Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 30 Edition)

A few non-spooky #longreads for your (one-hour longer) weekend…

Thankfully, we have not seen any Halloween-related “thinkpieces”, so we can go straight to some links worthy of your time.  First, Maynard James Keenan sat down for an extensive interview with the Phoenix New Times, and the article features Maynard talking at length about several topics with his typical humor.  Maynard is preparing for the release of Puscifer’s new album, Money Shot, though of course it was his talk about one of his other bands that drew most of the attention, as anything that mentions “Tool” is sure to garner clicks.

Pitchfork has a piece on the 25th anniversary of Ride’s Nowhere, one of the biggest and most important albums of the shoegaze era, and discusses how the genre has played a part in shaping the sound of a numbers.  This week also marks the twentieth anniversary of Pulp’s brilliant album Common People, and Stereogum pays tribute to the landmark record.

Finally, Consequence of Sound attempts to settle the age-old debate of “Which is the best Replacements album: Let It Be or Tim?”  They take their time in analyzing the merits of the two legendary albums, but in the end come up with the correct result.


Catching Up On The Week (Nov. 28 Edition)

Some #longreads as you awaken from the Thanksgiving food coma…

We’re going to put the spotlight on Seattle this weekend, since we have multiple articles discussing the city’s place in music history.  First, Seattle Weekly talks to Bruce Pavitt, co-founder of the now-legendary independent label Sub Pop.  Next, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a profile of Dave Grohl as the Emerald City episode of his Sonic Highways is set to air.  And finally, Kim Thayil of Soundgarden talks to Loudwire about the band’s new rarities release Echo of Miles.

Seattle, though often grey, is still pretty.

Seattle, though often grey, is still pretty.

We’ve been enjoying the latest album from TV on the Radio these past couple of weeks, and before we unveil our official review on Tuesday, read up on the making of the new album with profiles in both the New York Times and Consequence of Sound.

The Atlantic has an article about how the internet helped spark a revival of interest in Nick Drake, far more than he had enjoyed in his brief life and career.  While we mentioned the seminal Volkswagen ad in our “Pink Moon” Covered feature, this piece helps fill in some additional interesting details.

In the past we’ve looked at different aspects of the streaming debate, mainly focusing our attention on Spotify and their payout model.  East Bay Ray of the Dead Kennedys sheds some insight on another service we’ve neglected, YouTube, showing how the company pays even less to artists than its competitors.

Though he’s mainly known for the off-center comedic empire he’s built with partner Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim has had a successful side-gig as a director of music videos.  The AV Club interviews Eric for its Random Reels feature, and he sheds insights on such videos as the frightening “We Are Water” video he did for HEALTH (and cited in our Scariest Videos list) as well as the weirdly gorgeous “Wishes” video from Beach House.

And finally, Pitchfork has multiple articles worth checking out this weekend.  Be sure to read this pleasant interview with Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, then check out this analysis of the importance of Top 40 radio and the significance of different genre stations.  And finally, proving that the publication actually has a sense of humor, here’s “The Most Crucial And Yet Totally Overlooked Releases of 2014 and a Pre-Emptive Guide to 2015.”

Covered: “Common People”

Covered is a feature where we examine the merits of various cover songs, debating whether or not they capture the spirit and intent of the original, if the cover adds anything new, and whether or not it perhaps surpasses the original.  If we fail on those counts, at the very least we may expose you to different versions of great songs you hadn’t heard before.

Pulp never achieved the same success stateside as it did in its native UK, but if Americans ever heard one of their songs it was probably their classic “Common People”.  The reputation of the song has grown over the years, and is considered by many to be the shining moment of the Britpop era.  It’s a fantastically fun song, a synth-heavy dance rave-up in a scene fueled by guitar-driven rock.  It’s also a masterwork in perfecting the “build”, morphing from a sly and mysterious beginning into an explosive, anthemic second half.  It’s also the perfect showcase for vocalist’s Jarvis Cocker’s smart and sarcastic persona, as he incisively tears into “class tourism”–a topic that bears increased relevance today, as any article on an area facing the pressures of gentrification would show.  As Jarvis points out, while most people who live in the slum-like conditions are forced to do so by circumstance, the woman in the song can easily escape with a simple phone call to Dad.

If people were asked to name someone who could successfully pull off a great cover song, William Shatner would have to rank near the bottom of the list.  To be fair, there’s a perfectly good reason for this.  But all due credit to producer Ben Folds, who found an excellent complement for Shatner’s unique…”singing” style.  Shatner’s dramatic talk-singing is the perfect vehicle for the trenchant social commentary inherent in the lyrics, and he’s able to draw out every bit of sardonic humor and bitter sarcasm with each line that he can.  Even his unusual pauses help provide the right amount of emphasis with each verbal attack.  As for the music, keyboards are traded for guitars in this version, and they do a great job of driving the song and providing an extra bit of edge while still allowing for the natural beat to push through.  In the end, you’re still rocking out and dancing, all the while smiling at the humor of the lyrics as you sing along.