Category: Links

I Set My Face To The Hillside

You should really listen to the entire album. Tortoise’s TNT (1998) is chock full of post-rock goodness, and is most definitely worthy of your attention, whatever your tastes may be – you can’t listen to it and not feel an odd combination of relaxation and stimulation, and if you can, then you’re clearly an inhuman cosmobot from beyond the moon. I’ll be honest with you; Tortoise is not one of my favourite bands, and nor is TNT one of my favourite albums. But it is a damn good one, and one possessed of a distinctive brand of easygoing intellectualism that never fails to reinvigorate. ‘I Set My Face To The Hillside’ is a standout on this record, one that arguably embodies what makes TNT superior, in my mind, to the sometimes-more-lauded Millions Now Living Will Never Die (1996). Just take a listen to that introduction, with its crowd noise and the simple melody of a scratchy acoustic guitar. It’s just so human, and it is this that sets the whole album apart. TNT is experimental, electronic and intellectual, to varying degrees, but it is also relentlessly welcoming, and that is a very difficult balance to achieve.




So I was looking through some drum solos on Letterman’s show following a recommendation by Bill Bruford to check out Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree, when I stumble upon this. There are two things that shock me, although in retrospect, neither should. Not only is Justin Bieber actually not a bad drummer, but all of the comments on the video make it out as if he was some pathetic try-hard. Yes yes, Youtube comments are for very silly people, I’m aware. It’s just an interesting universe when he’s disparaged for actually showing a degree of talent whereas a Youtube “drum cover” star like Cobus gets to sell DVDs.


If you didn’t know who Justin Bieber was, could you really tell the difference between the two?


Also in Metal news, Megadeth have announced their new album, titled TH1RT3EN (facepalm.jpg). Actually they announced it a while ago, but interesting to note, it comes out on the same day as Metallica’s album. Did Metallica and Lou Reed want to encourage some ol’ fashioned rivalry? Knowing the two camps, even when they’re supposedly at peace I wouldn’t put it past them. After all, Megadeth stands no chance in any sales race (Metallica has 100 million sales, Megadeth has 20 million). Continue reading

Yeah, totally man


-James Hetfield in Sydney, September 18 2010.

Any song, any song, but why oh why did such an intro warrant Fuel. Don’t even get me started on all his crap about “The Metallica Family” cos “man I hope our music makes you feel good cos it makes us feel good and makes us feel even better knowing people like you get something out of it”. Less talky more shouty. I want to hear you tell me I’m going to be ripped apart by demons/drugs/lightning/the justice system, not welcome me into your Christy family.

In the indispensable words of Otto Mann: “real songs are about deals with the devil, far off lands, and smoke in relation to water”. Not fucking Fuel.

Meanwhile, Metallica’s collaboration with Lou Reed, Lulu, is now seemingly complete and will be in stores by November. While not particularly familiar with Reed asides from Velvet Underground (unlike Diz’s obsession with him), I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m just hoping Lou insists on his production, not Metallica’s. I’m honestly perplexed at how someone as experienced as Rick Rubin can get as bad of a mix as Death Magnetic. Then again, Master of Puppets and And Justice For All are horribly mixed too, so it’s clear that Metallica don’t like the sound of their own instruments.

This is too depressing. Let’s relax by listening to Metallica when they actually sounded good.

Fall At Your Feet

I never expected myself to like this song, or Crowded House really. Of course the name was familiar, how could it not be, but it wasn’t like I could really sing any of their songs. Then some guy on some forums told me to check them out, because they were “like the Aussie/Kiwi Beatles dude”. I’m still surprised as to how accurate that description is.

It’s tempting to call this song sappy, or just a “decent” pop song. After all; what is there to it? Simple drum beats (there’s barely a fill in it), simple bass lines and basic guitar and keyboard melodies. Sure the harmonies are nice, but they’re hardly difficult. It even follows a I-V-VI-IV chord progression for god’s sake.

But that doesn’t matter. Sure instrumentation isn’t difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. Those harmonies? They’re beautiful. Neil Finn’s singing? It’s so withdrawn, broody and confused in parts, yet  so clear and pure in others. As soon as that chorus hits, what sounds like typical soft-rock transforms into a transcendent moment of beauty, with harmonies so sweet that only siblings can achieve. And the shouting backing vocals in the bridge… just perfect. Did I even mention the lyrics?

I’ll stop. I love this song. More than any other in the last year it’s taught me simply to love music, to love singing and even to love life. Never before have I heard something so delicately powerful, and I dare say, I’m not sure if I ever will again.

[There are a lot of videos in this post. I apologise, but I felt it was the only real way to get my point across. You don’t have to watch them all]

Ah yes, the drum solo. Please don’t leave, don’t use this number to go to the bathroom and get a drink. I promise you it’ll be interesting.

Really it’s not surprising why drum solos get a bad rap. There’s enough negative press about guitar solos as it is, and that’s the one that makes squiggly exciting noises that can be bent by ungodly amounts of pedals, computer processing and any other form of electronics conceived by man. And when your audience is bored of some long-haired jock playing with electricity, well, how does a drum solo begin to compare?

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Nottingham Lace

“Oh god, Buckethead.”

Yeah I know how alternative and indie purists are bound to react, mainly because it occurs all the time. You have a dichotomy between those to whom the electric guitar is some musical god and those who flinch at the notion of a guitar solo with even basic tonality. Would that there were more who could simply appreciate metal music for what it is. We don’t have to compare Buckethead to Eric Clapton (who’s like so much better because he plays with feel and soul!), Wes Montgomery or Yngwie Malmsteen, and really to do so would be a futile effort, because honestly, nobody really sounds like Buckethead.

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Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell

The year was 1997, and the folks at Sony decided to do something nice. They offered to let Iggy Pop oversee the remixing of Raw Power (1973), the gloriously messy, (then) final album by Iggy and his partners in volume, The Stooges. Big mistake. Big, beautiful, glorious, ridiculous mistake. Iggy decided he was going to abandon the somewhat ‘arty’ mix done by friend and champion David Bowie for the album’s original release, and instead give Raw Power a sound to live up to its title. It did. Best summary: Everything Distorted, All The Time. Iggy called it a ‘very violent mix’. Understatement. This mix slaughters its listeners, skins them and eats their brains in order to gain their intelligence. In 2010 they re-released the album once more, this time reverting to the original Bowie mix. I have not heard this latest release, and frankly, I don’t care to. I have heard the definitive Raw Power, and it is big, loud, messy, ugly and stupid to the point of genius. I was tempted to go for one of the comparatively cerebral cuts from the album, but that would be taking the easy way out. You haven’t really heard this album until you begin to fear for your speakers.

There’s a few reasons I posted this tune, but first and foremost; it’s really really good. Seriously, listen to it and tell me you do not like it. Fantastically harmonic, groovy and certainly soulful; it’s no surprise it crossed over to pop audiences when released in 1966. No, the real surprise is that jazz musicians still liked it. Unlike the cringing and face-palming following any rendition of “Birdland” and “Chameleon”, nobody is particularly bothered with how smooth Mercy, Mercy, Mercy is. It’s a piece that’s simply the sign of a remarkable composer, of a beautiful, undying tune.

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