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[ Comments Off ]Posted on February 28, 2013 by admin in MusicThursday, February 28th, 2013
In the wake of a terrorist attack, you sure don’t want people Dancing in the Streets, Walking Like an Egyptian, or listening to Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World”, now do you.
An unfortunate collision of world
events and visual theme can really
put a ding in your sales.
The other day I happened upon a tune I had forgotten existed, a song by Afro Celt Sound System called When You’re Falling, with Peter Gabriel on vocals (video below). It’s an uplifting tune with a persistent and catchy mandolin riff and Gabrielesque vocals and percussion, generally perceived around the world as a positive song about love and resilience. I actually own the CD it’s on, so I couldn’t for the life of me think of why it was that I had so completely forgotten about it. But as I did some quick poking around, I discovered one likely factor. The CD the song was on was released on June 19, 2001, so it would have been getting a little rotation just before September 11. Within just a couple of days of the attacks, Clear Channel circulated an internal memo with a recommendation of 165 songs that it might be inadvisable to play in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy. If you do a little research, you’ll find that even Snopes is willing to reinforce Clear Channel’s attempts to distance themselves from the absurd list, but if you examine the language of Clear Channel’s backtracking in the press, they don’t deny issuing the list, they just try to frame it as some casual “recommendation”. But as anyone who has worked in a corporate environment knows, defying a “recommendation” can put your position in just as much peril as blatantly violating a clearly stated company policy. So Clear Channel’s denials are patently absurd. But not nearly as absurd as the list of songs. While you can almost understand items like Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” – not so much because of the lyrics but because the song is kind of crap in the first place – the list in its entirety is utterly preposterous. Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World? Elton John’s Bennie and the Jets? Nena’s 99 Red Balloons? Mitch Ryder’s Devil with a Blue Dress On? And then there are oddities like Alien Ant Farm’s cover of “Smooth Criminal” being on the list, but not Michael Jackson’s original version. See the entire list here, and tell us if you can find the logic behind it all. Below are a few of our choices for “Weirdest Choices for a Post-Terrorist Attack Blacklist” list. Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on February 7, 2013 by admin in MusicThursday, February 7th, 2013
Do the surreal creations of Cyriak, SecretAgentBob, and Weebl constitute a genre? Who cares. Watch hours disappear as you watch clip after one minute clip.
Somewhere in the surreal realm between the audiovisual creations of Cyriak (who brought us cows & cows & cows, Baaa, and Welcome to Kitty City) and the musical animated storytelling of SecretAgentBob (who brought us Charlie the Unicorn and Ferrets) lies the repetitiously brilliant creations of mr weebl (we’ve included a few of these videos below). Is this a genre? I can’t decide. The musical portions of Cyriak and Weebl’s clips seem to reside somewhere in the microgenres of Bitpop or Chiptune, but to be honest, I decided to stop keeping track of microgenres ten minutes after I first heard the term back in the early nineties. So we’ll just let these offbeat creations be what they are. We’re focusing on Weebl today, because in spite of having the largest volume of work of the three on line by far, I personally didn’t know who he was until today, when I ran across Shrimp Glockenspiel. Why are internerds so shellfish with their clever links? Once I paid a little more attention, I quickly realized I was familiar with his NSFW Amazing Horse and Narwhals; I just didn’t realize he had such a huge body of work. You’re likely to either love Weebl (British flash animator Jonti Picking ) or hate him. His 200+ YouTube clips have received tens of millions of views, but his TV ad for Yell 118 247 Directory Heaven earned him the honor of sixth most irritating ad of 2009. Which I guess is actually a positive assessment when discussing TV commercials. Below are what I’d consider weebl’s “greatest hits”. If you actually like the music itself, he has hundreds of tunes on Amazon, and a ton of apps on iTunes as Weebl’s Stuff Ltd . More clips below. Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on January 16, 2013 by admin in MusicWednesday, January 16th, 2013
One of the annoying things about brilliantly obscure and hard to find music is how brilliantly obscure and hard to find it is. From the liner notes: “In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments – there are Consequences.” ~ R.G.Ingersoll, 1833-1899
This promotional poster by
Philip Chudy turned out to
be disturbingly prescient
The other day, I was transported to a surreal yet somehow comforting place I hadn’t been in years. No, I didn’t drop acid or hit the clubs on ecstasy, I borrowed a turntable from a friend so I could listen to their exceptionally rare vinyl copy of a brilliantly eccentic triple album released in 1977 called Consequences. Somewhere in the obscure soundscape between seventies art rock, the hallucinatory audio comedy and Joycean satire of Firesign Theatre, the silliness of Monty Python, the otherwise non-existent art form Jazz Opera, and Bubble Gum Pop lies the unique experience created on this album by Lol Creme and Kevin Godley. You’ll be forgiven for never having heard of it; although it is in a way a masterpiece of its era, in this case “its era” means the days of lush and meandering exploration of sound and story in the form of a rock opera. The term “rock opera” doesn’t really do it justice though; it is in fact often referred to by its die-hard fans as a “movie for the blind”. Aside from the relative obscurity of its creators (something I’ll get back to below) and its daring and experimental approach, the release was probably more doomed to obscurity by the timing of its release. One of the more popular sounds in 1977 was the dull thud of dinosaur rock finally stumbling to its death, a sound only subtly masked by the sound of aging white guys hitting the studios to churn out the year’s biggest hits like The Grand Illusion by Styx, Billy Joel’s The Stranger, Point Of Know Return by Kansas, and that death certificate of rock and roll, Foreigner. At the same time, groups like The Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Blondie, and The Ramones were signaling the wave to come. Even if it weren’t so peculiar, it stood little chance of getting listened to at the time.
All the same, I’ve never understood the obscurity of the duo that created Consequences; you would probably know them best from their time with the British pop group 10cc when they produced the band’s biggest hit I’m Not In Love , or long after they left the band, from their club hit of the late eighties Cry (both videos below). But especially in the years between 1977 and 1980, they produced a series of utterly brilliant Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on August 22, 2012 by admin in MusicWednesday, August 22nd, 2012
If you can find it. But rather than spending your time downloading free music by a non-existent band called Pussy Riot, why not just give them some money via Free Pussy Riot so they have some hope of actually being free?
If you haven’t heard about Pussy Riot, you couldn’t possibly be reading this, because this is the internet, and you’re on it, and “you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a reference to Pussy Riot lately”, as my grandpa might say, if he were alive, and if he had heard of them. Which he would have. Because he was English, and The Guardian got exclusive rights to their latest video release, and he would have watched it, because he was a rascal. But have you HEARD Pussy Riot? I’m willing to bet not. In much the same way that people rail on Justin Bieber without actually having given him a listen, people are willing to get all up in arms about a band in Russia that they’d never heard of until last week, and definitely never listened to.
So ponder this. Are you even sure they’re an actual band? I’d argue they’re not, based on output and substance. I did my best to track down a way to buy a CD, and gave up. I eventually tried their MySpace page, and after getting annoyed with MySpace for trying to force me to update Flash and link my Facebook account, I suddenly realized that it was the WRONG PUSSY RIOT. It’s an Italian band from six years ago. Eventually I found and downloaded the collection called “Pussy Riot – Kill The Sexiest” [sic], and gave it a listen. Well, that didn’t take long. The longest of the songs clocks in at 2:11, and the total running time was 10:15. Probably the most interesting thing about it remains the rebellion behind it, not the music. As this review points out, some of content in these one-minute wonders is actually sampled from eighties punk, sort of completing a weird circle of irony.
Personally, I remain adamant in my support of Pussy Riot, merely on the basis of the absurd harshness of their sentence. But I’m perhaps much more impressed with the media savvy behind the “band” than even their ideology. One thing that never gets mentioned in major media pieces is that Pussy Riot is an offshoot of the Voina group, which was established in 2007. The band itself was really formed just last year, as a direct response to a decision by former President and current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev not to run for re-election as president. As the husband of Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova points out in this Spiegel interview, it wouldn’t be especially prudent to go into detail about their long term planning and the details of their “marketing strategy”, but rest assured, one exists. From the brightly colored balaclavas to the harmless looking threesome that took the fall (with amazing resilience under oppressive prison conditions, by the way), there was a plan behind Pussy Riot. But not much of a “band”. Sheer genius in activism, and a worthy cause. I hope my fellow citizens here in the states don’t wait until things are as bad here as they are in Russia before they get this savvy and productive when it comes to standing up for freedom. And fuck twats like Vadim Nikitin of the NYT who offer up liberal elite analysis questioning westerners’ support for the group, comparing Pussy Riot to Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The issue here is resisting authoritarianism, not the kind of dumbass debates Americans are having right now, like whether or not Romney is testing well with black voters, or whether Obama plays too much golf.
If you haven’t actually listened to Pussy Riot, some clips are below, and you should have no trouble finding more tracks by Googling “Pussy Riot – Kill The Sexiest” [sic]. And since downloading the songs for free won’t do them OR your ears much good, visit FreePussyRiot.org to donate to the defense fund and generally keep up to date. Oh, and remember, there are Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on February 4, 2012 by admin in MusicSaturday, February 4th, 2012
Whenever I want to dance alone in my apartment, I drive my music snob friends away with some awesome Europop like Rebecca & Fiona
I occasionally find myself a sudden musical outcast amongst my friends. A lot of music lovers I know are frankly arrogant snobs, or so niche-obsessed as to be musically misanthropic, so when I go on a bender with something like Robyn, Die Antwoord, or Lady Sovereign, they just avoid me for a few days, or ask me how my Rebecca Black fan club is doing. Or walk around with their fingers in their ears saying “la la la la” thinking I’ll shut it off or something. Well, it looks like I’ll have some time to myself for a day or two as I keep Rebecca & Fiona on regular rotation. I first heard of them because of this fan video (also below) which is kind of an editing gem on its own. I then went down the YouTube Rabbit Hole for a while, and realized I had to have more, so I picked up I Love You, Man, their latest release. If you liked the Europoppier bands on Pitchfork’s 2007 best of list, and if you like the girly, talk-singy vocal stylings of Norway’s Ephemera, Rebecca & Fiona may find a place on your list. Their slightly derivative sound is part of their appeal to me; it’s sort of like a weird amalgam of 80′s girl bands like Bananarama, the aforementioned more recent Europop, and some particularly smooth looped and ducking-tweaked dance music. Which all makes sense; the Swedish duo found fame mostly via a Swedish reality TV show which followed them as they pursued their budding music/DJ career as hardworking teens. Keep your eyes on these two, they’ve been winning international mixing contests as DJ’s, and getting lots of remix attention as artists themselves. Read the rest of this entry »