If you’re in the Valley this Friday, April 16th, you’re in for a treat: WAMH is hosting a Concert of Epic Proportions at Marsh, the arts house of Amherst College. The concert is FREE (donations more than welcome) and open to the public. The lineup is STACKED, too:
MiniBoone (new album! “Big Changes”!)
Once again, the important details:
WAMH has another big event (ending) this Friday – official WAMH t-shirts are on sale! You can order as many shirts as you want – for you, your family, friends, your hipster cats, your significant other that might be into manatees just a little too much, etc. – and you can do all that ordering online!
So, why the manatees? You know how you can buy a star? Or adopt a mile of our fine interstate highway system? This semester, WAMH decided to adopt a manatee. The first non-humanoid member of the WAMH family (I was tempted to say second, but our inflatable snowman would surely take offense to being called inhumanoid) is our newly-adopted manatee, Crazy Nick. Nick earned his moniker one year when he decided to swim north for winter instead of south with the rest of his manatee friends. Exhibiting a combination of counterculture and confusion, Crazy Nick is an apt representation of the spirit of WAMH. Plus, the shirts are supersoft/comfy and this particular shade of lavendar is as easy on the eyes as WAMH is aurally pleasing. (Crazy Nick plushies forthcoming.)
PS – If, this Friday, instead of finding yourself around Amherst and wanting to go to a FREE CONCERT or buy a DOZEN-DOLLAR SHIRT, you find yourself around Dublin and wanting to spend 78 Euros on a concert ticket and upwards of 40 more big E’s on a tux “hire,” you’re also in luck! Swing by Trinity Ball and check out Dizzee Rascal and friends (they’re no Tashtego and friends). Cans at my place before the show!
One of the few things I enjoy even more than making puns on Tom Clancy novels that simultaneously alienate Christian and Irish audiences is baseball. And tonight is Opening Night, with the New York Yankees traveling to Boston to take on the Red Sox. The game starts at around 8:00 PM eastern on some variety of ESPN – but why torture yourself with Joe Morgan when you could enjoy the soothing stylings of Joe Castiglione?
Also, according to youtube user “BoofMcBoofy” (internet alias for Sox hero of the imminent-future, Boof Bonser?):
“Baseball rocks. Deal with it.”
Play ball, y’all.
I’ve seen enough episodes of “Cops” and “The Real World” to know exactly how your St. Patrick’s TAP* is going to end. Everybody’s having a great time, singing along to Chumbawumba, drinking green beer, playfully pinching each other (insert ‘snake banishing’ innuendo here). At some point throughout this bastardized holiday though, whether while defending your 1/8 Irish heritage, or after some guy in a Sox cap spills his beer all over you, you’re gonna have to throw down. This collection of songs are ones that I have imagined beating people’s ass to, or, more realistically, getting my ass beat to. Have your ice pack and Neosporin handy and get ready to Shamrock ‘n’ Roll (yes, really).
(*Yeah, I missed the actual St. Patrick’s deadline, but apparently so did Amherst College Social Council. I’m all up for vacuous excuses to drink but, really? Hey, at least we get a WAMHblog post out of it!)
Andrew W.K. “Party til You Puke”
Andrew W.K. has built his career off of floor-punching anthems that may or may not all be the same exact song (hey, it worked for AC/DC), so it would be blasphemous to not include him. For a far more fitting video accompaniment though, head on over to youtube and search “Party til You Puke, Meatballs” to see a bunch of frat boys literally partying til they puke. But, WARNING, as gross as meatballs look going in, they look a lot grosser comin’ out (as do most things).
The Donnas “Get Rid of That Girl”
Four teenage girls yelling “KILL! KILL! KILL!” is enough to get anyone revved up. If some bittie starts givin’ you the stank eye, just shoot her one of the many killer looks from this video (:09, :26, :38, 1:04 ) and she’ll know you mean business.
Guns ‘n’ Roses “You’re Crazy”
Axl Rose knows a thing or two about inciting riots- more famously for not playing music (Montreal, 1992, when Axl refused to go on after Metallica cut their set short because James Hetfield was SET ON FIRE). But for a guy who has a Wikipedia subheading entitled “Riots, rants, and legal troubles,” this song is pretty reflective of the amount of physical pain Guns ‘n’ Roses has caused over the years.
The Gossip “Standing in the Way of Control”
Granted, this song may be better suited for a fight at a GAP, but when someone walks into the party wearing the SAME EXACT sequin pants and cutoff “Frankie Says Relax” t-shirt as you, that bitch is going down, and it’s gonna be to the beat of this song.
James Brown “Get Up Offa That Thing”
This song is strictly reserved for fighting “the man” (in this case, English imperialists) or the fuzz when they try to kick you out of the bar after you attempt to start a wet t-shirt contest by “accidentally” spilling glasses of water down girls’ shirts.
Link Wray “Rumble”
Again, this song can’t be bandied about every time you want to fight some dude who cut you in line at the panini grill. This song should be used only when there is a long-term, deep-seated, vengeful rivalry. Or, naturally, if there is going to be a quick-draw duel in an empty, dusty road (which are plentiful in Ireland).
I toyed with calling this entry “Songs That Sound Similar Because Some Third-Rate Robert Pattinson Fanclub Found Some New Order 7-Inch In A Garage Sale Bin And Just Kind Of Assumed Everyone Must Have Forgotten About Them And It Was Okay To Just Rip Them Off Wholesale.” But I thought branding and brevity were more important, so consistency rules the day!
First, another band that truly needs no introduction. New Order, princes of synth-pop, rulers of the 80s dance floor and my headphones during evening research sessions in Frost. Enjoy this clip of New Order playing “Temptation” in the BBC Radio 1 studio. Highlights include pronounced pelvic thrusting (0:49), giving the stank eye to the drummer and looking prissy (~1:52), and the drummer kicking it into high gear (2:00). Oh, and one of the best pop songs of all time.
And then we have Cold Cave. I could maybe run down some of their apparent “influences,” but I don’t want to insult you, loyal readers, or at least the massive subset of you whose short-term memories will allow you to determine for yourselves:
OH HEY NEW ORDER HEY!
Another writer is slightly more forgiving of Cold Cave than I will ever be, declaring “album highlight ‘Love Comes Close’ chimes in right on time, an inspired, bittersweet New Order-style dance-pop track that’s as morose as it is curiously uplifting, constantly refreshing itself on that earworm of a guitar hook.”
Cold Cave has written a track in the “New Order-style”? “Inspired”?!! They ripped the guitar chord progression and rhythm AND amp settings straight from “Temptation”!
This under- and misstatement is akin to Sarah Palin commenting on her habit of crossing the border to get Canadian health care (presumably avoiding all those nasty death panels and Socialists) by saying, “isn’t that ironic?” I think the word Palin meant to use was “hypocritical,” or maybe “deceitful,” or even “moronic.” And the words the all-too-kind critic meant to use to describe “Love Comes Close” might go something like, “note-for-note reproduction of ‘Temptation’ except the vocals suck something awful.”
There are plenty of cases of bands ripping off others, so why am I so irate about this instance? My love of “Temptation” goes a long way in explaining. The first and only time I pulled the Cold Cave album off the new music rack, blind, to play on Letters to Bowie prompted first laughter, then revulsion, and finally a reading of the disclaimer usually reserved for profanity, with me emphasizing that WAMH does not condone plagiarism.
The copycats simply do not measure up to the original in any significant way. “Love Comes Close” basically plateaus just thirty seconds into the track, once the guitar completes its first full progression and you know exactly what the next 4 minutes will sound like. “Temptation” is fully three-and-a-half minutes longer, yet maintains its energy – and the listener’s interest – all the way through. I guess that’s what happens when you pay attention to the details, and have things like multiple guitar tracks and melodies, varied verse-refrain patterns, and more than a shred of humanity behind the song.
Surfing wikipedia today, I found a fancy scientific-sounding theory that might be relevant here: the hypothesis of the uncanny valley. The page also has the most glorious diagram I have ever seen on wikipedia, which is reproduced here:
As much as I would like to assume this image is self-explanatory, it might be useful to know what the hell it’s all about. Basically, there are a whole heap of theories based on psychology, evolutionary psychology, etc. and outlined in the wiki that try to explain why people are so disturbed by dead bodies, zombies, and sex dolls. Doesn’t seem like it would take a very long explanation, right? (I promise this will get back to New Order in a sentence or three.)
One thread among the theories can be roughly summed up by the colloqiualism, “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but seeks sustenance in devouring human brains, that is quite unsettling.” In short, humans are disturbed when they see other things with lots of human characteristics and a few most definitely inhuman characteristics (brain-eating chief among those).
I hear the guitar in the opening of “Love Comes Close,” and I think I’m going to get Bernard Sumner singing, “Up, down, turn around, please don’t let me hit the ground.” When I don’t get the familiar song, I am disappointed, and a little angry. Furthermore, after I listen to the rest of the Cold Cave tune, not only do I never get the New Order song I was hoping for, I get a song that sounds remarkably like a New Order song, but also sucks. This leaves an opening for the question, “could New Order have made a song this bad?” And that is a question I will not stand to ponder.
Cold Cave: bleh, no matter how much they sound like New Order.
New Order: Awesome!
News of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day-themed TAP has made it across the Atlantic – has news made it back the other way that the TAP is a few weeks too late? Here are some songs to get you through the day, either tomorrow or whenever this mysterious new TAP is. Anyone can search for “green” or “beer” in one’s itunes library or on one’s music blog aggregator of choice, hopefully this post provides something more insightful, and more importantly, something with an extremely tenuous relationship to something Irish or Catholic or to Sainthood or drinking or something.
The Pogues – “Streams of Whiskey”
I can’t get out of any list like this without mentioning the Pogues, and for good reason. Their name is a shortening of the Anglicization of the Irish for “kiss my arse” – which leads nicely into mentioning their punk cred, as they brought the Clash’s brand of Statement Music to traditional Irish forms, and counted Joe Strummer among their ranks for a time.
Thin Lizzy – “Jailbreak”
In addition to this being an unimpeachably awesome song, Thin Lizzy has a pretty easy claim to being the best rock group to come out of Dublin. In tribute, there is a statue of frontman Phil Lynot in front of Bruxelle’s, a hilarious hard rock bar off of Grafton Street. An added bonus to the song’s relevance: A young St. Patrick (just 16!) was captured by Irish slave traders and brought to good ol’ Eire, but six years later he broke out. If I may quote Lynot, “BREAK OUT!”
The Standells – “Dirty Water”
The song may be explicitly about Boston and the Charles River, but the city and river are analagous to Dublin and the Liffey in more ways than one. Each city has loads of Irish Catholics, St. Patrick’s Day parades (er, I mean, “Evacuation Day parade” for Boston…), and each city is divided in half by a river of questionable cleanliness.
The Smiths – “This Charming Man”
Again with the technicalities – I know the band is “officially” from Manchester, but Morrissey was born to Irish Catholic immigrant parents and he’s basically the indie rock version of Oscar Wilde. Many of the Smiths’ songs would probably make for good singalongs tomorrow, but this one has the shiniest melody and is among the least oppressively morose of Morrissey’s lyrics.
Rodrigo y Gabriela – “Vikingman”
Would you believe me if I told you they were Irish? Okay, they’re Mexican. But they got their big break (from Damien Rice, Irish singer-songwriter extraordinaire, no less) after playing around the Dublin pub scene and busking out on Grafton Street. Also, lots of viking stuff around Dublin – kind of comes with the multiple waves of medieval Danish invasions.
The Strokes – “Trying Your Luck”
Get it? Luck? Ireland? Jaysus, this post is scraping bottom. At least I didn’t put My Bloody Valentine up here, that would be a total buzzkill (although they are from Dublin – I swear! Their drummer is named Colm Ó Cíosóig!). I could have done much worse – as much as I love Liars, “Sailing To Byzantium” (Yeats is back!) is probably more appropriate for a day with a different kind of chemically augmented fun.
Arctic Monkeys – “Cornerstone”
A song about pubs and a very, very confused man. What better way to mentally prepare for the day’s pub-crawling misadventures? The Arctics at their most likeable, I think. Very much in a similar vein as the traditional “Seven Drunken Nights,” which is all over youtube, but neutered of its most vulgar (and by extension, most entertaining) verses.
It is fairly straightforward to draw this out – kick off with Husker Du’s “Whatcha Drinkin”? Answer with Johnny Young’s “Drinking Straight Whiskey” (and the answer for the rest of the day becomes Young’s “Keep On Drinking”). Or, for the teetotaler, Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Asked For Water.” Rinse, repeat. Of course, much of this “traditional” celebrating will likely result in ending up at a club and listening to some new-fangled house music. Might I suggest Kavinsky?
If I don’t make it through tomorrow, I leave this blog to Ricardo.
And a BONUS parting shot – Thin Lizzy electrifying the traditional drinking song, “Whiskey in the Jar,” because I can’t get enough of Phil Lynot’s wardrobe:
Daft Punk’s responsible for the score for the forthcoming sequel to Tron. A new trailer for the movie has hit the internet, and (purportedly) has the first taste of Daft Punk’s new work. Pitchfork calls it “a ridiculously huge pulse that sounds like Human After All ripped on gallons of muscle milk,” which sounds like a high compliment. Considering the quality of that album, maybe not. Anyway, the music starts at around 1:20 into this clip:
Is it just me, or does this just sound like the ominous trailer music of every other vaguely futuristic movie? I’m willing to bet the music is, if not specifically for the trailer, at least edited to fit the “atmosphere” (blandness) of the trailer. Those synthy bass-hit things are basically the same as every other Phil Collins-come-lately. Whatever. I do agree that the new Tron movie looks sweet, and Jeff Bridges is Jeff Bridges is an Oscar Winner.
Daft Punk have experience with music and movies, even if Discovery was made first and Interstella 5555 retrofitted, plot and all, to the music. In short, I’m excited for Tron, excited for new Daft Punk, but I still think the music in this trailer is lame. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I will forever cast doubt over every trailer-music pair since I was crushed by the absence of Chumbawamba’s “Tub Thumping” from Home Alone 3.
This edition of STSSAAA brings together two bands separated by about three decades and a thousand punk points: Ra Ra Riot and The Clash (What, you thought I was going to compare The Clash with M.I.A.? This isn’t amateur hour.). I doubt I have anything to say about The Only Band That Matters that hasn’t already been said, and I’ve just established that writing about music is pointless (wait, what?), so I’ll keep this to the point (the music).
I think the last time I listened to The Rhumb Line, Ra Ra Riot were go-going for adds at WAMH – that would be fall of 2008. That is too long to go without listening to this good of an album. London Calling has been a fixture in my various CD players and audio devices since I finally broke down and bought the whole thing (on sale! $7.99!) in the late summer of 2006. For some reason, The Black Keys’ “Stack Shot Billy” always has reminded me of “Jimmy Jazz,” mostly in the name department I suppose. This got me thinking about other songs reminiscent of London Calling, and…voila!
The two songs sit comfortably in mid-tempo territory, have a bouncy, prominent bass line throughout the verse – and when the syncopated hi-hats and justthisclose vocal melodies take over in the chorus, you’ll get smacked across the face with some cross-pollinated awesome.
I hope you find the following videos as awesome as I do. I chose the first one because it’s not a video, but a slideshow of random nature photos, and because, according to a comment by “allamericanchic” two weeks ago, “this song must be about ‘to kill a mockingbird.’” Curious. Had “she” underlined or italicized To Kill A Mockingbird, her point would have only one possible meaning, that the song is based on Harper Lee’s novel. As it stands, I like to think that this song is on the verge of “killing a mockingbird.” If you know what I mean. The Clash video is funny because it’s a kid getting lost in a supermarket, but it’s not just overly cute because *SPOILER ALERT* a happy ending/neat resolution doesn’t necessarily follow when the kid curls up in a nearly dad-proof hiding spot at the end before a fade to black. Awesome!
Ra Ra Riot – “Each Year”
The Clash – “Lost in the Supermarket”
While fully aware of my own decidedly un-hip taste in music and blogs, I would nonetheless like to toss out a mention to my newest favorite internet destination: Dailybeatz.com.
Pretty self-explanatory, really. One of the more remarkable postings of the past fortnight is a tune by the hood internet – Decalouge. The track is gem of a mash-up, wherein its composers took two songs from each year of the past decade and, via a feat of arcane musical alchemy, create something…well, beautiful. Listen, identify, and enjoy.
The last two Thursdays I’ve gone to a little place called Sin é – you might recognize the name from Jeff Buckley’s Live at Sin-é (a different place, in New York). Google calculator tells us that sin(e) is about 0.41078, but a handy Irish-English dictionary tells us that Sin é means “that’s it.”
To say nothing of the place’s wonderful atmosphere (photos of Navajos and Apaches and framed American newspaper headlines of suicides and other dour happenings line the wall opposite the bar), this place has incredible music cred. Upstairs, all the rockabilly, electric blues, and 50s soul you could possibly want. Downstairs, live music. On Thursdays, that means Mutefish, a local rock band with a flautist. Also, the flautist happens to be the only Irishman in the band (the other four members all hail from former Soviet Bloc countries). Also, a psychedelic cartoon is projected on the wall behind them for the entire performance. Also, they cover Pink Floyd.
IT ALL FITS! What do they play? Celtic-prog rock? I don’t know. They seem to fit into some grand tradition of rock that hit a big speed bump sometime in the 70s, but it’s hard for me to describe. Do they share much of a sensibility with those bands from four decades ago? The cartoons certainly suggest so (and I really wish I could get a copy of one to share). Do they sound similar? Well, there are flutes in some of the other bands.
Wittgenstein was onto the whole “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” thing way before whoever uttered that brilliant quote. In his Philosophical Investigations, he mulls over the possibility of knowing something and not being able to say it, giving “how a clarinet sounds” as a prime example. As such, I would certainly feel silly trying to explain how a flute sounds.
Basically, this post is just an excuse for me to throw up some clips of sweet psychedelic bands with flutes. Enjoy!
Jethro Tull – “Locomotive Breath”
Focus – “Hocus Pocus”
(“One of the most together and exciting groups going”)
Mutefish - busking in Galway, in their element