Fucked Up

Catching Up On The Week (Aug. 7 Edition)

Some #longreads as we are welcomed into old age…

Pitchfork has a few features worthy of your attention this weekend.  First, be sure to read up on how Fucked Up are working on charitable causes in their hometown of Toronto, most notably sponsoring the unique Long Winter concert series.  Then be sure to read the profile on Beach House as they prepare to release their latest album, Depression Cherry.  After that, you can finish up with this plea to stop ruining the concert-going experience of your fellow audience members by misusing that tiny, glowing screen that has become essential to modern life.  We here at Rust Is Just Right try to take that advice to heart, snapping only a couple of pictures during lulls in the show so as to create as minimal disturbance as possible.

The AV Club takes a look at the many narrative threads of the Rolling Stones’ classic “Brown Sugar” and the strange history of how Sticky Fingers was released.

And finally, Rolling Stone has an extensive oral history on Coolio’s smash hit “Gangsta’s Paradise”, and if there is anything that needs an extensive oral history, it’s that song.  1995 was an awesome year.


Over the Weekend (Apr. 20 Edition)

News, new music, and other fun stuff as you celebrate today’s “holiday”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had its induction ceremony this past weekend, and while we won’t be able to see the concert for a couple of months, bits of news have been floating around and low-quality video of some of the performances have surfaced.  The various performances for Lou Reed’s induction are probably the most intriguing, with Beck performing “Satellite of Love” and Karen O with bandmate Nick Zinner taking a stab at “Vicious”.  Of course, no story that mentions the Hall would be complete without mentioning the countless times the committee has failed, so after reading about the specifics of the induction process enjoy a slideshow that argues for the inclusion of 40 other artists.

We are excited for the release of Built to Spill’s latest album, Untethered Moon, tomorrow, and to help our readers get in the mood, we are sharing Consequence of Sound’s 10 song summation of the band as well as the group’s latest video for “Never Be The Same”, a sequel of sorts to the previous “Living Zoo”.

The sight of goofy old people dancing is always fun, which is why it was also the basis for another recent video, “Lonesome Street” from Blur.

Fucked Up has released the B-Side to their yearly EP release based on the Chinese Zodiac, with Pitchfork providing the stream.  Year of the Hare will be released on June 16, but you can listen to “California Cold” now.

We usually do not discuss press releases from the Norway Ministry of Culture, but their announcement over the weekend that the country will shut down FM radio stations in the next two years caught our attention.  Some of my fondest memories are from my time working at a small FM alternative station, so in spite of the fact that in the specific case of Norway this seems to be a smart way to move forward (the fact that they only have five stations as a nation as well as the prevalence of Digital Audio Broadcasting channels seems like it will not be a particularly disruptive shift), it is still jarring to read.  Let us hope that they come up with a way to update all those car stereos before the change is fully implemented.

Rust Is Just Right’s Best Albums of 2014

Today is April 15, and while the rest of the nation celebrates Tax Day, we here at Rust Is Just Right choose this occasion to release our Best Albums of the Year list.  We follow this unusual schedule for a few reasons: 1) It allows some of the albums that are released at the end of the calendar year to get some recognition, since they usually get swallowed up in the attention of the flurry of year-end lists; 2) We get the chance to analyze other lists to pick up on albums that somehow escaped our attention during the course of the year; and 3) It provides a handy consumer guide for people to focus where to spend their tax refund/gives them an added checklist when they head out to their local record stores this weekend for Record Store Day.

The process that is used to determine this list is highly rigorous and hardly scientific.  However, we are still in the process of attempting to patent and trademark The Process, which if you may recall, is simply tallying up the play counts on iTunes for each album.  It has served us well in years past, and a quick glance at our list this year proves that it has worked once again.

Note: Though the list is a Top 10, there are more albums than slots, because we don’t like breaking ties for the same play count.  If you’re really intent on focusing on only 10, I guess take the 10 highest performing albums from the list, but you really shouldn’t limit yourself like that if you can help it.  Also, we have reviews for all of these albums, so for those of you seeking a more detailed analysis all you need to do is click the appropriate tag above.

10. Alvvays – Alvvays; Aphex Twin – Syro; Nothing – Guilty of Everything; Real Estate – Atlas (8 plays)

Alvvays and Nothing edge themselves onto the list with fantastic debut albums, the former being a sublime beach-pop record and the latter finding an intriguing mix between shoegaze and metal.  Real Estate’s latest would make a great companion album to the Alvvays record on any future trip to the coast, with the band further refining their laid-back, easy-going vibe with some of their most tightly-constructed songs of their career, like “Talking Backwards” and “Crimes”.  The only reason why Aphex Twin’s fantastic comeback effort is so low on the list is that we in general do not spend much time listening to electronica; otherwise, it would have ended up much higher on our list.

9. Beck – Morning Phase; Ought – More Than Any Other Day; Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal; Solids – Blame Confusion (9 plays)

We never grew to love Sunbathing Animal in the same way that we did Light Up Gold, so its inclusion on the list is mainly due to our insistence on trying to gain a greater appreciation through repeated listens; that said, it did have its moments, like “Dear Ramona” and “Instant Disassembly”, that we would love to hear the next time they roll through the Northwest.  Ought’s debut album is the perfect example of why we delay the publication of our list, since their fascinating debut did not come onto our radar until after we saw it on another year-end list, and it soon became one of our favorites with its intriguing take on garage rock and post-punk.  We jumped in early on the Solids bandwagon, and were pleased to see that the duo’s fuzz-rock had some staying power over the course of the year.  And we hope that Beck is as proud of his showing on our list as he is of the Grammy that he got for his gorgeous new album.

8. The Antlers – Familiars; Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else; Cymbals Eat Guitars – LOSE (10 plays)

Cymbals Eat Guitars surprised a lot of people with the leap forward that they took on LOSE, an ambitious, anthemic guitar rock masterpiece.  Cloud Nothings somehow came back with an even rawer record than Attack on Memory, and in the process became more of a cohesive group, with the furious drumming being a noteworthy highlight.  As for The Antlers, this is becoming old hat for them, because they once again delivered an incredible record, this time meditating on reconciling the internal struggle, dressed up in hauntingly gorgeous hooks.

7. Fucked Up – Glass Boys; Sharon Van Etten – Are We There? (11 plays)

We may have been in the minority with our disappointment in David Comes to Life, but Fucked Up more than made up for it with the punchy Glass Boys.  As for Sharon Van Etten, she continues to find the perfect balance between the pain and sadness of her lyrics and the beauty of her music.

6. The Black Keys – Turn Blue (13 plays)

Though there is probably a sizable contingent of people who are tired of The Black Keys at this point, we are not in that subset.  Turn Blue was the right step after the arena-rock of El Camino, and we love it when they collaborate with Danger Mouse.  Also, the guitar solos in “The Weight of Love” were probably the year’s best.

5. Interpol – El Pintor; Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2 (14 plays)

After their disappointing self-titled album and the polarizing Our Love to Admire, Interpol gave itself a needed shot in the arm with El Pintor.  Though on paper it seems that dropping the band’s “secret weapon” Carlos D. was a bad idea, Paul Banks comfortably assumed those duties and seemed to reinvigorate the rest of the band with their strongest effort since Antics.  Run The Jewels proved that sequels can improve upon the originals, with Killer Mike throwing down some of the best verses of his career.

4. TV on the Radio – Seeds; The War on Drugs – Lost In The Dream (15 plays)

A lot of critics seemed to have slept on Seeds, but any visit to see TV on the Radio on their latest tour should quiet any doubts that people had about the band.  It is an album about finding strength through loss, and the band crafted some of its best songs in the wake of the loss of bass player Gerard Smith.  The War on Drugs improved upon their initial breakthrough Slave Ambient by shaping their soundscapes into more cohesive “songs”, but the album is still a delight to listen to with the headphones cranked up to listen to all the different sonic details.

3. Hamilton Leithauser – Black Hours; Peter Matthew Bauer – Liberation!; Spoon – They Want My Soul (17 plays)

It is fitting that two of the solo albums from one of our favorite bands would end up in a tie; though we mourn the apparent loss of The Walkmen, we should rejoice that we have been blessed with multiple excellent albums already.  Each captured distinct parts of their previous band’s sound–Hamilton’s penchant for vintage sounds, Peter with the charming raggedness of their music.  Spoon once again proved that they are the most consistently brilliant band in indie rock for the past 15 years, as They Want My Soul effectively captures the band’s past sound as well as finds new ways to innovate, with songs like “New York Kiss” and “Outlier”.

2. The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits (19 plays)

This is perhaps the best example of the peculiarities of The Process, as the placement of Tomorrow’s Hits was partially inflated by just how much fun it is to drive around playing this record.  The band looked backwards for inspiration, re-configuring the sound of a bar band from the 70’s to create one of the most entertaining records of the year.  The Men have been busy throughout their career, releasing five records and five years, so we should probably be expecting a sixth record soon.

1. Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World (23 plays)

We have been in love with this album since the second we heard the opening notes of “Trainwreck 1979”.  Death From Above 1979 made the most of the ten years off since their debut, finding the perfect balance between recreating the magic of their early work while moving ahead into new and exciting directions.  You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine still holds up hundreds of years later, and The Physical World looks like it will repeat the same feat.  The band still has the same ferocious energy as when they first burst on the scene, but it is clear that both Sebastien and Jesse have improved as musicians, finding new ways to create original music through the simple tools of bass and drums (with the occasional synth).  Hopefully we do not have to wait another ten years for the next step.

MusicFestNW 2014

Portland celebrated MusicFestNW this past weekend, and it looked a little different than it had in past years.  Instead of a colder, wetter version of SXSW (with a city more equipped to handle the traffic), we got a Northwest version of the current incarnation of Lollapalooza and other similar festivals.  We didn’t have to buy tickets to multiple venues and plan across a whole week, but instead had a two-day festival in a specific part of the gorgeous Waterfront Park, soaking in that last bit of summer before the inevitable gloomy fall.

We decided to skip the first day since there were no acts that seemed worthy of shelling out the extra money for another day of tickets (with all apologies to Run the Jewels, for whom it would probably be worth to pay a full-day’s admission to see on their own).  I’m going to avoid the opportunity to talk smack about bands for whom I don’t particularly care, because we here at Rust Is Just Right try to set ourselves apart by not indulging in condescending snark and instead promote what we enjoy.  But in private, let’s just say there were a lot of good burns that were shared.

Portland's Waterfront Park, on a non-MusicFest day.

Portland’s Waterfront Park, on a non-MusicFest day.

Our plan on Sunday was to catch the lineup starting from The Antlers until the end, but thanks to several accidents on I-5 our ETA was delayed by about an hour.  Luckily, we still caught the last few songs of The Antlers’ set, a circumstance which mimicked my previous limited encounter with their live show when they only performed a short showcase at SXSW.   One would think that their delicate and fragile songs would not be ideal for a live show, especially in a large festival setting, but once again I came away extremely impressed with their performance.  We were caught wandering around the backside of the cordoned-off grounds for “I Don’t Want Love” (mistaking beliving that there would be entrances on the bridge side), but we were still able to hear the devastating power of the song even filtered through the backstage equipment.

The Antlers: "Music Band Northeast, glad to play Music Fest Northwest."

The Antlers: “Music Band Northeast, glad to play Music Fest Northwest.”

Once we finally settled in to the proper area, we heard a couple of songs from their latest album Familiars.  I haven’t yet internalized the nuances of those songs, but I can assure you that they come off very well in a live setting.  Perhaps the biggest surprise was their last song, “Putting The Dog To Sleep”.  It’s a great closer on Burst Apart, but given the specific nature of the song, it wouldn’t appear to be the most natural way to end a set.  The song was as cathartic as expected, but the band added an additional musical twist: first they began the natural breakdown of the song, taking pains to stretch out the chord progression while keeping the resolution slightly out of reach, but then building the song back up with an extended instrumental section that dazzled the crowd.

You know this was from early in the set because Damian Abraham's shirt is still on.

You know this was from early in the set because Damian Abraham’s shirt is still on.

We then made our way to the other end of the park, where Fucked Up was set to perform next–a transition that ranks among the most jarring ever scheduled at a music festival.  Here is a great opportunity for praising the new setup of the festival, as this allowed minimal time wasted between different acts as they had the necessary amount of time to setup without holding the crowd hostage, and the distance between the two sets was both short enough for the walk to not be burdensome while long enough so that there was not any bleedthrough between the two stages.  Someone deserves some extra kudos for that solid planning.

We’ve shown our love before with our glowing review of Glass Boys, but even we were taken aback at just how awesome Fucked Up’s set was at MusicFest.  I’m willing to claim that their hour-long set alone was worth the price of admission for the full day’s lineup.   There’s really nothing quite like seeing the giant hulking mass of positive energy that is Damian Abraham working his way through the crowd, giving hugs to folks passing by, climbing on top of the fence to sing out to the people on the river, and high-fiving a baby as the band ferociously kept up and played in lockstep.  Seriously, Pink Eyes high-fived a baby–that immediately became an all-time top-five concert moment for me personally.

Pink Eyes, now sans shirt.

Pink Eyes, now sans shirt.

I believe most of the set was from Glass Boys and David Comes To Life, though I will admit that sometimes it can be difficult to tell certain songs apart.  At least none of my personal favorites from The Chemistry of Common Life came up, though the rarity “I Hate Summer” made a welcome appearance, with a thoughtful introduction from Abraham on how one shouldn’t listen to personal attacks from others who are merely trying to shame people for no good reason.  He also at other times mentioned the healthful benefits of weed and the terrible events occurring in Ferguson, MO, with each speech receiving thunderous applause.  The band was tight, as I mentioned, but also could have benefited from an extra volume boost to help compete with Abraham’s sharp bellow, and also to help distinguish between the various components of their three-guitar attack.  Unfortunately, it seemed that the raucous set eventually drove the crowd away, as it seemed after their initial welcome that many people grew tired of listening to an hour of hardcore, and eventually made their way back to the other end of the park.  Then again, perhaps it was the heat finally getting to a few people, and the need to stock up on food.  I hope it was the latter, because Fucked Up deserved a new wave of fans after that performance.

A glimpse of the color of tUnE-yArDs

A glimpse of the color of tUnE-yArDs

We had previously seen tUnE-yArDs when they opened up for The National only a few months ago, and in between it seems the set morphed from less a capella and looped percussion to more synths and live percussion.  That’s not to say that the music was any more conventional–there is still a dominant left-of-center sensibility.  For those who are unfamiiliar, the music of tUnE-yArDs is filled with complicated rhythms and tribal influences with world music type lyrics.  In other words, at many points through the set I thought I was living through a real-life Portlandia sketch.  Despite this vague feeling of uneasiness, I still really enjoyed the tUnE-yArDs set, as did the hundreds of other people that packed the listening area.

I ate a lamb gyros.

I ate a lamb gyros.

We ate dinner during HAIM.  Mine was delicious.

I save my worst photography for last.

I save my worst photography for last.

Spoon closed out the festival with a fantastic headlining performance, with a setlist that went deep into their catalog.  You may have noticed that we here at this site love the band quite a bit, and let’s just say that we loved every minute of their show.  Britt Daniel, former Portland resident (who gave a shoutout to SE during “Black Like Me”), remarked that it had been a long time since their last show in the city, back when they performed at the Crystal Ballroom in 2009; as an attendee of that concert, I could only shout out “too long!”

Just to show that the festivities extended into the night.

Just to show that the festivities extended into the night.

In their live show, Spoon manages to perfectly balance between precision and spontaneity, as the band can maintain both a perfect verisimilitude of their albums and allow for individual players to freak out and revel in the moment.  The band mixed in a healthy amount of their stellar new album They Want My Soul, and even some of the more experimental tracks like “Outlier” and “Inside Out” sounded perfectly at home within the set.  The crowd roared when they heard old favorites like “Small Stakes” and “I Turn My Camera On”, but saved their most appreciative response for the hits from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga like “Don’t You Evah” and “The Underdog”.  Personally, I was glad to finally hear some of Transference live, including an extremely passionate performance of “Got Nuffin'”, and to witness at least one Girls Can Tell song, the sublime “Anything You Want”.  The only odd part was that besides Britt there seemed to be several band members that wanted to get out of the show in a hurry–the band ended up doing two encores, which seemed to be partly the result of some poor time budgeting.  It may have been the result of getting used to one-hour slots on various festivals and not properly adjusting to a headlining 90-minute slot, but from a distance I could see the look on some of the faces of the band members that they were hoping to cut things shot.  Despite this, Spoon more than justified taking the top spot on the bill; I’m just hoping for a proper show at some point from these guys in the near future.

Review: Fucked Up – Glass Boys

My introduction to Fucked Up was through their album The Chemistry of Common Life, and that initial listen was the first time since Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come that I was excited about the direction of punk rock.  It’s hard to forget that opening of “Son The Father”, with the faint strains of flute dissolving into a gradual cascade of guitars to form an immense wall of sound, only to be punctured by the howling screech of Damian Abraham.  It was then that all hell broke loose, and the assault didn’t let up for the rest of the album.  It was amazing to hear hardcore punk escape from the box that it had built around itself over the years–here we had all the aggression and fury of the classics, but with music that didn’t focus on the same drumbeat or the same tired melodies.  It was clear Fucked Up wasn’t content with repeating the same old formula, and that’s what made them so exciting.

They reached for the stars with their next album, David Comes To Life, an epic rock opera with a complex and detailed storyline.  It scored rave reviews from critics, but personally I never fully connected with the album, simply due to its sheer length.  It may speak more to my diminished attention span more than anything, but it’s hard to keep engaged with an album that is going 110 mph for 80 minutes; after an initial giddiness that comes from listening to the first third of the record, songs started to bleed into each other and it became a chore to finish the album.  For someone like me who prefers to listen to full albums at a time, this is a problem.

Thankfully, Glass Boys is a leaner machine, and it works to the album’s benefit.  “Echo Boomer” begins the album in much the same way that “Son The Father” did, using an initial soft touch before packing a wallop; this time, with the flute replaced by a toy piano before the guitars kick in.  There’s a better sense of balance throughout the album as a whole, with a natural ebb and flow in tempo and dynamics.  “Sun Glass” opens up with the strumming of a summery acoustic guitar, before it kicks the door down with its call-and-response chorus.  “Sacred young, feel the sun, vermillion” are not the usual lyrics to a hardcore song, but it speaks to how the band is deciding how to view their place within the hardcore scene; later on, the line “We all get replaced, retconned and upstaged, life turns a page” states the fear directly.  It’s also one of the best lines I’ve heard all year.

The album hits a rough patch in the middle; the songs individually are fine, but when listening in context with the rest of the album and after the rousing opening, they suffer in comparison.  However, the album picks up again with the thrilling final three tracks.  “Led By Hand” has an intriguing minor-key melody that’s elevated by it’s sing-along background vocals, reminiscent of The Men in the Open Your Heart era.  “The Great Divide” ramps the tempo up and it sounds like it’s the most fun the band has had in years.  And the title track finishes the album with a blast, keeping the energy up but providing the cathartic resolution that the album needs with each repetition of “Glass Boys”.  The album ends as it began, with solo piano, but it captures a more subdued mood (if anything, it reminds me most of the end to Faith No More’s “Epic”–if that’s the inspiration, then it’s the perfect nod to conclude the album).

Glass Boys ends up being the album that fulfills the promise of The Chemistry of Common Life better than David Comes to Life did.*  Whereas Refused’s magnum opus showed how punk rock didn’t have to be confined to a specific genre, and could incorporate musical ideas ranging from electronica to jazz, Glass Boys shows that you can have all the intensity of hardcore without being constrained by the same formula time and time again.  Yes, Damian Abraham’s gruff bark will be the first thing that gets the neophyte’s attention, as well as the ferocity of the attack from the music.  But there is scope and sweep to the album behind it that helps amplify the band’s search for meaning, as they reflect on their place within the music world and their relationship with their audience.  It’s a coherent, cohesive statement, and despite the themes of the album, hopefully this is the beginning of a new chapter for Fucked Up.

*I saw this pointed out somewhere on the internet, but it is rather interesting that the artwork of David Comes to Life and Glass Boys seem to have been switched–the statue of David is used for Glass Boys, and two glass light bulbs are used for David Comes to Life (in the shape of a heart (fitting the Queen of Hearts character) or testicles (if held upside-down)).  Considering the time in between the albums and the tension within the band during that time period, it would be amazing to find out if this was indeed planned.

Catching Up On The Week (June 6 Edition)

Lots of news and profiles and interviews for a weekend of #longreads.

Interpol announced that they will be releasing their new album entitled El Pintor this fall, on September 9.  If you’re wondering about the name, yes, it is Spanish (for “the painter”), but if you look closely, you should realize it’s an anagram of the band’s name (the stunning cover art helps a little bit in making the connection).  It appears they haven’t officially replaced departed bassist Carlos D, as Paul Banks assumed bass duties for the album in addition to his vocal and guitar work.

We finally got official word that the new Spoon album will be released on August 5, and it’s to be called They Want My Soul.  We’re still not exactly sure what the “R.I.P. June 10” business is quite yet, but it makes sense considering the album title.  Check out this great interview that the band did with NPR.

If you didn’t get your fill of Soundgarden from our Feats of Strength analysis this week, be sure to check out these interviews with the band.  At Ultimate Guitar the band answered questions from fans covering a lot of the technical details of their playing, and at Consequence of Sound there’s a retrospective about the production of Superunknown that’s fairly illuminating.  And if that’s not enough, SPIN has an extensive oral history that looks at the making of the landmark album.

AV Club takes a look at Travis’s The Man Who for their Permanent Records feature through the lens of their influence on Coldplay, while making a case for the album on its own merits.  I have long been a fan of that album, not just for their adolescence-ready lyrical themes (is there a more universal sentiment than wondering at some point “why does it always rain on me?”), but also for some gorgeous guitar work.  The solo in “As You Are” has to rank among the high points of music in 1999, not necessarily for its technical merits but for its ability to capture the emotional climax of the song.

This week saw some big new album releases for indie rock, and we’ll be working our way through reviews soon, but in the mean time you can look at multiple interviews with Parquet Courts, one with the New York Times and another with Stereogum, and if you’re looking to get into the post-hardcore sound of Fucked Up but are not quite sure you’re ready for it, Stereogum’s top ten should provide a useful guide.

As I’ve said before, 1994 was a huge year in music, so there’s going to be a ton of retrospectives this year.  This week, the eyes of nostalgia turn to Stone Temple Pilots, as Stereogum celebrates the release of Purple, probably their best album (though contrary to their claim, the band never was and never will be better than Pearl Jam; let’s just acknowledge STP was better than their detractors claim and move on).

And finally, since the weather seems to have officially changed into summer, now’s the perfect time to check out this look back at the beginning of Warren G’s career and his influence on the rise of G-Funk, courtesy of Pitchfork.

Over the Weekend (June 2 Edition)

We’re gearing up for a big month of new music, so we have a couple of videos to help you get ready.

The solo debut of Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen will be released tomorrow, and he’s done a great job with teasing us with videos leading up to the release.  First, there was the behind-the-scenes of the showgirl revue for the upbeat “Alexandra”, and just last week saw the release of the modified lyric video for “I’m Retired”.  We’re going to put the spotlight on “11 O’Clock Friday Night” (a perfect song for a Monday) however, just so we can see some footage of marching bands from the area that I once called home long ago.

Tomorrow is also the release date for Fucked Up’s Glass Boys, and you can prep yourself with their video for the song “Sun Glass”.

We have Jack White’s second solo album to look forward to next week, but for those of you who are a bit impatient, Pitchfork has the link to the stream of Lazaretto available for you to listen to now.

And finally, confirming what we all should have expected, Mike D announced that he and Ad Rock will no longer release music under the “Beastie Boys” name with the recent passing of MCA.  Normally I would use this opportunity as an excuse to post the video to “Sabotage”, but AV Club beat me to the punch with their story.

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 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.

Over the Weekend (Feb. 24 Edition)

I don’t plan on mentioning the name “Miley Cyrus” very much on this site, but when I found out that she performed a cover of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1” with Wayne Coyne, I’m obligated to share that news.  Stereogum has the video of that performance, as well as her cover of OutKast’s “Hey Ya”, both of which were a lot better than I expected.  Also unexpected: the amount of times that Miley drops F-Bombs on her tween audience.

A highlight of any tour of Oklahoma City

We found it by total luck

Stereogum also has an inside look at the making of the new Fucked Up album.  I had recently been wondering about the status of the album, so it’s good to hear that it’s somewhat on track (less good to hear–the possibility that Stereogum may be reading my thoughts).  It’s an interesting look at the band’s unusual dynamic, where everyone kind of does their own thing, and reading about the internal tension between vocalist Damian Abraham and guitarist Mike Haliechuk is pretty fascinating.

Finally, if you’re stuck in a meeting, I recommend that you read up on a couple of old interviews.  The first one I have is an oral history of the making of the Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) courtesy of SPIN.  As one would expect with any story concerning the Wu, there’s tons of great anecdotes about various members, including the ODB.  There is also a lot of revelatory discussion about the specific recording techniques that were used.  And finally, in preparation for the new Beck album that will be released tomorrow (and our upcoming retrospective on his career so far), it’s worth checking out this old wide-ranging interview with Pitchfork about his career.  You get a lot of insight into the early parts of Beck’s career and how he became an accidental superstar, and his attitude about the music business in general.  Towards the end of the interview, you also get a feel for Beck’s recording philosophy and techniques.