Monday, February 27, 2006

The stories behind the songs

Great article in The Guardian last Friday - quick interviews with some brilliant musicians about how they came up with some of their classic songs. Here are some of the best:

Karl Hyde (vocalist, Underworld) on Underworld's "Born Slippy": We used to go out drinking in Soho and I ended up in the Ship on Wardour Street. All the lyrics were written on that night. A drunk sees the world in fragments and I wanted to recreate that...Rick [Smith] came up with a rhythm and I started singing over it. The vocals were done in one take. When I lost my place, I'd repeat the same line; that's why it goes, "lager, lager, lager, lager"... Why Born Slippy? It was a greyhound we won money on.

Johnny Marr (guitarist, the Smiths) on The Smith's "How Soon is Now?": One night I was playing for my own pleasure and I suddenly got the riff. It all came together - the tremolo and the stomping
groove - for what became How Soon Is Now, although my demo was titled Swamp. Because it was a groove track it originally appeared as an extra track on a 12-inch, but popular clamour forced its single release. I remember when Morrissey first sang: "I am the son and the heir ..." [Producer] John Porter went, "Ah great, the elements!" Morrissey continued, " ... of a shyness that is
criminally vulgar." I knew he'd hit the bullseye there and then.

Peter Hook (bassist, New Order) on New Order's "Blue Monday": Bernard [Sumner] and Stephen [Morris] were the instigators. It was their enthusiasm for new technology. The drum pattern was ripped off from a Donna Summer B-side. We'd finished the drum pattern and we were really happy, then Steve accidentally kicked out the drum
machine lead so we had to start from scratch and it was never as good...It was a collection of soundbites - it sort of grew and grew...When we got to the end I went in and jammed the bass; I stole a riff from Ennio Morricone...Bernard went in and jammed the vocals...They're not about Ian Curtis; we wanted it to be vague. I was reading about Fats Domino. He had a song called Blue Monday and it was a Monday and we were all miserable so I thought, "Oh that's quite apt."

So, repeating vocals + tremolo and groove + Donna Summer b-sides = three of the best songs ever.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Return of Moz

Morrissey's new album Ringleader of the Tormentors is now available for pre-order. The album, which is coming out on April 4th, was produced by the legendary Tony Visconti. Moz's label calls it a "savagely alive record." I've heard "I Will See You in Far Off Places" and its excellent - a heavy guitar blast (Your Arsenal-esque) with a middle-eastern sound.

Full Track Listing:

I Will See You In Far Off Places
Dear God, Please Help Me
You Have Killed Me
The Youngest Was the Most Loved
In the Future When All’s Well
The Father Who Must Be Killed
Life is a Pigsty
I’ll Never Be Anybody’s Hero Now
On The Streets I Ran
To Me You Are a Work of Art
I Just Want to See the Boy Happy
At Last I Am Born

For your viewing pleasure, Torr provides us with the "You Have Killed Me" video, the first single and another rocker.

And the most interesting Morrissey news today, the Mozzer was interviewed by the FBI and British intelligence for speaking out against the American and British governments. If he is a terrorist or general rabble-rouser, he'd have a great cover - moping, misanthropic vocalist - no one would ever expect it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Romano's controversial Voice articles

Tricia Romano threw out two interesting, if not controversial, articles last week in the Village Voice. The first discusses the "renovations" of Scenic, the rock/club venue on Ave. B. Romano discusses how the weekly parties Hot Fuckin' Pink and Rated X are giving the venue a racy, gay vibe and the owners are freaking out. So the club is apparently closing for renovations, if not completely. When it was opened, it was supposed to be another live music venue. I've been there, but never to see a band. The stage is in the lower level and it seems like a tight squeeze down there. We'll see what the new venue will look like. (Extra credit: Romano looks into race issues at Pianos' Friday night party).

Next, Romano tackles the world of celebrity DJ'ing in Celebrity Spin: Rock Stars are not DJs - But DJs are Rock Stars. She goes through the slew of rockers who moonlight as DJs, from Mattie and Gabe of The Rapture to Paul Banks and Carlos D. of Interpol. She goes on about how some rockers do it to promote themselves or band (see e.g., Madonna) and how everyone these days, including mere mortals, is a DJ. I think Carlos D.'s take is interesting (coming not only from this article but from his cover star feature in March '05's Urb). He was DJ'ing in college and at scarcely attended nights at Lit and Route 85a (sounds familiar) well before Interpol became famous, so he's not in it necessarily to promote his band. And he uses vinyl only so that he really gets a feel from the art form. Nick Zinner of the YYY's also raises an good point - he would DJ while on the road just to beat the monotony of touring.

I don't mind hearing "celebrity" DJs, or regular person DJs for that matter. Some are better than others. I think Peter Hook is pretty good - not necessarily for technique (no pun intended) but he selects good songs and dances behind the decks (it's quite a sight). Andy Rourke on the other hand is poor, both technically and with song selection. I saw Courtney Taylor-Taylor DJ one night and he was just weird, hooking up an iPod so he could preview songs from the new Dandy Warhols album. Not a bad idea to preview your band's songs, but at least make them good. Anyway, DJing is pretty difficult if you want to do it right. I am by no means a good technical DJ, but frankly, with the music I play I don't need to be. No one needs to hear backspins or doubles with Blur or Pulp. I'll beatmatch here and there, but most of the time I'll just let synths overlap each other when fading in a song. For extra credit, see Audrey's take on this topic.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Modern Life

What the kids heard at Modern Life is Rubbish on Tuesday. We are taking next Tuesday off, and from then on it will be every other Tuesday.

Kaisers Clean Up

The Kaiser Chiefs cleaned up at the Brits last night, winning Best British Group, Best British Rock Act, and Best Live Band. I don't know about the previous two awards, but they are definitely an incredible live band - one of the best I've seen in recent years. (And Coldplay won Best British Album for X&Y - are you kidding me? That album is awful).

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Stars Above Us

Saint Etienne brought their beautiful indie pop to Irving Plaza last night. Quality show. Sarah's voice sounded great. Accompanying Pete and Bob were a live band - drummer, bassist, guitarist and backing vocalist - so the show had a different feel to it with live instumentation rather than just synths. A nice mix of old and new (I think they threw in 5 or so songs from the new Tales From The Turnpike House). Highlights were "Who Do You Think You Are," "Spring," "Nothing Can Stop Us Now," "Action" and new single "Stars Above Us." As usual, their agony was gorgeous.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Saint Etienne fans rejoice

Saint Etienne fans have a lot to be happy about. Their new album Tales From The Turnpike House is finally out in the U.S. (with bonus tracks!). On Sunday at 7pm, their film Finnestere will be shown at Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg (70 N. 6th Street). This is an interesting documentary on the band's first love - London. On Monday, they will play Irving Plaza (openers are The Mosquitos). Last but not least, Le One Night Stand is throwing the show's afterparty at Joe's Pub (425 Lafayette Street) and Bob Stanley will be there to guest DJ.

And remember, Saint Etienne salutes you.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

New shows

Editors have skipped the Bowery step in "making it in NYC" and have gone right to Webster Hall. They're playing Webster on March 30th and tickets go on sale at noon on Friday. I'm not a big fan of Webster Hall, but for only $16, this will be worth it.

stellastarr* will be at the Bowery on March 26th and 27th. Should be great shows. Tickets can be purchased here.

And finally, the "Live From London" show - The Rakes, Towers of London, Boy Kill Boy, and Plan B at the Bowery on March 21. So actually this will be Live from New York. Tickets here.

March is going to be a busy month.

A new type of review

I read so many cd and concert reviews that make no sense. These reviews are often filled with metaphors, dictionary-required words, analogies, innuendos, non-sequitors, etc., and frankly, are quite annoying. I was recently reminded of Sprokets and how Dieter made such absurd comments, and I've decided that from now on, when I review a cd or concert, I will incorporate some of Dieter's absurdity. I think this will keep me in line with most reviews these days.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Coachella, blah

Tickets for Coachella went on sale yesterday. Decent lineup (Depeche Mode, Franz, Daft Punk, Ladytron, Hard-Fi, WRM, YYYs, Bloc Party, Oakenfold, Mylo, Editors, among others), but no one I'd go to the California desert for. A lot of the "smaller" bands will be swinging through New York anyway during the March/April - SXSW/Coachella time.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

We've stopped caring about Pete

Interesting article in the NYTimes this morning about Pete Doherty, his possible musical genius, and his numerous arrests. The point being that his off stage antics have eclipsed his musical gift and now he's becoming irrelavant. Possibly true, as Babyshambles really hasn't had a chance to take off (and, as the article mentioned, The Artic Monkeys have taken most of the Babyshambles/Libertines fans). Nevertheless, Babyshambles' album is pretty damn good.