8 track album
“The Late Show with David Letterman” has been celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show with musical guests performing Beatles tunes right there in the Ed Sullivan Theater.
The week started off interesting with a version of “And I Love Her” by Broken Bells in which Dangermouse interpolated drum samples from “I Am The Walrus” (and some strings) beamed onto a 60s TV playing footage of Ringo on drums, so the band were essentially following Ringo’s rhythm, a nice little send-up to Dangermouse’s romance with finagling the Beatles on ‘The Grey Album.’ Whether it was a good rendition or not, it retained some great spirit, which did not carry over to an abomination of “Drive My Car” with Sting, guests, and the CBS Orchestra’s moonlighting gig as the Fab Faux. Lenny Kravitz returned the favor with a spot-on perfect rendition of “Get Back” with little to no spirit either.
Tonight, Sean Lennon joins the Flaming Lips (in what capacity, I don’t know) for what should be a ridiculous spectacle of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
As CBS or NBC or somebody preps a pre-taped 50th Anniversary show for this weekend, filmed the weekend of the Grammys, more of the elite (Adam Levine, John Legend) will trench through Beatles tunes in an ‘eh’ way much like President Obama’s concert that awarded Paul McCartney something cool, which the Kennedy Center did for him too.
A lot of musicians tackle Beatles songs and self-fulfillingly fall on their faces. It’s one of the hardest bands to cover and still sound good, retaining their excellence along with the new artist’s identity.
Artists like Aerosmith and Michael Jackson (both did covers of “Come Together”) fell flat, even Paul McCartney himself sometimes cannot muster the power of his old band, even unleashing something as amazing as “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” on his last tour with props to Macca for singing John’s vocal and playing his bassline at the same time (not easy) but losing the carnival-esque madness of the original.
Here are my favorite covers of Beatles tunes, which are not as good as the originals, but do, for me, wash away some hogwash of the generic and usually televised versions we’re used to.
I’m not sure if I even need to explain why these come up for me as great Beatles cover, let’s listen instead:
PIXIES “WILD HONEY PIE”
THE BREEDERS “HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN”
SEBADOH “YELLOW SUBMARINE”
DANIEL JOHNSTON “GOLDEN SLUMBERS” w/ GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES “AND I LOVE HER”
BEACH BOYS “TELL ME WHY”
JIMMY PONDER “WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS”
GEORGE BENSON “HERE COMES THE SUN/I WANT YOU (SHE’S SO HEAVY)”
VANILLA FUDGE “ELEANOR RIGBY”
BOOKER T & THE MG’S “LEMORE AVENUE” – beautiful arrangements of ‘Abbey Road’ songs
This is my sixth year compiling a list of my favorites of the year. I don’t have anything to say about 2013, though I’m thankful for this year’s music.
What’d you dig?
19. “Tres Cabaneros” The Melvins
What I love about the Melvins’ work is that their records have been an ever-changing succubus of WHAT it is to be the Melvins. On the past two records, Buzz and Dale have outfitted the band with two drummers, then toned it back (upping the dissonance) with bassist Trevor Dunn (Fantomas) and now hit us with a record featuring their drummer from 1983; Dale moves to bass for this, and Buzz does what he does, his moan/groan acid-carnival vocals and disgusting guitars 36 thousand leagues under the Black Flag and Sabbath. It’s a fun record without them getting complicated this time.
18. “The Mysteries” John Zorn
I’m not sure what instruments I’m hearing but I think some of them use mallets.
I THINK Bill Frisell plays guitar.
Ok, I don’t know anything about this record except this a beautiful transition for me when it comes dusk and nighttime. As Eno’s “Lux” last year was an enchanting ambient soundtrack for beddy-bye, Zorn’s “The Mysteries” cascades like a waterfall of soft sounds for dusk.
17. “Hesitation Marks” Nine Inch Nails
Break-up/hiatus or not ‘The Slip’ and ‘Ghosts’ were great NIN records; I really don’t think there are properly bad NIN records.
But if people might claim ‘Ghosts’ was too esoteric in its blipping, shadowy auras ‘going nowhere’- this one suffers from the opposite side of the spectrum. It’s put together like some Alternative-Warhorse.
The positives and negatives lie in my own feeling that it sounds forced.
If it’s really really good, I really wouldn’t know.
16. “New” Paul McCartney
First introduced by Mark Ronson’s 60s/70s pastiche of a single, this record is rather the parts of its sum, not a real sum. Four producers (including Ronson, and Giles Martin, son of George) get a hand at new Paul tunes, and then it’s clobbered together to make one album.
This usually works for Paul when he genre-hops, but is most successful when it’s manned by one producer. Most notably: himself. Most recently: Nigel Godrich.
The most beautiful and endearing things about this record is Paul’s efforts to try something…new.
And honestly, he’s got a fucking doctorate in the old dog/new tricks thing.
This is an old man listening to the radio, accepting his successes, and getting driven to the next show.
15. “Slow Focus” Fuck Buttons
I don’t know anything about this person/band. But I like this album. I like walking around while it’s on.
14. “Hearthrob” Tegan and Sara
Certain acts are pressured into making a pop record after a long climb to success. Certain acts just want to let loose and make a pop record just because they fucking want to.
Even within the confines of today’s pop music, Tegan & Sara managed to get away with writing the best songs of that genre. Especially in the ‘album cuts’ area: a void of space on your run-of-the-mill pop records. Yknow, the songs that aren’t singles?
Yet, they still wrote the best hooks and melodies for them.
Now please stop singing on stage with Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.
13. “Reflektor” Arcade Fire
I’ve never liked a complete Arcade Fire album because they seriously don’t hold my attention. Even though I can tell “Wake Up” is feel-good-genius shit. But I can’t listen to a whole album of theirs.
So why am I able to do it with a fucking double album?
There’s this voodoo vibe…the disco, the Caribbean, the goth 80s shit, the paranoia of Bourbon Street being in Outer Space?
I don’t know.
The production isn’t “good” in the standard of “good”- the songs are long; I think the branching out thing feels original (or Talking Heads, swapping Africa for Haiti) and everything works better this way.
This is another ‘night’ album- I think whatever they were doing with millions of violins and percussion before just didn’t fit their nighttime vibe as much as this did.
Oh but fuck those giant head things. Strictly speaking, music is spot on.
12. “The Next Day” David Bowie
Dear Mr. Bowie,
Best New Artist of the Year!
I loved hearing your back-up vocals on that TV On The Radio song and even that messy Scarlett Johansson song. I eagerly awaited lead vocals- and they came in March like POOF- via “Where Are We Now?” one of my favorite songs of the year, if not my favorite.
I also hope you win that album packaging Grammy because your Microsoft Office square over the ‘heroes’ album cover was one of the best pieces of art I’ve seen all year (and about up to my level of skill in graphic design too).
To round out the year, James Murphy DFA’d your ass with the “Love Is Lost” remix, what I consider the best (ten minutes of a) remix this year.
Cheers to aging gracefully into this decade and making sure ‘Heathen’ and ‘Reality’ weren’t the last times we’d hear you.
11. "Fade" Yo La Tengo"
With age comes…shoegazing?
While this is not the coolest or catchiest or most energetic Yo La Tengo release, one thing it does do is create that YLT atmosphere, adding more acoustics and dousing more angelic electric guitar ambience.
This is a lullaby album for me. So much so, I thought they were breaking up when this came out. “Fade”? ..out?
For me personally, I don’t need two Yo La Tengo records that do the same thing; since nothing is aped here and this is a work all it’s own, I’m glad it’s out there and softly playing into my ears.
10. “Push The Sky Away” Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Nick Cave: the paperback writer, the punk preacher. Residue of the sparks of Grinderman are all over this, and Nick/Seeds sculpt a record where you can literally pick anything musically going on and space out. This is usually the lyrics job: Nick Cave is so good at lyrics, it might be taken for granted; but the sad nocturnal arrangements here by the band are delicious and malicious.
09. “Random Access Memories” Daft Punk
Bla, bla, bla. Yeah. It’s fucking great. Next.
08. “Run The Jewels” Killer Mike & El-P
El-P’s manned Killer Mike’s “R.A.P. Music” last year, and now you can hear them rap together for a whole (free) album. The juxtaposition is great between their two flows. These fucking death-funk beats keep it cohesive; and if this is their first go-around, I’d really like more.
For me, this is not as classic (yet) as the Raekwon/Ghostface legend or even the Jadakiss/Styles P, BUT it’s so obvious that it could be.
Everyone more famous than them forgot to make a hip hop album this year! So Run the Jewels seemed to be protecting hip hop in 2013.
07. “Run Fast” The Julie Ruin
I first heard Kathleen Hanna’s ‘Julie Ruin’ in my friend Lisa’s bedroom. It sounded like a bedroom.
That ’98 CLASSIC- paved the way for Hanna’s tenure in Le Tigre, and now this band (named after that record) is doing two things at once: Connecting the dots between Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, while forging ahead a totally new thing for her.
We get mostly live instrumentation, some guy yelling the back in most songs, some real piano sounds/real drum sounds- Le Organic.
Her songs are top notch, not her most anthemetic (who cares) but her best written; and lyrically she seems to be telling a story throughout the whole album.
As one of my favorites growing up, I’m more than happy this is better than good.
06. “The Man Who Died On His Boat” Grouper
I don’t know much about this artist or how she got her sounds. I just could not stop listening to her melodies and the reverb. This album serves best at a very low album; the reverb still permeates. This record is like a world of it’s own. The fact that I don’t know shit about it lends to a greater mystery for my ears.
05. “The 20/20 Experience” (Part One) Justin Timberlake
Making sure “Dick In A Box” isn’t the last song you made. Good call.
Putting Timbaland in a time machine back to 2001. Good call.
Releasing a ‘Part 2’ that might be the worst piece of shit ever. Bad call.
But this is my standing for “Part One”, y’know, the one that came first, hit better, explored more, and challenged some pop ideas while thoroughly upholding the tradition of pop’s R&B side.
On the R&B side- You’re lucky D’Angelo can’t release anything because he’s a crazy person.
On the Pop side- Watch out if Bruno Mars turns out growing up. That guy might’ve had a better year than you. “Treasure” anyone?
04. “Take Me to the Land of Hell” Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band
The allure of a ‘Plastic Ono Band’ has nothing to do with the greatness of this record.
Yoko has fun on the A-Side and is presented so bare-souled and naked (more ‘naked’ than Two Virgins) on the B-Side that this might go down as her go-to record for anyone interested in her pop work.
03. “Wise Up Ghost” Elvis Costello and The Roots
Was very surprised this turned out so good. Why didn’t anyone make up the name Questello? Ha ha…ha..
As the audiophiles that these two guys are, along with the whole Roots crew (minus Black Tought) playing out on this, making a funk-rock that would’ve been a huge mistake if Costello did this with anyone else.
In fact, I supposed it was going to be a huge mistake, but it all came together beautifully.
I think it’s Elvis’ coolest record since “When I Was Cruel” (2002) and it’s my favorite Roots record since “Phrenology” (2002).
02. “Ready to Die” Iggy & The Stooges
On one side we’ve got “DDs” a fanfare-romper about big breasts.
On the other side we have “Unfriendly World” a song about aging, acceptance, death.
Herein lies the beauty of Iggy’s world. The trade-in of heroin for tai-chi, and actually pulling off this long-standing Stooges reunion- there’s room for the chaos but also room for ‘the serenity prayer’.
01. “…Like Clockwork” Queens of the Stone Age
Sexy, dirgey, masterful rock n’ roll. My favorite album this year was, for me, the rock n’ roll album of the year, front to back. The Top 5 albums on this list can be interchanged with each other as far as spots, but an honorable mention goes to QOTSA for being QOTSA, and making sure when they came out of the stable with this one, it was bad ass.
Singles of Honorable Mention:
"treasure" bruno mars
"bitch don’t kill my vibe" kendrick lamar
"get lucky" daft punk ft. pharrell williams, nile rodgers
"new slaves" kanye west
"holy roller" thao & the get down stay down
"good things happen to bad people" richard thompson
"motolovs at poseidon" yk the cynic
"huzzah (remix)" mr. muthafuckin eXquire ft. despot, das racist, danny brown, el-p