Monthly Archives: December 2011

“The Death of You and Me” by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

In the interest of being fair to both Gallagher brothers, here is a song from Noel’s album:

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“The Roller” by Beady Eye

My next post will involve the classic struggle between the brothers Gallagher (formerly of Oasis). Until then, enjoy Liam’s song “The Roller.”

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Scenes From A Mall: Why is store music so BAD?

I spent the better part of today inside a shopping mall.  That bastion of capitalism isn’t what it once was, let me tell you. When I was a kid, I used to love visiting Sam Goody, where I’d flip through the racks of CDs.  I remember there were posters for new albums up by the register along with a big whiteboard that outlined the next four weeks worth of releases.  In an age before the Internet, that whiteboard was sometimes the only way to know if a band you liked was about to put out a new record.

But I digress, this post is about music and not music stores.  I went dress shopping with my kid sister and my mother.  While they were in the dressing rooms of several large department stores (I won’t name-names, I don’t want to embarrass anyone) I sat in that sad corner of the store.  You know what corner I’m talking about, the one with the plush but still uncomfortable chair.  The corner tucked away behind the picked-over sales rack.  Beyond the deep discounts, far from the front door,  I sat and played with my iPhone.

After sitting there for a few minutes, I noticed the noxious music playing overhead.  It was upbeat and pulsating, yet very non-threatening.  Energetic but dead.  There was also something vaguely familiar about it, but I couldn’t place any of the artists or the songs I was hearing.  That’s pretty rare for me, usually I can at least tell the artist if not the actual song. Intrigued, I fired up my Shazam app.  What I found was worse than I could have possibly imagined.

The first song that I tagged was by a band called The Dining Rooms.  I did a little research and found out that The Dining Rooms are an Italian band who play a dull mix of electronic jazz.  They derive their name from the fact that the music they create is meant to be something played quietly at a dinner party.  This music is essentially white noise for elegant dinning.  I can’t think of anything more offensive, artistically, than music designed to fill in the gaps between dinner pleasantries.  How do the people in The Dining Rooms sleep at night knowing that, if they do their jobs correctly, people will pay their songs little to no heed?

This really disturbed me.  The songs seemed to be a mix of this bland, meant-to-be-talked-over generic electric jazz and what I would call “wuss-rock.”  While not made by women, Wuss-Rock is always meant for them.  It has all the elements of normal rock music, but the handsome yet strangely effeminate singer usually over-emotes over a bed of pro-tools infused guitar and mechanically hollow drums.

I’d never heard of Josh Kelly or his song “20 Miles To Georgia” but I could have sworn I had.  He sounded a bit like Josh Groban,  Jason Mraz,  or even a castrated John Mayer.  The song wasn’t good or bad, it just sort was. I can’t remember anything about it other than the fact that it seemed overly earnest and packed with more emotion that the lyrics seemed to demand.

I guess this vague familiarity is what department stores want.  I suppose most people don’t really pay any attention, so why spend the money for Josh Groban when you can get a sound-alike who’ll pass?  As if going to the mall could be any more depressing, they have to barrage us with this soulless pap. 

For full disclosure, it wasn’t all bad-I must admit that I did like “It’s Amazing” by a singer named Jem.  Of course, I might have liked her so much because she was a palate cleanser of sorts for the dreadfully boring Dining Rooms.

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Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

It’s almost 2012 and I’m sitting here listening to a kick ass Beastie Boys album, how is this possible? Well it seems that the Beasties can’t, won’t, and don’t stop. Longevity in music is rare and among those still standing those who are able to stand tall are even rarer.  The Beastie Boys are standing tall.

Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock are still coming up with impressive songs that are both literate and funny.  The singles are just as strong as they were back in the ’80s.  The album opener, “Make Some Noise” is a party-anthem that manages to seamlessly name-check Ted Danson and Willy Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting drink.  While I don’t think doing that is impossible, the Beasties real talent lies in the effortlessness of it all.

Some commotion was stirred online when the band released a star-studded, 30+ minute video for “Make Some Noise.”  If you haven’t seen it I urge you to go watch it on Youtube.  The music video, which helped launched the Beasties career, may be dead but they band managed to revive it by bringing their A-list talent and some A-list friends.

The album features a few obligatory rap-cameos from Nas (who appears on the albums other single “Too Many Rappers”) and newbie it-girl Santigold on the dub-tastic “Don’t Play No Games That I Can’t Win.”  The former being a call to arms against the seemingly endless tide of pedestrian rappers clogging up the airwaves. The song, done by anyone else, would seem like another bragging session but the Beasties Boys can actually back up the fact that they’re the best because they are.  And the sentiment that the majority of the rap game is full of posers may not be exactly new, but it’s extra damming coming from the Godfathers of rap.  To all young rappers: you’ve been put on notice.

“Don’t Play No Games That I Can’t Win” meanwhile sounds like something from a later-period Gorillaz album.  Thick with horns and a thumping reggae-like beat it follows a recent trend in rap music where a guest-star takes center stage.   The song is good, but I mention it because it’s a very modern track, suggesting that the Beasties haven’t been just sitting on their laurels but have actually been paying attention to modern music.  I also think it’s interesting that they’d give so much space on their album to someone not in the band.

In general, I’d say that HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE PART TWO is fantastically textured, and it’s songs like “Don’t Play No Games That I Can’t Win” that help give the album that varied feel.  The instrumental track, “Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament” is another stand out that adds a nice bit of “otherness” to the album that elevates HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE to a higher plane of awesome.

My favorite track, “Lee Majors Comes Again” appears toward the end of the album and kills me every time I hear it. It’s vintage Beastie Boys with a killer guitar riff played over a nice synth bed topped with a frothy vocal hook.  For me, the song really showcases what’s so great about the Beastie Boys in that, it’s the perfect blend of genres rock and rap.

HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE PART TWO came about back in April and I’m still listening to it.  In 2011 that’s a pretty powerful statement.  Aging like a fine wine is a bit of a cliche, but that’s just what the Beastie Boys are doing. The fact that I want “Make Some Noise” my ringtone is pretty telling.  My personal theory on why the band is still good has to do with their sense of humor.  The Beasties have cultivated a foot-loose-and-fancy-free “party” attitude, but more than that they’ve never taken themselves too seriously.  I think a strong work ethic and immense pool of talent certainly helps, but I also think simply having fun is important.  HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE PART TWO is  “fun” to listen to.  As I think back on all the songs I’ve listened to this year, I can’t think of very many that were fun.  With war, recession, and unemployment dominating the headlines this year it’s nice that the Beastie Boys have provided us with an escape.

HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE PART TWO gets a (belated) “A-“

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Track #1

A lot of albums are “front loaded.”  By that, I mean that all the good songs are located at the beginning, so you don’t shut it off.  Bands today like to put their single in the number one or two position, and generally speaking by track six you’ve hit filler.

I think it’s a better idea to put your best songs towards the middle. Consider this post a slow build to something better. This is an introductory post, my “Track #1.”

I’m a toe-tapper. A record collector with too much time on my hands.  Other than plastic Guitar Hero instruments, I have no real musical ability.  Well, that’s not entirely true, when I was in the fourth grade I could play “Hot Crossed Buns” and “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on the violin. Of course I couldn’t do that now.  A few years ago I tried to learn real guitar, but I  failed after learning only the bare-basics.  I did figure out how to play “Smoke on the Water,” which is probably the single greatest rock song of all-time if only because it’s incredibly democratic (read: anyone can play it).

So who am I to judge or critique music? Well I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to pop music, in all its various forms.  Not to brag or anything, but I’m totally, 100% insane when it comes to music.  In high school, when the other kids were into sports and cars, I studied the blues.  For kicks one day I bought a Led Zeppelin boxset and lost myself for a few months.

I tend to go overboard-crazy about a particular style or band.  I become obsessed and have to hear “everything.” Then, when I’m good and immersed, I yank myself out and go the opposite direction. Part of this blog’s purpose will be to document my schizophrenic interests.

I also want Defending Axl Rose  be a conversation about music.

Track #1: This is what I love and obsess about.

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New Content Coming Soon

Defending Axl Rose has never been easy…new content coming soon.