2015 Remnants: #5 – 1

It’s taken nearly half a year, but I finally received the last album from my list of albums I wanted to hear that were released in 2015.  The last few albums I picked up didn’t end up making the list, but one never knows at the start…

5.  I love you all the time-  Eagles of Death Metal

I really only became interested in this song after the night clubs attack in France, where Eagles of Death Metal were the band playing at one of the clubs.  In response to those events, the band gave this song to anybody who wanted to cover it and are using it as part of a Play It Forward campaign to aid the victims of the attack.

4.  Christmas will break your heart-  LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem broke up in 2011 with a show at Madison Square Garden, the largest of their existence, that lasted over 3 hours.  On Christmas 2015, they posted this fantastically melancholy downer of a Christmas song.

3.  40oz. on repeat-  FIDLAR

FIDLAR seem to be developing into a band where their first singles from each album are great, but the followup singles fail to meet expectations.  This song is one where you should really see the video.

2.  Patience (Guns n Roses cover)-  Shovels & Rope (f. The Milk Carton Kids)

When some alt folk bands decided to cover a GnR classic, the results could have really gone either way.  Get too outside of their range and the song would sound lackluster.  Get too artistic and you risk straying too far from what made the original so good in the first place.  But, when done right, it both pays homage and sounds great in its own right.

1.  At the Seams (#blacklivesmatter)-  Kimya Dawson

I heart Kimya Dawson.  As the lead singer of the Moldy Peaches, she made hear name by creating songs where no topic was taboo, from being a scared kid to what it feels like to fall in love.  As a solo artist, her first album covered topics from libraries to death to being scared that she was about to become a mother.  Now, when there was turmoil in the streets, a multi-ethnic punk rock single mother with piercings and tattoos decided to write a song about how she felt given all that had been happening.  The chorus alone is worth the price of admission “Hands up, don’t shoot, I can’t breathe/black lives matter, no justice no peace/i know that we can overcome because i had a dream/we tore this racist broken system apart at the seams”

Music Machine- “Talk Talk”

Ok, so I’ve probably heard about this before, but why is the first time I can recall hearing about this song in the pages of Rolling Stone, with Marky Ramone discussing his five favorite punk songs?

Gotta dig the dance moves, the fuzz guitar, and the every band member wearing only one glove each.

Ballroom Blitz

This past week, I was reminded of the bit of trivia whereby nobody seems to remember where the line in the Beastie Boys song “Hey Ladies” (“She thinks she’s the passionate one”) was originally lifted.  Answer:  Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz”.

I was first introduced to this song, as were many of my era, via Wayne’s World.

What I had utterly no idea, at least until I heard the studio version of the song, was that the introduction to the song was the inspiration to My Chemical Romance’s beginning of the song “Vampire Money”.

It was 20 years ago today…”Popular”

It was a tough decision this month whether to conduct a review of Beck’s Odelay, which was one of the more popular albums of the 1990s, or to cover Nada Surf’s High/Low, a much more obscure album, but which featured on of the seminal, timeless, touchstone songs of the alternative genre.

“Popular” is an absolutely singular track, both a blessing and a curse of Nada Surf.  The song is instantly catchy, humorous, and features several lines that attract the listener.  It was also a curse because the rest of the album High/Low doesn’t follow suit.

However, the members of Nada Surf have persevered, creating gems of albums while maintaining their independence, whether you’re talking about The Weight is a Gift, featuring the stellar “Always Love” or its follow up Lucky, which featured “Whose Authority”.

The lyrics of “Popular”have their origins in an obscure publication titled “Penny’s Guide to Teen-Age Charm and Popularity”.  Both act as an advise column regarding how to attract the object of our affection.  The song itself features sometimes absurd advice such as “keep your hair spotless and clean/wash it at least once every two weeks” and “you don’t need date insurance/you can go out with however you want to/every boy in the whole world can be yours”.

The chorus itself juxtaposes lines such as “I’m head of the class”, “I’m teacher’s pet”, and “I make football bets”.  It is my understanding that the purpose of these lines is that all types of people within the same class have the ability to be popular in their own right, whether they excel in class, suck up to the teacher, or participate in gambling activities.  As such, the song calls out to several types of teenagers in particular, putting them on notice that they are exactly the person they intend to be, that they have as much potential to fulfill their dreams as anybody else.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu, The Teenage Guide to Popularity:

Three important rules for breaking up:
Don’t put off breaking up when you know you want to
Prolonging the situation only makes it worse
Tell him honestly, simply, kindly, but firmly
Don’t make a big production
Don’t make up an elaborate story
This will help you avoid a big tear jerking scene
If you wanna date other people say so
Be prepared for the boy to feel hurt and rejected
Even if you’ve gone together for only a short time,
And haven’t been too serious,
There’s still a feeling of rejection
When someone says she prefers the company of others
To your exclusive company,
But if you’re honest, and direct,
And avoid making a flowery emotional speech when you break the news,
The boy will respect you for your frankness,
And honestly he’ll appreciate the kind of straightforward manner
In which you told him your decision
Unless he’s a real jerk or a cry baby you will remain friends!I’m head of the class
I’m popular
I’m a quarterback
I’m popular
My mom says I’m a catch
I’m popular
I’m never last picked
I got a cheerleader chickBeing attractive is the most important thing there is
If you wanna catch the biggest fish in your pond
You have to be as attractive as possible
Make sure to keep your hair spotless and clean
Wash it at least every two weeks
Once every two weeks!
And if you see Johnny football hero in the hall
Tell him he played a great game
Tell him you like his article in the newspaperI’m the party star
I’m popular
I’ve got my own car
I’m popular
I’ll never get caught
I’m popular
I make football bets
I’m a teachers pet

I propose we support a one month limit on going steady
I think it would keep people more able to deal with weird situations
And get to know more people
I think if you’re ready to go out with Johnny
Now’s the time to tell him about your one month limit
He won’t mind, he’ll appreciate your fresh look on dating!
And once you’ve dated someone else you can date him again!
I’m sure he’ll like it!
Everyone will appreciate it!
You’re so novel, what a good idea!
You can keep you time to your self!
You don’t need date insurance!
You can go out with whoever you want to!
Every boy, every boy, in the whole world could be yours!
If you’ll just listen to my plan:
THE TEENAGE GUIDE TO POPULARITY!

I’m head of the class
I’m popular
I’m a quarterback
I’m popular
My mom says I’m a catch
I’m popular
I’m never last picked
I got a cheerleader chick

I’m the party star
I’m popular
I’ve got my own car
I’m popular
I’ll never get caught
I’m popular
I’m a teachers pet
I make football bets

 

It was 20 years ago today…June 1996

Beck: Odelay

After several early independent releases honing his writing chops, Beck burst onto the alternative rock scene in 1994? with his breakthrough hit “Loser”. It was a hit so massive, all of a sudden, everybody thought they could string together nonsensical lyrical flow in a verse. T-shirts were made featuring the title emblazoned on the chest of the shirts.

Beck made a few smaller records after Mellow Gold, the album from which “Loser” came, but his major label followup was Odelay. It featured an instantly recognizable and no iconic cover of a dog jumping over a hurdle. It featured four massive radio singles. In short, it was proof positive that Beck was no mere one hit fluke and he was staking his claim at alt-rock superstardom.

Odelay kicks off with the track “Devil’s Haircut”, one of the singles from the album. The track itself showcases Beck’s own unique lyrical flow, featuring seemingly non-sensical lines such as “stealing kisses from the Leper’s faces” and “mouthwash jukebox magazine”. In spite of those, however, the song is undeniably catchy. It propels along for about three minutes and rarely feels like it has overstayed its welcome.

A few songs later, we’re graced with the track “New Pollution”, featuring a rapid drum beat set prominently behind a tambourine beat and deceptively simple guitar line. Though the rhymes here are occasionally as non-sensical as “Devil’s Haircut”, there is a story about a woman obsessed with herself but going out every night to party. Presumably, the storyteller sees through this facade and decides to veer away, but can’t help to look on at the impending carnage.

From the first time I heard the album, the track “Jack-Ass” was my favorite. I liked the guitar line, the lyrics and the story they tell. It was only much later that I discovered that the guitar line was lifted wholesale (and credited, mind you) from the band Them’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. During my college years, and all the events concurrent, the lines of the song, including “loose ends tying a noose in the back of my mind” and “when I wake up, someone will shake up my lazy bones” spoke to my long hours of classes and study, my familial obligations, and my history of being a poor sleeper. Even all these years later, familial obligations and sleeping troubles are still prominent aspects of my life.

The very next track on the album, “Where It’s At”, I had heard as a single on the radio for years before I bought the album. The radio single is nearly 2 minutes shorter than the album version, which features samples from the educational album “Sex for Teens (Where It’s At)” that, at least to me, interrupt the flow of the song. The song itself features some of the more famous lines from Beck’s catalogue, including “two turntables and a microphone” and “bottles and cans just clap your hands”.

Odelay was nominated by the Grammy’s for Best Album of the Year and won for Best Alternative Album. The track “Where It’s At” won for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. Given the acclaim of the album, Beck followed up with the album Mutations, a decidedly more downcast album recorded over a very short time frame, with each track only being given one day to be completed. In 2015, Becks album Morning Phase was the surprise winner of Album of the Year (though deservedly so, given the beauty and artistry of the albums tracks), bringing Beck’s singular style of music to a much wider audience.

Two strange days

So, I ran over the internet cable with the lawnmower on Tuesday evening, leading to nearly 2 full days where i got the internet only at work (I’m a troglodyte in that i choose not to have a smart phone).

In those two days, things in my musical world blew up.

The Descendents announced that they’re releasing their first new music in 12 years, and not just a few tracks, but 21 freaking songs.

Somebody is currently casting for a play based upon the joke about The Wu Tang Clan, Bill Murray and the rich a-hole who bought the only copy of the latest Wu Tang album.

Article Here

And somebody leaked high quality Kurt Cobain demos to the internets.  (This is not my link:  Drop File)

It’s good to be back again.

Congrats, Yusuf!

Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, has been a Muslim for nearly 40 years.  It is only recently that he has returned to writing secular music.

His first foray back into the craft was reworking his “Peace Train” track in 2001, during the Concert for New York City.

In 2005, Yusuf was denied entry into the United States because he had given money to a school which was also funded by Hamas.  He publicly denied having knowledge of the connection.

His first album of secular music following his conversion to Islam came in 2006, with An Other Cup.  It featured a rendition of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”.

In 2014, he was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Now, 39 years after converting, an act which he continues to declare saved his life, Yusuf Islam released a single shining light on the thousands of Syrian refugee children who have gone missing.