Dead Flowers

Well when you're sittin back, in your rose pink Cadillac Making bets on Kentucky Derby Day, I'll be in my basement room, with a needle and a spoon. And another girl to take my pain away -Jagger/Richards

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Clash - London Calling

Probably one of the most iconic covers of one of the most iconic albums by one of the most iconic bands. And when you learn this was captured by Pennie Smith within a matter of a second, you realise creativity is best expressed when it's absolutely spontaneous.

No image in the last so many decades has captured a generation's state of mind better than this.

Paul Simonon (bass) -"When I look at it now," he says, "I wish I'd lifted my face a bit more."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bands Lester Bangs would have loved

Lot of people call him an overrated drunk. But then lot of people say lot of things (although I have not read his works but Jack Kerouac was slotted in the same category). The fact remains that whatever Bangs wrote, he wrote it very well and very passionately. And that is what matters. You don't have to agree with everything he said. I think instead of analyzing him and his work, let us speculate a bit about the bands he would have raved about, if he were still alive.

After reading him a bit and about his choice of music, I think he would have loved:
Sonic Youth (for sure)
Some grunge bands like Mudhoney and Soundgarden (not sure)
Radiohead (again for sure)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Moe Tucker

Listen to WhiteLight/WhiteHeat the first time and you are simply overwhelmed by the sonic assault of the 'twisted-to-the-limits' guitars and the screeching viola. You come out of the session and wonder - where is Moe Tucker after all? The drums are just buried under that manic jungle of noise.

A few more listens and you finally hear, in a very distant background, Mo Tucker going - 'thak, thak, thak, thak.....' on her drums, song after song. This monotonous, linear and absurdly uncomplicated rattle in the middle of this madness just makes you laugh and dismiss it.

A few more listens, and you can't help but tell yourself - the madness would just not be complete without her. Because there was no better ( and simpler) way.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Women and Trip-Hop

Unfortunately, I could never really get into Trip-Hop the way it should have been. My exposure to the sound is restricted to just six albums (if one considers Everything But the Girl to be a Trip-Hop outfit).

Protection - Massive Attack
Mezzanine - Massive Attack
Dummy - Portishead
Temperamental - EBTG
Homogenic - Bjork
Medulla - Bjork

Four out of the six albums have female as the lead vocalist (Protection has Tracey Thorn as lead vocalist on 'Protection'). What is it that makes the genre fit in so well with the female voice?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Paradox

Why is it that when musicians write songs about the hard-core realities of life that they are abhorred (too strong a word..but) the most?

For instance The Stones, at the peak of their career (1968-72), were being thoroughly outsold by many other bands. For example.......Santana.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Black Sessions - Bloc Party

A nice little show by Bloc Party.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Oasis or Blur

I saw John Harris presents The Britpop Story: It Really, Really, Really Could Happen the other day on BBC. As the title suggests, it dealt with the phenomena of Britpop, but from the point of view of the people who were a part of it. A's opinion about B, etc etc. Somewhere during the episode, inevitably, the Oasis v Blur thing came up.

That reminded me of Antickpix, who in one of his posts said that he checks to see if nobody is watching when he is listening to Oasis. I don't have to play that game. I have stopped listening to Oasis altogether (if not for the superb Morning Glory & Definitely Maybe, I would have even forgotten if there exists an entity of such name). Their albums after MG have been plain mediocre, to say the most. Failed attempts at furthering a sound which had already peaked out.

It is under these circumstances of complete redundancy of a particular sound, that one gets to know the real quality of a musical outfit associated with it. The quality to reinvents itself without altering its innate sound. And by reinvention I do not mean they start selling million again (Bon Jovi, Santana... you get my point). Take Pearl Jam for instance. These guys had probably sensed the forthcoming demise of grunge. Hence, the shift in Vitalogy itself, albeit subtle. And as they grew and matured so did their sound (that is why Yield remains my favourite Pearl Jam album along with Vitalogy. I guess they are happy with their low profile and sound these days). A similar resolve has been displayed by Blur too. And if we look back upon the decade (1993-2003) in entirety (because Blur as an outfit, it seems, is breathing its last), we can very easily conclude that Blur is (and always was) a better (and intelligent) outfit than Oasis. Release of Think Tank (2003) and Don't Believe the Truth(2005) by Blur and Oasis, respectively, in the last couple of years, has established the fact like never before.

With Graham Coxon gone and Damon Albarn (an absolute genius) busy with Gorillaz, I really wasn't expecting much from Think Tank. But, to my utter delight, Think Tank turned out to be right UP there with Blur's best (conclusion after being thorough with their catalogue. Is there really a bad Blur album?). You won't find the Blur of Parklife or Blur (and gladly so). But you won't feel you are not listening to Blur either. Think Tank is a mixture of Middle Eastern, Punk, Britpop and Electronica. Put it simply it is one heck of an album. I am not very good at analysing songs. So, I won't even attempt it. But I can figure out which is a good song and which one is bad. And Think Tank hardly has any of the latter.

By the way, there is absolutely no point talking about Don't Believe The Truth. It just doesn't match up to Think Tank. In spite of it being pronounced as their best effort since MG.

P.S: However, my favourite britpop album still remains Morning Glory, leaving behind Parklife & Blur by a whisker.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Exile on main Street - A lesson for 'Lo-fi'-ers

We have been talking a lot about indie these days. And I say it without any element of sarcasm. I really like the bands and their dedication to music (ah!the mainstream). But it really intrigues me when indie (like a Siamese twin) is attached with lo-fi or vice-versa(some smart-ass 'indie freaks' are ever-ready with this statement).

You really want to feel what lo-fi really is? Then don't delve into indie. Instead, you need to get hold of an album called 'Exile on main Street' (a double album on single CD priced @ Rs.299 is worth every rupee). That album sounds lo-fi not because the people who made it wanted it to sound like that (yes there are lots of bands who try to inject that artificial lo-fi element into their music. To name one-Blur-one of the classiest bands of the 90s-have tried this. Try "Bugman" from 13. You will know what I mean). It sounds lo-fi because that is what real lo-fi sound sounds like. And it is the real lo-fi because The Rolling Stones were forced to record the album in the basement of a villa in south of France, devoid of any contact with the real world.

P.S: If anyone really decides to buy the album (however, my sincere request-give "Ventilator Blues" a chance), there is a word of caution. It is not an album with any radio-friendly songs. In fact it is very dirty (album which should be played song to song in a place like Mondy's. Only if). Listen to it in entirety. The results would be something beyond pleasure.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blood on the Tracks

Bird on the horizon, sittin' on a fence,
He's singin' his song for me at his own expense.
And I'm just like that bird, oh, oh,
Singin' just for you.
I hope that you can hear,
Hear me singin' through these tears.
-from You're a big girl now (Blood on the Tracks-1975)
I confronted Dylan pretty late in the process of my musical discovery. My early impression of him was that stereotypical 'Poet of Protest'/'Preacher' thing - singing what people at that time wanted to hear rather than what he wanted to say or what he felt like (yes, he finally said this in his autobiography).

But as I started to dig more and more of Dylan, and came across albums like Highway 61/Blonde on Blonde/Bringing it all back Home, the impression started to change a bit and justifiably so. In fact, I started to love Bringing it all back Home (but was never in my top 5 ). Then I heard Blood on the Tracks, and my whole idea of Bob Dylan changed (yes, that beautiful thing called hindsight played a big role). There was so much written about the album and the circumstances under which it was made, they surely played a role. All these articles and write-ups apart, I think I was capable enough to understand (like anybody else) the brilliance of Blood on the Tracks. And I knew it would always be my all time second favourite album.

The most outstanding thing about this album is the unadulterated expression of feelings (confession to be precise) - which I could never experience in any of Dylan's albums. Songs like You're a big girl Now, If you see her, say Hello & Shelter from the Storm - there is heartbreak & remorse & nostalgia written all over (You're a big girl now -no matter what people say, this is my favourite Dylan song - I have never come across a superior case of songwriting. You can't help but vouch for the man. No wonder, he got the woman back) . And to have something like this from someone like Dylan is truly amazing. Then there we have the magical, Tangled up in Blue & Idiot Wind.

It is said that Blood on the Tracks got a very indifferent press when it was issued. From my point of view (and many would agree), BOTT is the only Bob Dylan album which has aged so tremendously well. The songs would always remain universal and valid.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Modest Mouse on the frrrreeekin radio

Modest Mouse simply rocks. Their 'Moon & Antarctica' is a great album (3rd Planet from the album is just too good). Probably my favorite MM album among the three I have heard-Good News, M&A and This Is a Long Drive. No, I think I am rushing towards a conclusion because I have not heard the other two with the required intensity(M&A has just not left my CD player).

Lets leave out the studio stuff for a while. Lets talk about live sets. Live performances on radio is something I prefer over regular arena or stadium shows(for the bootlegs). The quality is good and the performance has a bit of personal touch. Don't take my word for it. Just sample this Modest Mouse radio session on kvrx. The setlist is overloaded with songs from M&A(I don't mind). The site also has lots of small shows from nearly every indie band on the scene.

Special attention to Wild Pack of Family Dogs.

P.S: There is one more site which has a large number of Modest Mouse bootlegs(early MM). It will take few days to dig that out.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Patti Smith on The Rolling Stones

'God - if I commit suicide I'm gonna miss the next Stones album.' - Patti Smith, 1976