Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just a Damn Catchy Song

This song came out in 2000, and it has been stuck in my head for basically all of that time. The band is called the Rockfords, which was Mike McCready's band pre-Pearl Jam. He then revived it as a side project once Pearl Jam got famous. The singer is Carrie Akre, who was in Hammerbox. (I believe that reference might be for me only.)

Anyway, listen to this song and tell me how catchy it is. Just downloaded it today since I can't find the CD.

Monday, March 21, 2011

You'd Think That People Would Have Had Enough of Silly Love Songs

Preamble: Someone gave me Red House Painters' Songs for a Blue Guitar during a hard drive swap, but I haven't ever listened to it all the way through.

Anyway, I had my iTunes on shuffle while I was doing things around my apartment, and I heard this song come on that I assumed was some obscure Neil Young live jam-- acquired during a different hard drive exchange. :)

Turns out it was Red House Painters covering Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs." Duh!

At the end of the day, Mark Kozelek will probably be best remembered for his covers... AC/DC, Modest Mouse, and apparently also McCartney. Hearing this also reminded me of what might be my favorite cover of his. This is Red House Painters doing "I Am a Rock" by Simon & Garfunkel.

Good stuff.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

WTF Podcast

Have any of you guys ever listened to the "WTF with Marc Maron" podcast? I've been getting into them recently: most episodes are interviews with comedians, but they're especially worth listening to because of Maron's interview style. He brings a lot of himself and his own complicated psyche into the interview, and while in other hands this could be self-serving, it has a way of making his guests feel comfortable and able to reveal parts of themselves that they might not have expected to reveal.

If you haven't listened to it before, a great place to start might be his interview with Louis CK, which was recent enough that it's still available to download free on iTunes. I was also very entertained by his interviews with Gallagher and Ira Glass.

I was prompted to write this post, however, because of how unbelievable his two interviews with Carlos Mencia are (Part 1 and Part 2 here). These episodes are older and cost $2 each, but they're some of the most fascinating celebrity interviews I have ever heard. I've never been much of a Mencia fan, but the conflicted, complicated, angry human being that Maron coaxes Mencia to reveal himself as in these interviews is absolutely fascinating. Part 2 is by far the most intense and interesting (and might qualify as much as an "intervention" as an "interview"), but Part 1 is probably necessary listening as a set up.

Monday, March 14, 2011

J Mascis Solo Album is very nice

And it's all acoustic! And I love the cover art. There's a full stream going on here.
It's also worth noting that J looks a lot better with a beard.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

New REM Album...!...?

I've been taking a brief break from listening to golden age hip hop to listen to middle period REM. I've probably written about this before here, but I have a kind of funny relationship with REM. They were the first contemporary band I got into (before that it was all Beatles and Broadway) back in the Out of Time / Automatic for the People days. I remember being shocked that the "Losing My Religion" band had released SIX albums before that one. Anyway, then in college, when I got more into "indie" rock, I gravitated back to the early IRS albums. And I'd still say that their best album is Murmur. But listening to those peak-era Warner Brothers albums brings back more vivid memories of my youth, which is always nice.
I was inspired to pull this stuff out in part by this:

I was particularly struck by the high ranking of Monster, which is probably their most maligned album (and is probably the number 1 Used CD of all time). I had always thought it was seriously sub-par, especially because it was a total 180 from Automatic, which was my favorite album at the time. But listening to it now, totally out of context, it's actually fantastic! Every song is interesting and good, and the ones that, at the time, seemed like pale rewrites of their hits totally stand on their own. (Check Strange Currencies, which I always thought of as an Everybody Hurts rip, but is actually the much better song).

The other separately interesting thing is that a new REM album came out yesterday. I heard a bit of the stream from NPR and it seems reasonably solid, though not terribly exciting. But what I'm most excited about is that the REM Record Review Pattern seems to be holding strong.

I posted about this before, but this post did some great research on the phenomenon:


It's really a must-read illustration of the absurdity of mainstream rock criticism.

The pattern is, basically, that every REM that comes out is an improvement upon the last album, which was, for one reason or another, problematic. Thus, the new album becomes their best album since [an older album, usually from the Bill Berry era]. I would have thought that, since Accelerate was such a self-conscious throwback/comeback album, and it got such good reviews, that the pattern would break. It actually seems like the pattern did break, though, Pitchfork, of all things, sticks with the script:


After releasing the plodding Around the Sun, the band attempted a "return to rock" with 2008's Accelerate, barreling through a forceful but generic set and grasping at a raw, aggressive sound that was never really R.E.M.'s to begin with. So, it comes as something of a relief that Collapse Into Now sounds unmistakably like an R.E.M. album. At its best, Collapse Into Now evokes R.E.M.'s best work while capitalizing on the energy conjured during Accelerate.

To Rolling Stone's credit, they seem to have finally broken the streak:

Collapse Into Now is the first truly messy album R.E.M. have made in 10 years, since their underrated 2001 gem, Reveal. Their recent albums have focused on one musical approach at a time: 2004's Around the Sun was all slow-motion torpor, and 2008's excellent Accelerate went for spiky rockers. But Collapse Into Now touches on all their favorite tricks: punk raves, stately ballads, piano, accordion and the most mandolin they've put in one place since "Losing My Religion."

Relatedly, I was glad to see the AV Club's Steven Hyden partially acknowledge the ridiculousness of his article saying that REM was never all that good to begin with:

Perhaps more than anything else I’ve written in my four and a half years with The A.V. Club, “R.E.M.’s Incredible Shrinking Legacy” left an indelible impression on readers. And by “indelible,” I mean “negative.” Very negative. Countless pieces with my byline have come and gone, but this particular essay has followed me around like an especially unseemly sex scandal. From time to time, whenever commenters wanted to cite an example of my writing that proved incontrovertibly that I was a buffoon, “R.E.M.’s Incredible Shrinking Legacy” was what they pointed to.

It's a pretty good read, and it grapples with the strange place REM occupies in the rock canon. For a long time they were sort of parallel to U2 as huge, mega-selling bands that had their roots in the postpunk/college rock scene in the early 80s. But whereas U2 keep making hits, REM have sort of returned to just having a cult audience (albeit a very, very large one). It's hard to imagine them having the kind of profile that U2 still have. (Though U2 are doing their best to tarnish it with the Spiderman musical).

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Lupe Fiasco: "I hate this album"

This has got to be the most negative interview I've ever read from an artist about his own album, especially considering that said album was still a month away from being released at the time this article was written. An excerpt:

"There’s nothing really to tell about that record, to be honest. I didn’t have nothing to do with that record. That was the label’s record. That wasn’t like I knew the producer or knew the writer or anything like that. That was one of those records the record company gave me, [they even gave me] stuff they wanted me to rap about. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey I did this and I went to a mountain and found inspiration and it was this.’ [Last April] I was backstage at a show at the House of Blues in L.A. and the president of [Atlantic Records] came to me and said, ‘Hey check this out, I got this song.’ He played ‘Show Goes On’ for me on the iPod. I was used to it because they presented me like ten other songs in the same fashion or via email. So for me, at that point, it was just another record like, ‘Is this a song you want me to do?’ There was nothing special about it for me at that point. It was like, ‘You know we still want off the label, right?’ That was the conversations we were having."

I guess I'll probably still hear it, because at his best I love this guy...but this does not sound promising at all.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

If You Haven't Heard the New Superchunk...

... you should. Now it isn't exactly "new" anymore; it came out almost 6 months ago. But I think it might be the most satisfying album I've heard from last year. In fairness, I thought last year by and large sucked for new albums. (Which is one reason why I still haven't written up a Top 10 list.)

That aside, everyone should still check it out. I think it's Superchunk's best ever. Great melodies, great production and Mascis-like lead guitar. What's not to like?

Dr. Dre Started Burning Man

If this is a hoax, it's a hilarious hoax. Make sure you scroll down far enough to see the handwritten letter.