Archive for September, 2007

The Grubby Music Blog – The Beatles pt. 2- Because

September 27th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Why am I so crazy about the Beatles? Why is it that people are able to connect so well with the Beatles and their music? There’s many reasons.
One thing I’ve noticed which distinguishes The Beatles’ music and lyrics from that of many other artists is it’s directness. No doubt, the melodies and chords are fucking brilliant but it’s how in so many songs Lennon and McCartney (and occasionally George) are able to write so purely, honestly and perfectly. It became aparent while I was watching Across the Universe that The Beatles have songs for everything. Just about every feeling, situation and big idea is communicated in their music – and if not, it can be found.

You want to talk politics? Check out Lennon’s “Revolution”, Harrison’s “Taxman” or McCartney’s “Blackbird”.Lennon’s solo carreer also had “Give Peace a Chance”, “Imagine” and many more.

You want to talk emotion? Don’t even get started on love! You’ve got “All You Need Is Love”, “Girl”, “She Loves You” and a gazillion others (personal pick= “If I Fell”). Breakups? Check out “For No One”, “Yesterday”, “I’m Looking Through You” (personal pick=”I’m A Loser”). Pain? How about Lennon’s song for his mother, “Julia”, or “You’ve got to Hide your Love Away” or “It’s Only Love”.

Philosophy? Try George Harrison’s “Within You, Without You” or Lennon’s “Tomorow Never Knows” (personal pick = “Strawberry Fields”).

That just barely scratches the surface! They have so many songs, so many ideas and feelings, it’s mindboggling.

I’ve got a very personal connection with a couple songs…

Nowhere Man: For a long time I felt like I was the Nowhere Man for sure. The line that got me was “making all his nowhere plans for nobody”. I was like “yes! I do do that!”. I always play out everything in my head, thinking “It’ll be like this” or “I know what I’ll do. I’ll do this and then this will happen and their reaction will be this…” and I would just make all these plans and nothing would ever happen – at least not like it was supposed to. At this point I feel like if I can imagine it then I know exactly what won’t happen. Another line that got me was “you don’t know what your missing”. A big issue in my life is this feeling that I’m missing out on something. At age 12 or 13 or something I felt so pissed off because my parents were so tight, I like never went anywhere alone or did anything really exciting. I was so pissed off and that resentment lingers on until today. I didn’t want to be the nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land, making all these nowhere plans for nobody…but that was me…

Eleanor Rigby: “IIIIIII look at all the lonely people”. That’s how that song begins and that’s the line the stuck with me from the moment I heard it until this moment today. Loneliness, another big theme in my life. The feeling of not being able to connect to people. Not being able to fit in. Where do we all belong? This was one of the first songs which displayed Paul’s exquisite ability to observe characters. I feel like as the Beatles grew and matured, John’s writing became more introverted and dealt with his own emotions as well as universal, fundamental issues while Paul’s dealt more with people, characters, situations. Paul could emphasize well, he would write more about people, places, etc. like a Paperback novel Writer (wink wink). He’s got Penny Lane, Lady Madonna, Eleanor Rigby, Lovely Rita, She’s Leaving Home, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and many more which are sort of like short story songs about characters and their stories. I always related more to Lennon’s introverted lyrics but every now and then Paul’s observations catch my attention in a big way.

I’m A Loser: This is the first song in which Lennon reveals that his tough guy facade really hides beneath it a sensitive, emotional and damaged soul. If anyone read my post about Lou Reed they’ll realize that he had the same psychological deal. If anyone knows me pretty well they might see why I can relate to this. Alot of people see me and my dreadlocks and shit and they think I look scary. I have been told that I’m scary so many fucking times man, it’s just annoying. People who know me well know that 1. I’m a fucking hippie, it’s unlikely I’m going to fight you, let alone do anything of which you should be afraid. Another thing about this song I can relate to is that in it Lennon has “lost someone who’s dear to” him. I doubt there’s too many people who cannot relate to losing someone dear to them. Through death or through time. It just sucks to “lose” someone who’s close to you…

These are just some of the Beatle’s songs that I’m closest too but I feel like it’s just the way that they write that’s so amazing. It’s so direct. When people listen to songs they rarely listen to the lyrics, right? I do it all the time. I listened to the TV on the Radio album Return to Cookie Mountain today and I have no idea what any of it’s about. I hear the lyrics, I can sing some of them to you but with 99% of the songs I couldn’t tell you the main point. With The Beatles (and Bob Dylan), it’s like you CAN’T ignore the lyrics. They will find you! THEY WILL MAKE YOU HEAR THEM! Even when Lennon’s writing became avant-garde-like and very poetic in the later period of the Beatles, his way with words and his ability to convey emotion and ideas is ridiculous. Think about a song like “In My Life” which deals with such huge emotional ideas and yet it’s so simple, so direct and easy to understand. It doesn’t take a fucking PHD to desipher, it’s all just there. “In myyyyy life…I’ve loved them all….”. How bout A Day in the Life? Alot more subtle in meaning (if there really is a “meaning” in the common sense of the word) but still just as powerful. Conveying feelings and ideas effortlessly. It’s as if Lennon has a magic wand which he swings and perfect, pure feeling and emotion is transferred into mathematically astounding poetry.
Ok, I’ve written too much already and with the Beatles I could go on forever…and I might…but I’ll stop for now until the next post…

The Grubby Music Blog – Band Of The Week

September 27th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Don’t worry, more Beatles posts are coming…I know your all so anxious to read those (groan)…anyways… I was surfing the internets this week and was reading about my favorite scene which is social and broken. I was reading an old pitchfork review of You Forgot it in People in which the album got a 9.2. That review may have made BSS. Call me crazy but I’ve said it before, the Pitchforks got power. Anyways, I was reading over it and there’s this line…”Some of the best records ever have been ones that put these two seemingly disparate elements together– and you can go as recent as The Notwist’s Neon Golden or as far back as Sgt. Pepper’s (and probably farther, if you want).” I noticed that some band that I’ve never heard of was mentioned in the same sentence as Sgt. Peppers. I had no choice but to check them out. Thankfully, I do not have to blow my moptop because the album really is a masterpeice. This week’s band of the week is…

THE NOTWIST

Hailing from Germania (also known as Germany to those not on crack), this band has been around for well over a decade but never really broke through that big on this side of the sea. The album though, Neon Golden, did get alot of attention from hipsters when it came out back in 2002. After listening to it, everything makes sense. It’s a fantastic album, but sublte as fuck, something hipsters loooove. It’s that album that you listen to twenty times and know that you still need to listen to it more to fully appreciate it. Who else does that sound like? Radiohead of course.

Neon Golden sounds like a Radiohead album that Radiohead never made. What makes Radiohead albums as awesome as they are is all present here and very obviously at that. The production and arrangements are of course genius. Everything is in it’s right place. It is meticulous as fuck. Strings, banjos, keyboards, synths, beats, bloops, electronics, etc. whatever it takes to make it sound exactly the way it should is there. The sonic pallette knows no bounds and yet the album no doubt has a very distinct feel.

It feels like a friend of Kid A. Just as depressed. Just as thoughtful. Slightly less electronic though. But only slightly. Singer Markus Acher never sounds as wisked away as Thom Yorke. His passion is very, very subtle. He’s like that guy in that movie, after his mom has died. He’s a little quiet, shocked. Still there. Still himself. Not crazy or anything. Just…ynow…feeling a little down and mellow.

The whole album actually feels alot like a rainy day. It’s just pouring outside. There’s no thunder. Nothing is happening. The streets are empty. You look out the window and you see the leaves bouncing lazily. It’s a little depressing. A bit beautiful. Whatever.

The Grubby Music Blog – The Beatles pt. 3 – Maybe I’m Amazed

September 27th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The Beatles are the greatest band ever. Maybe you like another bands music more, maybe you think that Floyd made better albums, I don’t care. One thing in undebatable: The lasting effect they have had on music is astronomical. The only comparable force is Bob Dylan, but he’s not a band, per se. In this entry I’m just going to look at why the Beatles are so mind bogglingly amazing. The reasons are really too numerous to cover in one post, nay, a million-gazillion posts. Even so, here’s one great reason why I like to tell people that when it’s The Beatles vs. Logic = the beatles will fucking pwn.

The White Album

The White Album is not everyone’s favorite Beatles album. In fact, it’s not mine. Most people would say that their greatest is Revolver or Sgt. Peppers or Abbey Road, which I would agree with; my favorite is Sgt. Peppers. The White Album amazes me the most, not entirely because of the music but because of the context of the album.

1967: Sgt. Peppers is released and nearly unanimously hailed as a masterpeice. Many call it the greatest album ever created. Many claim that it still holds that title to this day. I agree. So, you’re The Beatles, you’ve just created the greatest album of all time…what now? If your next album is anything less than the new greatest album of all time it’ll be called a failure and everyone will be disapointed in you. What do you do? Only one thing you can do. And The Beatles fucking did it.

You release A DOUBLE ALBUM. You can’t make an album thats better, you gotta do something completely new. They made the Magical Mystery Tour movie, their one and only failure, but it was the right failure to make. They had to make a movie after Sgt. Peppers. Their creativity had to blossom to mutant-like proportions because THEY ARE THE FUCKING BEATLES. So they made the movie and then they wrote tons of songs while meditating in India. And these songs of course include classics like “Dear Prudence”, “Revolution”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Blackbird”. They’re a step in a new direction, abandoning psychedelia nearly entirely, yet they don’t feel like an awkward new start. It feels like a perfect step forward even after getting further than any band had ever come before.

Now the thing that amazes me most: The Cover.

Sgt. Pepper has one of the most recognizable and distinct covers in album cover history. Possibly surpassed in classic-ness only by the The Dark Side of the Moon cover. It is filled with faces, items, COLOURS!!! So many fucking colours and many believe it’s filled with tons of clues and meaning. And it is. You can find so much meaning in it. It symbolizes what the Beatles were striving for. On the cover are pictures of Einstein, Dylan, Monroe, Gandhi, Lawrence (of Arabia), Brando and like 30 other important people. It symbolizes the Beatles as a culmination of all art, history, ideas and philosophy. They want to be EVERYTHING. They want to do EVERYTHING. The cover is implosively-explosive.

The White Album cover is white and it says “The Beatles” in the corner. It is perfect. A perfect artistic statement. This is the Beatles’ blank slate. They’ve made the greatest album in history, now they’re going to keep making awesome albums. They’ll be different, and they have to be. The Beatles never look back. Like Dylan, as artists, they push forward. Trying out new ideas, finding new sounds, constantly blooming. So clear your minds. Whatever your expectations are, the Beatles will raise you and kick you mind-ass because that’s what they do. Logic, go fuck yourself. Your dealing with The Beatles.

The Grubby Music Blog – Lost Masterpeices

September 27th, 2007 | Features | 0 Comments

So, as we all know, over the course of rock history many albums have proven themselves to be more equal than others. Many albums have become regarded as Masterpeices: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Blonde On Blonde, Pet Sounds, Rumours, Born To Run, Ziggy Stardust, London Calling, Exile On Mainstreet, Dark Side Of The Moon, etc. These are all masterpeices which are well known and well respected. However, life isnt fair and not all masterpeices get their due. Here’s a couple of my favorite albums that time has all but forgotten:

Alexander “Skip” Spence – Oar

This haunting album was created by the incredibly talented (and doomed) artist Skip Spence. He was somehow connected to Quicksilver Messenger Service, got kicked out of Jefferson Airplane and played guitar in the also-underrated Moby Grape. All these were late 60’s San-Fran Bay Area bands (which you may have realized if you know your shit). Unfortunately Skip was a little sketch and went at a band member with an axe. Around this time he was kicked out of Moby Grape due to his irratic behaviour. He spent some time in a mental institution. After getting out, his record company gave him some money to record a solo album. He used the money to buy a motorcycle and ride to Nashville where he got some studio time to record this album which would be his last…The album is folksy, trippy, countryish at times. The whole thing sounds very similar in feel to Syd Barret‘s albums except maybe a little darker, less whimsical. Songs like “Little Hands” and “War in Peace” sound trippy as hell. And awesome. Songs like “Diana” and “All Come To Meet Her” are gorgeous in their honesty and surreal atmosphere. The countryesque songs sound like Johnny Cash if he took a lot acid and then became really quiet and introspective. Every aspect of the album is Skip Spence. He played the drums, guitars, bass, sang, produced, etc. You can tell he’s not the greatest at any of the aforementioned things but he is an amazing artist and he uses everything in very interesting ways. This is one of my all time favorite albums. It has been championed by Beck and Robert Plant among other notable persons. It’s pretty hard to find though so…goood luck with that, try and download it maybe if you can.

http://www.myspace.com/apageforalexanderspence

Further Listening: Moby Grape – Moby Grape

Chris Bell – I Am The Cosmos

I know it’s not the first time I’ve written about my beloved Chris Bell but the guy more than deserves mention. Who wrote That 70’s Show’s theme song? Not Cheap Trick (they covered it), but Big Star (more on them later), more specifically, Chris Bell. After exiting Big Star, Chris drifted around writing, recording, playing, trying to land a record to deal to no avail. The poor guy had so much talent but no luck. He was depressed and tried to commit suicide twice. The album “I am the Cosmos” came out in 1992; Chris died in 1978. The songs on the album are gorgeous. The title song is heartbreaking with amazing vocals. The album’s other masterpeice is “You and Your Sister” which features Alex Chilton (of Big Star) on backup vocals. It’s an acoustic song which is so simple and yet ridiculously affecting. It can bring a person to tears. “Years will soon fade away/smile now, don’t be afraid”. The songs on the album are about the frustration of love, religion and life. It’s an amazing and heartbreaking album. Please listen to some of this masterpeice if you can.

http://www.myspace.com/bigstarchris

Further Listening: Big Star – #1 Record

Gene Clark – No Other

Gene Clark is best known for being an original member of The Byrds. He wrote their early hit “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” and the bulk of their first two albums. He then left to pursue what at the time seemed a hopeful solo carreer – unfortunately, such was not the case. This album is probably the best of his solo carreer which actually yielded many incredible albums and songs. After leaving The Byrds, he started writing songs that were much more alt-country than folk and his lyrics became dense and dylanesque. This fantastic album, with soaring songs like “Life’s Greatest Fool”, “Some Misunderstand” and “The True One” as well as interesting, darker songs like the title track and “Silver Raven” is an absolute gem. The production is brilliant, incorporating 70’s synths, backup singers, pedal steels and an array of interesting effects which are always used appropriately. This album is also damn near impossible to find, try downloading it if you can, its great. Poor Gene Clark, there really was no other like you. Gene Clark was immortalized in the song of his name, sung by¬†Teenage Fanclub on the album Thirteen.

http://www.myspace.com/geneclark

Further Listening: Gene Clark – White Light

Nico – The End

Most people know Nico from her brief stint as The Velvet Underground‘s “chanteuse” on the classic “The Velvet Underground and Nico”, but Nico actually had a fantasticly productive solo carreer. Many of her albums were produced by Velvet Underground bandmember John Cale. I know critics always go apeshit over The Marble Index (not the band you idiots, the album) but I think The End is probably my favorite Nico album. Desertshore’s pretty close though…The End, named in tribute to Jim Morrison (with whom Nico messed around with) is nearly as dark and ridiculously depressing as The Marble Index except the songs don’t all the sound exactly the same. The greatest thing about Nico‘s albums is the atmosphere they have. It’s incredible. The songs don’t have like…rythm. It’s more like a swirling arrangements of weird, haunting, carnivalesque sounds which cascade around Nico’s chilling vocals. Listening to her is like entering a place that your not sure you want to stay in too long…but while your there, it’s undeniably intriguing. Her lyrics are strange and poetic. Phrases will stick out and stick with you. Strangely, I find the music very listenable as the melodies are strong and sometimes everything comes together for moments of amazing beauty. Her cover of “The End” is great, completely different from the original though. She ends with a cover of the German (her sort of home-country, er ancestral home…) anthem. It’s purpose is the same as that of Jimi Hendrix‘s cover of the American anthem at Woodstock.

http://www.myspace.com/imnotsaying

Further listening:

The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground and Nico

Nico – Desertshore

Big Star – Third/Sister Lovers

Another one of my favorite albums. This album began really awkwardly, with Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens as the only remaining original members just recording a bunch of songs with other session people. It came out three years after being completed to absolutely no notice. Alex Chilton was going through a really weird period at this point in his life. Post-Big Star he made some albums which some consider disasters, others consider masterpeices. Many consider him a sort of wasted potential. He did however go on to produce The Cramps, which is probably his most important post Big Star accomplishment. On Third/Sister Lovers, he writes some shining pop songs like “Oh Dana” and “Thank You Friends” as well as haunting songs like “Holocaust” and ” Big Black Car”. My favorite song is the string-laden closer “Take Care”. “Take Care, please take care” Alex Chilton sings in his fragile voice, maybe to himself… The album is a mess but it’s got a pull like monster tide. I love it.

http://www.myspace.com/bigstarband

Further listening: Big Star – Radio City

Animal Collective

September 27th, 2007 | Features | 0 Comments

I’m really just doing this to keep myself busy, stop thinking about depressing shit. Aaag, I’m going nuts. Luckily, there’s great music to accompany my descent into madness. For instance, this week’s band of the week:

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE!!!

In case you suck and don’t know Animal Collective, they fucking rock. They’ve been around for a while. They started by just making weird sounds and shit but somehow along the way become indie-pop-psych-rock-geniuses. So just a bit ago AC member Panda Bear came out with the brilliant solo album Person Pitch but now the collective is releasing another album (called Strawberry Jam, yum!)and it is also brilliant, undoubtedly as good if not better than their last masterpeice, Feels. They’re super experimental and use all kinds of sqonky and sploonky electronic sounds to make listening to them a fantastic experience in fucking superduper technicolour. They also sound so happy and exciting, it’s incredible. This band has become one of my favorites and the new album is likely to go pretty high into my good books. Check them out yesterday for a totally awesome mindfuck.

http://www.myspace.com/animalcollectivetheband

Photo courtesy of Clash Music