The Replacements

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.

Covered: “September Gurls”

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.

As the calendar switched to September today, the first song that popped into my head was Big Star’s classic “September Gurls” (sorry Earth, Wind & Fire–you will get your moment to shine on the 21st).  Though I never figured out the meaning behind the distinction between December Boys and September “Gurls”, I would argue that Alex Chilton’s bittersweet romantic ode to a lost love is close to being a perfect pop song.  Not only is the song filled with memorable melodies, including the immortal hook of “December Boys got it bad”, but it also features those sweet, chiming guitars that helped influence a generation of musicians into creating what would become known as “jangle pop”.  However, as is the case on the rest of Radio City, the secret weapon is the booming drums of Jody Stephens, who provides both a powerful foundation as well as brilliant and precise fills.
It is no surprise then that over the years since its first release that “September Gurls” has inspired numerous cover versions from a diverse group of artists.  Its straightforward chord progression and simple rhythm make it an easy addition to a band’s setlist, and the relatable subject matter and unforgettable melody makes it a natural crowd-pleaser.  Most versions tend to be faithful to the original, like this beautiful acoustic performance from Brendan Benson, but there are moments and opportunities that allow for an artist to add a personal touch or two.  For instance, though The Bangles’ cover adheres closely to Big Star’s version, the fact that the song is sung from a woman’s point of view changes the narrative dynamic of the lyrics, and the generally slick production tips off what decade their version was performed.  The Dum Girls provide another example, as their straightforward take nevertheless manages through a few slight modifications to bear the imprint of the group’s trademark sound, namely the heavy use of reverb and a switch to a classic garage rock drumbeat.

The version that sticks out the most in my mind, however, is the ragged version that The Replacements would bust out from time to time at their shows.  The wear and tear in Paul Westerberg’s voice is perfect for the longing that shines through the lyrics, and there is a certain restrained ferocity in the band’s attack that enhances the emotional pain inherent in the song.  Structurally, the band does not do much to alter the song, with any changes being purely incidental.  Instead, what sticks in my mind is the vitality of the performance itself, and how it is a perfect example of the ability of The Replacements to be the best bar band in the planet on any day of the week.  It seems impossible to top the original, but at least The ‘Mats show the way to make a memorable version of a new standard.

Catching Up On The Week (July 24 Edition)

Some #longreads for helping you pass the time while you luxuriate in humanity’s greatest sin, Central Air

It’s the dog days of summer, and so it’s probably about time we share some of the pieces we’ve bookmarked over the past few months but neglected to pass on to you.  One such example is this account from Vulture detailing Bob Dylan’s first Letterman appearance, and the unique group of musicians he enlisted for support.

Deadspin has another great piece that would have been better if we shared it at a more appropriate time: a look at the history behind Alice Cooper’s classic anthem “School’s Out”.

It is usually a blast to read the interactions between artists of different generations as they discuss their appreciation for the work of each other.  This interview with Frank Black/Black Francis of the Pixies and Tunde Adebimpe in Time Out is one such example.

We were fortunate to finally catch one of our favorite bands live a few months ago, and it turns out it was worth it to take on the additional expenses to do so, since The Replacements have seemingly broken up once again.  The Guardian has a profile of the band that ran shortly before a couple of the band’s final shows in London.

The Replacements, Live at the Crystal Ballroom

Last Friday night, I was able to cross one of the biggest names off my Concert Bucket List when The Replacements finally returned to Portland after a lengthy absence.  It was not a given that I would be able to attend, until I was able to receive a ticket just a few short hours before the show, but the show was worth the entire hassle.  It was gloriously imperfect, just like the band themselves.

It definitely went better than their last Portland gig...

It definitely went better than their last Portland gig…

I was barely alive the last time The Replacements played Portland, when they played a gig at the Pine Street Theater.  For a band known for its penchant for self-sabotage that led to wildly chaotic performances, somehow this particular Portland show stuck in the band’s memory so much that the band felt obligated to apologize on numerous occasions, as eloquently told in articles from the Willamette Week and the Daily Emerald.  On Friday night, nobody threw a couch out the third story window of the Crystal Ballroom like they did back in ’87, but even with a “more professional” version of The ‘Mats playing, there was always a lingering feeling that the show could devolve into a similar mess.

I am sure that there are many that are hesitant to even call this an “official” reunion, but hearing Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson playing classic songs from legendary records like Let It BeTim, and Pleased to Meet Me was more than enough for me and the hundreds of grizzled fans in attendance.  One could even argue that it is even more fitting now that The Replacements have replacements stepping in to fill the shoes of departed players Chris Mars and Bob Stinson/Slim Dunlap.  Dave Minehan deserves praise for his ability to keep a steady hand on the second guitar, and.Josh Freese was almost a comically overqualified stand-in–though he had only a few moments to show off his impressive skills, he did a great job in driving the beat and following the whims of Paul.

Standing amid the oldest all-ages section ever.

Standing amid the oldest all-ages section ever.

A raucous opening set from old touring mates Young Fresh Fellows helped contribute to the “anything goes” aura of the night, with their costume changes and a free-wheeling style that included a crash cymbal atop a giant spring.  As for the headliners, the band blistered through a wild and unpredictable set, hitting tracks across the entirety of their career and tossing in some improvised jams as well as a few impressive covers.  Early in the show, the band locked into a bluesy groove and Paul sang about the local Whole Foods; later, the band responded to a flurry of requests with the theme to Green Acres.  Not all of their covers were irreverent piss-takes like that–one of the highlights of the night was a T. Rex medley that went from “20th Century Boy” to “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” to the band’s own “All Shook Down.”  The band also delivered their apology for their previous failures in person, sneaking in “Portland” into another medley of originals.

Nobody should expect technical perfection from a Replacements show, and there were a few flubs here and there–Paul forgot part of the lyrics to “Little Mascara” and gave up on the ending solo to “Sixteen Blue”, but we were thrilled to simply hear those gems in person.  The audience eagerly lapped up some of the band’s greatest “misses”, as Tommy so eloquently put it, though there were the occasional lulls in enthusiasm from the generally older crowd.  Yet those moments were soon forgotten when the room came alive to sing, “WE ARE THE SONS OF NOOOOOO ONE: BASTARDS OF YOUNG!” with their idols.  The fact that the band could also toss in “Can’t Hardly Wait”, “Left of the Dial”, and “Alex Chilton” was icing on the cake.  The Replacements also managed to pull off something that I had never before seen at the Crystal Ballroom, when they played a second encore of “I.O.U.” as the house lights came on.

The Replacements managed to break the Portland “curse” this time; hopefully this will encourage to visit us once again sooner rather than later (and if they could play “Unsatisfied” next time, that would be perfect).

Additional Background: I get around 800 emails a week about concerts in six different states, and for some reason I never received an email alerting me when tickets were on sale for the one show I was desperate to see this year.  When I finally found out they had been on sale for a couple of weeks, it was too late.  I checked ticket resellers, and for weeks the prices were outrageous.  However, the Saturday before the show I heard “I Will Dare” play on the speakers at Fred Meyer while I was doing some grocery shopping, and I took it as a sign to bite the bullet and look for a ticket in earnest.  I kept checking prices, and finally gave in late Friday afternoon and attempted to purchase tickets from StubHub.  This was nearly a disaster, as the site kept fucking up again and again and again.  For a while, I was stuck in a netherworld of “not having an account” and “already having an account” at the same time, and then faced an additional hurdle of simply trying to add in a credit card for payment, all for the privilege of paying 3x face value for a ticket.  I firmly believe that services like StubHub are a leech on society, and the fact that they could not create a website that worked as smoothly as goddamn TicketMaster is a true indictment of their shittiness, since TicketMaster is the worst thing that humanity has ever created.  If The Replacements themselves got most of the profit from the reselling, I would have less of an issue with this, but this is pure exploitation, no matter what way a free-market acolyte would try to spin it.  It is one thing for these services to provide an outlet for someone to unload tickets because they are unable to attend, but the fact that it is easily exploited by assholes damns the entire enterprise.  Good work guy in swooping in and picking up a ticket and contributing absolutely nothing to society!  I can only say that I hope to never have to relive that experience ever again, though I suspect that it will be the only way to actually see Refused when they play Portland next month.

Over the Weekend (Feb. 9 Edition)

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 OdelayMutationsSea 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”.

For those who can’t wait for the release of I Love You, Honeybear tomorrow, here’s Father John Misty performing songs from the album for WFUV.

And finally, in probably the best news we’ll hear all month, The Replacements have announced that they’re hitting the road for what they call the “Back By Unpopular Demand” tour.  Of particular interest to us is their April 10th show at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, because we can now look forward for the first time to a night of singing along to some of our favorite songs like “Bastards of Young” with one of the all-time greatest rock bands of all time.

The Best Songs That Use Sleigh Bells

It’s time once again for another list, but this time we have one that’s a bit more season-appropriate.  Rust Is Just Right is ready to present to you the somewhat-definitive list of the “10 Best Songs That Use Sleigh Bells” that are in no way affiliated with Christmas.

10.  Death Cab for Cutie – “You Can Do Better Than Me”.  A selection that implies “we needed one more song to fill out this list” in more ways than one.

9. Grizzly Bear – “Ready, Able”.  A lot of people love this single off the excellent album Veckatimest, but it always felt a little incomplete for me.  But Grizzly Bear gets this spot because they often use a lot of unique percussion to great effect and should get credit for that effort, and I am at least certain that sleigh bells make an appearance (even if it’s a faint one) in this particular song.

8. Wilco – “Outta Mind (Outta Site)”.  While the raucous “Outtaside (Outta Mind)” has a nifty video, it’s the stripped-down reprise that’s augmented by the cheerful sound of sleigh bells.

7. The Replacements – “Kiss Me On The Bus”.  One of the highlights of the classic album Tim, you can hear the sleigh bells make their appearance on the final chorus, providing an intriguing color to the music.

6. Eric B. and Rakim – “Microphone Fiend”.  Built on a sample of Average White Band’s “Schoolboy Crush”, this is one of the landmark singles from the Golden Age of Hip-Hop and still sounds great today.  Always good to hear a smooth operator operating correctly.

5. The Walkmen – “Nightingales”.  The Walkmen were definitely not strangers to the allure of the sleigh bells, sprinkling their sound throughout their career, most notably on multiple songs from the beloved Bows + Arrows.  But we’re going to give the honor to this lovely track from their swan song Heaven, since it includes moments where the sleigh bells are given their time to shine.

4. The Hives – “Walk Idiot Walk”.  What should a band do as a follow-up for their huge break into the American charts?  If you’re The Hives, you write a single that uses the sleigh bells to keep time in the chorus for no particular reason.  If anything, it at least gives some insight to the casual listener that The Hives are willing to look outside the box of traditional garage rock sounds.  It’s too bad that Tyrannosaurus Hives has been neglected over the years, since it’s a fantastic album.

3. The Beach Boys – “God Only Knows”.  When you fill out your sound with a hundred-piece orchestra, you’re bound to have someone playing sleigh bells for some songs.  We’re going to go with one of the most beautiful songs in the deep catalog of the Beach Boys with this one.

2. Radiohead – “Airbag”.  Radiohead kicks off one of the defining albums of the 90’s with the sound of sleigh bells over sliced-up drum tracks, adding a touch of humanity to an opus about the haunting alienation of technology.  In a song about being miraculously saved from a car wreck, are we to assume that Santa was the savior?

1. The Stooges – “I Wanna Be Your Dog”

I don’t think there’s any argument here with this choice for the top spot.  Once you notice that insistent sleigh bells part chugging along with the rest of those buzzsaw guitars and ramshackle drums, it’s hard to get out of your head, and it adds a strange psychedelic element to the entire enterprise.

So there you have it–the greatest non-traditional Christmas song is “I Wanna Be Your Dog”.  Be sure to include it in your setlist tonight when you’re out caroling!

Over the Weekend (Dec. 22 Edition)

Some videos and lists and other fun stuff as you continue to put off Christmas shopping…

Last week we said farewell to one of our favorite late night comedy shows with the end of The Colbert Report, but that wasn’t the only great program that finished its run last week.  The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson was underrated for the entirety of its run, as few could match the creativity and anarchic spirit of its host.  Craig ended things with a bang on his last show, and it was nice to see this tribute at the top of his show.  Here’s the official video, though it’s missing an excellent second half as seen in this link.

The “Bang Your Drum” performance was an excellent followup to the latest rendition of the annual holiday tradition of Darlene Love performing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home”) on The Late Show with David Letterman.  Of course, what really takes the performance to another level is the bari sax solo, but all the musicians are worthy of praise.

Once again, we have even more lists for your consultation.  Cokemachineglow has multiple lists for top albums, and then there are best videos lists from Vulture, PASTE, and Buzzfeed.  While there are several good selections, I’m surprised to see the absence of our personal pick for best music video of 2014, the haunting “Story 2” from clipping.

Song Exploder has an excellent interview with members of The National, who discuss the creation of “Sea of Love” for Trouble Will Find Me.  They really go deep into the making of the song, so all those budding songwriters out there should take note.

In a bit of unsurprising news, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are “on a bit of a hiatus” according to Karen O.  But it sounds like it’s just down time and not anything signalling the end of the band, which is great.

The Replacements have released some new music, and to say it’s different than what you would expect would be an understatement.  Pitchfork has the link to the 25 minute jazz improve piece “Poke Me In My Cage”.

Daniel Kessler from Interpol’s side project Big Noble just released their first music video, providing a visual accompaniment to the soundscape “Stay Gold”.

And a melancholy farewell to Joe Cocker, who possessed one of the great voices in rock history.  His cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends” was a huge part of my childhood, and I’m sure millions of others could say the same thing.

Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 17 Edition)

Some #longreads as you try to figure out a Halloween costume…

It’s the 30th anniversary of The Replacements’ classic album Let It Be, and Consequence of Sound has an all-star roundtable of musicians and writers to discuss the legendary record.  While I personally disagree with the title of the piece (I prefer Tim, though it’s a close battle), I nevertheless agree with the general sentiment that this is an album that merits reflection.

We here at Rust Is Just Right are big fans of Pearl Jam, and it’s not only because of their music.  Over the years, we’ve read several stories that show just how great these guys are as people, and this one of a promise fulfilled to a fan 22 years later is a great example of how much the band appreciates their fans.  In addition, check out this tribute that the band did in remembrance of Ikey Owens.

In this piece for the AV Club, Sean O’Neal examines what makes the memorable riff from David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” so brilliant, and would be worth reading for the additional background information from Bowie linked to in the piece.  Elsewhere on the site, Noel Murray writer contributes to the “Primer” feature with a guide to The Beach Boys, an endeavor we fully support.

Mark Lanegan shows off a bit of his sense of humor in this fun interview with Diffuser, as he releases a new solo album once again.

Pitchfork talks to Dhani Harrison about the elusive qualities of his father’s guitar style, as well as other musicians who provide insight into the subtleties that made George’s guitar-playing so timeless.

And finally, if you’re desperate for a hate-read this weekend, there’s this New York Times piece where the online equivalent of the asshole at the record store who sneers at whatever you purchased bemoans what streaming has done in diminishing the effort to be an elitist douchebag.  However, I did enjoy the auto-generated Spotify playlist that was juxtaposed next to his rant.

Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 3 Edition)

Some #longreads as you prepare for a weekend where you can finally stop writing about Project Pabst…

"God's Pickaxe"

“God’s Pickaxe”

SPIN did a series of interviews with the members of The Walkmen who went solo–first talking to Walter Martin, followed by Peter Matthew Bauer, and today publishing their piece on Hamilton Leithauser.  The fact that all three solo albums are brilliant and remarkably different from one another speaks to how amazing and underrated their band together was.

The AV Club did a roundtable discussing the massive re-release of Adore from the Smashing Pumpkins.  I disagree with most of the panelists about the merits of “Ava Adore” and “Perfect” (both of which I think are fine singles), but I agree with their main point that Adore as a whole is underrated.  A better piece is their Permanent Records feature on the classic from The Replacements, Let It Be.  Though I rank Tim slightly higher, it is still a landmark album worth plenty of discussion.

Gawker, of all places, has a great piece on OutKast’s homecoming show in Atlanta, discussing how their rise influenced a generation in hip-hop and helped the South make its mark on the genre.