04 July 2008

A Meme

UPDATED (7/07/08): Look at the bottom of this post for a couple downloads.

A new post about a band I love is coming up soon, based on the overwhelming response to the Walt Mink post. In the meantime, I'm curious what the people who stop by here are listening to. If you could oblige, name a few bands you're currently listening to, and a few great songs by each that have inspired said listening. If you got a blog, put 'em there, so maybe your commenters will chime in too. Here's my list:

ROLLING STONES (even before Jackson's post), I've been slowly filling in the gaps of my Stones knowledge. As a Beatles kid, I never really loved the Stones growing up, and predictably found Led Zeppelin more exciting. Which is odd, because the main reason I was never a Stones fan is that I dislike the blues. Actively. Certain singers will hit me right, but blues guitar in particular bores me.

But I liked the Stones enough as a kid to get Hot Rocks on cassette and hear the same songs on the radio. The mistake I made was that I assumed that the Stones' best material was on their greatest hits. I was wrong.

You can spend a year or two with a Rolling Stones album before tackling the next one, like the way they were released. That's kind of the way I've been tackling them - 10 years ago, 'Let It Bleed'. 7 years ago it was 'Satanic Majesties'. 5 years ago, 'Beggars Banquet'. Then 'Aftermath', then 'Exile', then 'Sticky Fingers', then 'Exile' again. There's really no rush. Although if Keith died, I'd probably listen to the entire catalog very very quickly. But he's not going anytime soon, is he?

2000 Man. From Bottle Rocket, and Satanic Majesties. Kinda goofy lyric-wise, but like with many Stones songs, the conviction is in the guitar playing and the drumming. I'm also a huge fan of sticking a song inside another song, like it's a Tauntaun.

Can't You Hear Me Knocking. Mick Jagger is one of the best performers I've ever seen live, and the best frontman by far. With that, and the David Bowie sex, must come a supersized ego. So it amazes me that he fades into the band so well on record, and becomes another instrument, not its figurehead (like on Sympathy, which I like but never need to hear again). That's just one of the amazing things about this song. Another being the 'fuck Carlos Santana, I can do this shit lying down' 2nd half. And then Charlie Watts doesn't know where to end. I love that shit.

Let It Loose. A deep cut on Exile. Just beautiful. This is one of those songs that should be heard, and not talked about.

Dead Flowers. I love songs built around acoustic guitar and drums, I realize. If I had the jaw, I'd suck that shit all day long. This is the happiest jilted lover song ever.

Turd on the Run. It just came up on shuffle. Nice.

POLVO

As Misanthrope mentioned, I just went to see Polvo, the noisy math-rock geniuses, with Misanthrope and Barack Obama, Misanthrope's fuck-buddy. One of the best 10 shows I've ever been to.

Polvo's music is 'difficult'--imagine if Sonic Youth let Lee Ranaldo write most of their songs--but after meeting (and hugging) the band members I realized it's not some high-minded art thing. This is just how they see and hear the universe around them.

I don't love every song by them, not by a long shot. There's some filler on their records. But as somebody who has a knack for figuring out songs on guitar, the Polvo show was like a magic show. Alternate tunings abide, to be fair, but the guitar interplay in that band humbles me and dazzles me.

About the hugging: along with Misanthrope & Barack, our friend John Thomas was in tow. He went to high school with the guitarist and the bassist, and introduced me to
the band. After the show, when I realized my ass had been music-kickpunched and I loved this band, I used his good name to negotiate hugs from the band. The bassist was the creepiest -- he was 2nd of the 4. I ran into him in the bathroom, there was no one else there. He was finishing up, I was entering. I mentioned I had a bet with my friend John (false) that I couldn't hug every member of Polvo tonight. He obliged my request.

The weird thing is that I was telling him this while I was approaching the urinal, and finished my request as I had started the process. But this man waited for me to finish peeing, wash my hands, dry them, and hug him. He is truly the greatest man working in rock and roll today.

Songs:

Thermal Treasure. The first song on my favorite album of theirs (Today's Active Lifestyle), and I've heard it 50 times, but it took 49 listens to understand everything happening in it. And it's been stuck in my head for the last three weeks.

Snowstorm in Iowa. Didn't hear it at the show, but it makes me think of John van Atta, and how he should've been at this show.

Fractured (Like Chandeliers). Years ago, the Misanthrope turned me on to Polvo, and this song in particular. I haven't been listening to it lately but it's the best Polvo song ever. When they played it, every mid-30s male in the audience turned into a 13-year old girl.

THE CURE

At the recent Via Skyway show, where I filled in on bass, we covered the early Cure single 'A Forest'. Great song, but it came out of a 3am text-message conversation with George, where I suggested we play 'Push', the guitar-hero song that wraps up Side 1 of 1985's "Head on the Door." I sang the Cure cover.

After the show, the bartender bought me a shot for singing the Cure song, which prompted me to ask him: who's better? The Cure or the Smiths?

(This is a huge sticking point for me. I love the Cure. I allow the Smiths, but I want to put Morrissey's face through a stain-glass window.)

The bartender said 'The Cure'. If only he were a woman! I bought him a shot for answering correctly. He paid for it.

I don't know why people knock The Cure. Robert Smith is one of the best guitarists to ever front a band, and they've evolved the same way that REM or The Stones have. Like with those bands, their last 5 albums couldn't grow grass, but in their heyday they were truly unique.

Songs:

Push: My favorite Cure song ever. If you haven't heard it, you have no idea how good it is. The most underrated guitar hook of the 1980s.

Six Different Ways: A throwaway pop song on 'Head on the Door'. But it's such a thrill to hear a good band at the height of their powers throw away a song.

10.15 Saturday Night: Back when the Cure were a 3-piece, they made a song that should teach every band about dynamics. My 2nd favorite Cure song ever.

Exploding Boy: A B-side to 'In Between Days'. An incredible, incredible song.

UPDATE:

Polvo - THERMAL TREASURE
Cure - THE EXPLODING BOY

7 Comments:

Blogger Dave Cavalier said...

One of the things that made that Polvo show so fucking incredible was that it was like the dream show everybody wants from their favorite band. While I love a lot of Polvo, I am with StinkRock and his fuck-buddy Ron Paul in seeing that there is some filler that just doesn't work. Luckily, Polvo played a ton of material from "Celebrate the New Dark Ages," which is their masterpiece EP. It was like seeing The Who with a set list written by me. I figured I would like show, but I was not prepared for how monumental their sound would be.

Fractured (Like Chandeliers) is one of the 5 greatest rock songs of all time.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Meatball Hero said...

Your comments on "Let it Loose" are spot-on. And although I did have Head on the Door in my CD rack for almost a thousand years, inexplicably, Push never got into my ears until you mentioned it in April. Well, mention might be the wrong word; sort of, like, you told me I would die unless I heard the song and soon. We were in altered states. But it didn't reduce your correctness. Here I stand.

All I am listening to these past few days is 70s-80s Dylan. Street Legal, Infidels, etc. Tough going but the gems are there. Inspired by a song called "Sign Language", which appears on an Eric Clapton record but it was written by Dylan. Didn't know that it existed until a few months ago.

"Changing of the Guards" is a monumental song, kicks off Street Legal. And Sign Language is driving me crazy right now, can't get enough of it.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Dave Cavalier said...

BTW, Mike, I will play "Six Different Ways" or "Push" any day, any time. "Head on the Door" is the soundtrack to my freshman year of college.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Jackson said...

It pleases me to no end that your Stones appreciation has developed properly. You've ended up right where you should be.

Ace Frehley covers '2000 Man' on Kiss 'Dynasty', an otherwise worthless record, but Ace does a good job.

One of the very many cool things about the Cure is that from the very start they had a sound. They took that sound a lot of places, like the Stones, and always retained the Cureness.

I like 'Pornography' and 'Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me' best'.

'Catch' is probably my fave.

4:41 AM  
Blogger Tony Alva said...

Mike,

Glad to see you back in action.

Have you read Stanley Booth's "True Adventures of the Rolling Stones"?

Great slice O' life from the now infamous "Let It Bleed" tour which ended at Altamont and all, but more importantly at least for me, was the insight to the Sticky Fingers (my fav album) recording sessions and tunesmithing. Booth talks about Dead Flowers and Street Fighting Man as the Stones saying, "We'll dip our feet in all this 60's idealism, might even ride the wave a bit, but it's the hedonistic and danger aspect we're really getting off on and we're already getting bored with it and will be moving on shortly"

Afterall, what can a poor boy do 'cept to sing for a rock and roll band.

I'll never tire of it...

10:16 AM  
Blogger Dfactor said...

My old roommate Kenny and I had a small apartment on the NIU campus. I was listeneing to punk and new wave all the time, and he stuck doggedly to his Rolling Stones. I'd always heard Stones growing up (older brothers), but in the early 80s, the Stones were decidedly not cool.

But numerous nights of cocaine and Stones helped seep the band into my brain. "Citadel" was a much loved cut at the time, as was early track "Out of Time" (oh, misogyny!).

Lots of late nights (and early mornings) groovin' to the Stones. Good times.

Polvo? Never heard of 'em....

Past week in car CD player was Flight of the Conchords disc, Ramones 1st and 2nd LPs (CD reissues), Ted Nugent and Amboy Dukes collection disc and Fleet Foxes new CD.

Go Cubs.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Tony Alva said...

Ted Nugent and Amboy Dukes Oh Hells Yeah Dfactor!!!

"Fear not the crusted warbler, yet fear the mad cheese grater for he shall slaw the features from you face"

-Quote from the back jacket of TN&AD's 'Tooth, Fang, & Claw' record-

11:24 AM  

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