So everybody on Facebook has been posting pictures of celebrities that look like themselves as part of this week’s meme du jour, Doppelganger Week. Apparently, I look like George Costanza. Great. Anyway, it got me thinking about musical doppelgangers (I’m not doing the umlauts), songs by artists that sound shockingly like more famous ones (often by design). Here are a few ones of the top of my head.
Not Aretha Franklin. I’d say that Fontella Bass’ “Rescue Me” has to be the biggest music doppelganger of them all. I regularly get in arguments with people who swear it’s Aretha.
Not Creedence. The Hollies should be ashamed of themselves.
Not the Jackson 5, though “One Bad Apple” kills it anyway. I’ve heard that this song was originally offered to the J5, who rejected it. Don’t know if that’s true or not, but if anybody ever talks trash about the Osmonds in your presence, you can wield this gem as Exhibit A in your defense.
“For her choice of dress, Palmer was accused by gossip writers and commenters at sites like DListed of everything from the sin of trying to upstage her fiancé on “his” night, to that old standby, “fame-whoring.” The fact that Palmer actually changed into a much more demure dress for the after-party went without comment, because the paparazzi didn’t both[er] photographing that.”—
So, I don’t read Jezebel, but my roommate does, mostly in a Schadenfreude kind of way. She told me about this yesterday, so I had to go read the whole thing for myself.
Amanda Palmer? Amanda Palmer?! Fame whore? Really?!? (And, no, don’t read sarcasm into that. I’m serious.) Sometimes I forget that I live in this little tiny insular universe, and it’s never cute when its denizens have a night out with the squares.
AOL is trying its most ambitious super-content project yet with freelance content site Seed.com: offering 2,000 $50 assignments on SXSW bands for its music site Spinner.com.
Those selected will be sent the name of a band with instructions to research them, interview them and write up a 1,000-word Q&A based on a template format. Some questions will be provided. The writers also will produce a bio of each band. Those who make the cut and are already going to SXSW may get more assignments from Seed and Spinner for show reports and photos.
Hansell says it’s the first time anyone has tried to cover every band this way at SXSW, which AOL is sponsoring, (SXSW may link to the articles). Equally important for AOL’s own content purposes, the bios will be used to populate its own pages instead of the copy from outside provider All Music Guides.
Once upon a time, I co-founded (with a perpetrator who, to this day, still won’t reveal her identity!) and wrote about half the content on this site — so I feel genuinely qualified to be both horrified and mildly intrigued by this news. I mean, who really wants to read a profile of EVERY band at SXSW? We’ll see how it turns out. And, you know, maybe we can all go earn some pocket money!
“V*****e W*****d’s whole “appropriation” thing is a marketing technique. They are deliberately baiting you. If what you want is for them to not be successful, you should stop talking about them.”
Picture me, very sheepish. Generally, I really don’t get in a lather over anything — but I still stand by the two jabs from Hopper’s piece that I called out in yesterday’s entry, below.
Look, I don’t care for VW (though “Cousins” works for me on a disposable ear candy level — the rest of the album, not so much), and I do like picking on them because their music is so incredibly sophomoric and unchallenging. I just want them to give us better and more interesting songs — because I think they can. But maybe that’s just where I am in my life now. This music really isn’t for me, and you know what? I’m really okay with that. (What I am tired of, though, is people riding my ass because I don’t like them. Geez.)
Seriously, though, what gives? Why isn’t an 8.2 good enough? Was there no consensus? Was it not filled with a bunch of young, exciting acts? I don’t care that much anymore about what’s Best New Music and what isn’t. As a former publicist, let me tell you that it completely matters, though. The feeling that the coveted anointing that comes with a BNM is a muddy process of top-down favoritism and ephemeral hype factor will persist until Pitchfork sets up a better explanation of the process or codifies it somehow. Why not just say that anything over an 8.5 gets it?
Hopper’s fantastic review of Contra — concise, to the point — is full of so many OH BURN moments, I had trouble picking the best one. Then I read the clause above. (Runner up: “If this all makes Contra seem like a fuckless episode of Gossip Girl written by Jimmy Buffett, then I’ve made my point”)
In some cities, the demand for tickets was really overwhelming and we’d like to apologize to anyone who was locked out of the pre-sales. In particular, we know that many people encountered issues when attempting to purchase seats to the Radio City Music Hall and Royal Albert Hall shows. We have been in touch with promoters and Ticketmaster to confirm that the number of tickets we had been promised were indeed allotted and sold.
— Excerpted from a message to The National’s mailing list.
Something tells me that presales like these are destined to become a thing of the past very, very soon.
“Ms. Rhodes won the approval of the judges and was sent on to Hollywood, and could well be a viable contestant in that phase of the show. In the meantime, we wonder: What is it that makes young women think that, in order to prove they’re no longer girls, they must oversexualize themselves to the point of absurdity? Is it the cultural influence of stars like Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, who found success (at least temporarily) by trading their Mickey Mouse ears for fetish gear? Are they just so repulsed by their squeaky-clean youths that they feel they must rebel against themselves? Doesn’t anyone remember Annette Funicello anymore? (The author of this post is 33 years old, by the way.)”—
Oh, Dave Itzkoff. You’ve gone and asked the bajillion dollar question, haven’t you?
It’s weird, I totally can’t express the myriad thoughts about The Problems With Gen X and Gen Y that this stirs up. It sends me down a mental path re: Itzkoff’s preferences when it comes to the ladies, the phenomenon of “grown & sexy,” and how this all isn’t just about the pornificaiton of society, or the influence of La Lohan and Britney (what about Christina, btw?). There’s so, so much more going on here, it kind of makes my head explode.
Well, okay, everyone’s going to be beating this to death for the next 48 hours or so (in between juvenile jokes about the iPad name and whinging about the State of the Union address, I guess) — and after speed reading (look, it’s kind of boring and TL:DNR in parts), I think I’ve decided that Rachael Maddux thinks this topic is more important than it actually is — a complaint I had about Kaya Oakes' flimsy tome about roughly the same topic that came out last year, Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture.
Which is to say, go Paste for showing up late to the party thinking you’ll get a pass for bringing a fancy cheese plate and a well-reviewed bottle of wine! Under the disguise of thoughtful perspective, this article kind of rots under its own propriety and careful consideration of the facts — by which I mean Maddux picks and chooses to make sure that all her perfectly selected examples of what is and isn’t indie have the right amount of … indie cred and visibility. It’s all kind of like a weird ouroboros. Which tells me that maybe it’s just time to shed all labels, love what you love, stop putting your taste into limiting little boxes, and realize that liking “quirky” and “unique” cultural products doesn’t make you quirky and unique. It makes you a consumer, with money and time to blow on being entertained by someone else. Just like everyone else in the world.
So, let’s make a pact and stop beating this subject to death already. Please?
“The exhibition tells the band’s story in 25 rooms spread over 30,000 square feet (2,800 sq. meters). Glass cases contain spangly costumes in silk, satin and spandex. Visitors can see recreations of Polar Studios, where the band recorded, and the seaside cabin near Stockholm where Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson composed the band’s hits.
One corner holds the helicopter pictured on the cover of the 1976 album “Arrival.””—
“Unlike the dramatic suicide of Elliott Smith, whose moody and mellifluous songs won him legions of fans in the 1990s, Chesnutt’s death appears to have been largely overlooked, occasioning some mournful entries on music blogs and not much else. (One notable and commendable exception being Fresh Air, which had interviewed Chesnutt about his latest album and tour this past December and produced a memorial show with his friends Michael Stipe, Guy Picciotto and Jem Cohen.)”—
This is a blog about a compilation that is being released on Angular Records in early 2010. It is called ‘Cold Waves and Minimal Electronics Vol.1’. Two years in the making, this compilation is a definitive artefact of the lost genres of Coldwave, Synthwave and Minimal Wave. It has been compiled by Pieter Schoolwerth (Wierd) and Joe Daniel (Angular).
Well, this is certainly a good way to start my day! (I had no idea that Lord High Overlord of All That is Dark and Minimal Pieter Schoolwerth had this up his sleeve, hooray!) Let’s get chilled.
Why I’ll never be going to another rock show, even at a lot of small venues, ever again. Seriously. I mean, I understand that everyone needs to make money, but ugh, this is not a good scene. Seriously, I can’t even enumerate the number of times in the past few years I’ve just said “FUCK IT!” to a show after seeing the price of a ticket go up by more than a third after taxes and fees.
xoxo, a very pissed off michaela, who pretty much only goes to venues these days that do their own ticketing, or exclusively take greenbacks at the door. Which means I don’t go to very many shows.
You might not know the name, but if you love rawk then the guy probably engineered some records you love, including Shout at the Devil, The Cars’ first one, and Queen’s Jazz. He passed away on Thursday according to his Facebook page.
In the rock music critical world, engineers get little to no attention, and yet they’re absolutely essential to the process. We’ve settled into our own version of auteur theory, wherein producers loom large over the proceedings, tweaking every aspect of the music to suit their grandiose vision. And certainly producers can be important (and many producers also function as engineers), but they’d get nowhere without engineers in the recording and mixing process. (I’ve also heard hilarious producer horror stories that would make you question the entire concept of “producer” as a title that means anything.) Just as important as the producer with the big ideas are the people who set up the mics and run the boards as well as the folks who mix the whole shebang down. Mastering’s important, too, but in the rockcrit world there are a million armchair mastering engineers out there. Armchair producers, too. Records are destroyed and saved in mixing. And it’s really hard to take garbage basic tracks or overdubs, even in our computerized era, and turn them into something listenable.
So let’s salute one of the silent superstars that was crucial to making some rad rock records. RIP Geoff Workman.
This version of the Pazz & Jop albums chart takes out votes from any person who put (G)rizzly Bear, (A)nimal Collective, (P)hoenix, (D)irty Projectors, or the (Y)eah Yeah Yeahs on their albums ballot. In this alternate universe, the top five albums are by Neko Case, Raekwon, the Avett Brothers, Mos Def, and Maxwell. Also, three metal albums ascend to the top 10, while Girls and Flaming Lips drop out.
I like this alternate reality where white, middle class people have one representative: The Avett Brothers. And if you try and tell me that Neko Case does the same, I’ll point you to all the women — all the single, successful, pissed off women — who are grateful for the opportunities afforded them by the sweeping reforms of Feminism, but who still see the imperfections in this world, and chafe against them. Because if Middle Cyclone was successful at nothing else, it loudly brought attention to the reality of What It Feels Like For a Girl at the end of the 00s. And Case rather gleefully snatched that banner from Karen O, btw.
ps — Though, I have to say that the blanket Dirty Projectors hate kind of reminds me of Arcade Fire angst a few years ago — I’m not sure where it comes from, because it doesn’t make any sense.
This is an extraordinarily depressing essay by former Voice editor/professional contrarian Chuck Eddy. It’s like a guy who used to be principal of a high school getting really angry about the outcome of his old school’s student council election.
Interesting that people are trying to wrap their minds around and put words to the fact that what was once counterculture is now mainstream — by complaining that they (and their formerly singular taste) is no longer shocking. I’ve been trying to find a way to talk about this for the past three years or so. (The moment I realized that my personal taste had detached from the norm was when I walked out of a sold out Andrew Bird show at the Bowery Ballroom in early 2007.) I don’t have the answer, other than to be continually contrary and remind people that Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective are smoke and mirrors cloaking the fact that people want a comfortable revolution, one that makes them feel special, but is, in fact, not special at all.
Listen: someday all this indie rock that seemed so revolutionary and groundbreaking will just be the territory of old farts who don’t “get it” anymore. And anyone who writes or thinks about or makes music who’s between the ages of about 30 and 45 should be girding themselves for the fact that reality is coming very, very soon. In fact, I’d posit that it’s already here. And if you aren’t already moving on, you risk becoming completely irrelevant.
“None of which is to say that people who “like” these bands don’t ACTUALLY like these bands. “Personal taste” still exists, even as the social and cultural forces that shape it become more obvious and ubiquitous. There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying this music, just as there is absolutely nothing wrong with a young, aspiring musician buying a 4-track (or downloading Audacity) and recording rapturous blasts of guitar noise. But something seems amiss when these rough, exploratory releases are seriously considered among our best cultural products — or our worst. We can support these artists while acknowledging that they have room to grow, rather than exalting the most self-effacing and artless aspects of their very first recordings. In our quest to prove that we relate to music in a pure and unadulterated way (no such thing) and that we are not influenced by “hype” (we are), we should not mistake aesthetic amateurism for creative sincerity.”—
Matt Lemay nails the lo/glo/bro-fi movement and its relationship to notions of hype and “authenticity,” though he’s a lot nicer and more respectful than I would be. I don’t doubt that plenty, if not most, of the fans of this stuff like it, but to me, the rise of micro-niches like glo-fi and chillwave and bands like Vivian Girls and Wavves was the most dispiriting development of the past few years, partially because it seemed like a last grasp from indiedom toward irrelevant notions of “authenticity” and “legitimacy,” really no different than much of the “that’s REAL music” crowd that populated the Paste/Harp/No Depression triad of a few years ago, demanding that all music be played on an acoustic guitar on a front porch for maximum authenticity. I’m all about musical legitimacy insofar as I want to feel like a musician cares about what they’re doing, admittedly a touchy-feely and individualized connection. But after passing that initial “legitimacy sniff test,” it’s probably the thing I care about least. And yet these bands were hoisted up for just that thing, this musical legitimacy, probabIy the lowest level of aesthetic evaluation, at least in my experience. I feel weird hating on Wavves (oh, but I do) because he’s a kid (albeit kind of a jerky punk of a kid), and I’ve done the same thing before: plugged into a four track and screwed around. And I love all of my 4 track noodlings, despite their truckload of flaws. But breathless huzzahs because it’s cool that kids are still making lo-fi records while stoned? Uh, no, particularly when there are tons of musicians out there—in all genres—who, you know, care about their craft, work hard, do things like practice, deliberate over recording and arrangement. I’m not saying that all “good” music must be formalist, and I love immediacy and brashness in much of my favorites, but attitude can’t be the only determining factor in hype and critical success.
Some of the music is just alarmingly simple. At some point, Girls’ music needs to become as important as their story, and, for me, it fails on the most basic levels, like lyrics. Let’s say somebody, non-Girls, wrote the following lyrics:
You’ve been a bitch I’ve been an ass I don’t want to point the finger
Watch out, Bernard Sumner! You’d probably pillory a band for that, right? However, instead of being called out as lazy lyricism, it’s “conversational directness." No, it’s not. It just sucks. We don’t need every bleary late-night fight between two kids outside of a house show musically transcribed in all of its conversational directness. Maybe it’s pure and sincere and the dude really meant it, but that’s not reason alone for slow claps.
And don’t even get me started on Vivian Girls, who fail at almost every measure of music-making—no hooks, bad production, atrocious playing, god-awful singing—and still manage to charm supposedly respectable critics (most of them seemingly slobbering and male).
I’d forgotten how much fun it is to sift through the Pazz & Jop ballots this way. Seriously. And don’t you kind of want to openly mock the people who are at both ends of the centricity list? (via Maura & Seth Colter Walls in The Awl)
The creators of Mamma Mia have a Spice Girls musical under their sleeves. In theory, this is a great idea, but um, see my last argument about subjecting pop songs to the modern musical theater treatment. Then again, if they get the fab Kerry Ellis (she’s got a remarkably Elaine Paige-like voice for someone so young) or the surprisingly goodSheridan Smith for the impending (if, um, three years from now is impending) West End production, I might be able to stomach it. MAYBE.
“A couple of years ago Rollins went to see Van Halen on their reunion tour. “And they were good,” he says. “I know all the lyrics. I like those records. But to watch men in their fifties play music they wrote in their twenties, there’s something distinctly sad about that.” A famous friend of his, he says, “sells a gajillion records. But he has to go out and play the same 20 songs each night. He says, ‘Well, that’s what the people want’. That’s one school of thought. I’m more from the Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane school: What they want? Who gives a fuck what they want? The art says we move on. So as I hurtle toward 50 I’m trying to be brave. I want to do stuff that looks like I am. I’ve got grey hair, a leg that kind of thunks around. I’m still mad as hell. I’m just trying to rouse rabble in a different way.””—
“I think records were just a little bubble through time and those who made a living from them for a while were lucky. There is no reason why anyone should have made so much money from selling records except that everything was right for this period of time. I always knew it would run out sooner or later. It couldn’t last, and now it’s running out. I don’t particularly care that it is and like the way things are going. The record age was just a blip. It was a bit like if you had a source of whale blubber in the 1840s and it could be used as fuel. Before gas came along, if you traded in whale blubber, you were the richest man on Earth. Then gas came along and you’d be stuck with your whale blubber. Sorry mate – history’s moving along. Recorded music equals whale blubber. Eventually, something else will replace it.”—
Dammit if this interview doesn’t push all my buttons: Eno, Morley, highfalutin’ discussions of … esoterica. And, I love that BriBri has hijacked the buggy whip analogy with whale blubber. Gross! Awesome!
Just FYI. I’m not convinced this is a good idea — I mean, to the point that I’m considering selling t-shirts reading EDITORIAL JUDGEMENT IS DEAD at this point, you know? ‘Cause even if it takes 20-40 hours to edit your own track for submission as a Rock Band jam — for a studio rat who’s self-recorded, engineered and mastered their own album, converting one song in that length of time is kind of no big deal. Right?
This is one of those cases where I’m all ‘hmmm…hmm.’ Other friends are excited as hell, planning their Euro jaunts, etc., but maybe because I was so deep into Suedeworld at one point — and for a very long time, counting the wild-ones mailing list that I ran for over a decade — that I’m less jazzed than I thought I might be. I can’t say I’m against reunions entirely — nobody was happier than I was when the Chameleons got back together about ten years back, since I had never seen them at all back in the eighties — but this is all on the level of the Blur reunion for me, something that’s pleasant but that I don’t need any more.
Still, gotta say that of the scattered times I met the band and their management, they were all really friendly folks, the four times I was lucky enough to see them live — twice with Mr. Butler — were all great shows, and I wish I could find a copy of the interview I did with Mat during the Dog Man Star tour.
(Meanwhile, hello all — was a very VERY busy few weeks for me there but I hope to be popping back a bit more now. On a side note I’ve also started a new music project, Not Just the Ticket, so feel free to check in.)
RIP Jay Reatard. I don’t really know what to say. I rejected him initially because of a couple of poor live shows I attended and the fact that his name was so juvenile. I was totally wrong. The guy was a burgeoning pop genius, and I’ve only now started diving into the treasure trove of material he left us in a short time. Sad to lose him so young.
SFJ: Neil Patrick Harris is going to be a guest judge? He’s like Ryan Seacrest with less teeth and more ideas.
BG: Listen, I can’t have this entire chat be you gushing about Neil Patrick Harris.
SFJ: Yes, you can.
SFJ: Tonight’s guest judge is Victoria Beckham, who is too thin. She is reminding me of the aughts already and her husband and that time he tried to talk and I can’t handle that.
BG: Do you think anyone will serenade her with the Kinks’ “Victoria”?
SFJ: I would do that Kickstarter thing and gather at least $1,000 to pay for Mark E. Smith to appear on “Idol” and sing the Fall’s version of “Victoria” to Posh. If that failed, someone should just play her this video, which is as close to the diametrical opposite of “Idol” as it gets. Utterly brilliant singer who can’t sing. It’s also a great video. BURNING STUFF.