Dig Those Groovy Tunes!

the only sound that's left after the ambulances go

Video of the Week: “Rock ‘N’ Roll” by The Runaways March 2, 2013

Today (or yesterday, depending on when this gets posted and what time zone we’re going by) starts Women’s History Month.  So I’ve decided to celebrate with this video capturing a live performance by one of the most badass bands of all time, The Runaways.  For some reason (probably that they were more or less seen as a gimmick or a novelty or whatever, which yeah, they were kind of marketed as), they were way more popular in Japan than in their native US (probably because being a gimmick/novelty does not hurt one’s street cred in Japan like it does in the states.  It might even be actively encouraged, or so I’ve been led to believe).  Which is a shame, because they really rocked hard-core.  Their image and musical style was very glam (check out frontwoman Cherie Currie’s Ziggy Stardust swagger in this video), but as far as attitude and sticking it to the man, they were just as punk as, well, their punk contemporaries (yeah, deal with it, Sex Pistols).  I mean, they were the biggest all-female rock band of their time, and just in case their name doesn’t ring a bell, surely you’ve at least heard of Joan Jett and possibly Lita Ford, both of whom got their start in The Runaways (Joan’s the one in the red jumpsuit, like I even need to point that out since her look still hasn’t changed much except for that brief period when she had the platinum blond buzzcut; Lita’s the one in the supershiny short-shorts).  That’s right.  Two guitar hero(in)es in the making here.  And the thing I love about this song is, it’s like those myriad songs about how rock ‘n’ roll had a profound impact on an impressionable youth (think “Shooting Star” by…one of those Paul Rogers groups or something…you know the one, about Johnny and how old he was when he heard his first Beatles song.  That one), but this one is about it affecting a young girl in that way, which is kind of unusual even today.   Enjoy.

 

 

Oh, and one last thing:  a few years ago, a biopic of The Runaways called (duh!) The Runaways was made.  The feature-length debut of music video director Floria Sigismondi (she did that weird Christina Aguilera “Fighter” video.  Also, she’s done at least one video for each of Jack White’s bands.  Which makes her pretty awesome in my book), the flick is worth a watch, even if you’re a bit skeptical of Kristen Stewart’s acting skills (I was/still kind of am.  But she was pretty good as Joan Jett in this movie, I thought) or wary of seeing Dakota Fanning in fancy lingerie (don’t ask.  For what it’s worth, it’s an iconic outfit that Cherie Currie really did wear in real life when she was about the same age, and she was more or less marketed against her will as jailbait.  Currie, I mean, not Fanning.  Oh, and just be glad you’re not watching Hounddog.  Yipes), or if you’re made uncomfortable by the occasional lesbian subtext (because Joan Jett actually is…I’m not entirely sure what, but she’s almost definitely not totally heterosexual, at the very least).

 

Video of the Week: “Eighteen” by Alice Cooper February 16, 2012

This week’s video is dedicated to my kid brother, who’s celebrating a very special birthday today.  Happy b-day, bro!

 

 

Video(s) of the Week (or, y’know, whatever): “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”, etc. by The Darkness February 9, 2012

This week, I give you a trilogy of videos featuring British neo-glam-rockers The Darkness and their horseshoe crab-shaped spaceship of hedonistic fantabulosity.  First up is their most famous song/video, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”.  Being the bitter little Valentine’s Scrooge that I am, I wasn’t planning on posting a Video of the Week for a song that had anything positive to say about love this close to the dreaded holiday.  However, a few nights ago an annual event that, ordinarily, I also care very little for — that is, the Superbowl — reminded me of just how awesome this song is.  Admidst all of the expensive overblown crap that makes up the majority of Super Bowl advertising (the kind that has me screaming uncharacteristic obscenities at the TV such as, “godaddy.co?!  How ’bout gofuckyourself.repeatedly!”), there was this expensive overblown work of genius supposedly made to promote some product or other by Samsung (like I gave a crap about that), but actually was a celebration of universal joy and an official announcement for those who were not previously in the know that The Darkness are back!  I mean, it’s cute that Samsung believes they can convince the masses that some new…thingy…can generate that much excitement and merriment out of nowhere, but I’m pretty sure it was Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins’s sudden and unexplained materialization — complete with guitar and hot-pink-striped-jumpsuit — that was the real cause of the mass cavort-fest that ensued.  I know I was so excited, I was almost able to ignore the unfortunate new growth of hair Justin’s got attached to his face.  To be quite honest, though, I didn’t discover how awesome The Darkness were until around 2008, when VH1 mentioned them on an episode of I Love the New Millenium.  See, back in 2003, when the song and video came out, I was a lot younger and more prudish than I am today, and so a video that begins with a naked man emerging from a heart-shaped hottub and getting dried (fondled?) by a big ol’ towel monster in a room decorated with lesbo-erotic naked sculpture just didn’t appeal to me, no matter how awesome the rest of the video was (not to mention how adorable and cuddly that towel monster looks, nor how hot I would eventually find said naked man to be).  But at nineteen, at which age I was already in the middle of a glam rock obsession (T. Rex and early Bowie and the like), I realized what I couldn’t have known as a sheltered fourteen-year-old:  that this crap was amazing.  So without any further ado, here’s the pure, undiluted joy that is “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”:

 

 

Up next, we have the much lesser-known “Friday Night”, which picks up exactly where “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” left off.  Having defeated the dreaded Puppet-Cthulhu of Doom, The Darkness now find themselves crash landing in the middle of the ocean on good ol’ planet earth.  They eventually find themselves stranded in an episode of The Mighty Boosh (even though this video was made at least a year before “The Nightmare of Milky Joe” aired), where they are pampered by leftover extras from the most recent low-budget, poorly-researched production of South Pacific.  I’m not entirely comfortable with the whole appropriation/fetishization/stereotyping of indiginous island women, but otherwise, this video is tons of fun.  Particularly the incredibly fake croc/gator that appears during the “Tuesday gymnastics” line.  And the Bugs Bunny-type scenario that the band wind up in at the video’s end.   And yes, I know the song’s lyrics are quite silly.  Until you get to the line towards the end where he sings “‘Cause the way she moves moves me to write bad poetry,” which leads me to believe that’s entirely the point.  And anyway, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, The Darkness are kind of a silly band.  And somehow that just seems to add to their awesomeness.

 

 

While “Friday Night” was a direct sequel to “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”, it’s a bit ambiguous where “Growing on Me” fits into the whole space oddysey narrative of the previous two videos.  My strongest guess is that it’s a prequel to “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”, in which we get to see how The Darkness were conceived (apparently by pterodactyl-on-spaceship vo-dee-oh-do-do), and apparently hatched out of egg-type-sac-thingies laid by their mothership (haha, get it?! Mothership?!).  They grow fast from nearly-pubescent, helicopter-savvy boys to grown men who spend their days frolicking around a mansion in some dimensional intersection of the English countryside (circa 18-something) and fairyland.  Also, in case “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” didn’t give you quite enough of Mr. Hawkins prancing around in nothing but a pixel bikini, there’s even more of that in this one.  Y’know, if you’re into that kinda thing (like I know I am).  Apparently this song is about genital warts.  Which I thought was just an immature joke/speculation, but the more I listen to this song, the more I believe it’s true.  Whatever.  All’s I know is, the song frickin’ rocks.

 

 

So I’ve decided to make this week a themed week, ‘Cause why not? September 6, 2011

Filed under: Queen — yourbirdcansing88 @ 9:24 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

And this week’s theme is Queen (yipes.  Try saying that five times fast).  For various reasons, the most obvious being that yesterday was Freddie Mercury’s birthday, but also because this year marks a number of other important anniversaries regarding Queen, including the 40th anniversary of the band’s genesis, and the 20th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death (*sob*).  And also because I’ve been meaning to geek about Queen on this blog for the last month or so, as I’ve recently become über obsessed with the band (I’ve been a big Queen fan for most of my life, but until now I was only really aware of some of their more well-known material.  And now I’ve got their first four albums on CD.  With BONUS DISCS!).  So yeah, this week, I celebrate my love for Queen.

So Google did something kinda awesome for Freddie’s birthday yesterday:

My favorite part is around 1:15, because if anyone ever had adorable mustachioed bicycle-riding bears in their royal menagerie, Freddie would have.

 

I Never Thought I’d Look Forward to an Episode of “That Metal Show”… June 11, 2010

"Does this guy know how to party or what?!" --Wayne Campbell

…but I’m looking forward to the episode premiering tomorrow at 11:00 p.m.  Why, you may ask?  Oh, I dunno, maybe because ALICE FREAKIN’ COOPER, THE COOLEST OLD-SCHOOL METAL DUDE IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD is going to be on the show.  That’s why I’m looking forward to this particular episode of what I normally consider to be one of the blandest programs on VH1 Classic (I guess maybe it’s ’cause I don’t really consider myself a metalhead, though I do like a good deal of old-school metal.  And maybe it’s because the show’s a little too much talk, not enough rawk for my tastes).  But if anyone can make it worth watching, it’s Mr. Cooper.  I mean, come on, the guy makes golf seem almost badass.

 

Today’s post has been brought to you by LJ Lawrence and his fantastic facial hair of DOOM! June 6, 2010

Yup, this is totally the background on my laptop right now. Because LJ's new mustache is just THAT awesome.

Having lately viewed some recent images and videos of The Dead Weather (you know, that band I was all psyched about around the time I started this blog and since have written oodles and oodles of posts on of varying degrees of relevance?  Yeah, they’re back with a new album already.  And, amazingly, I have yet to get my hands on it), I couldn’t help but notice the manly new growth of hair on bassist Little Jack “LJ” Lawrence’s once-boyish face.  And since LJ, up until now, has probably changed the least in appearance out of all the people who’ve been in bands with Jack White (including Jack White himself, who seems to change his hairstyle every time a new album comes out.  Lately he seems to be sporting a vaguely girlish Alvin-Lee-at-Woodstock kinda ‘do — that is, if Alvin Lee decided to go goth at Woodstock, highly unlikely considering goth did not exist as a fashion statement until around the time The Cure came out, unless you want to count proto-goths like Alice Cooper and Sally Field.  Now, where was I?  Oh, yeah, LJ), and since I was just waiting for an excuse to dedicate an entire post to the world’s most adorkable bassist (who also happens to have some of the most gorgeous hair I have ever seen and I must find out what kind of shampoo and/or conditioner he uses), I decided what they hey?  So tonight, I celebrate my love for Little Jack.  As well as the power a mere mustache has to make what used to be one of the most innocuous-looking musicians ever to collaborate with Jack White (yes, even Meg would look almost hostile next to the pre-whiskered LJ) look downright sinister.  Like some absinthe-drinking evil genius who may or may not also be a vampire and/or warlock…  

For comparison, here are two music videos featuring LJ.  The first is an old video from one of LJ’s previous bands (as far as bands go, LJ is quite possibly the only artist in either The Dead Weather or The Raconteurs who is more prolific than Mr. White), The Greenhornes, where the nerdy-awesome bassist is clean-shaven and joins his bandmates to spread joy and peace and retro-delic swirls of color.  In the latter video, the latest from The Dead Weather, brief glimpses can be seen of LJ (although the video is dominated by frontpersons Alison Mosshart and Jack White) with his newfound whiskers of terror!  And naturally, this video is much darker.  Is this perhaps because of LJ Lawrence’s sudden aversion to the ol’ razor?  Probably not.  But that’s not going to keep me from pretending to theorize that LJ’s facial hair or lack thereof determines the degree of darkness in the videos he appears in (a theory which I know full well can be very easily refuted by the videos for The Raconteurs’ “Broken Boy Soldier” — no mustache, but still a plenty creepy video, esp. since I’m pretty sure Floria Sigismondi, the director of the “Broken Boy Soldier” vid also direced “Die By the Drop” — and Blanche’s very death-centric “Someday” — which not only features Little Jack with no facial hair, but also features him playing the banjo — how ominous could that possibly be?  The answer:  very).  Because I love making up weird theories like that in my spare time…you should hear my latest one about The Eagles’ “Hotel California” being a result of the song’s writer being possessed by the spirit of Shirley Jackson…except I actually almost believe that one myself.  Seriously, go and read “A Visit” and tell me “Hotel California” isn’t some sort of spiritual successor…but anyway, back to the LJ and the mustache business…  

By the way, it seems as though LJ now has not only a mustache, but a full-fledged goatee…check it out…  

 

The Dead Weather: So Much More than Jack White’s Other Other Band July 17, 2009

HorehoundEver since March, when word got out that Jack White had formed a new band called The Dead Weather, I’d been anxiously awaiting the release of their debut album, Horehound.  Around that time I had started regarding Mr. White as the savior of high-quality rock and roll in this era of overall musical mediocrity, so naturally my expectations were high from the start.  Now that I’ve finally gotten Horehound and have listened to it, I am amazed to say that the album has exceeded those already astronomical expectations.  I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive when I looked through the insert before putting on the CD (as I’ve mentioned before, the pre-listen glance through the insert is a new-CD ritual for me) and upon skimming the lyrics realized that pretty much all the songs (with the exception of “3 Birds”, which has no lyrics) have similar subject matter:  almost all the songs seem to be about someone in a mutually abusive, destructive, and/or sadomasochistic relationship.  I wondered if The Dead Weather’s music would be interesting enough to carry a common theme without sounding monotonous.  After listening to their album a couple of times, I can confidently say that they’ve succeeded.

There was a time when I referred to The Dead Weather as “Jack White’s new band.”  I have since seen the error of my ways, as this description doesn’t do the band justice.  Perhaps the biggest surprise I came across whilst listening to Horehound is that Jack White, much as I revere him and his seemingly boundless talent, is not the most impressive part of The Dead Weather.  Don’t get me wrong, his drumming is fantastic, and not just for a guy who’s mainly recognized as a guitarist.  It’s just that, on the few opportunities that White gets to provide lead vocals (with the exception of “Will There Be Enough Water?”), he comes off as…well…kind of annoying.  I’m not saying that his vocal itself is annoying; I’ve always been a fan of White’s voice and one album isn’t going to change that.  But “I Cut Like a Buffalo,” on which White provides lead vocals throughout, could have been a pretty good song if it didn’t feature the sound of simulated choking, which is at best unnecessary, and at worst downright disturbing.  Then there’s “Treat Me Like Your Mother” and “Rocking Horse,” on which lead vocals alternate between White and Mosshart.  In the former, the verses sung by Mosshart alone are great, and the part where she and White simultaneously spell “M-A-N-I-P-U-late” is pretty good, but the “Who’s got it figured out?” rap segments of the song, performed primarily by White, are less than extraordinary.  As for the latter, the only real problem I have with that one is the very fact that the lead vocals do alternate, and a bit too frequently (in the first couple of verses, the vocals are swapped every two or three lines).  I honestly think the song would sound much better if only one of the two members provided the lead vocals, or at least alternated every verse instead of every few lines.  But hey, that’s just me.

No, the member of the band who steals the show – quite possibly the only person who could ever upstage Jack White…well, short of Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, or Mick Jagger – is Alison Mosshart, hands down.  Her vocals – which sound like the love-child of Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison – suit the band’s dark and heavy blues-rock sound perfectly.  At times, the band even sounds like a modern, female-fronted equivalent of The Doors.  This is especially true for the songs “So Far from Your Weapon” and “No Hassle Night.”  In my humble opinion, the former is the best song on the album, with the slowly building music and threatening lyric (sample:  “There’s a bullet in my pocket burnin’ a hole. / You’re so far from your weapon and the place you were born.”) meshing perfectly with Mosshart’s low, seductive lead vocal, which is complemented perfectly in a call-and-response between her and all three of the other members.  Another high point on the album is the opening track, “60 Feet Tall,” in which Mosshart confidently wails to a lover who’s “cruel and shameless…cold and dangerous” that she’s up for the challenge:  “I can take the trouble, / I’m 60 feet tall!”  The album’s closing track, “Will There Be Enough Water?” also stands out.  It’s long and slow, not as heavy as the other songs on Horehound, and reminiscent of Bob Dylan (one could even say the lyric makes reference to an early Bob Dylan song, “When the Ship Comes In.”  And knowing what a huge influence Dylan has had on White, it’s probably a conscious reference).  The song features Jack White on the lead vocal, singing what Jack White, after all, sings best:  pure blues-rock.  After the song fades out, the sound of crickets can be heard for several seconds before the album finishes completely.  Quite a marvelous way to finish a great album.

Those of us who’ve waited as long for Horehound as I have were teased with a couple of singles and maybe a handful of live performances posted on YouTube while we waited.  Yet the two songs that were released as singles so far (“Hang You From the Heavens” and “Treat Me Like Your Mother”), though both fairly good, don’t even begin to demonstrate how great The Dead Weather really are.  If you haven’t gotten Horehound yet, and you’re into hard rock and/or blues, or are otherwise open-minded when it comes to music, I would highly recommend that you run – don’t walk – to your nearest music-selling establishment as soon as possible and get Horehound.