Nov 052013
 

I had an unfortunate experience on Monday morning. I’m sure it was exacerbated by driving to work in heavy traffic, and thanks to Daylight Savings, right into the sun. I was tired, I was cranky. And I made the mistake of listening to The Lumineers. A colleague lent it to me, and stupid me, trying to be open-minded about new music these days, decided to give it a listen.

I made it through about two thirds of the album before switching it off. I had to put on the Mamas and the Papas to get the bad sound out of my ears (tangent: “Shooting Star” is such a goofy and weird track that it always puts me in a good mood).

But back to The Lumineers. This band is the epitome of many things I am hating about a current trend in popular music. What is that plinky-plonky sound? Oh, it’s the arrangement of multiple acoustic instruments. What is that echo? Perhaps it’s to make us think that that wash tub bass is being played and recorded in a barn. What is that horrible whining sound? Yessirree folks, it’s the nasally, earnest voice of the lead singer.

And then I looked at a video:

You don’t want to hear their cover of “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).”

Monday evening, Mr. Royale listened to my rant and came up with an interesting analogy: The Lumineers are like Haircut One Hundred. Instead of artfully-draped sweaters, we have suspenders. No more classic haircuts; we’ve moved on to facial scruff. Created for style; substance is of limited value. The recipe has been changed up, but the intent is the same.

But my question to you is How did we get here? Why is faux folk played on acoustic instruments by bands most likely from an urban hub so popular now? Is this Retro Retromania? Don’t tell me that Fleet Foxes started it. Say what you like about their beards, but those bad boys can sing. Was the start of this evil trend Arcade Fire, the band that tried to temper their bombast by telling everyone that at least the recording was made in an old church? I really liked that first album of theirs, but I’m guessing that if I listened to it now, I might feel differently. Help me, and please explain what happened.

And you can not tell me the answer is menopause.

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Nov 022012
 

How many positive things can you cite in this photograph? (Click photo for original source of photograph.)

Sometimes I stumble across a photograph of a musician that somehow suggests many things “right” about the state of the featured musician or musicians. This is one such photo. How often do we get to see David Byrne with his guard down? How often to we get to see his studious side, as he carefully tunes his cool 12-string Gibson guitar, rather than the outcome of his studies? The world needs more photos of David Byrne like this—and for the love of god, not another one of his solo albums!

Reports on either of his books are welcome. Has anyone read them yet?

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Nov 302011
 

“Guess I’m a lone rhinoceros no more,” says Adrian.

The same goes for you!

If you’ve already got Back Office privileges and can initiate threads, by all means use your privileges! If you’d like to acquire such privileges, let us know. If you’ve got a comment that needs to be made, what are you waiting for? If you’re just dropping in and find yourself feeling the need to scat, don’t hesitate to register and post your thoughts. The world of intelligent rock discussion benefits from your participation. If nothing else, your own Mr. Moderator gets a day off from himself. It’s a good thing for you as well as me!

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Aug 102011
 

Listening to XTC (again). Mummer. It’s a really really good album.

I bought most of XTC’s catalogue when I worked at a local independent record store. Someone must have unloaded their collection and I got them used really cheap. My thought at the time was, “Hey, here is a band I’ve only heard good things about, so I should check them out.” Of course my OCD tendencies do not allow to buy one or two CDs, so I spent about 50 to 60 bucks and bought the whole batch. Looking at their discography, it’s most of their proper albums and all the major ones.

I listened to them then and have given them a spin a few times since. XTC is one of those bands that has just never made an emotional connection with me. I remember enjoying English Settlement, but by the end of it, I couldn’t tell you a damn thing on it. I know Skylarking is supposed to be a masterpiece. The early records have a punkish frantic quality that make for interesting listens. I know the hits and like those songs fine enough.

I know hardcore XTC fans will tell you that they were several bands: a punk group, a new wave band, a pop band. I’m sure they fit somewhere in the vein of Talking Heads and The Cars. I know Andy Partridge is good writer and their records feature some strong production.

So, I am listening to Mummer right now (at work) and thinking, Why I don’t love this band like everybody else in the world does? I am thinking that this a very very good album. And I’ll probably listen to more, hoping they’ll finally stick. Maybe I’ll finally connect with these records and feel compelled to listen to them more than once every 5 years or so.

So, what am I to do? Your help is appreciated…

TB

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Apr 182011
 

Let’s try another 1-2 Punch, shall we? Top 10 lists are too much; Top 5 lists invite too many opportunities for throwing in a hipster, obscuro choice to distinguish oneself from the raging masses. What I’d like to know is what TWO (2) songs you would choose from an artist’s catalog to say as much about that artist that you believe represents said artist’s core as possible? In other words, if you could only use TWO (2) songs from an artist’s catalog to explain all that said artist is about to a Venusian, what TWO (2) songs would you pick to represent said artist’s place in rock ‘n roll?

I’ll pose two artists and you—love ’em or leave ’em—give me each artist’s representative 1-2 Punch. Dig? Here goes!

Continue reading »

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Mar 182011
 

The topic for this post came to me today when I ran across this documentary (or is it a long-form ad?) about the Cry Baby Wah Wah pedal. I remembered George Harrison‘s song “Wah-Wah” from All Things Must Pass.

Wah-wah/You’ve given me a wah-wah

Now, I’ve read that George was using the term “wah-wah” to refer to a headache, which recording Let It Be with Paul in the director’s chair apparently gave him, literally or metaphorically enough to quit. But still, I like to think of the song as an ode to that piece of gear.

Are there other good songs about beloved musical equipment or instruments? Generic instrument references like The Beatles‘ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and Talking Heads‘ “Electric Guitar” (great lyrics, by the way!) are plentiful, but what about more particular instruments, like B.B. King‘s guitar “Lucille,” or specific items, like a Vox Amp or a Gretsch guitar, in songs?

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Aug 202010
 

Hrrundivbakshi,

Your feelings are important to us. Although typically think of you as our moral compass and expert on the teachings of the Holy Trinity of Rock and all matters regarding guitar tone, we care about how you feel. We know that hippies typically don’t make you feel good about yourself or the state of humanity. I suspect that the following videos might make you feel worse. My aim is not so much to see if I can annoy you, but to provide us with an opportunity to empathize with your reactions to the following “interviews.” How do the things being said make you feel? How does the fact that someone filmed these “interviews” make you feel? Our feelings are important. Sometimes it only takes the expressed feelings of one Townsperson to open the rest of us up to our own feelings. I look forward to empathizing with your feelings and, possibly, sharing some of my own. I or some other Townsperson may even determine who a certain “Vito” is and share nerdy facts about his existence or the circumstances surrounding these important video findings.

I thank you in advance for the depth of feeling you are likely to share with us. Here goes!

First, an off-camera David Byrne (?) “interviews” Chris Frantz.

Then, David “interviews” someone only identified (as far as I can tell) as “Vito.”
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