Archive for July, 2009

July 29, 2009

Slayer – Raining Blood

After sifting through 80s hair metal, I’ve been reminded why I loved Slayer so much as a teenager. Good God…

BTW, watching this I get images of the Metalocalypse dudes playing this, haha.

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July 21, 2009

“My Life” by Billy Joel is my theme song.

I’m a Long Islander, I’m required to make a Billy Joel song my theme song.

Lyrics under the cut.

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July 20, 2009

Bruce Springsteen – Born In The U.S.A.

I’ve been working on a massive project lately, the results of which I’ll reveal soon. It has required me to listen to a few artists in a deeper way. One of those is Bruce Springsteen. I’ve never been a fan of him. Much like Bob Dylan, I have always understood what a talent he is, what a hero he is to some people, and knew that politically me and him are on the same side. But, his music did little for me other than not minding it if it was on. This past week I bought his Essential Bruce Springsteen collection. One song that always kind of annoyed me was “Born In The U.S.A.”. I pretty much roll my eyes at any patriotic song. They always come across as superficial and cheesy. I am proud to be an American, and also ashamed of our country at times. I always thought “Born In The U.S.A.” was the ultimate American anthem and never paid it much attention. Especially given the album cover. But, it turns out I never really listened to the lyrics. I really listened to them this week, and I realized it’s a anti Vietnam War song. Now, I really hear how angry Bruce Springsteen’s singing sounds. Apparently Ronald Reagan and others attempted to co-opt the song as a flag-waving slogan. Other than the chorus, I remember seeing the video and the video to me did look like a typical nostalgiafest of nationalistic images. Now, I come to see that the song is borderline punk. Much like “God Save The Queen” by the Sex Pistols, “Born In The U.S.A.” is a subversive critique. It’s a critique of war, why a person chooses to enlist, and the treatment of war veterans when they come back home. Here is a live video from 1985 recorded in France. I’m really moved by Springsteen’s passion. It’s also worth watching for his guitar solo at the end of the song. And a young Max Weinberg.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

Born down in a dead man’s town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
‘Til you spend half your life just covering up

[chorus:]
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

I got in a little hometown jam
And so they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to Vietnam
To go and kill the yellow man

[chorus]

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says “Son if it was up to me”
I go down to see the V.A. man
He said “Son don’t you understand”

[chorus]

I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They’re still there, he’s all gone
He had a little girl in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I’m ten years down the road
Nowhere to run, ain’t got nowhere to go

I’m a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I’m a cool rocking Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

July 15, 2009

Belinda Carlisle – I Get Weak

During my Ultimate 80’s Collection project, I’ve come to find I have a lot of affection for Belinda Carlisle. I think her 80’s singles were great, and of course the Go-Go’s. She has a great, unique voice. Plus, she gets points for that Playboy shoot.

July 11, 2009

Oliver Sacks | The Daily Show | Comedy Central

A fascinating interview about how important and deeply rooted music is in humans. Music gives us pleasure in ways nothing else does.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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July 7, 2009

Bjork – “Earth Intruders” from Voltaic

Bjork dancing. The cutest, most beautiful thing. She looks so happy. And look how she commands the stage. She’s a goddess and she’ll never die.

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July 2, 2009

Lady Gaga – The Fame

Let’s start with the good. They picked the singles really well. “Just Dance” and “Poker Face” are pretty decent club bangers with choruses that get stuck in your head. I particularly like the last minute of “Just Dance” where the song shifts to a 4/4 club beat. I also like the “live drum” beat of “Poker Face” and that “mamama” vocal bit. “Paparazzi” has a nice shuffling beat and 80’s new wave synths.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album is pretty terrible. Especially the last half. “Money Honey” is where she runs the ideas from “Just Dance” and “Poker Face” into the ground. “Again Again” slows things down to sub-Christina Aguilera balladry and the shuffling, swinging melody may be one of the most unoriginal melodies in existence and should be retired. “Boys Boys Boys” sounds like a Gwen Stefani / Rock Steady throwaway. “Brown Eyes” sounds like “Again Again” but worse. The “blues” guitar in the song is just about the most unconvincing thing on the whole album, and at points she sounds a little like Avril Lavigne. And that is a lot of the problem. The whole album is a pastiche of more talented, more original artists. Lady Gaga sounds like Annie Lennox in “Poker Face”. She sounds like Gwen Stefani again in “Summerboy”, and the song sounds like a Blondie or Franz Ferdinand rip that was popular two or three years ago. Final song “I Like It Rough” remembers that the album started as a electro pop record. It’s a pretty good despite the Aguilera theatrics.

“Lovegame” is the perfect example of why the album is awful lyrically. “Lets have some fun, this beat is sick, I want to take a ride on your disco stick” is in the running for worst lyrics ever. It’s not helped by a boring 90’s techno/rave melody that goes nowhere and stays that way. The awful “Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)”, which musically sounds like a track on an 80s comp I’d skip over, says it all in its title, doesn’t it. You can argue that she’s doing this as some sort of “piss take” on celebrity culture. But, it’s quite clear she has a huge marketing campaign behind her. It’s clear by her fashions and her early 90’s Madonna-like stage performances that she wants people to notice her. It’s also clear that by trying to reference David Bowie and Queen, and not the artists she really resembles (Aguilera, Stefani, etc), it’s a grab for some sort of respectability that is completely fabricated.

Now for something new to my blog. I’ve been so interested and critical of this album because I listen to a lot of female dance pop artists. I wanted to see why this woman has been selected as the “next Madonna” or whatever. I am completely unconvinced, and would like to give you examples of current female artists who deserve the same popularity and exposure as Lady Gaga is getting. And, also I’ll include some songs by popular artists that do what Lady Gaga does, but better. Lest you think I’m being a snob, the first song I pick is:

Britney Spears – Break The Ice from Blackout. This song also has the live drum sound going on, but the composition of the song is of such a high quality. The cycling synth line is infectuous. And, unlike anything on Lady Gaga’s album the song fills your headphones.

Girls Aloud – Biology from Chemistry. The song starts with a shambolic rendition of a typical bluesy guitar melody, but it’s a red herring. It quickly shifts into a galloping techno track that builds with a huge crescendo. The chorus doesn’t even hit until two minutes in. This is about as good as pop music gets.

Roisin Murphy – Movie Star from Overpowered. A synth riff more monstrous than anything off Lady Gaga’s album. And a lyrical topic tackled throughout Lady Gaga’s album. Just done in a self-aware, and tactful way.

Goldfrapp – Koko from Supernatural. Another huge synth riff, clearly influenced by Gary Numan and creating a pounding yet ethereal pop track out of it. Goldfrapp make their synths rock on this track. And the bridge is divine.

Annie – Loco from Don’t Stop. This song is unreleased. I love the mixture of techno synths and britpop guitar played by Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand. I still listen to this and am amazed Annie didn’t feel it good enough to release.

Sally Shapiro – Miracle from My Guilty Pleasure. From Shapiro’s second album due August 25th. Sally Shapiro’s first album was a gorgeous, unique, well-crafted piece of work, and this first single indicates her second album will bring more of the same only better. This track is a bit more aggressive and anthemic than her earlier work. I also love how her voice is used with the little whispers and multi-tracking.

Robyn – Dream On from Robyn. A bouncy electro track that is conscious of a world beyond fame and sex. Oh, and strings.

Ladytron – Destroy Everything You Touch from Witching Hour. Electro rock pop, gothic and vital and emotional. Bright and bouncy and a dab of shoegaze guitar at the end. It takes a ton of adjectives to explain just this one song.

Lykke Li – Little Bit from Youth Novels. And finally, a slower, quieter song. It’s just as electronic as any of the above songs, but with a pretty, vaguely exotic guitar figure. The lyrics have emotional complexity, but are just as bluntly sexual as Lady Gaga gets: “And for you I keep my legs apart and forget about my tainted heart.”