Tuesday, November 29, 2005

BRMC and the Legend of Link Wray

After being inundated by the you-gotta-stop-what-your-doing-and listen-to-this-song, “Shuffle Your Feet,” by the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on Little Steven’s EVERY SUNDAY (as a former “coolest song in the world”) for the past three or four Sundays, I had to see if the rest of “Howl” matched up to Steven’s hype (and the undeniable greatness of the song). Maybe you’ve heard it; it kicks off with the boys harmonizing a cappella: “Tiiiiiiiiiime won’t save our souls” (repeat 3 times) enter laughing and stomping. And guess what? It just gets better and better from there.

It’s a throw back record, totally. That’s their shtick—but they’re really good at it. Even to the point of putting their CD in a case that resembles a very old timey album sleeve (complete with a split Side One and Side Two as well as a yellowed back cover). To top it off right, “Howl” was not coincidentally released on the 50 years after the mega-landmark-iconic poem of the same name by Allen Ginsberg was published. (One of the most famous lines, ''the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,” still totally gets me and just seems to be so bloody true for all of history and all of the future, right? Tie that up with his buddy and my man Jack Kerouac's talk of "the mad ones," and...*sigh* (See: drugs, mental illness, etc. SO MANY musicians that can't replicate and create those sounds in their head...)

“Ain’t No Easy Way” is my favorite track right now. It’s all of 2 minutes and 36 seconds long and it is pure bliss. It’s very Led Zeppelin III. Stompy, white man country blues. Full of slide guitar, with juicy solos and passionate harmonica playing, all highly sexual. The record sounds like they’ve matured a little bit—at times they come off like a more complex Black Keys. They dabble with organ use and amazing vocal harmonies all over the place.

Like a good ol’ blues record there’s talk of Satan, Jesus and drugs. Some of the lyrics are painfully simple, but it doesn’t matter. Robert Plant wrote about Hobbits and dick all the time and it’s some of the best music that’s ever been recorded. Some of the BRMC melodies sound a little too familiar—sometimes they sound like they’re really ripping someone (Neil Young, Willie Dixon, Zep, et.al.) off but it’s just so fucking charming, you can’t deny it. Some surprises: the varied themes of each song—dude sounds like a cross between Marc Bolan and Rufus Wainwright on “Weight of the World,” and it’s great. I first heard about them from Mr. Noel Gallagher who praised the fuck out of them in MOJO before they were anywhere (he tried to sign ‘em, too—dunno what happened there). BRMC even opened for them; somehow I managed to see Oasis on three different tours and missed that one. (Um, but the most devastating moment of my concert-going-life has to be when the Verve cancelled as their opener when they came to MPLS. I will still cry if I think about that too much. Fuck.) So—moral of that story: listen to Mr. Noel when he tells you about the up and coming (“Cast No Shadow,” sweet, sweet Richard).

I actually got my first taste of BRMC at the wild festival experience that was Coachella, May 2004. Their performance was my little secret highlight (besides the Pixies, of course—but that was a given and it was so large scale…yadda yadda). I wandered over by myself, leaving my boyfriend-at-the-time and our friends who, I believe were watching Radiohead, or some major band that they had the unfortunate same time slot (late evening, first day) as them. I was a little dazed and confused (the unbearable desert heat didn’t help) but it enhanced my experience. I was mesmerized. They ripped it up electric, and then something went wrong technically. They abruptly left their instruments on the stage and walked off. People started booing, thinking it was going to be a diva thing, and they were done. Nope: they came right back on stage with their acoustic guitars and launched into a beautiful, hypnotic set that showcased what pretty voices they all have!

It was a trip. I was in love with the showmen.

But… back to “how nasty and crazed rock and roll guitar can be”…

In the news of rock, Link Wray just died, at age 76 (just about my grandparents age--that's a weird thought). I had barely heard of him, but he was a huge influence on Neil Young, Springsteen, Townshend (I kinda like those guys. Yeah. Kinda. Ha.) and, um, he is only credited with INVENTING THE POWER CHORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! His most famous single was “Rumble,” that came out in 1958. It was actually banned because it was thought to promote gang violence and rioting. RIGHT ON. Mysterious bloke, a rebel genius, apparently; poked a hole in his amp (and worse) to get fucked up sounds out of it.

NY Times obit: http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F20A17FB345A0C718EDDA80994DD404482

All Music Guide--a good little bio capsule:

Monday, November 21, 2005

why I am and will always be a nerd

I can't help myself.

I still read reviews of movies I've just seen. It's a religion with me. A.O. Scott is my Gawd.

I completely get off on reading great arts writing.

E.W. still does it for me too:

"With nothing to lose, Cash launches into "Folsom Prison Blues," and suddenly we hear the famous gravity--the ominous lyrics and weirdly overdeliberate bass voice that sounds like it's trying to negotiate its way out of hell. As the band trickles in, Cash's thrilling rockabilly freight train leaves the station."

*chills courtesy of Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly*

Wotta way to paint the picture. Joaquin Phoenix busting his way into Sun Records and trying to impress an unimpressable Sam Phillips.

Wonderful flick, Phoenix and Witherspoon are incredible. Their onstage chemistry is sizzling. And director James Mangold captures their live singing and playing and repartee like nothing else I have ever seen in a "regular Hollywood movie." At times it feels like you're watching live concert footage--not of the real Johnny and June, but the excitement, nervousness, drug-fueled anxiety and sexuality is there, crackling (like crossed wire, even).

It's no Ray--but it's DAMN close.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

oh, help me jesus

Things that make me question my atheism:

1. The song, "God Only Knows," by Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys.
2. Sam Cooke
3. Martin Luther King
4. The Dali Lama
5. Madonna
6. Certain people--when they touch you
7. Natural disasters
8. Aretha
9. Ray Charles
10. Bruce (sometimes)
11. The people of Ireland
12. This one priest I met once. He was young and smart and hot.
13. Jim and Ike when they get together, those ol' Irish Catholic Boys
14. Massages
15. The Magdalene Sisters

...and that's really it, folks! So, no worries. Won't be converting anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"bless you!!"

Ha! All that hogwash/backlash about the last album (in the NYTimes, specifically)! All the bull shit about how Madge wasn't commercial anymore. I laugh in your face!
a) of all Target downtown was sold out of the Madonna record by 1:30 pm. (WTF?) b) of all I had to buy it at Sam Goody [shudder] *s'OK though: I used to work at SG in high school, and the old dude that took my money in exchange for my Madge literally said "Bless you!!" when I brought it up to the counter. A gay man, he knew what the hell is up! (he went on to tell me that this is her best one "in years!"

Love it.

I have only been able to listen to bits and pieces (yes--it's torture) of it, so far. It's wonderful. She made it "all one song" (as Neil Young would say). Disco, club-style: every song segues into the next with no real pause. It's sweet--a true dance record. No duds. No ballads. Her intent. Brilliant woman that she is...damn.

The song about New York is fantastic. I know that people have already bitched that the lyrics are "lame." Fuck you. I'll never forget talking with a very smart, very sweet young gay man in London (he was Turkish, actually) about our shared love for Madge. We were raving about how amazing "Music" was--it had just come out. He told me his favorite lyric was, "I like to sing-y, sing-y, sing-y/ like a bird on a wing-y, wing-y, wing-y." Yeah. It's funny. It's cute. It's twee, yeah, but it's DANCE MUSIC!!!!!!

So... Shuddap, and start dancing muthafukas! This is it. If you can't shake your rump to "Hung Up," yer offically deeeed.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Can I steal you for a sec?

The wonderful, brilliant, original, thought-provoking, filthy, juvenile Sarah Silverman put out this great comedy film, "Jesus is Magic." I saw it on Saturday and I highly recommend it! Liam Lynch directed it--he's worked with Jack Black and Tenacious D, so he knows exactly how to treat comic geniuses such as Black and Silverman. Both use the art of song to do some of their comedy and both have the same ironic, campy, musical theatre spliced with RAWK musical vibes. I thought of Mr. Black quite a bit during "Jesus," in a good way.

She's hotter than I thought she was. Slammin', athletic bod and glowing skin. This "beauty factor" keeps popping up in interviews and reviews and it's getting annoying--like, lay off: she's a woman, she's pretty and that doesn't really have anything to do with how uniquely funny and acerbic her schtick is. BUT, then again, most writers have mentioned this point to make a point about how her humor (profane, filthy, race-centric, sexual) is "so jarring!" coming out of a pretty, young woman's mouth.

Maybe that is why it works so well.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


The quiz, Phil's reminder of "Grace," along with Paul's picks has made me realize I find quite a few albums to be flawless.

Among them is "Achtung Baby," U2.

Sex, God, Rock, Drugs and killer, killer hooks. Bono becomes "The Fly" and says that "Baby" is "the sound of four men trying to cut down the Joshua Tree," I couldn't agree more." I discovered this one later than everyone else, I think--in college. But, I think that was the best time to get into it, actually.

*listening to it a lot again, recently. Thanks in part to a car session with Jessica--driving to...estate sales! RAWK.*

"If you wanna kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel/ On your knees, boy!"

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

For Phil and I hope he's feeling better really soon

Poor, poor Phil. This is for him. The song about Sylvia.
"Crackle and Drag" by Minnesota's finest: Paul Westerberg (not, Bruce, baby, but it's cool that you thought that...it is.) It's from the album, "Come Feel Me Tremble."

PS Yes, yes, yes: "Grace," by Jeff Buckley *is* flawless. You are so right. And that was sorely missing, Phil. Thank you.

Crackle and Drag
What's the matter here?
You never repair
The lady's cursed with insight
You never fix her, with a cold stare
She's all broken inside
She made a good go, like a weeping willow
Her limbs clung to the ground
She closed the window, and made a pillow
And lay her head down
And as her babies slept, she took a long deep breath
Now they're zipping her up in a bag
Can you hear her blacks crackle and drag
And the Cadillac's waiting to take her away
Can you hear her blacks crackle and drag
Another head cold, another spirit old
Mmmm, Febuary
Her hair was dirty, and she was 30 in 1963
And while her baby slept she took a long deep breath
And they're zipping her up in a bag
Can you hear her blacks crackle and drag
The Cadillac's waiting to take her away
Can you hear her blacks crackle and drag
And drag, and drag, and drag
She made a good go, for a weeping willow
She stuffed some rags on the floor
She closed the window
She made a pillow on the oven door
And took a long deep breath
While her babies slept
Now they're zipping her up in a bag
Can you hear her blacks crackle and drag
And the Cadillac's waiting to take her away
Can you hear her blacks crackle and drag
They're zipping her up in a bag
Can you hear her blacks crackle and drag
The Cadillac's waiting to take her away
Can you hear her blacks crackle and drag

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

you know what to do

A fun music quiz that I stole from Jessica, her majesty. Take it--it's worth your time.

1. Of all the bands/artists in your cd/record collection, which one do you own the most albums by? Jeezus (as Jessica has pointed out, I do own large collections of certain artists). Prolly Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen or Blur. I have a ridiculous amount of Blur records and boots.
2. What was the last song you listened to?: On the bus, on the ol’ iPod: the NEW MADGE, which I am utterly obsessed with!! “Ring, ring, ring goes the telephone/ the lights are on, but there’s no one home.”
3. What's in your record/CD player right now?: “You Could Have It So Much Better,” Franz Ferdinand; “Use Your Illusion I & II,” G ‘n’ R (I was feeling especially cheesy the other night and had to hear “November Rain,” it felt so right.
4. What song would you say sums you up?: Whew. That is a doozy of a question. Let’s just go with “Redheaded Woman,” by Bruce. Rarr, raunch!
5. What's your favorite local band?: Of all time? The ‘Mats. Of right now: Story of the Sea.
6. What was the last show you attended? Liz Phair at First Ave. It was great! My fourth time seeing her, and it was a pleasant surprise.

7. What was the greatest show you've ever been to? Rancid with Rocket from the Crypt is up there, for pure energy/euphoria. Bruce (multiple times, multiple reasons). Neil Young with Crazy Horse when I was 16. PJ Harvey, Bjork (yes, Jess!!), Page and Plant (I cried when they did “Tangerine,” sheeez!) This is SO HARD. It goes on for me… Can’t be just one…or five…!

8.What's the worst band you've ever seen in concert? UGH. Soul Coughing at some Zone for the Holidays shit. P.U.
9. What band do you love musically but hate the members of? (a mix of love and hate for these peeps) Oasis, Sex Pistols, Madonna sometimes, MJ…yeah.
10. What is the most musically involved you have ever been?: I’m learning and playing guitar right now. I wrote about music for money for five or so years… And, it’s the most important thing in my life, pretty much. (Does that count, or just make me a psycho? Meh.)
11. What shows are you looking forward to? Ike fucking Reilly on Thanksgiving Eve.
12. What is your favorite band shirt? My Ramones shirt I got in London.
13. What musician would you like to hang out with for a day?: Liz Phair or Bruce or Kathleen
Hanna or Madge.
14. What musician would you like to be in love with for a day?: Wotta funny question. I guess it would be a trip to have been in love—in junkie love—with Sid Vicious. You know, in a severely fucked up way.
16. Sabbath or solo Ozzy?: Sabbath. But I have always loved some of the poppines of solo Ozzy and his voice used to be SO AWESOME!
17. Commodores or solo Lionel Ritchie?: Commodores.
18. Punk rock, hip hop or heavy metal?: PUNK FUCKING ROCK.
19. Doesn't Primus suck?: YES. I hate that testosterone shit.
20. Name 4 flawless albums: 1. “Junkie Faithfull,” Ike Reilly. 2. Led Zep—the first four, I’m not kidding. 3. “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Springsteen 4. “After The Goldrush,” Neil Young.
21. Did you know that filling out this survey makes you a music geek?: I, too, wear the badge proudly.
22. What was the greatest decade for music? The sixties. Everything was just getting started, and was in its (arguabley)finest form—Motown, Dylan, Beatles, Stones and all sorts of rock, soul, pop, even the beginnings of punk…
23. How many music-related videos/dvds do you own? Many…lots of record conventions.
24. Do you like Journey?: yes.
25. Don't try to pretend you don't!: “Singer in a smokey room/ smell of wine and cheap perfume.”
26. What is your favorite movie soundtrack?: “Trainspotting,” “Saturday Night Fever,” “Purple Rain.”
27. What was your last musical "phase" before you wisened up?: Oh, baby, I’ve never *needed* to “wise up”! Uh, maybe I liked pop punk a little more than I should have?
28. What's the crappiest CD/record/etc. you've ever bought? I thought it was going to be Liz Phair’s last one. It got better, though.
29. Do you prefer vinyl or CDs?: Vinyl can be so much fun, but CDs are so handy!
30. All totaled, how much do you spend on music a month?: I think sometimes it can be $200 or more!! (if you count shows, too) AH, how do you afford your rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle?

Monday, November 07, 2005

oh, Christians! *sigh*

So as you all know:

A new AP-Ipsos poll found the president's approval rating was at 37%, compared with 39% a month ago. About 59% of those surveyed said they disapproved.

My favorite particular SNL commentary, courtesy of Tina Fey on the Weekend Update:

(not a direct quote, here) "The 37% also believe that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church on Sunday."

that's golden.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"You may do that."

Ms. Rosa Parks

Saw a wonderful, if strangely done, documentary on Rosa Parks the other night. It was full of detail and was incredibly moving--I cried hearing Dr. King speak. So many things I did not know! I learned basic, basic things about the impetus of the civil rights movement that EVERY American should know.

*btw: "You may do that," is how Rosa Parks replied to the driver after he told her he was going to arrest her for not getting out of her seat (in the "colored section," mind you) for a white man to sit down.*

Some things: December 1955

*Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a young preacher (27 years old) in Montgomery, AL with "a pretty wife and a new baby." And that's all people really knew about him before the bus boycott. Once he spoke at the church, with hundreds of people busting out of the doors, he just *was* their leader. His voice resonating like some holy spirit (what I would imagine Moses might have sounded like) he had every single soul in that church on his side: the side of tolerant, non-violent revolution. ("the cup of endurance has runneth over")And he was nothing short of a revolutionary. (A lage-scale revolution was feared why the gov--that's why they were so scared of him. That's why the FBI had to bug him I guess. That's why his house was bombed. That's whberated barrated with death threats. I guess that's why he "had to die." Good lord it makes me depressed.)

*After his house *was* bombed, he addressed the mob that was growing outside his house, angry and readly to retaliate. In his calm, otherworldly way he said warned them, "Violence must not come on any of us...we will have walked in vain..." and hoped (dreamed) for "a society with a conscience...a society at peace with itself." The crowd was struck silent--someone started singing "Amazing Grace."

*They interviewed this sweet white preacher (who had an all black congregation) who was 26 years old in 1955. He advised his entire congregation not to take the bus.

*How many days did the righteous people of Montgomery boycott the bus system? A week? A month? A few months? TRY 381 BLOODY DAYS. Amazing. Even more amazing was how the people, both black and white, organized carpools, bake sales raised money for the churches to buy "churches on wheels" to get people to work and school.

*Dec. 21st 1956: The Supreme Court struck down segregation. Only the beginning...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

burn it or pad it?

A must read: the great piece that was in the Times Mag on Sunday. Maureen Dowd gets it so right--her way of viewing the world and her wonderful writing (journalistically perfect, dry, witty and *smart*--tot, Jessica.)

I plan on writing more about it soon.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

bloody birds

Turns out, Hitchcock has ruined me for life. On the bus today, approaching downtown, there was this eerie swarm of...gulls (? do we even have gulls in MN??! yes. Apparently we do.) As the bus was stopped in front of the stoplight these 4 or 5 gulls were swooping and circling *really* close to the bus windows. Like, I could see their beady, souless eyes, man.

It scared me; freaked me out.

I imagined a "Birds"-like scenario where they started cracking the bus windows open with their beaks. Pecking out eyes, etc.

Pretty f'ed up, eh? I really, really hate birds. Like I said: Hitch did it to me. I love him still.

Then again, maybe it was Twin Peaks that did it to me...

Then, again, really...my friend had a pet bird that got loose and got caught in my hair. I freaked out, the bird was freaking out... Not a good scene. That probably did it.

Um, I didn't really mean for this to correspond with the Bird Flu Panic, or anything. But...yeah, that too.