Summer’s over this weekend. There’s no better hot weather music than Slade, a ‘70’s sensation in the UK who unfairly ended up a footnote in America, thanks to Quiet Riot’s cover of “Cum On Feel The Noize.”
The band — a bunch of ugly mugs from the Midlands fronted by mutton-chopped, Lewis Carroll top-hat-wearing Noddy Holder — dressed up in lavish glam costumes and laid out big chunky riffs that make you want to drive around in a conversion van circa 1975. There’s not much to the majority of their songs — one’s called “Bangin’ Man” just so you get the point — and the egregious misspellings only add to the charm. With song titles like “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” and “Look Wot You Dun” you have to wonder if Superman nemesis Bizarro ever managed the band. (or perhaps Mr. Mxyzptlk? - Kevin)
Regardless of the band’s spelling and grammar skills, the songs all kick ass. Guitarist Dave Hill rocks out despite dressing like he’s on tour with Funkadelic and drummer Don Powell, constantly scowling like a Dickens villain, beats the shit out of his drums. Even down tempo songs like the surprisingly touching “Everyday” make you want to find that Bic lighter in your glove compartment and light it up in the air.
If “Summer Song” isn’t the best way to send August packing, I’ll eat Noddy Holder’s giant hat. Even if the one in the video looks like it was covered in upholstery from my parents’ old sofa.
While John Holt's "Up Park Camp" may sound like a cheery summer tune about a fun sleep away camp up on the Magician Lakes in Michigan, it's actually a somber meditation on the notorious Up Park Camp prison in Jamaica. Gee, that really took the wind out of your sails now, didn't it. Of course you could always make up your own premise for the song, like a breezy afternoon at Wicker crafting camp in rural Arkansas. Ah, that's much better. I love wicker!
I have never been a big fan of Crowded House. All i really know of them is that they're Australian and their hit "Hey Now Hey Now Don't Dream It's Over" was the theme song to my senior prom. For the record, I graduated high school in 1996, so this was hardly a hit that was still burning up the charts at the time. But I recently did some work on a video for their latest single "She Called Up" and maybe it was the fact that I heard the track over and over again but it really grew on me.
Crowded House have (apparently) always been the harbingers of infectious pop melodies. They've been described as "Beatle-esque", but then I think I've heard everybody described that way at one point or another, so that's a hard adjective to live up to. "She Called Up" is apparently about the band's long time drummer, who committed suicide. Beneath the sweet pop sheen is a dark story about getting the call that one of your best friends is gone. Maybe I shouldn't have told you that. Now you're going to listen to it with a depressed attitude. Never mind what I said. The song is actually about lollipops with slide whisltes dancing in a kiddie pool full of orange drink. Good clean, sticky fun!
So apparently Keith Richards snorted his father's ashes. Or didn't. Really I don't care, because this guy has been holding the Stones down for years. Imagine if Keef left the band and we were left with only Mick holding the bag. It would suck ass. This dude really is the coolest person in the world. He's an old ass man who's been cheating death for years, he still ingests hard drugs and chicks still want to bang him even though he looks like Skeletor. Keef is also the only Stone who has ever made good solo records. Take 1992's Main Offender for instance. Much better than She's The Boss or Monkey Grip. I hear Mick Jagger is coming out with a solo greatest hits album. What the hell is going to be on it besides his gay-off with David Bowie?
This is where I, the musiqueologist (fancy, eh?), lose all credibility and go all Maxim magazine on y’all, telling you that Cristina Martinez, without a doubt, is the hottest woman in rock. She could play nothing but the comb-and-toilet-paper combo and I’d still swoon. But for about ten years, Martinez’s band, Boss Hog, made earthy, sexy blues- punk not dissimilar to that of her husband, Jon Spencer, of Blues Explosion fame. But where Spencer hoots, hollers and whines, Martinez knows how to coo; the bass-heavy “Gerard” (a nod to Matador head Gerard Cosloy?) rocks out with its cock out, but “Ruby,” all trumpet and strut, proves that Martinez could hold her own as a torch singer.
Spencer and Martinez met in Washington D.C. at a Jesus and Mary Chain show in 1985 and when Spencer headed to New York City shortly thereafter, Martinez followed suit. The two formed the noise-punk outfit Pussy Galore and, when that imploded and Spencer founded his Blues Explosion, Boss Hog emerged as a potent side-project, purportedly to fill a cancellation at CBGB’s. After three records and EPs on Amphetamine Reptile Records that are criminally out-of-print (the, er, “revealing” shot is the cover of 1989’s Drinkin’, Lechin’ & Lyin’), Martinez, Spencer and co. put out their one major-label release, 1996’s Boss Hog on DGC, which toned down the feedback but kept the grooves. Their last effort, 2000’s Whiteout — released after a hiatus where she and Spencer had a baby — is a mixed bag, all polished tones and out-of-place keyboards that comes off like a Garbage wanna-be.
Jon Spencer is still slinging his shtick; he provided the theme song to Hot Fuzz. But Martinez has gone into hiding. If she looked all Cindy Crawford on the cover of 1990’s Cold Hands, I’m assuming her genes have kept her well-preserved. If I were Jon Spencer, I would have bailed on the Blues Explosion years ago and just settled down to makin’ sweet love with the missus twenty-four-seven. But that’s just me.
Despite a slight connection to the now defunct (thank christ) rap-rock mook-metal scene, I have always like the Deftones. Their wall of crunching guitars soupled with swooning almost Mozzer style vocals has always appealed to me. This is why I will continue to buy their records, albeit only from the used bin, where they seem to appear a lot these days.
Their latest offering, 2006's Saturday Night Wrist moves along like a freight train out of control, with only Chino Moreno's slightly subdued vocals keeping it on the tracks. The sole instrumental on the record "U, U, D, D, L, R, L, R, A, B, Select Start" is a pretty little number whose title comes from the cheat code for Nintendo's Contra, which every single male of my age group has committed to memory for life. In a related story, apparently ABBA got their name from the cheat code for Ikari Warriors.
Editor's note: It's time to welcome another new contributor to the POP ZEUS! fold: A man named Ken Mowe. Ken Mowe has reluctantly taken some time off from his busy schedule of working with children to enlighten us. This dude also hails from New Orleans, so be sure that there will be a reference to the Saints organization in every single thing he writes.-Kevin
I'd like to welcome myself to the world of POP ZEUS! I have read this blog many times because I own a laptop and I need reading material when I am making bowel movements and I am not currently a newspaper subscriber. My friend Chicken insists there's a laxative in news print. He claims there's extra laxative in the Sports Section. So in celebration of my arrival I'd like to say "FUCK YOU" to everyone in the Atlanta Falcons organization and wish that they go 0-15-1, the 1 being a 0-0 tie with the Minnesota Vikings. Fucking dirtbags. I know the owner of this blog is a rabid Chicago Bears fan so out of respect for him I will not mention Curtis Enis. GO SAINTS!!!
But enough about your mother. Let's talk music. I learned to play the guitar by studying the tablature for Metallica's first four albums - before they started to suck shit. Morons. Every riff I play is a low - E power chord, only in drop - D tuning. Now what, mother fucker?? MY NEIGHBORS FUCKING HATE ME!!!
I only listen to three bands - TOOL, DEAD HORSE and- you know what i only listen to two bands. I will be posting the best of the best of these two bands, as well as bands related to them, as well as whatever the fuck i feel like.
Like this: KING CRIMSON you fucking fucks. Fucking Robert Frippe. Bill Bruford. Tony Levin. Adrian Belew, bitches. Any band with a dude that played with Zappa automatically murders everything. Fucking math rock. Shit you can't tap your foot to because your foot is too fucking stupid. STUPID FOOT GO HOME. They played two shows with TOOL at the Wiltern here in L.A. a couple years ago but i suck and couldn't go. Rest assured if they played that show again I'd fire myself into the venue with a fucking cannon.
Here's my favorite track off the Crimson album DISCIPLINE - titled, ironically, INDISCIPLINE. It's short for a Crimson song so listen to the whole thing.
So that's my first post. Like it? Don't like it? Love to hear your feedback! Email me at F-OFF@F-U.F
Well I guess there's an animated Alvin & the Chipmunks film coming out soon. I have no doubt that Alvin and his brothers will be updated to be much more sassy and "street", complete with lines like "this is why im hot" and "don't you think your girlfriend is hot like me" or some other garbage fucking jargon from two years ago. I'm sure Theodore will be covered in prison tats and win a rap-off competition of some sort. But back in the 80s the Chipmunks didn't try so hard to be cool. In fact one could almost say they did everything NOT to be cool. They would cover songs like Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" and they lived with their caretaker David Seville. A seemingly innocuous single songwriter who may or may not have tied them up in the basement and forced them to... well I'd rather not say. The point is that kids' movies suck shit these days and I pity the poor youth. To grow up in a world without Popples, Wuzzles or Snorks is a world I just don't want to live in.
Tay Zonday has captured the hearts of the YouTube nation with his self composed "Chocolate Rain", which he apparently wrote to win some sort of contest with a PC as the prize. Well I don't know if he won but he's got my vote hands down for this strangely hypnotic and impossible to get out of yr head tune. He also looks kind of like a Simpsons character and has the voice of a large testicled Kermit the Frog. If you would like more information on large testicled frogs and what they sound like, visit my other site bigballinfrogs.com.
My brother and fellow music nut Pat has always tried to get my goat by asking me what music of my generation will be on the radio still in thirty years. Granted, his comments were justly inspired by whatever band of the moment I had brought home and compared to Zeppelin. After listening to a track, Pat wold turn to me and say, "Yeah, but are they going to be listening to Alice In Chains in thirty years?"
My lifetime has not included a Summer of Love, or a '76 kind of year. My generation grew up in the MTV era of short attention spans. But our generation did see the rise of hip-hop, and as I've previously wrote, hip-hop radically changed the pop landscape. I loved hip-hop from an early age. I spent many evenings dialing into the radio station of the University of Chicago, several miles from my safe suburban home, thrilled by the rhymes of a Sugar Ray Dinki or the beats of a Fast Eddie. This music sounded like NOTHING I had ever heard before, and certainly spoke of an experience as alien as it was of-the-moment. Before they became a boring catalog of material possessions, rhymes dealt with life in the ghetto. And that life was not altogether hopeless. The other great theme of early hip-hop rhymes was partying- not partying with Cristal and a 300 pound security guard between you and your fans, but partying at a barbecue, a record shop, hell, anywhere where they had a turntable. Hip-hop was a community, a movement. I'm sure most people thought it would have its five minutes and short-lived MTV show and then disappear. They were pretty wrong. Hip-hop was an early harbinger of where pop music is today, where personalization and unique distribution have eroded the power of labels and even MTV.
Although alpha males MCs like Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, and Chuck D dominated the scene, I did not want to be a MC. I wanted to be a DJ. These guys had the power. They were a one-man band, and it was their beats that made hits. What romance was there in being at a studio, double-tracking your guitar solo? DJs did their magic right in the club, what you heard was the same as when the needle dropped. And by creating their sound, DJs destroyed it, literally. You know why you don't see many James Brown records at record shops? Because most were beat to shit and back by '80s DJs. To this day I would take two turntables and a mixer over a guitar (even a double-necked one) or saxophone.
Eric B. and Rakim hailed from New York City. "When Eric B. Is President", their debut single, dropped they instantly became the most forward-thinking group in hip-hop. Erik B. nods to black music's past all over this track. It manages to have a the slow burn of blues, the swing of jazz, and the propulsion of disco while also sounding so incredibly spare (especially when compared with the celebrated sound his contemporary, Terminator X, was spinning for Public Enemy). Rakim's rhymes cleverly break down the wall between listener and MC. You're listening to the track, and he's telling you what he's doing and what he's going to do right afterward. He's not telling a gritty tale. No, Rakim knows he's riding a hot beat, so he's going to let that do the boasting for him.
Download this, rip it to a CD, roll the windows down on your car, max the bass on your off-the-line sound system, and drive irritatingly slow in the right-hand lane in the happeningest street in your 'hood. Play it loud enough to drown out the car alarms you set off. Bring it in to whatever party you are heading towards. Get the DJ to play it. Watch that groove get bodies moving.
The final day of Pitchfork launched with another band I had high expectations from, Deerhunter. Frontman Bradford Cox came out in a shiny neglige looking number, which he ended up stripping off during the course of the set while lurching through songs from the band's LP Cryptograms. It was a solid performance from the band, albeit saddled with the same sound problems that every other artist dealt with over the weekend. I then watched one song by Chicago's own The Ponys and decided they weren't as good as I had hyped them up to be. Style seemed to take precedence over substance, which was of course eaten up by the thousands of hipsters in attendance. I opted over to the smaller stage to catch Brightblack Morning Light, a band I know little to nothing about. I was literally standing ten feet from the stage and I couldn't hear a god damn thing. I don't know how quiet this band is or if thy were just fucking with me, but this went on far longer than it needed to, pushing all the other artists on the small stage's start times back almost an hour.
Menomena was a pleasant change from the day's earlier performances. They played solid pop gems and probably won over more than a few of the uninitiated at the festival. Nomo came on late thanks to stinky hippies Brightblack Morning Light but did not disappoint. Their grooving afro-beat was perfect for a sunny Sunday afternoon. It was at this point however, that my crowd claustrophobia started to really set in. It seemed no matter where I took refuge someone was two inches from my face, crossing over to the record tent or the poster fair or the main stages or whatever. I had leave Nomo's set prematurely and found a spot to the left of the Sea and Cake's stage that was by no means barren, but at lest I could sit in a fetal position and regroup.
I headed back to the small stage and watched all of Craig Taborn's Junk Magic. It was a painfully dull performance but for the first time in what seemed like days I could actually see and hear the perfomance. I opted to stay in my place and miss Jamie Lidell, who I know nothing about anyway. Stephen Malkmus took the stage solo to the dismay of many punters who were probably expecting the accompaniment of the Jicks, but he blew me away regardless. Malkmus performed several Pavement songs including "We Dance", "Trigger Cut", "Spit On A Stranger" and "In The Mouth A Desert". It made me realize how much I truly miss Pavement, one of my all time favorite bands. Bob "Nasty" Nastanovich joined Malkmus on a miniature drum kit for a few songs, and since I knew Mark Ibold was in attendance (playing with Sonic Youth), I pondered a possible Pavement reunion in the near future.
Once Malkmus finished his brilliant acoustic set, the stage was set for Of Montreal, the other band I was dying to see. My plan of getting close to the stage for this backfired, as thousands seemed to have descended on the stage several hours before the performance even began. Apparently Of Montreal has more fans than I thought, or perhaps these people know nothing about the group but had heard of the performance art spectacle the group integrates into their shows. They did not disappoint. Kicking off the party with standard opener "Suffer For Fashion", Kevin Barnes overcame sound problems while wearing his Alice In Wonderland tea party costume. He worked the stage like a young Bowie. It was here that I realized I had developed a slight crush on keyboardist Dottie Alexander. The fact that she appeared to be having such a good time made her ridiculously cute to me.
Halfway through the set, Barnes left the stage and re-appeared in a Rocky Horror style bondage get up for "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal", to the delight of the crowd. He then introduced a song from their upcoming album, which he described as "a lot more sporty", donned a pair of shoulder pads and took a football snap from a gold Darth Vader, which he proceeded to hurl into the crowd. Barnes has a pretty good arm; the ball made its way all the way past the sound tent. I believe it was picked off by the Jonah Ray lookalike from the Twilight Sad however. So much for replacing Rex Grossman, Mr. Barnes.
At one point during Of Montreal's performance I overheard one sarcastic, too-cool-for this-galaxy hipster comment "I liked them better when they were called Os Mutantes". I wanted to turn around and tell this bust off to shut the fuck up, but I realized I was surrounded by his kind and I was in danger of drowning in a sea of pretentiousness. This and many dudes like him totally reminded me of the cynical generation x-ers in the "Homerpalooza" episode of The Simpsons: "Are you being sarcastic dude?" "*sigh* I don't even know anymore." After performing several crowd pleasing gems (people around me were dancing unironically, if you can believe that) like "Chrissie Kisses The Corpse" and "Bunny Ain't No Kind Of Rider" the whimsical art troupe came back out for an encore of the Kinks "All Day And All Of The Night". By this time Barnes had stripped down to what appeared to be only a jock strap, and the crowd ate it up of course. By far one of the most fun performances I've seen in a long while.
The New Pornographers took the next stage sans Neko Case nor Dan Bejar, but their muscular set reinforced their standing as a headline act. They looked and acted like they had been here before, churning out hit after alternate universe hit. I was distracted by a Filipino chap standing on front of me who had the nuttiest dance moves I have ever seen. He knew all the words, though. During all of the "superstars" performances on the main stages, I missed the likes of Cadence Weapon and Klaxons on the smaller stage. Artists I would have liked to have watched but had to miss. Klaxons seemed to be a heavy fan favorite at the fest, and they were playing on the small stage. It made me realize that the festival's planners may have made a misstep in putting them, Dan Deacon and Girl Talk on the stage with the most limited capacity, because they seemed like huge draws.
De La Soul took the main stage for the final performance of the festival and did not disappoint. They ran through their stable of hits and pumped the crowd like the professionals they are. Prince Paul (!) made an appearance during the set and a rush went through the audience. These people all knew who De La were, and seeing the mastermind behind Three Feet High And Rising was like seeing the second coming. No one could resist dancing during De La Soul's funky beats and it left the festival on a high note.
All in all, the Pitchfork festival was fun. Will I go again? Probably not. I'm working on my own festival for next year. It's gonna be awesome. I'm going to have a screening process for tickets, though. The crowd will consist of all metal fans and hot chicks. No hipsters allowed. Not even hot hipster chicks. This will of course transpire once I have been crowned the new leader of Planet Earth. See you there (maybe)!
Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos has the dubious distinction of being one of the gooniest-looking men in rock. He’s a combination of Steve Coogan, Alan Cumming, Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet and Corky from “Life Goes On.” He also has the Bushiest Eyebrows In Rock, just edging out Jaz Coleman from Killing Joke. But man, can the dude write a hook. Argos gets away with the talk-shout-singing thing to the point where, when he actually tries to carry a tune, he stumbles over it— just check out “Rusted Guns Of Milan” from Bang Bang Rock And Roll. But he’s clever and sharp — if a little too self-aware about how bright he is — and it’s hard to find smart music that you can dance to (though the words “dance” and “me” usually only come together with strong drink and the “Curly Shuffle”).
Wittier than Franz Ferdinand and more tuneful than The Futureheads (and less annoying than the Kaiser Chiefs), Art Brut is to fellow Brit-poppers the Arctic Monkeys what Pulp was to Oasis— looser and more fun. Argos probably deserves a smack in the face from time to time for being so smug, but it’s hard to hate someone who pens a song like “Jealous Guy,” about a hapless schmoe trying to oh-so-subtly wake up his girlfriend to put the stones to her (it’s not the sad John Lennon song if you already haven’t figured that out). Or a band that comes up with the break-out-Guitar-Hero power-chord riff in the relationship-gone-bad “People In Love,” where Argos has to confess “to every girl who’s ever been with me, I got over you all— eventually.”
Argos looks plenty retarded in the Rome-meets-Extras video for “Direct Hit,” where his Bad British Teeth get plenty of play. Yes it’s a fantasy, Emperor Argos, that the hottie in your bedchamber is actually waiting for you. But the incredibly catchy song drills itself into your head to the point where you’re more amused than annoyed by the video— even after the camera pans past the set flats and reveals (shock! surprise!) that they’re ACTUALLY ON A MOVIE SET. Eddie Argos, your ugly mug has officially blown my mind.
The Twilight Sad kicked off the festivities on Saturday and they were quite good. I never realized that Jonah Ray played bass in a Scottish shoegaze band. I skipped Ken Vandermark to watch Califone's set (preceded by an embarrasingly sycophantic intro by the festival's MC), and due to already being pretty hung over they lulled me half to sleep. The next hour or so was kind of a bust. I spent most of my time at the Boost Mobile tent charging my cell phone because I had left my charger in LA. I missed William Parker, Grizzly Bear, Voxtrot and Beach House. No big loss in my opinion. After several beers and an over the phone meet and greet with The Twilight Sad in the phone tent (it turns out that dude wasn't Jonah Ray after all) I caught the end of Battles' set. It was alright but it didn't quite translate given the setting. Its not like I was expecting Blue Oyster Cult at Donnington Castle but it was just hard to pay attention.
It was around this time that I decided to stake my position in front of the stage Mastodon was playing. This was the band that was the deal breaker for me coming to this concert in the first place so I wanted to make sure I was right up front. I conversed with several other Mastodon fans during Iron & Wine's set and the consensus seemed to be that they sucked. What do you expect from a bunch of metal fans?
Mastodon opened their set with "Iron Tusk" and proceeded to kick the holy fuck out of all hipsters in attendance. I sweated my balls off and banged my head until my neck was sore as they tore through their catalogue of complex and heavy metal ballbusters. I marveled at drummer Brann Dailor's uncanny ability to be at every part of his set at once as well as his mastery and prowess. Fucking PROWESS.
After Mastodon I needed a break. I hung out at the edge of the crowd while Clipse tore up the next stage. If I hadn't been so disgusting from the human tidal wave that was Mastodon's set I probably would have been right in there for Clipse's rousing set. Clipse does hip hop right. Just the two of them, performing with passion rather than confusion. Trying to get to the third smaller stage to see Dan Deacon was like trying to get into a Led Zeppelin show at the Forum without tickets. I had no idea this dude was so popular. I was so far back in the crowd I couldn't see or hear anything, but apparently his set garnered a shut down by the fire marshall. The same occurred during Girl Talk's set, which was equally impossible to infiltrate. I ended up watching a bit of Cat Power (who looks like a high fashion model these days) and leaving just before Yoko Ono began her caterwauling. About 10,000 other people seemed to have the same idea.
Due largely in part to the recent release of the simpsons movie, i've been seeing a variety of top ten simpsons lists all over the interwebs. never one to be outshined in my dorkitude, i thought i'd throw together my own top five. keep in mind these are subject to change about every ten minutes or so, except for the number one. that one will always reign SUPREME.
5. Max Power
Ed Begley Jr "I've designed a vehicle thats less harmful to mother earth. Its a go-cart that runs on my own sense of self-satisfaction."
4. The Movementarians
Marge "Do you love the leader more than your very own HOVER-BIKES?" Bart Lisa and Maggie rush to ride their new hover-bikes, which quickly fall out of the air. Bart "But we saw them hovering!" Flanders steps out of the closet "I'm afraid i had a smal part to play in this little charade" he blows into a comb with a piece of paper attached that replicates the "hover-bike" sound
3. Mark Hammill/Homer becomes Mayor Quimby's bodyguard
solely for the sign outside the dinner theatre that says 'Mark Hammill IS Nathan Detroit. Pepper Steak IS the entree'.
2. Homer borrows money from Patty & Selma
this one has too many hilarious moments to mention, but a favorite of mine is Homer's dream that he invents some sort of miracle product to make him rich. Homer "yeah but can i just take a look at it? Board Member "Ha ha ha! Now why would YOU need to see it? You're the genius who invented the product in question!"
1. Lisa plays Hockey
the best. ever. about a million laughs in this one, including my favorite ever simpsons moment where Homer tells Bart and Lisa "Bart's team is playing Lisa's team this weekend! You're in direct competition with each other. And don't you go easy just because you're brother and sister! I want to see you fighting for you're parent's LOVE!!! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! (as he obnoxiously flips the lights on and off.
Sometimes hatred is more notable than love. I attended Lollapalooza last weekend in Chicago. I saw a bunch of pretty good live music, and I figured it would be a good opportunity to find something to write about for this site. Well, I was right. Though it would be nice, and healthier, to write on one of the several good bands I saw: Muse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ben Harper, ect. I'm gonna go ahead and warn you guys about THE WORST FUCKING BAND OF ALL TIME!!!
I'm From Barcelona. I'm From fucking Barcelona. Never have I had a greater urge to rush a stage and kick the shit out of a lead singer. I swear to god, the guy sounded exactly like Dr. Nick Rivera, except Dr. Nick made a whole lot more sense. This moustachioed hippy prick yammered on and on about throwing imaginary cassettes to the crowd, and how he wants to live on the playstation stage at lollapalooza forever with all his wonderful friends. I was not his friend. I should have been warned by a dude in a Bears jersey who passed us near the stage and uttered, "oh no, it's that fucking "love" band.
These guys performed songs about living in a treehouse, loving everybody, and how they are from Barcelona. (they are from Sweden) Their fucking "somber" tune is about having fucking chicken pox. All the while dancing around the stage like a way gayer version of Up With People. Oh yeah, one dude was dressed like a gay teddy bear.
Yeah, I know, the music's catchy and it's all in good fun. No it fucking isn't. This was torture. If you like I'm From Barcelona, you are an asshole. Enjoy.
You finally get the nerve to ask out your chemistry partner, and you decide to take her to the KJR showcase booked at the local VFW hall. You talk your dad into letting you take the Fairlane, and you get dressed up in your finest powder blue suit. Cherie happens to be wearing powder blue as well, except it is fitting those teenage curves of hers like a cocoon about to pop. You didn't pay attention to the bands playing tonight, although the headliner is Paul Revere and the Raiders who Cherie absolutely adores.
At the show, everything goes well. The first two bands do passable Beach Boy imitations, with the second band closing their set covering some folkie from New York City. The third band catches your attention because it takes them a good hour to get all their equipment on the stage. Lots of speakers. They're called the Sonics. You've never heard of them, but they are compromising your ability to talk to Cherie what with the incredible volume they are tuning their guitars. But it wouldn't matter anyways, because from that first chord blast Cherie's eyes do not leave the stage. When they begin their set, it sounds like the test run of one of Boeing's new supersonics. The old hall shakes loud enough to give veterans in the front bar flashbacks. Someone splashes Coke on Cherie. You turn to see who it is. Someone splashes Coke on you. Now you're pissed and you shove the guy next to you. He turns around in his leather jacket and just sneers at you. Meanwhile Cherie has let her hair down. When you look at her you don't see much but a sea of teenage lust, her shaking hips calling you farther out from shore. You can't tell what the Sonics are saying. You take Cherie's hand, and the same electricity through those amps shoots through your body. Thank God that Fairlane is a big car, because tonight Cherie is going to be your butterfly.
The year is 1964, the city is Seattle, and the Sonics have just released "The Witch".
You know I had planned on doing a write up on the Pitchfork Music Festival that I went to like a month ago but it just kept slipping my mind. Here then is my experience, possibly embellished because now I don't remember anything. In fact, most of this never happened.
I arrived at Union Park on Friday evening, just in time to see Slint perform their Spiderland record. Here I was, a bright eyed go getter ready to do whatever i took to catch at least a glimpse of every single artist performing over the weekend. This attitude would change very quickly. Despite not being loud enough, Slint's performance went off without a hitch. When Brian McMahan screamed "i miss you" at the crescendo of "Good Morning Captain" it had just as much emotional resonance as when I first heard the record years ago. Big time stuff.
It was around the time of GZA's Liquid Swords set that I started to realize that this concert was going to be way more crowded than I had expected. Hipsters abounded, and there was also a surprisingly large thirteen year old element. I haven't done the festival scene in a long while, and the last one I went to (All Tommorrow's Parties at the Queen Mary in Long Beach) had a seemingly empty crowd so I was already getting edgy. I hate large crowds you see...
GZA's set had far too much going on at once. The problem with a lot of hip hop concerts is that a lot of the time there are just too many dudes on the stage shouting at the same time. These performances are best when they're kept simple, as I would witness later in the weekend. Sonic Youth was introduced by the MC as a "middle aged riot" as they launched into their seminal Daydream Nation. I saw them perform this the following friday in LA and it was much louder. The crowd around me was chanting "turn it up" and I agreed with them. Never have I listened to Daydream Nation at such a low volume. I left before their Rather Ripped encore upon being frustrated by my lack of some kind of ear loudening device.
Lee Hazlewood and his fantastic mustache have left the building as Lee passed on this weekend after a long battle with cancer. Lee may be gone, but his ‘60’s-era mustache lives on.
Lee Hazlewood’s mustache isn’t a walrus ‘stache of the Sam Elliott and Wilford Brimley school, nor is it a sleazy porn rectangle favored by the likes of Harry Reems. It’s droopy, but not ridiculously so, and gives him a hangdog look that, coupled with his gruff, world-weary voice, makes him the kind of guy you can imagine hanging out at any seedy Hollywood bar, circa 1966, ordering multiple Rob Roys or Rusty Nails (manly drinks, both). It’s a black caterpillar of manliness up there with Burt Reynolds in his Smokey And The Bandit/Hooper period worn by Lee with pride in the early-to-mid ‘60s, well before dirty hippies gave facial hair a bad name.
Best known for writing “These Boots Were Made For Walking,” Lee was a noted songwriter and producer — responsible for many of Duane Eddy’s hits and the Dean Martin single “Houston” — before he teamed up with Nancy Sinatra in 1966. Nancy And Lee, an entire record of duets including classics like “Summer Wine” and “Some Velvet Morning,” followed in 1968. After recording The Cowboy And The Lady with Ann-Margret, Lee moved to Sweden and made a number of idiosyncratic records such as Requiem For An Almost Lady and the aptly-named Cowboy In Sweden, both reissued by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley’s Smells Like Records in 1999. Lee recorded another record with Nancy Sinatra in the early ‘70’s, but the mustache was long gone by this point. As were the hits.
Lee soon became a hipster icon— his songs have been covered by Nick Cave, Luna’s Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, Einstürzende Neubauten and even Megadeth, whose modified cover of “These Boots Were Made For Walking” was roundly criticized by Hazlewood, who called the band’s changes to his song “vile and offensive.” Dude, you’re either on Lee Hazlewood’s side or against it. Dave Mustaine — with his Alberto VO5 hair — couldn’t grow a mustache if he tried. Lee put out a couple of records in the last few years; his latest, Cake Or Death (named after an Eddie Izzard comedy bit), is now his last.
Lee Hazlewood, you’ll be missed. As will your mustache.
Seriously though, what the fuck happened to R.E.M? It's obvious that a number bands who established themselves in the 1980s have fallen off, probably all of them in fact. U2 hasn't made a good record in years (although I've never held them in the highest regard to begin with, so my opinion is somewhat jaded), and Kajagogoo has all but disappeared off the face of the earth. The last good Wang Chung record was the To Live And Die In L.A. Soundtrack, which I listen to every time I drive at high speeds through the L.A. River Basin.
But R.E.M. always cast themselves aside from those other supergroups (except for Wang Chung). They were constantly innovative, reinventing themselves for each new era. The mumbly jangle pop gave way to mandolins, which in turn gave way to songs about Andy Kaufman which gave way to crunching electric guitars and then finally.... torch songs? "Baby Yr Gonna Be A Star"?!? What was that all about? I know Michael Stipe has finally come out as a homosexual (still just as shocking as George Michael to me; I mean come on, the guy hosted the Sports Machine!) but it didn't mean he had to become a lazy middle of the road type crooner.
The last good record that R.E.M. made, in my humble opinion, was 1998's Up. At the time it just seemed like another great artistic achievement for the boys from Athens, something I would soon learn that I had taken for granted for many years. Yeah, of course R.E.M. is gonna put out a ground breaking new record. In hindsight, maybe we expected to much of them until they could finally no longer deliver. As for me, I like to put "Lotus" on repeat and pretend its 1998. Bill Clinton is in fat chick trouble, the Yankees seem unstoppable and George Michael just got arrested in a public bathroom. Possibly a private meeting to discuss Michael Stipe's future as new host of the Sports Machine?
I first heard Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World" in the Will Ferrell film Stranger Than Fiction. Despite a very good soundtrack the film was awful. Which is why I have waited so long to put this song on POP ZEUS! as to disassociate myself in any way from the movie. Listen, I didn't like it I said!! I DIDN'T!!
Wreckless Eric came about through the ranks of Stiff Records as a member of the label's original batch of artists. His only real hit "Whole Wide World" featured the accompaniment of Nick Lowe and Ian Dury (of course). Later down the road Eric had some problems with the old fire water and basically remained a wash up until his career was revitalized by a thin, poorly thought entry on POP ZEUS! and definitely NOT the film Stranger Than Fiction. No need to thank me, Eric. Yr musical prose is thanks enough.
Diff'rent Storkes was a tv show I think we can all learn from. It taught us that if you're a rich stuffy white man, you should adopt at least two black kids from the inner city without a home and teach them to act white. Of course having a slut-crackhead like Dana Plato doesn't help, but it teaches them what could potentially happen if they choose to go down the wrong path. And of course later in life that rich white person should also find love in a Southern belle who already has a red headed child from a previous fling named Sam. That child should then be kidnapped by a charactet actor from several 80s movies and television shows, and be threatened with the fact that said kidnapper will "kill his parent" if he tries to escape. The southern belle should then completely overact when confronted by the police about the kidnapping, diaplaying one of the most cringe inducing moments in television history.
That is the lesson. If it doesn't go exactly like that, then you haven't learned a god damn thing.
On December 31, 2004 Guided by Voices played their final show at The Metro in Chicago. I'm sure anyone who frequents POP ZEUS! is fully aware of this fact. The reason I mention it, is because several of my "friends" attended this show. I, meanwhile, sat alone at home, eating mac and cheese, crying over being left out, and probably alternating between video games and masturbation. It wasn't until months later that I found out that my "friends" had had multiple extra tickets that they "couldn't" unload. Motherfuckers.
Anyway, I only mention this because, aside from seeing their glorious final performance, the thing I always really wanted for and from GBV was huge, Spinal Tap style main-stream success. See, I'm not a music snob who needs his favorite bands to be a big fucking secret, or something, you smarmy horn-rimmed glasses wearing douche-bag art school bitches. I'm not talking about you guys, but you all know people like that.
I always thought it would be kick-ass to see Bob Pollard truly fulfill his calling, and rock my socks off in front of 75,000 at the Superdome. Honestly, GBV was built for stadium rock, and we never really got to see it come to fruition.
The above footage is from a Pearl Jam show in Cinci in June of last year that gives us a little glimpse of what could have been. Bob opened for those guys on that particular leg of the tour, and for those nights, jumped on stage with them to perform "Baba O'Reilly." I'm not a huge Pearl Jam guy, but they hold a special place in my nostalgic little heart, and it's worth a look just to see Mr. Pollard on stage rocking the kind of crowd GBV should have been rocking if America wasn't so stupid. The sound/picture quality ain't great, and there's big feedback at the beginning, but it does the trick.
Also, it's cool as hell to see Bob Probert's doppelganger singing next to Eddie Vedder. I'll end here because I possess two things "a certain other blogger" on this site does not: masculine physical strength, and brevity.
Yr A Funny Guy Sully, That's Why I'll Kill You Last
The third and final new contributor to POP ZEUS! is Bill Sullivan, aka "Sully". Seriously did you ever meet an irish guy named Sullivan who wasn't nicknamed "Sully"? Sully's home base is Chicago's south side, home of my upbringing. Sully will most likely factor sports, movies, books and television into his posts sooner or later, and his merchandise is sublime. He's no stranger to the written word, and when it comes to knowledge pop culture he really has no equal. Except for me of course. Battle to the death!
Porter Wagoner is pushing 80 and the old cuss still has it in him. He has a new record out, The Wagonmaster, and a new comp of his “gravest hits” (to paraphrase The Cramps), The Rubber Room. On this record, Porter — best known for his old-timey TV show and his collaborations with then-girlfriend Dolly Parton — doesn’t mess around with songs about horses or getting together with his sweetie. Instead, he sings about getting a one-way ticket to the asylum, about racial intolerance (with one mean character who’s “part white, part black, part red”), and about, well, killing the missus-- and warning the next one to mind her ways if she doesn’t want to end up next to her as well. It’s all pretty dang grim, but there’s always crazy sonic shit in ole Porter’s songs to make you wonder if he’s serious or just screwing with you— just listen to the reverb in “The Rubber Room.” Or the Indian hi-yi-yi-ing in “George Leroy Chickishea.” Or the weird footsteps in the jaw-dropping jazzy story about a “man known only as a Wino.” You’d think a guy wearing those wild Nudie suits (those rhinestone covered outfits favored by country singers and Elvis Presley, named after tailor Nudie Cohn; thankfully not a synonym for Porter in the raw) would be crooning something a little more upbeat. But not Porter Wagoner. This is the kind of country music that would cause Toby Keith to crap his pants.
The next of the three new POP ZEUS! contributors is Mark Cappelletty. Mark is a part time contributor to our brethren site The Record Robot and full time obsessor of all things of the muy interesante variety. He will deliver records from the depths of the discount bin that will make you reconsider yr life. He will drudge up musical moments from the past you may not have known ever existed. He will seek out the weirdest and most obscure things available to man and embrace them with the warmth of a mother grizzly. In fact he actually lived with grizzlies for seven years. Now all of the bears in that area are really into Rudy Ray Moore and Os Mutantes.