Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kneel Towards Macca


The Maccabees "About Your Dress"

The Maccabees "Toothpaste Kisses"

The Maccabees, hailing from Brighton, hold just the right balance of indie swagger and pop jangle to be accepted by the throng in an Arctic Monkeys like embrace. Despite the fact that they're a better band than the Arctic Monkeys and also didn't choose the WORST BAND NAME IN THE WORLD like the Arctic Monkeys, they actually don't sound anything like the Arctic Monkeys. I mean, come ON. Who named that band? I'll never get over a band name that bad.

But anyhoo, the Maccabees new LP Colour It In has got hooks galore, from the uppity to the sullen. This band is just plain fun. Try the one two punch of "About Your Dress" and "Toothpaste Kisses" and see if i'm wrong. Ah! I caught you going back for a second play at it! Plus you were whistling! You got GOT!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Eat A Pie For Charity


The Joggers "Long Distance Runaround"

The Thermals "Tangerine"

Whip "White Wedding"

Ah, Portland. I remember going there once for a few days as a pre-teen, and thinking the place reeked of pretension. Of course I was too young to appreciate the finer things Portland had to offer. But in the motel we stayed at Ice-T was in the room across the parking lot from us! I watched as he brought a single file line of bad bitches into his room, and visions of sexual debauchery danced in my head.

Bridging the Distance is a new compliation put together by a nonprofit organization that apparently dabbles in getting awesome indie rock bands to do covers of their favorite non-indie rock songs. Here we have the Joggers covering Yes' "Long Distance Runaround" (a highlight of their SXSW performance a few years ago), the Thermals offering their own take of Led Zeppelin's "Tangerine" and Whip doing a knock out version of Billy Idol's "White Wedding". This comp is chock full of fantastic bands doing fantastic cover versions without a sliver of irony. Well, okay maybe there's a little irony involved. But the ironing is delicious!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Heart Attack Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack


Dan Deacon "The Crystal Cat"

Dan Deacon's approach to music making is similar to that of an 8 year old, ADD afflicted child whose only musical exposure was Zappa's Overnite Sensation. Except the only instruments he had to work with were those available in the studio where they cut Mighty Morphin Power Ranger toy commercials. Normally this kind of thing would grate on me nails on a chalkboard but for some reason Deacon's brand of 3000 mile an hour zeitgeist is really appealing right now. Maybe its because i just smoked all this angel dust. Now if you'll excuse me, i'm covered in tarantulas and I have to jump out the window.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Back Up In This Mofo

You've probably noticed by now that POP ZEUS! has been on vacation the last ten days. No, I wasn't traversing the exotic locales of Norway and Belgium looking for the next great pop rock outfit (I wish I had been), I was back that same old place, Sweet Home Chicago. I apologize to those of you who are avid readers of this site. Both of youse. And now let's get back to work.


Wilco "Impossible Germany"

So I know that Wilco's latest LP Sky Blue Sky has floating around the internets for months now, but I just bought the record proper (I did already download bits of it from other places but I'm still an old fashioned kind of guy who reviews stuff once I already bought it, it makes the bad purchases feel that much more betraying). Gone are the weirder aspects found on Wilco's last two releases, but the creativity is still burning brightly through. I happened to like the weird stuff that can probably be appointed to Jim O'Rourke's presence in the band, but its not missed on Sky Blue Sky.

"Impossible Germany" finds a more relaxed Wilco, ( a scary thought from the band that penned such slow burners as "Far Far Away" and "How To Fight Lonliness") but a band still at the top of their game. Whenever newcomer Nels Cline guitar comes into a track it cuts like the kind of wicked looking knife you'd buy on a late night infomercial. So while Sky Blue Sky may be a bit more hushed, its certainly not a step down for Wilco in any capacity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

You Can't Pass Up This Deal!


Sly & the Family Stone "Underdog"

I recently picked up the Sly & the Family Stone box set containing all of the group's studio recordings. Mostly because the band's got more soul than a Korean land owner. That was bad, I'll admit, but not as bad ASS as "Underdog", the first track from the first Sly record A Whole New Thing. The horns kick like a Staxx hit and the funky drumming undercuts Sly's vocal to perfection. Why do I feel like I'm selling you a car? "Folks I hate to tell you this but yr son is dead. DEAD TIRED of listening to music that's not as funky as Sly & the Family Stone's "Underdog"!"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tarmac Talk


Material Issue "Valerie Loves Me"

There's a long story to be told about Material Issue, and if yr interested in reading it, go here. I'll make the long story short for you though. This band came from my hometown of Chicago, met each other at my alma mater of Columbia College and went on to make perfect pop rock hits that would have conquered the world if given a chance. The band came to a tragic end when the lead singer killed himself in 1996. Heartbreak and loss were regular topics for Material Issues bittersweet brnad of pop song, and "Valerie Loves Me" was the one song I remember Chicago DJs playing the shit out of while I grew up. It's also one of their best.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I'm Going To Start Practicing Law Under The Name W.B. Kotter, Esq.

Sunday is TV theme song day here at POP ZEUS!


John Sebastian "Welcome Back Kotter theme"

Welcome Back Kotter epitomized the 70s for me as a child growing up in the 1980s. I would watch reruns of this show and see people with crazy hair dos and wild mustaches, flaring pant legs and awful gold necklaces and think "wow, the 70s were lame." Later on in life I would at photographs of myself as a child in the 80s, wearing tiny ass shorts, neon yellow t shirts and rollled jean cuffs and wonder which era was worse. Soon we will revisit the 1990s and be ashamed of that, too. For now its fun and camp to look back and laugh, like the gadfly at Vh1 do every day. But when the day comes where we have tv shows that poke shit at old tv shows where they poked shit at the past, the world will certainly implode.

Epstein's Mother

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Give Me Back My Mutated Extra Finger


Hound Dog Taylor & the HouseRockers "Give Me Back My Wig"

Hound Dog Taylor & the HouseRockers "Ain't Got Nobody"

Hound Dog Taylor & the HouseRockers "Fender Bender"

Hound Dog Taylor's debut record Hound Dog Taylor & the HouseRockers was Alligator Records first release in 1971. Taylor was a slide guitar genius really only known in the Chicago area until this point, but his newfound fame wouldn't last long. Taylor would die just four years later in 1975 of cancer. The man reeked of soul and exuded nothing but raw energy when performing even in his death throes.

Hound Dog purportedly had a sixth finger in each hand but amputated the extra finger on his right hand with a razor blade while drunk. Well at least he was drunk when he did it. When he woke up the next day he apparently though the finger fairy had come, and was enraged to find no money left under his pillow.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Remember When There Were One Set Of Footsteps? That's When Prince Was Carrying You.

prints batdants

Prince "Batdance"

Prince "Partyman"

Prince "Trust"

Prince "Electric Chair"

When Tim Burton's Batman movie came out in 1989, it was a world wide hit. I remember bugging my mother to take me to see it because I was so excited. The film would later spawn many sequels that just got worse and worse until they decided to scrap the whole thing and start all over again with Batman Begins. But i'll tell you something, those sequels could have been saved if they had only let Prince continue to do the soundtracks.

Prince threw himself into the Batman soundtrack completely, as he does with all his work. The man took a pretty ludicrous concept and turned into a nightmare of soul and funk. Okay, songs like "Batdance" are a little self indulgent and weird, but they're still master strokes of genius. "Partyman" and "Trust" could have been singles on any other Prince record. Perhaps Batman's persona wasn't purple enough for Prince to trudge on through the sequels, although he probably dug Joel Schumaker's nipple-codpiece batsuits. In a non-gay way.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Urethra: Queen Of Seoul


Aretha Franklin "Don't Play That Song"

I've found myself watching PBS a lot lately. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing but I'm sure of one thing: they're never getting any money from me during one of their pledge drives. I'm the kind of bastard who will just take, take, take from my public broadcasting service and never give back. Screw them, they'll never catch me! AHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!

Ah, anyway, I recently watched an episode of American Masters about Ahmet Ertegun, co-founder of Atlantic Records. You may remember his character from the film Ray, where he was portrayed by the guy who played Booger from the Revenge Of The Nerds movies. But Ertegun was basically the man when it came to R&B in the 1960s and he also wrote several songs for his artists. What set him apart from every other record label sleaze bag was the fact that he cared about his acts, and would become an active force in the recording sessions.

When Atlantic signed Aretha Franklin in 1967, she was already at the top of her game. Ertegun offered her a song called "Don't Play That Song", a tear jerker that begged the DJ not to play the track that reminded them of an ex lover. Aretha injected it with more soul and passion than anyone had ever intended. Between
watching a lot of PBS and getting through this whole spiel without making one fat joke about Aretha Franklin, I feel I am now a grown up. But while this may be a heart warming story, I'm still not giving any money to PBS. SCREW YOU, YOU BASTARDS! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

NOW What's Happenin' Now?


Sunday is TV theme song day here at POP ZEUS!

"What's Happenin Theme" Henry Mancini

[right click to download, ctrl or option click if yr a mac!]

What's Happenin is one of my very favorite tv shows of all time. I first discovered this show while attending catholic school, and they would roll in the the tv during lunch. At first we would only get to watch the local Catholic station, reruns of Davey and Goliath or SUPERBOOK, a bible adventure cartoon. But eventually we revolted and they let us watch reruns (no pun intended) of What's Happenin? More lessons were learned from Whats Happenin than from any Bible cartoon. Like why you shouldn't sneak a tape recorder into a Doobie Brothers concert or why you shouldn't bet on football games with some ridiculous system that Dwayne came up with. And never, ever mess with Big Shirley. Hey hey hey!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Disrespect Yr Elders


KISS "The Oath"

KISS "Escape From The Island"

KISS "Dark Light"

KISS "Mr. Blackwell"

[right click to download, ctrl or option click if yr a mac!]

Kiss' Music From "The Elder" is widely considered one of the worst records of all time, mainly because it lost a lot of money for its creators and distributors. They were so sure it was going to be a hit they pressed an unprecedented amount of copies, and it can subsequently be found in every cut out bin in every record store on planet Earth.

But for some reason it was still remastered and re-released on compact disc. The Elder is a concept record because Kiss' Destroyer was a concept record and that paid off big time for them. The difference between Destroyer and The Elder is that Destroyer had halfway decent songs on it. The Elder tells the story of a young man in the future who comes to terms with his powers and does battle with an evil villian, or some bullshit.

The instrumental track, "Escape From The Island" deals with a scenario where our hero has to escape from a vegetated piece of land surrounded by water of some sort. The tracks "Dark Light" and "Mr. Blackwell" were co-written with Lou Reed, who lists himself as Lewis Reed on the credits to obviously distance himself as far from this project as possible while still receiving a check. Contrary to popular belief, "Mr. Blackwell" is not about that faggy guy who pioneered the likes of Joan and Melissa Rivers. These two songs are probably the most dismal selections amidst a murky bog of absolutely terrible songs, the only bright point being "The Oath". So if you ever scoffed at The Elder in a used record bin before but secretly wished what it sounded like, here you go. Here's your highlight reel.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

In Full Rock Mode


Modey Lemon "Feed The Babies"

[right click to download, ctrl or option click if yr a mac!]

Normally the way it works is I buy a band's first record, and if I like them I'll buy their next one. This formula worked backwards with Modey Lemon. I started with their latest, last year's The Curious City, then recently found their 2002 self titled LP in the used section and bought that. There's a stark contrast between the two records. The debut record is more or less hard driving rock n roll, while The Curious City gets a little more arty and experimental. As long as they straddle that line between the Velvet Undergound and the MC5, things will go just fine between me and this band. As a matter of fact, anyone that straddles anything is just super.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

God Knows It Would Be The First Time


Belle & Sebastian "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side"

Deftones "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want"

Death Cab For Cutie "This Charming Man"

[right click to download, ctrl or option click if yr a mac!]

Everybody seemingly likes the Smiths, whether they like to admit it or not. Back when I lived in Chicago I would occasionally go up to Delilah's a bar downtown. Every time I went in there it was Morrissey/Smiths night. Now I didn't plan it that way, but I would usually end up drinking High Life and shooting pool amongst at least three guys with pompadour haircuts and one guy with a tattered Smiths tour t shirt.

Modern music owes quite a bit to the Smiths. They defined the sound of eighties pop rock and most bands wish they could write at least one set of lyrics like the ones in "Half A Person". Bands have named themselves after song titles and various tribute records have been released to both The Smiths and Morrissey. Belle And Sebastian shouldn't come as a surprise, and really neither should the Deftones. Because although the Deftones music may be more abrasive than the Smiths the feeling is exactly the same. Death Cab For Cute also weighs in here with their version of "This Charming Man", which, much like everything Death Cab For Cutie does is too smug and posturing for its own good.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

IROC: Italian Retard Out Cruisin'


Kings Of Leon "Camaro"

[right click to download, ctrl or option click if yr a mac!]

Kings Of Leon are a bad that's mass exposure was poorly timed. When the band first broke, they were usually described as a "southern Strokes". Now that the Kings have a few years on them they've proven themselves to be a way better band than the Strokes. Those guys just kind of stopped trying, although their whole schtick was that they were never trying in the first place.

Kings Of Leon's latest, Because Of The Times, is chock full of the same riffage and cool delivery that mad them moderately successful their first time around. They may have gotten lost in the hype machine since then, but the guitar in the beginning of "Camaro" reminds me of the Nuge's "Stranglehold", and that alone is enough to keep me listening.