You can tell that Yeasayer is about to get big, because Pitchfork has turned on them. The Brooklyn psychedelic pop band has been respected and critically acclaimed for years, but they have always lacked mainstream notoriety. The prognosticators at Pitchfork apparently are convinced that Yeasayer is going to crossover soon, and therefore considered it their duty to spurn the band like a disloyal lover.
For those not familiar with Pitchfork Media, they consider themselves musical tastemakers but really they are nothing but uber-hipsters. The writers at Pitchfork only rave about indie bands’ debut albums so they can come back later, stroke their ironic mustaches, call their sophomore album disappointing, and state that the band isn’t as good as it used to be. Read more…
You love Katy Perry’s boobs, I love Katy Perry’s boobs, and Katy certainly loves them, but not everyone feels the same. There is one party that is less than enamored with the singer’s greatest assets: her insurer. Well, okay, there are actually two, if you count your girlfriend.
Ms. Perry’s insurer is worried that the bras she wears onstage pose potential health risks. You see, Katy Perry’s breasts are the biggest part of her act. Her boobs shoot whipped cream, shoot fireworks, sell 11 million records, sell magazines, and can even make Elmo scandalous. She’s like a mammary MacGyver. It seems that there is nothing Katy Perry’s boobs cannot do. Read more…
Yesterday, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World opened in theaters nationwide. The movie stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley (in a rare non-period piece) as two people looking to make the most of their last days on Earth.
You see, an asteroid is going to hit Earth and destroy the planet, because for some reason NASA doesn’t have any oil drillers handy to blow it up (where the hell are you when we need you, Bruce Willis?). Carell, I imagine, is a 40-plus-year-old guy still trying to lose his virginity before the world ends. As for Knightley, she’s just glad she doesn’t have to spend her last few days wearing a corset.
If the title of the movie sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It is taken from a line in the Chris Cornell song “Preaching the End of the World,” off his criminally underrated solo debut Euphoria Morning. Here’s hoping the film is better than the last movie named after a Chris Cornell song. The 1996 romantic comedy Feeling Minnesota, starring Keanu Reeves and Cameron Diaz, was named after a line in the Soundgarden song “Outshined.”
If there’s any justice in the world, it’s only a matter of time before Grace Potter & the Nocturnals become a household name. With the band’s infectious blues-rock riffage, Potter’s powerful vocals and — let’s be honest — her supermodel good looks, what’s not to like?
2010’s self-titled album was Potter’s biggest seller to date, peaking at #19 on the Billboard 200, thanks in part to the ridiculously catchy “Paris,” a sexy rocker that had us all saying “ooh la la.”
The upcoming Grace Potter & the Nocturnals album, The Lion the Beast the Beat, will be released June 12. I received an advance copy to review for Glide Magazine and I can tell you that it is everything we expect from a Grace Potter album and more.
When all is said and done, I expect this album’s sales to dwarf that of their eponymous release. I will publish a full review soon, but for now enjoy the first single, “Never Go Back.” I challenge you to crank this up and not sing along.
Update June 11:
My full review of The Lion The Beast The Beat can be read here.
Tuesday is a bit of a slow music day this week. Sure, if you like vanilla paint-by-numbers pop rock with a splash of pretense but without any inspiration, there’s a new Coldplay album! There is also — dear God, no — a new Toby Keith album as well as an album of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson covering songs from Disney movies. For the rest of us, though, there are a few to look out for. All of the good releases this week seem to have a folksy feel for some reason.
Tom Waits: Bad As Me
Waits is one of the most under-appreciated songwriters in the business, partly because of his adversity to publicity and touring. This is his first album of new material in 7 years. If it’s like most of Waits’ catalog, you will love some songs and cringe at others, but each will be a noble attempt at creating something great. Love him or hate him, Waits is always interesting.
She & Him: Christmas Album
America’s indie sweetheart, Zooey Deschanel, drops her third collaboration with M Ward here. She & Him’s warm melodies and vintage sound should be a perfect fit for the Christmas season. Even your biggest Grinch would warm up to the season if he had Zooey crooning to him. Hopefully then he wouldn’t kidnap her so she would have to sing for him every day (as a Grinch, you never know what to expect).
Honeyhoney: Billy Jack
Though still largely unknown, honeyhoney’s unique brand of folk rock is definitely worth a listen. Their debut album, First Rodeo, was one of my favorite releases of last year. Their sophomore release is said to have more of a bluegrass sound.
Deer Tick: Divine Providence
If you like indie folk, scratchy vocals and creative narrative storytelling, you will like Deer Tick. This is the fourth album by the band from Providence, Rhode Island. Unlike the blood-draining insect that is their namesake, Deer Tick does not suck.
Other Releases for October 25 (not recommended):
Coldplay: Mylo Xyloto
Brian Wilson: Disney Songbook
Drake: Take Care
Goapele: Break of Dawn
Justice: Audio Video Disco
Kelly Clarkson: Stronger
Kid Koala: Space Cadet
Michael Feinstein: Sinatra II
Orrin Hatch: Xmas
Paul Kelly: Songs from South
Peter Gabriel: Live
Roots Manuva: 4everrevolution
Russian Circles: Empros
Strange Boys: Live Music
Surfer Blood: Tarot Classics
Thomas Dolby: Map of Floating City
Toby Keith: Clancey’s Tavern
Vince Gill: Guitar Slinger
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have a new song and it is predictably terrible. The cowbell in “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” is so out of place that even The Bruce Dickinson would have said to cut it from the song. Worse than that, though, are the lyrics. The chorus has frontman Anthony Kiedis crooning “Hey now, we’ve got to make it rain somehow.” That would be bad enough if it didn’t seem like a blatant rip-off of “Hey oh, listen what I say oh,” from their 2006 song “Snow (Hey Oh).”
It’s time to stop giving the Red Hot Chili Peppers a pass. They are not a good band and it’s time for us to admit that. Up until I heard “Rain Dance Maggie” if you would have asked me if I liked the Chili Peppers, I would have said yes. “It’s a shame that their new music isn’t as good, though,” I would have admitted. “I wish they would return to the music they made during their prime.”
Then it occurred to me that the glory days of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was the era between 1990 and 1992. In other words, it was Blood Sugar Sex Magik. They are a one-album band that has been living off of the reputation of that landmark album for the last 20 years, and even that album has some horrible songs (you’ve heard “Give It Away,” right?) Each time they release an album, people acknowledge that it is a disappointment, as if the greatness of Sex Magik is the norm. With only one good album, it is the anomaly, not the norm. Their good music is a fluke. The only decent album over the last 19 years is Stadium Arcadium, but that only has an album’s worth of good songs because it is a double album.
It’s easy to be fooled, because the Chili Peppers have a lot of talent. Flea is a talented bassist who does a good Bootsy Collins impression. With Hillel Slovak and John Frusciante, they have had two of the greatest guitarists of the last 30 years. They’re not particularly versatile, but the musicians do what they do well. Anthony Kiedis, on the other hand, isn’t really good at anything, other than convincing talented musicians to let him be in their band.
When it comes down to it, every Chili Peppers song that sucks does so because of Kiedis. His vocals range from passable to annoying and his lyrics range from terrible to I-seriously-hope-I-misheard-that. Take the hit “Scar Tissue” for instance. The song may sound catchy, but take some time to read the lyrics:
Blood loss in a bathroom stall/ southern girl with a scarlet drawl/ Wave goodbye to ma and pa/ ‘cause with the birds I’ll share/ With the birds I’ll share this lonely view.
It’s nice that Kiedis was able to put that rhyming dictionary that he got for Christmas to use, but stringing a bunch of phrases together that end with the same vowel sound isn’t songwriting. Sadly, this isn’t unusual. In fact, it seems to be Kiedis’s preferred method of lyric-writing. Chili Peppers lyrics are 1/3 I love California, 1/3 nonsensical rhyming, and 1/3 wordless babbling. The “hump de bump doop badu/ bump de hump doop bap/ hump de bump doop badu” pre-chorus in “Hump de Bump” is a good example of the latter.
Take your average Chili Peppers song and imagine little Anthony Kiedis handing it into his middle school English teacher. He would have received a big red F for his “poetry” and there probably would have been a lot of notes from the teacher saying “that’s not a word.”
When the band was expertly ripping off the funk pioneers who came before them, their catchy grooves could compensate for Kiedis’s idiocy. When the band transitioned from funk rockers to radio-friendly lite-rock, however, the rhythms were no longer able to cover up Kiedis.
I say this not to make the Chili Peppers seem like the archetype of terrible yet popular music. That’s what the Black Eyed Peas are for. I say this because we need to stop deluding ourselves. Every time the band releases a bad album, I convince myself that it is surprising. Expecting the Red Hot Chili Peppers to make good music because they did it once in 1991 is like expecting your college dropout kid to be a great artist based on how well he colored in kindergarten. It was 20 years ago. It’s time to move on.
Bonus Chili Pepper lyrics for your pleasure
The earth is made of dirt/ and wood/ and I’d be water if I could/ live in your dream/ in your stream (“I Like Dirt”)
I know, I know for sure/ that life is beautiful around the world/ I know, I know it’s you/ You say hello and then I say I do (“Around the World”)
I am you are me/ I am you are me/ Who? (“One Big Mob”)
I was riding/ riding on my bike/ me with my best friend/ We’re so alike (“One Hot Minute”)
Slow cheetah come/ before my forest/ Looks like it’s on today/ Slow cheetah come/ It’s so euphoric/ no matter what they say (“Slow Cheetah”)
White coulds I’m in/ a mitten full of fishermen/ C’mon Huckleberry Finn/ show me how to make her grin/ Well, I’m in Michigan (“Especially in Michigan”)
The dollar bill will mentally ill bill/ Mom and dad take your don’t be sad pill (“21st Century”)
Kiss that dyke/ I know you want to hold one/ Not on strike/ but I’m about to bowl one/ Bite that mic/ I know you never stole one/ Girls that like/ a story so I told one (“By the Way”)
The bassist has always been an important, though overlooked, part of rock music. Standing in the shadows while the singers and guitarists get all of the attention, the bassist provides the backbone of the rhythm. Still, in recent years there has been a growing trend to cut that thankless position out of the band. Bassists everywhere feel like they’re being disrespected, as if the music industry is defiantly saying “bassists? We don’t need no stinking bassists!”
A rock band without a bassist is a difficult thing to pull off. Countless garage bands have tried it simply because they didn’t have a friend who wanted to play bass. The vast majority of those bands would be better off also removing the drummer, guitarist and singer from the band. On the rare occasion that it works, though, a bass-less rock band delivers a unique sound that deserves appreciation. Therefore, here are the 10 best bass-less rock bands.
10. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
This band burst onto the scene in 1991 with its unique blend of rock, blues, punk and rockabilly. Though innovative and always entertaining, the sophomoric lyrics were always a weak point of the songs.
9. Times New Viking
This Columbus three-piece has a distinctive low-fi noise pop that is recorded on cassette tape. Their concise tracks often include shouted vocals, heavily distorted drums and guitars and audible tape hiss. If that music is your thing, this is the best band to do it sans bass.
8. The Doors
The Doors are a band that I really want to hate, because the band and its fans are so damn pretentious. From the thought that somehow rock music needs more organ solos to the insistence that Jim Morrison be referred to as a poet simply because the “Lizard King” wrote countless songs and poems about his schlong, this band will rarely find its way onto one of my “best of” lists. However, the most impressive thing about the band is its ability to lay down a bassline in concert without using a bassist. Keyboardist Ray Manzarek played the bassline with his left hand while playing the keyboard part with his right. So yeah, this man replaced an entire musician with one hand.