Category Archives: Music

Band Pimping: Talking Heads.

Man, I want to dress like them.

For the last week, I’ve been on a Talking Heads kick, thanks to Dhani Harrison and thenewno2’s — a great band in their own right — “Psycho Killer” cover at Lollapalooza, and I feel now is a good time to shed some light on one of the oddest mainstream acts I’ve ever heard but never truly appreciated until lately.

Take this song, a cover of Al Green’s “Take Me To the River,” which gives a spin on a soul classic that has arguably made the ‘Heads version more famous than the original.

David Byrne and company turned that soul standard into a hipster anthem for the ages, which is no small feat.  But that song pales in comparison to this doozy, “Road to Nowhere,” which is funky-gospel-“hooray”-inducingly great.

‘Nuff said.  Enjoy, comment, et al.


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‘Party In The U.S.A.’ Drinking Game, Huzzah!

I spent the weekend in Champaign, IL, home of the University of Illinois, cows, and alcoholism, and Friday night I learned of a delightful way to get drunk fast: play the “Party in the U.S.A.” drinking game!

In this lovely — I just died a little inside by saying that — video by one Miss Miley Cyrus, daughter of Billy Ray, many things happen repeatedly.  My friend Greg laid out the rules for the game, which are as follows:

1. Drink whenever Miley touches her hair.

2. Drink whenever Miley kicks at the dirt.

3. Drink whenever anyone does an acrobatic move (flips, spins, etc.).

Now, you wouldn’t expect this to be a very effective way to get your drinking done, but trust me, if you follow the rules, you will finish a can of beer during the three minutes and 21 seconds. And when you play the game repeatedly, it’s a good way to warm up for the night.

Following the game, my friends and I had a conversation about the lyrics.  Clearly, we are deep.  Anyway, someone mentioned how they heard Miley had actually never listened to Jay-Z before.  I’d bet that’s true, because you know the Cyrus household had one thing, and one thing only, playing on a continuous loop.

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Free Lollapalooza, Hooray!

One of the best free days I've ever had.

It’s been a good few days: Saturday night, my girlfriend and I were told by our friend Kelly (now officially known as The Coolest Girl On The Planet), a St. Louis radio station employee who happened to be working this weekend’s Lollapalooza music festival, that she had been able to procure some free passes for us to get into Sunday’s final day to see the bands thenewno2, Perry Farrell, MGMT, and the headliners, Soundgarden.

As a huge music fan who lives in Chicago but was always too poor to buy tickets, I was extremely giddy.

We arrived at Grant Park around 2:30 p.m. and met The Coolest.  She gave us our “Media” wristbands and we walked in and headed straight for the Kidzapalooza stage, where my girlfriend’s one true love, Dhani Harrison — George’s son — was playing with his band, thenewno2.  That’s right, a The Prisoner reference to bring out the geek in me.

Despite Harrison competing for the affection of my girlfriend, he and his band mates put on a hell of a show, with a short set that consisted of an amazing cover of The Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” which had me grinning and dancing like the nerd I am.

It was then when Lollapalooza founder, Jane’s Addiction, and Porno for Pyros singer Perry Farrell came onstage to play with Harrison and his band, playing his Porno for Pyros song, “Pets,” which was very good, if a little odd for Kidzapalooza for its use of the word “fuck” in the lyrics, but that’s neither here nor there, especially with the amount of weed I smelled in the air, most of it coming from the kids’ negligent parents.  And thus concludes the parenting advice section of the article.

After an amusing anecdote about growing up idolizing Lou Reed, only to meet rock’s grumpiest man face to face, Farrell and co. launched into a great rendition of “Sweet Jane.”

After some food, we went to the sweet media area and hung out with The Coolest and watched her kick out a fence jumper.  Then she gave us free beer!  And given the $7 beers being hawked at all the other festival goers, I was even more pumped.

Then we headed to see MGMT, and the New York band put on a very good show, even though we missed the beginning and were stuck on the very edge of the crowd.  Their live versions of “Time to Pretend” and “It’s Working” are not to be missed.  If you have a chance to see them, do it.

We knew seeing MGMT would mean sacrificing a great spot during Soundgarden, but I was so excited to see the newly reformed grunge gods that I wouldn’t have cared if I’d been set on fire for the entire set.  We went back to the media area for more free beer and had a pretty awesome view of the main stage, and then the band erupted onstage and dazzled me for sure, and everyone else seemed pretty jazzed too.

It was more than just a greatest hits set, but the biggest cheers were reserved for songs like “Spoonman” and “Fell On Black Days” and, of course, “Black Hole Sun.” The band looks great, but with one of my main man crushes, Chris Cornell, leading the charge, I couldn’t expect anything less.  Seriously, the man is pushing 50 and is in better shape than I am.  They also seem to be getting along, which is always a plus for a band that hasn’t been together in more than a decade.

After seeing Soundgarden, I was no longer torn about having to miss Arcade Fire, another band I really like, who were playing at the other side of the park.  I was especially glad to find out rumors of an onstage collaboration with David Bowie were unfounded.

As you can probably tell, my first time at Lollapalooza was a pretty kick-ass experience.  I might even pay for it sometime in the future.

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Band Pimping: The Rumble Strips

Odd and quintessentially English: The Rumble Strips.

The Rumble Strips write songs about being poor and wishing for more.  They’re young, cockney, and catchy.  And boy, are they good.

I first heard about the Tavistok, Devon, England, band back in my NME subscription days.  Yes, I was the nerdy American boy trying to be cool by having a (very expensive) subscription to the very English NME in high school.  They cover the very best (and some of the most derivative, but that’s just how indie rock goes, isn’t it?) of the skinny-white-boys-with-guitars bands genre, like my favorite, Arctic Monkeys, and also stuff like The Cribs and Razorlight — minor bands in the rock landscape, to be sure, but with a couple worthwhile songs to pass the time.

What stuck out about The Rumble Strips, fronted by Charlie Waller, is that they weren’t like the rest of those bands.  Their use of horns with minimal guitar brought about visions of Beirut covering Dexy’s Midnight Runners B-sides.  It’s odd stuff, but a hell of a lot better than another song built on an angular guitar riff.

Take this song, for instance.  It’s called “Motorcycle” and it’s not about girls, money, or partying, as most indie rock is.  It’s about wishing “this bike was a motorcycle” to get home faster.  It’s entertaining and the video is very fun.

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Band Pimping: The Bird & The Bee

George and Kurstin update '80s classics.

For anyone who’s ever worked a retail job, the adult contemporary sounds of Hall & Oates are very familiar.  That’s what the members of indie band, The Bird & The Bee, Inara George and Greg Kurstin, were thinking as they cut their recent album, a tribute to the ’80s roots-pop band.

The album, Interpreting The Masters, Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates, is extremely catchy as you’d expect from the original versions of these songs, but George and Kurstin add electronic flourishes everywhere and George’s voice sounds great singing these tunes.

This song, “Kiss On My List,” an update of Hall & Oates’ 1981 hit, is my favorite of the collection, which also features versions of “Man Eater” and “Rich Girl,” among others.

You know the drill.  Click, listen, enjoy/don’t enjoy, and comment with your reasons why.

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Band Pimping: The Lemonheads

For a band that is inextricably linked to the 1990s, The Lemonheads have cemented themselves as one of my Bands of 2010.  I’ve been listening to them a ton all year — thanks, job at a college rock station — and can’t get them out of my head.

The '90s version of The Lemonheads.

Frontman Evan Dando’s drug-addled, country-influenced pop was extremely influential the genre that blew up in the ’90s, and on modern-day indie rock, as seen by the likes of everyone from Ryan Adams to Band of Horses.

This song, “The Outdoor Type,” is one that could describe me (although, I do go outside relatively often) and is one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard.  Have a listen then go check out some of the group’s best albums, like It’s A Shame About Ray and Come On, Feel The Lemonheads.  Dando’s band is still touring, albeit with completely new members from the ones in this video, but they’re worth checking out.

And remember, God bless the Great Indoors.

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Band Pimping: Bad Religion

Buzz saw guitars charge headlong through a landscape of disdain for society, the government, or anything else on Greg Graffin’s mind.  This is the world of punk legends Bad Religion, and it’s a world I think you should frequent.

Punk's elder statesmen, Bad Religion.

Thanks to my cousin Greg’s awesome musical taste, I was turned onto the Southern California band at the very early age of 11 or 12.  A little young, perhaps, for the themes and language represented by the band, but I feel I’m better, smarter, and way cooler for it.

The band, fronted by the smartest man in rock, Graffin — the man has a doctorate in paleontology and life sciences from the University of California, Los Angeles — and featuring Brett Gurewitz, Brian Baker, and Greg Hetson on guitar, Jay Bentley on bass, and Brooks Wackerman on drums, formed in 1979 and has since gone on to produce some of popular music’s most scathing condemnations of the latent hypocrisy in modern religion and governmental practices.

This song, “I Want To Conquer The World,” from their album No Control, is an amazing look at some of the band’s pathos, and it’s a quick, catchy track that will stay stuck in your head for a while.  Check it out.


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