Music Charts

Catching Up On The Week (May 9 Edition)

A lot of quick-hitters, a cool graph, and a lot of talk about an anniversary this week for your #longreads weekend.

We’ve mentioned before that this year marks the 20th anniversary for several big albums, like SuperunknownThe Downward Spiral, Dookie, and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.  This week, Weezer, aka “The Blue Album” gets its moment in the sun.  Grantland has a roundtable feature if you’re interested in a lot of half-baked memories and not-particularly-insightful analysis, and Stereogum has a more nuanced look back at the seminal album, as they’ve done several times already this year.  Of course, this leads to thinking about “how the hell did Weezer become so shitty?”, though as Film Crit Hulk observes, it’s not that surprising an answer (yes, it’s the firing of Matt Sharp).

We did a feature on them already this week mentioning their new album, so it’s no surprise that The Black Keys announced a huge new tour today.  Using the video posted above however, may have been a surprise.  We’ll be posting a review in the near future, but if you’re feeling a little antsy, Grantland has an early review.  In general, I agree with several of the points about the recent direction of the band, but I am still flummoxed by the mention of “Little Black Submarines” in the section about minimalist guitars–this is after all a song with a good “Stairway to Heaven” 30-second solo rip-off that serves as the climax of the song.

AVClub has several pieces worth checking out this weekend.  There is an extended look at the making of the Alice in Chains EP Jar of Flies, which features several of the band’s best songs (including my personal favorite, “Nutshell”).  They also have a quick plea to get people to listen to Big Star’s “O My Soul”–Erik Adams points out the nifty use of palm-muted non-chords, but to me the most brilliant part of the song was simply the way the drums were recorded; I don’t think I have ever heard a snare pop better than on that track, and on Radio City in general.  Also, be sure to read about how one band was able to trick Spotify and then check out this absolutely brilliant headline.

We previously did a bit on music infographics, and another one popped up this week that you might have seen tweeted out or on your friend’s Facebook page.  This one takes a look at the diversity of the vocabulary of a number of rappers and presents it in chart form, with Shakespeare and Moby Dick as points of reference.  It wasn’t surprising to see the various members of the Wu-Tang Clan (and the group itself) ranking so highly, or 50 Cent ranked so low, but I thought for example that Kanye would appear higher on the list.  The Fader interviewed the creator of the chart and gets some insight into its creation.

We haven’t had much of a chance to talk about Father John Misty, but his debut Fear Fun was one of our favorites from 2012, and we’re eager to hear the follow-up when it’s released.  Pitchfork did a quick interview with him to give us an idea of what he’s up to these days.

Finally, we linked to the very first Drum Fill Friday from NPR, but we neglected to do any followups.  Well, it’s a continuing series and lately they’ve stepped up the challenge a bit by bringing in the choices of some guest drummers.  We’ll give the spotlight to Michael Lerner, the drummer from The Antlers, and link to his selections (for the record, I got 4/5).  It’s definitely worth keeping up with every week.

Catching Up On The Week (Apr. 18 Edition)

We’ve got some great #longreads for you this weekend, so try to fit these in as you enjoy Record Store Day.

Many music fans were excited for the reunion of OutKast at Coachella last weekend (this one included), but unfortunately it wasn’t the joyous celebration that we were hoping would occur.  There’s a lot to be said about the general shittiness of festivals, and Coachella specifically, but even that doesn’t account for some of the disappointment that many OutKast fans felt (personally, as a viewer watching things on my couch, I was able to enjoy it, album-plug for Future notwithstanding).  Rembert Browne at Grantland does a great job of expounding on this sentiment.  And if you’re wondering why the OutKast reunion was such a big deal in the first place, Andrea Battleground at the AVClub can help get you up to speed.

Last weekend I engaged in a scavenger hunt across Portland with some friends, and one of the items that we procured was an 8-Track of Bob Seger’s Night Moves.  It is now one of my most valued possessions.  Coincidentally enough, Steven Hyden wrote a piece this week why you shouldn’t scoff at this notion.  Behold, in all its glory:

My new most valued possession

My new most valued possession

SPIN has an excerpt from the recently released oral history of Dinosaur Jr.  You get a look at the early, early days of the band, as they toured around Massachusetts and their early ventures into New York, as well as their first tour as they opened for Sonic Youth.

Pitchfork has a couple of excellent features this week, both analyzing more the business side of music, and specifically the use and accumulation of data.  First, there was an article outlining the evolution of the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart, and how its current format leads to problems in tracking songs.  It raises some interesting points, but to dismiss the impact on how the specific genre has had an impact on Top 40 is a bit of a mistake, and maybe a solution that is more in line with how Billboard charts Alternative Rock may be one way to go.  The other piece looks at the history of streaming and its future, finding analogues in prior devices like the jukebox and looking at how data is processed to give a better idea for programs in dispensing recommendations.  Both are great and worth the time to read.