Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bands that are following me on Twitter

Sorry, no ThURGHsday again this week, hoping that situation resolves itself soon. I'm doing what I can. :)

So, I write about music on my blog (duh), but I also have a Twitter account, a last.fm account where you can see what I'm listening to all the time - probably some other accounts somewhere, but I can't think where right now.

Anyway, bands follow me on Twitter, and I've started marking when those follow e-mails come in so I can go back and listen to them. Today is the day when I listen and start writing about them!

* * *
First up is the latest band to follow me, the Treading Lemmings. Kind of a cute name, maybe a little too clever, but what the hell do I know? I would have said "Pixies" was a crap band name if you'd asked. :)

The first song I listened to on their site was "Prostitution With A Twist". On their web page they say they're "American Brit-pop" but that song didn't seem to fit that bill for me. However, the next song "All She Wrote", does sound a bit like Pulp in the vocals & music. Good melody. I like it.

Song 3 - "All At Sea" - Definitely not American Brit-pop. I know Brit-pop good sir, and you are not it. Neither is song 4 "Tempest in a Trousseau", which sounds more like Men At Work than anything.

My advice? Lose the "American Brit Pop" tag. The songs are decent enough without trying to tie into a movement that didn't have a specific sound per se, but I associate the songs with good old fashioned power pop, like Badfinger, Rick Springfield, Material Issue, Fountains of Wayne. Stuff like that. Check out "Comeuppance", you'll hear what I'm talking about.

Treading Lemmings hails from Maryland, so look for them if you're in that area!
* * *
Next band is Deadsleep. The first song, "Chant" is definitely metal, kind of screamo sounding stuff which I'll admit I'm probably not the best judge of. The description on the bandcamp page says he's playing (programming?) all of the instruments & singing and it sounds pretty good. Talented metal guitar. The vocal melodies are pretty good, too.

Moving on to the second song, "Again", he's definitely passionate about what he's singing about, I'll give him that. I'm not being snide or snarky, it's pretty good. Kind of sounds Layne Staley in parts, which is a plus for me, I really like Alice In Chains.

Probably the best song to my ears is song 3, "To Your Soul". I would definitely keep an eye/ear out for this guy. Deadsleep, from Long Island. Check it out.
* * *
Last band for tonight is Tommy Marz Band from Detroit, Michigan. (Is there another Detroit I should be aware of? It just feels natural to say "Detroit, Michigan" and not just "Detroit".) "Destiny" kind of sounds like a nasal Kid Rock laid-back track. Not great, but not, you know, *horrible* or anything.

Second track is "Only Human" and has a cheesy programmed drum track. Eh. Sorry, Tommy. Not my thing. But you keep on, man. If you dig it, that's all that matters. Seriously. Good luck.
* * *
Ok, I'll try to do this from time to time, as long as bands keep following me on twitter. Hopefully they don't get mad if I don't like their music, but - you spins the wheel, you takes your chances.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What was your first favorite band?

I always like finding out who was someone's first favorite band. It doesn't tell me anything about them, really, and I don't use it as some sort of indie yardstick or whatever. I just like hearing how people have awakened to being a music fan, as opposed to someone who just hears music.

I have memories of a lot of different bands before my first favorite band. I recall hearing songs like "Wig-Wam Bam" and "Little Willy" by Sweet on FM radio in the Los Angeles area as a kid, but I never knew who sang the songs, just that they were catchy. Same with "Roxanne" by The Police (who I discovered with zeal as the 80's waxed).

1977 was kind of a watershed year for me, developmentally. I mean, I only turned 7 that year, but that's the year that Star Wars (Ep. IV) came out. At some point that year, I received the soundtrack, and also Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, the climax of which was featured in the movie The Bad News Bears In Breaking Training. So I had a bit of an ear for classical, which is probably why the song "Livin' Thing" by Electric Light Orchestra resonated with me. Orchestral strings in a pop song? That just wasn't done! Well, it wasn't something my 7-year-old ears knew of, anyway. That sound was different and special. There were lots of strings being used in disco, I suppose, but this wasn't a dance beat, it was decidedly rock. So when ELO released Out of the Blue in October of '77, I was sold. This was my favorite band. They had spaceships on their album cover!



I mostly only listened to Side 1 ("Turn to Stone", "It's Over", "Sweet Talkin' Woman", "Across the Border"), "Jungle" off side 2, and "Mr. Blue Sky" at the end of side 3. (Little trivia - the vocoder voice at the end of "Mr. Blue Sky" is actually saying "Please Turn Me Over", signaling the end of that side of the record)

It was around that age anyway that you start laying claim to things being favorite. You had a best friend, a favorite glass to use for milk & cookies, a favorite shirt, probably favorite shoes. I had a favorite band, and so my passion for music deepened.

A couple of years later, ELO released a Greatest Hits record which, as I recall, I received for my 10th birthday. This record had a few songs from Out of the Blue, but most of the eleven tracks were from earlier albums. Funny, though, to this day, I still hear them as songs from 1980 even though most were from before 1977.

The memories I have of the songs on that record are varied, but I like them all. "Can't Get It Out of My Head" has somehow stayed with me as a love song, but I don't know that there's anything in the lyrics to support that. Maybe the "ocean's daughter" line and the "old world is gone for dead". I do know that in pining away for some girl I listened to this song and "Telephone Line" over and over and over again. The sadness conveyed in both songs - along with the vague lyrics - allowed me to mold them to my situation. I was fucking sad, man! Girls! Sadness! These guys understand me!

Note to self, though: Don't read any more ELO lyrics. Just read through "Strange Magic" and it's probably more ambiguous than "Can't Get It Out Of My Head".

I was excited when the next couple of ELO song was released - "Don't Bring Me Down". I remember my then next-door-neighbor taunting his dog - whose name was Snoose - when singing the "grrroooosss" part of the chorus. Big laughs, that. But it's big rock intros like this one & "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" and later on "Hold On Tight" that draw you in to the songs.

I suppose that I liked some of the Xanadu soundtrack as well, but didn't latch onto them like I did the earlier songs. I don't think it was any sort of "sellout" thing - I was 10, for crying out loud - but I did recognize that Xanadu was a very commercial effort for them.

"Hold On Tight" was their next big single, but it had a definite Jerry Lee Lewis boogie-piano throwback that didn't sound quite as fresh as some of their earlier songs did. I do also sort of remember "Rock and Roll Is King", which was pretty retro-sounding as well. "Calling America", their last US hit, is somewhat familiar as well and has the production value I would come to recognize as Jeff Lynne's stamp that's evident on a couple of Tom Petty albums from the late 80's, as well as the Traveling Wilburys first record.

I guess I had stopped paying attention to Electric Light Orchestra by the time "Rock and Roll Is King" hit radio, but I was intrigued by "Video!", Jeff Lynne's song from the movie Electric Dreams. The Police were my favorite band by that time, and I was also listening to Rush. Big Country's The Crossing came out the month after ELO's Secret Messages and I was captivated by the fresh sound of Stuart Adamson's guitar. There were other, more exotic sounds that were catching my ear.

ELO broke up in the mid-late 80's. I guess Jeff Lynne had moved on to other projects, too.

But you don't forget your first, do you? There's still a bit of a nostalgic rush when you hear the songs. You remember how you felt back then, how you felt every word in earnest. Your first favorite will always be special.

So, good reader - who was your first favorite band? Please leave a comment and tell me the story. I'd love to hear it.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Animoog Madness!

My friend Michael told me the other day to stop writing about music and to start creating some. So I did.

"Animoog mmmadness" was created using Moog Music's Animoog app for iPad and GarageBand for the Mac.

Animoog is only 99¢ for a limited time, so go grab it and play!


EDIT: I see that some people are finding this page when searching for Animoog & GarageBand, so I thought I'd include a picture so people can see what I'm talking about for the iPad-computer connection:


That's not the cable I used, but the connectors are the same. I mentioned "computer" instead of Mac above because it should work for any system running Windows or Linux as well, as long as the CPU has an audio in jack.

Have fun!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Photo linking & no ThURGHsday! today

First - there's no ThURGHsday post today because I'm working on what I hope will be a big splash for the next post & band in the movie. I'm really excited about it and, if it comes through, will hopefully give the series a lift.

Second - you'll notice that there are no pictures or video attached to this post. I've been doing a lot of reading today, mostly about the use of images on blogs. That reading has led me to begin work on a mission statement for this blog. Statement of purpose. What this blog and I are all about. So you have that to look forward to.

This bout of introspection was brought on by a Google+ post by one of Your Older Brother's friends, Bryan Jones, who has had some of his fantastic photos used on other blogs without permission or attribution. He posted about the transgression and I pointed out that I had given the photographer credit on my Smiths & Stone Roses posts. I have to admit, I felt pretty self-righteous. I was doing The Right Thing.

Thankfully, what came next was a couple of Bryan's friends pointing out that "Attribution does not release you from copyright infringement - or from permission." and "Especially when they post advertising on their page and clearly make money with it." I took both of these comments to be about me and what I've done here on Your Older Brother. I felt upbraided, and rightly so. I humbly asked what bloggers should do, and was pointed to using photos which are available under Creative Commons license; one person linked to a CC photo search tool.

Each person quoted above responded that they were talking about the original non-attributer/non-linker, not me, and had stories about their viewpoints ("It's a delicate balance though -- as do I let my work be seen -- or do I hide it all in a box and let no one look at it without getting paid.") - one person even had their pictures of university sports offered for sale by a sports website without his permission.

The main article I read was over on Design Sponge (titled Photo Usage) and had a list of good practices for bloggers when using the photographic artwork of others. (There's another good article that touches on photo usage titled Online Etiquette & Ethics, Part 1)

One thing I aim to do on this site is provide links to locations where the music can be obtained legally and will hopefully result in the musicians getting paid for their music. (And yes, through ads and affiliate links, money for me as well.) As someone who was in a band who was trying to make a living as a musician, I feel strongly that artists should be compensated for their work, whatever form that should take. I strive for integrity, and for me that includes identifying, attributing & linking to any photographs I use on this site that are not my own.

I was glad to have learned this lesson, and I'm thankful to Bryan and his friends for teaching me. The Internet is very "wild west" at times, and while I'm not perfect, I try to be as honest as possible. I have downloaded music illegally. Not proud of it, but it's happened. But I also had a subscription to eMusic for a couple of years and that showed me how easy, enjoyable and inexpensive it can be to get digital music legally. Some of my favorite bands of the past couple of years - Surfer Blood, Best Coast, The Hold Steady, Magic Bullets, Boy + Kite and many many others - were purchased and downloaded from eMusic. Usually two albums a month and I had plenty to explore and listen to. I also enjoy the free use of services like Slacker and Spotify to help introduce me to new music. Some bands like the Fornicorns and Maritime have their albums up on services like bandcamp & Soundcloud for free listening & purchase through the site.

So from here on out, I will try as hard as I can to get permission beforehand when I use someone else's pictures, and I will keep attributing & linking to the photographer or original site. If I publish a post and hear back afterward and am asked to remove the picture, I'll comply with the artist's wishes.

Photography plays a large part in enjoying music - it does for me, at least - and I want to keep spreading the word about good art, whatever form it takes. Because your older brother has good taste about all that stuff, right?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stone Roses reunion update - it's real!

I love this picture:

(Photo by Pennie Smith)

First gigs in Manchester in June of 2012 - as it should be! Also reports of new music and a world tour. Coachella 2013 anyone?

More details at Consequence of Sound.

UPDATE: Here's some video of the band at the press conference:



And the new official Stone Roses website.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stone Roses reunion rumors...again

Last Friday there were rumors swirling around that The Stone Roses might re-form and play some gigs.


I don't really play the "will they/won't they" game too much. If they do, they do, if they don't, they don't. These rumors pop up every year or so, and they never amount to anything.


I also don't know that I ever really had an opportunity to see the Stone Roses live, like I have with other classic bands from the early 90's - save Ride, I suppose. I saw Pixies on one of their reunion tours, and saw Oasis, blur, Pulp, and Teenage Fanclub back in The Day.


But I'll tell you this - If they do, and I have even an outside chance of getting to see the Stone Roses live, I'll be in line with the rest of the geezers to plunk down my cash because, for my money, John Squire is one of the best guitarists & artists of my or any other generation.



Friday, October 14, 2011

Ohio University + Party Rock Anthem = LMFAO f'real

So, earlier this year I came across a video that's become one of my favorites ever, LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem":


I love the zombie theme & the dancing is incredible. Just a lot of good, clean fun.

Today, I found a video of Ohio University Marching 110 doing "Party Rock Anthem". It's a great marching band version of the song and a lot of fun to watch them play & dance:


I love clever stuff like this. I hope they're all having as much fun playing & performing the song as I'm having watching & listening.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Maritime Daytrotter session!

I've been muchly loving the new Maritime record Human Hearts. Every song is really good, they get in my brain and won't leave it alone until I listen to the album again. And again.



Daytrotter is a cool website that has lots of artist sessions, 4 songs a shot. They've hosted Maritime quite a few times and the latest was just posted today with songs from Human Hearts. Check it out. Free downloads of 128k mp3 versions of the songs, or a buck a song for lossless!

Maritime is Davey von Bohlen & Dan Didier from The Promise Ring, with Justin Klug (bass) & Dan Hinz (guitar) filling out the lineup. I hope they come to Denver soon.

I bought the album a month or so ago but just now found out that it was released back in April! I can't believe I slept on it so long. I also found out that they posted a bunch of b-sides on Soundcloud for free. All the tracks that have "Download" next to the "Save to Favorites" are the ones, and they're pretty darn good, too. Go get 'em! And buy the album. Preferably from the link above. (winky smiley here)

ThURGHsday! #4 - John Cooper Clarke

Seeing John Cooper Clarke beatbox the intro to "Health Fanatic" and then launch into his pointed & sardonic poetry was a revelation to my 12 year old self. Poems suddenly weren't just words assembled to sit on a page - Poetry was a physical, verbal act.


He reminds me of a skinny, cool cartoon rooster - hair spiked high, sunglasses indoors, angular stance & musical delivery. I dug the message, delivered in his Salford accent, and dug the look, a cross between punk and mod, coming off like a kinetic Bob Dylan.

I remember working at KCR College Radio at SDSU and going through the record stacks and stumbling across a couple of his albums. I recognized him immediately on the cover of Zip Style Method, though I hadn't watched URGH! for a while. It took a bit for me to find "Health Fanatic" by dropping the needle on the tracks because the version on the album Disguise In Love is not a cappella like it is in the movie. Most of the songs have backing tracks, although it sounds like some of the music was added after the fact, as if he had performed the poem and then it had been manipulated to fit over the music. Some of the songs sound more like Ian Dury than the John Cooper Clarke I loved from the movie, which disappointed me at the time because I just wanted the energy and poetry I remembered but without the music.

Listening now, though, the tracks don't disappoint. "Valley of the Lost Women" has a cadence that reminds me of The Clash's "Ghetto Defendant", which came about four years later. "Psycle Sluts 1&2" is a cappella, though, and still a treat.

I wonder how many fellas in the rap game back then got their hands on John's work? I wonder when JCC became aware of rap?

Where URGH! They Now?

Mr. Clarke has been cited as an influence by Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys; recorded with Reverend and the Makers; and had his song "Evidently Chickentown" appear in the Stage 5 episode of The Sopranos.

"Johnny Clarke" is touring presently, mostly in the UK it seems. I would love to catch him in the act sometime.

For now, I leave you with the genius that is "Twat":

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Release Tuesday!

Brought to you with the help of the AllMusic Tuesday e-mail. I get these and usually peruse them for another musical venture I work on, but I see albums every week that interest me. I'll try to do this in a stream of consciousness way as I read through it.

First up - Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire. I'm actually previewing the record on Slacker.com (I have a premium account) and it's PHENOMENAL if you're a Ryan Adams fan. I actually just called my friend Geoff and exclaimed into his answering machine how beautiful "Come Home" is. Go preview that. You'll thank me. I will be buying this album as soon as I scrape the cash together.


The whole album is slow & wonderful. I really can't wait to get this.

Next - Björk - Biophilia. Haven't really cared for anything she's done since the Spike Jonze-directed "It's Oh So Quiet" song & video.




This is some serious art on Biophilia, though. Orchestral pieces, organ pieces, electronic songs. I could check this out, I think, when I'm in the mood for some art rock.

Third up is Mayer Hawthorne - How Do You Do. It's very 60's soul. Very throwback. Decent. Not really my gig, though. I mean, it's good music (to me), I just wouldn't listen to it very much.

Fourth - Joe Jonas - Fastlife. Eh. I mean, I dig the JoBros. They have some fun tunes. (I have kids, that's how I know.) The first song on this record to grab my attention is "Love Slayer". Kind of reminds me of "Dynamite" though, and"Dynamite" is a really good pop song. But this all sounds average to me. Like it's been done before. Because it has.

Fifth is the new Radiohead King of Limbs remix record. Sounds perfect for having some cocktails at that hip club where everything's white & glass & chiffon.


Moving on - Scott H. Biram - Bad Ingredients. I can't ever see his name without hearing my friend Leslie say "Scott Hiram Biram", which always makes me smile. This is some loose boozy country/rock/blues. If you know Scott's previous music, and like it, you'll find plenty to like here as well.

Wow, this is a lot of work, actually. I usually just skim over this list, but there's more I want to cover. I'm interested to hear Crooked Fingers, Eric Bachmann's other band. (His band that I know best being Archers of Loaf. There's a new Erasure record called Tomorrow's World. I always like hearing from them. The amusingly named Five Finger Death Punch. Oh, a new Peter Gabriel record. Someone else I've not really listened to much since, um, the 80's.

I do see new stuff from John Wesley Harding and Joe Henry, a couple of singer songwriters who are typically very different from each other. And Ben Lee, too! I love Ben Lee. I hope this record is good.

I've heard of The Ready Set.

A Rocket from the Tombs record? Is that new stuff? And Yuck is listed on here, but their record has been out for a while. Not sure why it's here too.

Ok, lots of new stuff. I'll see if I can't review more of it. This is tough to do with a full time job, but I'll keep trying. Maybe I should put this off until Wednesday. Or Friday. What do you think? Would you like to hear more from me about the week's new releases? Or just like I did here at the end, pull names of bands I'm familiar with, or want to be familiar with? Let me know in the comments, please. Thanks!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hank Williams Jr vs the First Amendment

So, Hank Williams Jr. felt that ESPN infringed on his First Amendment right to free speech by pulling his song from the opening of Monday Night Football after Hank put President Obama on the Hitler end of a bad analogy. Here's a hint, Hank: ESPN ain't Congress.


Hank, I don't know how things work where you live, but out here in the rest of the country, if you say something publicly as an employee that your employer doesn't like (for instance: comparing the president to Hitler) you can get fired. Your first amendment (as it relates to your employment) ends when you walk through that door and pick up that paycheck.

I'll wager you made enough money from licensing MNF to use your song for 20 years. Maybe use some of it to take a civics class. Or get one of your lawyers to explain it to you.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

ThURGHsday! #3 - Toyah Willcox

To be completely honest, Toyah Willcox's "Danced" was one of the songs from URGH! that I never really fell in love with, for whatever reason. That kind of surprises me because listening back, the bass tones sort of remind me of Rush from that same period, and I liked Rush. It just seems very repetitive after the beginning segment. I don't feel like she did much singing after the initial minute. The styling & singing remind me of Gary Numan or David Bowie, but (in my opinion) it's not as engaging as either of them were around this time.


Frankly, what I mostly remember of this song is her bouncing around as I fast-forwarded through this part of the video.

Where URGH! They Now?

Toyah has had a long music career, actually, and in the songs I sampled on iTunes, she sounded like Sinéad O'Connor at times - or, I guess I should say, Sinead sounded like Toyah in some of her early work. Pretty good electro pop, actually. Her music has always had an avant garde aspect to it. More recently she has formed the band The Humans with Bill Rieflin (he's played with Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Lard, R.E.M. and others). They recently played a couple of shows in the US, along with her husband, Robert Fripp, on guitar. I really like the Humans stuff, it's hard and arty - more Ministry like than her older 80's stuff, but not as hard as Ministry. It's not for everyone, but I dig it.

She also has a career as an actress. The movie Quadrophenia is the film I know best, but she's also acted on a lot of TV programs. I'm just reporting what it says on her Wiki page now, so you can go read that, and maybe donate to the Wikimedia Foundation while you're there. :)

(EDIT: Also find out about what Toyah is up to over at http://toyah.net/.)

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

Last ThURGHsday! - Wall of Voodoo, "Back In Flesh"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

How much of a Smiths dork am I?

I just looked at every picture on this post at SuperDeluxeEdition.com:


(Photos © Paul Sinclair & SuperDeluxeEdition.com)

I'm kind of a techie in my job life, and I see all sorts of "unboxings" of phones, tablets, computers, cameras, etc. I had recently come to the conclusion that reading those articles & looking at the pictures wasn't really worth my time.

This though? Holy crap, I was SO STOKED to see these pictures. I am a HUGE Smiths nerd. Well, I'm a huge music nerd in general (duh), but this really turned my crank.

Which reminds me, I should do a post about the Stone Roses box set I acquired recently. It's really cool as well.

Has there been any deluxe edition music packages you couldn't wait to get your hands on? Or have lusted over? I would *love* to get this set, but it's $500, it's limited edition, and I just don't see it happening. Maybe if this blog takes off, I could. :)

Happy 60th birthday Sting!


One of my favorite musicians turns 60 today, so I figured I'd write a bit about him.

Sting was one of the first people I recognized as a musical genius - you're free to disagree, but you can't say that he's played it safe throughout his career, especially lately as he has rendered his music symphonically (Symphonicities); recorded the music of John Dowland, a Renaissance composer (Songs from the Labyrinth); and released a "winter" record (If On a Winter's Night...) - no carols or reindeer, here.

The albums pictured above are from his early solo career, which is the part of his solo career that I connected with the most, however, his work with The Police will always be my favorite, especially songs like "So Lonely" and "Bring On the Night".

So happy birthday, Sting-y. Thanks for all the great music.