Monday, August 13, 2012

London Calling

Usually these Olympic opening and closing ceremonies are dull, lifeless, bizarre and a waste of time and money.

Thank you, London, for showing the rest of the Olympic host cities how to do it right.  The Who, Freddie Mercury looking as young as ever, Spice Girls looking good, Russell Brand lip syncing his way through a strange performance (would we have him any other way), three people I have never seen or heard before (although I enjoyed their Rolls Royce entrances), George Michael stopping in from the men's locker room to perform Freedom,  Eric Idle singing a song from one of my favorite movies and even Madness of all groups playing Our House (still one of the greats).

A celebration of everything British.  I even spent time educating the boys on who everyone was and who else should have been there (no Stones or Zeppelin, England?  WTF??).

I also can't wait until the boys are old enough to watch my favorite movies with me.  Most are adult oriented (Life of Brian) or a bit too scary (Jaws - although my 12 year old watched it with me a few weeks ago and claimed to have not been traumatized despite his hesitation to go swimming in the ocean a few days later) or violent (Goodfellas, Godfather, French Connection) or long (Bridge Over River Kwai). 

It also provoked this conversation:

If the United States had the same celebration who would we have as musical guests?

Only one definite I would say:  Bruce Springsteen. 

But who else?  Let's keep in mind they still need to be able to perform and epitomize what American music is all about.  Or helped evolve it into what it is now. 

Tentative list that is open for comments and debate:

Bruce Springsteen

Stevie Wonder

Michael Jackson (ala Freddie Mercury.  How about Rockwell performing with a video MJ singing the chorus??)

Run DMC (I would pair them up with the remaining Beastie Boys.  Damn, they should do that anyway!! I would buy that album.)

Madonna (as much as it pains me)


Beach Boys (although after the Grammy's I'm not sure I want to witness that again)

BB King/John Lee Hooker/any other decrepit blues guitarist that can still keep their heads up

The Brady Bunch kids

Fats Domino/Chuck Berry/whoever is still alive from that era

Diana Ross (I'm grasping at straws here)

Green Day (if England can have half of Oasis, we can kick ass with Green Day)

Eminem/Dr Dre/Snoop Dogg

Black Keys

and, of course, Debbie Gibson and/or Tiffany

Who am I missing?  I left Aretha Franklin off because she's in rough shape, but if she could get out there she's a definite.  I would think Mariah, too?  What about Carol King?  Simon and Garfunkel?  Just Simon?  Van Halen (with Roth)?  This conversation could go on for days....

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Musical Notes

It's been a while, so let's do a quick roll call. 

Kos, no longer posting

Bigs, off on his annual summer long bender

Rob, driving around in his cool new car wondering why hot Boston chicks are suddenly smiling at him.

Jum, most likely holed away in his apartment with a month's worth of facial hair while trying to par Pebble Beach on his new Golden Tee.

That leaves me picking up the slack - defined here as not doing anything for over a month.  But hey, don't blame me.  I've been on vacation, hang out with my new work buddies during Cigar Fridays (which doubles as Beer O'Clock, of course) and been balls to the wall at work. 

But I always have time for music.  As should you, even if our tastes don't always merge.  And, believe me, they won't for some of these.  Apologies in advance. 

Hot Water Music - Exister:  Rumor had it these guys were ready to call it quits a few years ago.  Thankfully, they've stuck it out and just released their best music to date.  Nothing fancy with these guys; just solid rock and roll with not a bad song in the bunch. 

Look they have an actual video now, too:  State of Grace

Personally I prefer Drag My Body but you can decide for yourselves. 

Anathema - Weather Systems:  An atmospheric, complex, genre defying, could be great album that will most certainly be on my list for best albums of the year.  You want a beautiful ballad?  Sure.  Want some of the best drumming you'll hear all year?  Got that.  Want hard rock?  Got that, too.  How about all of that in one song?  Why SURE!

The Cribs - In The Belly of the Brazen Bull:  While not on par with 'Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever' it is a major step up from their last release which appeared to be a hail mary attempt at mainstream acceptance.  Frankly, it was terrible.  They get back to what they do best with stripped down garage rock.  Glad to have them back where they belong. 

This is the Cribs I've grown to know and love.  Let's just pretend their fourth album never happened.  Perhaps we should do the same with this bizarre video. 

Fun - Some Nights:  Meh, whatever.  I would link to a song, but I'm sure everyone is very familiar with 'We Are Young' which will go down as this summer's most over played song. 

The Ghosts - The End:   Now we're talking.  If you're looking for danceable pop songs skip Fun and pick up this one.  Very reminiscent of early '80 English bands (lead singer brings to mind the Pet Shop Boys).

Here is a song titled Ghosts.  By The Ghosts.  Perhaps diversity isn't their strong suit. 

The Heartbreaks - Funtimes:  More addictive pop rock even if the singer is overly earnest and emotional.  They are called the Heartbreaks after all.  Not all of this works, but you can probably hear this band during the course of Zoey Daschenel's next indie movie. 

Delay delay.  Which is the theme song of my work day today.  These guys look like they're 16.  Quick survey: Is this an openly gay love song?

The Lillingtons - The Back Channel Broadcast:  Nothing ground breaking here, just the Lillington's channelling their inner Ramones for quick fire, 2 minute punk songs that zip by in a blur.  Quick!  Listen to this song before it's over.  Hurry!!!!

The Men - Open Your Heart:  A rip roaring, take no prisoners release that drains you of all energy by the time you get done listening to it.  Not sure if this it their debut or not, but if it is this is a band to keep an eye on.  Friggin' fantastic.

Here is a live version of Open Your Heart. 

Riverboat Gamblers - The Wolf You Feed:  The Gamblers are back with another fine, fun loving batch of songs that make you want to head down to Texas and roll around in BBQ sauce.  I should point out that I have no idea if this band is even from Texas, but they seem like it.  I should also point out that I would roll around in Texas BBQ sauce regardless.  Full disclosure and all.

Here is your Eviction Notice. Everyone moving out should blast this. 

Quick sidenote here:  While it's nice everyone with a camera phone is sharing out live performances they do realize the sound absolutely sucks, right?  It's muffled and muted and usually drowned out by the camera owner and crowd screaming incoherently.  In short, don't bother. 

White Rabbits - Milk Famous:  Strange, addictive, techno laced rock that I can only hope will gain some sort of recognition over the next few months.  With all the shit playing on the radio it's comforting to know quirky, impossible to brand bands like this can still get their music out to the masses. 

In fact, they made it on Letterman a while back.  Here they are playing one of my favorite songs of the year.  We need more bands with multiple drummers. 

The Word Alive - Life Cycles:  Like their counterparts 'A Day To Remember' this heavy metal band is stretching the form; incorporating bits of techno and pop into their scathing, teeth rattling foundation.  The result is one of my favorite releases of the year.

A taste for those who enjoy such things.  Apologies to everyone else, however I urge you to give this a chance.  Listen to it all the way through just one time. 

Future of the Left - The Plot Against Common Sense: The term 'alternative' tends to get thrown around more than it should, but this band is truly off in their own world.  With lyrics like 'Where were you when Russell Brand discovered fire' and 'I have seen into the future; everyone was slightly older', entire songs about a rich brat apologizing to his father for not being socially conscious, and titles like 'Robocop 4 - Fuck Off Robocop' this is a world I'm tickled to dive into.  This is truly deranged music and I can not get enough of it. 

Let me give you two examples of this gang.

First here is A Guide To Men strangely put to a German Fairy Tale. 

And here is Beneath The Waves An Ocean which is a song about only they know what.  Food eyeing customers?  Looking for song inspiration and accidentally having a good time?  Incorrectly named children? Your guess is as good as mine.

Baroness - Yellow and Green:  Whenever Mastodon releases a new album I know Baroness can't be far behind.  I swear they work together in secret.  After their Blue and Red albums Baroness returns with a double album combining the next two colors of the rainbow (I guess).  I'll be upfront here, not all of this works.  There are two or three songs that miss by a mile but out of 18 songs striving to expand an established sound that's a great average.  While there are some heavier songs, I'm not even sure you can qualify this as metal.  More likely this is what metal is heading towards.  The future in progress. 

Take a listen and enjoy.  Even if you don't like harder material, you'll enjoy these. 

Take My Bones Away

March to the Sea


On a side note, between this, Future of the Left and Anthema's new one, album cover art is in full stride.  I would love the Future of the Left cover as a poster in my office. 

That's all for now folks.  Enjoy the weekend.