June 19, 2010
I had another topic ready for this week’s Hidden Gems, but then Devo went and released their first studio album in 20 years on Tuesday. I haven’t been able to concentrate on much that’s not Devo-related since. So here’s four less-than-obvious Devo songs you should check out.
“The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprize” (from Duty Now For The Future)
Devo’s second album Duty Now For The Future is often characterized as suffering from the sophomore slump. This is understandable, since the album’s strongest songs are backloaded onto what would have been side two and lazy rock writers probably didn’t have the patience to flip the album in search of the kind of giddy thrills the band’s debut offered upfront. “The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprize” is one of the album’s shoulda-been hits. It features an oblique tale about a young man’s joy at his sweetheart recovering from some sort of debilitating accident. It also has an unbelievably catchy chorus that is simply the exclamation “Wa-hoooo!”
“It Takes A Worried Man” (available on the Pioneers Who Got Scalped anthology)
In 1982, Neil Young had the crazy-ass notion to co-direct an apocalyptic comedy film with the actor Dean Stockwell, called Human Highway. He cast Devo as nuclear garbagemen. In the film, they sing an upbeat, poppy version of the folk-festival classic “Worried Man Blues” (here slightly retitled) while they cart around barrels of nuclear waste. (The band has also been known to perform the song when they pretended to be Dove – a Christian, leisure suit-wearing opening act for many ‘80s-era Devo shows. Here’s a video of Dove in action.) The movie made it to VHS, but then faded into obscurity. Inspired somewhat by Devo, Neil Young released the synthesizer-driven album Trans… and eventually got sued for it. Apparently, everyone doesn’t appreciate devolved music.
May 13, 2010
At Echo Lake
2010 | Woodsist
It’s been a little over a year since Woods released their last album, 2009’s well-received Songs of Shame, a record of lo-fi folk that garnered the group some pretty significant attention and made them standouts among the rest of the fuzz-heavy Woodsist family (e.g. Wavves, Vivian Girls, et al.). Still, Woods has wasted no time following up Songs of Shame. Their fifth record, At Echo Lake, bears many similarities to the group’s previous releases (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing), but also finds them toying with their rustic-Brooklyn sound.
“Blood Dries Darker” kicks off the record with a sunny guitar lick and a distant tom-and-snare beat that’s right out of 1960’s San Francisco, before floating into an acoustic melody that would make Crosby, Stills, & Nash jealous. “Suffering Season,” one of the record’s highlights, sways effortlessly and cheerily, balancing James Earl’s fuzzed-out vocals and an overdriven electric guitar with steady acoustic strumming and crisp background chimes. “Who knows what tomorrow might bring?” Earl sings, his Neil Young-like falsetto still strong under the heavy bedroom production.
It’s songs like these that show Woods undoubtedly growing as musicians and songwriters. The melodies on At Echo Lake are infectious and never hard to distinguish amidst the wide range of instruments and noises that fade in and out of every song throughout the album. “Time Fading Lines” is, for the most part, hauntingly clean and open, but sporadically the song swells with clatter —“As the hours let go / Time fading lines creep into control” sings Earl, his voice stoic, as the drums grow and a wail of feedback crawls out of nowhere.
December 1, 2009
IN THE TUBE
For some reason the blogosphere was rich with a certain phenomenon this last week: videos of bizarre, ridiculous, and sometimes baffling cover songs. There was that clip of seminal jam band Phish doing a live cover of TV On The Radio’s “Golden Age” in Albany, turning a decent four-minute song into a boring ten-minute song (but not turning too many heads, because, besides the fact that this cover makes no sense, who really cares about Phish?)
There was that uncomfortable video of tabloid ruffian and Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty (accidentally?) singing the Nazi-era German national anthem to a German audience (who greeted the song with a mix of cheers, boos and FUCK YOU’s).
And then there were the videos of some older looking band doing half-hearted live covers of Pixies songs on the The Tonight Show and Late Night.
More on IN THE TUBE: What the Hell Was Broadcast Over Thanksgiving?
And in Competition for Best Video of The Day, Watch The Muppets do “Bohemian Rhapsody.” [Idolator]
compiled by Erin Sheehy
Janet Jackson and Michael’s Brothers May Do Tribute Tour [Billboard]
Historic Lower East Side Punk Collective “ABC No Rio” Gets a Ton of Government Money! Wait…Isn’t That Not Punk? [NYTimes]
Jay Z Debuts Official “Death of Auto-Tune” Video; Co-Starring LeBron James and Harvey Keitel Getting Hova-ed [Spin]
Pixies To Play All of Seminal Album Doolittle on Tour…Pixies Fans “Gone to Heaven” [NME]
Springsteen Opens With Clash’s “London Calling” At Glastonbury Festival [NME]
Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon to Release Between My Head and the Sky as Plastic Ono Band [Pitchfork]
Slayer Announces Typically-Bad-Ass-Named Album World Painted Blood [Billboard]
MGMT and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O Guest on Flaming Lips’ Upcoming Embryonic [Pitchfork]
Stream Scotland’s Twlight Sad’s New Single “I Became a Prostitute” [MySpace]
Neil Young and Paul McCartney Play Sgt. Pepper’s “A Day in the Life” at Glastonbury [The Tripwire]
compiled by Max Sebela
May 14, 2009
This Note’s For You
1988 | Reprise Records
Having written the man off as a low-rent Bob Dylan (mostly per his on-again, off-again association with Crosby, Nash and everything that’s wrong with the 60s, er… Stephen Stills), and unimpressed by the “Godfather of Grunge” tag, I’ve become something of a late-in-the-game Neil Young completist over the last six months. I’ve been wrong before, people, and I will be wrong again.
I was snuck into Neil Young fandom through Johnny Cash’s cover of “Pocahontas,” leading me to dig up Rust Never Sleeps, and slowly make my way through the rest of his back catalog. All the classics aside, and considering the fact that I don’t care to check out anything by ANY classic rock artist after 1990, I’ve found myself hitting the bottom of the barrel as far as what’s considered “essential.”
Now, the fun part. I’ve made it my mission to develop opinions about the “weird” Neil Young records. Specifically, the 1980s albums that have been deemed by sane individuals to be “unlistenable.” Hence, This Note’s For You.
More on Neil Young | This Note’s For You
|Photo by Andrea Barsanti|
Odds are that if you like Death Cab for Cutie, you probably enjoy at least a handful of Wilco songs. If Wilco is your cup of tea, you’re likely to have an accompanying appreciation of Neil Young and acknowledgment of his broad influence on modern rock, “indie” and folk music. If you’re a fan of all three acts, you are quite in luck. On October 14, Neil Young departs on an eight week North American tour. DCFC and Wilco are scheduled to support Young and his band on the first and second half, respectively, of this potentially legendary tour. Read more to view the dates.
More on Neil Young to Tour North America with Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie