Science

Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 23 Edition)

Some #longreads for your weekend…

This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the release of the landmark album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness from the Smashing Pumpkins, and it is no surprise that several outlets are publishing tributes for the occasion.  Stereogum looks at the album through a modern context, arguing that it is unlikely that we will see such an epic release like Mellon Collie ever again, regardless of genre, and the AV Club covers the making of the album as well as examining some of the musical highlights from the record.  The most comprehensive piece comes from Alternative Nation, who in a gesture that befits such a sprawling and mammoth album, have published an extensive essay that covers just about anything you would ever want to know about the record.

Gizmodo has a lengthy guide to the science behind the synthesizer, covering the process of creating the sounds and the development of the instrument over the years.

Consequence of Sound published an essay that ponders what is the appropriate amount of a time that an artist should wait between album releases, though it covers many of the exact arguments that one should expect.  The conclusion tilts a bit toward longer gaps, though I have two words that can be offered as a counter: “Chinese Democracy.”

Loudwire takes a look at the behind-the-scenes drama of the making of One By One, which in my eyes is a criminally underrated Foo Fighters album.

Finally, Pitchfork has an excerpt from Shea Serrano’s new book, The Rap Year Book, which provides an entertaining look at the significance of Tupac’s classic hit “California Love”.

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Over the Weekend (Feb. 23 Edition)

New music, new videos, and other fun stuff as you prepare for when the revolution comes

Holy shit guys, we’re actually going to get a new Blur record!  Damon Albarn has apparently found some time in between his three hundred musical projects to record an album with his old mates, as The Magic Whip will be released here in the States on April 28.  As an appetizer, here’s the bizarre lyric video for the weird new song “Go Out”.

Normally, we would have this new video occupy our lead spot–after all, it includes not only a song from one of the best albums of the year so far, but also features some of our favorite television characters as well.  However, it’s not everyday that Blur announces a new album, so the Bob’s Burgers-themed video for Sleater-Kinney’s “A New Wave” gets the second slot, but it should make you happy nonetheless.

NPR has a couple of new albums streaming on their site that are worth sharing: first, Swervedriver returns for their first record in nearly twenty years with I Wasn’t Born To Lose You, and then there’s Of Montreal offering up Aureate Gloom for your pleasure.

Father John Misty stopped by The Strombo Show, and during that appearance he covered the Leonard Cohen classic “Bird on the Wire”.  It’s a bit jarring at first to hear the song without Cohen’s trademark baritone, but Joshua Tillman still makes a fine version.

Death Cab For Cutie have shared another new track from Kintsugi, which will be out by the end of March, called “No Room in Frame”.

Vox takes a look at Eric Malmi’s attempt to determine the Best Rapper Alive by looking at the use of assonant rhyme.  As with most data-intensive looks at creative endeavors, take it with a grain of salt.

And finally, have some fun as the satirical website Clickhole asks the question “How Well Do You Know The Lyrics to Radiohead’s ‘Creep’?” with their ridiculous quiz.

Over the Weekend (Jan. 19 Edition)

Videos, news, and other fun music-related articles as you celebrate today’s holiday

In honor of today’s holiday, I hope you take some time to read Killer Mike’s excellent op-ed on how we should pay tribute to Dr. King’s true legacy.  Mike emphasizes the revolutionary ideals of Dr. King, and pushes us to do more than talk vaguely about his virtue but to take action.

Flying Lotus continues to deliver thought-provoking videos for his recent album, You’re Dead!,  with the latest being the dark and disturbing “Coronus, The Terminator”.  He writes in the comments, “For me, Coronus is one of the most important moments on You’re Dead! and holds ideas I’m planning to explore in my future work. I’m happy that the visual encapsulates the meaning of the record and this ambition[.]”

Modest Mouse also released their latest video this morning, with the fan site Interstate-8 providing the video for the track “Coyotes”.  The band had given a tease for the video this past weekend by posting a tweet of the video’s star, so at least those of us who were befuddled by the message now at least understand the meaning.

As a fan of Seattle bands (and the city in general) but not of their football team, it’s been a pretty difficult month.  First, I have to deal with Pearl Jam selling special “12th Man” t-shirts as well as Mike McCready raising a special 12th Man flag at the Space Needle, and then I have to see that Alice in Chains performed at halftime at the game on Sunday.  That said, it’s terrible for Fox not to have broadcast it, but kudos for the various fans who have been sharing footage from the show. (Update: The Seahawks are now sharing official footage of the performance.)

Most people know that bands often make ridiculous demands in their Tour Rider, but few make an actual game of it.  Enter the Foo Fighters, who included an activity book to help hammer home the important points and make sure that the various venues actually paid attention.

And finally, proof once again of the importance of music, with a recent study that shows that music training provides significant benefits to development in children’s brains.

Catching Up On The Week (Jan. 16 Edition)

A few #longreads as you prepare for the new year to begin in earnest…

Amid a crowded field of new releases next week, the long-awaited return of Sleater-Kinney stands out from the rest as indie rock fans welcome the return of the beloved 90’s band.  So it’s no surprise that the band is getting write-ups in most music publications this week, including Pitchfork, Grantland, and Nylon.  We’re probably missing other tributes as well, but we’ll try to make up for it by linking to their performance on Letterman last night.

Another new release that we can’t wait to hear comes from another Pacific NW favorite, as The Decemberists return next week with What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.  The Oregonian looks at how the band helped shape the Portland music scene over the past fifteen years, which while giving the city a new national profile also riles up some locals, as evidenced by a few of the comments.

One upcoming new release that we’ve neglected to mention before is the latest record from Belle and Sebastian.  In order to rectify this, here is Pitchfork’s insightful musical influence feature “5-10-15-20” with the band’s leader, Stuart Murdoch.

Diffuser is taking a look at “The Roots of Indie”, and their latest installment examines the history of the Violent Femmes, one of the most unique successes in rock history.

And finally, a small dose of light scientific reading for your weekend, as NPR takes a look at why some cultures respond to musical cues in different ways.

Catching Up On The Week (Jan. 2 Edition)

Some #longreads while you nurse that hangover…

It’s always a treat when we get to hear from Aphex Twin, so you should probably read this interview where the man himself answers questions from several famous DJs and producers in this special from Groove magazine.

The AV Club takes a look at how Pink Floyd ended up with a number one album when they released The Division Bell in 1994, based purely on the power of nostalgia.

A look at the greater context of Black Messiah, with an eye towards how those unfamiliar with the work of D’Angelo should approach it, with help from a fan.

And finally, for the more technologically inclined, here’s a look at how the different ways you physically store your digital music can affect its sound quality.  I haven’t read it yet, but for those readers who have a stronger scientific background, feel free to chime in and respond.

Over the Weekend (Nov. 24 Edition)

Some videos and other fun as you prepare for the big holiday this week…

This weekend marked the twentieth anniversary of Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy album, and there were retrospectives from both Billboard and Stereogum.  Both do a great job of talking about how the album was a turning point for the band, and how though it’s a respected effort, it’s still underrated.  I was inspired by these pieces to listen to the remastered version of the album that was released a couple of years ago, and it adds a whole new level to the record.

Our favorite new music video comes courtesy of hometown heroes Red Fang, which should be no surprise, considering their track record of great videos.  This time for “Crows In Swine” they prove that their brilliance extends even into the realm of animation.

We previously shared the lyric video for the new song from The Decemberists, and now we can link to the official music video for “Make You Better”.  It features Nick Offerman guest-starring as the host of a lost television show from the 70’s, with The Decemberists providing a goofy performance.

Rolling Stone has been publishing a ton of Foo Fighters-related material, and one of the coolest pieces they’ve done is a list of various cameos that Dave Grohl has done for various albums and performances.

Last week Sebadoh stopped by the AV Club for their Undercover series, and they performed Rush’s “Limelight”.  Personally, I feel that the band balances between taking it seriously and having fun with it, but half of my enjoyment may have been due to the various Rush fans in the comments getting offended by Lou Barlow’s ridiculous vocals.

TV on the Radio hit the Late Show with David Letterman last week to perform “Happy Idiot”, and it’s obvious that as the band hits the road in support of Seeds this is going to be a definite highlight of their set.

Speaking of late night performances, Cold War Kids went on Conan to play “All This Could Be Yours” and delivered a passionate performance of their latest single.

Before there was The Shins there was Flake Music, and Sub Pop is reissuing the only record of the predecessor band.  NPR has it up for streaming for your pleasure.  Elsewhere on their site, be sure to check out this video talking about the special way in which musicians’ brains work.

Catching Up On The Week (Sept. 19 Edition)

Some #longreads as you prepare for the return of the purest of athletic competitions: Ivy League football.

Next week sees the release of the highly-anticipated new album from Aphex Twin, Syro, though if you live outside of the United States, you may have had the chance to purchase the album as soon as today.  This is Richard D. James’s first album under the Aphex Twin moniker since Drukqs came out in 2001, so anticipation has been extremely high for electronica fans.  James sat down for an extended interview with Pitchfork (filled with all sorts of fancy website tricks) that you should probably read to help pass the time before you get a copy of Syro in your hands, and the Village Voice has a piece putting the new album into context.  For a taste of the new album, here’s “minipops 67 [120.2]

“:

Another high-profile release coming out next week is the album that Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy made with his son Spencer (released under the name “Tweedy”), Sukierae.  Jeff writes a piece for The Guardian discussing the significance of the album form, and why Suierae is a double-album.

J Mascis sat down for a fun interview with Pitchfork for their Guest List feature.

NPR examines the lasting popularity of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”.

WIRED samples some psychological studies that attempt to explain the scientific reason why you and your friends tend to like the same music as well as analyzing the significance of music in social interaction.

And finally, our readers should be well-aware of how psyched we are about the reunion of Death From Above 1979, so of course we’re going to pass along any stories about these guys.  FADER talks to the band about some of their favorite movies while Rolling Stone talks to the band about their time apart.  In true Rolling Stone fashion, the interviewer keeps on referring to the limited-run Romantic Rights EP as the touchstone of their early days instead of the wide-released full-length You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, but I’m willing to let that detail go.

Catching Up On The Week (Aug. 15 Edition)

Some #longreads for your weekend as we try not mention Spoon for the first time this week.  Oh…goddammit.

Well, we might as well keep the streak up and talk about Spoon again.  But we have a really good reason this time, as Britt Daniel talks to Pitchfork about a number of songs from the entirety of their career, and provides some great insight into the songwriting process and explains a lot of the specific references in their songs.

And while you’re hanging around Pitchfork, be sure to take a look at the story behind the legendary underground hip-hop album Madvillainy, and this piece that looks at why older artists are now hitting the top spot on the albums chart.

Slate has an article that discusses the neuroscience behind people’s natural inclination to adore the songs of their youth, despite the fact that objectively they realize the songs are not very good.  This inspired me to take a look through my collection to see if there was anything that I should be ashamed of, and I really didn’t come up with anything.  But I’m going to post this video of N.E.R.D.’s “Rock Star”, because how often will I have the chance?  I wonder what Pharrell ever did after this…

Continuing with the theme of articles of a more analytic nature, FiveThirtyEight has a look at the regional differences in playlist construction of Classic Rock Stations.

Rolling Stone has a couple of pieces that should provoke some interest.  First, there’s an investigation behind a lost classic by the Beastie Boys from the Paul’s Boutique days.  Then there’s a look behind the recording of Mother’s Milk for its 25th anniversary, an album that remains my favorite from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Impose Magazine has an interview with clipping., as they argue against being pigeonholed as “noise-rap”.

And finally, there’s a profile of The New Pornographers in the Wall Street Journal of all places.  Wrap your head around that concept for a second, then go ahead and read the piece.

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.

Catching Up On The Week (Mar. 14 Edition)

Aeon has a great article exploring the psychological underpinnings of our appreciation of music, specifically discussing the key that repetition plays in our unconscious love.  The article analyzes how the mere act of repetition has a specific psychological effect on our brains, and it can essentially even create the illusion of “music”, even though if we were removed from the process we would not give that objective determination.  It then goes on to discuss the significance of “rituals” and how music mirrors this concept, and their impact on our brains.  I find these scientific explorations fascinating, and I highly recommend reading it–I’m sure I unintentionally bungled some observations and that my imprecise language may have obscured some of the true results.  That said, the article still needs to explain how it could be that Krautrock is not the dominant musical genre of our time.

Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age (and many, many other bands) recently did a video where he answered questions from fans, covering such topics as his band’s treatment at the Grammys and the recent dispute with other members of Kyuss over the use of the band’s name.  It’s always fun to hear Josh pontificate, so it’s well worth a listen.

Repetition

Repetition

If you follow our Tumblr, you know we’re at the very least intrigued by Neil Young’s new digital music service “Pono”.   We’re not entirely convinced about its necessity, and to that end we’re looking into posting a discussion with an engineer experienced in the field of acoustics to discuss the technological merits of the service.  But we’ll save the technical mumbo-jumbo for another day–here, you could read an article from The Quietus with some bullshit about the “iPod culture”.  Here’s a frightening quote:

“The spontaneous practice of iPod users then comes to very closely resemble the model developed by researchers working for the Muzak Corporation in the mid-twentieth century.”

A much more enjoyable discussion of music culture comes from the latest entry in the AV Club’s series on punk rock in the 90’s (“Fear of a Punk Decade”), which discusses the impact of different labels on the decade’s sounds.  It looks at the rise of several independent labels, including some that had the impact of major labels (Epitaph and Dischord for example), and the mutual relationship between bands and their labels.

Switching gears, The Oregonian takes a look at the significance of a good van for the touring indie act.  It’s difficult to realize the various struggles that bands have to go through especially with things we take for granted like our own vehicles.

And finally, Wye Oak has a discussion with SPIN about their new album Shriek.  In this interview, they discuss lyrical themes, the move away from guitars for this album, and their (slightly) relaxed touring schedule.  Wye Oak is a band that that is pretty powerful live, though their albums haven’t translated in the same way; we’ll see if that’s the case for Shriek.