Monitor Down

The music blog that doesn’t want to hear itself

Posts Tagged ‘david bowie

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

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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Every Song is About Heroin

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Post intro: I pulled this from my published article on CinemaBlend, just because I wanted something to put here now — not in a week when I have the time to write something new. Don’t worry, I got permission from myself…

Back to the post:

DohertyIt’s almost second nature for musicians to write about drugs. Especially when you’re dealing with rock, where the idea is to do what everybody tells you not to do, and make it look like it’s cool. (This is probably where spandex came from.)

The catch is that musicians aren’t supposed to openly write about drugs (except in the case of rap, where it’s encouraged). They find metaphors, and usually those metaphors are about as complex as John Wayne’s dialogue. Everyone knows about the La’s “There She Goes,” i.e. the girl-as-heroin metaphor; or the Beatles’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” whose blatant “shoot, shoot” euphemisms all but sell the stuff. The chemical factor in David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” was even spelled out clearly in “Ashes to Ashes” (with the line “We all know Major Tom’s a Junkie”), in case the kids missed the classic “floating above the earth” metaphor.

With songs like “Hotel California,” “Under the Bridge,” “Golden Brown” and “Comfortably Numb” all containing their crystal-clear to slightly hazy euphemisms, the list of artists who have poetically flouted their bad habits before the mainstream media is eons long.

But what about the more cleverly disguised songs? You won’t convince me that the only heroin songs out there are the obvious ones. It’s almost guaranteed that somewhere, some good-guy songwriter is kicking back, having pulled off such a well-disguised smack anthem that no one even noticed it. My mission is to uncover some of these sneaky writers. They deserve, at the very least, to be recognized for their ingenuity, and praised for fooling everyone.

The Osmonds, “Goin’ Home” – This song is a prize winner. Show me a “track star” who’s got a long road ahead of him, who has to fight to make it “home” if it takes him the rest of his life, and I’ll show you a desperately hooked junkie. “I’m a space man from a different world,” the song says, reeling dangerously close to Bowie’s more evocative metaphor. “I’ve been gone so long that I’m feeling like a useless man.” The song’s energetic charge is enough to create a deceptive shroud of positivity, but if you really think about it, this is as strung out as Trainspotting.

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