Showing posts with label Cool Stuff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cool Stuff. Show all posts

Monday, February 25, 2019

Bombay Bicycle Club

I have always maintained a curious interest in Bombay Bicycle Club. Flirting with the oblivion offered by the flu gave me the opportunity to acquire three of their albums/cds/releases in a way that did not bankrupt me, so I am going to give them a proper evaluation.

Bands come and go, and their impact is difficult to gauge. I know that in the 2000s I had a healthy liking for a band called Goldrush, but it would seem that they have disappeared. The rest of the music from that era just passed me by. I never got into the Arctic Monkeys or The Libertines like I probably should have, and everything else from that whole decade just seemed weird. Then there are these albums and I don’t even know when they were made. I think this is a band that straddled the 2000s and 2010s, from what I see on the labels, but who knows anymore?

I always give the new stuff a chance. There aren’t enough great bands! You have to keep searching for new music. I know, I’m an idiot. But I have new music to listen to, so I can’t be all bad.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Van Morrison Knows Things

When someone as venerable and as irascible as Van Morrison says something that you agree with, of course you have to produce a short, opportunistic blog post about it that no one will read:

"The media makes things up," the star told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I've been talking about fake news from day one," he continued. "But back then, when you said, 'this is made up,' they'd just dump on you more. So I had to put it in songs eventually."

The Northern Irish singer, who is responsible for some of the most extraordinary music of the last century, said he had grown wary of the press in his early days, as part of R&B group Them.

"We had to do a lot of interviews when we started. You do that when you're a kid, but later on you realise it's pointless," he said.

"It's funny, the whole star-celebrity media... It's like the song, 'You build me up to knock me down' [by] Hank Williams.

I agree with almost his every word, but, on principle, I can't abide a Van Morrison post that doesn't include pointing out that this man actually likes to smile and play music people want to hear, so to hell with any criticisms, sir. And if you call him dyspeptic, I'll have to ban you for five minutes.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Echo and the Bunnymen Never Stop EP

I find it hard to believe that there aren't more (and better) images than this of Echo and the Bunnymen's Never Stop EP. I have cleaned this up and I tried to enhance it a bit. Somewhere, I can probably dig out a better version.

The Church Gathering Speed Bootleg Cover

Bootlegs offer a glimpse of the past. In this case, the cover of this Church bootleg is far more interesting than the poorly recorded music inside. The tin can through which the sound has been passed failed to do anything other than reduce the band to a stifled growl.

The cover features a photo of the band I have not seen before. This is the Richard Ploog era, and it begins with all of them looking like they are ready to conquer the world.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Greatest of All Comeback Albums

If I was asked about comeback albums, I would put Achtung Baby at the top of the list, even though it certainly doesn't look like a comeback album in any sense of the word. But that's what it was--a comeback, a rebirth, and an album that surpassed all previous U2 albums from the 1980s. In some respects, the Eighties were buried by a number of things but nothing threw dirt on the grave like seeing a cynical Bono in shades pretending to not give a shit.

U2 was as low as you could get after the debacle of their Rattle and Hum albumThey didn't even go on tour in America, calling it the Lovetown tour. Nobody wanted them to put out another record--nobody wanted much to do with them at all. They were a punch line and a joke after Prattle and Dumb was dumped into an over-saturated market. They took their shows to appreciative audiences and ignored the biggest music market in the world at that time, unwilling to arrive in cities where they were not welcome.

Mother Jones Magazine: Let me read you a recent quote from Randy Newman: "I used to be against world peace until U2 came out for it. Then the scales just fell from my eyes.... And when they're singing with those black people? Do you know that black people just love their music? Bono's conducting those black people and they're doing just what he says!...

BONO: I had heard that. Randy Newman is a very funny man, though I think he's written far funnier lines than those.

MJ: Are you interested that criticisms like his have been leveled a lot lately, particularly at "Rattle and Hum?"

B: I suppose. What's uninteresting about that is that we are such an easy target, from the word go, because we perform from our own point of view. I sing about the way I see things. Some people write songs about the way characters see things. Some artists perform with a wink. That's just not the way with U2. When people perform from their gut -- when John Lennon sang a song called "Mother" -- that was not a hip thing to do. He was exposing himself. It's performers like that I admire.... If you're going to spend your whole life worrying about dropping your guard and exposing yourself, worrying that working with a gospel choir might look like imperialism, that would be dumb.

MJ: But the criticisms I read of the film are that it was too guarded. Let me read, if I could, another criticism ....

Well, I'm really not interested.

MJ: I just want to give you the opportunity to respond ....

B: What this suggests is that the music is not enough. That is my expression -- the music -- and within that music I can take my clothes off. Not for the press, not for the TV shows, not for the film. That film was about music, and in that music was everything that we have to say and offer. Now people want it made easy for them. They want it spelled out. Why can't people just accept the music? You know the real reason? It's that people don't listen to the music anymore, and a lot of critics don't.... I think our fans know all the songs on our albums, and I don't think many critics do. I really don't.

MJ: Were there any criticisms that did sting, that hit home, that taught you anything?

B: No. I must say I was generally very disappointed in the community of critics. It's funny. I would've thought that what people would have expected us to do would've been to put out a double live LP, and cash in on "The Joshua Tree," and make a lot of money for very little work. That is what big rock bands do.

When we didn't do that, I expected people to recognize that. When we put the records out at low price, stripped away the U2 sound, then just went with our instincts as fans, and just lost ourselves in this [American R&B] music, in a very un-self-conscious way...

MJ: But if the LP has been unfairly and stupidly criticized by people who aren't listening carefully ...

B: No. It's not even that. It's that the spirit of it has been completely and utterly missed. The spirit of it is unlike any record of a major group, for a long time. That spirit is the very essence of why people get into bands and make music. And it's not about being careful. And it's not about watching your ass....

Achtung Baby is the result of being torn apart and reduced to having to plead for understanding. I don't think people understand that context. This is the album that only an angry band could make and that's why it still resonates. That's why it doesn't feel like a comeback album, but it does feel like U2 has put far too much distance between themselves and how they came up with the innovative sound on that album.

U2 needs to make another one of these and come back, fully, into the world with some anger instead of some wry comments about the bar scene. Whatever they just tried to do isn't cutting it anymore.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Members of SlowdiveMogwai and Editors are part of a newly-announced project.

The band will go by the name of Minor Victories, featuring Slowdive's Rachel Goswell, Editors guitarist Justin Lockey, Mogwai' bandleader Stuart Braithwaite and James Lockey of Hand Held Cine Club.

Pitchfork report that the group are at work on their debut album and that the release will feature a duet between Goswell and Sun-Kil-Moon's Mark Kozelek.

I am not a huge fan of Mr. Kozelek, but I'll give this a chance when I can hear it.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Gibson Guitars and Wishful Thinking

I get why Gawker is going after Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz--he's an asshole who is completing the mission of ruining a venerated American company. That's their take on it, and they have been beating that drum for a few years.

The story of any American company that is being run into the ground in similar to this in some way--lack of innovation, poor leadership, declining values, outsourced employees, and mismanagement of enormous proportions. Companies are being bled dry. Companies are making shoddy products and trying to appease stockholders. Companies are just plain useless. Many others are just going in the wrong direction and can't get any traction.

Gibson, like Harley Davidson, and like anyone else you want to mention, are companies that are simply  going away because the culture is changing. So, you can rag on Juszkiewicz all you want, but fewer and fewer people are getting invested in what Gibson is selling, and that's music performed by a person after years of study and hard work. As a product, the guitar is losing value because we are caught up in nostalgia.

There is only one kind of person who is interested in paying more than $25,000 for a guitar, and that person is aging rapidly and has a lot of money and isn't interested in anything other than acquiring a status symbol. If you explained to them that a $1,000 Epiphone guitar is just as good, you're never going to hear the end of it. If you pointed out that Paul Reed Smith is making better instruments, all you're doing is confirming the fact that people are not interested in facts. They want something they can put in their house that will make others envious. 

I have four cheap guitars that I love to play. I switch between them, put new strings on when I can, and I play when I can. I'm not interested in playing live in front of people--I just want to have the experience of playing an instrument that will respond to what I put into it, which is not a lot, to be honest with you. I don't care about the Les Paul guitar because I'm never going to own one. I've been priced out of the market.

Now, it used to be that Gibson would make models that appealed to people like me--music used to be affordable. Greed drove up the prices and the notion that there was something in the wood, something in the laquer on the surface of the wood (bullshit), something magical that science couldn't verify took hold. The need for people to create exclusivity with owning a wooden box with strings on it has driven affordability into the ground. 

Gibson has priced people out of their market. They have a failing business model and the culture is abandoning this thing we call music because no one can make a living at it anymore. The number of people who will order a custom Gibson guitar and pay a huge amount of money for it is dwindling every day because we devalued the music business to such an extent that you're going to see the ripple effect. 

It's all disappearing and dying, and when the Baby Boomers are done, a slew of companies that appealed to them and milked them for all of their cash will go with them into oblivion. Everything that you can say about a Gibson guitar you can also say about Corvette cars and Harley motorcycles--they're now overpriced, they're not as good as they once were, and the one I own is better than yours.

American culture now values video games and music created by DJs more than it does the creation of music with hands and amplifiers and recording studios. There's no money it and it's never coming back. It's like the era of wooden ships--sure, there are people who know how to sail but nobody retains the knowledge and skill necessary to do it the way it was done two or three hundred years ago. If you want it all to be like it was, that's just nostalgia and wishful thinking.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Jesus and Mary Chain Darklands Deluxe Edition

There is so much to love about this album. Everything inside of this package--the deluxe edition--is worth the price and more. This is the golden age of the deluxe edition, and to see the JAMC produce these versions is wonderful. Lush absolutely requires the deluxe edition treatment, of course.

But just to focus on the one thing that I am posting about--the cover. This is the second album, and second albums come with their own curse. Darklands is no curse--it is a standalone masterpiece. And the moody, dreamy cover explains exactly what you're going to get from this album.

In the 1980s, no one was making this kind of music. No one could, and no one has ever since.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Carrie Brownstein Can Write

Now, this could be an excellent book. Carrie Brownstein is a legitimate contender for most talented person in the history of whatever. She can act, she can do comedy, she can write, and she can play music. These kids today couldn't do half of what she does before breakfast.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Definitely Gnomey

These are garden gnomes, done up to resemble four members of Oasis, circa 1995. This is the post-Tony McCarroll version, and Steve White is missing because they only do the four gnomes, not five.

Previous efforts include the Gnome Roses and Ranomes. Check it out.

Friday, December 12, 2014

All About Eve

This is incredibly unfair, I know, but here's what you need to know about this photo.

First, it's of the band All About Eve.

Second, it's a promotional photo so everyone has been styled, dressed, and made up. Their record label probably spent a large sum of money on this photo.

Third, these are not miserable people, but they are posed in such a way as to appear miserable. When the man said, "no mardy bums," this was what he was talking about. But All About Eve were excellent and talented so it all worked out in the end.

Fourth, whoever took the photo did the band a disservice and should have opted for something else. As in, anything else.

When there actually were record labels and photographers who did this sort of thing, the promotional photos were used to help the A&R people "sell" the band. Not much of that happens anymore. But, if you're in a band and if the person trying to take your picture does this to you, beat them up.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

U2 Songs of Innocence

A very happy surprise, indeed.

U2 partnered with Apple to do what Radiohead did and give away an entire album for nothing except the bandwidth and the computer used to play the files. It was, as the kids say, free. But free music means you have to have an entry into the world of Apple products and an Apple ID and a device on which to store and play the files that correspond to what used to be delivered on a shiny disc. The album is a strange format nowadays, and you can tell by the cover of Songs of Innocence.

What's an "LP" and what's a factory test pressing? Who still collects these things? Audiophiles, for one, and I have a few test pressings myself, as well as radio station only releases and the like. U2 are paying homage to how things used to be--an album would come out as a test pressing when it was being introduced to the music promotion industry--hence, the scrawled text and the stamped look of this release.

What does it sound like? No idea. I downloaded it from iTunes and I'll give it the chance it deserves. You measure U2 albums by decades now, and this is the only album they've put out in this decade so it should be special and unique. Don't hold your breath for the next one--all indications are that they went through a difficult process of going back to their roots for this one, and, to me, that spells finale.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No One Cares About Adore, Billy

Good God, Billy. They didn't care about Adore when you released it, and they're going to care even less when you put out a bloated 107 track version of it.

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan has criticised Amazon for allegedly leaking the tracklisting for the reissue of his band's 1998 album, 'Adore'.

It has been revealed that the reissue, which is set for release on September 23, will comprise of 107 tracks on seven discs, featuring demos with Rick Rubin, home recordings, outtakes and live recordings. Corgan has written online that he wished to inform fans of the tracklisting, but has claimed that Amazon broke an agreement and posted the information on their website.

"Amazon decided to break an agreement and post track listing of ADORE first; despite assurances otherwise that asked us to wait," wrote Corgan on Facebook. "OBVIOUSLY I've had the 'Adore' tracklist for four months, and could have posted anytime." He went on to write a more lengthy piece at the official Smashing Pumpkins website, also laying into the current state of the record industry.

Now, to be fair to Billy--this is for the fans. They're not going to print up 500,000 of these and stack them inside of 2,000 Wal-Marts by the greeter. I get that. I wish there was a 107 track version of a lot of the albums I love. 

But for Adore?

Come on.

This is why I have laughed my ass off at the re-release of The Division Bell by Pink Floyd, and why I had a good laugh at the idea that their "latest album" would feature the discarded remains of the TDB sessions. 

Sometimes, the well runs dry. You can't keep milking mediocrity. Knowing when to go elsewhere for water, that's the trick.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Irish People Are Desperate to Hear Anyone Instead of U2

Holy cow, Ireland.

Garth Brooks has criticised the handling of his five concerts in Dublin after they were cancelled earlier this week.

Last week, Dublin City Council granted permission for only three concerts in Croke Park. All five were called off on Tuesday.

Brooks was addressing a news conference in Nashville and said he "didn't have a clue how we got here".

"Don't sell a show to people, get their hopes up and then just cancel."

He said that the "powers who can fix it" should "open it up for the five nights, let everybody have fun and then go to work on never letting it happen again".

The problem here is that the Irish remember their history. They should have followed the precedent of Croke Park and allowed only three shows. U2, for example, have made it a habit to play Croke Park and drive everyone crazy with live versions of songs that no one likes.

Vertigo Tour· 2005-06-24 - Dublin, Ireland - Croke Park (24 songs)· 2005-06-25 - Dublin, Ireland - Croke Park (25 songs)· 2005-06-27 - Dublin, Ireland - Croke Park (26 songs)

360° Tour· 2009-07-24 - Dublin, Ireland - Croke Park (24 songs)· 2009-07-25 - Dublin, Ireland - Croke Park (23 songs)· 2009-07-27 - Dublin, Ireland - Croke Park (23 songs)

If you go to that link and read the statistics, they've played Vertigo nine times and All I Want is You only once. Their sets go on forever--many of those songs run on for six or seven minutes while Bono ad libs at the end, drawing them out so everyone in the band can take a break.

I know. WTF?

By bringing in Garth Brooks this year, the Irish people were desperate to keep U2 from playing later this year to promote an album they aren't releasing in order to make up for their tax dodging ways. Brooks was the savior of the people, and look how they've treated him. Very shabby. To my knowledge, Brooks has only lost his mind once and pretended to be a pop star. Bono--twenty-five years or more now, and there are no signs of letting up. 

Brooks has never crawled out of a lemon and he doesn't play Vertigo, so you can see why everyone is upset. If he doesn't play Croke Park, get ready for three more performances of Vertigo and a whole lot of Pop and No Line on the Horizon songs no one wants to hear.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kristin Hersh A Cleaner Light

This is an excellent example of using abstract images to draw people into a CD cover. Granted, the effectiveness of this strategy is difficult to assess--if the single tanks, do you blame the artwork? If the single sells well, do you put it down to the artist or to the marketing?

In this case, Kristin Hersh was embarking on a solo career in the early 2000s and this single from 4AD used three acoustic b-sides and some fuzzy imagery to move the idea into people's heads that she was on her own and that this was entirely her own affair. I would call that honesty in marketing and even though you probably couldn't find this in your local shop, you can get it online and it's part of the artist's history. That makes it a worthwhile endeavor, no matter what.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cast Flying

Cast put out a single called Flying. It has one of the sweetest sounding distorted guitar solos I have heard in a long, long time.

That's it. That's the whole post.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Midnight Oil Blue Sky Mine

This is the cover and the reverse of Midnight Oil's Blue Sky Mine (Food on the Table Mix) single, and, if I had known about this in 1990, I would have bought it and played the hell out of it. I played the album Blue Sky Mine relentlessly, loving the whole thing. To me, they were as good as anyone else and I've been coming back around to their albums, trying to find the gems out there.

Which were plentiful, don't get me wrong. Australia's greatest band, bar none, and the one that mattered. This was the big single of a new decade, closing out the 1980s and following their biggest album, Diesel and Dust. I thought this was every bit as good if not tighter and more focused and positively full of tension.

How did they do it? I have no idea. A Midnight Oil album is unlike anything you will ever hear. No one ever said "oh, they sound just"

Who, exactly?

I still can't come up with an answer.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Church Live at the Sydney Opera House

This is the long-awaited live album that The Church never really ever wanted to do. It involved a massive orchestra and a temporary peace amongst the players.

Do the right thing and buy this album and support these artists...