Friday, November 27, 2009

Shuffle Play Friday-Shop 'til You Drop

Chuck Prophet-American Man/Let Freedom Ring

Prophet, former front man for Green on Red, a Tuscon-based roots rock outfit, loosely associated with LA’s Paisley Underground movement (along with Steve Wynn and Rain Parade).
Prophet’s new record, Let Freedom Ring, was recorded in Mexico City, not your typical locale for rock inspiration. Yet, as Prophet indicates in an article he penned for The Huffington Post, Mexico City has some interesting musical energy floating about.

“There's energy in the air. Bands sprouting up out of the cracked sidewalks. These days any kid can find the weird culture that suits him on the Web. It's surreal, but a delight, to see gangs of kids walking down the street in the Roma Norte district dressed as if they were in Kings of Leon.”

Pants Yell!!-Cold Hands/Received Pronunciation

Slumberland Records remains uniquely independent as a label and Pants Yell!! is my new favorite band name. Anchored by singer/guitarist Andrew Churchman, the band deftly maneuvers through nine jangly indie-pop songs in less than half an hour on the band's fourth album, and their first for Slumberland.

It’s hard to believe that Slumberland’s been around since 1989. Along with Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance at Merge, Slumberland remains one of the few indie mainstays that have managed to persevere into the 21st century’s fragmented musical environment of iPod shuffle’s, music downloads, and a general apathy for independent music.

Slumberland has always been, and remains proud to be hailed as a “pop” label. As the Slumberland notes for the new Pants Yell!! record, the band has found their “spiritual home” on the label.

Bon Jovi-Superman Tonight/The Circle

Bon Jovi are rock legends. Love ‘em, or hate ‘em, this Jersey rock icon has been pumping out rockage for 26 years. That alone warrants attention.

The epitome of corporate rock in many ways, and the very antithesis of what usually entices me to a band, or performer, I have my few mainstream musical vices and Bon Jovi are one of them. I don’t apologize for this. Every man has to have a place where he can pull out an anthem, and Bon Jovi are anthemic.

What’s interesting is that while the band’s early chart success and their phenomenal album sales guarantee financial comfort, the band hasn’t necessarily taken the comfortable route the past decade, or longer. While they could certainly “dial it in” and put out rehashes of their former hits like “Livin’on a Prayer,” “Wanted, Dead or Alive,” and “You Give Love a Bad Name,” as well as other chart toppers, their last few albums have actually taken some stylistic risks, like 2007’s Lost Highway, a very solid record, with a strong roots/country influence and vibe. Bon Jovi hasn’t shied away from reinventing themselves.

Of course, when you have Jon Bon Jovi fronting your band, still making women of all ages hot, at 47, it’s easy to overlook that Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora are talented songwriters, and the rest of the band, talented musicians. Hell, turning heads of women at 47 is an accomplishment in and of itself.

The Superman motif is something I’m attuned to. I actually had an earlier SPF focused on songs related to it. Lately, at least in my work life, I’ve felt like I have had to don a cape almost every day for the past three months.

Wesley Willis-Rock and Roll McDonalds/Greatest Hits, Volume 1

It’s the day after Thanksgiving. You’ve over-indulged and all good things you’ve accomplished on the weight-loss front have gone up in flames. In light of that, go out today and pig out at McDonalds. Have a Quarter Pounder w/ cheese and be sure to super-size that order of fries between your shopping stops during Black Friday . Hell, have two Quarter Pounders, a Big Mac, a super-sized order of fries, an apple pie (do they still have the deep fried pies that scald your mouth?), and wash it down with a large serving of Coca-Cola.

I don’t know why this song popped into my head yesterday, while eating turkey. Maybe that’s what caloric overload does—it alters brain chemistry.

The late Wesley Willis was a unique talent. Willis had been diagnosed as a chronic schizophrenic. His music and art (he produced hundreds of unusual colored ink-pen drawings, most of them of Chicagoland and various streetscapes) percolated with the details of life’s little things—like McDonalds—filtered through his special worldview.

Here’s what Jello Biafra wrote upon learning of Willis’ death:

As I got to know Wesley, what really struck me was his sheer will power, his unrelenting drive to succeed and over come a horrifically poor background, child abuse, racism, chronic schizophrenia and obesity among other things. He was the most courageous person I have ever known. Yet through it all he had such a deep, all-encompassing love of life. Little things, big things. He loved bus rides. He loved watching trains. He loved writing songs about how much he loved his friends. He loved traveling to new towns so he could headbutt new friends. Is there any band he saw that escaped being in their own song about how much he loved their show? He was so warm, so sweet, so giving. He could be a handful when he came to visit; but as soon as he left, we'd miss him immediately.

A Big Mac has 29 grams of fat. A Quarter Pounder w/cheese has 34 grams of fat.

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