Month: May 2014

Catching Up On The Week (May 30 Edition)

We hope you’re as ready for the weekend as we are; if so, here are some #longreads for your pleasure.

We here at RIJR been enjoying the latest album from The Roots, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, and though it’s unlikely we’ll provide a full review, we’ll link to someone else who might help fill the gap…like the drummer for The Roots, ?uestlove.  He wrote a series of essays for New York Magazine talking about the state of hip-hop and black culture, providing context for the story behind their new album.  You can find the first essay here, which should then lead you to the next five parts.

New York Magazine has another big feature this week, as Jody Rosen wrote a column called “In Defense of Schlock”.  You can imagine what it covers–namely, a defense of what is unfairly perceived as “low-brow”.  The top 150 songs list is pretty good, but at a certain point I have to say we disagree on what “schlock” is exactly.

We mentioned earlier this week that Steve Perry made his first public appearance as a singer in nearly two decades at a recent Eels concert, and Stereogum has an interview with E on how it happened.  Again, it’s always worth checking out Eels live.

With Parquet Courts’ new album Sunbathing Animal coming out next week, now’s a good time to read up on Steven Hyden’s entertaining interview with the band at a bowling alley.

And finally, the Primavera Sound Festival is happening in Barcelona right now, which for many of you probably doesn’t mean that much, but since you’re viewing this on the internet, hey, there’s a solution–they’re streaming many of the acts through their website.  That said, it’s kind of bullshit that the Slowdive performance isn’t airing, even though that’s the only reason I care about the festival.

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Covered: “Modern World”

Spoon fans had been waiting for years for a follow-up to Transference, eager to see if they could continue an unprecedented hot streak of excellent albums, and they finally got a clue this week that the wait may soon be over.  The cover photo of their Facebook page was updated yesterday with the cryptic message “SPOON R.I.P. JUNE 10”, indicating that something will be released in less than two weeks, whether it be a single or an entire album.  The announcement of a new album is not surprising, considering the band had announced tour dates beginning this summer, though the sudden timing sure is.  Considering I am one of the fans that I mentioned above, this is exciting news indeed.

With that in mind, I thought it was an excellent time to shine the spotlight on Spoon for our “Covered” feature.  One of my all-time favorite songs, “Me and the Bean” from the brilliant Girls Can Tell is actually a cover, though I’ve had trouble tracking down the original over the years since Sidehackers were a small local band.  Spoon has also been known to do a ripping version of the Rolling Stones’ gem “Rocks Off”, but for tonight it only gets a secondary mention.

I’m highlighting Spoon’s cover of Wolf Parade’s “Modern World” because it’s always great to see one great indie band recognize the talent of another great indie band.  “Modern World” tends to get lost in the shuffle when discussing Apologies to the Queen Mary, especially considering the apex of the “Shine A Light”-“Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts”-“I’ll Believe in Anything” triumvirate, so for Spoon to choose the song indicates that they had more than a passing familiarity with Wolf Parade, and that they were actually fans.  I’ll also remember that in one of their first performances of the cover on that particular tour (if not for the first performance) they had Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade join Spoon for the cover, and I was just a few blocks away missing out (it’s ok, I saw Spoon later on during the tour, it all worked out).  As for the technical part of the actual cover, it’s faithful to the original, and it’s amazing how easily the song fits into the Spoon oeuvre; there are subtle touches specific to Spoon that are clearer after multiple listens (most notably, the simple drum beat accented by a shaker (similar to the one used for “Don’t You Evah”) and the little guitar lead that Britt uses to end the song), but otherwise it’s fairly similar to the Wolf Parade version.

“Modern World” was an excellent complement to Apologies‘ opener “You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son”, setting up the dichotomy of the Dan Boeckner/Spencer Krug relationship (Dan sings “Modern World”, Spencer sings “Runner”).  It has a stripped-down sound especially compared to “Runner”, utilizing slightly twangy acoustic guitars instead of gaudy synths, though when the keyboard enters the song it’s for a distinctive and memorable solo.  The persistent driving beat of the song matches the depressingly cynical take on modern life (“Modern World, don’t ask why, cause Modern World, we build things high”,”Modern World, I’m not pleased to meet you; you just bring me down.”).  There’s really no other song on the album that matches its withdrawn mood, which helps it stand out.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the cover is that it lead to a musical collaboration between Britt Daniel from Spoon and Dan, a new group called Divine Fits.  The album that they created A Thing Called Divine Fits provided an intriguing amalgamation of elements from both of their previous groups, and is well worth checking out.  that said, as good as the album is, it could never beat the best work of either’s previous bands.  So once again, we wait patiently for the release of the newest Spoon LP, and hopefully Wolf Parade returns from its hiatus soon as well.

The National, Live at the Les Schwab Amphitheater

There aren’t many artists for whom it’s worth traveling six hours round-trip to see; there are even fewer for whom it’s worth taking that trip after seeing them only nine months before.  The National is one of those artists.*

Yes, that is a Mooninite hat that drummer Bryan Devendorf is wearing

Yes, that is a Mooninite hat that drummer Bryan Devendorf is wearing

For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of Oregon, Bend is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.**  That’s not to say it isn’t a nice place to visit–it turns out that “middle of nowhere” comes with quite the view.  There’s a reason why a sleepy town at the foot of the Cascades became the center of a real estate boom, even though it’s hours away from all the other “metropolitan” areas of the state.  It’s a scenic drive that involves several different biomes, and you get a real insight into the geographic diversity of Oregon.

A few minutes outside of Detroit (probably not the Detroit you're thinking of)

A few minutes outside of Detroit (probably not the Detroit you’re thinking of)

I imagine that many people would expect that such a serene setting would be the perfect backdrop for the dulcet tones of The National.  What better place for a band that sang a song called “All the Wine” than a state known for its wonderful pinot noir?  However, wrapped up in those assumptions is a particular criticism of the band: The National are “boring” and are best described as “dad rock”.  One does not expect edginess or excitement within these parameters, and so there are many people that are quick to dismiss the group.  But this rush to judgment is often the result of purely superficial listens to the band.  On the surface of seemingly pleasant tunes, there lies a quiet (and often furious) intensity, and multiple listens reveal subtle instrumental nuances and dynamics from what initially seemed a flat affect.  It’s the equivalent of a difference between a soft and forceful whisper–while the overall volume is relatively the same, the emotional reaction to each is different, and it usually takes multiple listens and careful attention to notice this detail.

If you still don’t believe me after multiple listens (or are unwilling to go through the “work”) and still want to categorize the band as “boring”, then I recommend an easier solution: simply go see The National perform live.  All those claims earlier about nuance and subtleties and emotions and so on become much more apparent in a live setting, where you get the added visuals of seeing Matt Berninger roam around the stage while treating the microphone as the last best chance to plead his case, with the Dessners and Devendorfs sets of brothers building up and tearing down walls of sound behind him.  On Friday night, Matt had the crowd hanging on his every word, and they were eager to sing along with every lyric, with the two feeding of the energy of the other.  The crowd was especially lively and friendly at this performance, eager to participate (though truly befitting a crowd of Oregonians, less than rhythmically-inclined, a malady that was especially apparent during tUnE-yArDs opening set***) and even ready to share “substances” with strangers, a rarity among local crowds.

The stage and crowd in context

The stage and crowd in context

The set focused heavily on material from Trouble Will Find Me, though considering it took the number one spot in our Best of 2013 list, this was perfectly fine with us.  In general, more recent material had a heavier emphasis, with High Violet tracks making up a significant part of the set, though favorites from Boxer and Alligator made appearances as well, plus rare b-sides “Santa Clara” and “About Today”.  Even though it had been only a few months since their last visit to the Northwest, there were several subtle shifts in the particular arrangements, most notably with additional leads from Bryce Dessner (forgive me if I named the wrong twin, but I think I got it).  The overall mix was better this time around too, with a better balance between the vocals and instruments as well as between the instruments themselves.  Matt again enthralled the crowd with his theatrics, ranging from crooning from the side of the stage to punctuating the end of a song by throwing a wine glass at the back curtain.

The band effortlessly switched between gorgeous ballads like “Pink Rabbits” and “Ada” and slow-building rockers like “Don’t Swallow the Cap” and “Sea of Love”, but really shined when they cut loose and tore into ragers like “Abel”, with Matt throwing his whole body into screaming out along with the crowd “My mind’s not alright!”  The synergy between the band and the crowd came to a head during the encore, featuring Matt wandering into the crowd for a full-participation version of “Mr. November” (he didn’t walk right past me like he did at Edgefield, but I did my part by helping to make sure the mic cable didn’t clip anyone) and a cathartic “Terrible Love”, and finishing with an unplugged group sing-along of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”.  Any fan of the band came away impressed with the performance and happy to share with other fans, and I’d like to imagine that anybody who came in unsure walked out convinced about the greatness of the band.

And to think, as we all calmed down from the buzz of that wonderful experience as we ventured into the town in search of dinner, no one thought to say the words “dad rock”.

*I mean, there wouldn’t be that much point in writing that kind of intro otherwise, but maybe you just like surprises and completely forgot what the title to this post was.

**And for those of you who are looking for material for some sort of anti-Oregon screed, it coincidentally is pretty much in the middle of the state.  Though I don’t know why you’re going out of your way to rip on Oregon, but hey man, I ain’t judging.

***A quick note on tUnE-yArDs: I had listened to w h o k i l l after its inclusion on several critics’ lists and came away less than impressed, but the idiosyncratic style was easier to digest in a live setting, and the interesting melodies and danceable rhythms energized the crowd.  Unfortunately, there were many in the crowd who tried to clap along with the handclaps used by the group, not thinking that this could possibly be a hindrance when trying to set up a loop with a complex rhythm.  Also, there was one person who decided he should jump and clap at the same time–do one or the other, sir, because you cannot do both in time.

Over the Weekend (May 27 Edition)

We took the day off yesterday in recognition of Memorial Day.  This is how we at RIJR celebrated, with Gary Clark Jr.’s superb rendition of the National Anthem from this year’s NBA All-Star Game.

The Atlantic had a nice piece where they asked musicians their thoughts on what the most influential song in history was.  Personally, I felt that Walter Martin, formerly of The Walkmen, gave the best answer.

Speaking of The Walkmen, Hamilton Leithauser’s solo debut Black Hours is available for streaming on the NPR website; they also have a stream of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Only Run up as well.  Next week sees some other highly anticipated new albums, including Sunbathing Animal from Parquet Courts and Glass Boys from Fucked Up.  Pitchfork has the streams for both.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s always worth seeing Eels live.  You never know what kind of set you get, from a somber strings-enriched performance to a retro-variety hour show, or having Steve Perry from Journey randomly showing up and performing live for the first time in nearly two decades.

Chris Cornell gave a quick interview to Rolling Stone talking about looking back to the days of Superunknown.  The best part of the interview was the discussion about his interactions with Artis the Spoonman, giving new insight into their relationship.

Finally, I think that I need to inform our audience that a banjo cover of Slayer’s “Raining Blood” exists.  And it’s not bad.

Catching Up On The Week (May 23 Edition)

We hope everyone has an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, and if you find yourself with some time on your hands, here are a few handy #longreads.

We’ve had previous coverage on the Will Ferrell/Chad Smith drum-off before, and last night the two finally battled it out to see who is the superior look-alike.  Rolling Stone has a write-up and video of their joint appearance on The Tonight Show, and yes cowbell is involved.  For those who want to minimize their exposure to Jimmy Fallon, here’s the footage of the face-off.

Jack White is doing the rounds in preparation for the release of his newest solo effort, and a wide-ranging interview with Rolling Stone is getting some attention.  Since I got the news secondhand, I’m linking to the SPIN article discussing some of the highlights, such as his relationship these days with Meg White and the fact that he doesn’t use a cell phone.

SPIN got their own scoop when they interviewed The Antlers for their upcoming album, and the band discusses their different approach for Familiars.

The Quietus talked to Joey Santiago of the Pixies and he discussed his 13 favorite albums with the magazine.

And so that you’re all caught up when you’re back at work next week, here’s the article discussing Tupac’s last words before he died.

Missing the Point & Other Disasters

Normally, I’m not the kind of person to go out of my way to trash other people’s reviews.*  No matter how authoritative the tone, in the end, the review is merely the opinion of one writer.  Arguments can be made about the effectiveness about certain tactics or styles, but there is little point in quibbling when there is no single determinate answer to be found.

That said, there are certainly some dumb ways to approach writing a review.  Take the AV Club’s review of Turn Blue for example.  In a three paragraph review of a Black Keys album, the first third is entirely devoted to their lyrics.  To anyone that has ever spent time listening to the band, this is a patently ridiculous approach to reviewing the group (if you look at the review we ran yesterday, you’ll notice that we gave the lyrics only a passing mention).  That of course is not to say that lyrics are unimportant; it’s just that for a blues-rock group like The Black Keys, lyrics are usually an afterthought and are written in more as placeholders than anything (as mentioned in this interview with NPR).  Sure, those that are new to the group may not expect this to be the case, but the writer is reviewing the work of an established band with roots in a genre that doesn’t place an emphasis on the words.  This isn’t true of the blues only; when people listen to a techno or heavy metal song, they tend to not focus on the lyrics (though for the latter this apparently isn’t always the case).  Over a career that spans eight albums, I can hardly think of any significant lyrical turns of phrases or bon mots from the group, outside of a few catchy (and generally meaningless) choruses designed just to get the crowd singing along.

This book may have been used as research in one of the reviews

This book may have been used as research in one of the reviews

Not only are the lyrics unnecessarily emphasized in the review, but they are viewed through a lens that makes no sense in context.  The writer applies half-assed feminist theory in his critique, stating that the band portrays “a view of women that…is glaringly reductive” and that “women are mere caricatures, often painted as temptresses in desperate need of the guidance and fulfillment that can be provided by a man.”  The fact that the band hails from a tradition of the blues is tossed aside, instead of being cited as the primary reason why this would be the case.  One can make it a goal to point out the stereotypes of past generations or go against the perceived boundaries of certain genres, but when it’s clear from the outset that there is no interest in doing so, it doesn’t seem smart to knock a band for failing to engage in that particular fight, especially if one has trouble citing noteworthy examples.  Since in general The Black Keys are not particularly interested in their lyrics (and neither are their fans), it makes little sense to deride them for not bucking against the history of the genre.

This would be bad enough, but from an errant statement it becomes clear that the writer did not do the necessary research before writing this review.  In picking apart the song “It’s Up To You Now”, the author writes “he can’t help but feel exploited by a woman who’s left him,” and then uses that as his conclusion of the band’s foray into typical stereotypes.  Of course, there may be a particular reason why this sentiment may have been present–Dan Auerbach recently went through a divorce, and the tone of the album reflects that difficult ordeal.**  It’s one thing for a reviewer to not know this vital piece of information for an up-and-coming band, but considering that The Black Keys have been the biggest rock band in the country for the past few years (and were well-established in the indie community which is the AV Club’s audience well before then), it’s inexcusable to not know that information.

The other problem with this approach is the utterly reductive notion that if a woman is portrayed in any sort of antagonistic manner in a song, it is a symptom of a serious malady like sexism.  The Pitchfork review runs with this premise and makes the argument explicitly, stating “[l]yrically, the Black Keys’ casual chauvinism has gone from ‘Girl, you look so good’ to ‘Woman, you done me wrong[.]'”  This kind of assertion is troubling on some levels, and utterly ridiculous on others.  First, the idea that noticing the attractiveness of a potential partner is a concept that is inherently chauvinistic shows a total lack of regard for both context and human nature (yes, leering and catcalling is bad, but not all examples of noting attractiveness are inherently evil–without it, it’s difficult to imagine how most relationships would ever start); and second, that if when discussing a relationship one cannot attempt to assess blame on another party without coming off as a misogynist, then we are truly fucked.  Let’s brush aside the fact that this attitude is more paternalistic than anything, that denying the other party any agency and indulging in only the most protectionist of assumptions is a bad approach to any situation.  It’s utterly remarkable that the reviewer has attempted to brush aside the subject matter of 90% of music of the last half century in only a few words; if you take away the joy of falling in love and the despair in falling out of it, you’re not left with much to discuss, and we already had Rage Against The Machine cover politics and The Decemberists cover 19th century literature.***  Also, it ignores the various lyrics where Dan assigns blame to himself, but who cares, it doesn’t fit the narrative.

The entire approach reeks of someone attempting to pass off a superficial understanding of critical theory, as if they learned the vocabulary but failed to pay attention when the class discussion switched to their proper application.  It’s one thing to view cultural trends and their impact, but it’s quite another to expect everyone to suddenly align with the same worldview and create a product that conforms to it.  Merely invoking a general trope is not enough to warrant such condemnation; make your argument when you can cite something concrete and of substance instead of a lazy generality.

Again, this isn’t to say that lyrics are unimportant–it’s just that the people interested in reading a review of The Black Keys generally do not care.

*This isn’t true at all–I’ve been known to trash reviews to my friends on several occasions.  I just don’t write articles about them.

**It’s possible to interpret this as a possible contradiction to my main argument, that in fact the lyrics do matter.  However, I think this information is more important to understand the general tone of the lyrics (and the music as well), and that the individual lines themselves hardly matter at all.

***This wasn’t even my biggest problem with the Pitchfork review.  There were several issues I had with the discussion of the music itself–the clear problem that the reviewer had with Danger Mouse as a producer (a bias that is good to admit to, but then you wonder why if someone comes in with a negative attitude at the start why they are assigned the review), the idea that covering the Beatles is somehow a sign of artistic bankruptcy (and implicitly that nobody innovative ever covered the Beatles), but most of all that the keyboard in “Fever” is…”farty”.  I expressed serious concerns for the reviewers health (and for his ears as well) if he thought that kind of tone was “farty”.  At least Mr. Fitzmaurice had the good humor to favorite that tweet.

Review: The Black Keys – Turn Blue

It’s a bit odd that for a band that got its start and first achieved fame as a blues band, that it wasn’t until their eighth album that anyone would call an album by The Black Keys “sad”.  Part of that is the nature of the blues: even when you’re writing about how life has done you wrong, the goal is to keep it from letting you stay down for too long.

Turn Blue isn’t a typical “sad” album however.   There is no overwhelming aura of depression or melancholy; it’s marked more by a sense of restraint and internal contemplation, especially compared to their most recent work (most notably the built-for-arena-touring El Camino and their crossover breakthrough Brothers).  Instead of outsized swagger and riffs, the album relies on intimate grooves and swirling psychedelic touches.  It’s definitely of a piece of their post-Magic Potion work (i.e., it’s not the down-and-dirty two-man grimey blues of their early work), but it’s examining a different aspect of that style.

The album kicks off with the fantastic “Weight of Love”, a slow-burner that begs for repeated listens–a desire that I’ve indulged in several times already.  A ballad that takes its time to gradually build over six minutes before carefully fading away, it serves as a great mission statement for the album.  The song signals the return to prominence of guitar to The Black Keys’ sound, with three separate, gorgeous solos from Dan Auerbach, culminating in a thrilling double-tracked ripper at the climax.  While the solos are definitely worthy of being singled out for praise, the song works so well because of the efforts of all the musicians involved.  The breakdowns to the bare grooves of the verses lead into gorgeous swells of the chorus and climax as instruments are added to the mix, and Patrick Carney’s fills in the solo mark some of his finest work to date.

[There originally was a YouTube clip of the song included in this post, but it has since been taken down.  We will attempt to post a replacement when one becomes available.]

The album maintains a mysterious, somewhat ethereal mood throughout, with 60’s/70’s soul replacing the blues and classic rock as the primary influence this time around.  It’s noticeable even on the tracks meant to get the crowd moving, like on the lead single “Fever”.  The keyboard melody is catchy, but there is a slight air of disturbed menace that gives the whole song a delirious quality, especially considering the lyrics.  Though it has escaped attention from most people, the ending should be given some special praise, as it does a great job of inverting the melody to build up the mild paranoia evoked in the song before falling apart at the end.

The blues influences haven’t completely disappeared, however.  “It’s Up To You Now” relies on a similar groove to The Stooges’ “1969” (with the addition of typical eighth-note drum hits from Carney to accent the end of each phrase), and the halftime breakdown features an especially sleazy guitar solo.  The ingratiatingly fun closer “Gotta Get Away” is the closest the band gets to big dumb classic rock, and it serves as an excellent epilogue to the seriousness preceding it.  Considering how easily it puts a smile on your face, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it ended up being a single down the line.

Danger Mouse contributes a lot of his signature touches to the album, but his production doesn’t overwhelm the group.  Some of his trademarks do show up, like the muted staccato bass, the subtle organ flourishes, and the spaghetti western-influenced strings (the last of which is most clearly heard in “Year in Review” and “10 Lovers”).  But the band has incorporated a lot of these aspects into their sound already at this point, and they never push Dan’s guitar and vocals away from the spotlight.  It’s clear that since Danger Mouse’s initial contributions to Attack & Release that the group has evolved into a different entity; at the time, it was a necessary injection of new blood, as the original formula had begun to deliver diminished returns (though I believe that Magic Potion doesn’t deserve the poor reputation that it seems to have received).  Though the sound of present-day Black Keys differs in many ways from the Rubber Factory and thickfreakness days, one can still feel the basic DNA of their sound still present in the music, that it’s simply exploring different sonic territory through their own unique lens.

Covered: “To Hell With Good Intentions”

Covered is a feature where we examine the merits of various cover songs, debating whether or not they capture the spirit and intent of the original, if the cover adds anything new, and whether or not it perhaps surpasses the original.  If we fail on those counts, at the very least we may expose you to different versions of great songs you hadn’t heard before. 

Today’s inspiration comes from the simple fact that I was listening to the underrated punk band Mclusky this afternoon.  They’re now defunct, but they left us with some classic post-hardcore albums that are an excellent mix of fiery intensity and bitterly sarcastic humor.   Just taking a look at their album titles should give a clue about the latter (My Pain and Sadness Is More Sad and Painful Than Yours and The Difference Between Me and You Is That I’m Not On Fire come to mind, but knowing the allusion of Mclusky Do Dallas is hilarious as well).

“To Hell With Good Intentions” is one of my favorites, with its string of ridiculous boasts for each verse, mirrored by the nonsensical response of “My love is bigger than your love” and punctuated by the simple warning of the chorus: “We’re all going straight to hell.”  Musically, it’s spare, simple, and direct, marked most notably by a rhythmic bass hit that emphasizes each line.

It turns out that these elements help make the song an excellent song to cover.  I had a friend whose band used to cover this song, and honestly, it was probably the best song they did–and all they had to do was pretty much play it note-for-note.  The song has a natural energy and bounce, and accomplishes the trick of allowing the vocalist to attempt to be more theatrical while the backing instrumentation can focus on the tight music.  Also, by the end of the song, even if the audience wasn’t familiar with the song, they’ll be able to sing along.

Japandroids are a much much much much better band than my friend’s band, so it should be no surprise that they perform an excellent version of the song.  There’s the necessary musical adjustment from a bass-guitar-drums trio to a guitar-drums duo, with Brian King merging the original’s bassline into a denser overall guitar part.  Japandroids also indulge the natural tendency that occurs when covering punk songs, and that’s to play it faster–but they don’t let the tempo get away from them, meaning that they’re able to convey all the urgency they want from the song, but they keep it constrained well enough that it never feels like rushing.  A lot of credit should be given to David Prowse’s excellent drumming, both for his timekeeping and his spot-on fills.

BONUS VERSION

Here’s a live version of the Japandroids cover, this time in a more sedate setting:

Over the Weekend (May 19 Edition)

We’ve got a lot of fun videos and other distractions for your pre-Memorial Day week, so let’s get going.

First, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah released an intense and haunting video for their new single “As Always”.  The song is an interesting change in direction for the band, with spare guitar melodies filtering in and out of a spectral synth track, and propelled by a galloping drum track that stutters a bit with its inventive use of ghost notes.

Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and even more groups) released his solo debut Everyday Robots a few weeks back, and while we’re still processing the spare and melancholic nature of the album, that hasn’t stopped Damon from releasing a video for one of the more upbeat tracks on the album.  He released a video for “Mr Tembo”, a song about an orphaned baby elephant he met in Tanzania, and the video features clips of the little guy in action.  I think this is one of the few times I would prefer less footage of the musicians, just so we can get more baby elephant scenes.

AllMusic conducted an interview with The Dandy Warhols, where they do the usual thing of talking about influences and songwriting goals, which actually are rather revealing when you consider the trajectory of their career.  In addition, they have the premiere of the lyric video for their classic “Bohemian Like You”.  It’s actually the version from their recent release Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia Live at the Wonder, and features some goofy animation.  So, there’s that.

Last weekend’s Saturday Night Live had one of my favorite sketches of the season, with an Andy Samberg Digital Short that was a vicious parody of the inherent ridiculousness of the current EDM scene.  Radio.com picked up some of the reactions from various famous DJs, and many seemed to enjoy the joke, though who knows how many thought that they were not themselves the target.

SPIN has an article talking about the first public performance of the reunited Slowdive and includes some video footage from the secret gig.  It’s great to see the band together again, though expectations should be tempered a bit considering the (understandably) low quality of the footage.

And finally, we have a little bit more chart fun, as Concert Hotels came up with an interactive chart comparing vocal ranges of various singers from different eras.  Some of the results may surprise you.

Catching Up On The Week (May 16th Edition)

The weather up here in the Pacific NW has decided to morph into summer early this year, but for those of you who aren’t as lucky, we have plenty of #longreads to keep you busy this weekend.

First, we have more drummer news.  We mentioned before on our Tumblr about the proposed Will Ferrell/Chad Smith drum-off, and now we finally have a time and place: Thursday, May 22nd on The Tonight Show.  Be sure to read this Rolling Stone article to catch up on all the hilarious trash talk.

As a musician, I’ve heard and shared my fair share of drummer jokes.  Here’s one of my favorites:

A new customer walks into the new store on the block that sells brains. There are three glass cases, each containing a nice wet quivering grey brain. The first one says “Doctor”, and it costs $10. The second says “Astrophysicist” and costs $100. The third says “Drummer” and costs $10,000. The customer is confused, and questions the salesperson. “I don’t get it…why would I want a drummer’s brain for $10,000 when I can get an a doctor’s for $10?”. The salesman replies, “Because it’s never been used.” 

Now, drummers may be able to claim to have the last laugh, as a new study shows that they’re intuitive problem-solvers.  The article then goes on to explain the importance of rhythm in learning and brain function, and is worth reading in full.  Kudos for drummers, but remember that guitarists are totally special too.

Wayne Coyne Trapped In A Ball

Wayne Coyne Trapped In A Ball

A couple of weeks back, we linked to an article which detailed some of the circumstances of Kliph Scurlock’s firing from the Flaming Lips, and we feel it would probably be good to link to an update on the reasoning behind the move.

In a recent post, we discussed the random brilliance of parts of the Godzilla soundtrack, and asked why aren’t there more songs with random Godzilla noises.  Apparently, we weren’t alone with such questions, and someone took it upon themselves to make sure that the world is filled with more Godzilla “remixes”.

This week, the AV Club had a couple of good appreciation pieces.  First, they updated their series “Fear of a Punk Decade” with a look back at 1998, mainly through the lens of the release of Refused’s seminal album The Shape of Punk to Come.  You can probably tell that we’re pretty big fans of Refused (take a look at our cover banner), so we’re always grateful for any mention of the band.  The other big event covered is the release of At the Drive-In’s In/Casino/Out, which mirrored Refused’s attempts to shape post-hardcore punk, and served as a glimpse to their magnum opus Relationship of Command which would be released a few years later.  Then there’s a piece on Ratatat’s self-titled debut, and how it would unknowingly influence alternative and electronic music later on in the decade.

Finally, Pitchfork has a couple of articles that I’m looking forward to reading this weekend, one an interview with Fucked Up as they prepare for the release of their long-awaited album Glass Boys, and the other an extended profile of Sharon Van Etten.