Monday, October 30, 2006

An independent barbershop choir I'd really like to hear? Well, naturally, you'd need Stephin Merritt's baritone and Sufjan Stephens tenor... and maybe Jonsi Birgisson of Sigur Ros as a soprano? I'm not sure who the fourth member would be, but I'd buy a ticket.

Sufjan Stevens - She is (Tim Buckley Cover)
Sigur Ros - pop song #8

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Musical Quark: Overdub v. Collaboration

When you consider the great musical collaborations in the past, you have to include Lennon/McCartney (poor George, everybody loves George). On the one hand, you have Paul, the poet, the sensitive thinker; on the other, John the innovator, the visionary. And when you read stories about the studio experimentation of John Lennon and George Martin, you have to be impressed also with that collaboration also. I mean, you ahve to, it's the Beatles, right? Believe me, this intro is going somewhere, by the way. One of the studio techniques Lennon used to the point where it defines the sound of his voice is double-tracked vocals. His voice would be recorded for the same part twice, and the two would be overlayed, fooling the ear into hearing a single, disembodied voice.

Collaborating with yourself is fine, but this has long been a pet peeve of mine. Back in the late eighties/early nineties, I loved (loved) the Lemonheads, and during that same time period, started listening to the Throwing Muses more and more. Both bands centred around a collaboration between a main songwriter (Evan Dando and Kirsten Hirsch, respectively) and another songwriter who, though contributing fewer songs, could just blow me away (Ben Deilly and Tanya Donnelly). Well, the years passed, and I started to appreciate Kirsten Hirsch more, listened to far too many Belly albums, and really miss Ben Deilly. Evan Dando? Well, enough about Evan Dando, already. I really like the new songs, actually, much as I'd prefer not to, and sure, maybe Syd Barrett was the real Pink Floyd (I've seen the movie, I know it was Bob Geldof).

Which brings me to my pet peeve. When a singer starts recording his/her own overdubs, even though there is no possible way he/she can sing backup for him/herself live, it pisses me off. There, I've said it. Felt good, too.

The "Lemonheads(/Dinosaur jr. jr.)" - No Backbone

Monday, October 16, 2006

Musical Quark: Familiarity

Yo La Tengo's 10th album, I'm Not Afraid of You, and I WILL Beat your Ass (or as I tend to think of it, I'm going to give you an ass-beating at One) begines with a tour de force of noise in "Pass the Hatchet...", an intensity which maintained in a variety of forms through-out the album. Listening to the song "The Room Got Heavy," I am reminded of the Wire song "Eardrum Buzz" from 1989's "live" album It's Beginning To And Back Again. Is the similarity intentional? Probably not, but still, YLT and Wire are both bands known as much for the influence they wield as for their own personal successes, both are innovators and mercurialists, pushing punk into poppiness and poppiness into punk. "Eardrum Buzz" arrived at a time when the critical hype around Wire had lost its lustre, and the song went on to become their most successful (and arguably most memorable) single. As for Yo La Tengo, they have clearly adopted (or are putting on) a take no prisoners attitude with this album, which draws comparisons with earlier, edgier work, such as 1997's Ican Hear the Heart Beating as One.

It amazes me that we live in a time when you can turn on the radio and hear songs playing from Echo and the Bunnymen, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, and God-help them, the Lemonheads! I suppose the the cost of hairspray and feathering irons adds up.

Yo La Tengo - The Room got Heavy
Musical Quark: Thievery

Or paying homage... I am so excited that WOXY, the greatest radio station on the planet, is back on the air, and last week's Ben Kweller session was amazing. And lots of people have written good things about Ben Kweller recently, which is fab. Every time I hear "Penny on the Train Track," I find myself listening for one really specific moment in the song, after he sings "Pick up that guitar, and play, play, play that rock and roll for me..." and then proceeds to play a little bit of stolen, what is that, "Road Runner," or "Johnny Be Good"? In any case, the guitar part is about as rock and roll as they come at this moment in the song. Even moreso in the live version, and I can't wait until the WOXY live acts are back up.

Ben Kweller - Penny on the Train Track

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kurt Cagle's posts from AJAX World Conference (Courtesy of O'Reilly):
Thanks Kurt!