Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mix Monday: Come Dancing

Come dancing! Come on sister have yourself a ball. Don't be afraid to come dancing; Its only natural... (The Kinks - Come Dancing)

A new wedding video has become a hit on Youtube. The video has touched a nerve with the public and with me also. This is the way a wedding should be; a celebration with friends & family. Everyone is having a ball. So with this in mind today's Mix Monday is in honor of the dancing wedding.

The under appreciated George Harrison wrote some pretty good songs in his day. From The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night George's I'm Just Happy To Dance With You says it all "I don't need to hug or hold you tight; I just want to dance with you all night; In this world there's nothing I would rather do'cause I'm happy just to dance with you".

Lead singer of the Old 97's, Rhett Miller sings with such urgency that it easy to get caught up in their songs. From last years Blame It On Gravity, Dance With Me -"Dance with me into the ocean, Roll with me into the sea".

The Mavericks sang "I just wanna dance the night away; With senoritas who can sway; Right now tomorrow's lookin' bright; Just like the sunny mornin' light"

This is a great version of Dancing in the Dark, obviously in front of an European audience. You can feel the energy here; with the great line "You cant start a fire, you cant start a fire without a spark; This guns for hire even if were just dancing in the dark".

I was fortunate to see The Kinks a couple of times. The first time that I saw them, The Romantics opened the show. There were no seats on the floor and we got there early enough to be in the main front. When the show started the crowd went forward it got very uncomfortable and a bit scary. However in the end we had a good time and it was a great show.

The Kinks covered Martha and the Vandellas Dancining in the Street on their Kinda Kinks album. The first of the trilogy of "Street" songs with the lyrics "Summer's here and the time is right for dancin' in the streets". The second one, The Rolling Stones sang "cause summers here and the time is right for fighting in the street" in their song Street Fightin' Man. The third in the trilogy, Bruce Springsteen sang "Summer's here and the time is right for racin' in the street" from Racing in the Street.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Review: Wilco (The Album)

Tired of being exposed to the cold stare of your stereo? Put on your headphones before you explode; Oh Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love you baby ... (Wilco - Wilco (The Song))

Wilco is an ever changing band musically. So when Wilco has new album you are not quiet sure what you are going to get and that is a good thing. The same band that brought us the 1996 amercian/alt-country classic Being There also brought us the 2002 alternative/ experimental Yankee Foxtrot Hotel and 2007's mellow guitar attack Sky Blue Sky. Althought part of the change has been a constant shuffle of band members, the constant and the diversity can be attributed to Wilco's gifted singer song writer Jeff Tweedy. As a songwriter Jeff has the gift of melody and is able to come up with hooks that grab you. As a band leader he goes with the strengths of his band; he relied heavily on the late Jay Bennet and Max Johnston early as he does with the current Wilco line up (which is a very tallented bunch).

The latest Wilco album is aptly titled Wilco (The Album). The album's sound is most similar to 2007's Sky Blue Sky. The songs are ballads, upbeat raveups, bouncy pop to rock and the band is solid as ever. Wilco's latest may not be a giant step in a new direction, but what it is, is another very solid set of songs to add to the Wilco legacy.

  • Wilco (The Song) is a catchy up beat ditty with a wailing guitar. The lyrics are a sort of tongue-in-cheek joke asking "Do you dabble in depression?" and with the punch line "Wilco will love you baby".
  • Deeper Down musically is a layered with various and interesting instruments such as bowed piano, lap steel guitar, mellotron cello to name a few; very nice arrangement.
  • One Wing is one fantastic song with standout drumming by Glenn Kotche and super sonic lead guitar by Nels Cline. The gist of the lyrics are about a failed relationship; "one wing will never fly" and "we can only wave goodbye".
  • Bull Black Nova is similar in it's approach as Spiders (Kidsmoke) from A Ghost is Born; the song builds and builds over a relentless hypnotic rhythm. Initially I had no clue what it was about, but after researching a bit, the singer has just killed someone and the body was in the trunk of his Chevy Nova - "Blood in the sink, blood in the trunk" . As the song continues to build, the singer is losing his cool not sure what he should do -"I can’t calm down I can’t think, I keep calling, there’s blood in the trunk" .
  • You And I is a quiet romantic duet with Leslie Feist (a Canadian singer songwriter who performs under the name of Feist). The songs inclusion just after the total freak out at the end of Bull Black Nova is no coincidence. Jeff Tweedy's and Feist voices blended very well.
  • You Never Know is a great upbeat pop song with 70's/George Harrison flourishes. The song's sentiment is similar to R.E.M.'s It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine); Jeff sings "Every generation thinks it's the end of the world" and "I don't care anymore".
  • Country Disappeared is a slow tempo song that may be about the decline of civilization.
  • Solitaire is a beautiful introspective song with lyrics "I was cold as gasoline" and "once my life was a game so unfair, it beat me down and kept me there" .
  • I'll Fight is a terrific song; Mikael Jorgensen's organ highlights the song. Lyrically it could be the singer is willing to fight and die for a girl or maybe his country; it doesn't really mater
  • Sonny Feeling is another upbeat pop song. The bouncy tune belies the dark lyrics.
  • Everlasting Everything sounds a little like it could have been written by John Lennon. A slow tune with nice chimes by Glenn.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Commercials: This Notes For You

Ain't singin' for pepsi; ain't singin' for coke; I don't sing for nobody; makes me look like a joke... (Neil Young - This Note's For You)

Music and advertisements have always gone together hand in hand. These days it's pretty common to hear some great music in commercials (or as theme songs to TV shows). For me this is a double edged sword, it either makes me feel like the artist has sold out and it hurts a little or on an occasion or two I don't mind. Recently I have even discovered some pretty good music this way. So I have mixed feelings about the subject.

When the song is from one of my favorite artists or a favorite song, I often take this personal. I feel like I own the song in some ways; that song takes me to a place or time or a moment; it wasn’t written for a cola company or an auto manufacturer; that song was written for me.

I’m sure the controversy has always been around, but I remember back in the 80's The Who enlisted Schlitz beer company to support their farewell tour. Schlitz had a commercial which featured The Who and Schlitz Beer was displayed on their merchandise, etc… Pete Townshend and The Who took a few knocks over their sponsorship.
Schlitz Rocks America - The Who

Sometime after that Eric Clapton rerecorded his song After Midnight so that it could be used in a Michelob beer commercial. This move was looked down upon by some in the media and and some of his fans.
Michelob Beer - Eric Clapton

One of the ads that I did like was with the up and coming Boston, Mass band the Del Fuegos. They were introduced to the public via a Miller Beer commercial. I remember this commercial for the line Rock music is folk music, because it's for folks.
Miller Beer - The Del Fuegos

In 1988 Neil Young along with his Blue Notes released the anti-commercialization of music anthem This Notes For You. Neil took a stand against allowing his music to be used in commercials. I ain't singin' for Pepsi, I ain't singin' for Coke. I always respected Neil for his stance.

I was searching for information for these sites that list the pop songs that have been used in advertisements in the last few years. The number of songs is shocking.

On a positive and as I said previously I have discovered some new tunes from commercials;
such as:
Valley Winter Song by Fountains of Wayne in this LL Bean ad.

Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop by Landon Pigg in an AT & T ad.

Landon Pigg - Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop

The WAND by The Flaming Lips in this Del Inspiron ad.

Remind Me by Rockysopp in one of my favorites ads; the Geico Airport Caveman
and from one of my favorite bands The Kinks, Picture Book in this HP ad.

In 2007 my favorite band Wilco allowed their new music from their then just released Sky Blue Sky album to be used in volkswagon commercials.

Jack White did a wonderful Coke commercial.

This is a complex issue for me. I never want to hear a Springsteen song in an ad. I hate hearing Beatle songs in ads. There are way too may Who songs being used. Maybe it is okay for new young bands to promote their music with these ads. I just don't know.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mix Monday: No Rest For the Wicked

Oh, there ain't no rest for the wicked, money don't grow on trees, I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed, there ain't nothing in this world for free... (Cage the Elephant - Ain't No Rest For The Wicked)

We are just over the halfway point of the year and it has been a fairly solid year musically. In January we had a Superbowl performance from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and a new CD Working On a Dream. In March U2 dropped another fine album with No Line on the Horizon. Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Buddy & Jullie Miller, The Smithereens and Rhett Miller have released albums this year. Also just out is Wilco (The Album) by Wilco (the band). Based upon initial listenings the album is excellent. I'll review Wilco (The Album) soon.

As for today's mix, I've included songs that are on my current playlist. Most of the songs are from 2009, but a few are a year or two old. The mix includes U2 which has been on my playlist all year (or at least since March). Wilco is in there and I expect them to be the rest of the year.

July Mix on IMEEM Summer Playlist

Cage the Elephant, a new band from Bowling Green, KY is on the playlist with Ain't No Rest For The Wicked. A catchy pop tune that sounds like a cross between Beck and Jack White.
Ain't No Rest For The Wicked - Cage the Elephant
Wilco (The Song) is a great lead off song to (of course) Wilco (The Album). An upbeat song with a droning guitar in the background. Wilco will love you baby.
Falling in Love in a Coffee Shop by Landon Pigg is a beautiful tune that I admittedly first heard in an AT&T commercial. Landon Pigg is from Nashville, TN.
Use Somebody by Kings of Leon (also from Nashville, TN) is from 2008's Only By the Night. Use Somebody reached number 2 on the UK charts.
Magnificent by U2 is one great song. With it's dance beat and personal lyrics, Bono and the boys were born to sing for us. I have raved about this one in previous blogs Disco Returns and No Line on the Horizon.
Magnificent - U2
Hang Me Up To Dry by the Cold War Kids is from their 2006 debut album Robbers & Cowards. The Cold War Kids are from Fulerton, CA.
Hang Me Up To Dry - Cold War Kids
The '59 Sound by New Jersey's The Gaslight Anthem sounds like Bruce Springsteen meets the Ramones. A great tune.
Rhett Miller is the lead singer for the Texas alt-country band the Old 97's. If you haven't heard them, I suggest Satelite Rides or Too Far To Care. Rhett has made several solid solo albums. My favorite cut from his new CD is Happy Birthday Don't Die. Rhett is a solid song writer who writes great lyrics. The words in this song are very interesting.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th: This Land Was Made For You and Me

This land is your land, this land is my land; From California, to the New York Island; From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters; This land was made for you and me... (Woody Guthrie - This Land Is Your Land)