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Showing posts from January, 2006

98. The Heads - No Talking Just Head (1996)

Let me start with a disclaimer: I have never been in a band, so I do not understand the mentality of people who make music as part of a collective. Thus, it is completely beyond my comprehension why bands soldier on when they lose their lead singer.

I can understand getting a new singer and renaming yourself. I'm fine with that. Audioslave came out of Rage Against The Machine, Love And Rockets came out of Bauhaus. It's all good. And okay, some bands have even had success keeping their name and just getting a new singer. AC/DC, Van Halen and Genesis come to mind.

But for the most part, it's just ridiculous. Did you know The Doors made two albums without Jim Morrisson, and are still trying to keep the strange days alive even as we speak? Have you heard that The Cars are reuniting, without Ric Ocasek?! Have you seen the Steve Perry clone that Journey tours with? Did you watch Rock Star: INXS or Are U The Girl? this summer? How can these bands not realize that they are embarassi…

97. Morningwood - Morningwood (2006)

It takes a certain kind of band to write their own theme song. Self-aggrandizement is practically a requirement in R & B and rap (see My Name Is Prince, Motownphilly, or Public Enemy #1 for the tip of the iceberg), but it's rare in rock 'n' roll and pop.

There are always exceptions. If a rock or pop artist uses their name in a song, it's usually in one of two ways. Some groups have fun putting their name in the title of song or in a lyric, even if the lyrics have nothing to do with the band itself. Examples include:

Big Country - In A Big Country
Chicago - Take Me Back To Chicago
Counting Crows - A Murder Of One ("casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there counting crows")
Hem - Lazy Eye ("I can still see the hem of your dress")
Minor Threat - Minor Threat
Queen - Killer Queen
Talk Talk - Talk Talk
Thorns - Thorns

The other way is more audacious. It's probably The Monkees' fault. With the exception of Pearl Jam, what band wouldn't wa…

96. The Honeydogs - Everything, I Bet You (1996)

I owe The Honeydogs an apology.

While praising their 2003 album 10,000 Years the back of my hand got a little sore. I couldn't be content with just declaring the album a wonderful piece of work. I had to add that the astonishment I felt. THIS band made an album THAT good?! You're kidding me.

My surpise was genuine, but it came from an undereducated place. When I first heard 10,000 Years I had knew a total of three Honeydogs songs. It's sort of like someone who has never eaten an olive in their whole life, and in fact has claimed to dislike them, and is then surprised when they try one and like it!

So I've educated myself. I've started filling in the back catalog (where I discovered that the band's 2001 album Here's Luck had some unexpected daring of its own), and I've seen them in concert three times. The first time I saw them, last November, I was impressed with how good their old songs sounded next to the new 10,000 Years tunes.

One of those old…

Other Business To Discuss

Some house-cleaning items:

1) Just like my compadre Richard Nelson does on his blog, Highway 290 Revisited, I'm going to use the side column keep track of all the 2006 albums I buy. That way you can witness just how ridiculous my CD purchasing habits really are.

2) Also joining the side column is what I like to call The 3:49 Club (which is nearly half of The 700 Club). It currently has 20 members, songs that actually ARE 3 minutes and 49 seconds long. If you come across songs of this length, feel free to alert me!

3) Since it's 2006 and one of my goals is to write more, I'm going to embark on a project where I review ten albums from 10 years ago, 1996. I was a freshman/sophomore in college at this time, and that's when my CD collection began to grow exponentially. A heady time. The first review will be up tomorrow.

4) Finally, beacuase there's no search function on this site, I'm going to create a Review Index under the Offshoots heading. There you'll be able t…

95. The Strokes - First Impressions Of Earth (2006)

What do we expect from The Strokes?

When they came out in 2001 they were new and exciting and people went crazy for them. Their mix-and-match image and slurry-but-catchy sound happened to be exactly what people wanted at the time. I remember rolling around in December of that year with Is This It on an endless loop in my car. That album will always remind me of snow and bitter cold.

In 2003 Room On Fire came out. The critics all said it was Is This It, the sequel. And we know sequels not only copy the original, but don't do it as well. Personally, I always thought that was an unfair rap. Maybe there was nothing as immediately thrilling as Hard To Explain, but it was a solid record. Still, sales suffered and the fanbase shrunk.

But I don't think that was Room On Fire's fault. I think what critics and fans were responding to was the fact that The Strokes had already become kind of irrelevant.

Without going on too much of a tangent, I just want to explain myself a little bit.…

In-rap-curacies

Lately I've come across several examples of inaccuracies in rap lyrics. I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't concerned. I ask you, if we can't rely on rapppers to provide us with pop culture smilies and metaphors then who can we rely on? To prevent the whole system from breaking down, I've decided to become a rap fact-checker.

We start with the most recent offender, Common. On the final track from his excellent 2005 album Be, It's Your World (Part 1 & 2), he compares his Chicago childhood to the television show Good Times. He says he was skinny like J.J. Nothing wrong there. But he goes on to mention "girls with Penny figures." Okay, Penny was played by Janet Jackson, but she was quite young on the show and at that time didn't have a figure to speak of. I'm fairly sure Common intended to refer to Thelma, who, ahem, certainly did have a figure worthy of notice.

Next we consider the Beastie Boys, who have a long history of executing flawless a…

New Year, New Title

After a good couple of years with the title Pop Life, I've decided to retire the name. It was an accurate title, but not all that original. Plus, Prince threatened to sue me. Just kidding.

As for the new title, I derived it using a complex mathematical process called "averaging." I took 10 of my favorite songs,

The Beatles - The Ballad Of John And Yoko
Beach Boys - Don't Worry Baby
Neil Diamond - The Boat That I Row
Jay-Z - 99 Problems
Elton John - Your Song
Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds
Smokey Robinson And The Miracles - Tears Of A Clown
Simon & Garfunkel - America
Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)
Toto - Africa

and I added up their running times. Then I divided that number by 10. Et voila, 3 minutes, 49 seconds!

Happy New Year...