Pharrell

Catching Up On The Week (Mar. 13 Edition)

Some #longreads as you make plans for Friday the 13th, “Pi Day”, and the Ides of March…

Multiple sites are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Radiohead’s classic album The Bends, ranging from Consequence of Sound’s track-by-track remembrance to Stereogum’s full-fledged “Radiohead Week”.  In addition to their usual anniversary post, Stereogum also has a great interview with Radiohead drummer Philip Selway in which he provides insight into the recording of The Bends.  The best feature though may be their discussion with a wide range of musicians about their all-time favorite Radiohead song.  A lot of the choices and explanations are illuminating, but I have to say that I was a little disappointed that my personal favorite was not selected.

“Street Spirit (fade out)” is a hauntingly beautiful song, and in my mind is the best song in Radiohead’s extensive catalog–after that, it’s about a thirty-way tie for second place.  If you break it down to its basic musical components, it has a fairly uncomplicated structure: it’s just a gorgeous descending guitar melody built atop a simple three chord progression, with Thom Yorke’s voice wrapping itself around the music in a way that is alternately sad and hopeful.  This is pure speculation on my part, but I believe that a key factor that contributed to its melancholic quality is the fact that the guitars were tuned about 15 cents flat, which gave a slightly unsettling feel to the arpeggiated riff and helped open up the tone of the guitar.  And “Street Spirit” had a fantastic Jonathan Glazer-directed video to boot.

The other big news this week was a jury reaching a verdict in the “Blurred Lines” copyright trial, with the jury finding in favor of the Gaye estate that there was infringement.  We may discuss the potential ramifications of the decision in detail at a later date, but in the meantime you can read about the possible unintended consequences of the decision from Deadspin and SPIN.  Simply put, the fact that most people in the media has turned on Robin Thicke does not mean that infringement occurred, and it could have a potential chilling effect on future music.

Finally, for some lighter fare, you have a couple of options.  Earlier this week we had a piece on Viet Cong, and now you might want to read an interview the band conducted with SPIN, even if it doesn’t touch on the name issue.  And you can top it off with the AV Club explaining why you should listen to the gorgeous a capella TV on the Radio song “Ambulance”, followed by actually listening to the song.

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Catching Up On The Week (Feb. 20 Edition)

Some #longreads as you finalize your Oscar predictions…

Fans of Joy Division are probably well-aware that the famous illustration that graced the cover of their landmark album Unknown Pleasures was a graphic of radio waves from a pulsar taken from an old encyclopedia.  However, they are probably not familiar with the origins of the graphic itself.  Scientific American takes a look at the fascinating backstory behind the creation of what would eventually become one of the most famous images in music.

Earlier this week we published our review of I Love You, Honeybear, the brilliant new album from Father John Misty, and for those of you are interested now more than ever about the exploits of the man known as Joshua Tillman, check out the profiles on him by Rolling Stone and Consequence of Sound.

Consequence of Sound also takes a look at the trio BADBADNOTGOOD and how they ended up working with the likes of Ghostface Killah, and while you read it you can take a listen to their album Sour Soul, which is now available for streaming on SoundCloud.  The site also catches up with Elvis Perkins and fills us in on what he’s been doing in the years since 2009’s Elvis Perkins in Dearland as he prepares to release I Aubade next week.  Elsewhere, Pitchfork has an extensive interview with Sufjan Stevens available for your perusal this weekend.

If there’s a band that knows their way around cheap beer, it’s Red Fang, and Portland’s favorite heavy metal band recently persevered through a challenge from Denver’s Westword to rate some of the cheapest beer they could find.  Be sure to use that as inspiration for this weekend.

Ratter provides a great explanation of the copyright lawsuit over “Blurred Lines” between Marvin Gaye’s estate and Pharrell/Robin Thicke that is still making its way through the courts, including discussing exactly what parts of a song are copyrightable and how that can potentially affect the music industry.  You can even hear the musical excerpts from each side’s submissions to the court.

And finally, before watching the Oscars this weekend, be sure to read this New Yorker profile on the career and legacy of Glen Campbell, whose haunting “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” is up for Best Song.  We’re pulling for him to take home the statue, but we think it may be a longshot.

Over the Weekend (July 14 Edition)

In contrast to the relative paucity of links from Friday, we’ve got an avalanche of videos and news this week.  So here we go!

The music world lost another giant this weekend, as Tommy Ramone passed away due to complications from bile duct cancer.  Tommy was a vital part of the Ramones, anchoring their back-to-basics but give-them-hell attitude from behind the drumkit, but he also was an early producer for the band and was the main creative force behind many of the band’s most-loved songs, including “Blitzkrieg Bop”.  After he left the Ramones, he continued making his mark, including producing one of the greatest albums of all time, Tim by The Replacements.  Now is as good as a time as any to listen to that album along with any and all Ramones albums you may have, and be sure to read this great write-up by Jon Wurster in SPIN.

Interpol released their “first” official video from El Pintor, for the propulsive and upbeat “All The Rage Back Home”.  I put “first” in quotations, because that ignores the live video for “Anywhere” that previously was released, but is also understandable because at least this is a studio recording.

Here are some initial thoughts on the song: 1) I love it when Interpol goes for speed, and it works even better in contrast to the slow open; 2) The lead guitar in the verses, while a continuation of the first slow part, clash way too much with the chords once the song gets into gear; it’s a lot like when I was in jazz band in high school, and the director would point to me suddenly and go “you have the next 16 bars”–a lot of noodling on the upper part of the neck that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever; 3) In the video they have Paul playing bass, emphasizing that as a recording unit they’re a three-piece, but live they will have a more traditional lineup with Paul on second guitar; overall, Paul acquits himself quite well, though I hope on other songs he attempts to replace Carlos D’s ability to use space and off-beat rhythms and lines that were such a key part of the early Interpol sound.  In related news, Interpol announced today the details of their fall tour, with tickets for most shows going on sale on Friday.

Speaking of tours, the recently reunited Slowdive (and subject of one of the first pieces on our site) have announced that they’re going beyond an initial run of festivals and are going on a full-fledged tour.  I can’t wait to see them in November, as that month seems to be shaping up to be “Reunion Month” with Death From Above 1979 stopping by the Northwest a couple of weeks later.

We’ve mentioned before how much we’ve loved Hamilton Leithauser’s solo debut, and we’re glad to see that he’s released another music video, this time for “I Don’t Need Anyone”.  This one is pretty funny, and has a nice dark edge to it that’s perfect for a Monday.

Continuing with a theme of funny videos, Metallica cut a humorous promo for Sportscenter, fitting in with the latter’s long run of great ads.  In this spot, the band is looking for something to do now that Mariano Rivera has retired and so they no longer have to play “Enter Sandman” for his entrance music.

As there is the “Rule of 3’s” in comedy, so it is with funny music videos, as Weird Al released a video for his parody of Pharrell’s “Happy”, with the clever “Tacky”.  Yankovic gets some famous friends in on the fun, and those who have tired of hearing the original should welcome it. (Warning: Video autoplays)

And for your last video, if you need to come down a bit, there’s The National doing an interview over on Pitchfork that should help.

After some rumblings before, it’s now official that Radiohead will be heading to the studio to record their latest album in September, according to Billboard who listened in on a BBC radio interview.  As always, it will be interesting to see just what direction the band will take this time around.

Neutral Milk Hotel & Catching Up On The Week (Feb. 7 Edition)

A few quick links you may have missed this week and worthy of your time this weekend

I am of the generation that grew up in the wake of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea—not in the era from when the album was first released, but in the ensuing years where it became totem of alternative/indie rock culture.  Like many, I became obsessed with the album and the story of Jeff Mangum, the reclusive genius who became the J.D. Salinger of rock.  I was ecstatic when Jeff Mangum returned to the stage, and witnessed two amazing performances in Portland and Eugene (I remarked at the time that only Jeff Mangum could get a Portland crowd to scream “I love you, Jesus Christ!”).  But even there was something that was missing from those performances, and that was the rickety junkyard orchestra quality of the album itself, provided by a full backing band.  “Holland, 1945” will always be one of the greatest songs ever written, regardless of how it’s performed, but it loses something without those horns and that fuzz bass and those barely-restrained chaotic drums.  So even though I had the good fortune to see those previous two performances, I still jumped at the opportunity to see Neutral Milk Hotel as a whole for the reunion tour.

There are those that express some reservations to this.  Steven Hyden of Grantland wrote about his reaction to the return of Mangum and Neutral Milk Hotel, and he took a much more pessimistic stance.  I do agree to some extent the cult-like devotion of some fans is a turn-off (while I have listened to the album over a hundred times, I haven’t memorized the entire lyric sheet as it seems most audiences have), but I wouldn’t go so far as to say as a result that I like the album “less”.  And personally I think it’s unfair to call out any band for their possible motivations for reuniting, even if it’s to say that you don’t care that their intentions may be less than noble.  I can see points being made about post-boomer generations now realizing how much fun it can be to indulge in nostalgia, this overlooks the fact that there were younger generations who never got a chance to experience things firsthand, so why piss on their opportunity to do so?  I didn’t get a chance to see Dinosaur Jr. the first time around, but I’m sure as shit enjoying their late-period renaissance; Pavement was before my time, but seeing their reunion in Central Park was one of the greatest live performances I’ve ever seen.

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Continuing our previous coverage of the 20th anniversary of Dookie, Consequence of Sound asked various writers and musicians about their memories of the album.  What struck me is how many were my age at the time (around 9 years old), and led me to wonder whether any bands that are currently popular with 9 year olds will have any critical respect twenty years later.  I’m going to say probably not.

Here’s an interesting article that details how useless it can be to talk about a musician’s social media presence.  The number of followers and likes are generally useless figures, and discussion of those immaterial numbers take away from any discussion of the music itself.  However, there’s a twist in this story of how exactly an artist gained all those Twitter followers.

One of my favorite weekends of the year is NBA All-Star Weekend, and this year will be especially great because I’ll be cheering for two Blazers.  Kudos to LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, the latter of whom will be the first player to participate in five events during the weekend.  What does this news have to do with music?  Just the fact that they’ve got an outstanding musical lineup for the weekend, with Kendrick Lamar performing before the Dunk Contest, Pharrell in the pre-game ceremony, and Janelle Monáe performing with Trombone Shorty, Dr. John, and Earth, Wind & Fire at half-time.  That’s probably the best lineup that I remember for the event, if only for the fact that Phillip Phillips is not involved.

And finally, as the Winter Olympics begin, enjoy this video of a Russian Police Choir performing “Get Lucky” as a part of the Opening Ceremonies.  I didn’t see much of the festivities, but I’m pretty sure this has to be one of the top highlights.