Archive for May, 2007

Come up and make me smile…

May 31st, 2007 No comments

Is music supposed to be funny? Well, here are a few songs that make me smile, mildly amuse me, or even make me laugh out loud:

Ben Folds – Rockin” The Suburbs (live).mp3 (left click)
Mr Folds doesn’t like the “belly-aching rock stars” who go on and on about their pain. “Rockin‘ The Suburbs” was aimed at the Limp Bizkits and Kid Rocks who set the emo template. In this live version, from the Songs For Goldfish EP, Mr Folds launches into a Fred Durst imitation that just ro-aw-aw-aw-aw-aw-cks.

Barenaked Ladies – If I Had $1000000.mp3 (left click)
The music may be ho-hum at times, but lyrically Barenaked Ladies come up with lovely little turns and twists of phrases. This song has a succession of them: why would a green dress be cruel?

Paul Anka – Smells Like Teen Spirit.mp3
Paul Anka – Jump.mp3

The legendary crooner certainly wasn’t the first to do lounge versions of rock hits, but his 2005 album Rock Swings was one of the finest efforts in the genre. Unlike Richard Cheese (below), Anka took the songs very seriously, giving them a big band treatment that sometimes worked, and sometimes didn’t. On the Nirvana song, Anka walked a tightrope. When I first heard it I almost fainted with laughter as I finger-clicked to Anka“s jaunty, non-emoting phrasing of “With the lights out, it’s less dangerous…” On “Jump”, on the other hand, Anka shows why the Van Halen hit is really a swing number.

Richard Cheese – Sunday, Bloody Sunday.mp3
Richard Cheese – Yellow.mp3
Richard Cheese – She Hates Me.mp3

Where Anka is doing the swinging rock sincerely, Richard Cheese (not his real name, you”ll be pleased to learn) takes the piss by way of sometimes startlingly brilliant lounge jazz renditions of rock, pop and hip hop songs. He even perks up Joy Division. In Cheese”s rhumba-ing hands, U2″s earnest “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” now contains the immortal line, “Tonight we fiesta, while tomorrow they die”. Heh! His version of “Yellow” is not just a novelty record; he turns Coldplay“s snivelling song of whine into a hell of a good swing standard.

The Gourds – Gin And Juice.mp3 Link fixed.
A bluegrass version of the Snoop song. The Gourds play it straight, hinting at no irony “” which, of course, is there in bundles. Not 5 minutes of LOL, one is more likely to admire this version as inventive and actually pretty cool.

Jens Lekman – A Man Walks Into A Bar.mp3
Not a funny song at all. Jokes without punchlines set the scene for nostalgic reminiscences. A wonderful song. Download it!

Thank you for the earworms…

May 30th, 2007 No comments

First up I should apologise to my army of loyal readers for the long silence. But I won’t, because only two have ever left a comment. So, stay-at-home dad and KP’s GF, know that I still love you.

Anyhow, my home PC refused to log into me into blogger, and I have been quite the busy chap at work. having succeeded to log in tonight, I might have more possertunity to update more regularly — provided I get COMMENTS! (Yes ‘possertunityis a word. Sean W. Reeves of Amsterdam says so. Look!)

So, four songs today. Four of my four earworms in the past 24 hours. The first was a Celine Dion song, which I will not do unto others as I would do unto myself. I know only two lines, and google has revealed that it is a dirge called “Because You Love Me”. How did that creep into my internal jukebox?

The other four (left-click for download link):

Springbok Nude Girls – Blue Eyes.mp3
“Round about round about round about now”. It’s a South African rock classic, from 1999. Arno Carstens and the other blokes have reformed and released a new album. I haven’t heard it yet. I hope it doesn’t feature too much of that shit reggae sound that used to spoil their pre-breakup albums.

Harris Tweed – Le Musketeer est Brave.mp3
Great SA outfit. This song has a silly title, but such vulnerable lyrics performed by the wonderful Cherilyn Macneil. It’s the guitar that worms itself into my ear. “Ode To Confusion” is a more pervasive, even addictive earworm. But it isn’t my earworm now. This is.

Colin Hay – Overkill (acoustic).mp3
He was the singer of Men At Work, never my favourite group. I love much of his solo stuff though. This 2003 reworking of the Men At Work hit pisses all over the original. The “diving in tooooo deeeeep” line after the instrumental break is a constant and most welcome earworm.

Garth Brooks – Friends In Low Places (live).mp3
I can’t describe myself as a fan of Mr Brooks. In fact, I like only one of the admittedly few songs by the man I know. But, he-yell, this sure is a fantastic singalong number, with the low noites and the high notes. And a perennial earworm. This is the live version, very popular with Brooks fans, apparently. Truth be told, I prefer the studio version, cheesy barfly choir at the end notwithstanding.

And just for the fun of it, the song I’ve just been singing along to: Evan Dando – If I Could Talk I’d Tell You (live)

Here’s my RYM Harris Tweed review:

Harris Tweed – The Younger (2006)
Harris Tweed are the latest great South African hope for international success. On evidence of this debut album, they are a good bet to break big. Indeed, the album”s second single, the glorious earworm-inducing “Ode To Confusion”, has already attracted international notice.

The Jo”burg group, fronted by the talented Cherilyn Macneil, clearly draws its influences widely, with Regina Spektor and Evanescence”s Amy Lee being apparent inspirations. The trick Harris Tweed pulls off admirably is to sound familiar yet entirely original. Some of the songs on this set are crafted with an extraordinary ear for detail and beauty, and a fine sense for choruses one can”t help singing along to.

There are many absolute delights on this album (the peculiarly titled “Le Musketeer est brave” and “Don’t Forget” in particular), and very few misses. Most grating of these is opener “Superfly“, the sort of electro-pop that reminds one uncomfortably of Hillary Duff, and is entirely unrepresentative of the album”s sound (strangely it was also the album”s lead single and thus received wide radio airplay).

Get past the first track, and this an engaging, stimulating and rewarding album.

And I swear…

May 4th, 2007 2 comments

Few things in life are more satisfying than to enunciate the sound of Anglo-Saxon in moments of frustration. And when one swears in English, it almost invariably is Anglo-Saxon. Piss. Fuck. Shit. Pissen. Ficken. Schiete (the northern German Plattdeutsch dialect”s variant of the more famous Scheisse).

Swearing should not be gratuitous, though it often is. In music, especially in Hip Hop and Emo, the effect of profanity is often undermined by its reckless frequency. Ubiquitous though swearing may be in the lifestyle of performer and listener alike, the poetic power of the well-considered “fuck” trumps the casual deployment of mechanical profanity (especially when on radio or MTV songs are truncated by blanks of puritan silence).

There are exceptions, of course. For example, when NWA let the f-word fly in relation to the Boys in Blue, it was a lyrical burst of exploding anger that demanded its abundant use. Likewise, the culminating declaration of defiance in Rage Against The Machine”s “Killing In The Name Of”, with its orgasmic, liberating scream of “Motherfuckuuuuuuur”, would be violated where it to be R-Rated. Crucially, neither song overdoes the swearing for the sake of it. The profanity is integral to the emotion. It shocks because it is richly expressive.

Download Ben Folds” “cover version” (it is so much more than that, really) of Dr Dre”s “Bitches Ain”t Shit” as an example of how swearing in song can devalue the power of profanity. Soon any muthafucka in the “burbs will be swearing like Dre and Snoop and pals. I don”t object to swearing. I swear, and I like to swear. But I prefer swearing to have a bit of shock value, or at least some expressive meaning. Swearing does not belong in the mainstream, which anyhow is like kryptonite to vulgarity (and pretty much everything else). There is nothing subversive about swearing, not any more, thanks to the inarticulate goons lampooned so wonderfully in Ben Folds” “Rockin” The Suburbs” (“You better watch out “coz I”m gonna say fuck”¦”).

So I”m not sure whether to admire the potty-mouthed Dutch radio DJ in the Ben Folds interview linked to below, or whether to object to her methods. Probably the former.
In the late “˜70s/early “˜80s, as a teenager in Germany obsessed with translating English-language songs, I took great delight in the local mainstream station playlisting Frank Zappa”s “Bobby Brown”, possibly oblivious to the repellent picture the singer was painting. It didn”t say “fuck” or “shit” though.

I was surprised to learn that the first instance of a variant of the word “fuck” being committed to mainstream vinyl was on a record not by Zappa, Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones or Johnny Cash ““ but apparently by genteel whispy-voiced folk-rocker Al Stewart, in 1969. It is at this point that we may exclaim: “Fuckin” hell!”

Ben Folds – Interview on 3FM Dutch Radio (6 mins)
Ben Folds – Learn To Live With What You Are (live on 3FM)
Ben Folds – Intro to “Bitches Ain”t Shit” (live on 3FM)
Ben Folds – Bitches Ain”t Shit (live on 3FM)
Rage Against The Machine _ Killing In The Name Of (live)
NWA – Fuck Tha Police
Martha Wainwright – Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole
David Ford – Cheer Up (You Miserable Fuck)

A decade of Tony…

May 2nd, 2007 No comments

Ten years ago Britain woke up to the (predicable) news of Tony Blair having been elected new prime minister. It might be said that his stands as one of history”s regretable events. Still, it kept the assorted nasty gnomes of the Conservative Party out of power for ten years. We might wish to celebrate this today, but let us also remember that this undoubted benefit to Britain has been paid for with the blood of tens of thousands innocent Iraqis.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to review how everything went pear-shaped for the warmongering prick Blair. Indeed, his legacy can be summed up in a single mpeg file from 2003. Tony, you shall be judged by your friends. Now quit already!

Tony and Dubya sing “Endless Love”

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