Monitor Down

The music blog that doesn’t want to hear itself

Posts Tagged ‘blur

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.

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Written by Peter Kimmich

September 8, 2009 at 1:03 pm

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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Song-o-scope: Blur’s “Battery in Your Leg”

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say the last track on Think Tank, Blur’s almost unknown, oddball final album, is possibly one of the band’s most amazing songs. Hear me out.

First, Think Tank itself is a crazy album. Compared to the lush, mega-produced pop fuzz you normally associate with Blur (Song 2, Beetlebum, Death of a Party), Think Tank is a rickety, rattletrap CD that sounds like it was recorded in a barn. (It was.) Combine the clanky, rusty sound with the African vibe injected into a few tracks, and you already have the planet Pluto of rock albums. Then, factor in that this was the album that split the band, since Graham Coxon, the Grand Baron of Awesome Guitarists and one half of Blur’s songwriting factory, left the band in the middle of everything.

Because of this, only one track on the entire album contains any guitar work from Coxon. So take all of the frustration felt by a guitarist at the twilight of his partnership with a band, and shove it all into one guitar track. That guitar track is on “Battery in Your Leg,” the only song Damon Albarn admits to writing about the band itself. To describe the track: the piano, mostly normal. The lyrics, a little bummed out, but normal. The guitar, like a haunting, boiling, infectious disease. The reason I believe this song to be of Blur’s best is simply because it says the most. And half of what it says is completely independent of the lyrics.

P.S. The band’s reunion was recently reported in the news, and apparently there might be plans for US show dates. I’ll definitely keep an eye on that.

Written by Peter Kimmich

June 6, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Song-o-scope

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