Posts Tagged ‘White Stripes’

Someone Published A List on the Internet, It Must Be Critiqued!

October 23, 2011

As I mentioned in my last Spotify post, NME, English indie music mag, celebrated the 15 year anniversary of its website with an ambitious 150 best songs of the past 15 years list.  And as the very astute MeadowMuffins pointed out to me once, lists are Internet gold because anyone who cares about the subject of the list is going to have an opinion about it.  So, a couple thoughts from this music lover:

  • A good chunk of the time period for the list was a dark ages of finding new music in the “indie rock” world as I generally had other stuff going on in my life and what new music I was into was mostly in the East Coast independent hip-hop scene and electronic music.  So, there’s some stuff from this list that I definitely want to check out.  The Foals and the Libertines each have a song in the top 20 and I don’t really know anything about them, much less have heard these two songs in particular.
  • Radiohead clocks in with 5 songs, including #1 Paranoid Android.  My thinking is that over a time period of 15 years, there’s so much music getting put out that any one band getting more than 2 songs in a list like this leaves me skeptical.  As for Paranoid Android, I can think of several songs on OK Computer that I would have put ahead of that song, so obviously it wouldn’t be my #1.
  • I’m a big Blur fan, so while I understand the inclusion of Song #2, it’s not really representative of some of the really good music in their post-1996 output.  Coffee & TV, if I had to choose one song, would be it.
  • I’d flip-flop White Stripes’ Fell In Love With a Girl and Seven Nation Army.  Seven Nation definitely would be in the top 10 for me, I can’t get enough of that beat.
  • Nothing from DangerMouse’s Grey Album?  The king of mashups didn’t have a song better than Crystal Castles?  I don’t think so.
  • Also no love for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.  I could think of a few tracks that could easily make the list.  From their last album, say Money?
  • And probably the biggest omission, no Black Keys.  What?!  Their last album is an absolute classic, and opener Everlasting Light would be a top 20 track for me.
  • Glad that Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony got such a high rank.  Such a good song and kudos such is this is pretty much all the band gets from the song, thanks to Allen Klein.
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Best of 2010

December 19, 2010

It wouldn’t be a music blog if I didn’t do some sort of end of year wrapup.  Problem is, while I listen to a lot of music, new music isn’t always on the menu.  I’m not sure I could even come up with a top ten albums released in 2010 since I’m not sure I listened to 10 entire albums that were made this year.  So, instead I wanted to highlight some good stuff I found this year regardless of its age (I thought this was an ingenious idea until I saw that AVCLUB had already done the same thing, oh well).

  • LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (album, 2010).  A terrific album from beginning to end.  The album opener, Dance Yrself Clean, is also one of my favorite songs of the year.  Lyrically, James Murphy is at his wittiest and musically he continues to evolve from just floor-burning dance tunes to really nuanced, but still danceable, songs.  And seeing them live was a revelation.  It was one of the best shows I’ve been to in quite awhile.
  • Black Keys – Brothers (album, 2010).  I’ve been a huge fan of the Keys since their first album, but I think on this album they took it to another level.  For their first couple albums it was straightforward blues-based rock, but here they are spreading their wings, with some definite glam-rock influences and adding other instrumentation beyond that bruising drum and guitar.  Another band I finally got to see live this year and they didn’t disappoint either.
  • Broken Bells – The High Road (single, 2010).  Pairing the sonic tapestries of Dangermouse with the crystal clear voice of Shins lead singer James Mercer sounds like a good idea to me, and this song is proof it was.  The song begins with playful electronic noises and then gets a more orchestral bent as the music and Mercer’s vocals soar.  This song really has a positive and inspiring vibe; it’s a great pick-me-up.
  • Gang Starr – Obviously this was going back to one of early 90s rap’s signature groups.  With the passing of MC Guru this year, I spent some time revisiting their music.  I had never realized how many of their songs I really liked.  Everyone knows Mass Appeal, but there are a bunch of other songs they have that are just a notch below that masterpiece.  Premier’s beats are almost always exquisite and Guru’s gravelly delivery worked so well with those beats.  RIP Guru.
  • White Stripes – Under Great White Northern Lights (album and documentary, 2010).  I have never gotten to see the White Stripes live, but this album and the documentary which I saw do a pretty great job of making you feel like you’ve been to a show.  Even harder and louder than in the studio, these are great foot-stomping rock n’ roll songs.   The documentary bares the painful shyness of Meg White, leaving one to wonder how many more times we’ll get to hear these two play together.
  • Taj Mahal and Vampire Weekend – Why do I mention these two artists together.  Because whenever I hear one of their songs, I feel happy and upbeat.  Both are artists I know only marginally, and I’m trying to get up to speed on both.  Taj is nominally a blues artist, but he puts a lot of other musical styles into his songs, including reggae and Caribbean rhythms.  Vampire Weekend also is nominally a rock band, but they also let their other influences show, including various Afro styles.
  • Sleigh Bells – Treats (album, 2010) – When I went to see them at this year’s VirginFest I wondered why they only were given a half hour set, but then realized their debut album was only a couple minutes longer.  But boy do they pack a lot of sound into that 32 minutes.  While some see the loud guitar/beats with the bubble-gummy lyrics as a gimmick, I don’t see it any more of a gimmick than a lot of other bands in 2010 (and before) doing similar things.  Sleigh Bells just does it more over the top than anyone else.  For me, the beats are what keep me coming back.
  • Scott Down and DJ Cutler – Ultimate Breaks and Beatles (album, 2010).  Found about this interesting project via Soulsides, this is not an attempt to create another Grey Album.  Instead, they blend all kinds of Beatles music (including covers by Jimi Hendrix and others) with famous hip-hop breaks.  While there are some misses, when it all locks together it’s pretty amazing stuff.  Also, trying to identify what song a break is from is fun too.
  • KMD – Boy Who Cried Wolf (from Mr. Hood, 1991).  Sometimes a song just clicks for you.  I’d finally gotten a copy of KMD’s Mr. Hood and it’s a really good album.  But when I heard this song, I was mesmerized.  I could listen to the beat all day long, loping and laid-back but with a bite.  The chorus “he’s a woolllfff, and you a sheep” his super-catchy and the verses pop along with the snare in the beat.

I didn’t include Kanye’s new album, which I have but haven’t had a chance to really listen to yet, though I’ve heard nothing but good things.  Same goes for the new Walkmen album and Sharon Jones’ latest.  Enjoy the holidays and looking forward to another new year of music.

Good and Loud

April 21, 2010

Seems like this has turned into a music documentary blog of late, but I keep seeing interesting music-related films.  Saw another one last Friday.  Part of FilmFest DC, Under Great White Northern Lights chronicles the Canadian tour by the White Stripes in 2007.  Apparently the band had troubles getting in the country in the past, and wanted to do a proper tour of Canada.  They head to all the Canadian provinces, depicted with a plane graphic flying and landing at each location.

Music docs usually take one of two forms.  The straight concert film that chronicles a concert or series of shows.  Or the story of the band film.  This one is definitely the first kind.  There is some post-concert backstage talk and mini-interviews throughout the film.  These are interesting for two reasons.  One, they show that Meg White is painfully anti-social.  She talks in a whisper (they give her subtitles) and is always sitting with her eyes down, slumping over.  You can just tell that she is not really enjoying the interview segments.   So Jack does all the talking.  This does lead to one funny exchange where he explains that he doesn’t talk over Meg, it’s just she doesn’t talk.  He does this while she is trying to say “let me say just one thing.”

The other thing the interviews show is that Jack is somewhat obsessed with others’ (especially critics’) views of the band.  He recites quotes from critics about the band and seems to want to explain how the band is so spontaneous even though they have a regimented look and perceived style.

One of the products of that spontaneity are the daytime concerts they give, on short notice at various locations, in the cities they are having concerts in.  Pool halls, bowling alleys, a park, and the back of a small boat are all “venues.”  These are neat scenes; you get to see the band in a setting you probably aren’t going to see them in otherwise.

And then there are the concert scenes.  These are fabulous.  I really felt like I was right there with the band.  On a few occasions, when they ended a song, I had to stop myself from clapping along with the audience.  I saw nodding heads and tapping feet in my general vicinity.  The Stripes are loud.  Jack shreds on the guitar and once in awhile he makes his way to a keyboard.  Meg seems much more comfortable behind the drumkit.  The live version of 7 Nation Army they play towards the end of the movie is very powerful and Meg crushes the drums.

The film ends with Jack playing a piano and singing “White Moon.”  Meg sits next to him and starts crying.  The film ends with Jack embracing her as she cries.  It’s an odd ending.  It’s like they forgot to play up the brother/sister, former marriage angle that is part of the Stripes’ mythology, so put this in the film.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this for Stripes fans and music fans in general because of the great concert footage and the impromptu outdoor performances.