Archive for November, 2009

Nietzsche Was An 80’s Punk Rocker (And Would’ve Totally Dug The JAMC)

November 30th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Okay, so I’m not really a Nietzsche scholar or anything, but this thing isn’t about Nietzsche really, it’s about why us damn kids are so crazy about all this “noise-pop” stuff. You might say, “well, that’s not really punk”, but it came out of punk and it’s all very up to debate. Was the Velvet Underground punk? Well, they definitely laid the groundwork for punk. The Ramones supposedly invented it, and what did they do other than write snappy girl group/Spector-esque pop songs and play them hard and fast. In 1985, The Jesus And Mary Chain released Psychocandy, on which they wrote snappy girl group/Spector-esque pop songs but played them really slow and softly but with a shit load of feedback. That’s kind of like out-punking punk. And that is soooo punk. So now that that’s established, here’s the deal…

Nietzsche had this idea that the human constitution was made up of a Dionysian element and an Apollonian element. The Dionysian element is what makes us want to fuck and drink and party and shit. It’s like our id, and I’m also going to throw in (perhaps injustly so) our “death drive”, which Freud believes was this drive that humans have which makes us inclined to destruction and aggression. The Apollonian element is what makes us want order, unity, cohesion, form and such. It’s like our superego and our eros drive (opposite of the death drive, makes us like all the Apollonian things, eg. order, cohesion). So every human being has these two elements within them, although some constitutions lean more to one element than the other. If they do this to the extreme though, it’s not good, as someone overtaken by their Dionysian element is just going to go nuts and end up killing themself, though they might have a lot of fun in the process, while someone who’s overly Apollonian is just going to go nuts because they’d be like OCD and they’d never have any fun.
Pretty much all art falls within these terms as well, though we refer to them differenty, eg. hard rock vs. soft rock, classical period vs. romantic period, metal vs. twee, etc. So what’s the deal with noise-pop? Well, noise-pop (and one could extend this to classic punk-rock, shoegazer and maybe even grunge) is interesting because it manages to be both things at once. It’s very Apollonian in that it’s tightly and simply constructed with sharp melodies and hooks. True, metal and emo are tightly constructed, but they’re still Dionysian because of the aggression of the music, while much of noise-pop isn’t played aggressively, but calmly, composedly. However, by smothering everything in feedback, it’s at the same time hard, aggressive and Dionysian.
See, feedback can be seen as sonically embodying the Dionysian, in that the gain created by it is kind of like sound gone wild. (I checked out the science behind this and it didn’t really help my point, so…yeah…) It makes tones sound dangerous and aggressive and it envelopes them with this kind of white noise.
I remember this idea came to me once while I was in an, uh, altered state of mind. I remember wanting to just bury my mind in noise; to reach a kind of nirvana (mental state of peace and nothingness) by blocking out all thought with just pure noise. When I came out of it, this idea of reaching nirvana through noise still seemed quite a sensible idea. This kind of ties into the idea of the “death drive” because that white noise was kind of an obliteration of the senses. It was a void of chaos, and I think something about it was attractive to my “death drive”.
The Jesus and Mary Chain were really the first ones to go all out with this idea of noise-pop. Sure the Velvet Underground had noisy songs and poppy songs and sometimes the two intermingled (especially on my favorite VU album, White Light/White Heat), but The JAMC perfected this idea. And what’s cool about what they and subsequent noisepoppers like Dinosaur Jr. and My Bloody Valentine did is that they didn’t find some kind of point of moderation between the Apollonian/Dionysian, but rather, they were both at the same time and to the extreme. If you don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, then download My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy, Dinosaur Jr.’s Beyond and Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation and then you’ll figure it out. It’s just such a shame Nietzsche was never around to hear them…
(btw, if you think what I’ve written is wrong, juvenile, and misinterprets the philosophies of those referenced, please comment with your argument, as I’d be very interested in learning if I’ve got something wrong here.)
[dailymotion id=x269lp&related=0]

Beach House

November 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week is a popular indie band with a haunting, minimalist sound. They came seemingly out of nowhere with no hype or anything in 2006 and subtly overnight became a major name in indie rock. A healthy dosage of Pitchfork and blog-love didn’t hurt either, and now, according to Wikipedia, this band is cited by MGMT and Grizzly Bear’s Ed Drost as their favorite band. This week’s band of the week is…

The guitar-organ duo of Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand is the kind of band that might have been relegated to obscurity in the years before the blogosphere came to power, but in 2009, they’re just the type of headphone-bliss band hipsters eat right up. And deservedly so: the band’s beautiful melancholic melodies and hazy atmospheric sound are instantly recognizable and just plain great. Admittedly, I’d lodge the complaint that at times, because of their sparse arrangement perhaps, their songs can be hard to tell apart, but even so, it’s hard to complain when the songs are as good as they are.
And sign of the times, bitches – because of the friendly communal sphere that the world of indie rock has apparently become, the band’s moody siren-voiced female vocalist Victoria Legrand has gotten so far as the soundtrack of Twilight: New Moon on which she guested with Grizzly Bear on “Slow Life”. She also appeared on the Grizzly Bear song (and Veckatimest highlight) “Two Weeks”.
The band’s first album, 2006’s Beach House, was a strong collection of songs, bested by 2008’s Devotion, which essentially was a slightly better collection of songs with slightly better production values. The group’s latest, 2010’s Teen Dream, comes out in January, but like most albums these days, it’s already leaked. How is it? Pretty much just like what’s come before but maybe a little bigger, more ambitious and still very, very good. This is one beach house well worth spending time in.
Buy “Devotion” on vinyl here.

Shout out: Why Write?

November 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Why Write? is a new musical project of Danish singer/songwriter Jacob Faurholt, who’s resume includes an album with the now-disbanded Sweetie Pie Wilber, as well as two solo albums: 2007’s Hurrah Hurrah and 2009’s Are You In The Mood For Love?. His latest EP, apparently self-titled, is 5 songs of a kind of scruffy indie-pop somewhere between 80’s British Indie-Rock and modern Jonathan Richmond-idealizing Swedish indie-pop, characterized by Faurholt’s untrained vocals and enigmatic but homey lyrics. And yeah, it’s good stuff.

The EP was released on the Candian What A Mess Label last week and was mixed by KRAMER, the dude who mixed albums by Galaxie 500, Low and Daniel Johnston. Check out the video for the song “Burning Holes” below.


Thoughts On Providence In The History Of The Beatles

November 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

I was playing Beatles Rock Band with my brother the other day, and again I was led to thinking about just how incredible the story of The Beatles is. If anyone has every played the game, or seen Rain (the Beatles cover band), The Beatles Anthology DVD set or even The Ruttles, you know that the story of The Beatles is so beautifully clear, so full of ideas, fundamentally human conflicts, so grand and eloquent, divided up into their Hamburg days, early Beatlemania and the Ed Sullivan show period, their psychedelic period and their bearded Abby Road/Let It Be final chapter, that it’s nearly Shakesperian or Biblical.

In fact, it’s too perfect. The characters are too beautifully drawn, the conflicts too fundamentally human, the accomplishments too incredible and in-diminishable. Fuck, I’ve often said that when one poses the challenge of The Beatles vs. Logic, somehow The Beatles win nearly every time.
How is it possible that the band could contain not one, but three of the greatest songwriters of all time, who all both with the band and after it, would write some of the most indisputable classics of the 20th century?
How is it possible that when the band was considered merely a couple cute boys with some catchy tunes that the girls liked, they could quickly pump out the blockbuster A Hard Days Night and have it be so great and classic a film as to be named by Time-fucking-Magazine one of the top 100 movies of all time? Imagine The Jonas Brothers releasing a movie next week that everyone agreed was a kick-ass movie with great music: that’s what odds we’re talking about here…kind of.
Can you imagine people getting organized today to burn Jonas Brothers albums because one of them said that they were “bigger than Jesus”?
How is it possible that after the band made Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – which even at the time of its release was widely considered the greatest album of all time – they could follow it up so perfectly with a double album with a literally blank slate as a cover and fill it with such great music as to not disappoint anyone?
How is it possible that, to fulfill a contractual obligation, The Beatles basically simply consented to have the animated Yellow Submarine made, had fuck all to do with the film, which was supposedly marketed to children, who are rarely taken seriously as an audience in terms of the quality of movies (unless you happen to work at Pixar) – and then it turns out to be a totally kick-ass classic, so great that Disney is remaking it in 3D with Back To The Future-director Robert Zemeckis! (Note: asides from the entire Star Wars saga, Yellow Submarine is my favorite all-time movie.)
And how could they make such great music that could be so popular for over 40 years across at least three generations!? No other band or artist can even compare, not Elvis, not Sinatra, not Dylan, nobody.
And people always talk about how the mainstream for some reason has to like the most gawdful shit and only some kind of intellectual elite or some bullshit can like good music. As if there’s some kind of law that confirms William Blake’s belief that, What is grand is necessarily obscure to weak men. That which can be made explicit to the idiot is not worth my care.” The Beatles proved that statement wrong, as the most schooled and brilliant musicians and critics, as well the most clueless and uncultured, had no problem appreciating The Beatles just the same. They proved that great art and commerce need not be mutually exclusive.

It’s too much to just accept as pure chance, as just random coincidence or something. In the story, the sheer greatness of it all, one has to see some kind of providence at work. There appears in their history a mark of Hegel’s weltgeist, the “world spirit” that guides history which acts through great men. Hegel used Napolean as a good example, and in the 20th century there were a number of great (and not so great) men who acted as vessels for that “world spirit”, but what’s amazing is that The Beatles, a pop band, should be counted among them, most of whom were politicians, rulers, activists, spiritual leaders, etc.
But it’s true: The Beatles were all of t
he above. Just think of how many people were changed by the music of The Bealtles, by the messages they expressed.
Imagine how many people began exploring Eastern spirituality – things like meditation, yoga; all of which are totally commonplace today – simply because they were reading about The Beatles hanging with the Maharisha and doing it. Simply because they heard George Harrison singing songs like “Within You, Without You” and “Love You Too” and thought, “Hey, that sounds interesting, I’m going to look into that.”
Imagine how many people started caring about bringing about world peace simply because John Lennon and Yoko Ono sat in a hotel bed for a couple days and called it a protest for peace. It probably accomplished far more than 99% of peace protests actually do!
Imagine how many people starting “opening up their mind” with hallucinogenics simply because they wanted to be able to understand what how The Beatles could arrive at such incredible sounds and visions as they did on albums like Revolver, Sgt. Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour.
Imagine how many people saw and heard The Beatles and thought, “That’s what I want to do. I want to be a musician or an artist.” I know I’m one of them.
It’s huge. The influence they had on the entire world in terms of all those things – politics, spirituality, life choices – made a huge difference, one couldn’t even legitimately study the 20th century without studying The Beatles and the role they played in shaping it.
Just think about how amazing and insane all of this is. Because it is. Seriously. Insane because a pop group that started off by writing songs about girls could have such an effect on human history. Amazing because it shows the power that art can have.

Awesome Album Covers!

November 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

“That’s an interesting umb…uh…where is your head?”

My One True Love…

November 24th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

As all those who read my blog/follow me on Twitter/stalk me on Facebook/talk to me in RL know, this week hasn’t been the best week of my life. But I just want to say thank you to the only one who’s stuck with me through the hard times, the good times, the ups, the downs, the turnarounds, and such and such. That’s right. I’m talking, of course, about my iPhone.
When I was sad or angry, my iPhone sang to me.
When I needed to talk to a kind friend, my iPhone was there for me.

When I was lost, my iPhone’s Mapquest feature guided me and told me how long it would take to get where I was going.
When I needed a chai tea to calm my sore throat, my iPhone made it for me.
When I forgot to get my little brother a birthday present, my iPhone ran over to Toys R’ Us, picked him up Medal Of Honor: Heroes 2 for Wii and made a card for him saying it was from me.
When I fell asleep while finishing up my English paper, due the next day and worth %100 of my grade, my iPhone tucked me into bed and finished it for me. I got an A.

And it bought me a book about Richard Branson.
I love you, iPhone…

Rise Above Playlist

November 23rd, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This has been an incredibly shitty week for me. I’m not going to go into detail but a lot of shitty things happened and I’m still not sure if the dust has settled…I still haven’t gotten fired from my job so…let’s hope that doesn’t happen now also just to round it all out…

Was it my fault that all this shit happened to me? Kind of tough to say – sometimes things just happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. Regardless, when bad shit happens, you can either sit around and mope, or you can rise above, get back on that horse and keep fighting the good fight.
Also, whenever shit is tough and you feel like a total loser, just think about all kinds of people who you admire and all the shit they had to pull through.
Orson Welles may be considered a super genius now, but Citizen Kane nearly didn’t even get released, and when it did, it was the farthest thing from a success.
Judd Apatow, my fucking idol, had to sit and watch as networks cancelled Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared before being adored for movies like 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall and watching all the kids he gave parts to 1o years ago become Hollywood’s current comedy elite.
None of the Velvet Underground or The Stooges’ albums sold much in their day and it was only years later that David Bowie made legitimate rock stars out of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. By the way, David Bowie struggled for a long time as the one hit wonder with “Space Oddity” before Ziggy Stardust turned him into a star.
So yeah, think about all those guys and all the drugs and drinking they did feeling like shit about themselves between becoming legends and huge successes. And if you need a little something extra, here’s a short playlist of songs about rising above and overcoming all the bullshit people will throw at you on your way to anywhere worth going.
1. Black Flag – Rise Above
2. Modest Mouse – Float On
3. The Who – The Dirty Jobs
4. The Velvet Underground – Head Held High
5. Sly And The Family Stone – You Can Make It If You Try
6. MC5 – Over And Over
7. Dirty Projectors – Rise Above
8. Big Star – Thank You, Friends

Rufus Wainwright

November 22nd, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

There’s a lot of great things to say about women, but, for me, this won’t be the week I say much of the sort. That’s why I’m going gay!

…with my artist of the week.
This week’s artist of the week was the spawn of two very successful musicians and his sister happens to be a very successful musician in her own “wright” as well. Not only is he a successful musician, but he’s become a kind of modern gay icon, and has gone so far even as to release a live album tribute to Judy Garland, another performer who somehow, strangely, became a gay icon. I’ve heard the album, by the way, and it is indeed, a gay ol’ time. The artist of the week is…
The son of Loudon Wainright III and Kate McGarrigle, Rufus Wainright played around the Montreal club circuit in his 20s, eventually recording a series of demos that he passed on to his father, who passed them on to Van Dyke Parks, who then passed them on to Lenny Waronker. Waronker would then go on to sign Wainwright to Dreamwork Records. With producer Jon Brion, Wainwright recorded his critically acclaimed self-titled debut, released in 1998.
Since then he’s released five studio albums and even debuted an opera, Prima Donna, at the Palace Theatre in Manchester last July. His music is characterized by ornate, sweeping arrangements often harkening to those of classic Broadway as well as opera, though the later to a lesser extent. The genre term “chamber pop” isn’t uncommonly applied. His voice is instantly recognizable for his slurred, though impeccable, style of singing, as well as it’s nimble range.
As mentioned before, Wainwright has become a kind of gay icon, due to his celebrity and openness regarding his homosexuality. Themes of homosexuality are frequent in his songs and I’ve heard that in concert he’s very, very flamboyant (see above clip). On a side note, he’s a damn good looking guy.
Since I’m going a little gay this week, the elf and I were trying to figure out what are the all time best LGBT movies? Brokeback Mountain, Crying Game, Heavenly Creatures, what else?


November 21st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

For the first couple years of Nickelback’s godforsaken existence, I had a hard time remembering that Chad Kroeger WAS NOT Nicolas Cage’s character in Con Air.

Also, rearrange the letter in “Nicolas Cage” and you get “Nicel Ogaac”. “OGAAC!” of course, also happens to be what people shriek whenever they hear a Nickelback song come on the radio.
Coincidence? I think not…

New Charlotte Gainsbourg/Beck Video Features Album Cover Homages

November 20th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

So, while watching the new Charlotte Gainsbourg/Beck video for “Heaven Can Wait”, one of the video’s many ridiculous images caught my eye.

Charlotte Gainsbourg “Heaven Can Wait” from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

At about 1:40 in the clip, we see Beck at a bar, dressed in a white suit which has been digitally manipulated to contrast with his surroundings, fiddling with a little umbrella in his drink. His head is titled downwards, with his white fedora obstructing his eyes. Homage or not an homage to the cover of Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door?
Then, at 1:48 we see a dude sitting in a white bathtub, filling it up with Pebbles cereal. Could this be an homage to the cover of The Who Sell Out, in which Roger Daltry is seen in a bathtub filling it with beans? Alright, this one is a lot more debatable, but still, it is debatable.
What I think is not debatable, however, is the image at :56 of a person looking in the mirror only to see the back of their head is an homage to Rene Magritte’s Portrait Of Edward James.
Not too mention the entire thing has a vibe very similar to the cover of The Doors album Strange Days.
Anyone see any other homages?