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Ringo Starr finally stops signing autographs

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He’s going to throw away anything anyone sends for signing from the 20th of October onwards. Fair enough. It’s been almost four decades since the Beatles broke up! He can’t have that many fans from all his new stuff. It’d piss anyone off to have to spend hours every day signing your name over and over for people selling signed Beatles shit on eBay. It’s hard enough to move in new creative directions without having hundreds of people remind you of your past, daily.

When the Smashing Pumpkins came recently to Melbourne for the V Festival, Billy Corgan got angry at the crowd which consistently cheered when old classics came on and booed when he tried to play his new stuff. I understand how that could be frustrating, but, then, he really shouldn’t be playing under the name of the Smashing Pumpkins if it’s really going to be “The Billy Corgan Band” with a little help from the old drummer or something. It was his own (probably greed-inspired) decision.

Anyway, this is what I pictured as soon as I heard it:

Ringo Starr in Brush with Greatness

Ringo Starr in "Brush with Greatness"

Dear Marge.  Thanks for the fab painting of Yours Truly.  I hung
it on me wall.  You're quite an artist.  In answer to your question,
yes, we do have hamburgers and fries in England.  But we call French
fries `chips'.  Love, Ringo.  PS: Forgive the lateness of my reply.

and:

Dear Sally.  In response to you letter of December the 12th 1966,
me favourite colour is blue, and me real first name is Richard.
Thanks for the snapshot.  You're a real cute bird.  Love, Ringo.
PS: Forgive the lateness of my reply.

I guess those days of Ringo tirelessly going through every last letter are over. If he hadn’t told everyone and just stopped sending things back maybe he would’ve been accused of theft.

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Written by atroche

October 14, 2008 at 11:25 am

Posted in music, news

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Music Monday: Medeski, Martin & Wood – “Just Like I Pictured It”

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This instrumental piece is short, smooth and polished. It’ll make you want to get up and dance slowly on the spot with your eyes closed.

Via tuneage, my favourite music blog.

Written by atroche

October 13, 2008 at 8:07 pm

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First Impressions of Weezer’s Red Album

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The first eight tracks of their new album have leaked. I wouldn’t know, but rumour has it that a bit of torrent was involved. I’ve listened to the few of them. Or, rather, I started, then shook my head in disgust and punched my computer in the face. Initial thoughts: it’s generic pop-rock with bland, meaningless lyrics. I haven’t really enjoyed any of their whole albums since Pinkerton, though there have been a few good tracks. To spare you from reading the rest of the post, just look at the album cover below. Or to sum it up textually: the Red Album is a hodge-podge of anything the Weezer guys could come up with, thrown together with no coherence and apparently little passion. I like their new stuff maybe even less than I like anything since their sophomore.

Red Album Cover

“Giddy up, we’re going to ride our band-brand for every last, boring dollar!”

Make Believe, their latest LP, made me cringe – quite honestly. Rhyming hero with zero? After wanting to hang around with Rivers in his garage on the Blue Album, his apparent respect for Beverly Hills stars was an unwelcome shock. But, big deal, it’s about the music, right? Well, the music is as generic as the lyrics. Sure, the six minute The Greatest Man That Ever Lived is very weird, but it just splices EVERY STYLE of song they’ve ever touched upon into a short timeframe with no coherence. What the fuck is that song even talking about? And, more importantly, who told Rivers that giving pep talks over the music would be cool?

I’m pretty negative about all the tracks I’ve heard so far from the Red Album. The first song I heard, Pork and Beans, was so mindlessly boring that I was embarrassed to have it coming out of my speakers. I turned it down in case anyone heard it, even though the only person around was my mum. First line of the chorus: “I’ma do the things that I wanna do / I ain’t got a thing to prove to you”. You could prove that you can still write non-cliched lyrics with maybe even a little bit of feeling and thought behind them. But, no, you don’t have to, Rivers, just like I don’t have to like your new album. Yuck.

Rivers with Strat

“Hey Rivers, what you need is a stupid Handlebar moustache to create that ‘whole new image’ you’ve been looking for.”

The start of the next one, Cold Dark World, sounds like “Friday on my Mind.” But I guess that isn’t a very reasonable criticism. The thing that bugs me about this song and the rest of them to an extent is that he’s gone from being a geek to singing like he’s trying to be a hip-hopper or rapper. Is he trying to be cool this way, or is he satirising the “cool”? I have no idea, but I wish they’d gone down a different path.

Their softer one, “Thought I Knew“, has guitarist Brian Bell on lead vocals. What? Huh? Well, his voice is fine, I suppose. But, god, it sounds nothing like Weezer. It’s like they’re an entirely new band with the same old name. Maybe I wouldn’t’ve liked Blue Album and Pinkerton if I hadn’t listened to it so many times years ago and just discovered it today. I hope it’s not just nostalgia. Regardless, I don’t want to listen to their new stuff because it makes depressed – not not from (the end of Pinkerton’s) wanting something beautiful and destroying it with your ugliness but because it’s the final nail in a musical coffin. There’s nothing wrong with changing and developing as a band, but there’s a gigantic and career-ending difference between that and scrapping everything, alienating your fans and looking like fucking tossers. Give me a re-release of their awesome b-sides anyday.

</rant>

Written by atroche

May 14, 2008 at 12:14 am

Posted in music, review

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Top Ten Sing-along Guitar Songs

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When you’re at a house party or just with some friends, there is bound to be a guitar lying around somewhere. As everyone gets drunker they demand for someone, anyone, please, to play a song on the the little sister’s wildly out-of-tune Fisher & Paykel nylon-string guitar. It’s incredible the extent to which alcohol makes everyone think they’re Pavarotti (as in a good singer, not a fat Italian.)

Unless you want the crowd to lynch you or at least roll their eyes and walk away, you’ll have to ensure that the songs that you’re going to play are ones that everyone will want to sing along with. If you’re not in intimate settings, then no one wants to hear your beautiful, soulful rendition of Elliot Smith’s entire discography. Trust me. They want a radio hit from the 90s that they can shout along with – and if you don’t strum one out you’ll lose the potential crowd.

Learn these ten, and you’ll always be able to have at least one great sing-along. It’s worth it, even if it means sacrificing some of that indie credibility you’ve been building up for so long.

Oasis – Wonderwall

There’s a reason this is the favourite of buskers everywhere – it’s got so much radio playtime that it’s ingrained into the skull of everyone in Western society. Fortunately, this means that any man, woman or fetus present will be able to sing along for at least the chorus. It’s easy to play, but you’ll need to have a capo on you. This isn’t a song where changing the key around is going to work – people are too familiar with the recording’s melody.

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Smash Mouth – All Star

This is extremely simple to play and was a huge hit at the time – and it’s nice to have a fast, shouty song after all the popular love songs. Enough said.

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Goo Goo Dolls – Iris

Watch out, this song has crazy tuning. Your best bet is just to use the simplified slightly-different-key version which is all over the web. If you’re a guy you’re going to have a lot of trouble singing the very high chorus. This is a good one to sing late in the night when everyone’s a bit quieter – extra points for making a girl cry when you croon “When everything feels like the movies / Yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive…”

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Green Day – Good Riddance (Time of your life)

Like Wonderwall, this is a song that is overplayed to the point of ridiculousness – perfect for busking or a singalong. It’s kinda hard to play the finger-picking version and sing at the same time; chords will substitute nicely – but make sure you pick the intro so people recognise it straight away. Don’t be tempted to slow this one down, it’s a surprisingly fast song.

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Coldplay – Yellow

You may want to take this down a key or two if you’re a guy – Chris Martin’s voice is pretty hard to emulate. Easy to play, and if you forget the words the one you’ll make up will be better than Coldplay’s.

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Leonard Cohen/ Every musician ever – Hallelujah

Whether or not you prefer Buckley’s haunting cover, your best bet is the one from Shrek. It has simple chords, an easy melody and the build-up as you go from the soft early verses to the louder and emotional later ones is fantastic.

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Bryan Adams – Summer of 69

Being a crowd-pleaser isn’t all fun and games. Sometimes it means biting your lip, throwing away your dignity and playing a song by this ridiculous Canadian. His voice is high too, you might have to transpose it down a key – but that’s not hard, the chords are very basic. Sing as loudly as you can – it’ll help drown out the noise of a little part of you dying.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge

There’s no denying the the RHCPs are hugely popular. Most of their big songs will go down well – but the intro Under The Bridge is what you should try if you’re looking for more kudos – the drunken fools will think you’re Jimi Hendrix’s older, cooler brother. You’re not – but it’s worth learning the intro to give that very false impression for fifteen seconds to people who don’t know any better.

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Ronan Keating – When You Say Nothing At All

See Summer of 69 – basically the same thing except the girls seem to like this one better. Bonus points if your playing can inspire someone to sing the instrumental part.

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Smashing Pumpkins – Today

There’s something about the Smashing Pumpkins that lets them get away with being outrageously angsty – they do it with style and catchy hooks. Plus, you can always say that you’re just singing along for 90’s-nostalgia’s sake. Right? Anyway, don’t bother tuning this to Eb – whether you play it like Billy Corgan or with barre chords won’t make a difference. Extend that outro for as long as you can.

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Written by atroche

May 12, 2008 at 11:25 pm

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Joanna Newsom Review: ‘Ys’

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One of the editors at my uni magazine recommended I listen to Joanna Newsom‘s latest album, Ys. Simon, the editor, told me what to expect: five epic, rambling, radically folky songs. Joanna plays the harp, mixing sparse, haunting plucks with breathless and spine-tingling runs. It’s hard to comprehend how anyone can do this at the same time as singing with such raw conviction. It’s very different to just about anything I’ve listened to lately, or maybe ever. Sometimes you get the feeling she’d be very much at home by the fire of some Olde English Lord’s castle – her lyrics are poetically illustrative and her wide-ranging voice literally drips with emotion (haha, got you, that was a metaphor!)

The second song, Monkey and Bear, starts off happy and carefree – Joanna cheerfully explains the wily animals’ escape from their indenture to a cruel farmer. Every time she moves from one free-flowing verse to the next, the mood changes oh-so-subtly. Slowly you start to suspect the monkey, to see the avarice and the lust for cruelty emerge. It’s painful, and at the end of it you’ll be amazed at the intense journey she packs into one song. The other ones follow suit, and there’s barely enough time for your ears to digest what’s thrown at them. The way the song weaves its way through different moods and keys is surprising and almost off-putting at first – when she changes the melody every couple of verses you’re left floating without a catchy hook to draw you back in.

This is part of the attraction and part of the problem I have with her music. I can’t relax and listen to it. It’s so dense and intricate that I have to concentrate for the music to mean anything to me. I can’t just sing along with a chorus because there never seems to be one. Her voice is unusual (in fact, all of her is), she pronounces words strangely and her voices jumps from low to high – sometimes actually cracking with feeling. Unless you listen hard or have looked up the lyrics you’ll miss what she’s saying – and the lyrics go so well with the music that you’d be crazy to be only getting part of “the experience”.

It’s beautiful music, but not in the relaxing way of something like Air. It’s inaccessible but rewarding in a way that I can’t remember ever experiencing. Lie in bed, close your eyes and turn it up loud. Let it fill your imagination with her clever rhymes and evocative poetry, and allow your heartbeat to undulate with its strange timing changes, and then make a judgement. Personally I think it’s worth the effort.

Written by atroche

May 8, 2008 at 8:48 pm

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Nina Deli

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In that Direct Note Access post yesterday, there was some music that I quite liked. So, I looked it up in the credits, and it was Nina Deli, a German Electroacoustic / Pop / Downtempo (apparently) singer/theremin player. I love the stuff playing on her MySpace, it’s incredibly chilled out. Her website was ridiculously slow, though, so I didn’t download anything. Reminds me a bit of Air, whom I saw recently at V Festival in Melbourne. I have to be in the right mood – but when I am, it’s fantasticly relaxing.

Written by atroche

April 20, 2008 at 4:10 am

Posted in music

Direct Note Access: changing the pitch of individual notes

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Just saw this video of this new still-in-development technology called Direct Note Access. It allows anyone to alter individual notes in a song – whether they’re in a chord or by themselves. It sounds like it wouldn’t work that well, which is why it’s really amazing to watch. The video’s very well put together and explains and demonstrates it. This seems like it will actually radically alter how music is produced. If only it was released right now. (It’ll probably cost thousands of dollars, of course).

Written by atroche

April 19, 2008 at 12:50 am

Posted in music