In sports they’re called “role players.” They’re the working class guys who play defense, dive for loose balls, get under the opponent’s skin, fight it out in the trenches. They’re not stars and they don’t make the big bucks or have lucrative endorsements or land supermodel wives. But without them you don’t win, period.
Music has role players, too. We tend to spend all our time talking about the charismatic lead singers and incendiary lead guitarists, but all the great bands also feature guys who stand off to the side, outside the limelight, and don’t really do anything except make the whole enterprise click. They seem not to be there for the fame or the glory so much as they are just because they love the music. Frequently you find them in the rhythm section, although not always, and when you look at the history of great bands all of a sudden being less great, you often don’t notice who isn’t there anymore.
I can’t imagine cranking out anything like a definitive 100 Greatest Anonymous Rock Role Players in History list, but I can certainly suggest a few worth considering. Read more
We all have our favorite artists and songs and albums. Even those of us who listen to a lot of different styles and have thousands of CDs in our collections undoubtedly have a few we keep coming back to more than others. While I have never really had this discussion with anyone, I imagine that there are all kinds of reasons why certain songs and collections draw us back.
The albums I have listened to the most would surprise most people, I suspect. Those who know me would probably think I’ve spun U2’s War or Unforgettable Fire the most, or REM’s Reckoning, or maybe one of the Police’s CDs. Maybe even something by Queen. And they’d be close, because I have in fact played the hell out of those albums. My original copy of A Night at the Opera – back in the days of the vinyl LP – was so worn I was expecting the needle to carve completely through the record at any moment.
Lilac, lovelace / remind me of / your true grace
About four years ago I tripped across a band called The Lost Patrol. Since then I’ve noted their work a number of times: they made my best CDs for 2007 and 2008 reviews; their music served as a key element in a piece on the nonlinearity of influence; and they were the subject of a TunesDay post on the band’s “epic retro-futurism.”
Their lead singer when I found them was one Danielle Kimak Stauss, a woman whose hypnotic vocals haunted Steven Masucci’s vast, empty musical landscapes with an ice-cold passion that bordered on the transcendent. After 2007’s superb Launch & Landing Stauss and the band parted ways, and while LP has produced two wonderful CDs in the interim (featuring new singer Mollie Israel), Danielle was nowhere to be heard. Read more
Welcome to a special Valentine’s Day edition of TunesDay. Today, let’s celebrate the glory of love (although, if it’s all the same to you, we’ll do it without celebrating “The Glory of Love”).
First, The Fabs remind us what really matters.
In Part 1 we had a look at some very good 2009 releases, and in other years some of those CDs might have made a run at a Platinum LP. As I said, though, this was maybe the best year for new music since Jimmy Carter was president. So please, give these recipients of the S&R/Lullaby Pit Platinum LP a listen.
The Platinum LPs
Antony & the Johnsons – The Crying Light
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of in-between where Antony Hegarty is concerned. Listeners either get it or they don’t, and while I’m in the “he’s brilliant” camp, I do understand why some find his music hard to access. In a nutshell, it’s probably some of the most painful stuff I’ve ever heard – pure, distilled essence of anguish at times. Read more
There are all kinds of fun arguments to be had over which band is best or whether one’s taste is critically defensible (*cough*Brian used to listen to Madonna and Gloria Estefan*cough*) and, of course, my favorite – can we separate what we like from our critical faculties (that is, is your “favorite” list different from your “best” list)?
But there’s one sure measure of what music we really care about the most, for whatever reason, and that’s how much of our money we spend on it. So today’s TunesDay question is this: what artists do you own the most music from?
Feel free to answer however makes sense, and yes, we take into account the fact that you may own everything from a band that quit too soon. I have one of those myself. Here’s my list: Read more
The results of last week’s Name Those Bands contest are in. In first place we have … a disqualification, sorta. Our friend Ubertramp logged in with an impressive 47 of 53. Seriously, that’s pretty damned good. But he has disqualified himself because I’m the one who turned him onto most of these outstanding artists and he felt like he might as well be cheating under the circumstances.
Wow – sportsmanship. What a concept.
So our next highest scorer, and the official winner, is … Read more
If you pay attention to my music entries, you may have noticed a recurrent theme. It seems a lot of the bands I hear these days, many of which I really like, remind me of bands from the past. Like The Mary Onettes:
I recently tripped across one such example, Sweden’s The Mary Onettes. They can’t seem to make up their minds whether they want to be The Church, Echo & the Bunnymen, or maybe something along the Joy Division/New Order continuum.
And The Flaws:
In a nutshell, The Flaws are [Joy Division] meets The Killers with a smattering of Johnny Marr. Read more
A lot of bands have released pretty good debut records, only to follow them up with less-than-spectacular careers. The rule used to be (before the FCC, the recording industry and the radio industry conspired to destroy all music) that you learned what you needed to know about a band with its third album. Given how things worked, you often saw a pattern that looked something like this:
- Debut: Band (or solo artist) has been on the road for awhile, writing and building an audience and developing as a creative and performing force. Read more
Here’s how the blurb at CD Baby puts it:
Cinematic ethereal, spaghetti western flavored retro-futuristic music with powerful female vocals. // A sweeping, cinematic, wide-screen journey that combines ethereal sound scapes with surf-tinged guitar. Perfect for those late night rides across the desert with the top down.
Uniquely original retro-futurism.
Yeah, that’s fair. But there’s a lot more to say about The Lost Patrol and their new CD, Midnight Matinee, which has quickly vaulted onto my list of likely 2008 platinum awards. Read more
“I’m interested in what motivates you, and how you understand the world.” He glanced sideways at her. “Rausch tells me you’ve written about music.”
“Sixties garage bands. I started writing about them when I was still in the Curfew.””Were they an inspiration?”
She was watching a fourteen-inch display on the Maybach’s dash, the red cursor that was the car proceeding along the green line that was Sunset. She looked up at him. “Not in any linear way, musically. They were my favorite bands. Are,” she corrected herself.
– William Gibson, Spook Country
I’ve always been intrigued by the curious dynamic of influence. Read more
We write about music here from time to time and I know that a lot of our readers look forward to posts about tuneage. If you love music and want to hear more, let me introduce you to a new music site you may appreciate, and one that comes with the coveted S&R Seal of Approval: Pop Underground. Read more
This song is not a rebel song…
The greatest concert in rock history happened 25 years ago tonight in an amphitheater just west of Denver, Colorado. Everybody’s seen the footage, but most probably don’t realize that it was filmed in June.
Give me one last dance
We’ll slide down the surface of things
You’re the real thing
Yeah the real thing
You’re the real thing
Even better than the real thing
I figured out a long time ago, even before I began encountering grad-level feminist critiques, that our media’s stylized construction and portrayal of female beauty was problematic. It’s bad enough that unattractive people don’t appear in movies, on TV or in magazines unless the narrative expressly requires someone unattractive, and sometimes even that isn’t enough. I mean, the star of Ugly Betty isn’t really ugly.
But it goes beyond this. Read more