24
Jul
12

1913-1938-197?

When an artist changes so radically, it’s sometimes difficult to recall what they once were, or, perhaps even worse, to shake that old image.  I’ve had discussion with people who, when the subject of David Bowie is brought up — usually by me, I admit — the response I hear the most is “I don’t dig that glam shit.”  I’m paraphrasing, of course.  Though it could be argued that Bowie never fully divorced himself from his glam stylings, he did spend over two decades exploring other genres.  Unsurprisingly, most people can only recall his Ziggy days.

On the other hand, we have Tom Waits; an artist that changed his style so dramatically that all vestiges of the bluesy piano crooner have been destroyed.  Your average music fan will probably not be familiar with the triumphs of The Heart of Saturday Night, or Small Change – that is, if they are even familiar with Tom Waits at all.

So, in celebration of all the different things these two artists can be, I give you two performances.  The first is Waits performing “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis” from 1978’s Blue Valentine, and the other is a slightly truncated performance of Bowie ripping through “Seven Years in Tibet,” from 1997’s Earthling.

and Bowie on Rosie O’Donnell

09
Jul
12

Review: The Smashing Pumpkins’ Oceania

Artist: The Smashing Pumpkins

Album: Oceania

Axl Rose and Billy Corgan have a few things in common: both are known for being on the egotistical side, and both have reformed their respective bands with entirely new faces.  That’s where the similarities end, but I do so love taking a shot at Axl whenever possible.

2007 is the last year that we had a proper album from the band — which at that point still featured founding member Jimmy Chamberlin on drums – and I am relieved to say that things have markedly improved.  2007’s Zeitgeist was not the Pumpkins album that anyone wanted; it featured only shoddy songwriting and awful production.  Oceania is a huge step forward in both regards, and serves as a stopgap in the massive 44 song project (and ridiculously named) Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.  Thankfully the songs on Oceania are all better than the free morsels of Kaleidyscope that Corgan has been releasing on the Internet, and so I can state with a clear conscious that Oceania is the best Smashing Pumpkins collection of songs in over a decade.

Corgan’s influences are all over this album; classic, progressive, psychedelic rock are all present.  Oceania floats and swirls where it needs to – check out the mostly acoustic and synth-laden “Pinwheels” for a perfect example – but its bite is lacking; opener “Quasar” could have been a classic Pumpkins ripper, but over the course of almost five minutes it seems to build to something that never appears that all of its guitar solos cannot even muster.  The following song, “Pinwheels,” suffers from a similar problem.  It’s obvious that Corgan has attempted to up the epic-ness of his writing, both musically and lyrically, — “God, ride on!” can be heard in the aforementioned “Quasar” — but the pieces don’t fit together like they should.

Oceania is finds success in its simpler moments, and if “Inkless” isn’t classic Pumpkins, I’m just not sure what is.  Corgan has always had a grand vision, and Oceania more than another other Pumpkins album is a victim of it.  It wouldn’t hurt to simply forget that Zeitgeist existed and start here with the new Pumpkins, but there is definitely room for improvement.

3.5/5

Check out the video for “Stand Inside Your Love” from 2000’s Machina/The Machines of God below.

02
Jul
12

Girl? I don’t know.

Part of me doesn’t see the merit in mentioning something that has already blown-up all over the blogosphere, but I did find today’s news that Christopher Owens, frontman of indie band Girls, split from the group — or, rather, from that one other guy in the band — pretty interesting.  Girls owes a lot to his distinct vocals, and it’s unclear if former bandmate Chet “JR” White is going to continue on without him.

Fun fact: Owens was brought up as a part of the Children of God cult based in Texas.  Neat.

If anything, this gives me a pretty solid excuse to post the great music video of their song “Lust for Life,” from their debut album, Album, which came out in 2009.  Their latest offering, Father, Son, Holy Ghost was released in 2011.

01
Jul
12

What’s Thurston Moore up to?

Since Sonic Youth members Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon separated, the future of the band has been in question.  Enter Chelsea Light Moving, the new band featuring Moore and a group of various indie musicians from bands such as Hush Arbors, and Sun Burned Hand of the Man.  Is this an answer to the Sonic Youth question, or just another artistic outlet?  Their new track can be heard over at Stereogum, and those familiar with the more straight-forward Sonic Youth material will feel right at home.

In other Sonic Youth-y news, Moore is also involved in collaboration with Kim Gordon and Yoko Ono, and they will be releasing a six track album — expect long, winding pieces —  titled YOKOKIMTHURSTON in September.  I will now begin preparing my body for what could turn out to be the single most avant-garde release of all time.  I suggest you do the same.

23
Jun
12

And your sister

While listening to a lot of Beck this morning I was tempted to post something delicous. Youtube has a wealth of Beck videos, so it was pretty difficult to choose one that stood out from the rest.

But I found it.

Here is Beck performing “Debra,” the last song of 1999’s Midnight Vultures at the VH1 Fashion Fashion Awards in the same year. Stunning.

22
Jun
12

Review: Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel…

Artist: Fiona Apple

Album: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Over the course of twelve years, Fiona Apple has released four albums.  This would be laughable if they were poor, pandering to the hipster crowd fare, but they’re not; they’re deep and intelligent outings that offer great rewards for those that care to listen.  This, of course, makes the wait for a new album especially excruciating.  Released seven years after her last album, 2005’s Extraordinary Machine, The Idler Wheel is by far her most artistic and difficult album.  Eschewing much of the jazz and alternative piano pop found on her other releases, on The Idler Wheel Apple mostly sticks to expertly produced soundscapes of percussion cut with her usual piano.  Even when things get a tad more traditional, like on the soon-to-be-classic “Valentine,” there still isn’t a single hook or radio-friendly moment to be had.  Which isn’t to say that independent and satellite radio stations won’t eat this up.

If all you know of Apple is her scantly clad video for “Criminal” from 1999’s When the Pawn, there will be precious littler material for you here.  The Idler Wheel finds Apple at her emotional extremes, especially on “Regret,” which features some tortured yelling and the line: “To soak up the hot piss that comes from your mouth every time you address me.”  Yikes.  Later, on possibly the most romantic and menacing song on the album, “Hot Knife,” Apple compares her relationship with a man to butter: “If I’m butter/Then he’s a hot knife.”  It’s a cute, yet oddly unsettling metaphor.  In fact, unsettling is one of many ways that The Idler Wheel can be described. But all of the best albums usually are in one way or another.

4/5

 

Check out the nightmarish video for lead single “Every Single Night” below

06
Jun
12

It continues

Seriously still into The Cure.  I made a purchase that I had been attempting to put off until a later date: a five CD box set of their first five albums.  The box was never released in the States, and I’ll be sure to post a few things about it once I get my grubby fingers on it.

So, since I am currently unable to move forward, here is a video of The Cure performing what is arguably their darkest song, “Pornography,” from  the 1982 album of the same name.  This was taken from their Trilogy concerts in 2002, in which they played Pornography, Disintegration, and Bloodflowers in their entirety.




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