Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I read the article that Kyle posted, and like Derek, I had to take some time to consider it before commenting. It started off with a notion that it is easy to accept - the fact that we are bombarded with music on a near-continual basis. Fair enough, although it's not something that particularly bothers me. My particular pet peeve is not being forced to listen to snippets of songs that I don't particularly like, but rather being forced to listen to the same song repeatedly, whether I like it or not. But from there, the author expands his rant into something much more fundamental - the primary theme seems to be that the lack of a shared world and spiritual view diminishes everything, and music is simply the example that he's holding up. In this, I disagree wholeheartedly. The only reason that there was a shared world view in Beethoven's time was because they lacked any means of communicating with all of those people in Africa, Asia and the Americas who had decidedly different perspectives. But why should the variety and complexity of philosophical and theological viewpoints (even including apathy and agnosticism) damage music? Given his premise that music evokes emotions directly, rather than through any process of rational thought or meaning, why does the fact that you and I appreciate the same piece of music from fundamentally different perspectives somehow cause that enjoyment to become decadent instead of transcendent? And I must also say that I don't agree with his contention that music and message don't work well together. I don't think Leonard Cohen would agree that his poetry of a "lower class" simply because he put it to music. Nor do I think that the Ostrich song is the best example of a Lou Reed lyric. I've always gravitated to the lyric content in music, and the ability to intertwine meaningful words with evocative melodies and harmonies is what satisfies me the most. I think that the author is indulging in the all-too-common bemoaning of the present state of society as compared with some illusory ideal past. He's only using music as an example so that he can show off his admitedly impressive knowledge of pop culture and musical history.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mike, I had heard that about the Verve song. Do Mick and Keith really need the extra royalty dosh? Kinda sad for them because it definitely improves upon the original riff from the Stones song. I'd forgotten that Eminem had 're-interpretted' the McClaren lyrics, but methinks Malcolm stole his lyrics from Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

Derek, the muxtape link looks like it could be a really fun waste of time. Am presently enjoying this mix, which could well have been crafted by you or Brian, given the artists and track choices. Methinks I'll have to play around w/ it soon.

Could be a cool weekly feature where we take turns uploading a 10-song mix? Any takers?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Don't have much to comment on at the moment although I would like to put something down on that 8 year old article from Atlantic but I still need some time to get my head around it.

Regardless I think this site, Muxtape, is pretty cool and makes for some fun leisure time listening. Also love that retro 1995 Internet look. Who among us will be the first to post their own block rockin beats?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thanks for stepping up to the challenge of presenting some seminal dance tracks, Kyle. I've listened to all of those that you cited, and I don't recall hearing any of them before. However, I have heard some Eminem because my son has a couple of his discs, and I've seen "Eight Mile". What struck me when I was listening to "Buffalo Gals" was the "round the outside" hook that Eminem later applied to trailer park girls. It's interesting to me how these hooks work - I haven't paid great attention to Eminem, but I've heard a fair bit playing in the background as my son listens to it, and that phrase has somehow stood out and registered with me. When I heard Buffalo Gals, it jumped right out again, and I was able to make the connection. I guess identifying hooks from other songs and re-integrating them in new ways is a central part of the dance music culture, but I wonder what it is that makes some lyrical or musical phrase work as a hook. I suppose if I understood that better, I'd be a better songwriter!

Another example I recently came across was "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve - the whole thing is built around a very catchy phrase on the strings which was apparently lifted from some obscure orchestrial version of "The Last Time" by the Rolling Stones. Despite the fact that the two songs don't sound at all alike, because the string bit was from a licensed rendition of the Stones song, the publishing company that owns the Rolling Stones catalog (ABKCO Music) was able to successfully sue for 100% of the publishing rights to the song. Apparently the Verve reached out to Jagger and Richards personally, but those two refused to get involved, and so they lost what was by far the biggest revenue-generating hit that the band ever released.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

For a late Sunday afternoon or early Monday morning read, a case against the omnipresence of music in contemporary culture.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Not sure if it was growing up in close proximity to Ontario housing or the lack of an older sibling with a penchant for Ozzy, but my formative music discovery years (from age 8 to 14) were more about funk, top 40 pop, disco and early rap than hard rock/metal. Don't think it's worthwhile listing any disco tracks, for obvious reasons (I'm not doing cardio, dancing at a wedding, or doing lines off Truman Capote's ass at Studio 54). If I were to list the top 5 seminal hip-hop recordings of this period (1978-84), to the forementioned Sugar Hill Gang track, I'd add:

  • "Buffalo Gals" - Malcolm Mclaren (1983)
  • "Planet Rock" - Afrika Bambaataa (1982)
  • "The Message" - Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five (1982)
  • "Beat Box" - The Art of Noise (1984)

The Malcolm McLaren video was not only the first video I recall ever seeing on tv, but also was the first breakdancing I'd ever seen. The use of scratching, loops, and samples are pretty much the building blocks of all future hip hop tracks. The Afrika Bombaata and Art of Noise tracks owe more to Kraftwerk and 70s German synth/electronica than they do perhaps to the music coming out of the emerging urban (black, inner city) American music scene but again, the sampling, and in the case of the former, the emphasis on black consciousness, mark the significance of their contributions to this genre. Grandmaster Flash's 'The Message', on the other hand, continues the trend of bringing the diy, rhyming over beats live performances and cassette recordings of the northeastern US 'street' into the mainstream, or at least mainstream enough for a late pre-teen, early teen in Scarborough, ON to catch wind of it.

Hope you enjoy the clips and sorry for not posting sooner. Three back-to-back west coast business trips, followed by catchup and prep for a mini vacay next week has left me w/ little spare time for posts. Will try to be a little more active here. Thanks to Mike and Bri for picking up the slack.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

When I was in those formative headbanger years, I was attending an American high school overseas. There was also a strong contingent of Southern rock bands that I didn't mention because they weren't my particular favorites. These included Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, REO Speedwagon (yes, they were a hard rock band before they turned into a bubblegum pop band) and .38 Special. The other large music camp was the disco camp, which was into things like The Commodores, Earth Wind and Fire and the Bee Gees. As I recall, the first rap song to make it big came out at that time - "Rappers Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang. And as Brian has admitted to discounting the heavy metal genre, I must admit that I have been guilty of doing the same with the disco/dance/rap/house/ genre(s). So perhaps somebody who has been tracking aqnd appreciating that music over the years can come up with the top 5 albums of that genre...
Wow, what a moribund blog we have these days. Mike, thanks for your input. I was always more into sixties music as a kid, so the "rock" was never as "hard" (though I could put together a pretty good list of acid/psych rock records), but you couldn't live in the 70's without hearing a lot of big assed rock. The two (OK three) that stick with me as absolutely essential aren't on your list, so I'll add them in there. (1) Led Zeppelin 2 was the one that I went back to time and again, learned all of the riffs on, postured to, etc...and in a lesser way (2) Led Zeppelin 4. (3) the other one that got a lot of air time was Deep Purple's Machine Head, you know, with Smoke on the Water, Highway Star, Lazy, Space Truckin' (OK, I have to go home and download this one now)....great record. I would probably add Black Sabbath's Paranoid in there as a fourth.

Interestingly, these are all British bands, which I'd never really thought about before.

Friday, April 04, 2008

My choices for the best hard rock albums of all time would be different now than they were then, I expect, and given that I was deeply into the genre at the time, perhaps my teenaged choices would be more significant. Looking back, the albums that I was fondest of at the time were probably (roughly ordered by descending preference):
Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
Pink Floyd - The Wall
Rush - 2112
Black Sabbath - Volume 4 or possibly Sabotage
Boston - Boston
Aerosmith - Toys in the Attic
Blue Oyster Cult - Some Enchanted Evening
Deep Purple - Made in Japan
Van Halen - Van Halen
Ted Nugent - Double Live Gonzo
AC/DC - Back in Black

As I grew older, some of these bands lost their appeal rapidly, while there are others that I can still listen to happily. Also, I discovered The Who rather late for some reason, so although I didn't listen to them in my early years, they became my favorite band in university. And although I did consider Pink Floyd to be hard rock in those days, I would not include them in that category now. If I had to list the top 5 today, I would go with:

Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
The Who - Who's Next
Blue Oyster Cult - Some Enchanted Evening
Boston - Boston
Aerosmith - Toys in the Attic

By the way, I realize that I'm omitting some of the usual suspects - Jimi Hendrix and Cream for example. I'm deliberately skewing this list toward my own personal favorites, rather than the albums that I think were most significant.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A couple of other emusic pop recordings to check out are Venice is Sinking, a moody full blown pop band, and Throw Me the Statue, who offer more of a quirky lo fi approach, emphasis on lyrics and melody (whom I'm thinking of checking out tomorrow night at the El Mo).  Also, looking back at a month on at my recommendations from a few weeks ago, Headlights seems to be the one that is getting the most rotation chez DoylePod.  Pure effervescent pop of a very high quality....check out "Market Girl".

So Mike, what are your nominations for best hard rock / heavy metal albums of all time. Say, top five?
I cut my musical teeth on the "hard rock" of the 70's. At the top of my list was Led Zeppelin, with my favorite of their albums being Physical Graffiti. I was also into Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult and Rush to name a few. I expect that you are familiar with the releases of all of those bands. I was just getting into some newer hard rock such as Judas Priest when I moved to a new high school and fell in with a different group of friends. Under their influence, my tastes started to soften, so I never really became familiar with the next wave of heavy groups – Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Metallica, etc. My older son is now listening to some of that stuff – his favorites seem to be the older groups. Specifically AC/DC and Kiss. I think that you’re right to classify this genre as puerile; the demographic to which it appeals is almost exclusively teenaged males. But I remember a few scattered scenes from my youthful days strolling down the street with friends while “Paranoid” or “Sweet Emotion” blared out of the speakers of the ridiculously large ghetto blasters that we used to drag around with us. My connection to that music at that time was probably more primal and powerful than any other musical connection I’ve experienced since.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Pretty quiet in the blog-o-sphere, boys. Stuart's laid up, Derek's MIA, everyone else is therefore (using the distributive property) urgently in need of a blog thread. Stu and Derek do too, using the communicative property.

So here it is.

I was scanning the Allmusic best of 07 list recently, and one of the numerous concerns expressed by readers was that Allmusic had ignored the "great" metal records of the year, focusing on softer pop, which undeniably is more in vogue these days. To which I thought, bloody right.

Partially this is me being 43 now and slowly losing my appreciation for LOUD, partially this is that I've always found metal (or heavy metal as it was once called) largely puerile, with few exceptions. I would say in my defense that I loved early period grunge, as well as a lot (though certainly not all) of punk. I would tend not to include these in a discussion of metal though.

So I'm throwing open the floor to the more open-minded among you to suggest great (heavy) metal records - current or classic - that I need to hear. Feel free to open up the discussion to include the more palatable 70's category of "hard rock", though I (smugly?) feel like I know most of those already.