Month: July 2014

The Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Dilemma

The story of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is one we’ve seen countless times before, and just as unfair as with many other cases–band debuts with huge buzz and overnight success, becoming a shorthand for the Hot New Thing, difficult followup alienates the tastemakers and the band’s profile begins to dwindle, band now exists in shadow of former glory and is now shorthand for “hey, weren’t we crazy back in [insert year]?”  Granted, since we’re talking about indie rock bands in the new millennium, the full scale of their trajectory is of a much smaller scale than previous decades, but it’s a familiar pattern nonetheless.  Even we here at Rust Is Just Right, fans of the band that we are, have added insult to injury by letting their most recent release pass by without much comment, letting it get lost amid a sea of other stellar releases that week.

However, since the newest iteration of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is set to play Portland this Sunday, now is the perfect time to correct our previous omission and attempt to put the band’s career in context, and also to help give the band a needed reassessment.

The story of the unexpected success of the band’s debut is still remembered today, as the band was able to sell over a hundred thousand copies of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah even without the benefit of record label support, based purely on the power of word-of-mouth and shares through music blogs.  The album eventually made its way into the hands of various critics, and with a helpful push particularly from Pitchfork, the band became indie darlings and were selling out big halls while at the same time individually mailing out copies of their record.  To give you an idea of their success at the time, the opener on their tour was The National, who were supporting their just-released classic Alligator.  Today, it’s a different story, as The National can headline festivals while CYHSY plugs away at tiny clubs, but there’s no hard feelings–Matt Berninger does a guest vocal spot on the band’s new album.

While the story remains compelling, many might be surprised that the actual music still holds up years later.  Clap Your Hands Say Yeah didn’t exactly spawn a legion of odd-voiced, delicate indie-dance rock imitators, so their unique sound stands out even today.  The sparse arrangements serve the songs well, and the melodies remain strong and filled with hooks.  If I hear “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood” or “In This Home On Ice” pop up on my iTunes, I can still sing along with ease.

It was with their next album, Some Loud Thunder, that the band began to lose support; you can probably pinpoint the exact moment, which is when the heavily-distorted title track opens the album.  I believe that initial impression turned off most people, as many probably reached for their album once it started playing and asked “Did I get a warped copy?”  However, I personally eventually found some charm to that abrasive opening, and admired the ballsiness of the band’s maneuver to dare people who were merely hoping to catch the tail end of a trend to keep listening.   The opening lines are also a brilliant response to the incredible hype that the band had received: “All this talking, you’d think I’d have something to say, but I’m just talking.”  There was no hidden agenda; the guys were just interested in making music.

The album also features a couple of the group’s best singles, the twisted-but-goofy “Satan Said Dance” and the dramatic “Yankee Go Home”, but they failed to gain traction outside of a devoted fanbase.  Otherwise, the album was filled with dreamy textures and various sound experiments, which work well if one is committed to listening to the album but can present problems for the casual listener.  But when you strip away all the extra layers, there are still beautiful songs below the surface.  For example, here’s a gorgeous if haunting solo acoustic performance of “Underwater (You and Me)”.

After the intentionally confrontational Some Loud Thunder, the band regrouped with the bouncy and fun Hysterical, trading experimental rock for more keyboards and a dance beat.  It’s certainly an enjoyable record, and one that works extremely well live, though only a handful songs leave any sort of lasting impression.  “Same Mistake” is an energetic rave-up, and “Adam’s Plane” is a nice dramatic ballad that builds to an epic finish, but in between those two songs the album merely seems to float from one track to the next.

Even with a pivot toward more crowd-pleasing material, the band’s audience continued to shrink.  During the Some Loud Thunder tour, they sold out the Roseland Theater, one of the biggest venues in Portland; for the Hysterical tour, they downgraded significantly to the Hawthorne Theatre.  Despite this, the band’s performance actually improved, as the smaller size of the venues seemed to be a more comfortable fit.  The band was also helped by the fact that the people who showed up to see them were actual devoted fans, who had a great time providing an energetic response to the material and dancing along to the music, and yelling out the lyrics as needed.

After a few years off, the band returns in a radically different form, existing in recording form as basically a duo.  Alec Ounsworth and his distinctive voice remain as he tackles most of the guitars and keyboards as well, with some help from drummer Sean Greenhalgh.  The result is a careful, more subdued record that falls more in line with recent bedroom-pop-like efforts, and one can sense an element of restraint throughout the album.  The result is an unusual combination of an air of calm mixed with a bit of unease, as the sounds themselves are soothing but they’re seemingly pushing against an unseen force to prevent a full explosion of emotion.  Keyboards are a more dominant presence on the album, with single-note guitar lines cutting through to provide some edge and movement at particular moments, such as in the single “As Always” (embedded above) or to propel the momentum forward, as in “Coming Down”.

Overall, it’s an intriguing step forward for the band, and one that shows that while the band may be content to have a lower profile, the important thing is that they are still committed to releasing new music.  Looking back, it was clear that the “living room” tour that the band did a few months prior to the release of Only Run was an indication of this new direction, and perhaps a sign of things to come.  The band has shifted to an even smaller venue this time as it passes through Portland, as they perform within the intimate confines of Mississippi Studios.  But if previous events are any indication, it will be an even better experience.

How to Spot a Charlatan

A few days ago, we linked to an interview with Peter Matthew Bauer that the AV Club hosted, but expressed a bit of trepidation with our comments in advising whether or not one should read it.  Though we were big fans of Bauer’s solo album, we feared the potential for it to be an irritating piece because of the particular writer responsible for the interview.  It turns out our concerns were well-founded, as Rick Moody once again provided his unique combination of pretentiousness and ignorance.

The actual interview was rather illuminating, since Moody generally let Bauer lead the conversation, and the reader didn’t have to bother with Moody’s attempts at rumination and conjecture.  Bauer provided several insights into his journey into discovering his voice as an artist, as well as details about both his upbringing and the dynamics of his previous band, The Walkmen, as the group eventually dissolved.  The problem was the first half of the article, when Moody attempted to provide some background by contemplating over the place of Bauer’s old band within a grand theory of rock music, as well as comparing Bauer’s Liberation! with the his other bandmates’ solo efforts.  There were several irritating individual lines that landed with a thud, with various descriptions and theories that alternately showed Moody’s haughtiness or laziness.  Consider the statement “[t]his band made two short recordings, EPs as they used to be called and are still sometimes[.]”  Why add all this unnecessary verbiage?  They’re still called EPs, even when people weren’t buying vinyl, and nobody calls them anything different.  There’s also the mini-rant about the press release announcing The Walkmen’s “extreme hiatus”: it’s “an example of the overuse of extreme that I have come to find denotatively irritating. It’s either a hiatus or it’s not, and it’s only in retrospect that anyone will be able to evaluate the adjectival qualities of this hiatus.”  Within the context of discussing the careers of different bands, this kind of terminology is actually useful–declaring that a new album should not be expected any time soon but to make sure not to rule out a reunion at some point–but for Moody, I guess it’s his chance to take a stand against the fact that the kids just don’t know how to speak any more.  And he does so in the most irritatingly pedantic manner.

It’s not just Moody’s shitty writing, it’s his lack of professionalism that’s also infuriating.  When talking about Hamilton Leithauser’s solo album, Moody writes “I feel like the single, “Alexandra,” is about Alexander The Great, merely changed to a feminine ending, and is, accordingly, a tribute to the idea of attempting to rule the world.”  Sounds like a great theory (when divorced from the actual song, but whatever (seriously, read those lyrics and try to figure out any connection to the historic ruler)), except that the song was written about Hamilton’s daughter, and he just changed the name because it fit better.  I would not expect everyone to know this fact, but I also would imagine that a professional writer like Rick Moody would bother to do at least some cursory research before writing his piece.  Then again, Moody spent multiple paragraphs talking about Jonathan Fire*Eater, one of the two predecessor bands to The Walkmen, to make some grand point about rock and roll.  The problem is that Bauer was in the other predecessor band, The Recoys (a group he was in with Leithauser, the person with whom Moody makes the most direct comparison).   Of course, Moody does not mention The Recoys at all; in essence, Moody’s entire thesis about the nature of rock and roll is irrelevant to the interview, and is just an excuse for him to ramble about “private schools” and class.

This was not a surprise.  Moody had previously caught our attention when Salon published an exchange he had with Dean Wareham (former member of Galaxie 500, Luna, and others), where they discussed the relative merits of “Get Lucky” and the new Daft Punk record in general.  The problem was not with his opinion about the song, to which he is perfectly entitled.  It’s the fact that there were several arguments and lines throughout the discussion that indicated that either Moody had no idea what he was talking about or that he would miss the point entirely.

For example, he simply refused to understand the basic artistic conceit of Daft Punk itself, that the duo’s goal was to produce music that was as mechanized as possible (seen in their previous work), or in the case of Random Access Memories, an album that was supposed to resemble a robot’s attempt to recreate human music.  His condemnation of the method used to record the album (using live session players from the era) also betrays a total lack of knowledge of how disco music was produced (using live session players).  And for further proof that Moody doesn’t understand what he’s talking about, consider his praise for Captain Beefheart, aka Don Van Vliet, who employed the same method of hiring musicians to bring his vision to fruition.

Or take a look at this word salad: “But the French robots apparently do not know about “Trans,” [ed. note: he’s referring to the Neil Young album] or rather, they are too cynical to care about “Trans,” and they bank (it’s the operative word here) on the audience’s lack of knowledge about the history of the vocoder. So they use it again and again like a neurological tic, and given that this vocoder section is the only appearance on this song of the actual robots rather than their surrogates—the musicians who are hired to make the song sound as though it has actual soul—it is inadequate as a sign of the auteurs.”  At no point does he explain why the history of the vocoder is necessary to understand the song, and that it is apparently unsatisfying for the songwriters to only make a cameo appearance in their own song.  And all this occurs before an unhinged rant that touches on the “tyranny” of four-four music, that it’s wrong for French guys to pay tribute to the black music of their youth, and a total misunderstanding of the basic concept of Kraftwerk.  That’s right–at one point, Moody asserts that Kraftwerk used the vocoder to hide the weakness of their vocals…instead of further entrenching their entire philosophy of mechanizing and dehumanizing music.

More than anything, it’s so hard to believe that Moody never understood that the title of the album should have tipped him off to its goals.  Random Access Memories combines both the robotic nature of Daft Punk (with its allusion to RAM) and a tribute to the past with the slight tweak to the plural of the last word.  These songs were written to represent facsimiles of past musical genres, as interpreted through the “minds” of robots.  So, if despite the human touches in producing the album it still carries an air of artificiality, that’s the point; if it sounds like a reproduction of black American music from the 70’s, that’s the point because that was the music that Daft Punk enjoyed in their youth.  If you don’t care for the concept, then fine, but at least acknowledge that this was the intention.

Rick Moody is a fucking idiot.  Not your normal idiot, mind you–it’s clear that along the way he’s learned a lot.  It’s just clear that he never understood at all what it is he learned.

Feats of Strength: Pavement

We here at Rust Is Just Right like to analyze and explain the more technical aspects of music, especially with our Feats of Strength feature.  Though we often take the time to praise the intricate and complex nature of many songs, there’s something to be said to the merits of amateurism.  Sometimes, we love the simple things.

Pavement initially built its reputation along these lines, and in their early career they were tagged with the “slacker” identity.  For the most part, this was an unfair and incorrect assessment of their skills as musician.  While Pavement often seemed like they could just effortlessly toss off quirky little rock songs, there was actually a lot of structure and technique inherent in their work.  In other words, it can take a lot of work to sound that casual.

There was one area where the initial impression of Pavement was correct, and that was with their drumming.  This is captured perfectly with the opening track “Summer Babe (Winter Version)” from their classic debut Slanted & Enchanted.  Gary Young’s inexpert style contrasted with the more complicated patterns that were popular at the time; the drumming is filled with lots of space and rarely settles into a groove, and filled with idiosyncratic little fills that always stick out when listening (especially those little hi-hat rolls at the end of each phrase of the verse).  It always seems on the verge of collapse, but it never completely falls apart.

This “shitty” drumming style is different from a “simple” drumming style: we’re not talking about someone playing a basic pattern without any flourishes or nuance, like your standard Pink Floyd or AC/DC track; we’re talking about musicians who the listener might assume are unable to use all four limbs at the same time and keep a regular drumbeat.  “Summer Babe” is a perfect example the latter, and of how shitty drumming actually serves the song.  In this case, it helps maintain a loose feel throughout the song; you hear the same effect with many Tame Impala tracks, where the drumming serves to augment certain melodic ideas, but otherwise steps out of the way and tries not to weigh down the spacey ambiance.  Compare that style to Nine Inch Nails’s “Piggy”, where Trent Reznor’s chaotic drumming at the end of the song gives the sense that the entire song is about to break down; it’s “order” being systematically destroyed.  In fact, Trent handled the drums for the ending personally, because he felt that his more capable drumming partners made it sound too professional.

It’s true that drumming is incredibly important to a song; however, shitty drumming can also serve a purpose as well.

Over the Weekend (July 28 Edition)

New videos perfect for a lazy summer day and more…

Karen O released a video for “Rapt” from her upcoming solo release, Crush Songs.  The song is a delicate lo-fi bitter ode to love, while the video sees Karen O floating underwater.  That should be enough to intrigue you.

This weekend saw an unexpected collaboration, as Jack White popped up at a Beck concert, and White joined in for classics like “Loser”, “Pay No Mind”, and “Where It’s At”.  The video at Pitchfork gives an incomplete view of what happened, but the glimpses that we see make it seem like a fantastic partnership.  Their respective tours mirror each other a bit, so perhaps this we’ll be only the first example of a possible union.

And we’re sure most of you saw how the internet had fun with Jack White enjoying himself at a Cubs game last week, and SPIN did their part by comparing how much fun Eddie Vedder had with the Cubs last week as well.

Check out this solo acoustic performance from Adam Granduciel of The War On Drugs, performing “An Ocean In Between The Waves.”  The performance shows that even without all the gauzy synths and hazy atmospherics of the album recording, it’s a damn good song that’s still extremely powerful.

The group clipping. has gotten a lot of attention for its experimental take on rap and for being one of the few hip-hop acts on Sub Pop, and they had the music world buzzing last week with their latest video, for “Story 2”.  The song is a harrowing tale of a father’s returning home to find a tragedy has occurred at his house, with the style and flow changing as the terror increases once the father realizes what happened.  The video follows the same storyline, though it’s shot to show only the father’s lower body, which makes it all the more unsettling.  It’s probably one of the best videos you’ll see this year.

And last week saw the 25th anniversary of the seminal album Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys, and Uproxx celebrated with the video of their performance on “Soul Train”.  Not only that, but Rolling Stone reported that a mural dedicated to the guys will be shown at the location memorialized by the album cover.  The RS article now includes a link showing the mural.

Catching Up On The Week (July 25 Edition)

Roll into your weekend with a few #longreads

We’ll be doing a big feature on Spoon next week in advance of their upcoming release, and to help you prepare you can read up on this Guardian interview where Britt Daniel discusses the songs from their albums over the years that helped define the band.  He makes a few surprising choices, while also providing a nice overview of Spoon’s career.

Continuing our tradition of link to pieces that analyze about the business aspect of streaming and how it affects artists, Salon has a great article that specifically looks at how streaming has hurt genres that are already marginalized, like jazz and classical.

Kanye West provokes a lot of reactions in people, but he’s always an interesting interview no matter how you slice it.  GQ has an extended interview with him for this month’s issue.

We normally would not post anything about Pitbull, but this profile in Businessweek is worth checking out if only for the scene where Pitbull learns about BitCoin.

Your intermission this week is a random performance of “MacArthur Park” on David Letterman.  It was rather epic.

“Weird Al” sits in for Pitchforks 5-10-15-20 feature, recounting various songs that were significant at those years of his life (and beyond).

And finally, we have an interview with Peter Matthew Bauer.  Normally we would be excited about posting (and reading) this interview, considering how much we love The Walkmen and Bauer’s solo debut, but the interviewer is Rick Moody.  Our hostility towards Moody would make more sense if we published a planned takedown of another interview he did.  But since that got pushed to the backburner, we’ll just warn you by saying to be prepared for pretentiousness and general blockheadedness.

The Mid-Year Reassessment; Or, “We Should Probably Mention These Albums”

Our primary goal here at Rust Is Just Right is to spread the love of good music, generally through a careful and informed examination of precisely what makes certain music “good”.  We like to think we’ve done a fairly good job of this, through detailed album and live reviews as well as features like “Feats of Strength”.  But even with our best efforts, we haven’t been able to share all the great music we’ve heard so far this year.  So, we’re going to put a twist on a standard practice of most other music publications: instead of posting a Best of the Year (So Far) list, we’re going to list albums that we love but for some reason or another haven’t given the proper attention.

Albums from bands that deserve more recognition, but this wasn’t the one that would put them over the top:

Tokyo Police Club – Forcefield

We Are Scientists – TV en Francais

Album from a band that we didn’t really appreciate before, but really liked their new stuff

Wye Oak – Shriek

Great album from a band where we know the drummer

Slow Bird – Chrysalis

Great Hip-Hop albums we love, but we really suck at writing about Hip-Hop

Atmosphere – Southsiders

The Roots – …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin

Great Heavy Metal album we love, but we really suck at writing about Heavy Metal

Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun

Album that we meant to review as part of a larger feature, but haven’t yet

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Only Run

Album that is so great that we’re kicking ourselves for not writing about it sooner

Sun Kil Moon – Benji

Feats of Strength: OutKast

If my Facebook feed is any indication, we’re in the middle of wedding season right now; if you’re of a certain age, it seems like every week brings news of one friend or another getting married.  In fact, I was just at a friend’s wedding a few weeks ago, and because I’m always working, I found inspiration for an article on the dance floor.  In the past decade, “Hey Ya” has become an unofficial wedding staple; in fact, I believe in most states it is now the law that the couple is not officially wed until the DJ plays the song.

What is it that makes “Hey Ya” such a universally beloved song, crossing over beyond traditional hip-hop and pop audiences into rock radio, and now onto the wedding dancefloor where grandma and grandpa are throwing it down?  The answer is in the very basic structure of the song itself, with OutKast putting an ingenious twist on an old songwriting standard.  The chords to the song are among the first that any musician learns, (G, C, D, and E minor), and they’re played in a common progression (I, IV, V, and vi).  Throughout the whole song, none of this varies; it sounds universal, because it’s based on a music tradition we’ve had ingrained for years.

The subtle trick to the song is a slight modification to the rhythm of the progression.  Instead of giving each chord the same amount of beats, OutKast stretches out the number of measures for one chord, then shortens the measure for the next chord.  The first modification gives a natural tension to the progression, because the listener is conditioned to expect the next chord to come in earlier; the second alteration resolves it quickly, but does it in a way that pushes the listener into the next phrase.  So, “Hey Ya” begins with four beats of the G chord, eight beats of the C chord, two beats of the D chord, and then four beats or the E minor chord.  The eight beats creates tension, the two releases it, but pushes the phrase forward.  Because of the uneven distribution, the short D chord measure acts as a pickup into the E minor; the E minor works as a resolution, because it’s the relative of the G, the key in which the song is written.

The result is that the listener gets the benefit of both the expected and the unexpected; there is appreciation for the familiarity, but there is enough distinction that OutKast can maintain the listener’s attention throughout the song.  And it’s on top of this base that OutKast can add other touches that augment this feeling, from the traditional drumbeat to the funky bass that emphasizes those downbeats.  Throw in some goofy keyboard leas and some backing vocals, and you’ve got yourself a hit.

What’s interesting is that the structure of the song also gives clues to the lyrical sentiment as well–contrary to first impressions, this isn’t really all that happy of a song.  Each phrase ends on a minor key, which sounds “darker” and “sadder” in contrast to the preceding major keys; it mirrors the tone of lines like “Thank God for mom and dad for sticking through together, cause we don’t know how” and “If what they say is ‘nothing is forever’, then what makes love the exception?  So why oh why are so in denial when we know we’re not happy here?”  But we’re so focused on the initial happiness, that we tend not to pay attention to the end of each line.

Then again, maybe we just like singing “Hey Ya”, informing the populace what’s cooler than being cool, and shaking it like a Polaroid picture.

Death From Above 1979: The Punks Throw A Dance Party

We here at Rust Is Just Right are plenty excited for the return of Death From Above 1979, so much so that the anticipation of their upcoming new album and ensuing tour has obviated our need for Caffeine Shots of Dubious Safety, as our energy needs are now fulfilled by the pure excitement of this news.  A couple of weeks ago we linked to the clip where BBC DJ Zane Lowe introduced the new single “Trainwreck 1979” for the first time, and noted how he did a great job of articulating the particular joy that this long-awaited return created for a specific segment of the music-loving population.  Then Zane did exactly what every other DFA1979 fan would do after playing the song–he hit the repeat button and played it again.

Death From Above 1979 never reached a broad audience when they first hit the scene a decade ago, and due to the specific nature of their sound, this is understandable.  But for those us that decided to give them a chance, the intervening years since their debut You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine the fanbase has only increased our rabid love for the band.  Somehow, the ultra-simple combination of bass, drums, and vocals were all we needed (okay sure, there was the occasional synth/keyboard, but this setup constitutes 95% of the album); the stripped-down, bare-bones approach was apparently all that was necessary to write songs that still held up ten years later.  To this day, You’re a Woman is in my regular rotation and serves as the perfect soundtrack to a workout or a road trip.

First, let’s give some credit to the guys (Jesse F. Keeler on bass and synth, Sebastien Granger on drums and vocals) for the name of the band and their debut album–both are immediate attention-grabbers that leave the listener intrigued as to what the music could possibly contain.  The phrase “Death From Above 1979” is partially the result of an early cease-and-desist from the DFA record label for infringement, but the tacked-on year ended up providing a compelling juxtaposition.  The addition of “1979” as almost a non sequitur helps to reassess the original phrase, which otherwise could seem kind of empty; it also in a way gives an indication of the music, signalling that the band is going back near the roots of punk and dance music.  The phrase You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine also helps clearly set the agenda of the band, providing a clear dichotomy both between Man and Woman and Human and Machine.  The album focuses a lot on relationships, set to music that is both rhythmic and emotional.  It’s a perfect description of the music.

The key to the band’s success is what at first glance may seem like a liability: their limited sonic palate.  While there have been some successful rock duos over the years (with many of them benefiting from DFA1979’s initial breakthrough, to be fair), the majority of them have opted for a guitar over a bass.  It’s a choice that makes sense, since a guitar gives a musician many more melodic options, and can even double as a bass on occasion (see Local H; “Seven Nation Army”).  The reverse is not the case–while the bass on You’re a Woman uses plenty of distortion, it can rarely be mistaken for a guitar.  It does however give DFA1979 a distinctive trademark sound, making their songs immediately identifiable.

DFA1979 doesn’t just get by on a signature sound, though; there is a purpose behind their reliance on bass and drums.  By focusing on those two instruments, it strips a song down to its barest elements, down to the closest we can get to the basic fundamentals of melody and rhythm.  By placing this restriction on their songwriting, it actually opens up the creative possibilities because it allows the group to specifically channel their ideas.  The duo is then able to focus on writing catchy riffs and propulsive beats, going beyond the simple verse-chrous-verse formula, without worrying about any other sonic details.   It’s what helps give the individual songs such a long shelf-life–you never get bored listening to a song, because each song moves quickly from one riff to the next without ever losing steam.

The approach also helped the band seamlessly blend the raw intensity of punk with the fun of dance music, even better than some of their more-celebrated counterparts in the early 00’s dance-punk movement.  While other bands like LCD Soundsystem, !!!, and The Rapture brought punk elements to a traditional rock/dance sound, Death From Above 1979 seemed to work from the other end of the spectrum, pushing punk towards dance music.  It made for a fantastic live show–even if the mix was muddy or they didn’t nail every note, their energy is infectious.  Just check out their legendary performance of “Romantic Rights” on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, with a memorable guest popping up midway through the song.  DFA1979 were never missing an edge, with their extremely-distorted bass and their lightning-quick tempos, but their songs also never lacked a danceable beat.  You could hear the elements of dance throughout their work, none more explicitly on the fantastic album-closer “Sexy Results”.

That’s why the band’s return is such an event, and how a generation of fans that were unable to see the band perform live the first time around (and didn’t feel like hitting the festival circuit in the last two years) are so excited.  And “Trainwreck 1979” is a fantastic appetizer for what is hopefully to come with The Physical World; if there was any justice in the music world, it would be universally deemed the mythical “song of the summer”.  We will be glad we can take DFA1979 off the “one-album wonder” list, and no longer have to wonder if the band could possibly follow up You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine.

Over the Weekend (July 21 Edition)

New music, new videos, goofy contests…let’s get this week started.

Spoon decided to hit the ground running as they kicked off their week.  They released a great (almost) one-shot video for “Do You”, which sees Britt Daniel slowly driving away from what seems to be the wreckage of the night before, until a surprising reveal at the end.  They also released a new song, “Inside Out”, which while not a full-fledged video, does include some trippy visuals.  And the band did a live chat with fans over at Consequence of Sound this afternoon, and you can find the complete transcript here.

Hamilton Leithauser stopped by NPR today and performed one of their Tiny Desk Concerts, which you can catch right here on the NPR website.

The recent death of Tommy Ramone means that there are no surviving members of the original group.  While this is a bummer, the folks at Funny or Die decided to look on the bright side of the situation, and imagine what the reunion in heaven would be like.  And it’s always good to see Dave Foley.

After that, you should probably go yell at The AV Club for saying unkind words about Next’s classic “Too Close”.  Yes, it’s about a boner, but it’s the best song about dancing with a boner ever.

BBC Radio 2 is having a poll to determine the greatest guitar riff of all time, and though those of us in the States are unable to vote, we can at least take a look at the possible selections.  Honestly, there are some pretty good choices on the list.

And finally, the Soundgarden/Nine Inch Nails joint tour kicked off this weekend in Vegas, and Rolling Stone has a rave review of the show.  I’m definitely excited to see these guys soon.

Catching Up On The Week (July 18 Edition)

Some #longreads as you kick back and sit by the pool this weekend…

This is the week of Weird Al Yankovic, everybody, as our foremost parodist delighted the internet with a new music video each day from his new album, Mandatory Fun.  You should be able to find tons of features on him this week, but I’m going to highlight this piece from Deadspin in particular.  AV Club has had a whole series of articles on him, including a quick interview where Weird Al answers 11 questions.  And SPIN has taken the opportunity to rank every music video Weird Al has done.

The New Pornographers are gearing up for the release of their new album, Brill Bruisers, and The Vancouver Sun talks with Carl Newman on how the band was able to record despite the fact that the various solo projects pull the band members every which way.  After reading that, be sure to enjoy the band’s take on mid-90’s BritPop one-shot videos with the Dan Bejar-sung “War on the East Coast”.

Pitchfork has a piece looking at the evolution of “futuristic” music over the past fifty years, and its commentary on society as we’ve progressed over the years.  We didn’t mention it before, but also check out this other Pitchfork article that looks the validity of various dubious musical theories.

Earlier this week, Eddie Vedder caught some flack for off-the-cuff remarks he made in-between songs at a Pearl Jam show, which is something that Pearl Jam fans should be used to by now.  However, Vedder’s remarks pleading for peace was taken to be anti-Israel by some because of current events, most notably the Jerusalem Post, despite the fact there was no specific party mentioned.  Eddie took the time to post a response, clarifying once again that he’s anti-war, and that should come as no surprise.

And sadly, Johnny Winter passed away earlier this week, and the AV Club pays its respects.  This comes on the heels of last week’s death of Tommy Ramone, which has prompted more remembrances, including this one from Henry Rollins, being published that comment on the lasting influence of the Ramones.