Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hipsters and the Light bulb

Saw a good joke -- actually told by Bill Doss of Olivia Tremor Control during a guest appearance with Apples in Stereo in my hometown of Lexington, KY -- that definitely merits reprinting:

Q: How many indie rockers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: I have that on vinyl.

Jingle-Jangle All the Way to the Bank...
Popmatters published an interview with Roger McGuinn which really isn't very good or interesting at all. One of the founders of the Byrds, McGuinn stuck with the group to the bitter end, eventually trotting out different lineup variations that, while not quite on par with late period Chicago, were not particularly good and seemed to work against the band's legacy. While McGuinn's twelve-string Rickenbacker "jingle-jangle" was what marked the band's early, landmark work, that fellow Byrds David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gene Clark, and Gram Parsons all went on to stronger solo careers says something. Of course, I say all this with the reservation that it makes me sound like something of a jaded hipster, criticizing one of the most influential musicians in rock history. But I've never been a fan of keeping a great band on life support after most of the founding members are gone, and of this charge, McGuinn is surely guilty.

But speaking of guilty, the article's author Michael Franco displays an astonishing lack of historical context when talking about the Byrds (for an extensive history with actual perspective, go here). I personally like his naive assertion that "the Byrds created Americana." This, unfortunately, follows the more accurate statement that their seminal album -- the creation of which McGuinn strongly resisted -- Sweetheart of the Rodeo is "often credited with starting country-rock and its offspring, alt.country". I'd direct anyone who cares about this sort of thing to read up on the history of actual country, which was a little quicker to absorb rock n roll elements than the other way around. For quick reference, check out the Bakersfield Sound page on allmusic.

Also, to keep with the classic rock theme, marathonpacks has a killer little thing on his favorite Beatles' moments of genius. He's dissected his favorite moments, even going so far as to offer the moments as mp3's, often separated into particular channels or tracks. A must-visit for any fan. For Ringo-haters out there, listen to his separation of Ringo's drums from "Strawberry Fields Forever". Maybe not the most complicated thing out there, but infectious, menacing, and powerful it surely is.

New tracks...
M. Ward - "Requiem". Another from his upcoming August 22 release, Post-War, this track lacks the immediacy and punch of previously posted Daniel Johnston cover "To Go Home". It's a decent song, one that would sound at home on either of his past two albums, but fails to build the climax it's Creedence-channelling intro suggests. Ward's voice rescues most of his more pedestrian songs (though the resignation at the end of "he's a good man and now he's gone" may be typical of Ward but by no means is it pedestrian), and this one's no different. But despite all that, the most interesting piece of the song is the effects-laden solo --which, depending on your perspective, may or may not be influenced by the Brothers Ween -- which on a personal level has me wondering what the hell this new album is going to sound like.

Band of Horses - "The Great Salt Lake". Most bloggers hit on these guys a few months ago; by now, anyone with any cred has probably already absorbed their b-sides and live bootlegs and stuff. To hell with them, I can't be rushed like that, nor am I willing to get caught up in hype. My Morning Jacket comparisons seem apt once more on this solid offering from a band that -- mark my words -- will feature on a major sitcom or dramedy at some point next season. I don't love it really -- the vocals fall a little flat on the title phrase where MMJ's would've either soared or drowned in reverb or both -- but like most of their stuff, it's a grower.


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