Tuesday, August 28, 2012

For some reason, people still make tribute albums

So I finally got around to listening to Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute To Fleetwood Mac. Part of the reason it's taken me so long is that I'm just woefully behind on new music releases. I blame this on a recent Radiolab obsession. Have you listened to that show? So good. I downloaded their app and have been making my way through the episode archives. (Although, confidential to Robert Krulwich: No more mentioning how you dislike the word "awesome." Ugh. We get it already. Jesus.)

The other reason I have procrastinated listening to Just Tell Me That You Want Me is more obvious. It's because, no mater how hyped they are (and they're always way hyped), tribute albums are usually terrible. Even the songs by the artists you like are usually a let down. There are one or two good songs, and a whole lot of filler. And the "filler" songs can range from forgettable to just offensively bad. But as an overall listening experience, tributes don't tend to have a lot of staying power. Just look the used "Various Artists" bin the next time you go to a record store (I mean, if you ever go to a record store again). I promise, it is filled with multiple, dusty, unloved copies of the following compact discs:

If I Were A Carpenter (Only good songs: Shonen Knife's "Top Of the World" and Sonic Youth's "Superstar.")

Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams (Only good songs: Soul Asylum's "Summer of Drugs" and Evan Dando's "Frying Pan." Some will argue Pearl Jam's "Crazy Mary" should be included here, but that's just stupid.)

Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix (Only good song: The Cure's "Purple Haze.")

Ecomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin (Only good songs: none.)

Of course, you might be thinking, "Oh, Laura. Those albums came out in the 1990's. Most people were not even born yet, let alone listening to "compact discs." Fine. Here's a more recent example: 

Rave On: Buddy Holly (Only good song: Patti Smith's "Words of Love." And it's not even all that great. I'm just kind of in love with her.) 

But! Just Tell Me That You Want Me is different. Well, at least different enough to make it surpass my admittedly very, very low expectations. There are two songs that are immediate stand outs: Antony's "Landslide" and the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy/Matt Sweeney version of "Storms." It helps that those are also two of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs. I also already knew and loved the extensive cover song repertoire of both Antony and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy going into this.

The sure sign for me that this is a pretty solid collection: I only hated two of 19 songs. MGMT and the Entrance Band's contributions just don't do it for me. MGMT's version of "Future Games" is a tedious nine minute Moon Safari-era Air rip off. No thanks. And the Entrance Band is still on my shit list for playing way too fucking long when they opened for Sonic Youth a couple years ago. And their take on "The Green Manalishi" is as tedious and wank-filled as all the songs I saw them play live. Plus they're from L.A. so there is very little chance I will ever give them a fair shake.

So there you have it. If you like any of the artists on this tribute record, Fleetwood Mac, or penguins I'd recommend giving it a listen. By its very nature, it won't stand the test of time, but it offers some sweet moments for the present. Take them in before Just Tell Me That You Want Me gets deposited in the dusty, digital used bin in the sky.

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to prepare for Lightning Love's new record

Lighting Love is releasing their new record Blond Album next Tuesday on Quite Scientific. Some of us (me and probably, if we're being conservative about it, millions of others) have been looking forward to this for a long time and can hardly wait any longer. Tuesday is so far away!

It is going to be difficult, but I think I figured out how to make it through. These carefully considered, step-by-step instructions will help us.

1. Go to MTV Hive and stream the album right now.

2. Listen to it once all the way through. Stop and do something productive. Examples include walking the dog, doing the dishes or balancing your checkbook.

3. Treat yourself for completing your productive task by canceling your plans for the rest of the week. 

4. Stream Blond Album on repeat from now until the record officially comes out. Any sick or personal time offered to you through your place of employment will come in handy for this. 

5. Take a break from listening to the stream only long enough to listen to the Girls Who Look Like Me EP. It came out earlier this year to get you excited for the new record. It worked? Good! Put Blond Album back on. 

5. Using your newly freed up time, do a quick tally of everybody you were going to buy a present for this Holiday season.

6. Go to the Quite Scientific site and pre-order a number of CDs equal to the number of people you included on this Holiday gift list. Better buy two extra just in case you forgot somebody (it happens).

7. It's Tuesday! To celebrate the official release of the record, listen to it again! Other ways to celebrate include dressing up like your favorite member of Lightning Love and/or posting a YouTube clip of you drunkenly covering your favorite song on the record on the oboe. 

8. Go back to work and see if you still have a job. If not, don't worry. You did the right thing. Plus, listening to Lightning Love's first album November Birthday will totally get you through this.

Get to it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Free Pussy Riot

Peaches has released a new song and video to drum up support for Pussy Riot. Sign the Change.org petition demanding immediate release of the group for a free download. And because it's the right thing to do.

Monday, August 6, 2012

More knowledge. Less hate.

America weeps.
"Knowledge may not trump hatred in all cases, but for most reasonable individuals, it tends to facilitate humanity."

As I've been reading articles and update about the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin and the mosque arson in Missouri, the above line has been resonating with me all day. The line is actually from a Slate article about the Chick-fil-A insanity, but it would be just as fittingly accurate in an article about these latest bouts of violence. Just watching how various news sources have made comments about how the Sikh temple was "mistakenly" targeted (insinuating, of course, if it had been a mosque, than the shooting would somehow be understandable), it's abundantly clear that it's not just white supremacists who are woefully ignorant of the many different cultures, religions and ethnicities that make up the fabric of our country. It's a whole lot of us. 

My dad, who is a Criminal Justice professor at the University of Detroit Mercy, left the following comment on a New York Times article about the shooting in Wisconsin. It bears repeating here:

"We need to revisit the tragedy of gas station manager Balbir Sighn Sodi who was gunned down just a few days after 9/11 in Mesa, Arizona just after he had contributed $75.00 to the NY Relief Fund at Costco where he was trying to buy American flags and flowers for his business. He was killed by a truly ignorant man named Frank Roque who is alleged to have yelled at police from his trailer while being arrested: "Arrest me and let the terrorists run wild." Little has been written about this hate crime perpetrator who is serving a life sentence in prison. Sadly the Sodhi family lost Sukhpal, another son, in San Francisco, to what many think was hate motivation, on August 4, 2002 when he was shot in the head driving his cab.

Please think about revisiting this story in the context of the hateful murders in Wisconsin. Americans are largely unaware of other cultures and the vast majority are ill-informed by a sensationalist media and do not read much beyond the daily comics section... if they read at all."

I wish I knew how to get more Americans interested in other cultures. I know there are many who are interested in and enriched by cultures different from their own, I don't want to discount that. But there seems to be an awful lot of people who are proud of their ignorance and complete lack of curiosity about their neighbors. The combination of a quickly changing cultural landscape and this staggering economic downturn has left a lot of people bitter and scared. In response, they dig their heels in and look for somebody to blame. The gays. The Arabs. The Mexicans. This has translated into a refusal to accept as American, people who are, irrefutably, American. This is unacceptable to me. It should be unacceptable to everybody. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Abhay Deol: "I'd be flattered if a man made a pass at me."

                    Abhay Deol: "Pro homo."
Well, well, well, it looks like not every Bollywood star is "petrified of same-sex flirtation." It does look like Filmfare magazine is obsessed with asking interviewees about this topic for some reason. Gotta keep things as sensational as possible in the world of movie star gossip, right?

In an interview with Abhay Deol in the August 1st issue, Filmfare asks, "What if men made a pass at you?" He answered simply, "I'd be flattered for sure." Apparently flummoxed by the lack of drama in his reply, they followed up with, "You wouldn't be uncomfortable?" His response:

Not at all. We make too much of a deal out of sexuality, unfortunately. People who are not confident of their sexuality are the ones who question other's sexuality and are also offended by other people's sexuality.

Nice. As if that isn't cool enough, he also talked about how he enjoys smoking pot and would love to push to legalize hemp in India: 

You know how many products we can make out of hemp? You can make bags, paper, oils, medicines, fibre, clothes. There's a lot of advantage to it but because the West has banned it, so have we. In America, it's understandable. they need to make a profit out of everything. They didn't know how to make a profit out of this, so they banned it. But why are we banning weed?

He's basically like the Woody Harrelson of Hindi films. I love this guy!

Abhay: Please give Bipasha Bisu a call and pass along some of your pro-homo decency. And maybe roll her a big fat joint.

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