Sunday, December 27, 2009

Meanwhile, Jim Sorgi's Wikipedia Page Remains Unvandalized

6:26pm Indianapolis local time:
6:27 Indianapolis local time:

Monday, December 21, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s: The Recap and #1 Entry


THE LIST THUS FAR:


Take your best guess as to the identity of entry #1, then click below to revel in your own indifference!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #28: You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb by Spoon

Can you go wrong with any song from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga?  The answer is no.  Unless you go with "Eddie's Ragga."  In that particular case, you indeed can go wrong.  More like Eddie's borophyll.  Am I right everyone? 


Regardless, if Phil Spector was still spending his time focusing on innovative production techniques, rather than shooting b-movie actresses, this might be the result.  It's a fact:  Chimes have never detracted from a song's quality.



Earlier this week, Metacritic declared Spoon to be the artist of the decade, based on the average review scores from the four albums they released in the 2000s.  I can't argue too much with that pick, but the logarithm that they developed to reach the conclusion seemed too nerdy for me to even bother deciphering.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #4: Rebellion (Lies) by Arcade Fire

Attention Arcade Fire:

I would like to see this happen at some point between August 6-8, 2010, in Grant Park.  Thank you and good day.



Every time I see footage of the music festivals at Reading or Glastonbury, I always think the same thing:  what is with the massively huge flags?  I like to picture the flag wavers actually trying to get through the front gate at the start of the festival hauling such a comically large banner.  Do they plant them in the ground or actually hold on to them the entire time?  It really just seems like a big hassle, but I say that as someone who hates bringing anything I don't need to outdoor fests.  Every year I have an inner debate on whether to even bring sunscreen, weighing back and forth the slight inconvenience of a bulge in cargo shorts vs. a sure-fire blistering sunburn to my pale Irish face.  It's usually a 50-50 proposition on whether I bring the sunscreen or not.

Friday, December 18, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #50: The Island by The Decemberists

I often wonder if there's any record of the first band to achieve critical acclaim on an independent label, then later sign with a major label.  I would guess that due to past technological and financial overhead, this mythical band would have to be relatively recent, say in the last 30 years or so.  And I'm guessing as the first wave of the occasion took place, people likely thought that a band getting more money to record in a better studio with a better producer and wider distribution channels was a pretty positive thing.

But the tale has become one of wariness.  You get the feeling now that if a successful band announced their leaping from an indie to major label, they'll hear as many people saying "Watch Out!" as those that give congratulations.  This notion would be one of pop music's great myths, except that all too often the bands themselves turn the folklore into reality.  They end up writing radio-friendly, emotionally vacant singles that they never thought of doing before, or they waste their advance checks, or they over-experiment with all the new toys at their disposal and end up pulling a 180-degree turn from the songwriting that got them the deal in the first place.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #96: Fountains of Wayne Hotline by Robbie Fulks

98% of all parody songs every written fall in the mediocre-to-terrible range.  But this 2005 Robbie Fulks offering is hilariously stunning.  It's fun in all aspects of music theory, cracking the code of the keys to Adam Schlesinger's glory.  Who knew there were so many Geralds available to assist with cracking the final chorus?



From 6pm Tuesday to 6pm Wednesday, I was at the Second City theater witnessing Steve Albini's annual fundraiser for Chicago kids in need.  There were about 200 people packed into the small theater when it began, and I decided I was going to stick the whole thing out.  It took several hours for me to regret this decision.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #76: Stillness is the Move by Dirty Projectors



Hammer pants.  Of course.  If you're going to co-op the best aspects of hip-hop production, why not simultaneously channel the secret shame of the industry.  Sew up some curtains and the rest is smooth sailing.

The early 1990s was clearly the heyday of ridiculous pants.  Parachutes pants may had fallen from grace at that point, but nobody really had time to miss all those zippers.  Instead, society witnessed an epic collision on the x-y axis of fashion when the irresistible force of Hammer pants met head on with the immovable object that was Zubaz, (a company I'm amazed to discover still exists)!  By the time I was in 7th grade, I had a pair of legitimate Notre Dame Zubaz pants, along with an additional pair of Dunham's-style Zubaz knockoffs.  Hammer pants never quite conquered the consumer market; they were more a symbol of what could be attained one day as opposed to a logistical reality for pre-teens of the midwest.

But on an 1992 overnight bus ride in Pennsylvania, I discovered what it was like to witness the majesty of the Hammer pants with my own eyes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #2: B.O.B. / Hey Ya! by OutKast


That's right, we're going Two for Tuesday!

Classic Rock FM radio has offered no shortage of terrible ideas throughout the years, but the "Two for Tuesday" concept might be my favorite.  (And by "favorite," I obviously mean "most despised").  I spent the summer of 1998 in Clayton, Indiana, running electricity at a new school construction project.  The electrician running the job had Q95 blaring for 8 solid hours a day, so I became well versed in sitting through roughly 7 1/2 hours of awful classic rock/Tom Raper radio ads each day, clinging to the oasis of the random Led Zeppelin offering that would disrupt the stream of Foghat or Yes or Skynyrd or any other godawful 70's "legends".  But Two for Tuesday was clearly the most brutal day of the week.  "You mean instead of suffering through one shitty Santana song, I have to hear that terrible guitar for two songs in a row?!  Perfect.  If you need me, I'll be in the room next door driving this phillips head screwdriver directly into my ear canal.  Hopefully I'll have bled to unconsciousness by the time the back-to-back Foreigner hits make it on air.  Feel free to resuscitate me when the 'We Will Rock You'/'We Are the Champions' medley hits.  Or when they play some Supertramp." 

Monday, December 14, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #78: Digital Love by Daft Punk




Only 7 more to go!  I'm feeling winded and may be hallucinating.  This is where the grind of all those summer park practices is really going to pay off.  Or I'll collapse in the final sprint.  But first, let's journey to the way back machine:
Of the six tracks that feature vocals, four are smothered with the synthesized pitch corrector. On tracks like "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," the duo make it work by pushing the instrument to its breaking point, squeezing out subhuman glips and merging the vocals into a Vai-style synth-guitar solo. But when the band relies on the tool merely as a gimmick, as on "Digital Love" and "Something about Us," the sentimental love songs come off with all the heart-melting earnestness of Kid Rock's "Only God Knows Why."
- Pitchfork 6.4 review of Discovery, 2001

They wanted their listeners to get the rush of context-free delight they had hearing music as kids, and on "Aerodynamic" and "Digital Love" they succeeded wildly, dissolving a decade-plus of dance music good taste...When a generation looks back and tries to catch a fuzzy hold of the music that made them happy this decade, Daft Punk's will be top of the list.
- Pitchfork on Discovery, the 3rd best album of the decade, 2009

The genius of music criticism is that you can never be wrong if you simply choose both sides.  See also:  Neutral Milk Hotel.

Also, it's interesting to note that although Discovery came in as the #3 album of the 2000s, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (a 9.0 album at the time of its release) did not crack the top 200.  Apparently the much ballyhooed influence just didn't take in that instance.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Who's Number 12?


The talk is on again.

Big Ten athletic directors (athletics director?) are calling for the conference to add a 12th team so that it might split into two divisions which would then lead to a conference championship game in football. It's not a new idea in the slightest, but according to Adam Rittenberg's report, the push this time might have a bit more muscle behind it. Or in Barry Alvarez's case, a bit more cheese.

I've been an advocate for a 12th team for the exact same reasons as Paterno and Alvarez. The Big Ten stopped playing football this season some time around Halloween it seems. While these conference championships and service academy showdowns fill the airwaves, the Big Ten and their two BCS teams are back in the Midwest twiddling their thumbs and shoveling snow. But the conference championship game will only be one effect of expansion.

The obvious first question is "Who?" Let's get this out of the way: it will not be Notre Dame. Notre Dame values autonomy almost as much as they value that NBC contract. The Irish aren't a large research institution like the majority of the Big Ten, and since they can't play defense they naturally belong in the Big East for basketball. Boo frickin' hoo, they already play most of the Big Ten in football anyway.

The usual suspects are thus: Syracuse, Louisville, Missouri, Iowa St. I'd say that Syracuse is out based on its private status. (Northwestern is a charter member of the Big Ten, but sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the publicly funded behemoths.) Iowa St. is a land-grant school (much like Purdue, Michigan St., Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio St., Penn St., and Wisconsin) but are they willing to back out of the Big 12? Missouri is in the exact same position.

That's why my money is on Louisville, and here's why. They've only been in the Big East since 2005. It would be an easy exit. What do they gain? Doesn't seem to be too much but they do get what every upwardly mobile entity wants: their own TV network. Additionally, they would be more geographically centered to their conference on an east/west axis, and I can see that making a much bigger deal for the travel budgets of smaller sports like volleyball and cross country.

If Louisville's the new belle at the ball, how will the divisions shake out? No doubt the deciding factor will be geography, but whose geography? Each school already has two permanent "rivals" as fixtures in the football season. I'd think this provision would stand in the new lineup, but then we must decide are we going East and West or North and South? If the breakdown were left and right we'd have
  • East: Michigan St, Michigan, Purdue, Indiana, Ohio St. Penn St.
  • West: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Northwestern, Illinois, Louisville.
Were it up and down we'd get a mess
  • North: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan St., Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue/Penn St.
  • South: Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio St., Louisville, Purdue/Penn St.
That scenario just won't fly. One can't expect Purdue and Indiana or Michigan and Ohio St. to vote on that separation.

The 12th team would add a tremendous amount of publicity for a short smattering of time and the Big Ten would no doubt shove it down your throat with more "Big Life. Big Stage. Big Ten." commercials. What would really go up in smoke though, no matter who is added, is a round-robin basketball schedule. Unless the Big Ten has plans to scrap the post-season tournament, there's little chance you'll see them expand to a 22 game home and away season.

Should all of this come to pass and I wake up one day shocked to find East Carolina or Ball St. in the the conference, I do know that one thing will not go away.

They'll always call it the Big Ten.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #40: All I Need by Radiohead

Twenty years from now, the children of the world will look back and laugh at us.  And they will be right to do so.  They will be browsing wikipedia from the dashboard of their hover cars and read all about how a band put out an album in 2007, and there was seemingly a worldwide mandate that everyone have an opinion about the distribution method of said album.  Preferably an opinion drenched in hyperbole.

In Rainbows is an excellent album.  But this is not enough for people who write about music.  It needs to be a physical symbol representing the obvious death of the record industry as we know it!  Or it needs to held up to embody a band so disconnected from their beginnings that they are hurting fellow artists by allowing their music to be sold for a fraction of a typical album!  In actuality, they are a band that realized every album is leaked early anymore, so they simply controlled the leak themselves. 

From my perspective, there were two marketing aspects of In Rainbows particularly fascinating that I'd like to see more of (and neither involve payment plans.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #13: Massive Nights by The Hold Steady

We had some massive highs
We had some crushing lows
We had some lusty little crushes
We had those all-ages hardcore matinee shows

 

I have no idea how T.A. Skate Shop became a live music venue.  When I was 15 years old, we walked in the front door, confused by what seemed to be a very ordinary showroom adorned with boards, wheels, and Airwalks.  We realized that we needed to enter behind the building, and walked inside, confronted with several large half-pipes in every direction.  Pinned against the far wall was a makeshift stage where SuperFatFlyBoy would rock out while the crowd watched, scattered throughout the room and sitting on various angles of skate ramps.  It certainly seemed like an odd place for bands to be playing.  This, of course, made the scene much more appealing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #36: Teenagers by My Chemical Romance

Let's be completely honest.  It's an uncomfortable feeling when you first admit, "Wow, I think I like My Chemical Romance."  Something about it seems very unnatural.  And yet as time goes on, you eventually are left with no choice but to look in the mirror and come to grips with the fact that The Black Parade has been in your car for the last three years.  Once you're honest with this self-realization, you'll find yourself lifted of any perceived guilt and secure in your enjoyment of ridiculously hook-laden emo pop.  After all, these guys are basically the new millennium's answer to Queen, and there's not a thing wrong with that.

My first exposure to My Chemical Romance came via MTV2's now-departed Subterranean series.  And I place all blame, for better or worse, on Marc Webb.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #90: The Influence by Jurassic 5



September 15, 1999
DATELINE: New York

The plan was now complete.

In April of my junior year, I was named general manager of the radio station.  When I applied for the position, I did so with one goal.  I needed to figure out a way to get a trip to the CMJ conference.  This task proved to be easier than I expected, so I grabbed 4 staff members and made my first trip to New York City.  We checked into our stereotypically cramped and run-down hotel room at 55th and 7th,  stepping inside the front door while a a police officer yelled at people outside in a stereotypical Brooklyn accent.  New York City was just like the movies!  But we weren't here to gawk.  We had business to handle, and a long day ahead.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #97: Who's Gonna Save My Soul by Gnarls Barkley

Last week, I started writing something regarding the fact that decreased impact of terrestrial radio airplay has diluted the impact of the "one hit wonder" in relation to past decades.  And yet I could never quite string together a cohesive narrative, primarily because the term "hit" at this point seems particularly difficult to qualify.  It was much easier to chart a hit when radio airplay held higher cultural significance, or when MTV in fact played a steady rotation of videos, launching certain bands to buzzworthy status before they disappeared into the ether, never to be heard from again, unless they were included on embarrassing mixtape challenges.

But alas, nobody has informed Billboard magazine of the downturn affecting one hit wonders.  They rolled out their top 40 of the decade today, and personally I find Daniel Powter's American Idol-fueled victory over James Blunt a significant upset. 

While I always enjoy the occasional remembrance of Crazy Town, Billboard's #7 pick seems out of place.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Chirstmas in December...oh, wait.

God bless Michael Cera.

Cera is starring in the upcoming comic book come film
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I'll admit I'm woefully ignorant of anything in the Scott Pilgrim universe when it comes to the Bryan Lee O'Malley works, but I am quite familiar with the origins of the name Scott Pilgrim.

The character draws its name from a song off of the second Plumtree album,
Predicts the Future. So, knowing my affinity for all things Plumtree I was more than stoked to find out via drummer Lynette Gillis that Cera will be wearing a Plumtree shirt in the film. Take it away, Lynette.

You may have heard: Plumtree is making an (onscreen) comeback! Thanks to Bryan Lee O'Malley, whose comic-turned-Universal pictures movie, The Adventures of Scott Pilgrim, stars Michael Cera wearing this yellow Plumtree shirt! So, now we have both yellow and black shirts for sale and a website on it's way. Soon we'll be receiving PayPal orders through the site but for now you can order shirts directly from us. $20 + shipping. Please write us here or at plumtreerock@gmail.com for more information.
xo, Plumtree

Not only will Plumtree be getting some serious pub thanks to George Michael Bluth, I finally have something to add to my Christmas wishlist. Dreams really do come true. The shirt in fact says "Mass Teen Fainting" in homage to the title of Plumtree's first album. I only hope that yellow shirt of Scott Pilgrim is as popular as the yellow shorts of Paulie Bleeker.

My real Christmas wish is that the unquenchable popularity of this nebbish overflows and the public demands Plumtree reunion shows. I could thereby drop some cash and make a weekend of a Plumtree/Get Up Kids "Fantasy Reunion" tour. (Get Up Kids are back together!...in Australia, damn). It'll happen, come hell or frequent flier miles.

All I need is one more Hum reunion show and I can have my Christmas in peace. Please God, allow some costume designer to buy Gob a You'd Prefer an Astronaut shirt for the Arrested Development movie and we'll all be in luck.

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #17: Say It To Me Now by Glen Hansard

It's two days in a row focused on movies starring two non-actors.  Unlike the "film" showcased in yesterday's post, Once manages to not be a abject failure on every level.

Of all the movies I've ever recommended to anyone, Once is undoubtedly the most difficult for me to articulate why it needs to be seen. The plot is not a particularly uncommon storyline.  To call the writing minimal is a vast understatement, and the documentary-style shooting employed in the film has at this point become an independent film archetype, if not a crutch in many cases.

But critical analysis and dissection don't do justice to the overall soul of the opening credits.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #6: Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson

The Emmy category for reality shows has existed for seven years, and The Amazing Race has won it every year.  This annual win always makes me happy, primarily because I enjoy any quantifiable result that punishes American Idol, a show which is not only terrible, but often can't even get off the air on time.  I've been involved with my producing my share of televised garbage in the past, but at least our garbage ended when it was supposed to.

And yet, my utter contempt of how American Idol has made a (further) mockery of popular music is at odds with the one exception to the rule of awful: Kelly Clarkson.  But why focus on Kelly's high points, when instead I can look back fondly on another American Idol-based debacle?

With that in mind, I decided to finally watch the 2003 film From Justin to Kelly.  As you can guess, I would immediately regret this decision.  Consider this an official Bad Idea Film Review.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #18: Smash Your Head by Girl Talk

Photo via Flickr
When Night Ripper was first released, it seemed like virtually every article about Greg Gillis mentioned that at some point, Gillis would likely be sued by every record label/band/rapper on the planet.  This has proven to not be the case at all.  Despite my best research, I couldn't find a case where anyone had taken legal action, and there's clearly a big sample size to choose from.  Granted, the fact that Gillis literally gives his albums away on Illegal Art's website means he's not breaking the bank from his studio outputs, so he's not flaunting riches in front of those whose work he drawing from.  Still, it seems kinda amazing that members of Kansas or Steve Winwood's attorneys haven't tossed out any cease and desist letters.

As Gillis himself pointed out last year, this exchange of media and variety of remix has developed to the point where it no longer contains the shock value of 2 Live Crew battling Roy Orbison over fair use copyright.  Today, original sounds are remixed or mashed-up and thrown onto youtube at record speeds.  And yet, as the number of amateur mash-up artists has exploded, Gillis's reputation has only grown, as his attention to detail and interplay between subjects has left the standard "slap one set of vocal over a different music track for a few minutes" schtick obsolete.

Friday, December 04, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #81: The Trapeze Singer by Iron and Wine




CLASSIC BEARDS OF THE DECADE

Sam Beam's beard AKA "The Intellectual"

Sure, he may have been a college professor before embarking on a career in beard-folk.  But I imagine Sam Beam's teaching style as similar to that of Donald Sutherland in Animal House, or Gruber in Freaks and Geeks.  Does this look like a man who's organized a campus protest or two?  Of course he has.  While audience requests between songs are a concert staple, I once witnessed first hand a concert-goer yell out "What are you reading?" to Beam, proving that beards can serve as nerd magnets.


Fleet Foxes beards AKA"The hirsute harmonies"

Let's face facts, at this point, the question on everyone's (AKA "my") mind is this.  What is the deal with the clean-shaven Fleet Fox?  Is he not allowed to grow a beard?  It seems as if he's the only one not allowed to sing, so perhaps it's a package deal, but either way, I haven't been this interested in someone's facial growth since I was a child, baffled over the "other guy" in ZZ Top.

Devendra Banhart's beard AKA "The patchouli shampoo"

He helps kid develop their coloring skills, and somehow looks even creepier when he's clean shaven.  His beard and musical output have followed similar trajectories, peaking in terms of quality in the middle of the decade, and gradually impressing less with each year since.

Kyp Malone's beard AKA "Beard Science"

Stephen Colbert has made no secret of his tenacious drive to ask the hard-hitting questions.  But no question delighted me more than when he interviewed TV on the Radio and asked if he could stroke Kyp Malone's beard.  When given the go ahead, Colbert declared the experience to be "like a vacation in a far away forest."  A forest packed with werewolves, I'm guessing.

Jookabox beards AKA "The shirtless wonders"

This Asthmatic Kitty write-up of the new Jookabox album is outstanding.  I had no idea, but it seems "the east side of Indianapolis in the 90s, [was] an area plagued by constant recession, pandemic homicide, and racial tension. A few strong tribes chose to stay in the area despite constant warnings from fleeing acquaintances."  Holy shit!  To think that I spent my childhood going to the Roller Cave without ever declaring my allegiance to 2-1 or the Hellraisers!  I'm luckily to be alive.

When I was in high school, I remember N.A.P. making similar claims about the war zone of 21st and Post.  I was highly skeptical at the time, but in hindsight perhaps I owe them an apology.  Could it be that niggas truly weren't playin'? 

(In all honesty, whoever is doing P.R. for Asthmatic Kitty deserves a raise.)


Will Oldham's beard AKA "Bonnie 'Prince' Beardy"

Is it the beard that makes his face look so bizarre?  Or is it the other way around?

Mark Everett's beard AKA "B"

EELS - "That Look You Give That Guy"
by Cooperative-Music
What a letdown.  You spend all day getting every detail of your beard, and the night in general, perfect.  You avoid a potential milk mishap while Padma is enchanted with your globe and collection of leather-bound books.   Just when things are at their peak, your damn dog throws on a tux and a top hat, and suddenly the dream with Padma comes crashing down right before your eyes.  We've all been there, but that doesn't make it any easier.  Learn the code, dog!  

Dan Auerbach's beard AKA "The hockey playoffs"

It's hard to believe, but this photo is NOT a mug shot.

Doug Martsch's beard AKA "The elder statesmen"

He's the unstoppable force.  Year after year Built to Spill force people who hate jam bands to ask themselves, "Are these guys a jam band?"  The albums say "No!" but the beard says "Of course!  What kind a stupid question is that!  Are you even seeing this beard!" The live show comes down somewhere in the middle. 

?uestlove's beard AKA "The second fiddle"

It's the most underrated beard in music, due primarily to the attention-grabbing due on top of his head.  If his afro is Kid A, then the beard is Amnesiac, lost in the shuffle of what precedes it, but a classic when judged on it's own merits.  

But I'm primarily putting this photo up to ask a crucial question.  What is the deal with Japanese kids and their widespread obsession with the peace sign?  Is there a logical reason behind it?  Is it some type of motor-skill developed through mind control of all Japanese infants?  I mean look at these kids! Perhaps Ross MacLochness can offer an explanation from his time in the Orient.  Needless to say, all those peace signs make me think there's some sort of plotting going on.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #59: Pyramid Song by Radiohead



Enough chatter.  Let's talk bottom line.  This is the best song Radiohead have ever written.  Real talk!


It's also a source of endless entertainment for me personally, as I recall  a 2001 night in West Hartford, Connecticut, wherein two of my friends got into a lengthy debate over the correct time signature of this song.  It was an epic war, comprised of words and hand drumming, and me alternately taking each of their sides, ultimately ending without resolution.  In fact, it's a fight that has never truly been settled between them to this day.  It also sadly ranks in the upper half of entertaining activities that can be generated within the state of Connecticut.





 

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #14: Wolves (Act I and II) by Bon Iver



Two minutes and 54 seconds into this track, one of the most personally captivating musical snapshots I've ever heard takes place.

This moment takes place within an album about which the back story has become indie folklore.  And indeed, it's pretty much impossible to hear a Bon Iver song without picturing the interior of that snow-covered Wisconsin cabin in your mind's eye.  It feels cold and lonely and necessary.  The remoteness and solitude embeds itself within every moment of the album's 37 minutes, and captures a soul-crushing intimacy that previously hadn't been pulled off since Elliott Smith died.  It is relentlessly authentic and raw in its magic.

Until that moment, 2:54 seconds into "Wolves."

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #60: I Summon You by Spoon

I'm a big fan of Black Cab Sessions, as it answers a question that has haunted mankind since perhaps the beginning of time itself.  Does music sound better when performed in the back of a British taxi?  The definitive answer:  I guess so?



And now, a completely unrelated thought of the continuing glory of The Room.

Monday, November 30, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #22: Sing Me Spanish Techno by The New Pornographers



On a 2006 workday, I heard a co-worker playing "The Bleeding Heart Show", and the following conversation took place:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #46: Ignition (Remix) by R. Kelly

Remember earlier this year when Pitchfork felt it necessary to actually review The Beatles' catalog?  That was awesome.  Is their any other website that could pull off such unfiltered pomposity in feeling they could actually say something new and worthwhile about The Beatles that nobody else had thought of in the past 40+ years?  Just think, mankind once spent decades wandering the wasteland of a perplexing society, pondering an uncertain afterlife without the knowledge that Beatles For Sale rates a 9.3, or Please Please Me is a 9.5.  Congrats, Animal Collective!  You're better than the damn Beatles!  Simply stunning.

Here's my point.  There are times when you have to admit to yourself that you have little to add to the discourse of a particular topic.  In the case of "Ignition," (the song with "Remix" in the title though there's apparently no non-remixed version), once John Darnielle constructed a list of 100 reasons to describe it's greatness, it became obvious that further dissemination would be clearly unnecessary.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #71: Irreplaceable by Beyonce

Pop music is, of course, littered with abhorrent trends.  But none irritate me more than the "art" of the vocal run, wherein a singer shows off his or her "talent" by attempting to hit somewhere between 3 and 87 notes within a single syllable.  I don't understand how anyone can possibly enjoy listening to such horrors.  Everyone knows that Christina Aguilera can sing.  Does that mean we have to just sit back and take the abuse while she goes on her perpetual quest for the damn brown note?

The quest for vocal histrionics has become a bizarre American Idol-like litmus test.  Who gives a rat's ass if you can sing.  Can you sing in 4 different octaves and annoy the shit out of anyone within ear shot?  Yes?  Then welcome to the music biz kid!***  No?  Then take your played-out act back to that karaoke hell from whence you came, MC Borophyll.  And don't even think about ever singing the National Anthem before a World Series game.


Friday, November 27, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #89: 156 by Mew



No matter where you live, local news is terrible.  When I was a college freshman, we were given a class project where different students each wrote a script and direction shot list for a different component of a mock local newscast.  Our instructor informed us that recent studies had determined that the top reason most viewers gave for watching their local news was weather coverage, which is entirely expected.  However, the #2 reason was initially a bit more puzzling:  Lotto numbers.  At first, I wondered if society simply contained more degenerate gamblers than I previously thought.  But now, I think it's all about lowered expectations.  Viewers know they can count on a weather report and the lotto numbers, but anything else is a crap shoot.  Will the top story be a report from downtown on a string of lights from a war memorial, still being erroneously called a "tree?"  Or will the local hard-hitting investigative reporter blow the roof off a scam involving faulting ceiling fans?  Nobody knows, but they know it will be awful.  And that it may involve "ball tapping."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #64: Impossible Germany by Wilco

Last summer, I went to see the Nels Cline Singers play at Martyr's.  I went in without ever hearing any of Cline's overwhelming catalog of solo work, but a friend gave me two pieces of advice beforehand.
1.  Don't expect anything remotely resembling Wilco.
2.  Do expect it to be really, really loud.

These proved to be sound pieces of advice.  The sound reverberated through the room to that point where you start to wonder, "Is it okay that I can feel my own heart vibrating within my chest?"  And you could clearly tell from various reactions around the room who the people were that were hearing something a bit different from their expectations.  It's probably the same reaction you might get from someone who loved The Straight Story, and thus attends a screening of Mulholland Drive.

Personally, I thought the performance was a highly entertaining look at what Spinal Tap may have been aiming for during their Jazz odyssey phase.  Especially if you replaced "Jazz" with something along the lines of "Avant-garde-noise-rock-kitchen-sink-jazz odyssey."  I'm not sure how else I would categorize offerings like this:


Sunday, November 22, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #49: The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash

The art of the fan-made music video montage is a practice I've never been able to wrap my head around.  Search for virtually any well known song on YouTube, and more often than not you'll find multiple fan edited productions using that particular number.  I'm not talking about those that create a concept and shoot their own video for a song (for example, this fan made Death Cab video was so impressive that it became the official video).  I'm referring to the baffling practice of pairing a song with unrelated clips of television/movie/video game characters.  Looking for a Wheatus/Gossip Girl production?  Not anymore you're not!  Is Lady Gaga more entertaining when simultaneously watching some clown play The Sims?  Shockingly, no.  Have you spent time wistfully pining, "If only I could combine the awfulness of Godsmack with the awfulness of the Saw franchise!"  I'm delighted to inform you that your awful wish is granted.   And to tell you to think of better wishes.  (And as a bonus, it's a video camera recording of a TV playing Saw.  The triple crown of failure!) ***

Yet the most perplexing array of fan videos I've seen thus far center around Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000's entry #95: Tonight's Not Alright by Plumtree

The first cell phone I owned was a tiny Japanese model that is still lighter than all phones I've owned since. One of the ever-so-Japanese gadgety features was the ability to program customized ring tones via a simplistic Do-Re-Me interface. Needless to say, when you're a highly overpaid and underworked employee of the Japanese government you'll find time to tap out a ring tone or two.

Flash then to some evening at one of the gaijin bars with great names like Spoon, Mondo, Flower, or Wanted. Somewhere in the mix, and most likely on purpose, I played my pocket-sized ring tone for Catriona. She was flattered and the insider tidbit she offered made me glow with glee.

The 20-second snippet I'd chosen to recreate in electronic polyphony came from "Tonight's Not Alright" by Plumtree. Thanks to Catriona I had a copy of This Day Won't Last at All and had fallen in love with its entirety. But the heartbreaking walk down the fretboard at the 2:16 mark had been what hooked me.

Now people will and try and make suggestions,
and it only makes sense,
'cause they're having days like today,
where everything seems so crisp and clear,
crisp and clear,
crisp and clear,
crisp and
clear.


The twelve notes that intertwine with those closing words have had an immeasurable and unexplainable effect on me. This album became the soundtrack to my time in Japan, and those twelve notes the backbone of my ring tone, an homage to band I would never see live.

The cool part, the part I can articulate, is that after my debut of Casio-proud talent, Catriona told me that those few seconds were singer and guitarist Carla Gillis's favorite part of the album. It used to strike me as odd that artists could actually like (or dislike) different parts of their work, but finding out that through some cosmic coincidence I was in love with the same moment as someone else made feel fuzzy.

I still have that cell phone and its AC adapter. I used to show it to people who even in this age of smart phones were mesmerized by its wee-ness. The battery used to hold a charge, but would lose full power from time to time. Some time ago, I got it out, plugged it in and fired it up. Evidently the battery can't sit dormant too long because despite any hopes, all stored memory was gone.

I lost my ring tone, but in all honesty, I don't seem to mind.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bad Idea Live Blog: Dayton vs Villanova

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #67: Ocean Breathes Salty by Modest Mouse


BAD IDEA PROGRAMMING NOTE
Check back to the site around 3pm ET/2pm CT today for a software test run masquerading as a liveblog of the Dayton vs Villanova game in Puerto Rico.  Hopefully some of the following questions may be answered:
  • Will Paul Williams again assume the role of the bespectacled lad in the above video, rescuing his flying friends from certain doom?
  • Will Marcus Johnson finally make a 3-pointer?  Or will he continue to play like a broken-winged Isaac Brock?
  • Did Chris Wright leave all his athletic ability at the welcome celebration?
  • Will I use any close officiating call to continue bitching about Ireland getting screwed by France?  (SPOILER ALERT: Yes.)
Be here.  Aloha.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #5: Crazy by Gnarls Barkley

This doesn't sound like a song someone wrote.  It sounds like something found in a time capsule, years after it was systematically created in a lab, and now we are hearing something that contains no obvious influence of the society in which it was created.  It comes from no discernible musical era, sounding like something that would seamlessly fit in with any genre of pop music that has existed within the last fifty years.  Likewise it refuses to be pigeonholed into any particular genre.  I mean the guy from Goodie Mob is singing over a spaghetti western sample, for God's sake.  This is a song that I can't imagine ever aging, specifically because it appears to be without age.  It just seems like something that has always been around, but we just didn't know about it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #63: Wilco (the song) by Wilco

So there's this band called Wilco.  You probably have never heard of them, but don't worry.  CBS Sunday Morning (aka my source for cutting-edge music reporting) will fill you in on a band that's been a well-kept secret, but might actually start getting some respect!



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #61: You Know You're Right by Nirvana



Monday, November 16, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #15: Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros

A full in depth dissertation of Sigur Ros' evolution from sparse, glacial minimalists to dynamic, orchestral showstoppers is coming after the jump!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #77: The Hardest Button to Button by The White Stripes

Which White Stripes/Michel Gondry collaboration is the best?  There is no wrong answer of course.  "Fell in Love With a Girl" probably holds the most cultural significance, while "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" seems ahead of its time, considering that Gondry's trademark projection got much more recognition when he repeated it for an equally enjoyable Paul McCartney video five years later.  "The Denial Twist" has a compelling concept but the manipulation gets distracting on repeat viewings.  That said, it's hard to find fault or boredom with a single frame of "The Hardest Button to Button."


Thursday, November 12, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #87: 1234 by Feist

Tuesday was Sesame Street's 40th anniversary. Naturally this post would have more sense on Tuesday, but planning ahead has never been my strong suit. Nevertheless, I present 10 classic Sesame Street musical moments after the jump.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #54: Day After Tomorrow by Tom Waits

Wow. I just found this video for the first time today, but I remember Chase shooting it when we were at Camp Arifjan in 2004.



I spent nearly three weeks in Kuwait in September 2004, and in the five years since, I still haven't been able to fully articulate the trip, aside from saying it was the best experience of my life.  The laundry list of things I witnessed still seems like something out of a Fellini movie, starting with the fact that my ride forgot to pick me up at the airport on arrival.  Imagine the normal encounter one gets when landing at a big airport, where cabbies bombard arriving passengers looking for a fair.  Now imagine that same group mentality, only everyone is speaking Arabic and you don't see any other white people.  Prejudiced or not, it's not something you can really prepare for.

Once I got my ride straightened out and got to the army base, I immediately jumped into an edit room and got to work, despite the fact that I had been up for about 24 hours straight at that point.  Within a couple minutes, a curious soldier poked his head in to see what we were working on.  I invited him in where this exchange took place:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #69: Fidelity by Regina Spektor



Oh Regina.  You and I have such a conflicted history together.  Half the time I find your slight vocal affectations unique and endearing, such as the "bett-aww" repetitions in the bridge above.  Yet often times you can't contain yourself, and what begins as charming goes overboard (see the chorus progression through "Us," or the terrible newer song that reminds me of Joan Osborne*) to the point where I entertain thoughts of ramming an ice pick through my ear.

Monday, November 09, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #58: Kim and Jessie by M83

SIX VIDEOS INCORPORATING THE ART OF SKATING


"Kim and Jessie" by M83
Oh they have a secret world, alright.  A secret world involving creepy eyebrows, homages to Thriller and The Big Lebowski, and a variety of ways to resist each others charms, intertwined limbs and all.  Bonus points for the subtle social commentary of having the girls switch to rollerblades for the second half. 




"Get Myself Into It" by The Rapture
Well of course!  The hipsters wearing white suits are OBVIOUSLY going to throw the biggest multi-cultural skating party you've ever been to!  They hang out with the guy wearing the Patrick Ewing jersey all the time!  For you to suggest anything else makes YOU the asshole.  Their friend in the fedora totally has their back.  We're gonna meet back up with him later for some clowning.

Side note:  Skating while playing a saxophone will land your ass in Roller Cave jail faster than you can say "Hey mom, why cook?"


 

"Kissing the Lipless" by The Shins
I don't know how it got started, but it's always there.  Anytime I see a man ice skating by himself, something inside me really wants to see him fall.  ESPECIALLY if he's wearing an "outfit."  I've accepted that this is the way it is, and ultimately I blame Chris Farley.
 




"Medicine" by Orbit
The graceful ice ingenue who pulled off a triple salchow into one Ross MacLochness' heart.  It's all in the hips.




"Nothin' My Love Can't Fix" by Joey Lawrence
This video is like a documentary of my adolescence.  Every weekend, me and my friends would make our way to the wrong side of town.  It was covered in graffiti and despair, so it was the perfect place to dance on skates, practice floor exercises, and fill up buckets with acrylic paint then dump them out for no reason! Once we had our fill of chillin' on scaffolding, we'd head to the beach for a football game, where I would play both quarterback AND wide receiver.  And I haven't even gotten to the giant disorientation globe that we'd spin in!  Most people only ride in those at Space Camp, but we always just had one with us.  It's how we roll.  One time the flannel shirt I had around my waist got caught in one of the rings at the playground.  Whoa, indeed.





"Fully Flared" by Spike Jonze
Nobody is wearing skates here.  And technically, this isn't a music video.  It's the intro to a skating video that Spike Jonze directed.  However, it might as well be an M83 video since the soundtrack is their song "Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun" (full circle!) That said, this video is five minutes of jumps and explosions, all in slow motion.  Having read that last sentence, you're probably saying to yourself, "There's nothing in that description that doesn't sound ridiculously awesome!"  And you are right.