Monthly Archives: December 2012

“Cola” by Lana Del Rey Rules

Last night I stopped by the record store after imbibing in a few pints of adult libations.  While browsing, I spotted Lana Del Rey’s new album PARADISE and picked it up, mostly to make fun of it.  I turned the CD over and the first thing I noticed was the song “Cola.”  I really like that word for some reason and I thought it was a strange word to title a song.  Was this song about soda?  Did the word cola actually in the song?  Theses and many other questions entered my mind.

This woman is a genius.

This woman is a genius.

I immediately announced that I was going to listen to this song when I got home.  Of course, I forgot because I had a bunch of other stuff going on, but just before I went to bed I recalled Lana Del Rey and her soda-song.  I fired up my Spotify app and played “Cola.”

I didn’t know what to expect when I hit play but I certainly wasn’t expecting “My pussy tastes like Pepsi cola, my eyes are wide like cherry pies, I gots [sic] a taste for men who are older.”  I burst out laughing and hit rewind so I could listen again. When the song was over I played it again.   Then I played it again. I texted my friend and told him he had to listen to “Cola,” that it was too funny/strange to dismiss.

Once the initial shock/glee of hearing a young woman breathlessly sing about how her pussy tastes like Pepsi cola wore off, I started to get angry.  Why was this woman famous? Her image and album are everywhere! She’s a hack/phony/fraud.  I thought about all the really great singers out there who would kill to have her level of exposure and how much better their songs probably are.  It made me sick.

Then I sat back and tried to think about why I was so angry.  Is it because “Cola” is a bad song? Well, no.  “Cola” is actually a really good song, despite the strangeness of it. Then I thought, is it because she’s a bad singer?  Again, no.  Lana Del Rey may not be the world’s greatest singer, but she does have a unique, breathy-vocal style that isn’t unpleasant to hear.  And in a world where everyone in the music business is trying to sound exactly the same, Lana Del Rey definitely has a unique sound.  When one hears Lana Del Rey they immediately recognize that’s whom they’re hearing.

I realized that my confused feelings were the result of only one thing: art-pop.  Lana Del Rey catches a lot of flack because she’s been marketed to us all as Adele when that’s not who she is.  This is art-college let’s-all-shave-our-heads kind of stuff.  As soon as I realized this, I started to wonder if her less-than-stellar SNL performance wasn’t some sort of performance-art stunt.

Now, I’m not saying that Lana Del Rey is some kind of genius.  Don’t get me wrong, being weird for the sake of being weird can be lame and tiresome, but in small doses it’s fun.  And that’s what “Cola” is, it’s a four minute dose of weird.  I’m sure somewhere someone can explain her message, man. Al I know is, Lana Del Rey somehow convinced a lot of people to release a song in which she sings about how her pussy tastes like Pepsi Cola: if for no other reason that should earn her our respect.  Fun fact, this song reached #22 on Billboards rock charts.

Awesome. Lana, you go girl.

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“Cola” by Lana Del Rey Sucks

For the past few weeks, every time I go anywhere that sells music I see Lana Del Rey.  She stares at me, seductively, from the cover of her album PARADISE.  The only thing I knew about Lana Del Rey was that she was super-polarizing and that her appearance on SNL a while back was much maligned.  I saw that performance and didn’t think it was as bad as everyone said, but then again I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty face.

Like. Pepsi. Cola.

Like. Pepsi. Cola.

Anyway, last night I was stumbling through my local record store and for some reason I decided to pick up PARADISE.  I turned it over and was amused that one of the tracks was titled “Cola.”  I told my friend who was with me at the time that I was going to listen to this song when I got home.

And so, a few hours later, just before I went to bed I entered the world of Lana Del Rey.  I fired up Spotify and gave “Cola” and most of PARADISE a listen.  I picked “Cola” because that word seemed so odd on the back of a CD, especially on the back of one with such an enigmatic person on the front.

I didn’t know what to expect when I hit play but I certainly wasn’t expecting “My pussy tastes like Pepsi cola, my eyes are wide like cherry pies, I gots [sic] a taste for men who are older.”  I guess my first thought was Gee, this song should be titled “Pepsi Cola” and then I realized that there was no way in hell Pepsi would let her get away with that. The song is dark, brooding, and kinda sexy…but they lyrics are atrociously stupid.  The kind of vapid non-sense girls AND boys in creative writing classes the globe over churn endlessly churn out.

On just about every level, I can’t imagine who this song is supposed to appeal to.  Is “Cola” a four-minute joke?  Is Lana Del Rey making fun of us for making fun of her by releasing a song this absurd? I don’t know and I’m not sure I really care. As I get older I find my patience for this sort of thing gets shorter and shorter.  I really wanted to give Lana Del Rey a fair shake, but “Cola” made it virtually impossible for me to do that, it’s just too ridiculous. 

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FERAL by New Fad Zoo

When it comes to finding new, awesome music, I try to be as proactive as possible.  I’ve checked out bands/albums because of reviews I’ve read in magazines (both positive and negative), TV appearances, ads online, and even patches on jackets I see at concerts.  One thing that I am notoriously bad about, however, is taking personal recommendations.

I’m a notorious reader and my office is filled with books that people have given me that I simply “must read.”  I try to get around to them eventually, but I’m fickle when it comes to doing things I “have” or “must” do.  It goes the same way with music.  Since starting DAR, I’ve had more than a few people I both know and don’t know try to give me music I “must” hear.  There’s only a handful of people who can tell me to listen to something that’ll actually convince me drop what I’m doing and put headphones on: one is an Uncle in Tennessee.

Anyway, I was on Facebook and a friend of a friend that I’m somehow friends with (ah, the digital age) posted a link to a Kickstarter fundraiser for his brother’s band. They wanted to go on tour and were trying to raise funds.  I like the idea of Kickstarter, even though I’ve only contributed to one (now two) so I checked out the link.  And thus, I was indoctrinated into the world of New Fad Zoo.

new fad zoo

“I’m what happens when shooting stars and Mars meet, with the Big-Bang theory heartbeat, in High School I hung out with bullies and smart geeks, stoners and jocks, slut goths and car freaks, I ain’t fitting in I’m an artist.”

People are always surprised when they find out I listen to rap (or country for that matter) but the truth is there isn’t a genre of music I don’t like or listen to.  I will say that I’m not as much an authority on rap as I am on rock, pop, and blues.  But I do like rap, in fact, many current readers might be surprised to know that the very first album review posted on this blog was a review of The Beastie Boys HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE PART TWO.

But I digress.  New Fad Zoo are a quartet of dudes living in Atlanta whose first album, FERAL is the real deal.   What sets New Fad Zoo apart from the mob of pretenders is a knack for strong hooks and a razor sharp wit.  I was  blown away by how musically diverse/textured FERAL is.   Now, I realize that today’s generation of rappers are just as likely to know music and/or play an instrument, but I still feel like many (especially in the underground) still don’t place enough emphasis on music.  A beat is important, but if you can create a musical hook equal or greater to a lyrical hook—then you have a million dollar song.

New_Fad_Zoo_Feral-front-large

New Fad Zoo doesn’t just have a few million dollar songs—they have a couple of billion dollar ones, too.  The heart-felt “Smile 4 Me,” the club-thumping “Ima Needa,” and “Love is Wild.”  I would like to go on record and say that “Love is Wild” is a number 1 record.   Period.  The record industry is all screwed up today, so it might not happen, but some savvy film producer or commercial director place that song in their film/ad it would sell 5 million units on iTunes.  “No Such Utopia” and “Me Against The World” take a break from the fun and are poignant, painfully honest songs about grief, fear, and anger.  In the context of the album, these harder-edged, serious songs provide much needed balance that many artists fail to achieve.

This balance only further underscores the fact that New Fad Zoo are a serious music force.  One that not only gets your head bobbing, but is able to get their songs implanted deep into your brain.

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The Most Embarrassing Record I Own

One of the best parts of starting this blog has been all the new friends I’ve made.  One of the first regular rock-blogs I bookmarked (after my own) was Every Record Tells A Story.  I’ve always been jealous of that name, because I think it’s so true.  Whereas I’m a neurotic, weekend-warrior, my friend over at ERTAS is the real-deal.  His posts are both plentiful and of the highest quality, which is a rare in the blog-o-sphere.

When a blogging award was justly bestowed upon his site, he singled out Defending Axl Rose as one of 5 he enjoys.  For me there could be no higher honor, because I really admire the work that he does over at Every Record Tells A Story.  For spreading the love around to me and my humble blog, I thank him.

The question was asked “What is the most embarrassing record you own?” and I didn’t have to think very hard OR very long to come up with a response.  Would you believe that the most embarrassing record I own is SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND?  No, not the good one…

Dear God, this record is a holy terror: the greatest songs of all-time bathed in the worst of the 70s.

The greatest songs of all-time splattered with the worst shit of the 70s.

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Crossfire Hurricane & Becoming A Better Stones Fan

I love documentaries.  I really love them.  I don’t think I’ve seen a bad documentary, per say.  I subscribe to the theory that at the very least, a documentary will tell or show you something you didn’t know, and thus it wasn’t a complete waste of time.  Some are better than others.  The Martin Scorsese film on Bob Dylan, for example, is a damn good documentary.  Recently, I sat down and watched HBO’s Rolling Stones documentary Crossfire Hurricane, which while not as good as Scorsese’s No Direction Home, was entertaining.

crossfire hurricane poster

And how could anything about the Rolling Stones not be entertaining? As far as legendary bands go, the Stones are tops when it comes to drugs, debauchery, death, and deceit.  All the makings of a compelling documentary, right?  Well Crossfire Hurricane covers all the major points in the band’s storied career, but doesn’t really dig in very deep.  Some of it felt rushed and major chapters in the band’s career are glossed over. It wasn’t until the credits started to roll (and I thought, “That’s it?”) that I saw what the problem was: the band were the producers.

So Crossfire Hurricane is really the whitewashed version of the Stones as told by the Stones. If you’re super-fan, you’re not going to necessarily gain any new insights, but the backstage/behind-the-scenes footage is worth seeing.  We see the Stones at the height of their success doing drugs and running around half (or totally) naked backstage.  It’s all very cheeky and fun.

I really wanted to recommend Crossfire Hurricane as THE Stones documentary to see…but it’s not.  The real story is what happened after the credits had rolled: the next morning, all I could think about were the tunes.  I fired up Spotify and started skipping around in the band’s massive back catalogue. And then a funny thing happened: I discovered my all-time favorite Stones song.

STICKY FINGERS, compliments of Andy Warhol.

STICKY FINGERS, compliments of Andy Warhol.

I was listening to STICKY FINGERS while doing my laundry, when I heard “Bitch.”  I’d of course heard it before, but I didn’t hear it until this week.  The cocky, self-assured Jagger vocals, the brilliant Keef guitar lick…it was your standard-issue Stones song until the horns kicked in.  Holy shit, the horns take “Bitch” from good to fantastic. It was like hearing “Satisfaction” for the first time: I was blown away.

Which got me thinking, if a great never-played-on-the-radio song like “Bitch” could hit me like a bolt of lightning—what other astoundingly great Stones songs am I missing out on? Suddenly being a more causal Stones fan doesn’t seem so cool.  There is only one course of action: I must listen to everything by the Stones to ensure that I’m not missing out on any other gems.

To be fair, “Bitch” was a B-side to “Brown Sugar” so it wasn’t cast off into complete obscurity, but with B-sides like this who knows what awesome deep-cuts I’m missing out on.  These are the problems of a true music-nerd.  There are too many great bands with too many great songs left undiscovered.  Whenever I find a blank spot on my musical map, I try to fill it in.  That a band like the Rolling Stones has so many blank spots on my map is embarrassing, to be sure.  So even though I’m pretty sure I could die a happy rock-enthusiast without hearing the entirety of the Rolling Stones 80’s output—I’m gonna listen to it all.  Just knowing the singles and key albums is good, but the odds ‘n sods/deep-cuts are what keep me going, both as a fan and as a human being.

That endless quest for my next favorite song, that’s the very essence of what DEFENDING AXL ROSE is all about.  In the coming days, weeks, and months, I’ll post more about my travels in the Stones back catalogue.

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