Archive for the 'Video' Category



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


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.


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


Retro review: Boa’s Twilight

Artist: Bôa

Album: Twilight (2001)

Bôa are a band that that got a raw deal; their North American debut, Twilight, came in a little too late to capitalize on its strong alternative/post grunge sound.  Led by Jasmine and Steve Rodgers – the children of singer Paul Rodgers – Bôa excel in subdued alternative music with a slight eastern flair.  Though Twilight was released in 2001, it’s mostly made up of previously released material from the 90’s that were unavailable in North America.  For all intents and purposes, Twilight is a pre-packaged introduction to the band.  In other territories, Bôa had a hit with “Duvet,” their finest moment, and received a little extra exposure from it being used as the intro to the anime Serial Experiments Lain.  In fact, “Duvet” appears twice on the album: once as an opener, and again in acoustic form.  Tactics like this always come off as a tad desperate, but the acoustic version is a nice foil.

Twilight’s best moments come when signer Jasmine Rodgers allows her voice to float with the music, instead of commanding and overpowering it; “Welcome” and “Drinking” being two prime examples of the formula working.  Elsewhere, the Eastern European flair of “Anna Maria” falls flat and “Rain” is a fine example of a song brought down by overwrought and silly lyrics: “Suicide is rain in pain.”  Indeed.  Fortunately the stronger moments outweigh the weaker, but for the most part it’s difficult to hear anything except un-realized potential.



Check out the video for “Duvet” directly under this sentence.


retro review: machines of loving grace’s concentration

Artist: Machines of Loving Grace

Album: Concentration (1993)

In the early to mid 90’s there existed a scene of electronic music; some of it making it to the mainstream like Nine Inch Nails, and others not so much.  Machines of Loving Grace was a band that occupied that fine line between mainstream success and the growing underground of industrial artists.  I was introduced to the band through the soundtrack to The Crow, which was basically a 90’s alterna-fest.  Their greatest achievement, Concentration, is not only an achievement for the band, but for the genre as a whole.

It’s easily to dismiss Concentration as being too “of its time,” and there is some merit to that argument; production wise, the album hasn’t aged all that well.  Electronic blips and synths sound dated by today’s standards, but it’s not as cringe worthy as, say, 80’s Depeche Mode.  On Concentration there is a complex combination of sounds working to create something unique; funk, soul, and industrial rock all find a comfortable place here.  The grooves found on “Limiter” and “Ancestor Cult” are simply too good to be ignored, and opener “Perfect Tan (Bikini Atoll)” is the finest example of all the elements coming together.

A couple of singes had their day on MTV, such as “Butterfly Wings” and the aforementioned “Perfect Tan,” but, as is usually the case, the best stuff couldn’t be found on TV or the radio: “Lilith/Eve” stands as one of my favorite songs of the entire decade.  Its funk sampling, jagged guitar, and hushed verses is intoxicating.  Like many songs on Concentration, “Lilith/Eve” creates a mood and makes it sound natural.

Concentration deftly combines sounds to transcend the genre label of simple “industrial rock,” and though Machines of Loving Grace would go on to record one more album, 1995’s Gilt, Concentration stands as their crowning achievement that has unfortunately been swept away by time.


Check out the video for “Perfect Tan (Bikini Atoll)” below.


You should hear this!: of Montreal at Coachella

2007 was a good year for of Montreal; they gave birth to what many consider to be their finest album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?  Featuring dark, fractured pop songs and psychedelic glam, Hissing Fauna has some wonderfully odd moments.  “She’s a Rejector” is such a moment, and this 2007 Coachella performance is one of, if not the best, performance of it.


Sleigh Bells, of course

When I was just starting high school I  used to carry around my Sony walkman — a CD player, people — and more often than not it would house Poison The Well’s You Come Before You.  I lost interest in the band soon after, but I was delightfully surprised to hear that their former guitarist, Derek Miller, was the second half of indie band Sleigh Bells.  There is something inherently violent in Sleigh Bells’ mix of hardcore, pop, and dub, and their 2010 self-titled debut is one of the loudest albums I have ever heard.  Their new album, Reign of Terror is out at the end of the month, and is preceded by their new single, “Comeback Kid.”  It’s difficult to discuss the band without some frame of reference, so check out their new video for “Comeback Kid” below.  Dig the nostalgia.


You should hear this!: The Afghan Whigs on Jools Holland

Taking a short break from The Smiths, I bring you a performance by one of my favorite 90’s bands, The Afghan Whigs.  This performance of “Somethin’ Hot” off of arguably their best album, 1965,  is from a 1998 taping of Later with Jools Holland. The band recently confirmed that they will be reuniting for the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, and hopefully they’ll decide to tour.



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