November 21, 2008

“…more like reviewing a unicorn”

Chuck Klosterman reviews Chinese Democracy:

I’ve been thinking about this record for 15 years; during that span, I’ve thought about this record more than I’ve thought about China, and maybe as much as I’ve thought about the principles of democracy. This is a little like when that grizzly bear finally ate Timothy Treadwell: Intellectually, he always knew it was coming. He had to. His very existence was built around that conclusion. But you still can’t psychologically prepare for the bear who eats you alive, particularly if the bear wears cornrows.”

Read it and weep (and by weep I mean laugh until you weep)

May 23, 2008

The most dedicated, least rational fans

There’s a great read over on the Guardian website by Chuck Klosterman about fans who look like their idols, accompanied by a gallery of portraits where you try to guess the band by looking at the fans (and who do you guess is represented above?). I got most of them right and found the guessing process to be delightful.

Klosterman ranks the following ten groups as having the most dedicated, least rational fans. Discuss:

1. Slayer
2. Tori Amos
3. Sublime
4. Kiss
5. Bruce Springsteen
6. Black Sabbath (particularly the Tony Martin era, for some reason)
7. Jimmy Buffett
8. Iron Maiden
9. Guided By Voices
10. Morrissey

Read his rationale and the whole entertaining article here. Images are taken from the forthcoming book Disciples by James Mollison. If you’re going to be in NYC, these prints will be exhibited at New York’s Hasted Hunt Gallery June 12 through August 16.

June 4, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Happy Monday folks. I forgot to announce the Brushfire Records contest winner on Friday because I was up in Boulder, but in a random drawing (seriously; I made up 46 little pieces of paper and numbered them in the name of fairness) reader Kevin Cornwell wins the sampler packs of albums from the Brushfire lineup and a t-shirt. Yay Kevin! Please email me with your address.

I was kinda hoping that the winner would be the one dude with the joke about the muffins. SO ridiculous that it made me laugh out loud.

Here are the tunes I am listening to this week:

If You Wear That Velvet Dress
Jools Holland and Bono
The friend who sent me this song admits to skipping “If You Wear That Velvet Dress” when he listens to Pop, but for me the original is a smoldering hymn to clandestine longing that rarely gets passed over. This 2002 big-band swing version from (Squeeze founder) Jools Holland’s More Friends: Small World Big Band, Vol. 2 album takes a slightly different tack. The whispered aching and subtlety of the original turns into something almost brash — more breathy jazz singers lounging on pianos than smoky velvet dresses. Still, totally worth having – the album also features duets with folks like Stereophonics, Badly Drawn Boy, Tom Jones, and Huey of Fun Lovin’ Criminals.

Today (Smashing Pumpkins cover)
Ben Kweller

When I first read about this compilation album of Smashing Pumpkins covers from the good folks at SPIN (speaking of which, I’m almost finished reading my first Klosterman book) and MySpace, I wanted to stab my eye out with a black eyeliner pencil. This Ben Kweller contribution was the only one that sounded mildly interesting to me out of the lineup (if a bit unnecessary?). I love Ben, and here Ben sounds a bit bored, even though he does pretty up the singing (85% less angst) and do a real nice intro. HOWEVER. The appreciated facet of this song is that now for the first time I can understand many of these lyrics, and can sing them without mumbling through those parts (“I want to tmmmhmm you mmmmmm….I want to mmm dmmmmm hmmmmm….”). The CD is packaged with the July issue of SPIN.

Lose Myself
Lauryn Hill

Where oh where is Lauryn and why does she just tease us with an astounding album like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and then vanish for coming up on 10 years (okay, except for the Unplugged thing)? I love that album and I have missed her talent. This track is a contribution to an upcoming kids movie (Surf’s Up) and, sure, sounds a little soundtracky, but I have to admit I find the skittery stop-start beat in particular to be irresistible. Oh yeah, and the soundtrack also features Pearl Jam. No – for real.

In The Words Of The Governor
Sufjan Stevens

Wait, so we’re sure this is the same Sufjan who plucks the banjo gently, sings in a breathy lovely voice, and makes me cry with finely wrought songs like Casimir Pulaski Day? In this new track from the Believer Magazine 2007 compilation album he wails and chants and channels the Beatles at their most psychedelic. Wha? Way to show us another side, Soof. [via]

Will You Return?
The Avett Brothers

Speaking of the Beatles, what would it sound like if they’d been raised deep in the heart of Appalachia? Maybe a little bit like the plucky fusion of North Carolina’s Avett Brothers. I am hearing these raves for their newest release Emotionalism, and this song makes me smile from the opening count-off. You can hear the smile in his voice. The album is raw and joyful if you can acclimate to the twang that smacks you in the face. But kinda in a good way.

November 2, 2006

“This is Chuck Klosterman you are making a mix for, not some random person you want to make out with”

I laughed and laughed at this recent piece from What Would Jesus Blog, which walks you through the process of how one would go about making a mix tape for pop culture essayist/music lover Chuck Klosterman, should you ever find yourself needing to do so.

Since I could literally, literally sit for hours and talk about perfect song placement, the tour de force closing track and that achingly perfect little ballad to slide in the middle of any given mix, I loved this “conversation.” I’ve even used some of these little suggestions he has without even knowing that it was divinely approved (like a Back To The Future soundclip for the opening track on a driving mix. Come on! It’s just too perfect).

For example, under the section about choosing Track 4 (“Hit Chuck Klosterman with a not too cheesy novelty song”) –

“Your best bet here would be to foreign language cover of a song that he already knows. For example, ”We’re Not Going To Take It’ is not a smart move, but ‘Nosotros No Lo Tomaremos’ would be genius.”

I just kind of cackled out loud again cutting and pasting that.

Incidentally, it gets even better in the comments when LargeHearted Boy linked to the actual mix tapes that Chuck Klosterman made for him and his readers:

Mix Tape One
(to go with his book Killing Yourself To Live: 85% Of A True Story)

Mix Tape Two
(to go with his book Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade Of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas)

It’s a soundtrack to your reading-time, and I love it. Every author worth his salt should do this. It would make me read a lot more than I already do, that’s for sure and certain.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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