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Archive for the ‘David Bowie’ Category

[ATTENDED: August 20, 2021] Green Day: Hella Mega Tour: Green Day / Fall Out Boy / Weezer / The Interrupters [rescheduled from August 29, 2020]

I loved Green Day’s Dookie when it came out.  I also really liked American Idiot (and a bunch of stuff in between).  But it was pretty wild when my teenage son became a big fan of Green Day (especially American Idiot).  I’ve never seen Green Day live before–which I’m guessing I now regret since they were fantastic live.

The most interesting thing to S. and myself was that they opened their part of the set by playing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” over the speakers at full concert volume.  Not Green Day playing it, but the actual original version.  And the crowd went utterly bananas.  Singing along at full volume.  The lights even went bright and dim accordingly.  It was a pretty amazing moment to hear an entire arena singing along to a song.  And it really got everyone pumped.  It was a pretty genius idea and I’m surprised more bands don’t do it.

They followed this with Ramones’ “Blitzkreig Bop” which went over although not quite as well, but it segued into a kind of mashup of “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”, “Blitzkrieg Bop”, and “We Will Rock You” played behind a series of clips from Green Days shows old and new.  It was clear they were preparing for A SHOW.

They came out on stage to lights and video and started out with two songs from American Idiot.  And the crowd was berserk.  “American Idiot” and “Holiday” was like a one-two punch of wonderfulness for my son.  And there were fireworks and explosions and big lights and it was a great start.

I never knew that Billie Joe Armstrong was such a great and engaging front man.  I was especially delighted that he acknowledged that many of the fans there were from New Jersey.  I mean, sure we were in Philadelphia, but there were lots of NJ folks there and he really won us over by dividing the crowd into the Philly and NJ sides to see who could be louder.  This was especially cool for my kids, I think. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BULLY-“Dry” (2021).

Back in 1993, PJ Harvey’s album Rid of Me was one of my favorite releases.  I loved the dynamic and the powerful lyrics.

I really enjoyed Bully’s 2015 Feel Like album.  I had a ticket to see Bully a couple of months ago, but obviously that didn’t happen.  Here Bully covered PJ Harvey.

The performance is part of  Sounds of Saving’s “Song That Found Me at the Right Time” series and is paired with a Q&A in which Bully’s Alicia Bognanno discusses mental health issues, both personal and across the music industry.

The interview is about five minutes, and an important moment comes when she says

A lot of musicians, like myself, are sober and dealing with mental health. I think it’s 85% of artists, or something, struggle with mental health. I have a link on my fridge for a suicide prevention hotline because you never know when people are going to need that. And people aren’t really vocal about it, so that should be readily available at all times.

For this cover, Bognanno plays the song solo.  She gets a great sound on her guitar and I love the way she drops the distortion for the quieter chorus.

Her vocal delivery is right on, although she makes the song her own because her singing style is quite different.

There’s no solo like in the original, but it is hardly missed in this excellent cover.

You can watch the interview and song here.

[READ: January 30, 2021] “True Stories”

This is one of Hilton Als’ Profiles in the New Yorker.  This one is about PJ Harvey.

I loved PJ Harvey’s earlier records and even though her newer records are “better,” I miss the visceral sound of the early ones.  Als’ profile talks about that change in sound and how a lot of her image was character driven, not personal.

For PJ Harvey’s third album, To Bring You My Love, Harvey started dressing differently, in a costume: tight pink catsuit that accentuated every line and bump, an exposed black bra; turquoise eyeshadow, heavy black mascara on eyelashes as long as beetles’ legs; careless red lipstick.  It was like the opposite of Bowie’s immaculate Thin White Duke.

She called this character Vamp.

She tells Als that in the early days she didn’t know how to do interviews and how to keep private things to herself.  At the time she wore black, scraped her hair back and didn’t wear makeup.  She wore big boots, played a big guitar and made a lot of noise.  She says the English pres wanted her to be this dark melancholy feminist.

But Harvey couldn’t be pigeonholed.  She is a musical purist who delights in the impurity of contemporary rock as it borrows from the blues, funk, pop, techo and trip hip.

Harvey grew up in a village of 600 with artistic parents who listened to all kinds of music.  They often had bands staying at their place on the weekend. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 24, 2020] Art d’Ecco [rescheduled from November 10, 2019, replaced Mattiel]

2020-01-24 20.43.21_previewArt d’Ecco is a band from Vancouver.  Well, technically, Art d’Ecco is the singer and it is his band.  Either way it is a fantastic name which perfectly encapsulates the look of he and style of dandies from the Pacific Northwest playing excellent garage glam.

I didn’t realize that there were going to be two opening acts.  So when The Retinas finished I assumed that Temples were coming out next.  (I also assumed I’d be getting home really early if the headliners were going on at 9:15).

I was surprised when Art d’Ecco came out because, while I didn’t exactly know what Temples looked like, I was fairly certain they weren’t a glammy band.  Plus, what happened to the singer’s big curly hair?

I was happy to discover that this wasn’t Temples because I didn’t think I could have been that off in my expectations.  But I was even happier to discover this new (to me) band who were fantastic. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 24, 2020] The Retinas [rescheduled from November 10, 2019, replaced Mattiel]

2020-01-24 20.04.27_previewThe Retinas are a Philly band. I hadn’t heard of them before this show.

They are a guitar/bass/drum trio with a great sound.  In fact sometimes there were sounds and I’m not sure where they were coming from–loops?, samples? pedals? who knows.

They opened with a synth line (from where?) while singer Tom McHugh sang an opening lyric in his distinctive voice.

I loved the way the song built with some really impressive drumming from Anthony Filgnitti–whom I was standing in front of.  I couldn’t really see bassist Andy Silverman because of the people next to me, but his low end was essentially to anchoring the overall sound.

McHugh had great stage presence.  It helped that there were a lot of people  there to see them (at least McHugh said there were–and I actually saw someone with a Retinas jacket in the crowd). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS-“I’m working at NASA on Acid” (2012).

2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

This song starts out with NASA voices and beeps.   The beeps turn into a rhythm and after a cool echoing guitar the song takes on almost a spaghetti western feel.  even with the bowed cello

The song features Lightning Bolt, a noise rock duo, and I assume they join in the fun in the middle of the song.

After three minutes, a pretty guitar melody leads to a sped up voice saying 1, 2,3, 4 as it soars into the next chaotic and wild section.  The riff speeds up, the drums and distortion increase and the song feels like an epic take off into outer space.

It runs for about two minutes and then slows down.  Way down.  After a backwards countdown 4,3,2,1, the song resumes as a gentle folk song kind of like “Space Oddity.”  It’s pretty cool.

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #8

Katchoo is flying to Boston.  The voice over has a nice moment where we see just how much she loves Francine.

She lands and heads to Jet’s garage.  She tells Jet that she has something to give her.

They get into Katchoo’s car which is surrounded by ravens.  They seem to be following her.  I love Terry Moore’s art throughout this series.  He does realistic portrayals of women perfectly (even if sometimes I can’t tell some of the women apart).  I love the way he draws Jet so distinctively as well.  But those ravens, um, not so much.

Jet has no idea what the container is and when Katchoo explains the contents she thinks Katchoo is joking. Why did Stephanie send her to Jet if Jet doesn’t know what it is? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NEGATIVLAND-Escape From Noise (1987).

This was my introduction to Negativland.  And I loved it.  I loved everything about his album.  I used to play songs from it on my college radio show all the time.

I loved that the first track, “Announcement” opens with this ponderous statement

This announcement from the producers of this record contains important information for radio program directors, and is not for broadcast. The first cut on this record has been cross-format-focused for airplay success. As you well know, a record must break on radio in order to actually provide a living for the artists involved. Up until now, you’ve had to make these record-breaking decisions on your own, relying only on perplexing intangibilities like taste and intuition. But now, there’s a better way.  The cut that follows is the product of newly-developed compositional techniques, based on state-of-the-art marketing analysis technology. This cut has been analytically designed to break on radio. And it will, sooner or later.

After a count down comes the “radio hit” they call “Quiet Please” which opens with a cacophony of noise–smashing cymbals jagged guitars and bizarre sound effects with a man yelling “Quiet Please!”  It’s insane and really quite catchy–at least by 2019 standards.

After we hear David say, “I’m going to record all the noise,”, his mom talks about how much noise they don’t have there before a Girl says Michael Jackson and then a loud voice lists a whole bunch of 1980s bands indulging Weird Al and David…Booie (Bowie).

AND WE ESPECIALLY CALL FOR THE JUDGMENT IN THIS HOUR AND THE DESTROYING OF ROCK MUSIC DIRECTED SPECIFICALLY AGAINST CHILDREN AND WORKING SPECIFICALLY THROUGH THESE INDIVIDUALS FOR WHOM WE CALL FOR THE JUDGMENT IN THE SACRED FIRE IN THIS HOUR BEFORE THE THRONE OF ALMIGHTY GOD

This rant is followed by a catchy bouncy synth riff which opens the next song “Escape from Noise.”  It continues the premise of breaking music on the radio.  But then a man starts shouting about the noise all around us.  “Is there any escape from noise?”  This line always made me chuckle: IT’S NO WONDER YOU’RE EXHAUSTED AFTER A DAY OF SHOPPING.

Then David states in his inimitable voice:

Supposing you’re watching the Playboy Channel, (“Ooooh yes! Oh….”) and it’s just about time for them to have an orgasm(“….Oh! Oh! Harder! Oh! Oh! I think I’m gonna explode! Oh! Oh!”) When all of a sudden: Wham! The horrible noise comes in, and completely destroys your orgasm on the Playboy Channel. (“Oh yes-“).

“The Playboy Channel” also features Jello Biafra, flushing a toilet.

The bouncy riff returns for “Stress in Marriage.”  Along with other various song snippets, the announcer tells us, there’s enough built-in stress in marriage without noise contributing.

“Nesbitt’s Lime Soda Song” is a straight up folk song (and very catchy too.  But there’s a surprisingly dramatic temp throughout as a bee gets into the last bottle of the previous lime soda.

I brought a case of Nehi, and Double Cola, too
A half a dozen Upper 10’s, and good old Mountain Dew
I bought a quart of Cola-Up, to get me through the day
But just one bottle of Nesbitt’s Lime Soda
And we had to throw it away

“Over the Hiccups” features a little girl (Louisa Michaels) singing “Over the Rainbow” while suffering from the hiccups  It’s cute and bizarre.

“Sycamore” is a fascinating song that splices spoken clips about guns and a planned community.

“Car Bomb” is two minutes of thumping drums and screaming vocals.  Each “verse” ends in a shout of CAR BOMB! and a humongous explosion.  It’s awesome.

“Methods of Torture” has various synth sounds and then describes how sound was used as methods of torture: “put someone’s head in side a bell and ring it.  And eventually they’ll go insane.

“Yellow Black and Rectangular” is a pretty song–various bell-like sounds looping while a man and woman talk about a sign that’s yellow and black with wedge shapes inside.  The splicing is exquisite.

“Backstage Pass” has samples of presumably Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart (see below) with a sitar, I guess?  Not the best song on the record, for sure (and an homophobic slur).  But it leads into the masterpiece that is “Christianity Is Stupid.”

“Christianity Is Stupid” is a four-minute track that samples the propaganda movie If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?, with primarily the narrator saying over and over “Christianity is Stupid, Communism is Good.  Give up!”    It’s awesome.

Shop as usual and avoid panic buying.

You can only follow that up with something more ridiculous and sublime: “Time Zones.”  I’m not sure why, but this track was a personal favorite among myself and my friends.  After a musical interlude, a narrator talks about the Soviet Union before a transistor radio begins talking about how many time zones there are in the Soviet Union.  Eleven.  Eleven.

“You Don’t Even Live Here” is a great recording of a hearing in which a woman yells about a nuclear reactor being built in their community.  It’s pretty inspiring, actually (even if it is rather distorted).  The music is pretty cool, too.

“The Way of It” ends the disc in a kind of recap–”this is not the way of it…all that shouting, all that noise.”  Followed by “Endscape” a little cheering section to close the record.

I haven’t listened to this is many years, but it sounded even better this time through.  This album is so far ahead of it’s time it’s ridiculous.  Its not even funny.

The creators of this masterpiece were:

  • Mark Hosler: Singing, synthesizers, guitars, voice tapes, percussions, rhythm loops, bomb parts, David manipulation, tiny metal banjo, recorder, lots of other noises, mix
  • Don Joyce: Yelling, talking tapes, electric tympani, synthesizer, lyrics, singing, Booper bee, bomb parts and assembly, noises everywhere, mix
  • Chris Grigg: Drums, synthesizer, singing, computer & software, field recordings, mix
  • David Wills: Talking, shortwave, family tape, bomb parts, regular Booper
  • Richard Lyons: Singing, lyrics, voice
With contributions from
  • Ian Allen: Helicopter (on “Sycamore”), Rhythm Loop (on “Car Bomb”), Bell (on “Time Zones”)
  • Jello Biafra c/o Dead Kennedys: Toilet Flushing (on “The Playboy Channel”)
  • Das c/o Big City Orchestra: Voice Tapes (on “Quiet Please”)
  • Dina Emerson: Wordless Vocals (on “You Don’t Even Live Here”)
  • Steve Fisk: Optigan and Voice Tapes (on “Michael Jackson”)
  • Tera Freedman: Voice Tape (on “Backstage Pass”)
  • Phil Freihofner: Bomb Parts (on “Car Bomb”)
  • Ray Briem: radio talk show host (on “Time Zones”)
  • Ed Markmann: Paid Voice
  • Fred Frith: Urban Drum and Halfspeed Violin (on “Michael Jackson”)
  • Jerry Garcia c/o Grateful Dead: Mouth Sounds and Chimes (on “Backstage Pass”)
  • Alexander Hacke c/o Einstürzende Neubauten: Metal Noises (on “Christianity Is Stupid”)
  • Mickey Hart c/o Grateful Dead: Percussion and Processed Animals (on “Backstage Pass”)
  • Tom Herman c/o Tripod Jimmie: Torture Guitars (on “Methods of Torture”)
  • Henry Kaiser: Doublespeed Disco Guitars (on “Quiet Please”)
  • Louisa Michaels c/o Step One Nursery School: Singing (on “Over the Hiccups”)
  • Mark Mothersbaugh c/o Devo: Jazz Bass, Jimi Hendrix, E-cussion, Saxophone and Noises (on “The Playboy Channel”)
  • The Residents Hoots and Clanging (on “You Don’t Even Live Here”)
  • Rev. Ivan Stang c/o The Church of the SubGenius: Larynx (on “Christianity Is Stupid”)
  • Rand Weatherwax c/o CBS: Orchestra Hits and E-cussion (on “Quiet Please”)
  • Rob Wortman c/o Kingshouse: Leaf blower (on “You Don’t Even Live Here”)

[READ: April 20, 2019] “Quality Time”

This story was sitting on my kitchen table and my mother-in-law picked it up and wondered why I had a 19 year-old story from the New Yorker.  She bristled at the early sentence: “She had her husband’s permission.”

This shaped my view of the story before I read it and I looked at it with a 2019 viewpoint to see if the story was retrograde.

The fact that a woman is hit by a car and killed didn’t help very much.  Especially since, although her death affects him, it is never given a justification.  Nor is it even a plot point, per se. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AARON LEE TASJAN-Tiny Desk Concert #817 (January 15, 2019).

Aaron Lee Tasjan and his band play wonderful retro-fueled jangle pop.  There’s terrific gentle harmonies, a chiming 12 string and a dual guitar solo.  He even looks the part

Aaron Lee Tasjan arrived at the Tiny Desk in his fashionable ascot and mustard-colored shirt, sporting reflective, red, rounded sunglasses and mutton chops. As he warmed up, the sound of the middle-and-late 1960s came through his seagreen, Gorsuch 12-string guitar while his voice felt both familiar and fresh.

Aaron Lee Tasjan’s love for this older sound infuses Karma For Cheap, his recent album, with an optimistic THC-veiled sentiment — one that can be heard on “Songbird,” his opening number here at the Tiny Desk. “There’s a songbird singing, I’m laying on the floor. Something feels right that has never felt right before.”

“Songbird” sounds familiar yet new, and wonderfully catchy.

He’s also got a good joke: “My name is Aaron Lee Tasjan. I hope I’m saying that right.”

For the next song he says the band will “boogaloo till they puke.”  It opens with a synth sound. more jangly guitars and even bigger harmonies.  It segues perfectly into the stomp of “Set You Free.”

These are songs of encouragement, and the final tune in this Tiny set, “Set You Free,” invokes that sentiment in plain-spoken language: “You gotta change your mind, you gotta plant the seed and let it set you free.”  All the while, drummer Seth Earnest, guitarist Brian Wright and bassist Tommy Scifres seemingly channeled their love of David Bowie’s 1972 song, “The Jean Genie” (a song mixed in Nashville), in its rhythms and vibes.

You can definitely hear “The Jean Genie” in the song, but never does it sound like he’s stealing from Bowie, just alluding to him–and that three-part harmony makes it all his own.  I love that both guitars play the solo at the end–atop even more harmonies.

This was such a delightful Tiny Desk that I need to find out more about this guy.

[READ: January 18, 2018] Peter & Ernesto

This is an adorable book, the first in a series, I believe, about Peter & Ernesto.  As the subtitle indicates, they are sloths.

The book opens with the pair sitting in a tree watching the clouds go by and naming the shapes.  When Ernesto sees a bear, Peter responds “Scary!” and then goes back to eating his hibiscus.

It is generally believed that sloths are lazy, but Ernesto points out that they are not lazy, just content.  Until, that is, Peter sings about how “We always see what we always see!  Nothing ever changes for you and me!”  And then Ernesto feels discontented.

Ernesto says he likes their piece of sky, but he wants to see all of the sky.  So he must take a trip.  Peter freaks out–there could be bears out there!  It’s too dangerous!  When Ernesto asks if Peter has ever been out there and Peter says no.  Ernesto points out, how would he know? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: UMPHREY’S McGEE-“Santa Oddity” (2018)

This is a ridiculous and somewhat forced Christmas version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”  It’s pretty funny and would have been a treat to see live, but really you don;t need to hear it more than once.

It opens with an acoustic guitar and the lyric:

Ground control to Santa Claus… eat your cookies and put your suit on.”

I wish the voice worked a little better–it doesn’t have the Bowie feel at all.

The middle section has this fun twist: “Planet earth is white and its Christmas time tonight”

Midway through the song, since they’re Umphrey’s McGee, they throw in a mash up of The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can;t You See.”  It feels like it’s supposed to be Santa-related, but they forgot, although they do change the one lyric: “Santa please, can’t you see what that woman been giving to me.”

Then its back to the end: “Here I am sitting on a rooftop…”  It ends, the crowd goes nuts and you hear them say: That worked, That was fun.  Thank you.  That’ll only happen once.  But here it is to enjoy over and over.

[READ: December 16, 2018] “Two Stories Containing a Mouse”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.  Although this weekend, I’m pairing them with recently released songs from bands I like.

These stories feel connected and maybe they are, but “Rubies” was written four years earlier.  It has a very different style as well. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 18, 2018] Pearl Jam

Two summers ago Sarah and I took the kids to Boston.  It was a vacation that was centered around we adults seeing Pearl Jam at Fenway Park.  When Pearl Jam announced that they were doing a short summer tour, I thought it would be fun to try to get tickets to the Wrigley Field Shows.

I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I used to enjoy baseball and always wanted to see Wrigley Field.  So when the tickets were announced I took a chance and scored two tickets to each night of their dates.  And so we built another vacation out of travelling to see Pearl Jam.

Ironically we’ve never seen them in our home state.

Sarah wrote a great post about all we did in Chicago (a city I had never been to before).  But in sum, in the five days we were there, we went to Navy Pier, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park (and saw The Bean), Portillos, The Sears Tower, an architecture cruise, Shedd Aquarium, The Museum of Science and Industry, a wade into Lake Michigan (that’s 4 of 5 Great Lakes for me), and Nuts on Clark.  And of course, Wrigley Field. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 7, 2018] Phish

Having enjoyed two Phish shows at Madison Square Garden, and really seeing what it’s like to go to multiple shows by the same band when they mix up the setlists so much, I was pretty psyched to hear that Phish were coming back to NJ for two shows on a short summer tour.

After the immense spectacle of the Baker’s Dozen, in which they repeated no over thirteen shows (thereby messing up every statistic-driven fan who likes to recount the last time a song was played, this tour was shaping up to be a more traditional fan favorites (or not) package.  This was actually perfect for me because as I start keeping tracks of the songs I need to see live, I realize that I need a lot of the staples to fill out my chart. (more…)

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