Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Beethoven v. Mozart: This time, it's personal!

Which Classical Music Composer Are You?

Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
Growing up, Beethoven endured mental/physical abuse by his demanding and alcoholic father who pushed him to become a musician in order to augment the family income. In 1795, Beethoven became publicly known as a rising and brilliant composer. But in 1801, his confidence began to disappear as his hearing slowly deteriorated, and in 1818 became completely deaf. He sank into depression and paranoia, and was viewed as an eccentric by others. Though musical tastes had changed in the 19th century (people then preferred light rossini operas), Beethoven's genius as a composer was still known and respected. Beethoven died in early 1827 during a thunderstorm. Sources say that Beethoven rose up and lifted his right fist as thunder lighted his room, and soon after, sank into eternal sleep. His funeral was attended by around 30,000 people.
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There is a long standing argument between SSB and Sy revolving around whether Mozart or Beethoven was the better composer...and I've actually had this debate many times, with many people. It kind of reminds of of the line in "Pulp Fiction" where Uma Thurman's character says something about the fact that a person can either be an Elvis fan or a Beatles fan, but not both. The level of intensity and passion that gets stirred up by this debate, especially among people who spend little to no time listening to or even pondering upon classical music, is always surprising.

As for me, I like Beethoven better, so much so that I actually took the above quiz around ten times to get to the right combination of answers to give me a 'Beethoven' return. The passion, intensity, and torturousness of his hard work come through in every note. Alongside the beauty of any given piece, you can hear the frustration and suffering he went through to arrive at the beauty.

Mozart, on the other hand, could compose a beautiful piece at will, seemingly out of thin air. Observers at the time noted that it was as if God Himself was delivering the music to Mozart's fingers, which to me sounds a lot like cheating. Beethoven, without the benefit of Mozart's precious "divine intervention", composed his 9th symphony, including the 'Ode To Joy', perhaps the greatest musical piece ever to testify to the glory of the Lord Almighty, while he was deaf! Take that, Godboy!

So whether you are a true aficionado of the arts, or you like Mozart instead, I'd love to hear what anyone weighing in on the subject would have to say.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday random 10

OK, so the Icky Thump Review didn't generate an overwhelming amount of discussion - let's climb right back up on that horse and put ourselves out there again doing a little thing called the Friday random ten:

1) Hum - Why I Like the Robins.

Hum is a band out of Chicago. They produce this wonderful wall-of-guitars sound, interwoven with texture and mood. Like most good bands these days, they are now defunct.

2)Beastie Boys - Root Down.

I know there are a lot of Beastie-haters out there...these people really need to develop a sense of humor. I'll admit I was not a fan of 'Licensed To Ill', but they really did a good job of developing themselves musically and lyrically (with the help of the Dust Bros.) on "Paul's Boutique".

3)De La Soul - Magic Number.

Wow, two raps in a row - that's pretty fly...for a white guy. De La Soul is fun...that's all I have to say.

4)Ludwig von Beethoven - 7th Symphony, 2nd Mvt.

Such a beautiful, soaring piece of music - Beethoven is my MAN! I have a post about him coming up in the next week or two...one in which I'll enumerate the reasons why he was way better than that pantywaist Mozart.

5)Beastie Boys - 5 Piece Chicken Dinner.

My favorite under-half-a-minute song, off of the aforementioned "Paul's Boutique". Funny stuff, especially to a Dixiephobe like me.

6)Korn - Alone I Break.

No one writes a better half-song than Korn. This song, however, is pretty good all the way through. But it's Korn, so that will probably lose me some indie-cred points. Hmm...Blogger sems to think that "indie-cred" isn't a word...they're so lame.

7)Hum - Little Dipper.

Ah, the dreaded two-song, one-band phenomenon rears it's ugly head...stupid iPod! Very good song, though.

8)Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here.

A classic, absolutely the best song Floyd ever did. Brings back a lot of memories and ghosts. So good, I payed full CD price for a disk with only like 5 songs on it. Yeah, yeah, they're long songs, but that's not the point.

9)Blur - Song 2.

Woo-hoo! Who doesn't love this song?

10)White Town - Your Woman.

You know when you hear a song on the radio and it's kind of catchy and one day you see the CD in a store on sale and you think 'what the heck, I kinda like that song, and it's on sale, maybe I'll just go ahead and pick it up' and then you get home and pop it in the player and every song on it, except the song that influenced your decision to buy the CD, sucks?

That's "Women In Technology" by White Town. I'm reluctant to even place the jewel case next to my White Stripes CDs...they're just in different leagues.

Well, all-in-all, a pretty lackluster effort this week...I blame Steve Jobs and his stupid iPhone.

And now, to celebrate the release of the Simpsons movie, here's one of my many, many, many favorite Simpson clips:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Icky Thump

So I'm in Target the other day, and even though I prefer to buy my music from small shops such as the Electric Fetus, the Exclusive Company, or Newbury Comics I saw the new White Stripes cd and just had to pick it up. In these times of downloadable singles and cd's crammed with filler, the White Stripes are one of the few bands who make truly good albums, a way underappreciated and nearly lost art.

Most people, due to the ubiquitous nature of the White Stripes, are unaware that 'Icky Thump' is the band's major label debut (Warner Bros.), and from the bizarre notes of the lead-off title track, any fears they would sell out or tame their sound are assuaged. In fact, a quick perusing of the listener comments on iTunes shows the opposite to be true - lots of people are confused and angered by the unmelodic instruments, but they are philistines as far as I'm concerned. This song kind of picks up where 'The Nurse' left off on their previous album.

The second track is 'You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do What You're Told)', and only because they're the White Stripes do I give a pass on the use of parentheses in the title (I hate parentheses!!!) Jack White recently spent some time producing an album for Loretta Lynn, and it shows on this track. It has a little bit of a country feel to it, and it's a little predictable, but Meg's drumming adds an edgy touch.

'300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues' has a nice poetic, easy flow, but it is a little derivative - this is nothing they haven't done a few times before. But it's still better than 90% of the new music out there, so I can't complain too much.

After the previous two mellow, sleepy songs, 'Conquest' hits the spot. Jack gets the whole Latin thing down in a way that he tried to but couldn't quite do on 'I Think I Smell a Rat' on "White Blood Cells". The interplay between the guitar and the trumpet is almost worth the cost of the cd all by itself. I predict that this song will open the next Quentin Tarantino movie.

I don't have much to say about 'Bone Broke' - it's a good rock song, something that sound like it might have been a leftover song from their self-titled debut.

The next two songs, 'Prickly Thorn, but Sweetly Worn' and 'St.Andrews (The Battle is in the Air)' (there are those damnable parentheses again!) are Scottish-themed songs that blend easily into each other. Towards the end, it sounds like Meg is having some sort of ecstasy flashback, but not in a bad way. Plus, you get bagpipes - if it's not Scottish, it's crap!

'Little Cream Soda' takes a dark and nihilistic turn, and that's an avenue that the White Stripes don't go down very much - too bad, as this song rocks with an urgency they don't usually show.

'Rag & Bone' is probably my favorite song on the album; a nice, fast-paced number, and funny too. As near as I can tell, this song is a narrative featuring Jack and Meg as a couple of vagabonds wandering the suburbs dumpster diving...no other band could pull this off.

'I'm Slowly Turning Into You' starts off very pedestrian and predictable, but is saved by the happy dirge of the chorus. I do have the feeling that this song might grow on me a little as I hear it more.

'A Martyr For My Love For You' is a sweet and sad song about the art of the preemptive breakup, and all of the rationalizing that goes along with it.

'Catch Hell Blues' has a classic blues feel, but is also fresh and innovative in both the guitar and drum work. If I were putting this album together, I would've ended on this song.

'Effect and Cause' sounds like an afterthought, and also sounds quite a bit like 'Summertime Blues' by Eddie Cochran. I suppose you could kind of look at this song as maybe something that takes place after the album, some silly thing just for fun, to unwind.

All in all, a great album I recommend to anyone. Seven thumbs up!

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday random X

Let's go crazy, roman numeral style!

I. Tori Amos - Twinkle.

I've been to a couple of Tori concerts in my time, and the thing I love best about them is when she sings these quiet songs accompanied only with her soulful piano playing. I've never heard this particular song live, but I really want to.

II. Nirvana - I Hate Myself and I Want To Die.

No Kurt, tell us how you really feel. This is the rockingest cry for help EVER!

III. Pixies - Monkey Gone To Heaven.

A good Pixies song, but a little overplayed.

IV. The White Stripes - Hotel Yorba.

I double-dog dare you not to tap your foot along with this rollicking number. This is one of the best songs off of White Blood Cells, along with 'We're Going To Be Friends', 'Fell in Love with a Girl', 'Now Mary', 'Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground', 'I'm Finding it Harder to be a Gentleman"...well, it's a pretty damn good album.

V. The Rolling Stones - Jumping Jack Flash.

Ha - this reminds me of that wonderfully horrible Whoopie Goldberg movie that I watched on cable over and over again in my youth.

VI. Sleater-Kinney - One More Hour.

Heavens to betsy, I love this song!

VII. Ministry - Cannibal Song.

With an intro of crows, rats, and back alley jazz saxophone, how could you go wrong? Well, I suppose stretching a two and a half minute song for over six minutes would be one way.

VIII. Weezer - No One Else.

This song reminds me of a friend who would regularly, in the same breath, say that he wanted a strong, independent woman in his life, but also wanted a woman who would be so committed to him that she would set aside her interests to help him in his aspirations for a musical career...funny guy, that one.

IX. Rage Against the Machine - Darkness.

Why can't these boys just sing a happy song every now and again? Maybe a 'Happy, Shiny People' cover or something?

X. Primus - Those Damned Blue Collared Tweekers.

Having lived in a few small towns in my life, I can certainly appreciate some of the sentiment in this song.

Feel free to drop in your own FRT if you wanna...


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gogol Bordello

You know, it seems every day, people come up to me saying, "Bob, why, oh for the love of god why, can't I find a great band to drink to these days? You know, something upbeat, featuring a singer with a funny accent who occasionally mixes up the order of the subject and the verb in his lyrics something sort of polka-ish, but not too polka-ish. Where are these bands, Bob?"

After I implore these people to stop waving around their hand-made cardboard placards, on which are scrawled out their meager terms for employment, and after I assure them that Coke and Pepsi are indeed not the same thing, we get down to talking music. And that's when I tell them to check out Gogol Bordello. I think this is a fun little band...in my opinion, if you like Borat, you'll enjoy these guys. Just try getting drunk and not singing along with their catchy tunes. But this isn't about me or my opinions, or how drunk I am - this is about the music!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday not-so-random ten

Oh my...where did the week go? I was so busy dealing with rental property and preparing a wildly successful cheese-tasting party, that I haven't posted for a whole week.

In an effort to make it up to everyone (but mostly myself), instead of the usual format, I'm going to keep hitting fast-forward on the iPod until I come across songs that really pique my interest, thereby saving all parties from the questionable decisions I've made in the past with regards to up- or downloading musics. OK, here we go:

1)Pixies - Something Against You.

I only had to FF 3 times to reach the first entry. This, I believe, is the 3rd song on 'Surfer Rosa', the song where, after two excellent songs ('Bone Machine' and 'Break My Body') where you might start some little letdown in intensity and excellence, but no, this song is even better! By the time I reached this song the first time I listened to the album, it was already my favorite album ever...I'm not sure if it still is my favorite, but it's certainly top ten.

2)Sleater-Kinney - Wilderness.

OK, this isn't the best SK song, but I'll stop and listen to anything off of 'The Woods', even that eleven minute song...OK, maybe I usually only get to the six or seven minute point, but still.
This song gives you a little Carrie, and a little Corinne. What more do I really need?

3)The Flaming Lips - She Don't Use Jelly.

This song offered most people their first exposure to the Flaming Lips, and has some of my favorite bass playing ever. Having lived for a time in Oklahoma, I can honestly tell you that his band is the only worthwhile thing to ever come out of that dismal state, unless you count the fantastic stories of college football corruption, which I do.

4)PJ Harvey - Sheela-na-gig.

Modern day polemic about how women, in an effort to please men, just can't please men. Stupid men!

5)Primus - Jerry was a Racecar Driver.

Did you know that 'racecar' is the same backwards as it is forwards? Palindromes are awesome...a man, a plan, a canal, Panama!

6)Beck - Rowboat.

This song was covered once by Johnny Cash, and is better by miles than anything to come out of Nashville in the past 20 years. All modern day country "artists" should listen to this song and hang their cliche-filled heads in shame - deep, deep shame. In fact, upon hearing this song, Hank Williams ceased spinning in his grave.

7)Pixies - Gigantic.

OK, usually I bitch and moan when the iPod (or as I named it, the "bobPod") deals me two songs from the same band, but come on...'Gigantic' features Kim Deal on the lead vocals, so it's almost like a different band. Plus, this song just out and out rocks.

8)Belly - Dusted.

Oooh, maybe next I'll have to skip ahead to a Breeders song and a Throwing Muses song. Usually Tanya Donnelly is a little tame for my tastes, but this song rocks.

9)BFFs - My Head in Front of Your Head.

The best band in the history of this and all previous and alternate universes sends out a love letter across time and space to the Great Emancipator. *wink and nod to Evil Spock*

10)Luscious Jackson - Why Do I Lie?

Ah, a nice mellow one to go out on. Enjoy your Friday!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Save the damn internet, you lazy mooks!

Save the Net Now

Friday random ten

Never mind the bullocks, here's the music:

1) The Go! Team - Huddle Formation.

Oh, awesome! I just reviewed this song in my previous post. I've probably played this at least 20 times since then...still love it.

2)Pavement - The Unseen Power of the Picket Fence.

Nothing gives you indie cred like ripping into the sacred cow of REM...this is off the excellent No Alternative cd.

3)The Black Crowes - Hotel Illness.

As a rule, I abhor southern rock (Skynrd, Allman Brothers, et al.), but I loves me them Black Crowes...must be all that weed they smoke.

4)Ben Folds Five - Selfless, Cold, and Composed.

Fancy song with strings and everything, I immediately like this song just by its virtue of not being 'Brick'...god I hate that song.

5)Rage Against the Machine - Bullet In The Head.

If the past six years have taught me anything, it's that RATM was just a few years ahead of its time.

6)Depeche Mode - Blasphemous Rumors.

Oh Lordy, is this a little embarrassing...from RATM to DM, you can't say that I don't have any range.

7)The Breeders - Dedicated.

This is actually a very good song off of what I feel is a very underappreciated album, Pacer.

8)Cake - Satan is My Motor.

Wow, another Cake song about cars...funny, they really don't seem like car guys.

9)Balloon Guy - Minding My P's and Q's.

This is another great (now defunct (I think)) Minneapolis band who, along with BFF and February, prove that there's more to this music scene than Wendy and Lisa and The Jets.

10)Helium - Skeleton.

This is a fun, and sorta creepy, group of fine young women out of LA, I believe...their cd's can be pretty uneven, but with flashes of greatness.

Wow, only two girl bands this time - that's got to be a record low for me.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

My Three Downloads

Does anyone remember the intro to the TV show "My Three Sons"? It's almost Popeye-esque, with the long arms progressing across the screen from the right and left like sliding doors, closing on the old credits and then re-opening to show the new ones. Well, I don't need to download that song because it's been running through my head for about the past hour and a half, which sucks.

Anyhoo, I recently downloaded 3 songs (I'm actually putting downloading from iTunes on a moratorium until I figure out the deal with the DRM-free music):

1. Huddle Formation - The Go! Team.

Raise your hand if you love jump rope chants as much as I do...now put your hands down, becuase there's no way you possibly could. This English song sounds like it combines one of the few American artforms (others being cartoons, jazz, and knuckleballs) with electronic music to the delight of people like me.

2. We Were Born The Mutants Again With Leafling - Of Montreal.

You know, I really don't care for this band. Not at all. I've tried to enjoy them on an artistic level, on an ironic level, on a campy level, on an indie-snob level, but I just really can't get into them - with the exception of this song...can't get enough of it.

3. I Hate Myself and I Want To Die - Nirvana.

I am a dedicated Nirvanaphile, but I'm also kinda cheap, so I haven't gotten the "With the Lights Out" box set yet. This song, which appeared on the Beavis and Butthead movie soundtrack, of all places, will have to do until I break down and shell out the bucks for the 3 CD set.

Well, that's it. No witty conclusion where I tie the disparate threads of this post together, no feel-good closure or life-affirming lessons - but I will leave you with a video for another Go! Team song (Junior Kickstart) that I hope you'll enjoy, so...Enjoy!