There are few rules I live by but one I’ve held to fiercely is that I would never write about music created by someone I’m friends with. Some rules occasionally need to be broken and if ever a band was worth making an exception for it would be The Gory Details… and what better day for these guys than Halloween. Continue reading →
My life revolved around three things in 1989; MTV, Skateboarding, and Thundercats…. I was six.
While my sister would be going nuts for Paula Abdul and her stupid cat video I would wait up all night to catch the Beastie Boys “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” which was getting played twice a day despite having been out for almost three years.
One of the most defining days in my entire life was the one when I bought Licensed To Ill. I had been hanging onto my birthday money for weeks and finally my dad had time to take me somewhere to spend it. We stopped at N’ Orbit a skate shop my cousin helped run and he hooked me up with a Vision Street Wear poster. I’d planned on buying a new deck but spotted a record store across the parking lot, Karma Records, which would become a convent of sorts throughout my adolescence, that was where I asked to spend my gold.
I wanted Danzig‘s self-titled album and Eazy-E’s Eazy Duz It, both were vetoed with a quickness by “The Man”; Danzig for the “Satanic” cover and Eazy Duz It for the parental advisory label. Obviously there were other issues keeping me from Compton’s finest because when I pulled Licensed To Ill from the shelf there were no arguments. The kicker of the whole thing is while my dad was looking for the new Guns N’ Roses album I pocketed both Eazy E and Danzig cassettes, I’m not ashamed “I do what I do best because I’m illing and able.“
My mom worked at a video store and, unlike my father, refused to censor what I watched (I had seen every Friday The 13th, Toby Hooper‘s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Night Of The Living Dead while the rest of my classmates were complaining about not being allowed to see Batman because their parents were afraid they would have nightmares from the violence). I grabbed a copy of The Search For Animal Chin (Bones Brigade 3), which I’d been waiting for weeks to be in stock, and headed home for what would be one of the best nights of my life.
I watched “The Search For Animal Chin” first and was jacked beyond belief when it was over. Eazy Duz It didn’t keep my attention, it would still be a few years before I got into it. Danzig blew my mind because of the lyric imagery I’d never experienced before, but at two in the morning, with my headphones all the way up, it was Licensed To Ill that had my yet to be diagnosed A.D.D. self literally bouncing around my room. The closest moment I’ve ever had to having my jaw paralyzed in awe was the second I heard that opening line “because mutiny on the bounty is what we’re all about,” from that point on the album just keeps getting better.
Everything about Licensed To Ill is thought out perfectly without ever having a loss in creativity for the sake of commercial appeal. It was one of the last albums where the art/ packaging felt inseparable from the music itself. From the moment you peeled the plastic wrap off you were taking part in an experience. That half jet-plane when pulled from the case unfolded to be a plane crashing which in turn looked like a burning joint, the 3MTA3 decal innocently placed on the tail, the entire album feels like some sort of inside joke that we’re all in on. 3MTA3 by the way says “Eatme” when its reflection is read in a mirror.
I’m sure there were die hard early Beastie Boys fans who were upset with them shedding most of their punk skin to go in a new direction but look at what came out of it, bands changing isn’t always a bad thing, Licensed To Ill is a perfect example.
The opening track alone shows why this album was epic; you’ve got Toni Iommi‘s guitar riff from “Sweat Leaf” cut in with John Bonham‘s drums from “When The Levee Breaks” yet they practically go unnoticed with what Mike D,Ad-rock, and MCA did with the opening verse. “Rhymin’ And Stealin‘” not only set the tone for the entire album it laid out the foundation for what would define their sound for the next twenty-plus years. Here were three white dudes from Brooklyn rapping about being hard yet no one took them seriously, not even themselves, and that’s what made it so great. “The New Style” made Run DMC, Ice-T, and LL Cool J sound like amateurs. “She’s Crafty” felt like a homage to Too $hort without having that residual feeling of needing to get tested afterwards. Anyone who doubts Beastie Boys‘ influence in hip-hip should play “She’s Crafty” back-to-back with N.W.A.’s “Dopeman“ which came out a year later, if it hadn’t been for the Beastie Boys America would not have been ready for N.W.A..
“Posse In Effect” is simple yet more in-line with what the guys would give us ten years later on Hello Nasty. “Slow Ride” and “Brass Monkey” showcase their most commercially endearing quality of having the ability to create songs that contain some intense, nearly offensive, lyrics (remember this was in 1986) and have them come across as fun halfhearted tracks to drink with your buddies to. “Girls” is the one track I’ve never enjoyed, I’m not sure what it is but never once has it resonated with me, I wrote it off completely when I started hearing people say things like “I don’t really like the Beastie Boys but I do like their song ‘Girls‘.” By now it’s common knowledge that “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” was meant to be ironic, what threw people off though was that they make “bro” music and here was a song making fun of bros, a duality lost on a sub-culture not exactly known for a sharpness of wit. At the age of six it was lost on me as well, I was fighting for my right daily “to hell with those green beans mom.”
To this day “Paul Revere” is my favorite Beastie’s song, it lays out each members style in less fragmented pieces and has a format that was duplicated on the west coast for the next ten years….not one single word is believable, “I hit him with a wiffle ball bat soooooo.”
“No Sleep Til Brooklyn” is Beasties at there best and for some reason this is the one song where they actual seem honest, it might not be believable for these three to be sticking up bars and shooting people at random but for a band that opened for everyone from Bad Brains and The Misfits to Madonna this track just felt autobiographical. “Hold It Now, Hit It” may actually be the strongest song they ever made and yet it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle of time.
“Slow And Low” is a rare rap song born to be performed live, if you had the chance to see them live then you know what I’m talking about, the place just erupts. For how strong they opened the album, closing with “Time To Get Ill” almost one-ups it, making Licensed To Ill one of the strongest start to finish albums of all-time.
There’s a scene in 8 mile where they are talking about different rappers they love and Cheddar Bob (Evan Jones) mentions the Beastie Boys and everyone else in the car laughs it off. That scene has always bothered me because the Beastie Boys should be without a doubt mentioned, they were as influential as any other artist or group has ever been. The trajectory they put on hip-hop should never go forgotten, I mean, you can’t get to Deathgrips without acknowledging the path the Beasties cleared out twenty years earlier.
The passing of Adam Yauch (MCA) has hit home for me more than any other loss we’ve had in recent years. His voice gave the Beastie Boys their punk edge, his presence and life focus the epitome of how all of us envision our idols should be, the art he created is pivotal, timeless, important, there is no better time than now for celebrating all that he gave us.
“Take It Easy On Me” is my favorite track from Gentleman Jesse And His Men‘s latest album Leaving Atlanta which slightly strips away the punk edge that originally attracted me to their sound back in 2008, leaving the spotlight on a strength of song structure and a nearly impossible sound not to sing along with.
“Take It Easy On Me” was meant for an 80′s montage or 2012 summer nights full of cheap beer and good friends, I’m stoked for the later.
Make friends with Gentleman Jesse And His Men – Facebook
Two things should be stated up front; Father John Misty is in itself one awesome band name, the second being the fact that J. Tillman chose to use it as a moniker rather than riding his own name and its attachment with Fleet Foxesfor further solo success is commendable to say the least.
Until recently I’ve felt that J. Tillman was just creative enough as a solo artist to justify leaving his former band as they were just beginning to make the unfortunate jump from scene to mainstream, all of that has changed completely with the birth of Father John Misty.
I’m not sure what caused it but something big has happened within Tillman, there is a new crystallization of creativity that has me more than stoked to jump on the FJM bandwagon. This is great music, for the first time I’m actually excited not only for what he has laid out in front of us but more-so for what absolute potential this new shift shines a light on.
Welcome to the spotlight J. Tillman you’ve sure as hell earned it.
Upcoming Austin Show:
Mohawk- May 26 w/Har Mar Superstar and Dana Falconberry.
Have you guys heard the 1,2,3Mifits Cover album? If not, you should!
As both a fan of 1,2,3 andThe Misfitsthis combination of the two still amazes me each time I press play.
I’m not sure why I dug up this release from last Halloween but it has been finding itself onto daily mixes these last few weeks. If you happen to be a die-hard Misfits fan and you don’t appreciate this more than likely it is from closed-minded biases rather than any real discrepancies with the sound, sure some of the piss and vinegar is lost in translation yet what we gain makes the loss justifiable.
The band has a kickstarter up to help get a new van due to how many shows they’ve had to cancel from their current van breaking down. These guys create incredible music and if you missed one of their many sets during this years SXSW you should definitely pencil them in at the top of your must-see live list, it wouldn’t hurt to throw down a few bucks to help make it happen.
I was a bit weary about how Paint It Golden would sound when it came out last fall. The thought of the band lacking Mindy White‘s perfectly fitting vocals and the chemistry they helped create within the band’s sound left me without an ounce of optimism for Lydia‘s future. So often in the past I’ve found myself wishing she sang more rather than typically working as an accompaniment, the few songs where she takes the lead were some of their best to date and the presence it brought to their albums was an absolute cornerstone to what made them great.
The dirt that all parties were throwing in each others direction didn’t help bare the loss much either. At the point of their hiatus things seemed bleak with enough drama to fill an MTV reality show, all members seemed to have something negative to say about the band as a collective . So now Mindy is out and the two founding members Leighton Antelman and Steve McGraw are all bro’d-up once again, I’m not sure what happened, I guess sometimes friendship trumps creative differences.
Enter Paint It Golden and the complete shock I had upon finally listening to it last week. This album is better than good, it could quite possibly be their best album yet. There is confidence, there is style, it’s a even a bit more grown-up (for a band I previously would have full-on labeled Emo this is important), and yet the engaging lyrics feel as personal and engaging as ever. All things considered I’m left wondering if White had stayed with the band and they continued on their previous course would I have liked it? Probably not, my sulking-in-emotion drowning-in-depression days are a ways behind me.
There’s a line in the sand between maturing and selling out and thank god Antelman and McGraw chose the side that allows me to continue cheering for them and having great music to coincide with my own life and the memories they have/will attach themselves too.
At this point the only thing I’m not thankful for when it comes to things Lydia related is the fact that they are still touring in support of crap bands like The Maine (I’m sure the guys are good people and all but I’ve seen them live and it sounds like an auto-tuned pre-mixed prime example of all that destroyed a thriving important scene I once held so close), grow some balls guys! Wouldn’t it be better to play shitty bars in dive towns than ride the Alternative Press pre-pubescent bandwagon? I’m not a supporter of business decisions rather than artistic ones and Lydia‘s current tour seems to follow the first route.
At the end of the day, with my judgements on touring decisions aside, I’m glad I hadn’t written these guys off, it definitely would have been my loss. My fingers are crossed they keep it together this time.
I was sitting up last night listening to the new Said The Whalealbum and this song came to mind. I can now say that Little Mountain has shifted from being an album I chose to hate for unimportant hopes that they would have gone a different direction with their sound to one of the main albums I’m listening consistently to. I’ll say this and move on; why do bands never strip things back? It’s always more production, more production, more production with each album until they are undeniably fitting into the clear-channel playlist void of complete sell-out garbage. That’s what bothers me about Little Mountain, sure it’s a great album but it’s a small step towards the dark side, just for once I want a band to get heavier or folkier or go from clean to lo-fi rather than the complete reverse, seriously if Springsteensat down in his kitchen and recorded a new album by four-track as he did with Nebraska it would most likely be the greatest album he’s made in thirty years, I would much rather hear an artist with all their flaws than hear how well a producer can polish over them.
“Apples” is what I was hoping for when I download Little Mountain because it would have been a step forward in songwriting strength for the guys without losing that swing your mug backyard campfire vibe that made songs like “The Light As You” kick the door to my heart open. That’s enough of STW.
Alamo Race Track are a band who have been creating a homogenous sound of music for ten+ years. Their the perfect mixture ofBishop Allen and the aforementioned Said The Whale without losing their own distinct sound, standing out within all comparisons.
It is only April and I have included Old Gray on three mixtapes already. If “Ryan Mitchell Made Me Do It” wasn’t one of the best song I’ve heard since uncovering “Belly Of The Best” last December and before that “Wilderness Eyes” last summer I wouldn’t continue inundating you with their music, after all you can lead a horse to water or some shit.
This song comes from their Demo‘s EP (free through their bandcamp link below) and fully embodies, without missing a single aspect, each and every quality that makes me passionate for music and keeps me shuffling through band pages and blogs all night.
It’s like Fat Mike once said, “the record player spinning the best times I never had, so why do my old records make me sad? Cause they’re so bad and no one seems to understand the glory of guitar when out of tune, the off timing, the singers who can’t sing, the beauty of flaw.” Those few lines define what it is that makes me hold onto the music I LOVE with such closeness as to occasionally lose sight of the fact that a specific song and I as an individual are not one and the same when it feels for those few endless minutes that we are.
Sure I appreciate all types of music, I understand (or at least think I do) the indefinable characteristics that makes the difference between what is good and what is not, like how I can confidently say that Wilco are generic but Whiskeytown were great, but it’s the music that goes beyond labels and definitions that truly bonds with me and causes everything to fall into place, to clear away the chaos and confusion that has become my day to day life and for those brief moments help everything to just make sense. “Ryan Mitchell Made Me Do It” is one of those rare but important songs.
“We live in a dream and, when our lives are over, we’ll finally wake up and realize the world is asleep. We’ll empty our lungs and strum out our heartstrings; we’ll simply wake up and realize the beauty in life.One day we’ll scream and get rid of our demons- we’ll empty our souls, take the world off our backs. And as for me, well, I’ve been through some bad times, but I’ve kept my head up and imagined a place with just you and me. Some day the world will stop and so will our hearts. I love you so.“
It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned I Am Fuel, You Are Friends – what is probably the best website in the world for music. Heather Browne has an ear for music which I can merely strive for and an elegance to her writing I could never even attempt. It was awesome to see her venture out in a very organic way when she began Chapel Sessions last year, much of the phenomenal acoustic music in my library has come out of those sessions.
Bryan John Appleby‘s take on the lyrically-sound Paul Simon song “Duncan” is quite possibly my favorite that has come out of the Chapel Sessions. It’s odd how close to the original Appleby keeps his version yet there’s something about it that feels brand new with a deep underlying sadness. Sure that has been a staple of Simon’s songs but this is a fresh sadness, individualized rather than all-encompassing as with all of Simon’s work especially with Garfunkel. I would dare even say that somehow that somber nearly melancholy semblance is what Garfunkel brought to the music which people so often overlook. It’s easy to see Art as just standing there and singing along, and sure Paul Simon was able to go on to define what it means to be a singer-songwriter on his own but it’s those early tracks that stand out, not for the structure but for the spirit they embody, many nights I’ve spent trying to figure out why. What changed? For much of my life I thought it was maturity, taking his approach from passion to professional yet it was when I first heard JBA’s version that this new notion came to me. It’s early in development as a theory goes so I can’t quite expound upon it but the question now is, how is it that Bryan John Appleby accomplishes what Paul Simon never could quite do on his own?
I’m not saying that BJA could write a song of this caliber, that is yet to be seen (we’ve still got time), but he sure as hell can breathe a whole new life into “Duncan” and that is commendable in itself.
Check out the entire Fuel/Friends Chapel Session here.
Listen to the difference for yourself – Paul Simon – “Duncan” -mp3
The best remixes, as with covers, are the ones that can take a great song and change it without losing any of the originals integrity. Copy‘s remix of this formerly chill Hosannas song moves “The People I Know” in more of the direction the original only hinted at in its development.
Nothing over the top is added or tweaked but “The People I Know” now has a drive to it which makes the experience feel more passionate. Marius Libman‘s eight-bit key addition is rather fantastic in itself though, I could listen to those ten second breaks sampled on repeat for an hour and never grow tired of it.
Let’s get back to something a little more visceral.
“Last Cab From Tunis” has a sound that I can only describe as a spot on mix of Real Estateand The Talking Heads, a combination I wouldn’t believe if I hadn’t heard for myself.
These guys are out of Austin, I’m yet to catch them live since moving here but I’m hoping that changes in the very near future. A new album is due out in the next month or so, I haven’t seen an official date for it yet, if it’s anywhere near as good as what they’ve put out so far go ahead and count on seeing more of them on Heycoolkid!.
There’s much that can be taken from what is being said in “Lays At Rest.” Since we are all at liberty to make our own interpretation, I can’t help but hear a statement being made throughout this song that embodies the mindset of all those twenty-somethings I consider my peers. The whole burn it all down to build it back up, self-evaluation vs. self-destruction, the standing-still disguised as forward progress and the reality that sometimes we have to defend our decisions after the fact even when we’re not sure ourselves what we are doing, all of that is possibly in “Lays At Rest“. Then again this could just be an indie-pop break-up song.
I’m feeling like I should end this week in a bit more upbeat fashion than usual.
Most SNOWMINEsongs stand within their own unique psyche-pop sound so it’s more of a compliment than just an average reference when I mention how “Piece Of Your Pie” feels very similar to another of my Brooklyn favorite’s Bear Hands, only with more space and a little more swagger, yet the definitive difference lies within how this song is fueled by confidence and just enough experimentation to keep things original.
I really hope to catch these guys live this year. They keep sending me invites to shows in New York, it sure would be nice to have something more within biking distance, sure Lance Armstrong could make a trip out of it but for a half-pack-a-day smoker like myself it’s a little bit unrealistic.
I promise that next week’s post will have more new faces, I’ve been spending much of my time this year actually soaking in entire albums from bands rather than falling in line with A-typical hipsters who only know one or two songs from a band and pretends like they are a passionate fan. I felt somewhat like a fake when compiling my Best Albums of 2012list when I was actually hearing a few of them in there entirety as I was typing up the post. There has to be a balance for continually finding new worthwhile music while at the same time getting to enjoy the incredible art which has already been found, I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out. SNOWMINE create great art, so it’s only a half-assed apology I offer up. I may be lowering my chances of new followers, it’s worth the loss, what’s more important, them or me… not all self-centered decisions are bad ones, right?