a good idea or a bad idea. I just find myself with age, becoming giving a little less automatic credibility to everything that an artist that I love happens to say.

Big Up Yourself - Baxter Dury

The Big Up Yourself section didn't get off the ground quite as quickly as was intended, but it is being brought back to life here and it will rise like a song about bombing the Pentagon (I know that sounds terrible - its a poor reference to the Primal Scream song called "Rise" which was originally titled "Bomb the Pentagon" and was debuted under that name days before 9/11 - in light of the events of 9/11, they changed the name to "Rise" but in pure Primals fashion, lead singer/loudmoth political imbecile Bobby Gillespie certainly didn't waterdown his rhetoric because of it).

This edition of BUY focuses on Baxter Dury. Baxter is the son of late quirky English punk/rock singer Ian Dury, who had the classic tunes "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll," and "Hit me with your Rhythm Stick." Baxter's debut album, Len Parrot's Memorial Lift, which came out in 2002, is a nice hazy, lazy listen. His voice has a very serene and has a distant quality to it, attributable to the rusty production. He has some very competent folks join him for the album, include a couple members of Portishead (which is reflected in the album's dated sound) and Richard Hawley, the sometimes collaborator with Pulp. There is not heavy layering of music, relying on a much simpler, more ambient approach to the feel of the album. Others have described Baxter to me as "psychedelic pop" and I suppose that is probably the easiest way to qualify it. I like the whole album, but to get a sense of what it is all about, check out "Oscar Brown" and "Beneath the Underdog."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

QOTSA sighting

Today is pretty lean on the news front and on the creative inspiration front because I am trying to catch up on work before spending the next day and a half preparing for a standardized test on Friday. I imagine most people who care about this have already seen it as I am a little slow on posting this, but there is some good news for all the sensible hard rockers of the world - Queens of the Stone Age (or QOTSA which sounds pretty cool) will soon release the follow up 2002's Songs for the Deaf. The new album, Lullabies to Paralyze will be released on March 22 in the US (England gets it a day earlier as their weekly release day is Monday - which really makes a lot of sense and can make Mondays more tolerable). Apparently contributors include Shirley Manson of Garbage, which should be interesting and mainman Josh Homme's girlfriend, Brody Dalle of The Distillers, which interests me less. Songs for the Deaf was my favorite album of 2002 (at least I imagine it must have been considering how much I have listened to it since). Irreverent hard rock that bangs and entertains simultaneously. Here is a link from NME

I am hoping on this tour they play at least one headlining show in NYC after the actual release date of the album - the last album, despite a tour that lasted for ages, didn't bring them to Manhattan aside from a show right when the album was released, when they were touring with ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead. This is probably triple hearsay and completely inaccurate, but I heard that a fight broke up between the bands backstage and Mark Lanegan, the Screaming Trees former lead singer who was part of the QOTSA line up of the time, lifted a member of Trail of the Dead up by his neck and said to him in that throaty two packs a day for life voice "go home little man..."

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Choon of the Week - Mylo "Muscle Cars"

One of my many unifying theories on film and music is that success can be achieved through a great hook or line. Most films that remain in our consciousness beyond the initial viewing do so because they got a few funny lines (ask anyone who swears by The Big Lebowski about their thoughts on nihilists and national socialism). Music is no different regardless of the genre - from hip-hop, to rock, anything of an electronic nature, the key is to have a hook. Big, little, doesn't matter, it just has to get stuck inside your head and make you twitch.

Mylo's "Muscle Cars" is a very simple tune, almost uninspiring at first glance - a bit of a Royksopp knock off, particularly with its straight up kick drum/snare drum pattern. But then the gooey keyboard riff starts to roll around inside your head and, while it still sounds very Royksopp-ish (which is certainly not a bad thing), it becomes hard to shake that melody.

Mylo has been a very fashionable flavor of late on the indie-dance/hipster club music/whatever 2manydjs and Erol Alkan spin circuit, with Mr. Alkan himself reworking the ubquitous "Drop the Pressure" (the song with the heavy vocodored voice repeating "motherfucker gonna drop the pressure"). His album Destroy Rock and Roll is pretty good - a bit too much like Groove Armada and Royksopp at times. The title track is a funny sample of a right-wing speech from the 80s about the evils of Duran Duran, Big Country, Hall & Oates, and Cyndie Lauper (pronounced by this guy as "looper"), and "Drop the Pressure" is certain not a terrible song to be omnipresent at clubs. But for me the nugget is "Muscle Cars" - simple, not necessarily original, but its got a hook, and that's all it needs.

NB: the album has two versions of the song. The instrumental version "Muscle Cars" is superior to the much clubbier and electro vocaled "Musclecar Reform Reprise."

Monday, November 08, 2004

A few things...

While all of you wait on pins and needles to see what will take the coveted Choon of the Week honors, here are a couple of nuggets to satiate:

1) I love the Super Furry Animals. That may in part have to do with the fact that I had a couple of beers last fall with their lead singer Gruff, who an excellent guy, but is mainly due to the fact that they are one of the few bands that has pulled off the pastiche approach to music writing (a little Beach Boys, a little banging techno, a little glam rock) to create an incredibly distinctive yet fluid sound. Not to mention they are very prolific (6 albums and a bunch of other stuff in 7 years). They are releasing a collection of songs that are supposed to reflect their influences - part of the series called Under the Influence. It's exactly what you would expect, with everything from the Beach Boys, to Sly and Family Stone, to some Welsh stuff, and a bit of techno thrown in. The big selection: Underworld's "Rez" - an excellent call and I feel the love when I see one of my favorites name checking another one. Respect also for closing the mix with the super early acid bangers "Energy Flash" by Joey Beltram and "Acperience" by Hardfloor.


2) Rob da Bank will take John Peel's time slot. Rob is more of a downtempo yet eclectic spinner (sounds like someone who spends a lot of time joking around). The little I have heard from Rob is quality - his Blue Room show with Chris Coco the times I heard it was good and they put out a nice mix for Muzik Magazine based on the show. I have to say I do miss Muzik Magazine. Not as cool as Jockey Slut, which is also great, but the CDs that they included with the magazine were always top notch - many of my favorite mixes came from there. I would have never discovered the party mongo genius of Erol Alkan without hearing the One Louder mix he did for them. As Rob's favorite all time track is "Your Love" by Frankie Knuckles, the man can't be a complete fool! (thanks to largehearted boy for finding this)

Much Love for the 2nd City

There has been no update since Thursday because MMM and Peephole spent the weekend in Chicago for a bit of family business and because one of our best friends from law school is from there originally and returned after school.

The family business part of the weekend consisted of seeing a performance of Tan Manhattan, a 1941 musical by Eubie Blake and Andy Razaf that has been reconstructed after disappearing for the last 60 years. It was a concert version of the show rather than a fully staged version, so it was not a massive theatrical experience, but the songs were a nice collection of pretty ballads and a couple of swingers. For more info on this and the festival in general, check out:


Directly from Tan Manhattan (with a stop at a bar to get a couple of drinks down), we headed over to the apparently newly renovated Chi-town mega club Crobar to see one Chicago's most famous selectors, Felix Stallings, Jr. aka Felix DA Housecat. Not much to be said about the club or the early part of the night, except that the warm up dj dropped a run of the mill remix of U2's "Vertigo" (Hola!) and Felix started things up with fairly straight up house (rather than the 80s loving electro that he produces on his records). Somewhere early in his set he dropped a remix of "Personal Jesus" and it was all fastballs the rest of the night, as he went on to play the Erol Alkan remix of Alter Ego's "Rocker," Mylo's "Drop the Pressure," "Emerge" by Fischerspooner, "Seven Nation Army," by Rene Zellweger's scary boyfriend (well Hugh Grant apparently finds him scary), a little Chi-house love by dropping the sermon from Mr. Fingers' "Can You Feel it" throughout the night, "Blue Monday" (the most versatile dance song of all time - i have heard it in so many places and every time it goes off), Green Velvet's "La-La Land," a remix of Nirvana's "Lithium," and finally more Depeche Mode with a remix of "Behind the Wheel." There were perhaps other big tunes but the night is one big blur, which was fueled to a large degree by that new Budweiser plus ginseng that was just released. Kind of funny tasting, but tastes better than regular Bud, has 6% alcohol and keeps you awake.

There is something to be said for an electronic DJ that plays popular and accessible songs. When you go out for a night of brit-pop, or hip-hop, or any other danceable genre of music, the DJ is expected to keep the hits flowing, or people walk away. With more traditional electronic nights out (techno, house, drum n bass), the counter-culture purist ethos that rules, coupled with the DJ's goal of exciting people about obscure songs, it is often the case that you can go out, have a very good time, but when someone asks you what you heard, your response is nothing but vague adjectives ("yeah it was kinda housey, a little disco, then some breakbeats"). Big tunes are fun and there is nothing excessively pandering to do it that way, which I think explains a lot of the success of 2manydjs and that whole movement, as they usually keep at least a good chunk of the night accessible and always provide stories about the crazy bootlegs that you heard. My only criticism of Felix would be that he cut the vocals out a lot to inspire the crowd to sing along on "Lithium's" YEAHHHHHHH....and on "La La Land" and no one sang along, which made it sound crap. That aside, Felix kept my group very happy and provided plenty of fuel for one our more inebriated members to thrash on one of the podium's for much of the night.

Chicago is a wicked city - cheap real estate (by NYC standards), plenty of excellent food and culture, and people that have all the best traits of midwesterners but still vote Blue...big ups to the Second City!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

You don't Give me Love...

This past weekend, MMM, half of One Louder, Peephole in My Brain, and somebody else who is not foolish enough to blog (but unlucky enough to drop 140 on blackjack) made the 2 plus hour drive down the Garden State Parkway to Atlantic City for some Tears for Fears and gambling. Cutting it a bit too close on arrival time, we missed the opening track, which was from the new album Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, came in during the second song, another new one, and arrived in our seats for "Sowing the Seeds of Love." The band was fairly good - pulled out all the requisite big tunes "Shout," "Head over Heels," "Everybody Wants to the Rule the World," and personal favorite "Pale Shelter," plus a slowed down version of "Mad World" (they attributed the new version to the success of the ballad version by Gary Jules or whoever that one hit tosser is) and then a bunch of new songs. Most of my feelings on this show are fairly parallel with the Peephole and OL write-ups, though I will add that south NJ added a certain entertaining vibe for the show. When Curt was talking about getting wasted on cider when he was 12 and then saying that was 10 or so years ago, couched in a fake cough, some dood with a thick Jersey brogue yelled "bullshit!" Typical...The new songs were serviceable, although as pointed out by OL, fairly derivative - many sounded even more Beatles than "Sowing the Seeds..." if that is possible (Curt appropriately had on a Beatles shirt). While "Pale Shelter" may be my favorite TfF song (along with "Head Over Heels") there was something missing from the performance of it - that certain tension and compelling need to communicate what you are saying when you are singing a song on your first album, which makes it so good. It sounded like 40 somethings reliving the past without embodying all the energies that existed when the song was written. Perhaps that is why the songs off Songs from the Big Chair were the best of the night - their strength is their sophisticated songwriting rather than their youthful energy, which is easier to reproduce on stage this far removed.

My other big even this weekend, an LCD Soundsystem gig at the Tribeca Grand on Saturday night, has also been effectively captured by OL. The upside of being late in updating your diary is the ability to rely on others' dilligence - the law sort of works the same way sadly enough (if a good argument has already been made, all you need to do is cite to it). I had a great time at this show - Murphy and co., dressed in cooks' clothing, pounded out the grooves. Like OL, I was very very happy with the mongo version of "Yeah," and the cover of Joy Division's "Transmission." My only beef with the night (no pun intended) was that I came close to fighting with a French hot dog, or a man that looked like Jeff Lynne of ELO and the Traveling Wilburys who had a French accent and wore a Hot Dog costume.

On the related note of twisted French people, I saw the movie Irreversible this weekend as well. Directed by Gaul that goes by Noe, and soundtracked by half of everyone's favorite mask-wearing purveyors of house, Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk, this movie is, forgive the obscenity, FUCKED UP!!! But when I say FUCKED UP, I mean that in the best way possible. Much like Memento as it tells a story in reverse, it is about how certain actions put into motion chains of events that cannot be stopped. There is some extremely visceral violence in the opening scene that was one of the most difficult violent scenes in a movie that I have ever watched. While hyped as the most twisted part of the movie, the scene where Monica Belucci gets raped, is difficult to watch as well, there is something even more disconcerting about the opening sequence. Not a movie for sensitive people but a very intoxicating meditation on evil. As for the music, Bangalther keeps it fairly understated by appropriately dark and cold to the point of near nausea discomforting. As I have never actually seen what he looks like without a mask or robot helmet on, I was curious if he was the DJ in the party scene - there is a house party with some, well, banging house playing while French hipsters writhe away and Monica Belluci looks unbelievably hot.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Que Pasa, Coldplay?

As I work as a humble civil servant for the goverment of a state known for its gardens and bad drivers, my daily internet life is limited by a massive firewall because the state IT department takes internet security and employee productivity very seriously. No Yahoo mail, no Gmail, not even BBC Radio 1(I believe radio is a red alert keyword for them)! Fortunately for me, they do not monitor spanish email and news site www.quepasa.com (and hopefully they dont check out MMM either). The advantage to having such a cutty email address is that i get to read some excellent english news stories that have been translated from spanish in that extremely entertaing way that spanish is often translated into english (example: However, the singer, whose band conquered world fame with "Yellow", has been unable to leave his musical work because of his wife's complaints and he makes it home, in northern London, only to take short naps.). Here is a great nugget about the marriage crisis that Chris Martin's work has created.


Liberty Belle is ringing out across the sea...

I have tried quite hard to keep this a fairly apolitical blog, though I have yet to meet a fan of disco-punk who votes on the right (however, I knew a girl at Yale that was a republican van of trance who danced like a robot if you threw on Oakenfold). MMM is quite embarrassed about last night right now more than anything. Re-electing Dubya feels a bit like going to the prom with the ugliest, fattest, yet most obnoxious girl in school.

To try to ameliorate the effects of Dubya's 8 year reign of terror, this morning's extremely slow commute out of New York to the Garden State required some appropriate music - something with a little political bite, a bit of a sense of humor and some hooks: the Super Furry Animals and their anti-Bush masterpiece Phantom Power.

When the miserable lessons that should have been learned from 9/11 and Iraq are articulated with the innocent bounciness of "Liberty Belle" and the glammy stomps of "Out of Control," a little solace can be taken in the fact that such great art is created in response to such wretched leadership.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Choon of the Week - LCD Soundsystem "Movement"

This week's choon, by everyone's favorite NYC music figure James Murphy, goes conveniently well with my write-up of the weekend (coming later).

When not paying the bills as a producer, Murphy's night gig is the LCD Soundsystem. Its hard to say whether the LCD approach, which has so far involved letting super-hyped singles trickle out every several months before their full length debut album finally comes out in January, will effectively build anticipation around the album or be too protactred a tease to strike while the iron was warming up with "Losing My Edge" and "Yeah."

To satiate those of us jonesing for more Murphy, another LCD single, "Movement," has been released. Like everything that has preceded it, "Movement" rocks. As opposed to the epic length and nature of "Losing My Edge" and "Yeah," this track seems much more like the other LCD single, "Give it Up" - a short, peppy, straight up single. A building hand-clapping, shot of spastic electro, a lot gets squeezed into its 3 minutes. "Movement" is a little fuzzy banger that surely grab hold and give one more taste before the full length gets dropped.

Of course, like everything else by this sensible band, it is only available on the sensible medium of vinyl, or through the sensible method of copyright infringement of file sharing...

ADDENDUM: One Louder has a link to the video for the track here