It has been cold up here near the Cave-Some of this below zero crazy cold!
The Violent Femmes probably don’t think of themselves as a nice cup of hot chocolate or even a healthy dose of 12 year old scotch to ward off the winter freeze-but they always do that to this one ancient rock guy.
These guys always bring me back. If ever my allegiance to rock music starts to waiver-their songs always sound fresh—-like someone just cooked up the music right in front of you.
And not prepackaged “assemble a sandwich in front of you and call it fresh” like Subway—-I mean like one of those Japanese restaurant deals with the flames going and the knives slashing!!!
Fresh-Dangerous-and I am going back for some more.
I don’t know what the name means and I really don’t care—-It is ironic and it was coined in a time when Femme was a bad thing and Violence was a good thing.
I am not good enough to hear a band and immediately place them in context of music relevance for the year. It takes a while for things to seep down into the cerebral cortex and percolate themselves out.
I will say…, however -This blog has helped me figure things out a little faster- I am more engaged than I used to be.
Here is what happened to me in 2013 as an “out of touch” rock music fan.
I’ll do 5 that caught me and 5 I hated
What I liked:
The Xx– Not a new band, but new to me as I caught the fever- Atmospheric elegant sound. Like getting lost in a really trendy fog and having someone hand you a fantastic drink that quenches the thirst and tickles the soul.
The Black Keys– They went from a band I heard of and thought they were O.K to possibly the most solid rock band of this century- I never hear a bad song from these guys and after repeated listens of their standard hits-they just gain traction.
Arcade Fire-Afterlife– I know-This is arty French hipster self-important pompous drivel—– I know that they stand opposed to everything I love about gritty down to earth rock music. But I love this song- I love it so much that I might be tempted to find a nice puffy shirt and neon pair of kicks to try and comply with their dress code and catch them at a concert this summer. I love it so much that I will try one more time to make it through the whole Reflektor album on Spotify.
Spotify-Yes, I am very late to this party. I am surprised at the amount of music available for nothing on this service. It’s like stealing as it is so much quality for nothing. (kind of like the Cave of Fame blog!)
Wrecking Ball-Miley Cyrus–((((Guilty pleasure alert))))) I hated this song the first time I heard it—-I now secretly love it if my kids turn it up. I thought it was stupid that she was naked on a wrecking ball- I now understand that if you are going to be naked on a wrecking ball—-do it while you are still young! And it plays more like nudity in renaissance art to me now. (I think this Arcade Fire thing has messed up my brain)
But seriously –if Helen Mirron got on a wrecking ball with nothing but her fantastic acting skill and did a photo shoot for Vanity Fair—-all the critics would talk about what a brave and edgy cool-chick she really is—-and would trip over all the compliments that they would throw at her unbridled toes.
What I hated:
Robin Thicke- That blurred lines garbage is still a ripe smell in the air as we hit 2014. Also, don’t forget that he played a major role in the big twerk-off of 2013- Without him providing the “hammer” to Miley’s “nail”—-The whole thing might not have got so insane. I dislike him so much that I was tempted to browse through “Revelations” and check the attributes of the Antichrist….you know….just to rule him out in my mind because I do have some doubts.
Kiss going in the Rock and Roll hall of Fame– I guess they were going to break down the wall at some point to get in. It was only a matter of time before this Cleveland institution that usually gets it right caved in under the force of those boots and rabid fans.
Nostalgia “bait and switch” – Take a band like say “Bon Jovi” with only one original member like say “John Bon Jovi” and sell it like the whole band will be there. Or the R.E.O Speedwagon-Terrible Ted Nugent and Styx –“Mayhem of the Mid-west” tour or whatever it was called. At least Ted Nugent was a standalone product –so that was good. These old bands that dwindle down to one or two and fight over the name to see who has the rights to a half-hearted performance of bygone hits is a bit much. You might as well go see a good cover band.
Losing Lou Reed- This was really sad because even though he was old and not in great shape- I kind of thought he would last forever.
Rush seems to be gaining power and respect. This bugs me because I may have to go back and change my post about being a Rush hater. I am now changing my position from a Rush hater to a Rush “whateverer”. I still reserve the right to dislike music fans that take it as a solid fact that dislike of Rush means no real taste in rock music. (I think my wrecking ball admission is a worse transgression)
And for those of you that are still with me after that outrageous statement of pompous indifference- I will try to defend my non-hipster ass.
Note: Hipsters will not take me in and I don’t want to grow the approved fancy facial hair or lease a mini cooper right at this moment-plus I am just too frigging old anyway.
Bon Iver is more like Guinness due to the fact that once you get over that whole “wow, that stuff is so black and thick-it’s not like beer -how can you drink that crap?” phase and just down a few with a little conviction and determination. You find out that it is not that bad after all at first and then you find out in quick succession that it is in fact the best brew on the face of this earth—–and maybe even beyond; I mean when they finally find evidence of life on other planets and look at what they drink for beer…I have a hard time believing that anything in the milky way galaxy will beat this taste. It is sublime and it is all the tragedy and joy of life in a glass (at least if you get it poured right!).
Your palette becomes different not because you are of better stock than the huddled masses around you- your palette becomes different because you make the effort to give new things a chance and not instantly judge them as garbage.
This leads to an enjoyment of new things- this leads to experiencing art in a way that is like fireworks firing off in your brain.
Back to Bon Iver
Once you get over the whole “wow, sounds like a wimpy coyote howling on a cold Wisconsin night” kind of thing and let yourself flow with it. The dude can get right down into the subconscious of fear and love stored up in your brain -give it a gentle scratch and make you feel alive. The words are unspecific enough that it works on you like great abstract art because you get the emotion from the form and composition but don’t understand why you get it. (For those of you that don’t like abstract art-I suggest that you read my paragraph above about experiencing new things and drink a few Guinness before heading back to the museum).
All I mean to say:
Refinement is not about thinking you are better – it is about pushing through that wall of unknown to get to new enjoyment and appreciation.
Thinking you are better than others because they don’t like the same beer (or premium vodka) or music that you like makes you not a hipster but just a prick- Ok…maybe it is the same thing?
Here is Bon Iver and hope you give yourself a chance to enjoy it-because once you really get it- it is something special.
And finally-hearing the Birdy version of this song inspired this post. I admit I don’t love this version or this artist now-but I will give it a chance and let it change my mind.
Goodbye and thanks to Brother Lou–we hardly knew you
You were complicated, angry and cynical. But instead of letting it build up inside and end up being a menace to society – you turned it into beautiful music. Gritty honesty with a warped sense of humor is a great combo. Somehow you became the first un-natural rock star. The moves always looked forced and the voice was always nervous.
But you made it work and thanks.
You let us misfits know that we could get by.
I always thought of you as a long lost brother-It may be a bit weird but that’s what I thought, and now you are gone, may you head toward the great unknown in a blaze of feedback.
You were around for an eternity in Rock n’ Roll years but we still hardly knew you.
They may not be brand new but they are new to me. I hear atmospheric indie pop that is ice cold. I hear The Cure on the way to another galaxy running through the endless void of outer space. I feel like I am walking over the immensity of solid sea ice in constant dark winter as the northern lights dance over my head….
But that might be just me.
That is the great thing about having a music blog and pushing yourself ever so slightly to jump into some strange waters. Once you get over that first shock –you often find that the water is kind of nice and before you know it, you are having a nice refreshing swim.
This blog post is all about not being that guy who thinks the best music has already been done.
That guy who says music today is all crap.
Just slow down –get over yourself—–and listen——-really listen.
Ska used to be a tonic for the oppressed. Maybe because it has its roots in Jamaica where it seems like economic strife and hardship are permanent fixtures. It found a home in Britain then made its way to America to gain smoothness and swagger. I never think that music loses anything as it gets interpreted by different people in different places. That is part of what makes it so great.
Reggae is the rhythmic offspring of Ska- your body will tell you the difference- Reggae makes you sway and Ska makes you jump.
You know the cave guy loves every kind of music but that does not mean that every kind of music can get this guy moving. So I’m gonna take you on a ride that can be enjoyed no matter what kind of life you have. Beat down by the man or the man himself. Ska will make you move.
My apologies to Fishbone who I tried to find a place for in this post but it always felt like you guys didn’t quite fit. Awesome band but we don’t know where to put you…I know –you’re heard that before.
I do have a few Ska songs racked up and ready to go but that post will have to wait as I find myself in the depths of a Radiohead mood. I wouldn’t call it sadness- more like a mixture of isolation mixed with a good dose of reality and extreme tiredness. You shake these ingredients together while some post-apocalyptic vision dances slowly across your brain and it’s time for those creepy boys from Oxfordshire-They are like the patron saints of wallowing self-reflection (wonder if I can get a mini plastic version of them to place on the dash of my beat-up Oldsmobile?) So enjoy and I feel better already.
Funny how a song can haunt you- this song seems to be following me around like a little puppy that wants a walk. I have read much about the cultural low point that was the 1980’s; it wasn’t all Madonna and MTV.
And here is a song about swimming in the Caribbean with little fishes following you around. But it’s not taken like a scuba diving song. It has that anthem of wasted youth about it- And for those of you that are currently in the wasted youth phase (lucky you) and may not know about Kurt Cobain trying to make a song that sounded like the Pixies and ending up with a little ditty called “Smells Like Teen Spirit” …well that happened too- so I bring you some substance from the horrible decade that still paddles around pretty good for its age. The Pixies–Where Is My Mind.