Sunday, May 6, 2012

Videography : Beck

To cut to the chase, my generation firmly places our experience with singles into the visual media of music videos. I was a year old when MTV premiered, and I can't say that I remember a time when it's original manifesto wasn't there. Pre-reality TV overload, it was as important to me and my friends as the radio or the albums, for that matter. It was the truest form of immersion in a song, and it's hard to think of many of the classics of those times without visualizing the promotional film that came with them. Over the years, we could gradually watch an artist grow through their videos. I think that's what I'm trying to do in creating this new series: create a video biography, like those VHS and DVD collections us music geeks used to salivate over. Thanks to youtube, most artist's entire collections are only a few clicks away. I'll start us off with a man who has never seen videos as simply a marketing ploy. Since the beginning of his career Beck Hansen has used the art form to showcase where he is on a certain album. The videos from an individual disc, like his latest (Modern Guilt), also match up visually, and seem one of the same project. Hell, on The Information album, he released a DVD featuring a homemade clip for every song along with the CD. This is clearly a man with a love and respect for the art of putting moving images to music. With the exception of a few tracks (which I will include at the bottom of this post), you can now watch his complete oeuvre in one, concise embedded two hour and 51 minute video...ENJOY! Here's the missing pieces not available on youtube: Odelay's Them-sampling "Jack-Ass" Sea Change's gorgeous "Guess I'm Doing Fine", directed by Spike Jonze, no less!
Beck - Guess I'm Doing Fine by mellow1_nate2

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Adventures In Mono Recording: Broken Arrow

Having learned recently that most artists of the 1960's specifically recorded in mono has lead me to reconsider a medium of recorded music that I've always considered as inferior. Turns out The Beatles, Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan and Phil Spector preferred the medium (Wilson was deaf in one ear; he heard everything in mono). For someone trained in stereo separation since their inception like all of us, it can be jarring at first, especially with headphones. All of the sound is rushed to the center of your cranium, causing that Wall that Spector created, especially on later, more advanced recordings of the decade.

Here's a perfect example. Neil Young's psychedelic combo of the dregs of modern life and an apology to the treatment of Native Americans, rendered in stellar one-dimensional sound from the original mono pressing of "Buffalo Springfield Again". the sound, which traverses across distant genres and jumps back and forth in time, carries significantly more weight when jumbled all together directly between your eyebrows.

Put the phones on and hear what I'm talking about.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Listening Booth: Clancey's Tavern


Look Toby, I don't like you, and if you knew I existed, you wouldn't like me either.

But you've created an earworm for the ages on your 16th album that try as I might, I can't hate.

God help me, I figure it is time to listen to one of your discs all the way through.

Damn you solo cup.

Clancey's Tavern by Toby Keith (2011)

1.) Made In America
      Wait a tick, did Semisonic go country? Oh wait, there you are Mr. Keith, ya jingoistic bastard! Does rambling on about WD-40 and hating foreign cars ever get old? Nope, cause he's made in America, which apparently has meant ignorant since Bush and Toby kicked some evil butts courtesy of the Red, White and Blue...I'm so over this already. Where are you solo cup?

2.) I Need To Hear A Country Song
     So do I, but apparently that just translates to hair metal with fiddles in Toby's noggin.' Tobes, Jon Bon Jovi did this waaaaaay better than you, and he's from Jersey. How does that make you feel? You probably want to see his Birth Certificate now, don't ya?

3.) Clancey's Tavern
      Ooh, title track time! Here we have a lilting waltz about an Irish stereotype's watering hole that literally has a line in it that starts, "And there's a black dude named Elmo..." I wonder if Toto knows Elmo is actually voiced by a black guy, or if he'd force his children to stop watching Sesame Street if he found out?

4.) Tryin' To Fall In Love
      Somehow, "Solitary Man" has been hate-crimed into submission, and turned into an annoying track of lost love, which features at least 10 different heartbreaks, including a Mexican lass who he had to leave outside Texas " 'cause she didn't have a visa." I literally am beside myself that I don't have to make this stuff up, I just have to write down the lyrics!

5.) Just Another Sundown
      Totom, you gotta stop complaining about losing love. When you're willing to leave them behind the border because you're scared of what mamma might think of their accent, it really is best just to die alone.

6.) Beers Ago
      Yep, beer as an analogy for lost youth, with mentions of Skoal, 4-H clubs and mud flaps. I assure you that the Keithenator is drinking Budweiser and going through the motions just as much now as he was 6253 beers ago.

7.) South Of You
      Mention of Biscayne Bay alert!!! Toby is getting his Buffet on, just without any idea of what he's talking about. At least he does say in here that we'll never mistake him for a sailor. Tobe Mcgruff would probably be freaked out by the changing colors of the water and sunset, more equipped to fire his Colt .45 into the waves before he tied a mizzenmast.

8.) Club Zydeco Moon
      You filthy gypsies! You have stolen our hero's innocence, and convinced him it was safe to use the word "Squeezebox" in a popular song again. I'm calling Pete Townshend!

9.) I Won't Let You Down
     "And I'm shameless/shameless as a man"... oh, this isn't "Shameless"? T-bone, Bob Seeger hates you, stop name checking him. This song is worth hearing just for the opening of the chorus, which over a bed of Nashville power balladry, Keef informs us that he"... never had a pot of gold/ hell I ain't even got a rainbow". You really just butchered the language of your forefathers that you desire so to protect, my good racist.

10.) Red Solo Cup
        REDEMPTION! Of the 11 golden greats this album is forcing down my pie hole, only one is not co-written by Toby Keith... and it is this one!!! Thank God my taste hasn't let me down! Look, I know this song is moronic, but it just sticks in your head like a honey encrusted wax ball, making me tap my foot and smile like Sean Hannity. I can safely say, if I could only pick one T-Boese track to hear before I was eaten by fire ants, it would be this!

11.) Chill-Axin'
        BEE-K, I gotta tell ya, Glenn Frey and Don Henley will sniff out this "New Kid In Town"-aping music and sue your butt back to the 90's. You remember that time, right? You were just some country singer with a few hits about John Deere tractors and impressing old girlfriends. Then, in the aftermath of a National tragedy, you rode a wave of simple-minded hate right into the Fox News-infested minds of poor white people and probably helped W spend four more years in the White House to boot. For these sins (and for messing with my Dixie Chicks) you can never be forgiven.

Track 10's great, but Brad Paisley would have owned it in a way you can't even comprehend.

Live with that.