Monitor Down

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Archive for the ‘Squawk, squawk, squawk’ Category

Some Good Songs to Download to Your iBrain

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dr pepperLike many people, there are songs constantly streaming in my head. They can fade in like a mist, or come crashing onto the scene like a warthog. They can drown out things like real-life conversations, or simply hang in the background while I go about my day. It’s like having a built-in music player, sans record-industry meddling. iTunes, meet iBrain. Now kindly go get iBrain a Dr. Pepper.

The thing about my iBrain, though, is it doesn’t cost anything. Not a dollar a download, not one cent a download, nothing. Even better, there’s no account to sign up for, no annoying emails to block, and no mega-corporation to decide what songs are allowed to be there. Unless you count taste. I usually let Taste, LTD pretty much do what it wants.

So here are a few of the songs that have been occupying my iBrain rotation as of late. Feel free to listen in, start your own mental download, and show the industry suits that you’ll listen to whatever you want, when you want. As long as it’s not while your boss or significant other is saying something important. That’s just bad for business.

The Vines, Autumn Shade II. Like the first one, but Craig Nichols nailed the wispy, esoteric harmonies even harder, and it survives more than three listens.

Blur, Tracy Jacks. Because that guitar part is catchier than a left-fielder with sonar. Whoa, did a sports analogy just make it onto this blog?

Radiohead, I Might Be Wrong. This riff could smash a hole in the side of your grandaddy’s barn without an ounce of remorse. I heard it even robbed a nun in broad daylight. Shame on it.

David Bowie, New Killer Star. The bassline to this song would make me punch a guy in the face, if the music video didn’t make me feel dizzy.

The Primrose League, Stealing All Those Cars. It’s not as well-known as some, but the intricate guitar work and vocal harmonies manage to find their way into your bloodstream.

The Smashing Pumpkins, Hummer. That opening solo is like a bucket of cold water on a saturday morning, but somewhat more awesome.

The Von Bondies, C’mon, C’mon. Ok, I watch TV. But screw you if you don’t appreciate 1-2-4 guitar stumming and a loud voice. At least I’m not repping Jet.

Versa Vice, It’s Clear. Another lesser-known band, but the guitar and bass are the muggers who 1-2 you to death in the alleyway behind Circle-K.

Blur, Death of a Party. I usually try to avoid dumping the same band on people twice, but the creepy vibes from this one have a tendency to linger. You just try to shake them off.

Queens of the Stone Age, Make It Wit Chu. Who knew a song titled in text speak would actually be good? Josh Homme once again demonstrates his ability to get inside your head with a piano and a guitar.

Gran Ronde, Wisdom. This short number hits the pleasing-guitar-riff quotient right on the head.

Written by Peter Kimmich

September 8, 2009 at 1:03 pm

The Curioso’s Guide to Radiohead

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radioheadThere are three things everyone seems to have opinions about: politics, religion, and Radiohead. On two of those topics, one dissenting view can cause a flat-out argument. When it’s Radiohead, it can cause someone to go insane. It’s quite a phenomenon.

That’s because, like politics and religion, Radiohead is complicated. When an ardent Radiohead fan hears disparaging remarks, or even worse, lack of acknowledgment about their favorite band, it’s easy for them to assume the disparager is uninitiated, and therefore not equipped to make the call. Because “getting” Radiohead isn’t like “getting” Puddle of Mudd. It doesn’t just happen after hearing a couple of songs on Internet radio (“They’re so dreary and weird … how can you like this?”). Most people who are wanton over Radiohead have listened to them for years, seen them evolve, and have grown immensely attached to them.

This is why whenever you ask someone what they like about Radiohead, you get a vague, impassioned gushing of adjectives, with no real explanation. It can leave you even more clueless than before. Or thinking your friends are hippies.

But if you’re into music, and a little open-minded, Radiohead is totally worth getting into. Because the hype is true. They’re like the 200-piece orchestra of pop bands. They’re a punk mentality shoved into something that is about as far from punk as you can get (without involving bagpipes or accordions. Yet.) Their music explains why Thom Yorke is so twitchy and paranoid, and why he sings like that. (He doesn’t always.) Radiohead is pure, 80-proof sonic bliss, if you get what they’re doing.
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Written by Peter Kimmich

August 31, 2009 at 12:41 pm

So You Think Nirvana Sucks…

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nirvanaPeople can say some pretty stupid things online. Maybe it’s the anonymity, maybe it’s just a spur-of-the-moment thought immortalized forever on a message board. Some of them are understandable, given circumstances. OK, your brain farted and spat out that retarded statement, and now you’re feeling better. Alright.

But sometimes, the things people say can cause great need for release of frustration. Some of them can make you want to steal a car and ram it into a shopping mall, or grab the next person to walk past you and shove his face into a tree trunk. For example, I’ve heard, more than once, someone who is supposedly into rock music say they hate Nirvana, and that Nirvana sucks. This is utterly berserk. Listen up, pinhead.

First of all, the words “hate” and “sucks” are oversimplified ways to express discontent with something. People use them when they don’t know how else to identify or explain what they don’t like about something. And don’t get me wrong, there is much not to like about Nirvana. (Big hint: It’s designed that way.) But to say Nirvana “sucks” and that you “hate” them is entirely missing the point, like saying “man, Casablanca is so damn sappy,” or “why does Van Gogh paint so many sunflowers?” Let me explain.
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Rap Songs it’s Okay to Like if You’re a Rock Guy

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outkastI know, that headline sounds kind of pretentious. You should be able to like whatever you want, and no one else should have anything to say about it. But the problem is, it’s not usually like that. At least, not until you figure out how to avoid all the judgmental assholes you know. Until then, it seems like someone else always has something to say about the things you like, and the things they think you shouldn’t like.

For example, rock guys aren’t supposed to like rap. It’s not “rock ‘n roll” to like rap, so all the judgmental asshole rock guys (there are a lot of those) will get on your case about it.

Screw that. Here is a list of rap songs you can safely own up to liking, with some points to defend your opinion with, in case your taste in music is descended upon by the over-opinionated quotient in rock fandom. As long as you can shove logic in their face, you win and the assholes lose.

Outkast, Rosa Parks. This song is as accessible to the rock-listening population as any Red Hot Chili Peppers number. Believe it or not, there’s a guitar in there, and it’s playing a pretty sweet melody. There’s also a wood block, which is as rustic and down-home as any cowbell. Plus, the flute sound and lyrics make it seem almost zen, which is more or less the opposite of your stereotypical hip-hop ditty, and hence something rockers can get behind. It’s also named after a pioneer in civil liberties, so that’s worth some history cred. What history cred does Fall Out Boy have to brag about?

Busta Rhymes, Gimme Some More. Not only does it have an actual violin track (borrowed from “Psycho,” no less), the background is filled up with … bass and drums. How much simpler can you get without involving empty coffee cans and three-gallon buckets? Besides the basic appeal of the music, Busta Rhymes is just funny (his name is BUSTA RHYMES). Again, not like some rappers. And the video? On par with Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” as far as hallucinogenics go. Hallucinogenics are way rock ‘n’ roll, man.
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My Confused Stance on the Cold War Kids

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cold war kidsThe human brain is weird, and sometimes things just don’t add up. Why, for example, can somebody like peanut butter but hate peanuts? Or try to squeeze through the last quarter-second of a yellow light, but get annoyed when other people do it? It baffles.

And, as you may have gleamed from the title, this baffledom extends to none other than the Cold War Kids. I’ve had several run-ins with this OC band (like, as in their music) since they began their steady ascent to popularity a few years ago, and despite a damning heap of evidence suggesting I should like them (a lot), it just seems to be another one of those things, and I have no idea why.

To demonstrate the depth of this conundrum (which I’m sure is shattering your world as you read this), here is a list of everything the Cold War Kids have going for them, in my modest opinion:

1. Nathan Willett’s voice is unique, loud and completely amazing.

2. Their sense of melody is pretty much genius.

3. Their choices in instrumentation aren’t obvious, and provide just what each song needs.
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Written by Peter Kimmich

July 16, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Take Two Minutes and Listen to The Satan Song

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It’s not Jack Black, but it’s pretty much just as awesome. Ladies and gents, Stephen Lynch:

Written by Peter Kimmich

June 18, 2009 at 8:49 am

Top 10 Most Hated Music Genres. Ever.

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You could be in your car. Or walking past someone else’s car. Or just in your room minding your own business. It doesn’t matter where you are. But sometimes, when you least expect it, all of mother culture’s fury collides in a wave of malicious fate, and you suddenly find yourself exposed to someone else’s horrific, unforgivable taste in music. Sorry, man. It happens to everyone. There’s nothing you can do about it.

Except what I’m doing, which is blogging about it. Here are the top 10 most detested genres of music, as per the average, reasonable person (i.e., me). You might not personally hate all of them – but realize that most people do. So do the world a favor and stop liking them now.

nickelback10. Hillbilly Rock. What? I’m talking about that goatee-sporting, tricep-flexing, urban cowboy grunge that seems to dominate mainstream rock airwaves. These are the bands who sort of sound like metal, but they drape themselves in an arrogant, pseudo-patriotic aggro vibe that endears them to guys who drive raised pickups and their drunken, bar-fighting girlfriends. This is when they’re not writing whiny ballads about how messed up their childhoods were. All of it actually sounds like one band (who might be called Three Doors of CreetherNickelMudd) who shoots all of their videos on the same crumbling hilltop and buys all of their clothes from the same Dickeys outlet. They’re around because radio DJs have to play them or else, and some people are tricked into liking them because they hear them on the radio all day. But in reality, everyone else hates them passionately.
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