Some #longreads as you enjoy the cool autumn weather…
This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of the release of Wolf Parade’s Apologies to the Queen Mary, and considering we named this site after a lyric from the album, we think this is a rather significant milestone. Even after hundreds and hundreds of spins, the album still captivates our attention and remains one of our favorites. We may write our own appreciation in the future, but for now, feel free to read Stereogum’s appreciation of this classic album.
(For the record, “Jenny Was A Friend of Mine” and “Smile Like You Mean It” are the superior singles from that record, and the closer “Everything Will Be Alright” should not be relegated to the also-ran status that has been given to the entirety of the album’s Side B.)
Finally, be sure to read this fascinating conversation between Huck Magazine and the legendary Ian MacKaye (Fugazi, Minor Thread), as they engage in a thought-provoking philosophical discussion. It is more interesting than it sounds, I assure you.
News, new music, and new videos to help you start the week…
When the Eagles of Death Metal first debuted in 2004 with Peace, Love, Death Metal, it would have been hard to believe that the side project of Josh Homme fronted by Jesse “The Devil” Hughes would still be around over a decade later. But sure enough, the guys are set to return this fall with the cleverly-named Zipper Down, and last week they released a video for the track “Complexity”. It is the perfect match of ultra-serious post-punk black-and-white aesthetics and ultra-goofy scuzz rock.
The craziest news of the weekend was an Instagram post that showed a member of the Wu-Tang Clan in the studio with a legendary film composer, as GZA shared a picture of him working with Vangelis. This unique collaboration is sure to produce some memorable results.
There are hundreds of other sites that you could visit to get a rundown of what happened at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards, including Kanye’s acceptance of the “Video Vanguard” award, but we would like to share with you a bit of news about Mr. West that probably was not discussed at the VMA’s. Kanye is set to do a special show at the Hollywood Bowl to perform his album 808s & Heartbreak in full, marking the first time that he would produce a live show from the unique record infamous for its heavy use of autotune.
Lou Barlow has been an integral part of several significant groups that helped shape the alternative music for decades now (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Folk Implosion), so it is always worth checking out whatever it is that he records. NPR has the stream for his newest solo album, Brace the Wave, available for streaming this week in advance of its September 4th release.
A few #longreads for your perusal as you relax this weekend…
Now that you have read our extensive look at the discography of Wilco, be sure to read Jeff Tweedy’s interview with Rolling Stone talking about the creation of Star Wars and how the band is already working on the next record.
The New York Times has an in-depth piece that takes a thorough look at the evolution of the “Creative Economy”, and in particular scrutinizes the way the music industry has developed in the wake of technological advances. While I would take some of the conclusions they reach with a grain of salt, the article is worth reading to see the process of how they came to develop these arguments.
Another weekend, another anniversary–this time, Stereogum is taking a look back to the year 2005 and the release of Kanye West’s second album, Late Registration. Considering his continued impact on popular music, it is somewhat amazing to realize Kanye has only been around for a little more than a decade, and this well-written piece makes the argument that Late Registration stands out from the rest of Kanye’s formidable catalog.
Finally, Pitchfork has a piece that uses the twentieth anniversary of Rancid’s hit “Time Bomb” as a jumping-off point for a look at the history of 2 Tone Ska, analyzing the differences between its development in the UK and the US as well as how the social issues that were a central part of the music decades ago still are relevant today.
We are entirely against the idea of playing the song “Friday I’m in Love” on any day except Friday, though we may have to make an exception for Yo La Tengo’s pleasant take The Cure’s classic for their new covers album Stuff Like That There, especially for its hilarious music video that is perfect for any Monday.
Pitchfork has a handy guide to a list of the best books of the 33 1/3 series, which allows writers to examine classic albums through a variety of perspectives. We can vouch for the excellence of the entry on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, and one of these days we will pick up a few more selections.
Some #longreads as you prepare yourself for Record Store Day…
It should be obvious that we here at Rust Is Just Right love record stores, and so it would seem to follow that we would appreciate the “Record Store Day” celebration. However, as the “holiday” has grown in recent years, we have begun to realize that the success of the promotion can be a double-edged sword for the very businesses it was meant to protect: a sudden influx of sales can be good, but it means little to these stores if these sales do not create regular customers, and the emphasis on special releases has the problem of crowding out vinyl production, with limited edition records for established artists taking up space initially earmarked for truly independent bands. Pitchfork has a piece that breaks down in more detail the ambivalent feelings that Record Store Day has generated.
An ugly spat has been brewing between Black Sabbath and drummer Bill Ward, and it has spilled over into the public sphere this week. Rolling Stone has an interview with Ward explaining the origins of the dispute and the band’s current situation.
News, music videos, and other fun stuff to help kick off your March…
It seems like there has been buzz about the new Kanye West album for months now, but the follow-up to Yeezus finally has a name: “So Help Me God”. New material has been trickling out for some time now, and today the studio version of the club-friendly “All Day” was released, with an accompanying video to which we will link but not embed because of a certain amount of nudity that may not be welcome in all work establishments (Update: the video has been pulled).
Our favorite video of the week is Action Bronson’s “Actin Crazy”, which mashes up a ridiculous CGI video with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of said goofy video.
Alabama Shakes stopped by Saturday Night Live this weekend in preparation for the April 21 release of Sound & Color. “Don’t Wanna Fight” was a nice little peppy funk number, but the standout performance was the electric “Gimme All Your Love”.
Followers of The Thermals on Twitter have long known that singer/guitarist Hutch Harris is a funny guy, but they still may have been surprised by his recent forays into stand-up comedy. Hutch talks to Splitsider about his longtime interest in the form and the difference in performing comedy versus on-stage as part of a band. But don’t despair Thermals fans, Hutch hasn’t ditched his regular gig yet, and the band is working on a new album as we speak.
And finally, we regret that we weren’t able to post this video when it happened last week, but frankly it has taken this much time just to process what happened: Jimmy Kimmel had Warren G perform his classic “Regulate” with help from Kenny G. I’m speechless.
The Grammy Awards are a good idea in theory. We like to recognize artistic merits in a variety of disciplines, and we feel good when we come together and come up with some sort of consensus decision as to what is “the best.” The Academy Awards have worked pretty well for film over the years, and the Emmy Awards (despite never giving an award to the greatest television show ever) have done an adequate job as well, so why shouldn’t it be the same for music? And yet, pretty much from the very beginning, the Grammys have always been garbage.
I remember the moment when I completely lost faith in the Grammys, and it should be noted that this happened when I was in middle school, because that is when any hopes and dreams you may have had about the music industry recognizing artistic merit should die, and you can then readjust your expectations accordingly. It was when Radiohead’s ground-breaking, landmark album OK Computer lost out to probably Bob Dylan’s tenth-best effort (Time Out Of Mind) that I decided it was probably for the best that I stop giving a shit about this particular award. I probably should have seen the signs from the previous year, when Beck’s Odelay and the Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness lost out to Celine Dion, but at that point I didn’t have the same investment in either of those albums that I did in OK Computer. Even at that age, I knew that with that album I could divide my history of listening to music as pre-OK Computer and post-OK Computer, and no matter how good an album Time Out Of Mind may be, it wouldn’t be remembered in the same way. If you want to view the award as an acknowledgment of the greatness of Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, Nashville Skyline, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, John Wesley Harding, The Times They Are A-Changin’, and Blood on the Tracks, that’s fine, but that’s the only way to defend it.
It was then that my cynicism fully set in and I finally understood the rants of many alternative artists about the quality of the Grammys. Here’s how I can best sum it up: “How many Grammy Awards did London Calling win? That should tell you exactly how much attention you should pay to the Grammys.” This is an album universally recognized as one of the greatest of all time, one that ends up atop best-of-the-decade lists for two different decades (because of its UK ’79/US ’80 release date), and it received exactly zero Grammys. In fact, The Clash won precisely one Grammy in the course of their career, an award in 2002 for “Best Long Form Music Video” for the documentary The Clash: Westway to the World, long after the band had stopped making music. And to top it off, the Grammys had the gall to put together a supergroup performance of “London Calling” to honor the life of Joe Strummer when he died, as if the Recording Academy gave a damn about the group at all when they were around.*
Consider this: Exile on Main Street…Loveless… Nevermind…In the Aeroplane Over the Sea…Are You Experienced?…Who’s Next…Remain in Light…Willy and the Po’ Boys…Unknown Pleasures…Fear of a Black Planet…The Velvet Underground & Nico…Hunky Dory…Doolittle…not a single one of these albums received a nomination. And not only could I list dozens more examples, but I could point to a ridiculous number of artists who never won a Grammy of any kind.
Part of the issue may be with the nature of the Grammys themselves. The sheer number of albums that are produced dwarf the number of films that are released or television shows that end up on the air, so the mere act of getting thousands of academy members to listen to the same records is enough of a challenge on its own. Then consider the wide variety of musical genres that exist, and contrast that with the simple comedy/drama divide that characterizes film and TV–it’s even tougher to build any sort of consensus when you take this into account. And then there is the simple nature of voting, which anyone with a background in political theory can point to as a potential stumbling block. All of these issues make the Grammy Awards an exercise in futility, and yet for some reason people still get up in arms with the results every year.
Was Morning Phase the best album of the year? According to us, probably not, though if one considers it in comparison with the other nominees, we agree with the decision. Though it’s not Beck’s best (which is a nearly-impossible hurdle to clear, considering his incredibly consistent output and the Odelay/Mutations/Sea Change triumverate), if you judge it on its own merits, Morning Phase is a great album filled with gorgeous musical moments and poignant lyrics that will be remembered for years. But let’s consider that if the Grammys were actually interested in honoring the best of the year in music, then they would have had to invite Death From Above 1979 and have them perform, and despite the fact that they’re only two guys they would have melted the faces off of everyone in the audience with their blistering performance, and then no one would be able to work on Monday.
So really, the fact that the Grammy Awards don’t recognize the best music of the year is more of a public service than anything. Just don’t get up in arms when they make the “wrong” decision. They were doomed from the start.
*This is not to disparage any of the performers that participated, all of whom I assume had a great amount of respect for Joe Strummer and The Clash.
News and videos for you to watch as you contemplate the fact that people seem to actually care about the Grammys…
The Grammys were on last night, which prompts us to ask the question first posed by Eels, “Whatever happened to Soy Bomb?”
In general, we here at Rust Is Just Right do not particularly care about the Grammys, a position we will explain in more detail in a piece that will be published tomorrow, but we were glad to see that one of our favorite albums of the year took home that particular prize. Morning Phase, while not our pick for top album, will certainly find its way onto our list when we publish it in April, and we’re perfectly content to see that the man who made Odelay, Mutations, Sea Change, and Midnite Vultures (and also wrote the 90’s-defining song “Loser”) receive an award. Kanye West’s antics at the show and subsequent explanation has generated its own series of stories and opinion pieces, of which this Billboard op-ed is probably the best. At least Beck responded with humility to the whole affair.
In much more interesting news, Grammy Award-winner Kendrick Lamar released a new track this afternoon, the furious “The Blacker The Berry”.
New music and videos for your recovery from the Labor Day Weekend…
Peter Matthew Bauer released the video for “You Are The Chapel”, the majestic closer to his stellar debut album. It’s a mix of both performance and lyric video, with a slight twist on the latter as you’ll see:
Spoon did a “Secret Show” for MySpace, and the site has posted their performance of “The Rent I Pay”. The direct link has been pretty spotty, so if necessary, check out the band’s Facebook page for an alternate link; and if they upload more, we’ll be sure to send you over that way.
Those aren’t the only albums coming out next week; Better Than Ezra was one of the bands that I loved from my youth, and not only are they still kicking, they have a new release next week with All Together Now. Billboard is hosting a stream if you want to check it out.
Frontman for The Strokes Julian Casablancas is set to release another solo album called Tyranny in a couple of weeks, and just released “Human Sadness” as its first single, a rather unorthodox choice considering it’s an 11-minute song.
TV on the Radio provided more information for their new album today, announcing that Seeds will be released on November 18, and also provided a list of tour dates for the fall. Also, the band posted the first single “Happy Idiot”, complete with lyric video.