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Archive for the ‘Paul Westerberg’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THE REPLACEMENTS-Let It Be (1984).

letitbeI had posted about this record back in 2009.  This is what I write nearly ten years ago, and I’m pretty okay with it.

This is the final album the Replacements made before they moved to the majors.  This disc represents the culmination of their pre-major label sound and is one of my favorite “college albums” of the era.

The disc retains a lot of their sloppy/punk sound of the time, but the songwriting moves forward a little further.  Westerberg wrote some timeless anthems for this disc (“I Will Dare,” “Unsatisfied”).   But, they also sprinkle the disc with silly tracks…not filler exactly…more like balance.  This keeps the disc from being too ponderous.

“I Will Dare” opens the disc. It is bouncy and poppy with an irresistible chorus.   But the bulk of the album is faster and more rocking.  Unlike on their their first two discs, however, the songs run a little bit longer, and they don’t attempt the hardcore feel quite as much.

In fact, there are a few songs that are quite clearly ballads.  “Androgynous” is a piano ballad (!) that could have easily been written by Tom Waits.  “Unsatisfied” is another ballad, although this one has more instrumentation.  Nevertheless, the feeling of yearning is palpable in Westerberg’s voice.  Finally, “Answering Machine” is another flanged-guitar filled song about romance in the age of modern technology (circa 1984).

These relatively light (musically, not emotionally) songs are balanced out quite nicely by the pair of punk/nonsense songs: “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out” and “Gary’s Got a Boner.”  They add some (more) levity to the disc.  As well as some rocking guitars.

But perhaps the most surprising song is the cover of Kiss’ “Black Diamond.”  It is surprisingly faithful to the original, (at a time when Kiss was not even ironically cool) and it rocks just as hard.

This album showcases the diverse aspects of The Replacements perfectly.  While some people say their next album Tim is their masterpiece, I am more inclined to go with Let It Be.  And, for some reason, I really like the cover.

[READ: July 1, 2016] Let It Be

I have often thought I should read this series.  Of course, the last time I thought about it, there were 50-some books in the series and that seemed like way too many.  Well as of June 2017, there are 120 books in the series, which is an insane series to jump into.

But at work, four of the books came across my desk and if that’s not an invitation to read something, I don’t now what is.  So I’ve decided to read these four and we’ll see if that leads to more.

This was an interesting book to start with because it really set the tone for the series, by which I mean, as far as I can tell, anything goes.

Colin Meloy (this was written when The Decemberists were just starting to get a buzz around them.  In fact he references his girlfriend who is now his wife) makes this a very personal account about his childhood and his exposure to this album (and others) from his uncle.  So this book is a lot more about (young) Colin and his friend than the ‘Mats, but it’s obvious that the ‘Mats made Meloy who he is.   There’s very little in the way of production information or “research” (until the end).  Rather, it’s just a good story–from a future storyteller. (more…)

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regifterSOUNDTRACK: CONOR OBERST-Tiny Desk Concert #367 (June 23, 2014).

conoI’ve never been a fan of Conor Oberst (or any of his many bands). I really don’t like his voice, which I admit sounds sometimes like Paul Westerberg, but I’d just rather listen to Paul Westerberg. But one nice thing about watching the Tiny Desk Concerts is that it gets you to focus on a band for fifteen minutes to really see an artist perform.

I still don’t really like Oberst’s voice, but I like his song construction and he seems like a very nice guy. On this current tour, Dawes is his backing band and for the Tiny Desk Concert Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith from Dawes accompany him. And I think they really help the songs grow.

“Time Forget “ is certainly a catchy song and when Dawes kicks in it sounds really good. “Double Life” features a little too much of just Oberst (his voice is really quite wavery at times here—he says it’s early to be singing), but the parts with Dawes are fuller and meatier. “Zigzagging Towards the Light” has very weird backing vocals from the Goldsmiths–I find them unsettling almost like ghosts.   Although Oberst’s voice sounds better here and by the end the song they come together very nicely. “Artifact #1” is a nice collaborative song (I feel like Dawes’ contribution makes the song really shine).

As the show ends, Oberst presents to Bob Boilen an even Tinier Desk which is very funny, and Oberst says he regrets wearing the heavy coat (which does look uncomfortable).

[READ: July 5, 2014] Re-gifters

This was an interesting story about a young girl, Jen Dickson, who has two things going on in her life: lust for a boy and an upcoming Hapkido competition.

Jen (real name Dik Seong Jen, but Koreans put the first name last so it becomes Jen Dickson or Dixie as her friends call her) is excellent at Hapkido—she is intense and channels her anger and energy into her Ki.  At least she was until she fell for classmate Adam.  Now suddenly Adam is all she can think about and her Ki has gone out the window. Sadly for her, not only doesn’t Adam know she exists, she wasn’t even invited to his birthday party—and everyone was invited to his party.  Jen’s best friend Avril helps her out through most of this—they’re in hapkido class together and hang out all the time.   Avril describes Jen’s personality as spiky.

Jens’ family is not rich, but they value Hapkdio as a traditional sport, so they are willing to pay for her lessons, especially since she is so good.  Her mom makes jewelry and sells it at a local market. One day, when delivering the jewelery she is harassed and called all kinds of racist names by some street thugs. Surprisingly, one of them, Dillinger, comes to her rescue, telling his boys not to pick on the little girl. He sends her running (even though she was about ready to fight). While at the store she sees a beautiful Hwarang Warrior figure. It costs $199, and there’s no way she can afford it.

These stories converge in a painfully obvious way. There is an upcoming Hapkido competition. The entry is $100, so her father gives her the money. Then, it turns out that her invitation to Adam’s party was put in the wrong locker at school. She thinks the warrior would make a great present for Adam, so she uses that tournament money and her own money to buy this $200 item (gasp!). (more…)

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songbookSOUNDTRACK: songs from Songbook (2002).

songbook2Songbook came with an 11 song CD.  I’m curious, given the way he speaks so lovingly of the songs in the book how come more bands/labels didn’t want to be included on it.  The proceeds went to charity and it would just be more exposure for the artists.  There were a lot of songs I didn’t know and would love to have heard (or would love to hear while I was reading).  And frankly I see no downside to throwing a track on a compilation which is a collection of someone’s favorite songs.  Of course, things were very different in the music world in 2002.  Now, someone will just make a playlist on their iPod of theses songs, and post them to Spotify.

PAUL WESTERBERG-“Born for Me.” I’m much more of a fan of Westerberg with the Replacements, as he got a little too polished as a solo guy.  But this song has a fun, shambolic quality to it (it doesn’t even sound like Westerberg singing).  It wouldn’t be a favorite song of mine, but it is a nice one.

TEENAGE FANCLUB “Your Love is the Place Where I Come From” and “Ain’t That Enough.”  I really like Teenage Fanclub a lot.  They are one of my favorite jangly pop bands.  So these two songs rank pretty high for me.  Although I admit to liking their slightly more rocking songs a bit more, “Your Love” is a very pretty ballad and “Ain’t That Enough” is just gorgeous.

THE BIBLE- “Glorybound” Hornby says he knew these guys.  It’s an okay song, a little too slick for me and very of its time.

AIMEE MANN-“I’ve Had It”  I like Aimee Mann very much.  I can’t say that I paid a ton of attention to the lyrics of this song (I didn’t know it was about touring) but I’ve always liked it—the understated yet beautiful melody and chorus are very nice.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT-“One Man Guy” I like Rufus a lot.  I don’t own any of his music, but I really like everything I hear from him.  His delivery is so louche, it makes me smile every time.  This song is actually one his father wrote and sang many years ago (very differently).

ROD STEWART-“Mama You Been on My Mind” Hornby’s essay on Rod Stewart is hilarious.  And his defense of early Stewart is wholly believable.  I, of course, know Rod from his later, laughable stuff, so I never considered his early work  But this track is pretty good.

BADLY DRAWN BOY-“A Minor Incident” Sarah and I love Badly Drawn Boy, and this soundtrack in particular.  Hornby’s discussion of how he Damon got to do the soundtrack is very interesting.

BEN FOLDS FIVE-“Smoke” I’ve liked Ben for years now (going to see him in two weeks).  This song has always been a favorite both for the lyrics, which are great and because that weird harp-type sound is him playing the strings of his grand piano with a pick.

MARK MULCAHY-“Hey Self Defeater” I don’t know Mulcahy at all.  This song has a beautiful wavery guitar and gentle vocals (it’s funny to read about Hornby rocking out when most of this disc is quite mellow).

ANI DIFRANCO-“You Had Time” I was a huge Ani DiFranco fan back in the day, but this song is unknown to me, or should I say unfamiliar to me.  It’s on one of her very early albums.  Perhaps it’s more that I must have ignored the piano opening, which Hornby pays close attention to and really explains it in a useful way, showing how it is more about a beautiful melody being born from chaos.  And now I respect the song a lot more.

[READ: 2002 and July 1, 2013] Songbook

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written this very book in my head….  A list of favorite songs and why they are so important to me?  How cool is that.  I have no idea how come Hornby got to write it (I know, High Fidelity), but still, what a nice cozy assignment.  And to have this book illustrated by Marcel Dzama is even cooler.

This book came out in 2002 after About a Boy (and in the year that About a Boy was being turned into a film).  Hornby had recently hooked up with the McSweeney’s gang and began writing for The Believer in 2003.

I had no idea that the book was released in the UK under a different name (31 Songs) or that they also released an accompanying CD (A Selection of Music from 31 Songs) with 18 songs on it (see my comment above about CDs).  Although we got fewer songs on the disc in the US, at least ours came with the book. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DARK WAS THE NIGHT-That Disc (2009).

The second disc in this set is a somewhat more raucous affair than the first (which was pretty much all acoustic performances).  On the surface, this seemed like the better disc of the two.  I like so many bands on this disc: Spoon, Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket, The New Pornographers, Stuart Murdoch, Blonde Redhead.

And the disc starts out really great. The Spoon track, “Well Alright” may just be my favorite song on the whole compilation.  The Arcade Fire are typically great.  Beirut, whom I’d not heard before have a great track and My Morning Jacket’s song is very good, in a mellow sort of way.

From there, though, the disc kind of goes downhill. The Sharon Jones track is okay.  Dave Sitek’s (of TV on the Radio whom I love) track is fine.  It’s very basic, especially for him.  It has grown on me somewhat, but it’s nothing too exciting.  The New Pornographers track is catchy but nothing amazing.  Even the Stuart Murdoch (who has never done a bad track) song is mild at best.

But Riceboy Sleeps, which is a side project from the amazing Sigur Rós just kills the disc in its tracks.  The thing about Sigur Rós is that if you’re not in the mood for them, they are too ponderous by half.  So, in the midst of these kind of rocking songs, this 9 minutes ambient instrumental is just death.  And, it’s followed by a dreadful version of “amazing Grace” by the usually delightful Cat Power.

And then comes the Conor Oberst song.  This is the second song by him that I’ve listened to in a short period of time (the other was on Future Soundtrack of America).  And I just don’t get this guy’s appeal.  I feel like I must be a crotchety old man thinking this but I’ll say it: he sounds like a total knockoff of Paul Westerberg.  And the weird thing is, he sounds like a 19 year old P.W. singing the songs of the middle-aged P.W.  “Lua,” the track on here has some clever wordplay, but the melody of the song is pretty much note for note of The Replacements “Sadly Beautiful.”

And at this point in the disc I never even give Blonde Redhead and Kevin Drew a fair chance.

Track sequence means a lot, and I fear they do a disservice to the disc on this one.  I’m still a fan of Disc One and there’s a number of great tracks on Disc Two, but I was rather disappointed by this one.

[READ: December 22, 2009] Love as a Foreign Language Vol. 2

This volume concludes this engaging romance from Oni Press.

I was a little concerned as the volume opened because the Joel-Hana budding romance is derailed by a couple of silly misunderstandings.  (I was afraid we were heading towards TV-slapstick territory).  But, they proved to be just a few moments of comic relief in what was heading into a pretty emotional conclusion.

There’s also the sudden realization/crisis that his fellow teacher, the fun and flirty British woman also has a thing for Joel (what’s a guy to do with two women into him?  And realistically a British romance seems more feasible than a Korean one). (more…)

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