Apr 262013


Ok, so every time I hear Steely Dan on the radio, I immediately think of Bond’s Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd. Maybe part of the reason is that I don’t really know the “Band” — Fagen and Decker — other than small snatches I’ve seen of them — but their legend looms large in my mind.

On the surface, this is a band that I should not like a wit. Jazz Fusion! Studio musicians!! Odd vocal stylings. What gives?? Yet — although I don’t OWN any SD — I like them when I hear them. And the solo for “Reelin’ in the Years” by said studio axeman is one of my all-time faves.

By looming large, I mean I picture a studio teeming with ’70s excesses — women in jumpsuits, coke, shag carpeting, etc.

So I probably won’t be downloading and Steely Dan for the old iPod. But if I’m ever at some cool party, chock-full of modern, Eames-inspired furniture, and this is coming out of the Blaupunkt’s, I’ll nod my head and say, Yes…I can live with this.

I know most bands have a persona that is larger than life. But did Steely Dan ever try to cultivate it the way that, say Zeppelin did?

Should I break down and buy this band? Help …

Nov 202012

As much as I LOVE Elvis Costello & the Attractions‘ “Radio Radio,” I’ve always been bugged by that odd sound that comes in during the choruses — during “cleaning up the nation,” etc. It’s always sounded like a turkey baster or something. What the hell is that? And are there any other songs out there that make you scratch your head at the out-of-left-field sound that comes in. I’m not talking Pere Ubu, where odd sounds were de rigueur.

Sep 092012

OK, maybe not a dedication but an observation from our fellow townsman, hrrundivbakshi, who is in the UK. He texted me last night with this request:

I’m in the UK at an otherwise totally irritating massive rock festival. Despite my dire immediate artistic surroundings, I have to say my eyes have been opened by one band in particular. Since the internet is basically unavailable on the Isle of Wight, please post this two-sentence concert review:

Holy shit — New Order is amazing. Who knew?

Favor done, my friend.

Aug 302012

I’ve always had a negative feeling about Redd Kross—just one of the many California hardcore bands. Sorta the way I feel about The Circle Jerks.

The problem is this: I never really listened to Redd Kross. Maybe it was their name. Or I saw a badly art-directed poster. Chock it up to being a close-minded dick.

Well anyways…I heard a cut from their new album yesterday in the car (on WKDU).  And damn, it was pretty darn good. Super poppy, fun and rockin’—sort of the smart/simple hooky pop/rock I love from Sloan.

And this after like a 7-year hiatus!!! These guys are old!!!

So Redd Kross, I’d like to officially apologize for grouping you into a group without really knowing who you were. My bad.

The whole album is really neat btw. Thanks itunes for your instant gratification. I will be buying more of their earlier stuff now.

Aug 222012

On the way to the Phils game last night (don’t get me started) we were listening to the classic rock channel. My wife turned to me and said “Rock is dead.”

Although I nodded silently, it struck me how heavy and huge a pronouncement this was. And, I’m sad to say, pretty true.

I know I’m out of it, but I do try to keep up with a lot of music the youngin’s are listening to these days—mostly through my own kids. They’re pretty much up on a lot of stuff—but nothing is what I’d call Rock with a capital R.

I know it’s a broad term—and there are some throwback bands doing all sorts of rock derivatives. I, for instance, like what small amount I’ve heard from The Hentchmen—but they are throwback garage rock.

No, what I’m talking about is Power-and-Glory Rock. Anyone (besides some stuff I’ve heard from Jack White) doing this sorta thing nowadays?

Or is my wife correct? Is Rock dead?


Acoustic Cred

 Posted by
Aug 142012

Is it me, or does it seem that when a rock band puts an acoustic song on its album that it’s merely a stab at trying to sound “respectable?” Like “yeah we rock, but we have a serious side, too.”

I’m thinking Green Day here … and I think Oasis did something similar. Even the odd hair metal band would have a song now and then that showed their maturity because the guitarist laid it down with an acoustic guitar.

Even The Minutemen have an acoustic instrumental on Double Nickles on the Dime—and damn if it doesn’t seem to work at some level.

The only example I can think of that really does this well for me is The Jam‘s “That’s Entertainment.” It’s acoustic in all the right ways and works well with Weller’s high la, la las … so it doesn’t feel forced.

So, keeping folks like Neil Young and Dylan out of it, because they were so often acoustic—are there any other uncharacteristically acoustic rock bands that have successfully pulled off the acoustic song and not made it seem like a crass bid for “seriousness?”



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