The Stooges

Over the Weekend (Oct. 5 Edition)

News, new music, and other fun stuff to help kickoff your week…

We linked to multiple articles about Radiohead’s Kid A on Friday, so naturally we have another piece related to the band today.  Diffuser has a slideshow attempting to come up with a suitable American version of Radiohead, and to their credit, they think outside the box of “a few dudes with guitars”, though we are sure their choices would cause some amount of debate.

Bloc Party is set to release a new album entitled Hymns next year, and today they released the first track from the record.  Since Four, the band has shuffled their lineup a bit, including adding Justin Harris of Menomena to the group, and the electronic-influenced “The Love Within” is our first glimpse at the result.

Run The Jewels released a new single this week, sharing the gritty track “Rubble Kings Theme (Dynamite)” from the documentary Rubble Kings.

The title for Best Example of Clickbait from last week was the announcement that scientists have determined Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the most iconic song of all time.  Certainly there is more to the story, but feel free to argue among yourselves as to whether or not the result makes sense.

There are a couple of great interviews that we recommend for your perusal this week.  First, Alan Sparhawk of Low talks to The Quietus about the band’s career in a serious and insightful discussion, and then you can lighten things up with the always entertaining Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal, who opens up to Consequence of Sound about his various personal contradictions.

We linked to a couple of clips of this show a couple of weeks back, but now feel free to rock out to the full concert footage of the supergroup performance of The Stooges’s iconic album Raw Power, featuring Mark Arm, Mike McCready, Duff McKagan, and Barrett Martin performing on the rooftop of Pike Place Market.

Finally, we recommend you check out this Tiny Desk Concert from our newest favorite Greek musician, Lianne LaHavas, who possesses a gorgeous voice that should help brighten up your week.

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Over the Weekend (Aug. 24 Edition)

New music, news, and other fun stuff to help start your week…

Last night marked the end (?) of the beloved and bizarre animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but before the show officially said goodbye, the folks at Adult Swim enlisted the help of a legendary artist who is a surprisingly devoted fan: Patti Smith.  Smith gave a brief interview to Pitchfork explaining both her love of the show and how she ended up recording the song for the series finale.

Over the weekend, a pretty goddamn awesome supergroup convened up in Seattle to pay tribute to the legendary punk album Raw Power from Iggy & The Stooges.  Mike McCready from Pearl Jam, Mark Arm from Mudhoney, Barrett Martin from Screaming Trees, and Duff McKagan from Guns ‘N Roses got together for the charity gig in support of radio station KEXP, and Stereogum has some of the footage from this memorable gig.

Foals are set to release their latest album, What Went Down, this Friday.  They have released several videos to help build anticipation for the new album already, and today the group released their latest with a “CCTV” version of the low-key “London Thunder”.

!!! announced dates for a tour this fall, and I highly recommend that you check your calendars to see if you are free the night they hit your town, because there are few things in life that are as fun as a !!! show.  The band also shared a goofy lyric video for new single “Freedom ’15”, off their upcoming album As If, which will be released on October 16.

For those of you looking for a fun way to kill some time, check out this piece which attempts to determine what recent songs have become timeless through an analysis of Spotify play counts.

Finally, enjoy killing some time with a couple of lists.  First, Willamette Week offers the 21 Best Songs About Portland, which does a fair job of covering the city’s unusual musical history.  Due to a technicality that the song must explicitly reference Rip City in some capacity, the best song about Portland was excluded, but otherwise it was a solid attempt.  And then for the giant time-waster, Pitchfork has decided to use this as a dead week to promote their list of the 200 Best Songs of the 80’s.

Embedded above is the best (and most accurate) song about Portland.  You have probably heard it before.

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!

Catching Up On The Week (Aug. 29 Edition)

Some #longreads for your Labor Day weekend and pieces to look over in between college football games…

As you may have noticed, we are eagerly anticipating El Pintor, the new album from Interpol.  To help you feel the same excitement, we have interviews both old and new.  Under the Radar posted a piece from 2002 when the band was fresh off their classic debut Turn On The Bright Lights, while Rolling Stone talks to the band as they return in 2014.

The AV Club sets their sights on The Stooges’ legendary album Raw Power for their Permanent Records feature, and that fact alone should spur you to read it.  Elsewhere on the site, various writers discuss songs they love despite cringe-worthy lyrics.  I personally take issue with the first selection of “Conversation 16” by The National, whose lyrics I actually enjoy–the shock that comes from the drastic change in tone quickly turns to amusement, and I always enjoy cracking up when listening to the purposefully humorous chorus.

Pitchfork has an in-depth interview with Anthony Gonzalez, the mastermind behind M83, who discusses his early years as the group’s first three albums are getting reissued.  If you’re only familiar with the group because of “Midnight City” and Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, I suggest you pick up these albums when you have the chance because they’re just as gorgeous, though with less of an 80’s influence (which to some may be preferable).

And finally, have some fun with Stereogum as they rank AC/DC’s albums and look back on the twentieth anniversary of Oasis’s Definitely Maybe.  I personally was first introduced to Oasis with their follow-up (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, but for many people their debut still represents the pinnacle of the band’s career.

Over the Weekend (June 30 Edition)

Some videos and news as you begin your week thinking about how dumb Penalty Kicks are

Spoon played Jimmy Kimmel Live last week, with tracks from their upcoming album They Want My Soul.  We had previously heard “Rent I Pay”, but the band also debuted “Rainy Taxi” at the performance.  The first is a ragged, stilted rocker that Spoon has perfected over the years, but the second is a groovy, uptempo number that fits in some of the dissonant touches that the band does so well, and should be a live favorite.

Fans in Oslo were treated to a Pearl Jam rarity, as the band performed “Strangest Tribe” for the first time.  It’s a beautiful, somber song that can be found on the Lost Dogs compilation, and was originally released as one of the fanclub Christmas singles.  A hearty thanks to the fan that filmed this special occasion.

Speaking of Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder recently received an invitation to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (you know, the Oscars folks).  Maybe he’ll help clear up the mess that is the nominations process for the music categories.

Rolling Stone has Jack White’s entire Glastonbury set on its site, which included a quick cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” (a specific choice that the article has details about), and also a link to a previous performance with some choice covers including a take on The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”.

And we didn’t get a chance to post this in our traditional Friday #longreads roundup, but here’s a link to an extended interview with Dennis Lyxzen, frontman of the legendary Refused and The (International) Noise Conspiracy, who is now working in a new band called INVSN.

Catching Up On The Week (Mar. 28 Edition)

We have a few #longreads and some new music news for you this weekend, so if you didn’t have plans, you’re now in luck.

First, we got a bit of a surprise today when The Antlers posted a quick clip on YouTube that seems like a teaser for an announcement for an upcoming new album.  There’s not much to go on, besides a solemn instrumental, some band footage, and a final quote of “soon.”, but this is exciting nonetheless.  If you don’t feel the same way, then you need to spend your weekend finding a copy of Hospice, one of the most heart-breakingly beautiful albums of the past decade, and Burst Apart, their more-than-worthy followup so you can get into the proper mindset.

A little young for Antlers, but...

A little young for Antlers, but…

Next, we’ve got another video for you to enjoy, courtesy of The Daily Show.  Jon Stewart did an interview with Amy Yates Wuelfing and The Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes to discuss an oral history of a legendary New Jersey bar and the different legendary punk shows that took place in that humble setting.  It’s bizarre to see Gibby dressed in a way that is reminiscent of a college professor, at the very least.

Last week we mourned the death of Scott Asheton, and since then more and more tributes have been published.  Iggy Pop talked with Rolling Stone about his memories of his bandmate, and Vice published an interview Legs McNeil did with Scott himself.

Beck is continuing to open up and talk in the wake of the release of Morning Phase, and FILTER did a great piece on him.  We learn for instance that unfortunately there were a couple of albums that were lost, so we were never able to hear the original followups to Odelay and Sea Change as they were intended.  We also get some insight into his creative process over the years, like how old ideas are shaped into new songs.  And we also get a bit more information about the planned new album that hopefully will be released by the end of the year.

Finally, there’s a lot for all the Cloud Nothings fans out there.  We’re eagerly anticipating the release of Here and Nowhere Else next week, but apparently that’s not the only new music we’ll be hearing from Dylan Baldi.  Cloud Nothings and Wavves decided to collaborate, and it looks like we may soon hear the fruits of their labor (with the additional help of Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend as well, it seems).  The band also gave a quick description of their early shows to Clash Magazine, who interviewed several artists including Los Campesinos! about their first gigs.  And finally, Pitchfork did an extensive profile of the band, which should have you fully prepared for their release on Tuesday.

In Remembrance of Scott Asheton

There was some sad news from this weekend, when it was announced that Scott Asheton, the drummer for the legendary punk band The Stooges, had died.   Rock critics tend to get more specific when discussing The Stooges, christening their music as “proto-punk”, since their style laid the groundwork for the full-fledged punk movement a few years later.  Today, this distinction may not hold as much weight with today’s audiences, simply because the line between proto-punk and punk has been blurred so much that it makes little sense to differentiate between them.  That in and of itself is proof of the amazing influence that the band had.

Scott Asheton’s pummeling drumwork was a fixture of those early Stooges records, and all three of them are certifiable classics.  Here’s a quick glance at those landmark records:

– From their John Cale-produced debut album, The Stooges, “I Wanna Be Your Dog”.  It’s driving and relentless, and is pretty much the sound of impending doom.  It’s the perfect soundtrack for the apocalypse.

One of the key aspects of the sound of The Stooges was their ability to maintain a groove, and that was driven by the drums.  It’s in this “groove” that you can hear the connection between the older R&B sound and the proto-punk that was the hallmark of The Stooges.  Asheton’s drumming helped prevent the band from becoming untethered and out of control (except in cases like “We Will Fall” where drifting away was completely intentional), as he alternately swung and pushed the beat.  “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is a perfect example of the mix of these two styles. The drumming pattern is predominantly a bouncy rhythm through most of each line, contrasting with the insistent piano line and sleigh bells on each eighth note beat (provided by John Cale).  Asheton switches the pattern in the last measure of each phrase, away from a shuffle to a more straight-ahead pattern where he emphasizes the last two beats with snare hits.  This gives the combination of both groove and propulsion, a push-and-pull that keeps the tension alive in the song.

– From their followup, Fun House, “T.V. Eye”.  The album may be even grittier than its predecessor, and the added psychedelic touches make it a real trip.  I have no idea what this song is about, but fuck yeah does it rock.

Asheton’s drumming in this song abandons groove and focuses solely on pushing the beat, with snare hits on every single one.  You can hear the roots of early-80’s hardcore punk with this track, as you will hear this pattern on the majority of those songs (though at a few higher beats per minute).  Also, it’s a nifty trick when the band drops out, tricking the audience into thinking the song is over, before the guitar riff kicks in again.  As you hear Asheton come back in with those double-sticked snare hits, it just begs the listener to start clapping or smacking something in line with the beat.

– From their third album, Raw Power, “Search and Destroy”.  The band shuffled the lineup a little bit (and the band is credited as “Iggy and The Stooges”), but Scott Asheton was a constant behind the kit for this one.  The band tightened up their sound a bit for this one, and I don’t know if there are many opening lines that are better than “I’m a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.”

“Search and Destroy” is a brilliant amalgamation of the two drumming styles previously highlighted.  Asheton alternates between sections of bouncy patterns and quarter-note hits, with plenty of awesome fills in between that are in the brink of going out of control, but reign the band back in with each section.

It’s always a great idea to rock out to The Stooges, even in sad circumstances such as these.  And if you’re new to the band, hopefully this is the kick you need to get down to the record store and pick up these brilliant albums.