Tag Archives: rock

…but a lot of nostalgia has hurt plenty of people.

After 12 years of solo projects, stints with other bands, and oblivion, the four original members of Soundgarden have finally reunited this summer to perform in Lollapalooza and record a brand new song, “Black Rain,” to top off the 2-disc retrospective compilation, Telephantasm, released last week.

Soundgarden’s catalog (particularly the last three albums: Badmotorfinger (1991), Superunknown (1994), and Down on the Upside (1996)) is quite likely the most foundational musical text of my life.  If you disagree with any of my musical opinions, it’s probably because your tastes were not also formed by listening to Soundgarden.

In highschool, if I was learning to play a snippet of a song on guitar, it was a snippet of a Soundgarden song.

The first website I ever put together was an aol-hosted Soundgarden fansite.

Chris Cornell has the same first name and the same birthday as me.

And it’s not just music.  When I first bought Down on the Upside, it was the summer before sophomore year of high school, and Homer’s The Odyssey was the assigned summer reading (we had been given a terrible, terrible, prose translation).  The album and the epic will forever be associated in my memory.  Any track off the album makes me think of Odysseus trying to return home, and any reference to Calypso, Scylla, Charybdis, Sirens, etc. has Chris Cornell’s vocal backing.

To fully excavate the influence Soundgarden has had on me would require a post longer than the one I’m willing to write or you to read.  But please allow Telephantasm‘s release to suffice as an excuse for me to share with you a representative sample of the soundtrack of my early teenage years.

Soundgarden, “Rusty Cage” [Buy Badmotorfinger]

Soundgarden, “Head Down” [Buy Superunknown]

Soundgarden, “Boot Camp” [Buy Down on the Upside]

Soundgarden, “Black Rain” [Buy Telephantasm]

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Mike Edwards (5/31/1948 – 9/3/2010)

Police in southwestern England say a former member of the Electric Light Orchestra was killed in a freak collision with a huge hay bale that rolled down a steep hill.

The victim was identified on Monday as 62-year-old Mike Edwards, who played cello in the British rock band between 1972 and 1975. (AP)

Electric Light Orchestra, “Mr Blue Sky” (Buy Out of the Blue, 1977)

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The Black Keys Give Each Other Black Eyes

MTV recently announced that the video for The Black Keys’ “Tighten Up” from Brothers (easily one of my most-listened-to albums and a shoe-in for top-ten of twenty-ten) is up for a VMA.

It’s adorable.

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The Dread Empire of Rock

“My name is Ozzy Osbourne, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

I’ve got two interesting tracks to share with you today.  I don’t exactly know what either of them is about, but they are both to some extent artifacts of American cultural hegemony conditioned by Cold War schisms.  So think about that as you give a listen, if you want.  You can also think about what may be the defining and dooming paradox of rock genres: the complementary forces of rebellion and conformity.

The first comes to us thanks to Sublime Frequencies, who have done it again with their newest compilation.  Praise be to the archivists; the 17 tracks of Saigon Rock & Soul: Vietnamese Classic Tracks 1968-1974 could not have been easy to come by.

Phương Dung, “Đố Ai (Riddles)”

Buy Saigon Rock & Soul here.

The second track is by Shin Jung-Hyun, “the godfather of Korean rock,” and his band, The Men.  I found this on last year’s excellent international psych compilation, Forge Your Own Chains: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges 1968-1974, compiled and produced by Now-Again Records.  Unfortunately for America, the “Twilight” that all the kids are talking about is not this song but instead some kind of Mormon romance.

Shin Jung-Hyun & the Men, “Twilight”

Buy Forge Your Own Chains here.

On a somewhat related note, check out this awesome photo-essay in Foreign Policy on Kabul in the 1950s and 60s.

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Minutemusic: The Dead Weather, "Blue Blood Blues"

The Dead Weather is a rock super-group featuring Jack White (The White Stripes), Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), and Jack Lawrence (The Greenhornes).  “Blue Blood Blues” is from their second album, Sea of Cowards, released last month.

The Dead Weather, “Blue Blood Blues”

From Wikipedia:

Jack White explained the album title to The Sun: “The album title refers to the way the internet allows people to spit venom and knock people in a cowardly way using fake names.It seems to me that people aren’t teaching this generation anything about responsibility. The internet allows people to make a statement that the whole world can read and listen to-but they’re too much of a coward to leave their actual name.”

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Tom Petty: Good Enough for Me

confess that I’m favorably disposed to Tom Petty.  Maybe because his Greatest Hits was one of the first ten albums I ever owned.  Maybe because the video for “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” is so delightfully sick and twisted.  Maybe because I was only about 12 or 13 when his first impression was made on me and because at that age we are such soft clay that even the most worn-down stamp still has the chance to leave some lasting mark.  Whatever the reason, my disposition inclines me to overlook those qualities of his music which seem to make him and his Heartbreakers so impossible for a lot of people in my generation, maybe even some of you, to take him seriously.

His songs lack depth and nuance; his music for the most part is that unadventurous, inoffensive sort of rock you might expect from an almost rebel who grew old instead of dying.  The message of nearly every song can be reduced to one of the following binary statements: 1) I’m trapped/I’m escaping, 2) Don’t leave me/Leave me alone, or 3) Let’s get stoned/What’s the harm in getting stoned?  I know these things.  Perhaps the best you might say about the Tom Petty oeuvre is that these songs can be fun...  Fun, for example, to sing along with when you’re driving and they come on the radio.  But who would ever sit down and give Tom Petty a serious listen?  Who, especially in this age of hyperlink-induced attention deficit, would prepare for Tom Petty one’s undivided, concentrated focus?

No one.  Not even me.  The music just doesn’t stand up to that kind of scrutiny.  Especially not “Free Fallin’.”  That song blows.  Keep these qualifications in mind if and when you sample the newly-released Mojo.

”]Perhaps a few of you caught the recent performance on SNL of “I Should Have Known It,” the first single from Mojo.  Even to my favorably disposed mind, Petty appeared tired and the song did little to recommend the album (though the official video, I think, undoes some of the damage).

But now that the album has finally dropped and I’ve had a chance to listen to it all the way through (while multitasking, of course), I think I’m willing to say that this follow-up to 2007’s Highway Companion (which I actually really do recommend…it was one of the surprisingly few albums that I had with me in the car during last summer’s 8600 mile cross-country jaunt) is greater than the sum of its parts.  Pick any one track out of the line-up and on it’s own it will appear one-dimensional, perhaps even comically so, but put them all together and you’ve got an album that tells the story of a whole life.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “Good Enough”

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Anni Rossi reminds me… of my sexism

Big cats, and Anni Rossi, hate sexism

Five years ago or so, I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the bands I dug who were fronted by men versus women. Then I started including bands who had at least one woman. Then I stopped doing the calculation at all. It wasn’t pretty, and the shame has kept me from doing anything similar since.

My sexist image isn’t helped much by Anni Rossi. Sure, I really like her Rockwell EP from 2009, and I’m digging her new track, “Crushing Limbs,” so I get to add her to the non-sexist-jerk side of the envelope. But when I go to write her up, what bands do I think to reference? PJ Harvey (the fiery cello), Feist (this bumpy new pop track), and Tune-Yards (her rough wildness). All women, Dave? Really? You couldn’t think of, say, Mountain Goats? You damn sexist bastard. As the song says, I “should be taken away in an emergency car.”

Anni Rossi, “Las Vegas” (from Rockwell, 2009)
Anni Rossi, “Crushing Limbs” [via Fluxblog]

Previously: Wild Things When They’re Bound (Tune-Yards)

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New Blur

Nothing makes me feel older than bands I loved during their original incarnation going the reunion route. But given that I snapped up four Pavement tickets the day they went on sale, I can’t pretend to be too hip/young for this. Pretty darn good if you ask me, you damn whippersnappers.

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More Philly love from Pitchfork? Hot Diggity Dr. Dog!

Only days after facilitating a trade of Matt Pond PA to New York, Pitchfork lowers themselves to the sixth borough’s level to give Dr. Dog a somewhat backhanded but respectable 6.7 for Shame, Shame. Take a listen on Lala and leave you own backhanded compliments in the comments.

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Hipster puppies meets Wolf People

Mr. Cocomo still makes the “why are there so many ‘wolf bands’” joke, like five years after the fact.

Am I using London’s Wolf People as an excuse to post about Hipster Puppies? Absolutely. But I do think that Wolf People are a good substitute while I wait for Black Keys’ new album to come out. (Even if Tidings has a lot of filler.) Plus, who doesn’t love ’70s blues rock with flutes? Flutes!

Wolf People, “Cotton Strands”

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