What's More Unbelievable?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Help for the Helpless

Apparently, not everyone grew up idolizing Eric Bachmann like I did. I was under the impression that most everyone had posters on their bedroom doors of a shirtless Eric cradling a baby tiger. Didn't every kid on my block run home after school to see the Archers on TRL promoting their latest hits? Didn't they all cry themselves to sleep knowing the dreams that would fill their heads that night would go sadly unfulfilled as the harsh reality brought on by the morning sun smacked them in the face? I guess not because I've heard from a few people that they were unable to vote in this week's poll as they were unfamiliar with not just one phase of Eric Bachmann's musical career but with his entire trajectory. No wonder some teens are so angsty. Without Eric in their lives, what hope is there?

So please, check out the videos below to get a feel for the many faces of Mr. Bachmann and use this knowledge to help you vote if you have not already or vote more than once if you'd like. The more votes the more popular we seem.

Eric's pre-Archers band that he left so he wouldn't be saddled with a bunch of indie rock losers when he had greatness in his future. This choice is only on there for the completists but no one in their right mind would choose it so let's move on.

Archers of Loaf
One of the bands that changed my life drastically. Icky Mettle opened up a new world for me and was one of the most mind blowing and influential albums on me musically. If there were a Monsters of Indie Rock Tour, Archers would be one of the headliners. By the time they faded away quietly, nobody seemed to care about them anymore but the impact of their first two albums and the Greatest of All Time ep still cast shadows over the landscape of today. Les Savy Fav rightly champion this band any chance they get. Check out the video for "Lowest Part is Free" from the best 5-song album ever released.

Barry Black
Eric's mostly-instrumental project that has so far produced 2 albums. Creaky, southern vampire music and Eno-influenced circus soundtracks. I couldn't find any official videos but did come across this gem featuring sea otters feeding at the GA aquarium with "Drowning Spider" as the background music. Feasty!

Crooked Fingers
Eric left the rock behind, mostly, for this group. Incredibly beautiful and quiet tunes about people doing wrong to themselves and others. Lots of drinking, smoking and other vices are explored in song as Eric examines the bad decisions people never stop making. Album after album of pure brilliance. Here's "Weary Arms" from the bullfighter-approved album Dignity and Shame.

Eric Bachmann
Legend has it that Eric travelled to Guatemala for a spell and returned to America, living in his van and writing the music for the second album under his own name, which may be my favorite album of any of his bands. Here is the official video for the song "Lonesome Warrior" which may or may not be autobiographical but to me the song and video perfectly sum up my image of Eric as a modern troubadour, never staying in one place for long. A Dion for the 21st century.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Call For Help

So, I was listening Sunday night's show at work today (narcissist? not really, just bored with the online radio that we listen to, but it is fun to actually hear the show which I don't really get to do on account of cueing song and logging entries to the blog) and the one thing that jumped out at me was my over-abundant use of the word 'fantastic'. It was, "oh, this album is fantastic" or "man the lead guitar in that song is just fantastic." What the hell is happening to me? My vocabulary is diminishing into a hodge podge of phrases and words that I don't even like.
So, I'm asking you to help we with this problem. Give me suggestions for better adjectives that I can use on the radio. I kinda like 'wicked awesome' on an ironic level, but I don't want to get stuck in that rut. So comment to this post and help ole' Mothra out. I'll even give you an on-air shout out like, "The production on that Shins number is the cat's meow - adjective brought to you by *your name here*"
Thank you all in advance.

Here is a video that always amazes me because it was made when rock videos reigned supreme, but it is so damn lazy, but friggin' awesome at the same time. Enjoy:

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscars be Damned, Gimme Some Honky Tonk

Tonight Gamera takes a seat and Cousin Noah helps Mothra out in the saloon

Les Savy Fav - What Would Wolves Do?
New Pornographers - Myriad Harbor
Vampire Weekend - A-Punk

The Yonder Mountain String Band - One Foot in the Grave
Rolling Stones - Honky Tonk Woman
Reckless Kelly - Red River Valley

Eric Bachman - Genie Genie
Beck - 14 Rivers 14 Floods
Neko Case - Star Witness

Kevin Kinsella - Fire Stick
Robert Earl Kean - Jesse With the Long Hair Hanging Down
Scott H Biram - Blood, Sweat and Murder
Jug Free America - move out

Tocotronic - Die Grenzen Des Guten Geschmacks II
The Cribs - Men's Needs
The Kinks - Yes Sir, No Sir
Wilco - THe Late Greats (live)
Nick Drake - Road
Neutral Milk Hotel - Ghost

Sparklehorse - Ghost in the Sky
Spoon - Paper Tiger
Yo La Tengo - Sometimes I Don't Get You
The Stranglers - Golden Brown

The Exploding Hearts - Throwaway Style
The White Stripes - Hello Operator
Fujiya & Miyagi - Sucker Punch
Broken Social Scene - Shampoo Suicide
Mogwai - Yes! I am a Long Way From Home
Explosions in the Sky - The Long Spring

The Kinks - Shangri-La

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Greatests of All Time

Recently, I was at a Neko Case/Eric Bachmann show and ran into some coworkers who were there to see Neko but didn't know anything about Eric Bachmann. I told them he was one of my favorite musicians ever if not my favorite and they said, "Really?" having never heard of him or his music. "Who are your other favorites?" they wondered. I thought for a second or two but couldn't come up with any answers. "What about Rush?" Mothra piped up. Nice guess, this was right after I professed my love for their song "Subdivisions" on this very blog after all, but not quite right. I continued to ponder this question for weeks and am determined to come up with an answer tonight.

First off, I want to set up a few criteria for this query. My goal here is to find out what artists I consider to be the most awesome over the course of their entire careers. The winners need to be unfailingly consistent, at least according to my specific tastes. I also believe that to be one of favorites I need to own everything they've ever released. Or mostly everything. I'm no completist so this condition applies to properly released albums and possibly e.p.s, not necessarily live albums, 7"s or lunchboxes. Let's first look at some almost-rans and the reasons for their losses and then we'll move on the the winners.

Burnouts and Fade Aways
This category is for those bands that started off with a string of amazing albums only to later stumble, falter and dissolve. For me, this includes Black Sabbath, whose initial five album run is consistently incredible but the plot gets lost shortly thereafter, and the Ramones, who were solid for a while and then got a bit bored and boring although there are hints of brilliance throughout their career. Bob Dylan and R.E.M. both started with a decade of wonderfulness but Dylan's later dabblings are pretty hit or miss while R.E.M. have been an embarrassment now for as long as they were a badge of honor for music geeks. A truly depressing flameout that makes me sad every time I think about it.
Late Blooming
Yo La Tengo is the perfect example of the late blooming band. Their first albums are pleasant alright, but nothing too spectacular. From Painful on, they have been one of the few bands to make extremely long albums worth listening to from start to finish. Tom Waits, at least for me, is also a late bloomer. His early drunk troubador albums have a charm but do very little for me on the whole. After his shift to the crazy junk man howler of the post-Swordfishtrombones era, I find his albums to be consistently mindblowing and exhilarating. I also banish the Beatles into this category. Their skiffle band days are fun but nothing compared to their second half that puts all other bands to shame.
Spotty at Best
Many bands have incredible highs that rise above most others but they are often coupled with crushing lows preventing them from creating a legacy of untouched greatness. As Mothra so rightly pointed out, Rush's best moments are some of my favorites in all music but their lows are so depressing (some would say they've made a career solely out of horrifying missteps) that they nearly obliterate the good feelings I have towards them. Joan Jett, Led Zeppelin, Guided by Voices and Frank Zappa all created songs that never fail to knock me out but they all have some moments that are best ignored. Some have a few and some have many and some have songs like "The Crunge."
The Final Reveal
Some bands are too new (at least to my world) for me to properly judge but Liars, The New Pornographers, The Shins and M. Ward have all put out entire discographies that I find nearly flawless. So here, in somewhat ascending order, are my top 12 most awesomest favorite bands of all time who also have nearly dud-free histories: Belle and Sebastian, Fugazi, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, The Magnetic Fields, Modest Mouse, Pavement, The White Stripes, Ween, Wilco, and Pixies. And number one is Eric Bachmann in every form he's ever taken: Archers of Loaf, Barry Black, Crooked Fingers and under his own name. For whatever reason, I'm a sucker for every album he's ever created and every song he's ever written. He played about 45 minutes at the concert but I was clamoring for at least 4 more hours. I still don't know why he's not more well known after slugging it out in the music biz for years and years but I guess even Stravinsky wasn't overly popular in his day so what do people know?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Robots Singing in 3 Part Harmony

If you were brave enough to watch the Zapp and Roger and/or Chromeo videos posted on Valentine's Day, you may have been wondering something. Well, you were probably wondering a few things and to answer your first question, yes, I genuinely enjoy both those songs. If you somehow missed them in the haze of chocolate covered cherries and avalanches of rose petals, I command you now to check them out. You won't be sorry you did and they will prepare you for the following lesson in voice manipulation. Seriously, check them out, they are amazing and I've got nothing but time.

All set? Good. Now you may be asking yourself, "What is the deal with Chromeo?" I have no idea. It all seems like an absurd joke and that guy's moustache is super creepy but the brilliance of the song is undeniable. You may also be thinking, "Why do both videos feature men with tubes in their mouth?" I wondered that too, decided to do some research and discovered something that completley shocked me and made me question the basic fundamental principles of the universe. These vocalists are not using vocoders as I always assumed. Those tubes are part of a magical device called a talk box. The talk box reproduces sound from an amplifier through the tube and directs it into a performer's mouth. By changing the shape of their mouth, they change the sound of the instrument being filtered through the talk box. It was famously used by Peter Frampton on the Frampton Comes Alive! album and allowed Richie Sambora to make that awesome "Waaaaaaaah!" sound in "Livin' On a Prayer." Without the talk box, Bon Jovi might still be just a bar band. Talk box, I thank you.

Check out Mr Frampton rocking it in the modern era. It's thankfully short so I promise it will be over before the Deep Hurting starts:

So what's a vocoder then? A vocoder is a combination of a speech analyzer and a synthesizer that allows keyboards to sing like robots. Vocals are transmitted and filtered through an instrument (typically a keyboard) where they can be manipulated and modulated as much as the performer wants. Without the vocoder, the world would be devoid of the majesty of Kraftwerk and we would sadly be without footage of this guy and his keytar:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Raise Your Guns in the Air and Wave 'Em Like You Just Don't Care

Baba Brooks - Guns Fever
'Wierd Al' Yankovic - Trigger Happy
Nick Rivers - Skeet Surfin'

The Dead Milkmen - Violent School

The Clash - Guns of Brixton
The Pogues - A Pistol for Paddy Garcia
Radio Birdman - Smith and Wesson Blues
The Beatles - Happiness Is A Warm Gun

Tom Waits - 16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought Six
Beastie Boys - Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun
Sonic Youth - 100%
Pixies - There Goes My Gun

The White Stripes - Cannon
T. Rex - Zip Gun Boogie
The Wrens - Faster Gun
Nirvana - Sun of a Gun

Richie Havens - Handsome Johnny
Johnny Cash - Don't Take Your Guns to Town
Beirut - Elephant Gun (by request)

Los Lobos - La Pistola y El Corazon

Papa M - Glad You're Here With Me
Bob Dylan - Joey

The Mountain Goats - Going to Georgia
Violent Femmes - Add it Up
Misfits - Bullet

Pavement - Drunks With Guns
Need New Body - Pow Pow
Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys - White House Blues
Bad Livers - Falling Down the Stairs (with a Pistol in my Hand)
The Cramps - Bikini Girls with Machine Guns

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Affection or Dejection?

It's Battle for the Earth Valentine's Day Edition. Pick your poison.

Brimming with love? Join Zapp and Roger here:

Feeling love's sting? Sidle up to Chromeo here:


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Got A Fever For More Flugelhorn

I love anniversaries. Whether i'm celebrating 25 years of marriage or the 45th year of Lucky Charms cereal, I love looking back on the length of time something has lasted or how long something has been around influencing my life. Lucky and his amazing marshmallows certainly had a hand in creating the person I am today. 2008 marks the 10th anniversary of one of my favorite albums of all time, Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I was barely impressed by the album when I first heard it but months later when my friend Lisa gave me "Holland, 1945" on a mixtape I wondered if this was the same band that bored me on her stereo many months ago. I'm not one to rewind a mix tape again and again just to hear the same song over and over but for this magical song I made an exception. Soon after, I bought the cd and quickly fell in love. Burtsing with ideas and overflowing with emotion, it never fails to knock me out.

Pitchfork has an interesting article on the album and its legacy today. It's an amazing collection of songs that suits many moods and situations. I've enjoyed it both on headphones while half dozing on the floor and driving alone at 3 in the morning shouting along with every word. It's perfect for when you want something achingly personal or if you are desperate to fill your ears with buzzing sound and bleating horns. I listened to it tonight at dinner while discussing home made play dough with the under 5 set and it worked perfectly. What's your take on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - Masterpiece? Overhyped caterwauling? Half baked concept album? Your personal jesus?

Here's a great video featuring a snippet of an unreleased tune followed by the ever-devastating one-two punch of "The King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2 & 3."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Giving You the Roy G. Bivness

It's colour nite here at the Rainbow Lounge. Thanks for stopping by. Now if you'd please step aside, there's a battle to be fought.

Hot Chip - Colours
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Magical Colors
Mogwai - Golden Porsche

The White Stripes - Red Death at 6:14
Cornershop - Camp Orange (excerpt)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth

The Shins - Pink Bullets
Thursten Moore - Silver>Blue
Superchunk - Pink Clouds

The Monkees - Nine Times Blue
Big Bill Broonzy - Black, Brown and White
Tom Waits - Green Grass
Putnam Smith - Not Why I'm Not Blue

Pavement - Black Out
Pinback - Non Photo-Blue
Yo La Tengo - Black Flowers
Modest Mouse - Baby Blue Sedan

The Ocean Blue - Cerulean
Crooked Fingers - Black Black Ocean
Ween - Buckingham Green
Ram Jam - Black Betty

Mountain Goats - Pink and Blue
Led Zeppelin - Black Mountain Side
Spoon - Black Like Me
Pearl Jam - Black, Red, Yellow

Ken Nordine - Olive

Warren Smith - Red Cadillac and Black Moustache
Wire - Pink Flag
Animal Collective - The Purple Bottle

Wilco - Pot Kettle Black

Monday, February 4, 2008

Searching for Julie Delpy

I recently fell in love with La Blogotheque's Take-Away Shows. It's a repository for videos of musicians traveling through Paris making their music on the streets, in the subways and at tables of coffehouses throughout the city. Liars are featured in one episode using the inside of an elevator to assist a song. Vampire Weekend plays one of their hits in an empty courtyard using garbage cans as drums. The most recent post highlights current obsession Animal Collective taking a shopping cart for a walk and singing into cups to create the trancelike and deeply affecting wonder that is "Taste."

Please check out the site. It's fascinating to see these songs in such different contexts, augmented by traffic sounds or half sung by bemused Parisian onlookers. The kids are taking it to the streets.

And since I mentioned them, check out this video that I can't get enough of lately.

This confirms what many have long thought - Vampire Weekend are the new Monkees.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Mothra Wants to Party All the Time, Party All The Time

Rock Wisdom for Tonight " I looked at my watch, I looked at my wrist, I punched myself in the face with my fist." Bob Dylan, Million Dollar Bash

Andrew WK - Party Hard

Fishbone - Party at Ground Zero
Captain Beefheart - Party of Special Things to Do

Les Savy Fav - Who Rocks the Party
Beck - Mixed Business
Etta James and Sugar Pie Desanto - In the Basement
Sam Cooke - Having a Party

Blink 182 - The Party Song
Holiday - Your Very Last Party
Ted Leo - The High Party

Prince - Let's Go Crazy
Elvis Costello & the Attractions- The Beat
Iggy Pop - Rock and Roll Party

El Perro del Mar - Party
Yo La Tengo - Beach Party Tonight
The Replacements - Swingin' Party
Ween - Your Party

Bob Dylan and The Band - Million Dollar Bash
The Flight of the Conchords - The Humans Are Dead (by request)
Eddie Murphy - My Girl Wants to Party All the Time

Beastie Boys - Fight for Your Right
Public Enemy - Party for Your Right to Fight
'Weird Al' Yankovic - Polka Party!

Oingo Boingo - Dead Man's Party
Ratatat - Seventeen Years
The English Beat - End of the Party