the Beatles

SAY YES! AN ELLIOTT SMITH TRIBUTE
October 25, 2016 9:49 am

It’s been thirteen long years since Elliott Smith took his own life on October 21st,e 2003. He battled demons a majority of his short life and his music brought so many people the harsh reality of that struggle into the words we could tangibly use to forget our own aches for a few moments, or for an entire album. In my opinion he is one of the most underrated geniuses in modern music.

A group of other musicians apparently felt the same way when they decided to get together and create a tribute album for Smith titled Say Yes! as released by American Laundromat Records. It features bands such as Yuck, Waxatachee and artists like J. Mascis and Julien Baker. A wide array of sludgy rock to intensely acoustic indie artists. I think my favorite from the album is the Yuck version of “Bled White, which is also an all time favorite Elliott song of mine.

I’ve personally covered one Smith song during a live performance “The Biggest Lie”. While I enjoyed singing my heart out, Elliott’s songs are a force to be reckoned with. A tantrum of eloquence and equally as dark currents raging inside of a drowning man. It’s nearly impossible to recreate the feelings Smith captured in his music.

Honestly, I was pretty giddy at first and while I wholeheartedly appreciate these artists showing their influence by Smith, it was almost a little hard to hear the songs without Elliott. The fact that 13 years after I find him, he is no longer putting out new material is a heart wrenching realization for me. There just isn’t a way for other artists to recreate something so personal, and the despair he felt daily triggered the wild agony in his songs. These things made them what they are, and it is a travesty to deny that.

However, these songs are a tribute and we can not look into them as if Elliott is there, but more so that he was inspiration to them.

Songs you can find on this album include but are not limited to, “Waltz #2 done by J. Mascis, “Easy way out” done by Wild Sun, and “Division Day done by Lou Barlow. Yuck’s upbeat version of “Bled White” got me pretty pumped up for the album as the first song I heard with its punchy drums and rock version of a song always adored. In J. Mascis’ version of Waltz #2, he seemingly chose specific parts of the song to use, and it’s very eerily pasted together with slow vocals and droning guitar and drums, at first I wasn’t even sure it was the same song.

We may have lost a very valuable and pivotal force in indie, acoustic and rock and roll music thirteen years ago, but his music transcends time and is not fleeting by any means of the word. Elliott had an unwavering ability to create classic music that would punch you in the gut every time you listen. There is no simplicity, paper thin vocals, shuttering harmonies, both clean and distorted guitar riffs in all the right places, so much Beatles influence you’ll be humming “The Two of Us” or “Helter Skelter” without even knowing why after checking out Figure 8 or From a Basement on a Hill.

Take a listen to this new tribute album, and if you haven’t yet listen to Elliott’s albums front to back in memory of 13 years without him in the physical realm, go and do that too. He’s always here in the musical realm, hats off to you Elliott Smith.

 

The Dumbest Beatles Songs Ever
May 27, 2016 1:56 pm

While creating a catalog that’s stood the test of time and is universally adored by basically everyone, it’s amusing to see just how many stupid songs The Beatles were able to get away with. I love all of them, even the ones I say are terrible, but wow, there are simply alarmingly high levels of goofiness on a lot of their songs, especially in their later, more critically adored work.

All while bands of that era delved into psychedelic strangeness, obviously, but it would usually lead to more heaviness. For The Beatles, they always found the childlike wonderment in it, and could turn such a minimal idea into a song with so much room for interpretation. It’s a great testament to their dedication to production and their natural gifts as songwriters, because they seriously turned some of the dumbest ideas into timeless songs that would have been a completely forgotten about one-off novelty hit in less capable hands.

Bless these very dumb geniuses.

Mean Mr. Mustard

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x36m24b_mean-mr-mustard_shortfilms

Unsurprisingly, quite a few Abbey Road songs made this list. It’s incredible how detestable Mean Mr. Mustard the person is after just hearing about him within the confines of a 1 minute song. This guy comes off like a possible Roald Dahl character. My heart goes out to his sister Pam, who John Lennon then says looks like a man in the very next song like a real putzface. Who’s he to make that sort of comment about such a doting sister taking her dirtbag brother to see the Queen all the time? For shame.

Rocky Raccoon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sif7Br-K1mI

This is basically a Bob Dylan parody. It’s not as good as Weird Al’s, but it was fine for the time. And there are a lot of really spot-on Dylan elements here: a bare boned acoustic guitar, intimate, non layered, vocals and more stupid harmonica than you could ever ask for.

Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-CMOMYdIlI

John was feeling a little lazy during the recording process of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. That’s not often talked about because the best moments from the album were heavily John related, but it happened. My favorite example of this has to be the fact that basically every word from Mr. Kite was taken off a vintage circus poster. On one hand, it speaks to Lennon’s genius as a songwriter that he can eke a psychedelic pop gem out of such an arbitrary piece of inspiration. On the other, my heart truly goes out to Paul for having to hear what must have been the most half baked and aloof pitch for a song ever.

I Am The Walrus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM5VF5U1DBE

Anything off Magical Mystery Tour should just be accepted as silly for the sake of silly. A lot of weirdness happens on that album. But ‘I Am The Walrus’ is a special case, considering how its meaninglessly weird lyrics were inspired by the desire to spite a high school teacher who wrote to John Lennon to tell him that he taught a class that analyzed Beatles songs.

Part of me hopes that Lennon spent the rest of his life jabbing this teacher throughout the years. Like, every month or so, this working class teacher would get a letter in the mail from John Lennon, the most famous person in the world, and it would be is a booger smeared on a blank sheet of paper with the message ‘analyze this, dickhole’ written at the bottom. I’m being too mean to John Lennon right now. I’m sorry, Ghost Lennon. Let’s make fun of Ringo.

Octopus’s Garden

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArkKbQG1_Mw

I’m limiting this list to one Ringo song because I am a merciful human being. The thing is, most of these dumb Beatles songs are able to toe the line pretty well. The lyrical content might lean towards being a goofy kids song, but the production choices are usually stellar enough for it to be a compelling listen. With Ringo at the helm, they go full Wiggles with the corniness. The guitar tuning is so so cheesy. I hate it. There’s even that stupid little guitar plucking finale that’s usually reserved for fucking hee-haw. Ugh. The worst.

And Your Bird Can Sing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IHtYGzzbfg

The way ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ is used here makes it seem as though John thinks it’s an already well known idiom or he’s trying to turn it into one. My mom does this all the time. Whenever I’m looking for something that winds up being in a place right in front of my face, she gleefully chants “water at the beach”. Because, you know, when you go to the beach, finding water is pretty easy. Hyuck hyuck. Well, that’s basically how I feel every time I hear this song. Just a failed attempt at trying to create a cool expression.

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c93n53XSf2A

The cheeriest ditty you’ll ever hear about a out of control murderer. Maxwell kills a lot of people. It’s this cute, charming little character quirk of his. The most disturbing/my favorite part of this song is the little chuckle Paul McCartney has when saying the word ‘writing’ in the second verse about Maxwell’s teacher reprimanding him. Because he knows that Maxwell’s about to murder again. For Maxwell is Paul’s creation and Maxwell will do whatever is asked of him. Also, it seems as though both Paul and John have strained relationships with educators. Who knows what that’s about.

Helter Skelter

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eFJ8GqUyu4

Oh, and speaking of mass murderers… Look at all these connections I’m making! I mean, you’ve gotta get at least a few dumb points for inspiring one of the most psychotic minds of the last 50 years. Especially since the song is literally just Paul discussing what happens when he rides a roller coaster. Which says everything about the 8 year old boy essence of most Beatles songs. Their most hard rocking song ever is about a fun day at Six Flags.

BONUS

Piggies

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KGizYSCa-c

I’m just going to add ‘Piggies’ here at the end because watching this animated video of pigs shitting for 2 minutes and then a choir of pig shits singing at the end is mandatory viewing for everybody.

WHAT CAN YOUTHS GAIN FROM THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY?
April 7, 2016 2:50 pm

Whenever The Beatles are brought on to a new music platform, everyone makes a big deal out of it. Ads are plastered all over subway platforms, and the faces of the Fab Four take over the borders of every website you visit for a while. When they were first put on iTunes, they even released a Rock Band game made specifically for their easily masterable songs and made the creepiest commercial possible to promote it.

The problem is that while Spotify or iTunes will never really get their money’s worth for having the Beatles catalogue, the library will always have an enormous hole without their universally adored albums. I mean, how can you call yourself the leading source for music consumption without REVOLVER?!?! So no matter how much the royalties are, it’ll be worth having their discography for that reason alone.

Their anthologies, however, is a different story.

Only superfans really care about the anthologies, and most, if not all, of them already have those collections in physical and digital format already. It would be pretty careless of them not to at this point.

From what I’ve read, the main point of having the Beatles on all these new music outlets is to make sure younger generations know about this band. It’s a respectable objective that’ll probably wind up being obtained no matter where their songs are made available. The last time I checked, Delia’s was still selling Abbey Road shirts, so that has to mean something, right? That can’t just be because Tidal now has ‘Come Together’ at the ready.

To me, the main problem with how The Beatles are digested by a younger generation is how they’re sold to them as this infallible music collective. A lot of this has to do with them never having a sloppy comeback after their initial run, or their biggest supporters relegating their less developed early work as a sign of the times they were a part of, instead of stand-alone work that simply wasn’t up to snub.

This is where the anthologies can be key to getting rid of all that unnecessary luster. When you look at each one at first glance, it’s a daunting task. All three anthologies have over 50 songs on them apiece. But it’s not really meant to be listened through like an actual album. The listener can pick and choose at his or her leisure because there’s absolutely no structure to any of these recordings whatsoever.  

What I think should be truly appealing to people is that most of these songs are unmastered rehearsals and very loose. You can hear banter being exchanged by each member before most tracks and stripped down piano/acoustic guitar versions of songs that were made into highly produced psychedelic treats. The recording quality on most of these tracks  is reminiscent of the covers you see on YouTube by the barrelfull these days. But instead of a random teen from Wisconsin singing his lo-fi version of “Yesterday,” it’s actually Paul McCartney.

Despite there being absolutely no marketing machine behind the anthologies, it might be beneficial in a backwards way to have a readily available version of Beatles songs, completely stripped down, sans pretension, and more aligned with the minimalist style that’s popular today could be beneficial to the younger listener. Whether they know it or not, Beatles fans have created a wall that’s impenetrable for any dissenter. If you don’t like their work, you’re immediately dismissed. Perhaps being given work that’s less fixated upon could put less pressure on a new listener to immediately fall in love with what he or she is listening to. And being given a more humanized version of such a deified rock band could potentially help newer fans get into them.

YOKO ONO STILL HAS THE MAGIC
February 24, 2016 11:34 am

Yes, I’m a Witch Too,” proclaims multi-media artist Yoko Ono with her latest release – A full length collaborative effort LP released for streaming through Manimal Group. Perhaps Ono’s later in life effort will finally be enough to rid her of her Beatles home-wrecker label.

The fact is, Yoko Ono is a genius of a soul in her own right. If it hasn’t been fully recognized yet, the sheer originality which she brings to the modern soundscape with her latest release is enough to magically transport one back to the culturally revolutionary days of the late 60’s and early 70’s.

However, there are some very noticeable differences from Yoko’s days in the Plastic Ono Band. Ono has embraced the modern virtual world, releasing her largely electronic songs digitally and equally embracing the social media platforms which she now uses as just one more vehicle for her creativity and expression.

The Album is a sonically eclectic mix of avant-garde expressionism, drawing on collaborations with everyone from Moby, to Portugal! The Man, to tUnE-yArDs, to Miike Snow. She even sits down for a song with her son Sean Lennon. A personal favorite is her punk inspired “Move On Fast” with New York City producer Jack Douglas. Lyrical content is fittingly spell-binding, losing it’s listener in obscurity and symbolism.

GET WEIRD WITH THE CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM
January 28, 2016 2:53 am

If you’ve never heard Primus, or their singer Les Claypool’s bass lines, then you’re in luck.  Not only does “Cricket And The Genie” contain one of the better bass lines I’ve heard this year, but it also contains Sean Lennon as a part of the mega two-piece called The Claypool Lennon Delirium.

Lennon surely takes after his father in this collaboration, without a doubt.  The eight minute song starts out with a very eerie bass intro and a vocals that sound like the Beatles have returned.  The bass style is driven with such a delicious tone and complex structure through out the song that you get lost in it.  Lennon’s vocals have their own soft but playful taste to them, summoning his father’s ghost with a throat singing style, similar to Elliott Smith in his harsher elements of delivery.  The keys in this song form an interesting mix of melancholy and downright creepy, creating the stage for a Muselike overall darkness but with the DNA of two of the worlds greatest musicians.  The song obviously features a little bit of a cricket song as well.

This song throws you for a loop. There is a break down around the 3:55 minute mark, almost halfway through the song, that kind of blows my mind. In a Rolling Stone article Claypool stated about Lennon, “His DNA definitely shines through, though it isn’t just his father’s musical sensibilities that he reflects but also his mother’s abstract perspective, which to me, makes for a glorious freak stew.”

Freak stew is probably the best description i’ve heard so far.  Only its the right kind of freak stew, the kind you want to gorge on for weeks on end. For whatever reason the raw and not quite abrasive quality of the song drags you right in with the acquired taste that they sell and they sell it flawlessly.  I heard this song multiple times and I’ve had the swimming melodies and punchy driving bass lines ingrained in my mind for about a week.

Lennon states,

“The Claypool Lennon Delirium will (gently) melt your face with heart-pounding low-frequency oscillations and interdimensional guitar squeals. We look forward to seeing you very soon.”

He is absolutely not lying.  The Beasts here suggest that you get your first, second and third helpings of this freak stew before both members get busy with any other mega projects they might also be involved in. The last lyrics in this song are; “you ought to try it you really ought to try it” and we can assure you we agree. Try the song and make sure to catch them in July at Bonnaroo!

 

KEEP YOUR GIGS IN CHECK WITH SONGKICK
December 1, 2015 2:09 am

It takes serious dedication to go see live music in 2015.

Song-Kick-Concerts-App-Review0If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time and energy scouring the interwebz for upcoming gigs in your locality, only to realize you’ve already missed the boat.  That band who’s killer new record just dropped last week–that’s been on constant repeat on your Walkman–has already finished their encore, packed it in, and moved on to their next tour stop.  Guess you’ll have the catch them the next time they come around…

Alright, come on.  Cheer up.

Songkick has been helping devoted concert goers track their favorite artists and snag tickets to upcoming shows since 2007.  The start-up was founded by a group of tech-minded music nerds in London’s so-called Silicon Roundabout.  The company has quickly grown to become the second largest e-ticket vendor behind Ticketmaster. Using it’s expansive database of over 2,000,000 artists, Songkick automatically generates a feed of recommended gigs based on the artists on your device’s Spotify, and the ones you’ve liked on Facebook. Notifications are sent to you via email the moment tickets go on sale, so don’t wait!