Monday, April 28, 2008

Thank god the phone is working again because tomorrow is the day we've all been waiting for...THE SCOTT TRIBUTE SHOW! Tuesday 4/29 8-10PM! Hosted by Nick Kahn and Gautam Mani, the show will feature many great musicians, including...

Will Scott break his all-time record of 8 calls in an hour? Will Scott make a guest appearance at the station? Will we push the emergency alert button just for Scott's amusements? You'll just have to listen in tomorrow night and see for yourself!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

some dude suggests that 2 minutes and 42 seconds is the perfect song length:
" You need more proof? Jerk. Let’s look at Sgt. Pepper. “Lovely Rita” is two minutes, 42 seconds. It delivers that psychedelic vibe and a coda but then gets the hell out of your life.

Compare that to 'With a Little Help From My Friends.' It’s a mere two seconds longer but feels like it drags on for hours. Maybe it’s Ringo, maybe it’s the tedious melody—or maybe it’s the two goddamn seconds.

Then over here we have 'Good Morning Good Morning,' rightfully discarded by the masses as a throwaway. Why? Two minutes, 41 seconds."
he then mentions a few 2:42 songs by r.e.m., tom petty, the breeders and the smiths, among others. i'd add yo la tengo's "center of gravity". it might actually be a perfect song. all songs that sound like the velvet underground's "after hours" are perfect songs, imo. anyone else have favorite 2:42 tunes?

yo la tengo--center of gravity

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just look outside your window and you'll find that spring has arrived (read: if you live in the Twin Cities). No shirtless men (read: boys) playing frisbee on the Macalester campus yet, and the trees are still without clothes, but nonetheless, it's time for a lighter music. The Massive Attack and Burial that got me through last week's somber slush have given way to the often melancholy but sometimes joyous synth pop sounds heard on the new ones by M83 (Saturdays=Youth) and Cut Copy (In Ghost Colours--Pitchfork-approved, for what it's worth). For all the nostalgic stylization, these albums are more about recalling the atmosphere of a bygone musical era, rather than straight-up appropriation of past styles. For those interested, Cut Copy will be at the 7th Street Entry early in May (with Black Kids opening, the real reason to attend), and M83 are dropping by the Triple Rock later in the month. Check it out:

[mp3] M83 - "Kim & Jessie"
[mp3] Cut Copy - "Feel the Love"

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The new R.E.M. album “dropped” yesterday. It’s called Accelerate and it’s the loudest they’ve been in years. The band certainly sounds reenergized, but to call the album a “return to form” is disingenuous, as R.E.M. has never limited its musical horizons and have been generally successful in all their endeavors (count me among the champions of 2004’s longish, slickly produced, but often magnificent Around the Sun). The songs on Accelerate aren’t as consistently memorable as on some of the band’s past triumphs, but the new direction is certainly exciting. I’ve often thought of my beloved Scottish rockers Idlewild in terms of R.E.M., but now Stipe and Co. seem to be following the example of that band’s recent Make Another World: big, bold, and bombastic, with production that may obscure the intricacies of the musicianship but that is so thick with R ‘n’ R that none shall care. In celebration, I’ve concocted the following…

Ten Great R.E.M. Songs (The Very Best?) In Chronological Order

Ultimately, it’s all about the songs, man, and our story begins some 25 years ago…

Whether the band’s second album Reckoning was an improvement on their milestone debut Murmur (it was) or a marginal step down is a conundrum that will never be solved, but there’s no denying that it features a trio of R.E.M.’s greatest songs, demonstrating their many strengths. They were never more post-punk or “angular” than on "Harborcoat," Michael Stipe never bared his soul for a greater ballad than "So. Central Rain,” and "Rockville” is the sort of melancholy jangle that will never fail to bring a tear to your eye. "Driver 8” from follow-up Fables of the Reconstruction, maximizes sing-along appeal through the strange and beautiful interlocking of the verse and chorus; never has a lyric carried through from the verse to the refrain been so pleasurable.

Three albums later, on 1988’s Green, the political messages embedded in the band’s songs were as obscure as ever, and God knows what "World Leader Pretend” is trying to tell us. But the song itself is staggering, something akin to a statue, noble, gray and weatherworn. And those shuffling drums, oh yeah! After that, there’s "Orange Crush” to rescue the listener; it’s also certainly about something, but it’s built around such a monstrous bass line that it doesn’t really matter.

Let’s give Mike Mills some credit. His golden voice graces the two best songs on 1991's Out of Time, and "Near Wild Heaven” is tops, the sunniest pop song the band ever wrote that isn’t simultaneously trite. Follow-up Automatic for the People found the band embarking on a mission of pastoral musicality that would eventually put them out of favor with just about everyone, but "Monty Got A Raw Deal” is the most haunting song on an album that introduced R.E.M. phase II (or was it phase IV?). Two rock ‘n’ roll albums later, the band was in reflective mode again, sans Bill Berry the energizer. Don’t write off 1998’s Up as mere middle-aged noodling; it really does push the envelope, if the layers upon layers upon layers upon layers of electronics in "Hope” is any indication. It’s also a mighty fine synth-pop song, and Michael Stipe hadn’t crammed so much language into a single song, while making every word count, since “It’s the End of the World As We Know It.”

Time now to espouse my extreme affection for 2004’s Around the Sun, the album most critics lamented as the moment when the increasingly irrelevant R.E.M. hit rock bottom. Not so! The band was never so mellifluous, the songwriting as strong and subtle and ennobled as ever. "Aftermath” in particular, a song about getting nothing right (is our protagonist GWB?), generates as much pathos as the aforementioned “Rockville,” and that horn section bubbling under the chorus is quite something.

That brings us full circle to Accelerate, which for my money is the musical event of the season, even if I can’t share in the “R.E.M. is back!” enthusiasm. They never went away.

[mp3] R.E.M. - "Accelerate"