Call it Friendo…

November 2, 2010

I heard this song in a video game commercial on TV. I googled the commercial and found the song name and band. Then I googled the song name and band and found a fan video made from clips of a movie made from one of my favorite books that I read when I was in Montana. Now a guy from the California knows about a band from Austin, Texas. Then I posted this video and the above information to this blog. This all occurred within the last 11 minutes. In ten years, that will be 10 minutes too long.

Good night and good luck.


Justin Moore Award Nominee: “Miracles” by the Insane Clown Posse

April 9, 2010

I really don’t want to bag on ICP too much, for the following reasons:

  • They are a profitable business in my beloved home state of Michigan. In fact, the list of profitable businesses in Michigan is as follows:
    • Ford
    • Jack White
    • Eminem
    • Insane Clown Posse

Unfortunately for Michigan, the list of profitable businesses ends there.

  • I am an eternal juvenile, and have to confess to snickering to a handful of their rhymes in the past.
  • Stranglemania 2 is a longstanding post-imbibement ritual at Casa de Winslow.

But I’m sorry. Sentimental thoughts, guilty confessions, and the entire economy of my home state must sometimes be put aside. I am, after all, a big-time music critic, so I must dismiss such trifles as the childish things they are in service of the larger task of telling the truth.

So it must be said–the first nominee for the Justin Moore Award for Worst Song of the Year has arrived. That nominee is “Miracles,” by the Insane Clown Posse.

I shall write no more on the topic. Instead, I’ll just quote a few lyrics.

We don’t have to be high to look in the sky,
And know that’s a miracle opened wide,
Look at the mountains, trees, the seven seas,
And everything chilling underwater, please,
Hot lava, snow, rain and fog,
Long neck giraffes, and pet cats and dogs.

Niagara falls and the pyramids,
Everything you believed in as kids,
Fucking rainbows after it rains,
There’s enough miracles here to blow your brains.

I fed a fish to a pelican at Frisco bay,
It tried to eat my cell phone, he ran away.

I see miracles all around me,
Stop and look around, it’s all astounding,
Water, fire, air and dirt,
Fucking magnets, how do they work?

Magic everywhere in this bitch.

Bright Eyes, Neil Young, and Dave Rawlings: Plagiarism or Not?

April 5, 2010

Plagiarism or not?

I think the answer is no, but here’s why I ask.

I finally got around to listening to A Friend of a Friend, the recent album by the Dave Rawlings Machine. Track four is a double cover of Bright Eyes’ “Method Acting” and Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer.”

Listening to Rawlings perform “Method Acting,” I was struck by how much it resembled a different, and somewhat obscure, Neil Young song, “Distant Camera.” I’d heard “Method Acting” before, but did not notice the similarity in Bright Eyes’ raucous original version.

So I’m 95% sure that Conor Oberst is innocent, and even if he’s guilty, it’s entirely excusable plagiarism. The arrangement makes “Method Acting” and “Distant Camera” very different songs.

So the next question is, coincidence or not?

No idea on this one. Rawlings is a pretty clever guy. Was Rawlings saying, “You think this is Bright Eyes and Neil Young, but it’s actually Neil Young and Neil Young”?

Am I the first to get the joke?

Listen for yourself.

Bright Eyes – “Method Acting”

Neil Young – “Distant Camera”

Dave Rawlings Machine – “Method Acting/Cortez the Killer”

Bonus Track

Neil Young – “Cortez the Killer”

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

March 23, 2010

Coming soon to a theater near you. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. I know the Oscars just wrapped up but I think this should be a strong contender for next year. It’s time the world new the story behind one of music’s greatest geniuses. Here’s the trailer.

My Favorite Songs of the Year of the Ox

February 23, 2010

It’s about a week into the year of the Tiger. RAWR!!!

Lets look back at the year of the Ox.

Although many excellent albums were released during this most Bovine of lunar cycles, a few stand out in my mind as truly noteworthy. The nameless decade (I refuse to call it Oughts [fucking Steam Punks]) is over people! A new age is a brewin, three years ago I would have predicted a Grunge revival following the 70′s revival in the 90′s and the 80′s revival in the 00′s, a 90′s revival in the 10′s seemed logical. However, the fact that bands like “Nickleback”, “Creed”, and “Staind”, with the help of the corporate asshats at KROQ, managed to milk Grunge well after the teats of the Puget Sound’s sound shriveled and died off, the 90′s managed to morph into the early 00′s and it might be another 5 to 10 years until the flannel is flyin’ again. Frankly I hope I’m dead by then. I know Neil Young will be.

Well it’s time these youngsters came up with something new (as new as any modern Western music can be anyway). With that in mind, one album stands out in my mind that may help to define this “new” sound I’m looking for. Manners, the first full length album from the band “Passion Pit” was one of the first of what I hope will help to define this new sound that seems to be coming out of the East, hatched in dorm rooms, lofts, and Vermont hippie collectives on Macbook Pros by lovelorn lads and lasses (Passion Pit), Canadian Expats (Metric), College sophomores on LSD (MGMT) and plain old fashioned Freaky McFreaker’s like “Dirty Projectors”, “Animal Collective” and “Yeasayer”.

Anyway, that’s what the kids tell me and the last time I checked the kids are still alright.

Oh and just because it has synthesizers in it doesn’t mean its “80′s”. That’s a shortcut to thinking. How can a decade monopolize a musical instrument?

Passion Pit: Moth’s Wings

Yeasayer: Amblin Alp

Metric: Help I’m Alive

Dirty Projectors: Stillness is the Move

Animal Collective: Summertime Clothes

Enjoy, I’m going to eat some Nutella on Wonder Bread because I’m White.

The Hotrats cover (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)

February 20, 2010

I just picked up “The Hotrats” aka “Supergrass” album Turn Ons featuring all covers. Unfortunately, I was expecting some Zappa given their nome de plum, alas, not this time. However, I do dig their version of “The Crystal Ship”.

Here’s the track list.

  1. “I Can’t Stand It” (Lou Reed) – 2:40
  2. “Big Sky” (Ray Davies) – 3:00
  3. The Crystal Ship“(Jim Morrison/Ray Manzarek/John Densmore/Robby Krieger) – 2:34
  4. (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” (Adam Horovitz/Adam Yauch/Michael Diamond/Rick Rubin) – 2:41
  5. “Damaged Goods” (Dave Allen/Hugo Burnham/Andy Gill/Jon King) – 3:07
  6. Love Is the Drug” (Bryan Ferry/Andrew Mackay) – 3:42
  7. Bike” (Syd Barrett) – 2:42
  8. Pump It Up” (Declan MacManus) – 2:41
  9. The Lovecats“(Robert Smith) – 3:03
  10. Queen Bitch” (David Bowie) – 3:02
    • Originally recorded by David Bowie
  11. “E.M.I.” (Steve Jones/Paul Cook/Glen Matlock/John Lydon) – 3:24
  12. Up The Junction” (Chris Difford/Glenn Tilbrook) – 3:21

The King is 75

January 8, 2010

Today would be the 75th birthday of Elvis Aaron Presley.  There have been plenty of things said about “the King of Rock and Roll”, but his stage presence and showmanship are pretty undeniable.  When I was a kid, my Dad kept a steady rotation of Kenny Rogers, the Beach Boys, and of course Elvis pumping through the 8-track player in his ’77 Cadillac (no lie).  As I’m writing this, I’m visiting my family at their home in Louisiana.  As I walked in the front door, I was greeted by Elvis performing this southern anthem during his 1970 Vegas performance in the documentary “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is”.  The song, Polk Salad Annie, written by Tony Joe White, was set less than 30 miles from where I am right now.  My Dad, a die-hard Elvis fan, had never seen Elvis perform this song until now.

If you read this tonight, head over to TCM as they’re having an Elvis marathon.

Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)

December 19, 2009

Sonny Bono wrote at least three killer songs. I prefer “I Got You Babe” and “Needles and Pins” in cover versions, but when it comes to “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” I’ll take the original, by his then-wife Cher.

Cher’s melodramaticism is both the reason for her success and the reason she’s never really gotten respect. I understand both, but maintain that the world is a better place because “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” exists. Your opinion may differ, and I’m not inclined to put my reputation as a big-shot music critic on the line to argue. Regardless, she certainly had her moments, and “Bang Bang” may be the greatest of them.

(“He didn’t take the time to lie.” Now, that, my friends, is a lyric.)

Quentin Tarantino clearly loves the song as much as I do, but let’s face it, in hipster world, admitting you like Cher is not cool, not cool at all. So he used the then-obscure Nancy Sinatra version, released the same year as Cher’s, for Kill Bill. It works brilliantly in the context of the movie, but absent the anticipation of the beginning of a violent film, it’s a bit boring despite a nice vocal.

It’s OK, though. Now you have an excuse to admit you like a Sonny and Cher song.

This brings us to cult musician Terry Reid. I will probably write more on Terry Reid later, but for now I’ll briefly recap the legend. Terry Reid was asked by Jimmy Page to take vocals in Page’s new project. Reid declined, and suggested Page check out a fellow named Robert Plant instead. Page clearly knew exactly what he was looking for, because Reid is without question the proto-Plant.

Terry Reid’s version of “Bang Bang” is from his first long player, Bang, Bang, You’re Terry Reid. It has lots of guitar.

Jack White performs the song as well, in his Raconteurs guise. This take is more likely than not informed by the Terry Reid version. Unfortunately, Mr. White can’t stop himself from a cheap, obvious, and easy tweaking of the lyrics, and so turns the song into interracial homo cowboy kind of love, as the Reverend Horton Heat put it. This somewhat spoils an otherwise good interpretation, which is too damn bad. Playing it straight (no pun intended) would have been a much better call. Jack–when Cher is more subtle than you, there’s a problem.

On Deaf Ears™ is always delighted to tell you more than you ever really needed to know.

Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel) live clips

November 20, 2009

Merge Records has unearthed and posted a couple of video clips to Youtube of reclusive Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum performing a couple of songs in NYC in 1998, presumably before he reportedly had a mental breakdown and (more or less) completely withdrew from the music world.  He looks a little crazy in the videos, especially the one for “Two-Headed Boy,” but they are both great performances. 

If you happen to have never heard their 1998 album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, do yourself a favor and find it.   It’s one of those records that was so incredibly ahead of its time that it still sounds surprising and incredibly fresh today.  I’ve had it for years, and I still notice new things practically every time I listen.  Cheers!

“Two-Headed Boy”

“April 8th”

Free Live Pixies EP in Honor of The 20th Anniversary of Doolittle!

November 9, 2009

The Pixies have a link on their website where, if you enter a valid email address, you will be sent a link to download a free live four song EP of the Pixies performing cuts from Doolittle in honor of that album’s 20th anniversary.  The recording quality is actually pretty excellent.  The songs included are “Dancing The Manta Ray”, “Monkey Gone To Heaven”, “Crackity Jones”, and “Gouge Away.”  Click the link below and then click “DOWNLOAD FREE LIVE EP” if interested.

Who Will Save Your Soul?

September 30, 2009


I have long advocated for separating an artist from his work. I listen to Michael Jackson without the slightest twinge of guilt, and I watch Roman Polanksi’s movies without the slightest twinge of guilt.

But “separate” is key. Had Michael Jackson been convicted of child molestation, I would have supported his punishment. Being a talented artist should not give you a pass for repellent and criminal behavior.

The case of Roman Polanski is especially disturbing. His guilt is not in question. He gave a thirteen-year old girl alcohol and drugs, and then anally raped her. He knew her age. He also knew what the word “no” meant.

For normal people, the fact that it was a long time ago is irrelavant–Catholic priests are routinely prosecuted for decades-old crimes. However, the “arts community” seems to believe that their elite members deserve a pass for such trifles as sodomizing an unwilling minor. Sadly, the list of people rallying to the defense of this creepy rapist includes many whose works I admire.

So far as I know, there has been only one American artist of prominence who has stated the obvious. That is Jewel, who posted to her Twitter page:

Polanski-admitted raping a 13 yr old-whys every1 in the arts upset hes facing jail? cause hes a gifted director? what am i missing?

Thank you, Jewel, for bringing the common sense and decency that seem to elude so many of your fellow artists, causing them to support someone who drugged and anally raped a thirteen-year old girl.

Jewel asked in her first hit, “Who Will Save Your Soul?” Who indeed? Who will save Polanski’s soul? Who will save the souls of his defenders? I know this statement is contradictory: They better pray that there is no God.

Public Image Ltd and me.

September 8, 2009

Public Image Ltd. are reuniting for a series of shows.

Reading that news today prompted me to reminisce about the role PiL played in my development as a music fan.

I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere that only had a handful of radio stations. The only station that played rock and roll was fairly conservative–Top 40 and classic rock. So Top 40 and classic rock was pretty much all I knew until 1987.

Two videos on MTV that year changed my life forever. The first was New Order’s “True Faith,” which actually did crack the Top 40 and so got a couple of plays on the local station. The other was PiL’s “Seattle.”

While both songs are terrific, there really isn’t anything notable about them by 1980′s “alternative” (I hate that word) standards.  But to a kid with extremely limited exposure to music by virtue of geography, they sounded revolutionary. I went to school the day after I heard “Seattle” and raved about it to a buddy of mine. He had a cool older sister and hence a lot more exposure to this kind of stuff, so he gave me  the rundown on the band–how it was the dude from the Sex Pistols and all. And that event set me on my life’s path of exploring music beyond the Top 40. Soon I was trading tapes with the skater kids and watching 120 Minutes when I could stay up late enough.

PiL put out one classic album, 1979′s dark and challenging Metal Box, before moving in a poppier direction. They were too inconsistent to be considered anything close to a great band, but they did drop a fair number of killer singles over their checkered career.

And we’ll always have “Seattle.”

Public Image Ltd. – “Seattle”



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