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My Complicated Feelings on Nirvana

nirvana-kurt-cobain-dave-grohlWhile impossible to separate music from those who made the music, we all make some attempt to do this. If we didn’t, no one would ever listen to Michael Jackson again. Everything produced by Phil Spector would be burned and shunned. Jerry Lee Lewis (modern reference, I know) would have banned from radio forever ago. If questioned, we make some argument about the music standing on its own.

With Nirvana the music never stands on its own. Every song lyric carries the weight of Cobain’s eventual suicide. We look for signs of his pain, as if pain isn’t the reason for 90% of all music to begin with. We give deep meaning to every breath heard on Unplugged in New York. We like to believe that Nirvana’s whole catalog is really a look behind the curtain of an impending suicide case that we all missed in real-time. If we had just recognized the signs from “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle,” then everything would have been different. This is ridiculous. Read more…

Well, Here’s Jared Leto in a Kurt Cobain Costume Playing Nirvana Covers

Maybe the worst thing on the internet:

 

Should We All Hate Aerosmith?

High on Fire’s Matt Pike appears to hate Aerosmith more than you’ve ever hated anything ever:

I’ve just always had this thing with Aerosmith. The guy sounds like a goat. [Bleating.] “Baaa, baaa, dude looks…” It just gets under my skin. I have this button called the off button or the mute button that I call the Aerosmith button on all my stereos. I just have this weird thing with Aerosmith, where I don’t even care what people say about their old shit. I think they’re the crappiest, most overrated shit band of all time. And I fucking can’t stand them. [Laughs.] And that particular song gets under my skin to where I want to stab people.

The song he is referring to is “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).” I’ve always been fairly neutral on Aerosmith, but this man (I admit to knowing nothing about High on Fire or Matt Pike) does make some good points. Bad Aerosmith is really, really bad. “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” is a stupid song, but have you ever listened to “Pink” all the way through? I bet you haven’t because it’s terrible. The same goes for “Rag Doll,” “Mama Kin,” and “Eat the Rich,” to name a few other Aerosmith hits that do nothing but make me change the station. And don’t even bring up that song from Armageddon. Jesus. That song…

I lost a lot of respect for Aerosmith when I saw them live about 3 years ago. I know that one shouldn’t expect too much from a band that has been touring since the 70s, but I’ve also seen the Stones within the past decade, and they can still bring it. Aerosmith did not bring it. They were embarrassing. Steven Tyler’s voice is still ok, but the whole thing had the feel of a bad Vegas act. The real horror came about halfway through when, well, I’ll let Mr. Pike explain it:

Oh God, I saw a live show. We played at some festival they played on. They were the headliner, of course, and Joe Perry had his little Guitar Hero videogame, and he did a guitar solo with his fucking videogame guy. It’s cartoon him and real him having a guitar-off. That made me want to puke, too.

Can you beat animated Joe Perry on Guitar Hero? No?! You know who can? The real Joe Perry.

Can you beat animated Joe Perry on Guitar Hero? No?! You know who can? The real Joe Perry.

Yep, that happened. Joe Perry, one of the world’s great guitarists, had an onstage guitar battle with the animated version of himself. He did this in front of people. Have we all just been giving them too much credit for making “Dream On” forty years ago? Maybe we have, but man do I still love “Crazy.” Oh, and “Cryin’,” and “What it Takes,” and “Livin’ On the Edge,” and, oh hell, nevermind. I still like Aerosmith. Crap.

[A.V. Club]

 

Just Another Review-Slash by Slash w/Anthony Bozza

slash biography coverSlash by Slash with Anthony Bozza
Published October 30, 2007

Slash is the autobiography of, well, Slash, written with Anthony Bozza. If you know anything about Slash then you know the highlights of his story: Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, drugs, sex, Axl Rose. Those are the things you read an autobiography of Slash for and those are the things you receive in large doses. This is not The Beatles Anthology. You will not get an in-depth description of the creative process that surrounded each song on Use Your Illusion II. You’ll find Slash much more in line with Life by Keith Richards. This is a story about dealing with an enigmatic (to say the least) lead singer, drugs, women, more drugs, and more women. This is not a bad thing.

Early on Slash suffers, as all autobiographies do, with too much time spent on Slash’s childhood. One’s childhood, is always infinitely more important and interesting to the person who lived it than to anyone who is reading or hearing about it. Slash’s childhood stories are more interesting than most, but that’s a low bar. I wish all autobiographies would cut the childhood stories down to no more than one chapter, but I know that’s wishful thinking.

Things pick up quickly when Guns N’ Roses begin to come together. Guns was easily the biggest band in the world for a short period of time and the behind the scenes stories are fascinating. With all the turmoil that has surrounded the eventual breakup of the band and the strangeness of Axl Rose, it’s easy to forget that this was the band that released Appetite for Destruction. Slash does a wonderful job of providing interesting, and often hilarious, storytelling Read more…

Let’s Have a Listen to R.E.M.’s “Country Feedback”

From the Album Out of Time
Released March 12, 1991

R.E.M. has always been one of those bands that I have a tremendous respect for, while also caring little about. I’ve never owned a R.E.M. album. I’ve never had a passionate discussion about the merits of R.E.M. like I have about a thousand other, and sometimes lesser, bands. R.E.M. just was. However, I recently stumbled across “Country Feedback” and have since become slightly obsessed. This may finally be the song that forces me to dig deeper into the R.E.M. catalog.

Let’s have a listen:

This flower is scorched
This film is on
On a maddening loop
These clothes
These clothes don’t fit us right
I’m to blame
It’s all the same
It’s all the same

Note: According to Wikipedia, the first verse he sings in the video (the best version in existence, btw) above is from the song “Chorus and the Ring.” The lyrics posted here are the first lyrics to the studio version of “Country Feedback.” We clear?

This is not my typical type of song. I’m usually adverse to lyrics being read to me (sing those words, singer!), but not here. Maybe Read more…

Search for the Best Pop Song of the 1990s: “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes

This is one blog’s search for the definitive “Best Pop Song of the 1990s.” Ground rules can be found here. This will be done by analyzing these songs far more than any song, or thing, deserves to be analyzed. You can find the other entries here.

“What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes
Released June 23, 1993
Reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100

I was a little surprised to see that this song never made it higher than 14 on the Billboard charts, which led me to look at the songs that were number one during the months when this song would have had major airplay. The song “Weak” by SWV was number one for two weeks during this period. SWV! Also, Meat Loaf had the number one song for five weeks in November-December of 1993. I hope you feel shame, 1993.

Anyway, 4 Non Blondes. Here we go:

Twenty-five years I’m alive here still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination
This is one of those classic songs that begins with acoustic strumming tailor-made for any first time guitar player, followed by an electric guitar riff tailor-made for any second time guitar player. I feel like the 90s were full of those. Also, I have spent my entire life believing that the first line was “Twenty-five years and my life is still.” This version makes more sense, but barely.
I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man
For whatever that means
What does that mean? Seriously. What the hell does that mean?
And so I cry sometimes
When I’m lying in bed Just to get it all out
What’s in my head
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar.

Did Linda Perry just create emo?! Read more…

My Favorite Alabama Shakes Song of the Moment

“Be Mine”:

Search for the Best Pop Song of the 1990s: “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.

This is one blog’s search for the definitive “Best Pop Song of the 1990s.” Ground rules can be found here. This will be done by analyzing these songs far more than any song, or thing, deserves to be analyzed. You can find similar posts here.

Now a guest post by Zack:

“Losing My Religion” by R.E.M
Released February 19, 1991
Reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100

If there is a “dark horse” for best pop song of the ‘90s, it has to be R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion.”

The tune by the Athens, Georgia, band was a surprise Grammy-scoring smash of 1991. Surprising not because the band wasn’t talented, but rather because the song seemed just so unconventional and had such a dramatic tone.

It actually could be considered a great example of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. No, really. Think about it. Have you a better example?

Parts, parts, parts.

Pop music is all about parts, and none of which is more important than the hook. The hook, which is more often than not a catchy chorus, can be the difference between making millions and making rent. Because really, if you think about it, Marcy Playground is definitely not a great band, but does anyone who grew up in the ‘90s not know the lyrics to “Sex and Candy”? Exactly. That group of Minnesota clown shoes raked in dollars hand over fist, all because of that little six-word (I smell sex and candy here) hook.

Parts, parts, parts.

Something else the usual hit pop single has is a “relatability.” For the sake of argument I’ll just reference Marcy Playground again. Who can’t relate to sex? No one, that’s who. Even virgins relate, and maybe to even a more extreme degree than your average slut, because not having sex to a virgin is much more important than getting laid to the average skeez.  And candy? Well, if you don’t like candy, or can’t relate to it, then you suck at life. Period. Read more…

Journey Through the Rolling Stones Discography: Part Three, Exile and Slow Decline

The Rolling Stones are unquestionably one of the greatest rock bands of all time. They have released over twenty albums since the early 60s. Reading through Keith Richards’ autobiography Life (my review here) made me realize how few of these I have actually given a chance. I have since dedicated myself to listening, through the wonder of Spotify, to every Stones album* released to date. This is part three of that trip. (Part one; Part two)

*Until 1967 albums released in the UK were often reconfigured for U.S. release. I’m only listening to the US versions. Also, these are studio albums, not live or greatest hits compilations.


Exile on Main Street

Released May 12, 1972

Need to know: Considered by most to be the Stones greatest album, including Rolling Stone which listed it as the 7th best album of all time in 2003. These people are wrong, but barely.

Reason(s) to listen: This is the grandaddy of all Stones albums in most people’s minds. Any conversation discussing the greatest albums of all time will no doubt reference this one. I once wrote a long post revisiting the greatness of this album. While I don’t think it’s their best, I do think it’s close, and wouldn’t argue too strongly with anyone who claims it is. The main reason to listen to this one is because it is as good as everyone says it is, but also so you don’t feel out of the loop the next time a greatest albums conversation starts. If you’re overly familiar with any Stones album, it should probably be this one.

Reason(s) to ignore: The only reason someone would ignore this album is if they flatly hated the Stones and every note of music they had ever produced. So, you would basically have to be an idiot. The album is a tad bloated though.

Essential track(s): “Tumbling Dice,” “Sweet Virginia,” “Loving Cup,” “Torn and Frayed,” and, well, any song not titled “Turd on the Run.” That song sucks.


Goats Head Soup
Released August 31, 1973

Need to know: Most consider this the beginning of the downside of the Stones career. The legendary Lester Bangs wrote the following upon the album’s release, “There is a sadness about the Stones now, because they amount to such an enormous ‘So what?’ The sadness comes when you measure not just one album, but the whole sense they’re putting across now against what they once meant…” Exile to this isn’t quite the equivalent of jumping off of a cliff, but there is a marked drop-off in quality.

Reason(s) to listen: Look, this is still a solid album. It’s definitely better than 90% of everything that has been released in the past five years. The Stones were coming off of one of the greatest stretches in rock and roll history. They couldn’t sustain it forever. I have this album. I listen to it often. It includes “Angie.” Listen to it.

Reason(s) to ignore: The album cover is pretty freaky. That might scare you. I have a hard time looking at it for long periods, but the album is still worth listening to.

Essential track(s): “Angie,” and that’s really about it. “100 Years Ago” is good and there are quite a few solid songs, but you won’t be using this album for too many Stones’ mix tapes.


It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll

Released October 16, 1974

Need to know: This was the last Stones album for guitarist Mick Taylor, and the first album Jagger and Richards produced under the pseudonym “The Glimmer Twins.” Every Stones album from this point forward would be produced by them or in collaboration with another producer. This was not a great development.

Reason(s) to listen: Honestly, it’s hard to come up with one. While Goats Head Soup still shows some of the Stones greatness, this album does not. This album is actually quite awful. They even return to covers with The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” It’s not a great cover. I guess some people like the cover song, but I am not one of them. It strikes me as something AC/DC would come out with. You know, one of those rock and roll songs that does nothing but talk about how awesome rock and roll is. I am not a fan of those. I already know how awesome rock and roll is. That’s why I’m listening to the Rolling Stones.

Reason(s) to ignore: Because it deserves to be ignored. After listening to the previous four to five albums (depending on how you feel about Goats Head), this album is enough to make me physically angry. It’s the beginning of the Stones going through the motions of being rock and roll stars, rather than making great rock and roll. This would continue for the majority of their remaining career.

Essential track(s): “Time Waits for No One” is one of those countryish acoustic songs that the Stones have always pulled off better than anyone. This is no “Sweet Virginia” but it’s a solid effort. Sadly, it’s the only track worth recommending here. If you want to listen to the opposite of an “essential track,” listen to “Fingerprint File.” Herman’s Hermits would be embarrassed to have released that song.


Black and Blue
Released April 23, 1976

Need to know: This was the first Stones album with Ronnie Wood as a replacement for Mick Taylor. Keith Richards said of this album, “”Rehearsing guitar players, that’s what that one was about.” It’s garbage.

Reason(s) to listen: Some tracks on this album sound like a lot of other terrible rock music in the ’80s, except this album came out in 1976. Maybe the Stones were ahead of their time?

Reason(s) to ignore: There is a song on this album entitled “Cherry Oh Baby,” which is the worst attempt at reggae maybe ever. That song alone is enough to toss this album into the garbage buried under 5 million copies of Their Satanic Majesties Request.

Essential Track(s): There was a time when I didn’t hate the song “Fool to Cry”; then I realized it was on this album. Now I hate it out of principle.


Some Girls
Released June 9, 1978

Need to knowI’m not entirely sure where this came from, but this album is legitimately good. Rolling Stone listed it as the 269th greatest album of all time in 2003. It has sold over 6 million copies.

Reason(s) to listen: It’s a throwback Stones album. This is the album that should have followed Exile. “Miss You” and “Beast of Burden” are as good as the Stones greatest songs. I really can’t exaggerate how great this album sounds after finishing Black and Blue. It’s wonderful.

Reason(s) to ignore: I sincerely believe that “Shattered” is one of the ten worst songs ever made by a “legendary” band. It’s just pure garbage. I’m cringing just thinking about it.

Essential Track(s): “Miss You” and “Beast of Burden” are amazing. “Some Girls” gives you the sexism that you expect and want from Jagger. Really anything not called “Shattered” is worth a listen. “Shattered” is an argument for censorship.


Emotional Rescue
Released June 20, 1980

Need to know: Well, Some Girls was fun while it lasted. Now we’re into the ’80s, and the Stones sadly embraced the ’80s, and all of the shit that came with it, including disco.

Reason(s) to listen: Do you want to hear the Rolling Stones make disco music? Really? If you do, then this is the album for you. The first song is called “Dance (pt 1)” and it is pure disco bullshit terribleness. Things don’t get much better.

Reason(s) to ignore: It’s the Rolling Stones doing disco music. Of course it should be ignored.

Essential Tracks: Their amazing cover of Alice in Chains’ “Down in the Hole.” What? That’s not a Chains cover, but just another mediocre Stones song on an album that starts with a disco track? Shit. Nevermind.

Previous: Part One, The Covers Era; Part Two, Becoming Legends
Next: Part Four, Those Guys are Still Around?

Better Queen Song: Fat Bottomed Girls or Somebody to Love?

Queen is one of those bands that a significant portion of the American public claim to not like. I’m not one of those people. I love Queen. Sure, “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions” are basically clichés at this point, but they are clichés because they’re great songs. It’s not Queen’s fault that every high school in America plays “We Will Rock You” during the pregame warm ups for their super important regional quarterfinal volleyball match. They made a great song and people then proceeded to play it the fuck out. Not Queen’s fault.

Having said that, there are two Queen songs that stand above the rest: “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Somebody to Love”. This post is a completely objective and statistical breakdown of which of those two are better. Let’s get to it.

Complete Objective Criteria #1: If played on a jukebox in a bar in which normal people hang out, which song will get a more favorable reaction?

For me, this one’s easy. “Fat Bottomed Girls” is one of my go-to jukebox songs. I mean, the song starts off with an accapella ode to big girls. In a bar where everyone is wasted and hoping to get laid eventually, Read more…

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